There's several ways to react to being made redundant. The clever one is to go through your contacts list, sending your CV out to anyone who is too polite to tell you to go away, desperately trying to get straight back into working life. The tempting one is to sit at home, feeling sorry for yourself, spending days watching bad movies and eating Quavers.
I chose a third option. Packing a suitcase, I headed to Andorra for the week. The presence of my mate Dave and mountains on the trip did not make this a re-enactment of Brokeback Mountain. There were less sheep for a start.
OK, the architecture isn't going to win many prizes for subtlety. It is more ski resort than medieval citadel. But the mountains present a permanent backdrop that went from awe inspiring to sinister and brooding as the sun dropped.
Andorra isn't big. In fact, its lack of bigness is one of its most defining features. There are essentially just three roads, all using Andorra La Vella as a hub; south, north and east. Since we'd already done south on our drive into the country, we chose north for our first full Andorran day the following morning.
Immediately, Andorra changed. Those who have dismissed it as ugly have clearly not explored far. Not that you can explore far before you find yourself in a different country, anyway. The drive up through Ordino to Arcalis was spectacular. A lush, green valley that turned into a barren, white col as soon as we passed the snow line.
On the way back, we parked the car halfway down the valley in Llorts. Welshman Dave feeling at home in a town beginning with a double-l. We had a pleasant walk through a green valley, interspersed by unusual sculptures and over-ambitious dogs. So pleasant, we decided to extend our walk all the way to Ordino. It was on this extended phase that we were reminded that the only reason the valley is so green is because of its plentiful supply of water from the sky.
On the drive up, we had noticed a valley going off the main road and made the decision to explore it on the way back. As decisions go, this was a good one.
The Vall d'Incles was stunning. We walked along a high trail on the valley's southern side with views over pasture land and medieval stone buildings. Water cascaded down the mountainsides, most spectacularly at the valley's end. And all while enjoying some late spring sun.
The Andorran leg of the trip over, it was now time to slowly head back through Catalonia to our overnight stop in Girona. On our route was the Collada de Toses. The good news is that the Collada de Toses had been described as one of Jeremy Clarkson's favourite roads. The worrying news was that we discovered this fact reading the road's entry on dangerousroads.com.
Not sure what the fuss was about, to be honest. The main risk was being rear-ended when suddenly breaking for another photo opportunity. Even then, the complete lack of traffic made that unlikely. Great vistas north towards Andorra and the Pyrenees became deep valleys with fast flowing rivers. And all under blue skies.
We wandered through its lanes, with a barely a soul to be found. Perfectly preserved and yet off the tourist trail. I immediately checked the local estate agent's website...
We carried on towards Girona with a stop at Castellfollit de la Roca (disappointing) and Besalu (much better, if only for the ice creams).
And then Girona for a final night. Probably would have been better not to have arrived during rush hour, particularly given the hotel car park was on a different road to the hotel. So, initial perception of the city wasn't great. But, walking around the old part of the city changed that.