Monday, 14 July 2014

enchanted garden

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It's summer! In Barcelona it's the coolest July for 22 years, which means the weather is actually pretty perfect. For Sant Joan, a night that usually involves fireworks, all night parties, and beach madness, I went to the country to a friend's parents' house, and engaged with fresh air, the earth below my feet, and watering their garden which contained everything from your usual vegetables to garlic and quince! Quince is one of those fruits that is quite well known here but I feel like a lot of English speakers like me only know it from "The Owl and the Pussycat."

On that note:
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Summer!

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Dress from Family Affairs, photos by Victor

Thursday, 8 May 2014

sunshine and words

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Belated pictures from Sant Jordi's, my favourite romantic-literary holiday. I took the morning off (there have to be some advantages to freelancing, working like a mule and seeming never to make any money) to wander with Victor, have breakfast out and buy a truly unjustifiable number of books (but oh! I found one of my favourite books ever, My Family and Other Animals, in English, for 4 euros second-hand, the same edition I had when I was a kid).

I'm posting these now because I'm off to get a haircut. The last time I got my hair cut was in August, when it was pretty fabulous, but that was eight months ago! I don't know why I have to reach a point of total decline to get things done...I finally went to the dentist after my teeth had gone totally yellow from drinking too much tea AND I suspected I might have some problem (thankfully not). I waited until my hand was practically falling off to buy excema cream, avoid going to the doctor. I know procrastination is normal for things that you don't want to do, and economics definitely plays a part in my avoiding things, but it's ridiculous. I'm hoping the hair cut will freshen me up in a few ways, I've noticed the unending hopelessness of my job situation (it's not that bad, freelance projects seem to fall into my inbox on a regularl enough basis, but no "real" job seems even to exist to apply for) has been turning me into a bit of a whiner again, and I'd like to nip that in the bud.

Does anybody else have some trials and tribulations they want to share?


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Photos by Victor

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

flowers and serpents

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...and here we are. Flowers and Serpents, a collection of stories by 14 English-speaking writers in Barcelona (including yours truly), edited by me and designed by Víctor is in the world. And otherwise it's Sant Jordi, it's sunny, I was brought a long-stemmed rose in bed this morning, and the day as been full of books and deliciousness. I'm off to enjoy the rest of it! Scroll down for a gratuitous picture of my cat...

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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

new niu publishers

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Tomorrow in Saint George's Day, birthday of Shakespeare, Cervantes, Nabokov and my father, Day of the Book and the Rose in Catalunya. I generally celebrate it by walking and looking at the books and enjoying any chance to celebrate the written word. Last year I even appeared on a newspaper supplement as one of the poster-children for reading! That was pretty special. But this year is even more special because Víctor and I converted ourselves into a literary editors and publishers for the occasion.

For a few years now, I've been part of an English writing group here in Barcelona. We meet every week to discuss each others writing, suggest improvements, give encouragment and so on. Members are a mixed bag of English teachers, journalists, translators, editors and others (we had a doctor once, and we currently have an ex-priest) and come from pretty much any English-speaking country you can think of, as well as some Scandinavians and exceptionally fluent locals. ANYWAY, in time for Sant Jordi this year, I decided to organize a collection of some of our short stories. I edited it (I work as an editor anyway, but it was great to get to edit fiction for a change) and Víctor did the graphic design (he also has a history designing books).

We snapped these pictures the day before it went to the printers... it's amazing how a DSLR can make anything look glamourous, even head-ache, eye-ache, back-ache, lack of sleep, lack of hair-washing or make-up applying... I think they're just golden because I was so content to be doing what I was doing. (Although seriously, next time writer people, we're going to talk about formatting before you give me your submissions). It looks like I'm fake-working but I really was correcting like a maniac at the time.

The anthologies are back from the printers and I can't wait to share them here tomorrow!

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Saturday, 12 April 2014

first signs of summer in spring

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While there was no winter to speak of this year, spring has been vacillating back and forth between blustery-chilly, and almost summer. On one of the summery days, I went to both a brunch and a barbecue (talk about overeating) to catch up with some of the friends i never see enough during the winter months and to meet new ones, such as the darling poodle puppy Marley.

It was a day for a pretty green dress, baking pear and chocolate scones in the morning, cheerful flowers, lounging in hammocks in the afternoon.

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Saturday, 5 April 2014

library of babel

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I think I'm not the only one in this space who loves a good book, so I thought I'd share these pictures from one of the most impressive bookshops I've been in. Perhaps its location makes it seem even better...it's the type of second-hand bookshop you might imagine in a creative corner of a big city...but not in a suburb of a small town a good forty minutes by train from the metropolis. Victor, Rosa and I dragged ourselves out there on a Sunday afternoon to see an exhibition, and our jaws more or less dropped as we walked into an unassuming warehouse. On the inside, old books were piled on tables and in tight rows up to the ceiling and a wooden bar decked out with chandaliers and wooden ladders served (extortionate, every silver lining has a cloud) drinks. You can get a glimpse of it behind me in the first picture. I snagged a copy of Dubliners for four euros and went to town taking pictures.

P.S. Rosa and I have a history of being photographed in bookstores...sometimes even more glamorously!


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Friday, 28 February 2014

volcano climbing

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Return of the day trip! After the bridge trip morphed from a small outing to a ten person-three car odyssey, we decided to plan more Sunday days out. This one topped out at 13 people! We drove to La Garrotxa, scene of extinct volcanos that Víctor explained were "the disappointment of generations of Catalan schoolchildren expecting lava and fire." Lava and fire were certainly both in short supply, but hiking in the wilderness (after driving through some really ugly towns to get there), drinking beer in the sun against a backdrop of mountains and fields, and standing in the crater of a volcano were all fun anyway. My favourite part of the day was after our enormous lunch when we went for a last ramble in the gathering darkness through the near-silence, smelling the country smells, getting stung by nettles and talking in the free way you can when you can't see each other...

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