Monday, December 26, 2005
So we are off tomorrow morning and will back on the 3rd January. have a wonderful new year and a brilliant 2006.
Ben rode his new bike, Rebecca read her new book. Santa was v good to me with a beautiful black dressing gown and pyjamas and some great books and CDs.
All the photo evidence can be seen here. I only hope yours was as wonderful.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Thursday, December 22, 2005
And you go in, sing the Barca song in Catalan (the words are on the screen) and watch the most stupendous club football on offer anywhere right now from Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Deco, Puyol, Valdes or the newest star, Messi. You'd watch any team that had just one of them...
It's really nice for Ben. I got both the great years of the 60s and the 90s with United but mostly for him it's been a litany of not quites and dreadful disappointment. Now he has a real team to watch playing football he will remember for years to come....
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Monday, December 19, 2005
Sunday, December 18, 2005
At the Christmas market besides the cathedral, dozens of stalls sell hundreds of tiny figure, each laying a tiny plastic piece of ordure. The story is that the man is returning something to mother earth.
Needless to say, more enterprising folk have rung the changes and now represent all sorts of characters from footballers to politicians doing what comes naturally. Ben and I hunted fruitlessly for a Ronaldinho but alas they had all sold out, so had to settle for Samuel Eto'o, striking, as you can see, a very phlegmatic pose.
One wonders had someone cast a David Beckham (or indeed a Victoria) whether he would have contested the image rights.
Friday, December 16, 2005
They have Chelsea in the next round of the Champion's league, a team that stand for everythign I loathe in football today. If justice is served, Barca will wallop them in both legs. Ben and I will move heaven and earth to be at the 2nd game...
Friday, December 09, 2005
Today was a perfect Barcelona winter day – crisp, deep blue sky and warm enough to sit outside – but not quite warm enough to eat lunch outside at Agua, our favourite beachside restaurant. So we got the next best thing – an inside table with a sea view.
The day started with my 7.15am alarm call – there was Spanish homework to do before my lesson with Marisa – our wonderful teacher. She is clever, wise and interesting, with a curious take on life growing up under Franco. So simple she said – if you didn’t have political ideas! Well yes, up to a point I suppose but what she meant was that if you didn’t know you were living in a country without democracy you didn’t necessarily know what you were missing.
I can manage a sort of Spanish conversation now and I understand much more than I can say -but compared with the three or four words I knew when we arrived in August, my brain is a treasure trove of them – “muchas palabras” as Marisa would say and when you’re learning a new language, every word is precious.
After two hours with Marisa I set off on the metro armed with my copy of Robert Hughes’ “Barcelona, the Great Enchantress” to meet up with Richard, Pauline, Rebecca and Ben on the beach. You could spend many happy hours travelling round the city reading this book. It brings Barcelona alive like no other and reminds me constantly why I love this city so much. It has a kind of fierce humanity about it which always feels a bit raw round the edges too. Hard to explain but very Catalan!
This is what he quotes from one of Catalunya’s most famous political dictums – “ We, who are as good as you, swear to you, who are no better than us, to accept you as our king and sovereign lord, provided you observe all our liberties and laws – but if not, not.” Simple, eh?
Lunch at Agua was delicious as always and the light on the sea especially lovely – I like this time of year here because there is less haze, the horizon is sharper and the palm trees even more clearly outlined.
Then off in two taxis to the Picasso Museum to marvel – there’s a wonderful exhibition of his drawings and illustrations and it was lovely to be there with Pauline who managed to look at most of them.
Then spent two happy hours wandering round the back streets of the old city and came across a street full of antique shops and a cake shop on the corner where candles were lit - on towards the Cathedral Square where the Christmas Market was in full swing and people were dancing in one corner of the square. Walked up towards Plaza Catalunya as the sun was setting, got on the metro again with Robert Hughes and got out as the moon came up in a perfectly clear deep blue black sky.
Now it’s off to dinner at our favourite restaurant, Cinc Sentits. Being a person who worries constantly about everything there are few days when I feel perfectly happy. But this is one of them.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
ah well had they got through they would have been humiliated by Barca who won their 10th on the run tonight.
still my family (and mother) come back tomorrow.
I went for the Entercote Girona, a really tender piece of steak. Great ambience as well - full of locals eating early on the bank holiday and walls lined with vintage radio sets old pics of racing cars.
Go see - Terol 6 or another branch in Eixample atTraversa de Gracia 86
now i thought a bit of Fatboy slim's "praise you" would have done very nicely as the intro and outro. great beat, apt lyrics. so we asked for rights.
so we are making do with some poxy royalty free music. adn FS is definitely off my xmas card list - and will soon be off my ipod ....
Monday, December 05, 2005
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
any answers welcome.
Everyone turned out - Ronaldinho, Eto'o, Messi et al, even if for only a half each - and 31,000 people turned up on a very cold night. Barca won 2-1 with a Palestinian Israeli scoring the goal. Step by step as they say....
News just in - next week a joint Catalonian Spanish team play an Israeli XI in Tel Aviv in an attempt to bring together the two warring parts of the country.
Hold on, let's stick to the merely possible...
One of the nice things about Barcelona is that not everything is reduced to a market transaction where every last euro is dragged out of you for the service is provided. But sometimes you do miss the invisble hand of the market to match supply and demand.
Taxis are a clear example. Very cheap all the time with just a small night premium. Result - a huge glut in the day and a huge drought at 3am when all good party goers want to head home.
La Vanguardia had a big piece on it this week which charted the imblance. 5pm on a weekday, 7,000 cabs cruise the street while just 3,000 are looking for one. Come 2am Saturday, it's still the same number hunting a cab but they are chasing a total of 900 still plying for fares.
Usual shtick from the drivers - unsocial hours, not enough money, rowdy passengers (although little angels compared with England - you never need marshals to police a late night taxi queue here). The obvious answer is hike the night rates by 50 per cent and the streets will be flooded with them.
Monday, November 28, 2005
We also ate at the sub El Bulli Commerc 24 which again was great - but I get the feeling the first time there is the best as so much of the food is the element of surprise.
Highlight of all was Abac. Much talked about as the best place in town, it certainly would come a very close first in my book. Really great food (foie gras in bamboo leaves, the signature suckling pig and a top cheese plate which is unsual here), coll beech wood decor and terrific service. I still think in London prices and at £70 a head Abac is a screaming bargain.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
ronaldinho by his standards was quiet - he missed one penalty and score another, both provoked by the Racing defenders being unable to cope with his speed - but there were three brilliant solo goals from Eto'o (40 yards, beat five defenders), Messi and Sylvinho, any of which bestie would have been proud to claim. 4-1 and we all went home happy and warm.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
If there's two things I love its grand old railways stations and general post offices (seeing a sign saying 'telegraphs' makes me go weak at the knees). in britain we have managed to screw up all examples of both, converting them into (respectively) shopping/eating malls and convenience stores. and they wonder why people don't respect public services...
barcelona has a fabulous (if underused) classic railway station - estacion de franca - and a great post office which I finally got to look inside Saturday complete with marble pillars and a very high ceiling with stained glass windows and (heaven be praised) a telegraphos sign. I was quite tempted to send a cable somewhere. ben took one look at the ceiling and asked 'did this place used to be a church?'
Every paper - from the most serious to the most tabloid sports rag - is beside itself today with the stunning victory over real madrid last night and how the madrilenos applauded ronaldinho after his second goal and (those that were left) booed their own off the pitch.
this is, remember, just the 14th time they have lost at home to barca in 75 years. back home there were thousands in the streets hooting and waving flags while many others went to the airport to meet the team on their arrival back home.
the boycott of cava and other catalunyan goods can only get more intense...
Saturday, November 19, 2005
3-0 in the bernabeu to barcelona.
real madrid hardly turned up as two goals from ronaldinho (one that would make the top 10 of anyone's list) and one from eto'o demolished las blancas. beckham hardly got a touch. it would have been 7-0 had madrid's goalie not been on such good form. the stadium was half empty by the end.
As El Mundo Deportivo put it:
El Barça disfrutó jugando al fútbol en el Bernabéu y humilló al Real Madrid en su propio estadio. - Barça enjoyed playing football in the Bernabéu and humiliated Real Madrid in its own stadium.
ben and i watched in the packed Bar Mandri one of the neighbourhbood's rather good bars and emerged to a cocophanous array of hooting motor scooters. only the 14th victory there in 75 years; rijkaard becomes the first barca manager to win there twice.
Rijkaard's verdict: ' [Ronaldinho] estuvo fenomenal'
Ben's verdict: 'Ronaldinho isn't human - he's a piece of magic'
Friday, November 18, 2005
(One colleague, Ramon, had the best ipod collection i have seen including the Ramones 'Sheena is a punk rocker' which I last heard so long ago that some of the Ramones still had a pulse).
The food was great - fried eggs and grated fish, a real Spanish market dish that i could eat very day - and we went through the whole gamut of why catalunya wants/needs/should have independence/freedom from the rest of Spain.
It's not about Catalunya using the word nation (although that's what grates with the rest of Spain I think) to describe itself but the fact that the culture is so different and the economic base so strong that they want to keep the money they earn here and not stump up for glistening motorways in Galicia so that the donkey carts can go that much faster.
It's an intriguing situation because unlike most other cases for independence (formal or otherwise) Catalunya is so economically strong and not a basket case dependent on hand outs (step forward wales, scotland, basque region, cornwall etc etc).
And throw in the language. Virtually everyone here speaks Catalan and it is the language of instruction in all state schools.
Back in Scotland the polemcist Alan Massie once wrote that 'Scotland has probably more households where Urdu is spoken than Gaelic-speaking ones'.
In fact the 2001 census showed 'over 92,000 people in Scotland (just under 2 per cent of the population) had some Gaelic language ability and that almost half of these people lived in Eilean Siar, Highland or Argyll & Bute.'
Wales is slightly better - 21% - but that's still pretty low (not that it prevents bucketloads of english taxpayers' cash going to subsidise welsh television, gaelic radio, yada, yada)
Catalan outside catalunya (and a few villages in languedoc) may be as useful as a chocolate fireguard but so is finnish outside finland and nobody suggests they drop that.
It's all getting a bit angry with calls in the rest of spain to boycott Catalunyan Cava and other goods, presumably to give the Catalans a little lesson in what it's like to be a foreign nation.
We then moved on to Barca's chances against Real Madrid tomorrow (5-0 to barca according to the most respected sports journalist here. hmmm.) and, curiously, ended lunch around 5.30pm
by drinking gin and tonics from swimming-pool sized brandy balloons.
It comes to something when even the Catalunyans are straying from their Cava.
Monday, November 14, 2005
it should be a great game on saturday. if barca win then rijkaard will become the first manager to have coached the team to two victories in this game at the bernabau. in 75 years they have only won 13 times in league games there, all under different managers...
Sunday, November 13, 2005
There was a big following - around 6,000 in the stadium situated right next to the Camp Nou. Of these around 100 were flag waving, drum banging Catalan extreme nationalists who seem to car little about the game but use Barca as a vehicle for their barmy independence dreams. they trade under the "Sang culé" banner proclaiming that Catalonia is not part of Spain and they are pretty nasty. they are probably there in the camp nou in the same numbers but you just dont notice them. tiny in numbers they are a pain in the arse for the club management who have declared war on them.
it's all piss and wind compared to the huge numbers of aggressive supporters at English games but its an unpleasant side to the club
Saturday, November 12, 2005
in any case, they are fascinated by my use of the term 'sparrow fart', a piece of Australian slang which has failed to make it to these shores just yet. For them and others, it means 'dawn' - ie when the sparrow stretches and gets his digestive system in working order for the day. Pacement pizza was new to them as well.
Friday, November 11, 2005
...has died at just 66. I've never cared much for royals but he was an exception - one of the very few who got off their arses to work for a living.
And he was a very good photographer. The Marsha Hunt pic is the 1960s in a flash while the Tommy Cooper one is just priceless.
I met him once when he came to Cambridge to talk to the photo soc. he was utterly charming, and told an extremely funny story about diving under a model's bed to avoid her jealous boyfriend entering the hotel room - and finding david bailey hiding there...
Sunday, November 06, 2005
readers of this blog might have got the impression that my faith in man united was waning (wayning?). Headlines such as 'adios fergie' and 'at least they score goals in barcelona' might have led readers to believe that I assumed that I feared a good hammering from chelsea today.
in the light of today's historic victory I would like to clear up this misunderstanding. As we nominate Mr ferguson for prime minister, president of the EU and the house of lords, expect further headlines such as 'We'll take Barcelona anytime' and 'Who the hell is Ronaldinho anyway?'
It’s now around 70F max with very blue skies and sunny and the city is looking beautiful. On saturday we went cycling around Ciutadella Park, and ate lunch at Txakolin, definitely the city’s best tapas restaurant.
On Sunday we hung out on Sunday in our local Turo Parc, Barcelona’s equivalent of primrose hill complete with posh prams, yummy mummy and meeting-place playground.
Blessed with an operatic voice, she commands the stage like some sexpot commando in gold high heel boots, black catsuit and pink cape. I can’t take too much electronic disco normally but it was an amazing performance that sent the place wild.
We stayed on in the packed upstairs party bar after the concert and she turned up, sin zapateros, a tiny, shy looking woman who patiently posed with every fan who wanted their picture taken. A real star.
Nice story about her in The Observer a couple of weeks back. Apparently she is also backing the turgid Coldplay on their European tour.
Reminds me of the time when I saw Genesis in their pomp with Peter Gabriel playing second fiddle to the ghastly Lindisfarne…
Next year sees the 30th anniversary of his death and the transformation of people’s lives and their standards of living to what there is today is the best testament you could have to the power of liberal democracy (those opposing efforts to bring these delights to the oppressed people of the Middle East, please note) and pari passu, the diminishing influence of the falangist wing of the Catholic church.
Today’s Sunday magazine in La Vanguardia, Catalanuya’s best daily, has a terrific photo essay of ordinary people 30 years on, each telling their stories.
The best are two sisters, Tere and Lois Madrid. The photo from 1978 shows them loading their donkeys on their street in a village in Malaga. Today’s picture shows them all buxom, blonde and blingy, leaning against their Mercedes saloon in the same street.
‘We had no running water and had to pack the mules. There were five daughters and we all had to work in the fields. Compared to those times we live like queens today.’
The City was almost bankrupt with bonds unissuable and Federal aid refused. Before being turned out in 1976, Gerald Ford refused a bailout, prompting the gorgeous headline in the Post ‘Ford to City: Drop Dead’.
Some 300,000 jobs were leaving the city each year, large tracts of the Bronx and Harlem were torched and thousands of cops and firemen were laid off. There was looting on an unimaginable scale after a massive power blackout in the hottest August for 50 years.
Oh yes and Son of Sam was on the loose.
The book tells the story through the epic mayoral primary between Ed Koch, left wing firebrand Bella Abzug, liberal sweetheart Mario Cuomo and hapless midget incumbent Abe Beame.
Abzug apart, the contestants got themselves in an unholy twist between appealing to liberal Manhattan and the frightened blue-collar ethnic communities of Queens and Brooklyn. Koch won and went on to rescue the City and help return it to its former glory.
The sub-plot of the book is how Reggie Jackson, the swaggering baseball superstar, joined the Yankees to become the city’s first black sports superstar. After terrible slumps in form and fist fights with his manager, he went on to bring the Yanks their first world series in 12 years by the extraordinary feat of hitting three home runs in game six from three deliveries.
1977 was also the first time I visited New York. Needless to say I fell in love with the City and baseball and have remained passionate about both ever since
Friday, November 04, 2005
Life in the Lander household (apartmenthold?) is interesting-a confusing mixture of sun, school and salsa (why not?). I can recite all the vegetables (and a poem about autumn) in catalan, and can sing You're Beautiful by James Blunt in Spanish:
Tu eres guapa
Tu eres guapa
Te eres guapa, es verdad
Yo visto tu cara, en un placa apretado
Y yo no se que para hacer
Porque yo nunca ser con tu
As Bart Simspon put it, I am so great, I am so great, everybody loves me cos I am so great!
P.s my blog is much cooler than this one.
Just off the human zoo that is the Ramblas, the tiny bar is almost always packed, but has no doorman and nor are the dreaed words ‘can I have a card to keep behind the bar?’ ever uttered. In other words, people are trusted to behave nicely and not do a runner.
The owner Jose Luis Boadas doesn’t want to lose that and now says ‘I won’t allow anyone else in with a sleeveless shirt Dignity and decency are more important than the till.’
And who’s mostly to blame? ‘I don’t want any more English people in swimming costumes and tee-shirts across their shoulder.’
Boadas got a hero’s welcome in the press.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
He was once slim (I knew him at Cambridge) but was posted to Brussels with Reuters, discovered great food and never looked back. Not for him the rushed sandwich lunch....
Lance Knobel writes knowledgeably of about the problems facing the paper and whether anew editor can solve them (answer: probably no).
Espanyol however go from bad to worse - in the relegation zone and the manager sacked.
Monday, October 31, 2005
But it has tonnes of charm - a fabulous old quarter that has a much more colonial feel than Barcelona. And the aquarium at the stunning city of arts and sciences lived up to its much hyped reputation, even if the queues were gigantic and Spanishly inefficient.
the squares are the best feature - we were very close to the cathedral where Ben and I witnessed a newly married couple exiting to a deluge of rice and a deafening blast of firecrackers. It seemed everyone was getting married in Valencia that Saturday - come nightfall we counted nine formally dressed newlywed couples being posed for pix by the fountains in the gorgeous Plaza de la Virgen or sitting at outdoor tables having a fag. The next day there was formal dancing in the square. It's a fun town and we will definitely go back soon.
Eating highlight was seuxerea, one of the few modern restaurants in town, run by Stephen Anderson who used to work for Alastair Little.
Sarah and I had the lovely cod with creamed porcini, and crunchy vegetables while Ben declared his entrecote steak to be 'the best ever' and Rebecca was equally keen on her duck with stir fried artichokes and blackberry sauce. Stephen has run the place for 10 years and like any good restaurateur, says it is hellish.
ps click here for pix
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning - A book that focuses on the car-crash that was NYC in the mid 1970s amid the city’s bankruptcy, tying in the hopeless mayoralty of Abe beame, race riots in the Bronx and the titanic ego clashes between Yankee slugger reggie Jackson and manager Billy Martin. Oh yes all that plus son of sam and studio 54.
The Long Ball: The Summer of '75 - more baseball, more 70s. you probably get the picture by now.
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
i eat dinner with Stephen Claypole, legendary ex BBC news exec who has been running a photo start up in NYC for 18 months. The restaurant is Django’s an upmarket midtown fusion place.
The food is more than good but we get one of those ‘and tonight’s speciality is seared this on a bed of that with overtones of ...’
she moves on to the wine and after 3 full on minutes of what she really wants us to choose, we ask just how much it is.
‘The bottle is $75 sir’.
we settle for something that costs around the price of a main course (or entree as the americans irritatingly call it) rather than four times the price as recommended by the real sommelier, and a pretty good pinot noir it is as well.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
It’s all brooks brothers, tortoiseshell glasses, crew neck sweaters (business casual works here) and more than a few bow ties - the smart conservative look that is almost unknown now in London.
Best of all it is opposite grand central station, one of the great station open spaces of the world. The body of the main hall with its massively high ceilings (saved by Jackie O from demolition) still radiates enormous dignity being totally free of the adverts and shops that litter british stations.
Downstairs, the dining concourse is a bit of a mess but it does contain that great wonder of the new york dining scene, the Oyster Bar. I graze for lunch on some fine clam chowder and delicious main scallops with garlic.
Monday, October 24, 2005
i venture out in the foul evening to see les paul, basically the inventor of the electric guitar who continues to play at the iridium club every monday night.
Les was born in 1915 which by my watch makes him 90. he still looks extraordinarily fit in mind and body and can still play the guitar just like ringing a bell as the old saying goes. basically grandfathered anyone who is anyone in guitar playing, most notably steve miller who grew up at his feet in minnesota.
George Melly - not yet 80 and not in very good shape at all - eat your heart out.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Sunday was dry as well so we hired again and spent an hour criss crossing the gorgeous (and rather calmer) Citudella park in the old city. One small step for man ....
widthways is around 9km or around notting hill to old street in a straight line. after that you are out to the airport or heading out to the costa brava.
it seems an awful lot bigger than that with its broad one way streets and new york like grids. i guess the mountains and sea maybe give it a bigger perspective
Saturday, October 22, 2005
There seems to be no end to the city's eating possibilities... as Epicurious.com puts it:
For the first time in centuries, Europe's gastronomic laurels are up for grabs. Barcelona is not only challenging Paris, but may have even surpassed it as the most exciting place to eat in the Old World.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Meg and Jack brought down the house at Razzmatazz, one of the best rock concert venues I have been to and Alfred was brought back for three encores at the Palau Musica, Barcelona's beautiful classical music venue. In both cases performers at the top of their game.
While the Stripes amde and demanded a might noise, Alfred was rather peturbed by the coughing from the nicotine-infested lungs of the Barcelona bourgeoisie. But that is always his bugbear - hence his poem:
The Coughers of Cologne
have joined forces with |Cologne Clappers
and established the Cough and Clap Society
a non-profit-making organization
whose aim it is
to guarantee each concertgoer's right
to cough and applaud
Attempts by unfeeling artists and impresarios
to question such privileges
have led to a Coughers and Clappers initiative
Members are required to applaud
immediately after sublime codas
and cough distinctly
during expressive silences
Distinct coughing is of paramount importance
to stifle or muffle it
forbidden on pain of expulsion
Coughers of outstanding tenacity
are awarded the Coughing Rhinemaiden
a handsome if slightly baroque appendage
to be worn around the neck
The C & C' recent merger
with the New York Sneezers
and the London Whistlers
raises high hopes
for Cologne's musical future
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
The weather was dreadful - more pouring rain - but I packed up work at midday and went for lunch with Sarah at the new restaurant next to Santa Caterina (fast becoming a fixture for us) and then in the evening we all went for dinner at Senyor Parellada, one of the city's most charasmatic restaurants which serves great Catalan food. Happy days - being 28 is going to be lots of fun ...
Monday, October 17, 2005
Dear Cooke, three generations of imbiciles are enough - love Groucho.
I ring up but of course the damn thing went in an instant at £750 ...
Sunday, October 16, 2005
It did stop raining and we had the most fantastic weekend away to celebrate (in advance) my birthday which comes on Tuesday. We headed for Tarragona and stayed at Mas Passamaner, a beatiful hotel and spa set in a 1920s modernist pile. The rooms and spa were stunning - all huge, modern, lots of slate gray with a touch of Babbington House about it. We all had massages and spent lost of time swimmiing in the indoor spa pool (the outdoor pool looked lovely but after another massive thunderstorm (yes) was a tad chilly.
The food was an odd contrast - a very classical French cusine of very high quality but completely out of kilter with the post-modern design of the hotel. And the service was very slow. That apart, the hotel deserves top marks for its enlighted policy of giving journalists 50% of their room rate!
We were going to have lunch in Tarragona but were so full from the night before 9and it was so hot and sunny) that we headed back to spend the afternoon on our favourite beach, Garaf near Sitges, where we read, ran around and Ben swam in the surf. Wonderful ...
Saturday, October 15, 2005
The good news is that the drought seems over. The resevoirs got six months rain in three days and water restrictions seem likely to be canned. taht's enough, you can stop now
Friday, October 14, 2005
The food was wonderful - I had Galician broth followed by squid with vermicelli and a reather powerful rioja. we never made the film but ended up instead in one of those little bars that Gracia (and Barcelona) does so well - packed full of good looking people having a good time. Great cocktails.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Last month I brought out some euro travellers cheques, deposited at the bank and was told they would take a month to clear. When I told the bank these chequeswould be accepted as cash in the remotest Kashmir hill village, I got the answer 'Yes but this is Spain'
And while my payment from Citywire went through swiftly last month, the UK bank found this time that the IBAN number, which combines a sort code and account number, didn't exist. For some reason Barclays Spain had seen fit to change the first two numbers in the intervening period...
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Calle Copernico 11
Tel: Our Vonage VOIP phone is now working on 020 7078 7659
Our Spanish landline is 0034 93 209 66 37
emails (just change 'at' to the @ sign)
richard at lander.com
sarah.barclay at gmail.com
rebeccalander at yahoo.co.uk
(ben - in cae you were wondering) funkylovesmanu at hotmail.com
mobiles (0034 then)
Richard 697 912 769
Sarah 697 912 766
Rebecca 697 912 767
With a bit of sign language and my improving Spanish I got out alive. In fact it looks rather good. As usual they left in the grey bits ...
Sarah gets her cut tomorrow - a rather more daunting task
in the light of sunday's lucky 2-2 home draw against zaragoza they would like to make it clear that barca are a shadow of their former selves and that rijkaard is an idiot who couldn't run a piss up in a brewery
Friday, September 30, 2005
Rebecca’s form teacher, Mr Pujol looks about 12 while her headmistress comes to the meeting in a designer fashion top proclaiming ‘no limousine, no party’. You don’t get that at South Hampstead …
Thursday, September 29, 2005
In the papers all is love again for Barca. They have won two matches by 4-1 and manager Frank Rijkaard, portrayed as a dunce at the weekend, is hailed as the new hero. 14 pages are devoted to this revelation in the main sports paper. Meanwhile Espanyol, who actually did play a real game the night before, creep in on page 15.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
We talk about Spain and the civil war and – scoop! – I discover my grandfather came to the aid of the Republicans. It turned out that an au pair of theirs went out to Spain as a nurse and Grandpa dispatched a parcel of Shevloff’s finest linens for her to take…Always on the side of the men with the white hats
Monday, September 26, 2005
The following morning I decided to hop into the city centre. The ticket clerk at the station tells me I can only use a Danish credit card and so I must go to a cash machine and get Kroner.
The capital is a grim, grey place with more unsmiling people. Even at 8.30am practically nowhere is open for breakfast and I get a stale roll and cheese in a dimly lit shopping centre. Back in the suburb where my interview is the focus of the town, the 1960s monstrosity that is the local civic centre is full of £1 shops and a dimly lit pub which is packed at 10am with smoking beer drinkers.
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen? I don’t think so.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Saturday, September 24, 2005
Later on we return to watch the main procession go down the Ramblas before heading on to see an open air circus in the park, the fireworks and a few dancing lessons in the Placa Reial, where we find the secret entrance to the best bar in the square...
Friday, September 23, 2005
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
And much cuddly comment for the city's second (and usually unloved) team, Espanyol, who beat Real last Sunday.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
The chef Carles Abellan is there, cooking, cleaning, serving and generally being most un-star chef like. The food is all sensational and by London standards amazingly cheap (E48 for the full tapas menu). By the end we are too full to do anything and head home with huge smiles on our faces after one of the most uplifting meals I have had in ages.
Friday, September 16, 2005
Another alarm call at sparrow-fart and another food-less trip with the useless British Airways to
Back home to
Thursday, September 15, 2005
So there – two things they do better in
Monday, September 12, 2005
Very draining. Up at 7am and the alarm is like a shotgun firing off next to my ear. It is the thick end of three months since we did a school run and it doesn’t feel very good. The kids look great in their new uniforms.
We were warned about the school run on the first day of the year. Ha, we thought; we’re used to the worst in
It was. Hampstead is like a drive in the country. We crawl up the hill into Sarria and then get poleaxed around the school where every four wheel drive in
Eventually we find a space and get in. Ben being Ben is up for anything. He’s greeted by a committee of three classmates and is immediately involved in game of tag. He has little idea of the rules but joins in. His little face is beaming with eagerness. It’s very moving. By the end of the day he tells us he had made six friends before the start of school.
Becca is equally brave but more nervous and by the end of the day she looks dazed and confused. Her Spanish was all in Sapnish and she didn’t follow anything. Other teaching was decidedly odd.
To make things worse for her we drag her off to the rather ghastly Black Horse pub to watch the denouement of the Ashes. By the time we have inched through the traffic it’s all done. We walk in the pub just as Pietersen is bowled after his astonishing innings. The ceremonies take ages but it’s there. We’ve won the Ashes. I dared dream we would have this moment six months ago but put it aside after the first test fiasco and never picked it up again.
We are all in bed by 10pm, completely exhausted.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Barca tomorrow night, on Catalunyan national day of all days ...
Thursday, September 08, 2005
And it's been pissing down - thunder, lightning, torrential downpours, howling winds, the whole nine yards. just the sort of weather that would wash out the 5th test for the full five days. We'll be listening ...
Monday, September 05, 2005
The squares in particular reminded me of Rome and we spent 20 minutes queuing for some very good Italian ice cream.
What we saw when we got there was a children's show in the open air, free hot chocolate and preparations for the night's communal dinner and ball. It had all the hallmarks of La France Profonde yet was literally five minutes from Barcelona's North Circular. It was pretty much the same on Sunday when we visited friends in a nearby area which is a national park. We tramped for two hours through the forest full of horses, wild boar and goats (60, lost according to two guys who asked if we'd seen them). Yet they can be downtown in 20 minutes.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Then a second mortgage job on uniforms (but we have done so well hitherto with hand me downs for both The Hall and SHHS) at Aguilera, the school outfitters just opposite the Sagrada Familia. Winter and summer uniforms for both and both seem to like theirs. Bex has a padded shoulder gray jacket and Ben a white polo neck and red jumper that makes him look like he is set for 18 holes at Sunningdale. Pix to follow.
Other news - still very hot (and weathermen say more to come). And they still haven't finished building the church ...
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
The whole city is very easy to get along with. Cheap and reliable public transport or you can drive into town and park for £1.50 an hour. Or take a taxi to get there for £3. Compare and contrast with London where you pay a king's ransom for crap public transport or take massively expensive taxis or £4.50 to park in the centre.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Friday, August 26, 2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
V windy on arrival but nothing has changed - same restaurants, shops and people who run them. Celebrate with mind-numbing sangria in Casino bar
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Another great find for dinner - Limbo, just off Via Laeitana near the port. Ben demolished the slow-cooked lamb which he said ´was the best ever´(apart from mine, he ever so politely added)
Saturday, August 20, 2005
then we went up to the olympic swimming pool above the city in montjuich park and swam there - something i have always wanted to do. as we did the storm clouds gathered and a huge shower burst over the pool with the torrential rain crashing like stones on the azure water.
And to round things off, a trip up to the hills above Barcelona for dinner at Can Carbonell, a rustic Catalan restaurant on a dirt track in the heart of the national park above the city. great food from the fire and stunning views on the way back including the Camp Nou abalaze with light as Barca played Betis in the Spanish cup.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Becca, with obvious nerves over leaving her friends behind, has created her own world in her bedroom. Ben says he wants to stay here for ever and has already deposited one football over into the neighbour's yard. Like 95% of the area and 80% of the city, the neighbour is away so who knows when he will get it back. Almost every shop, bar and grocery is 'tancat' - closed - until the end of the month. Most flats are shuttered. Supermarkets open shorter hours and the buses run to different timetables in August. Even around El Born in the heart of the city things are quiet. Only La Ramblas seem as heaving as ever and even there our favourite cafe (L'Opera) was church-quiet at 11.45pm last night.
Achievements so far? Equipped the flat with crockery, cutlery, sheets, towels etc in one mind-blowing morning in Ikea, rented a car (a cute BMW) from Avis (for some reason a branch in a suburban industrial estate) and filled in endless forms in Barclays to create a joint account. And tried the local restaurant (Mexican but half decent food and not a bad caiparhinia). And met the porteira, Meribel, who looks after the block, delivers the mail and takes your rubbish out.
Oh yes we have a kettle so we can have a nice cup of tea ...
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Not only did our sons immediately head for the garden to play cricket but Ali picked up his electric drill and fixed our wonky kitchen cabinet door. He then refused to take any type of payment.
A fine man and a testament to the social power of eBay.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
And that's apart from all the out of date homeopathic medicines and other lotions and potions that are being binned, and the clothes and toys hat are off to the charity shop.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Calle Copernico 11
Tel: Our Vonage VOIP phone is 020 7078 7659
Our Spanish landline is 0034 93 209 66 37
Mobiles to follow.
emails (just change 'at' to the @ sign)
richard at lander.com
sarah.barclay at bbc.co.uk
rebeccalander at yahoo.co.uk
funkylovesmanu at hotmail.com