Thursday, 31 January 2013
I think I've probably mentioned my love for vermut (vermouth) the weekend pre-lunch aperitif that I discovered last year was a mainstay of Iberian culture. What I like about it, apart from the vermut itself, is the social aspect, the gathering and having a drink with friends or family in a leisurely fashion, chatting and letting the day unravel before you. I just hadn't had the full experience before.
Some friends started a semi-regular vermut Sunday event, and after the first session I'm a fan. It makes me feel like a local (and we all know how much I like that). I got to have a reason to dress nicely on a Sunday, somewhere to take my new book, and to sit in the sun in January and, well, watch people drink vermut, since I was on a bit of a drinking ban at the time. Happily, that's been lifted so I think I may enjoy this coming Sunday even more!
There were also patatas bravas
and good company
and even polaroids! But unfortunately I had to delete that picture because my former friend is bipolar and can't be happy unless she's controlling and manipulating other people...
Monday, 28 January 2013
Anyone who's been reading in the last few months has seen this dress (with me in it) peering over wine glasses and blowing out birthday candles... it's become my one-stop going out look. My sister Shona bought it six or seven years ago, and we pass it back and forth. Like all good buys, there are times when we hate it and times when we love it. I'm currently in a love phase. It has sleeves....
January is kind of cold even in Barcelona, and it's been drizzling a bit too (I know, poor us, such a hard winter experience. Anyway, I hate rain. But on this Sunday we bundled up, carried cake and cava (Catalan sparkling wine) and went to celebrate Albert's grandma's 80th birthday. How sizzling is that paella?
Friday, 25 January 2013
Tarragona had been on my list of places to go in Catalonia for a few years now, and one morning over the Christmas break (gah! out of sequence! oh no!) Albert and I trundled ourselves next door to the train station and caught a train before we could get lazy about it. Once in Tarragona, we stopped in a nice little bakery for coffee and a pastry (I'm still pretty bleary in the photo above) and then set off to expolore.
Tarragona's main claim to fame is the remains of a Roman amphitheatre (in Roman times, Tarragona was the more important city, and Barcelona was secondary).
We snapped some pics, and then went for a walk in the rest of the city, which was cute, but freezing, and everything was closed because it was Sunday. We ordered a vermouth aperitif, but when it came all pimped out with "essence of olive" in a plastic syringe, we snuck off without drinking it, not wanting to be ripped off. :D Tarragona seemed strangely deserted of normal citizenry, and I'm glad I don't live in one of these little cities, but it was nice to walk along the promenade in the setting sun!
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
One of the bonuses of the photo meetup I go to when I can is being the sometimes unknowing subject to other people. I loved these pictures taken of me by Richard Hadley and thought I'd share them here. It was a beautiful and sunny (but freezing) day in the park, and I took a number of pictures, but as always when I see other people's, I wonder if I was at the same place!
I also love the second picture, because it's me with one of my oldest friends in Barcelona, the girl who basically allowed me to learn Spanish, by putting up with my halting grammar, lack of vocabulary and inane conversation back when I was just learning, even though she spoke fluent English. I don't know how we ever managed to stay friends, given that I used to misunderstand half of what she said, but we have better conversations these days!
Pictures by Richard Hadley, who does wedding and event photography in Barcelona and the UK.
Wednesday, 16 January 2013
In January I pull out the sweaters. Well, I probably should have pulled them out earlier, but in January I catch up with the sweaters I misplaced under a load of glitter and velvet for the holidays, or, in this year's case, I buy new sweaters on sale having shivered my way through December. This one is by Paul and Joe Sister (and yes, it was significantly marked down--and anyway, that's what Christmas money is for) and I've lived in it since I bought it. Cozy, colourful, cuddly... and keeping everything simple and effortless on the bottom half. Just what gloomy January calls for.
Oh, and last year's January sweater post is here!
P.S. I love Bristol, where these photos were taken.
Monday, 14 January 2013
Ugh, today I worked from 8:45 am to 9:15 pm, with a coffee break and like half an hour for lunch. Not cool at all, and it really made me miss the winter break, when there were festivities happening nightly, and work seemed like a distant memory, or something that I did for a few hours hunched over the laptop. Now it's January (ugh),it's cold, my most party-happy friend is doing a month-long detox and I'm wondering if I should join her...
back when life was fun Albert and I went to nice restaurant one day and had a taster menu full of the delicious...
and the experimental, here I am with a glass of Caipirinha dessert.
On night walks I enjoyed Barcelona's many beautiful pharmacies...
There were evenings with spontaneous jam sessions
And Jenga! (This was at my stay-home, wear-your-slippers, New Years Eve party)
And I cooked fish stew, and felt like a domestic goddess for actually using a mortar and pestle (which is usually a doorstop in Albert's place in Bristol)
And we went to a Bristolian bar with a skittles lane in the back and learned that skittles is harder than it looks and nowhere near as dependable as bowling.
Albert almost won...
...but no one fucks with the Jesus! (don't know what I'm talking about? Here)
Thursday, 10 January 2013
In keeping with the last two posts (wearing stuff I've had for donkey's years), I present you with... a 90s velvet dress that my mom gave me for Christmas in 1997, I think (so I was 14 at the time). I loved it then, even though I think the whole 90s thing that is currently being revived was just going out at the time, so I wore it to fancy events for about a year and then stopped. But I could never bear to get rid of it, because it's so soft and I love velvet and it has always been flattering and I adored the Chinese-style neckline and capped sleeves. When I read that 90s style was back I thought, "yesssss," dug it out of a box in my parents attic, and brought it along with me back to Europe. I'm so glad to have it back in my life, and it just goes to show, you should never get rid of anything you really like!
I've been loving it ever since it got chilly, and have been trotting it out for family dinners, drinks with old friends, and an evening of Wayne's World and air guitar last weekend in Bristol, which seemed appropriate!
Monday, 7 January 2013
I didn't get many physical gifts for Christmas since I stayed in Barcelona, forgot to tell my family what I wanted, and also forgot to send most of them my address. ;) My sister Morna made a superhuman effort however, and this fantastic necklace from Red Brick arrived in time for me to open it on Christmas morning! I wore it with an outfit I've had for years and my new red shoes from, of all places, Marks and Spencers. These shoes may represent the only time I've bought the same item in two different colours. I bought the black ones in the summer (see here and here in summer and winter, respectively) and they are the shiniest, happiest, most comfortable, cheapest things I own. I was delighted to see they had my size in red on a recent visit to the UK.
This winter I decided to focus on a colour scheme, since winter wardrobes are always a challenge for me (layers take up a lot of space in suitcases). I chose red, black, green and burgundy as my primary colours, and it's been great so far. Still need to work on upping the green content of my wardrobe a bit, but I do find getting dressed so much easier this winter, without having bought very many things.
P.S. I love the curious harshness of winter sunlight...
P.P.S. Don't mind my socks and tights thing (ongoing throughout the winter). I've arrived at that point in my life where I value my blood circulation more than my appearance. :D
Friday, 4 January 2013
Photo by Ismael Llopis Navarro
This night, although I no longer wish to in any way promote the brand that invited me, was very special for a particular reason: I met the person I hope to spend the rest of my life with. If anyone had told me, as I sat around a table with three new acquaintances, that less than a year later I'd be living with one of them, have been on the cover of a magazine with another, and been to the police station to report the bat-shit crazy behaviour of the third... I would have thought "life is about to get interesting!"