Thursday, August 23, 2007

The blog is back!

Almost three weeks of holiday are winding to a close and pretty good they were too. Better than that in fact. Blissful, trundling the old family car across mainland France, Italy and Corsica with scarcely a traffic jam in sight. And not a single airline check in queue … and we were still all talking to each other at the end of it.

Corsica completely knocked us out. The landscape, the town of Calvi, the beaches and the blue, blue sea all came as a complete surprise, as did the very good food and wine. It’s a place we’ll go back to again and again.

The weather was also sensational there which is more than can be said for much of Europe. Britain’s summer has never happened while much of France has also suffered in the cold and rain. Becca and I came back to Barcelona for a brief sojourn and drove through one thunderstorm on the Costa Brava and endured two more back here.

The Catalans who went to the seaside for August have endured grey skies and wet beaches, those who went to the Pyrenees to escape the heat have been buying jumpers. Our chicken seller in the market says she went to Ibiza for a week and had one nice day.

The Big Heat of August has never come and La Vanguardia says air conditioner sales are down 60-80%. Now it’s stopped raining it is a lovely 75F but cool in the evening. This after the Winter That Never Happened …

Through it all, Tony Wilson died. While all the noise has focussed on his ‘Mr Manchester’ music fame, I knew him when he was a much-loved friend of the family back in the 1970s.

While all my school contemporaries were wallowing in the heavy metal trash that was Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and (God save them all) Yes, Tony would burst into our living room, grab the record player and put on Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen, both billed as the ‘fucking future of music’ (or perhaps ‘the future of fucking music’ – time clouds his exact words). He was right and I have a lot to thank him for.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summertime slow

Like a dying swan, Barcelona is ever so graciously wilting in the heat and winding down for the summer.

Our local market is 80% shut as is the baker, the grocery and many other shops. Parking spots are in abundance even though all residents’ bays and pay and display are free for the month.

The biggest noise is of people banging on the doors of dry cleaners as they realise their clothes are locked up for the month. ‘I love it being so quiet here in August,’ said one friend. ‘It’s just a shame everything is shut.’

We are off on our holidays tomorrow in the car to Italy, east and west, Corsica and mainland France. Very green aren’t we? I love the idea of no airports after 50+ journeys a year, no packing to fit, nothing to catch. We have boats to chase at some point but not tomorrow.

Meanwhile yesterday was pretty special as it marked the 20th anniversary of the first time Sarah and I kissed (aahh!) and look what became of that. We marked it by going out en famille to eat tapas at Txakolin, one of our very favourite joints, and then to see the fusion flamenco band Calima play in the palm-tree strewn garden of the graceful and charming Atheneu club. Here’s to the next 20.

Meanwhile my early 50th birthday present to myself arrived – the rental for one year of two top-class season tickets for Barca. Not cheap but you are only 50 once. I am truly blessed …

Holiday well and will be back towards the end of August …