Family Activities – Star Gazing In Spain - Al Fresco Holidays



THE NIGHT my children saw their first shooting star is a memory I’ll treasure forever.

We were sitting on the decking outside our Thomson Al Fresco cabin in Estartit. The night was in but it was still barmy and even the cackling crickets partying in the woodland canopy above our heads seemed excited by mother nature’s impromptu firework display dancing in the crystal clear sky above.

It was indeed a night to remember.

We’d decided to stay put that warm evening, to forego the many treasures of the town’s bistros and authentic tapas bars for a simple homely barbecue and drinks in the neat garden space outside the cabin. The true al fresco experience.

The boys were kicking a football around outside, pretending to be the current stars of La Liga – Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and David Villa. Through the distressed heat-haze coming off the barbecue they almost looked like two elfin street kids in a Lowry painting. The intoxicating smell of the burgers and ribs charring and sizzling on the BBQ simply served to intensify the aura of a late season match day. No football match is complete without a burger, is it?

The atmosphere was decidedly more España than East Gorton though. The boys shrieked ‘Ole!’ every time they kicked the ball, and the girls – my daughter and wife – were in the cabin washing and dressing the salad we’d bought earlier in the day, accompanied by a salad-soundtrack of Gypsy Kings songs. The music oozed out of the iPod and added a Catalonian spice to the already heady Mediterranean gumbo.

We ate a lavish feast of a dinner that night, or it felt like it. And as the last burger was consumed and the vino came out for the adults, the sun apologetically disappeared over the horizon and the crickets began their cacophony of musical cackles. The rhythm of the night.

Then, without even the smallest hint of showbiz glamour, a tiny little playful kitten of a star decided to put on the most spectacular show in this unrivalled open air theatre.

It waltzed across the sky, it’s glimmering tail snaking between its cousins like a disco beam. For the briefest of moments we were witness to a rare wonder of this limitless universe – we’d not even a humble sausage left to offer as recompense for the invitation to this incredible show.

“It’s a spaceman, daddy!” said my youngest.

“No, it’s a shooting star, son,” I said. “You may never ever see one again. How lucky we are.”

“Can we give it a name?” he inquired.

“Of course. What shall we call it?” I answered, still transfixed by the sky as the embers of the tiny star finally faded from view into the darkness of the night.

“I think we should call it Lionel, after Lionel Messi – he’s a star too,” he said.

Through open mouths and with a new found respect for the simple, stuning power of this little rock we call Earth, we all agreed.

‘Wow!” said my teenage daughter.

She has a knack of picking just the right word.

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