But what comes up in these meetings, time and time again, is that there's one factor that seems to be number one in determining whether the move works out or not, and that's language - as in being able to speak it. Those who can't (and I include in that a French couple that we met over lunch in L'Ametlla de Mar) seem to feel like permanent holiday makers; those who can describe their adopted country as 'home'.
Although my French and Latin background means that I can understand a good deal of written Spanish and Catalan, my spoken
And I have to tell you that I hated having a language barrier. Not just because of the shame I felt when I couldn't understand what people said to me, but also because there were so many things I wanted to ask different people at different times, like the incredibly helpful and knowledgeable woman who showed us round the Civil War Museum in Corbera d'Ebre. So it's decided: this year's Solstice resolution is going to be Getting To Grips With Spanish, at long last. But I'm left, once again, with the question of how people manage to live in a country without having at least a reasonable command of its language.