Friday, 30 November 2012
One of my favourite activities is writing. I've been writing semi-seriously for myself for a few years but this year I really mean business! I'm currently working on editing a never-ending children's novel, starting an adults novel, and writing a few short stories here and there. Like with most things, it's amazing how you get better by doing something, and it's also amazing how many terrible works you have to produce in order to come up with anything half decent.
I'm pretty pleased today because I submitted a short story to my writer's group last night which was well-received (and which I was also happy with). I mean, I submit all the time and the feedback is always helpful, but I do think this one was quite good, if I do say so myself! No doubt the next several will be terrible, but we're getting there!
I love writing in this civic center in Les Corts... a beautiful modernist building, lots of light, lots of people watching, and cheap coffee!
P.S. I've also been writing the rough drafts longhand... mainly because I work most of the day on a computer and my shoulder is kind of destroyed--not for hipster cred!
Photos by Albert
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
I rather look like I'm going for high tea somewhere in this get-up, don't I? Well, reality was even better: it was a Sunday morning in England in which is rained. I'm not one generally to celebrate rain but when you have a big bright room, a big warm bed, central heating that actually works, and no shortage of Yorkshire tea in the pot, and perhaps some hot buttered toast with heather honey, rain is the perfect delicious excuse to stay in bed.
It stopped raining for fifteen minutes so I got dressed and popped out to buy a Sunday paper (I LOVE the weekend papers and the magazines that come with them in the UK). Perfection achieved.
P.S. The skirt is the bottom half of my Q's Daydream playsuit!
Photos by Albert
title from T.S. Eliot (my favourite poet and also excellent for rainy days)
Sunday, 18 November 2012
(Me + breakfast + Saturday Guardian = happiness.
Bristol is an awesome city. Albert's living there now, and I've been to visit a bunch of times, but this is its Ruby Slipper Journeys debut! One of the best things about Bristol is all the street art and murals, transforming a lot of drab, damp streets like anywhere else in the UK into a riot of colour and creativity. There are literally murals everywhere and although this post has a major photo overload, these are only some of my favourites... there are so many more.
It's also a city full of cafés hostings small art exhibitions, bars with open mic nights and live music every night of the week, nice little restaurants tucked here and there... craft clubs and knitting circles. It's also got its share of social problems: the neighbourhood Albert lives in has some major mental illness and social exclusion going on, but by UK standards it definitely seems to be a city that makes an effort. I could happily live there. Also, there's cider everywhere!
This outfit wasn't meant to be all red, but it was one of those bitter days when there was no way I was taking my coat off. Albert said "girl's are looking at you on the street." I wonder why!
turning your bike into a cow...
i figure by the time all these buildings are restored, the neighbourhood will be unbearably yuppie... it's already a bit too hipster
Banksy! (is from here)
Photos by Albert
Friday, 16 November 2012
Millions of people participated in a day of protest on Wednesday, particularly Southern Europe. Spain and Portugal were on General Strike, with Italy and Greece turning out for some parts of the day as well.
Having decided to go on strike (unlike the rest of my thoroughly useless colleagues--seriously, people, I understand if you think you're in danger of being fired but otherwise suck it up), I woke up on Wednesday to the sound of helicopters passing backwards and forwards overhead. Every single shop on the street was closed, except for one bar, in protest of the crippling austerity programs that are being forced on debt-ridden Southern European countries, and the apparent inability of the governments to make the people who caused the financial crisis pay for it. I'm angry on a personal level that I get fobbed off with deeply unfair contracts, terrible pay, and an ambiguous fiscal position, and that this is totally normal. I'm also angry that, among other things, 30% of the population of Catalonia is in risk of poverty or social exclusion (that would include almost everyone I know), that youth unemployment is at 53% and that the gap between rich and poor is growing. And on a European level, I'm appalled at the treatment that is being dished out to places like Greece, which is thoroughly stupid as well as deeply unfair, as though cutting pensions and jobs and depriving entire nations of hope for the future to the point that the extreme right wing is rising again is in any way an appropriate response to the crisis. (Here is an exceptionally interesting article comparing Greece today to Germany in the 1930s).
In the evening I went along to the demonstration. In Barcelona it was peaceful and I would say fairly low-key, probably because we have some very interesting elections coming up next week. Nonetheless, it was important to attend and great to see so many people on the streets. In Madrid they went a little nuts I think, and if I were in their position, I would too.
I went with some friends
Children DO belong at protests
One of the banks gets a revealing make-over.
Monday, 12 November 2012
Photo by Hiromi Torres
(that's her) :)
Life is a constant learning experience sometimes. After living abroad for almost a decade, I thought I had the formula figured out. I had gone from being someone who in high school was so shy that I frequently passed whole days without speaking to anyone, to being someone who could talk to most people and make friends fairly easily. I'd made friends with people from every continent (except Antarctica). I had moved to a country without knowing a soul at least twice, and only knowing one soul several more times. I could handle anything.
Yeah right. In the last couple of years, with even more moving about, I found myself a bit lonely. I certainly wasn't friendless, but I gained a new appreciation for how long it takes to grow a network of face-to-face people you actually care about, and between London, Barcelona, long-distance relationshipping and having a blog (yep), I found myself outside of regular society. Going out and meeting new people seemed necessary, but also scary, expensive, and just an effort.
Around February last year I hauled myself out of that rut, joined meetup.com, which was amazing, and when I returned to Barcelona this year I did so with the vow to never turn down a single invitation (and to make a bunch myself). When you feel a bit alone it's so easy to get into a slump, to start feeling like you don't really want to go out, and to retreat to the internet. And let's face it, this can happen in all of our lives. I make things difficult for myself, but I bet you've all been through a phase where everyone seems to be in a relationship except you, or where time or distance and take their toll on friendships.
So, long story short, I've been keeping busy! The above photos are from a once-a-month photography meetup I really enjoy, but also...
The lovely Johana from Venezuela, who I know from a Catalan class invited me to a Tuesday night of listening to her husband DJ rockabilly at a local bar
which is delightful and red
My local friend Mercè and I went to see Blancanieves, a Spanish, silent-film version of Snow White that is doing the festival rounds at the moment. It was beautifully shot and acted and erm, costumed, but maybe a bit too Spanish (sorry about taking you to two hours of bull-fighting and flamenco, Mercè)
It does feature the wonderful Spanish actress Maribel Verdú, however (who Kallie, Albert and I saw leaving the Fabrica Moritz last spring)!
Then Mercè and I had Argentine empanadas and Catalan beers
And of course I've gone for a lot of coffee...
And this, and so much more
Photo by Jerome
(like reading lots and lots to restart my sluggish brain, and going to lectures about urbanism, and writing, but more on that another time).
Friday, 9 November 2012
Guess who got caught out by Daylight Savings Time? :D
One thing I love are nighttime walks. I think it's because I can talk to myself with impunity. When I was a kid I always used to go into my yard, walk around in circles for hours and "play my games," which was making up stories, either from scratch, or featuring characters from books I'd read, or about me and my friends. To this day, I go for long walks whenever I can, and I usually end up talking to myself. Thinking things through is pretty much synonymous with walking and talking to me... one time in Mexico, Albert pulled over on his way home from work to give me a ride and said "did you realize you were talking and gesticulating walking down the street?" I guess I'm destined to be a truly crazy old lady!
But at least I don't go around jumping into other people's photographs.
P.S. After years of colour, colour and more colour... apparently I love black again. Not sure if I'm falling victim to the 90s gothic revival thing, or decided life would be easier if I dressed like Audrey Hepburn, or maybe it's from studying French in the summer... ;)
Monday, 5 November 2012
Start by being a bit sclumpy-chic (I love my green raincoat which I got for $25 down from $125 and I challenge anyone not to).
Go for breakfast. We went with the Fabrica Moritz, the cooly-revamped 19th century factory of Barcelona's most Catalan beer, but I could have gone for empanadas, or pretty much anything involving coffee too. We bought La Vanguardia, because for the next several weeks they're selling limited edition Catalan classics with the Sunday paper. I read a fascinating weekend magazine article about how the 19th century theatre district in Barcelona was every bit as decadent and mad as Paris or New York's.
Also, breakfast comes with both a coffee and a beer, in case you can't decide...
Follow the old men for the best Sunday morning walks
End up at the beach and ride bikes along the seawall. Incidentally, these public bicycles were the topic of my thesis in Urban Studies at UCL a couple of years ago.
And then be sure to stop by a bakery to buy the seasonal "panellet" pastries, which come in many shapes and flavours.
But these ones are the best: