Having been introduced to them by Gemma, one of Nick’s current favourite bands is Mumford and sons; when he discovered that they were playing in Barcelona, it seemed the perfect excuse for a mini break in a beautiful city.

Not being an old hand in buying tickets to gigs, I got completely ripped off, falling for the hard sell; I won’t be buying through Viagogo again. But we got a good deal on train tickets, travelling by TGV from Toulouse and found a great Airbnb room in an apartment near the city centre. Daniel, our host, was lovely and a fount of knowledge on everything from which website to use for tickets to where to find great tapas at a reasonable price.

I’ve no idea how far we walked during our stay, but one day I recorded 22km on Strava, just out of interest. The prices of attractions have rocketed in the 15 years since our last visit, so we did a lot of looking at the outsides of buildings and Nick refused point blank to wait in the queues to visit the Sagrada Familia. However, I did finally persuade him to go to Park Guell, which was as beautiful as I remembered it, as well as the Picasso museum, which was mind blowing!

We spent hours wandering around glorious gardens, discovered as we researched the best way to get to and from the stadium for the gig, as well as many hours getting hopelessly lost in the old city, as the tourist map leaves a bit to be desired.

The gig itself was good, though the sound wasn’t great, way too much bass, leaving the other instruments drowned out; but the atmosphere was excellent.

It’s been a long time since our first, disastrous visit to Barcelona, but I hope we’ll be back again before too long.

Cycling in Mallorca

For the last few years, Nick has joined some friends on a week’s cycling holiday in Mallorca; he’s always raved about how good the cycling is, how beautiful the scenery and how amazing the food in the hotel. While I couldn’t cycle it seemed pointless my going, but this year I decided to give it a try, along with our friend Ian, who lives in the Pyrenees and Francis and Regine, a couple of French friends from the cycling club.

The weather was perfect, dry and not too hot and as there are up to five guided rides a day, all at different levels of fitness, there was something for everyone.

The first day we did a short, warm-up ride out to the lighthouse at Formentor; the views were every bit as breathtaking as Nick had promised, with azure waters around every bend.

We did some rides with the guides, most of whom are ex-professional cyclists; Nick and Francis joined the group being taken by car to the other end of the island one morning and cycling back along the mountain ridge, about 150km with, obviously, plenty of climbing. We met some lovely people while we were there and one day a group of nine of us decided to do sa Calobra, one of Nick’s “must do” list for me and described as being “a perfect col”, with a steady gradient of 10% for almost the whole of its 12km. It’s an upside down col, as you start at the top, descend to the sea and then climb out, so it’s quite committing. I found the start of the descent terrifying, with tight hairpin bends and loads of buses, but, having made it to the bottom, managed the climb back up without too many problems and even beat two of the guys in our group to the top (one of whom has sinced explained to me the concept of being “chicked”: being beaten up a hill by a woman). A total of 110km and 2320m of climbing for the day, I was nearly too tired to eat dinner that evening.

The hotel was as good as Nick had said and the buffet style restaurant was superb, especially for hungry cyclists. There was a spa and an indoor pool and the staff were lovely, allowing me to practice my Spanish on them. Regine and I had a day off to take the bus to Alcudia, where we spent the day exploring on foot, a welcome break from the saddle for me. I’ll probably go back again, though I’ll take my own saddle in future, the one on the hired bike felt like sitting on razor blades!