First glimpse of a giant today practicing walking.
First trip to the local market and did sign language to buy fruit and veg, all seemed to work out ok with a bit of feverish dictionary action from Graham. Getting a number and waiting for the cheese lady to shout it in catalan was ok too, kind of french..ish. Think they found us rather amusing, all very friendly.
Molly mayhem in the park, getting to feel comfortable enough to go bottom down puppy running and jumping in the fountains, she showed her labrador ness careering round wet, wild and slavery. Luckily ignoring the picnickers….long may it last. Lovely park with seemingly no nasty things for her to eat, until we were just leaving and she came out from behind a bush looking suspicious.
We went for lunch tapas of artichoke and (roast, glazed, pickled?) little onions, tender squid and patatas bravas ( which seems to have relaxed into chips here), I had intended to get a salad? Molly sat under the table and we listened to a jaz group and then left to check out el gotic. Molly had a quick but very large puke on the zebra crossing…. nice….. er….horrifically embarrassing!
The apartment is amazing, in an unchanged Victorian grandeur kind of way. Not ripped apart and done up and polished and pruned in a show off kind of way, just slowly added to when needed, the interesting electrics must have come first, then a Spanish boiler, it goes out when you overwork it, it needs a match to light it and you need to keep the window open as it needs ventilation.
The talkative drains no doubt are original, not noisy in general but the bath laughs loudly at the sink as it empties, tickling its pipes somewhere down below. They also have a faint wif that comes and goes, it was there on our arrival and now not, but you know its lingering, waiting for a hot day.
Arriving in the dark our host, like El Borne itself was charming, he seemed surprised as he turned on each light and it worked. Out of the darkness the next day and on the way to the park we realised we were still walking along the same building, I said wow this must still be our building, Graham agrees saying it smells like ours! Further round reveals three huge sturdy blocks overlooking the park. And we understand why our hallway is so grand.
I cannot call the hallway, or lobby, cubanesc, as I haven’t been there but you imagine with a bit of gold leaf here and there it could be. Every piece of marble they have used is a different colour, and where there is no marble, they have painted a pattern that winds up the many twists of stair. People and their bags have bumped off the paint to reveal an under colour of terracotta red, like an ancient painting, the decorators took the same care.
Our bathroom has a small square window that overlooks the cold curling stairs into the hallway; when closed light flickers in past pretty twisted ironwork, and you can hear the distant street. If you open the window you can see into the cavernous space punctuated by white domed topped columns of potential electric light. Or up through unwashed multi coloured glass panels that Esher like divide the hall with the stairs.
Light reaches through the grand arch opening of glass, wood and iron doors, that you climb through a fragment of to get out. We recognise ours, as it is the one with the red graffiti across the bracing panel outside.
But even with this huge glass opening, the light fails to fill fully the space inside and doesn’t reach the wooden structure built to house the laundry room with its Victorian fancy woodwork, a building within a building, now topped with a huge funny extraction pipe, the only sign of this age and its imposed modernity. Inside it looks as if it hasn’t changed, green rimmed sinks and dripping taps.
Another more distant light disperses as it falls centrally from high up, it flays falling past rows of once used internal windows and dusty shutters, balconies and balustrades. It helps but the light from the street has stronger fingers and illuminates as best it can the builders and decorators and stonemasons and blacksmiths and glass blowers and architects efforts.
inside, Molly looking to terrace
shutters of dressing room
Went to the studio yesterday to leave the van, and made the stupid mistake of not taking our phones, afraid of “phone pickys” as the man from the flat called them ( we wanted to walk back ) so as we had just been there yesterday we thought it was easy to find, or we didn’t think at all! We went round and round and round, all in the same area but just couldn’t find it, and couldn’t find anywhere to buy a map, but in the end we got as near as we could and Graham got directions from a man chilling in a doorway who had to look in his a to z, which is about the size of a Bible here! So tired, we dumped the van and walked in the direction of the mountain. A massive walk home through not the most scenic part of barcelona was our introduction to the city. There was a couple of nice spots, the mountain and the olympic park, trying to stop molly running into the fountains, and an amazing cafe overlooking the city where we stopped for a one ball 3euro icecream, but we were so knackered it all seemed a bit surreal to me. Went for loud tapas in the evening and woke up with a weird swollen lip! all in all I am looking rather run down!So second day chose an easy day of lunch by the beach. Walked through the nice park, literally on the next street, really sunny but a cool breeze so the jumper comes of and on and the catalonians are in big coats. A bottle of white wine and salad and ( well had to go for it ) paela, they cocked up our order so we were there for ages but very abstemiously we didn’t tuck into a second bottle. Graham chose better with a Leek and fish soup ( weird but nice ) and spaghetti with clams. All in all a lovely treat for slightly bemused and blinking new arrivals.
The first bad hair day (also first lunch)
The first local dog walk
We didn’t have time to think before we left, think about what we were going to be doing. So having no expectations, the journey comes as a star spread, naked, face down in white snow kind of shock.
Suddenly on the boat at sea we had space, the bright English late day sun on the wooden deck, we sit for the first time for a drink, sheltered by the glass, blinking. And then in the morning, fresh and still ship windy but the chill subsided, we spot clear white mountains approaching out of the blue.
From silky water, through mountains, on snaking white edged, silver divided tarmac we slide into Spain.
Mountains are held back by material, pin cushioned so we can make our way into opening sky and flat-bottomed basins. At first these are contained on one side by snow smoothed peaks and the other by gnarly shards of rock scratching their way high into the sky.
We listen to Zoe Muth, Caitlin Rose, Gillian Welch, Amanda Shires, Justin Townes Earle and Eilen Jewell on the 6 hour journey of space and music and the haze of diminishing seasick pill drowsiness.
A channel opens up like a crack in a rock, inspiration comes flooding as crisp water down a dusty bed, soaking and spreading and nourishing as the miles pass by, and you remember how to see again.
See the square stone block of a castle or a spire piercing the valley, shouting through time their unchanging message. In the early spring sun the wriggly vines are brown still. White century men punctuate the taller slops, waiting for the basin uplift in their wings. They loom up as we approach, fall in and we cross their east west line. Another group of friends, silver, punctuate the horizon like needles and share their wind as suntrap blackness stare towards them.
Blue sky expands as the valley opens wide and the sun through the window feels weirdly hot compared to the snow on the mountains where the clouds huddle. Jason continues to sing and the sentinel’s wings beat happily on another horizon. One stands stiff not joining in, like a philistine refusing to join the revolution.
Another group ahead with the sun at a different angle change from needles to white straws drinking wind. Sad songs sing but two magpies drift lazily in our path. A steel line races beside us, the light reflecting keeps speed in the corner of my eye.
Monegros brings cement farms, more sky, sucking and blowing of a harmonica and miles and miles of grey chalky fields peppered with white huts, unfarmable small rubble peaks and sad chicken sheds in an expanse of nothing that turns into Heuseca. Thank fully there is a break in the colour, of purple blossom strapped by white or light blue bands and then the momentum builds as we see lorries snaking on the free road and we hit our final payment, then we are in.
The doggy deck
The James Bond boat that came along side the ferry