Saturday, September 24

Went to an Catalunyan outdoor boogie woogie concert

met this gang of loud women-with-many-fans-and-one-man

the following day we went to see Vivian Maier's photographs

that was a high point

Best resignation letter ever

Thursday, September 22

Barcelona was hotter than hell

The puppy and I assumed this position A LOT 

I had one great skirt, long and billowy and I wore it constantly  

After a week I realised that maybe I should wash it then I put the clean billowy skirt out to dry. The washing line cantilevers out off the balcony -we were way up at the top of the building.

Because I am new and stupid I didn't put enough pegs on the skirt so when I next looked out of the window my skirt was no longer there.  I went outside and leaned over the balcony - my skirt had caught on the washing line of someone below - but very delicately. Before it blew off again I rushed downstairs and knocked on the door of the apartment and as I waited for the reply and noticed the tumbleweed in the corridors I realised that I was the only person stupid enough to be in Barcelona at this time of year - everyone else has found a mountain to visit.

The puppy and I gazed down at the skirt and decided that it would definitely blow away in the night.

For the next few days I peered down below to see my skirt still there and then about a week later I came in the front door of the building at the same time as a lady with her arms full of ciabatta she looked at me suspiciously and said

where are you?

I said that I was with the puppy in the top appartment

Ah - the two boys - where have they gone?

I told her we chatted and then she said

I was in the mountains for two months - I have your skirt would you like it back?

Sunday, August 28

Currently living with a range of beautiful flooring designs

khaki harlequin floor with red braid trim, accessorised here with red chewy

pink-and-white zig zag floor with visible mend

classic monochrome

all floors available with added canine

Wednesday, August 24

I stayed with Mrs Madrigal's daughter

last night in Barcelona*.

She let me into the house,  showed me the bed I could sleep in - which was on this veranda. We exchanged stories and then she disappeared. I'd spotted the kitchen but after she'd gone I needed the bathroom which I knew was behind one of the closed doors along the corridor - the first doors I tried opened onto other bedrooms where young women were reading or doing their hair - we smiled and said perdon/de nada at each other before I closed their door and tried the next one.

I particularly liked these family photographs on a shelf in the living room

*I'm guessing it must be Mrs Madrigal's daughter because I felt as though I'd turned up in an Armistead Maupin tale

Sunday, August 21

I'm packing for Spain

- in preparation for the trip I've been meeting Dolores for a daily dose of language exchange - I still can't pronounce the Spanish word for lawn and she laughs when I talk about fingers or toes so I will avoid conversations involving those things.

Part of the adventure will involve looking after a not-very-young puppy in a fancy-pants district of Barcelona, apparently he can't too walk far so I plan to buy a trolley as a sort of puppy pushchair.

In other news

I have spent the last two years trying to find someone who can mend bits of the house - during this time there have been:
i) the ones who said they'd come to look but didn't
ii) the ones who came to look but didn't send quotes


iii) the one who came and told me that he could fix everything then put a call out on social media to see if there were any unemployed burglars who'd like to come and fix everything

Saturday, August 13

During this week of family meetups

my five-year-old-niece went to visit her uncle-who-lives-in-a-palace 

The palace has shiny parquet floors and is decorated with many glass orbs and other delicacies. The niece and her brother are very lively and nosey people.

The uncle laid out ground rules:
no sliding on the floors, no looking in cupboards, don't touch this or that or that

the niece listened then asked

can we fart?

Friday, August 12

During a family gathering this week

my father and I took turns to relate the story about how he came to visit me in France in the early eighties: I was working as a goatherd in a remote woody-hilly place somewhere near the Pyrenees and had sent a letter home describing the route to get to my hut, it was illustrated with a map and my father used it to pay me a visit. *

it was a good story with lots of adventures  - there was one part that I had never heard before:

My father left me to get on with my goatherding and went off to do a few days walking in the area by himself. The first night he stayed in a B&B then continued on his way. A few hours into the day's walk he stopped by a hedge on a dirt track to scrump a few cherries when a van hove into sight and stopped next to him, there were two men inside - one from the previous night's boarding house, this man leaned out of his window and said   

Monsieur, you left this at our 'ouse

and handed over some greyish white fabric that my father recognised as his own, rather unfashionable, underpants

* the map and another version of this story is here

Tuesday, August 9

on the bus to London

I did knitting and caught up on podcasts -  99% invisible - for a story about the worst smell in the world then a piece about 'sewbots' at Planet Money. Yesterday's best show was Freakanomics  about racial profiling in restaurants if there were shows like these in Spanish I'd be fluent in no time - if anyone knows of any good ones please send me the links.

yes I am still trying to speak Spanish like a native - did I mention that I'm off to Spain soon?

Dolores and I still have our regular spanglish meetings, we speak Spanish one visit then English the next - today was English day and, as she is a professional sportsperson, we discussed the fashion for 'cupping' amongst athletes.

When it is my turn to speak Spanish I seem to always end up talking about insects 

Thursday, August 4

we're plagued with flies

massive bluebottles suddenly appear and buzz crazily around the room bashing into windows and light fittings

tonight I watched one drive himself into a tiny spiders web, the tiny spider was hiding behind a book licking his lips as the fly (which was 10 times bigger than him)  tangled around in the web 

finally the fly buzzed itself free and continued it's noisy flight around the room but this time draped in cobweb like a great big ghost fly

Wednesday, August 3

my jobs-to-do list could wrap twice around the house

this sort of thing has colonised the terrace 

there are days when I sense that the jobs-to-do-list may have reduced infinitessimally 

last week

the electrician fixed my blinking lights.

I told the electrician that I could use some young muscles to tidy up the terrace which has become submerged beneath gigantic tufts of a hybrid-vigour-super-grass that is anchored firmly between the paving stones. The electrician said   

I know someone  

being Welsh his tone is naturally ironic so I was not sure what would happen


A plump sixteen-year-old crept up to my gate clutching a plastic carrier bag full of crisps and orange fizzy drink.  He tickled the grass with a spade for a couple of hours we were both relieved when the rain gave us an excuse to call it a day and head home for chips

in other news

I have fixed 2 sets of broken curtains

Monday, August 1

The Haitians got lost backstage

at the other end of the arena -  a man with a buggy got them rounded up and driven over to our stage, they spilled off the buggy and ran around laughing and kissing us all, there were at least fifty ten people if you counted all the seeing double that was going on.

Meanwhile in front of the stage the audience had been sampling the wine provided by our sponsor and were already pretty happy but they  roared with approval to see a cascade of stoned people arriving on and around the stage giggling and dancing. Their music was fantastic but they weren't up to slicing vegetables - several audience members were pulled onto the stage to help including a girl called Trixie wearing a very short white fairy outfit and crimson hair .

Trixie was able to chop cabbage, twist open bottles of vinegar and fry plantain while band members fell at her feet and grinned at her.

The woman in the Haitian band was the danciest and had many many silk patterned scarves  tied around her waist which she dispensed liberally along with perfume and many kisses - my scarf is blue stripey with flowers and a rude fruity smell, apparently it contains a lot of voodoo so I have put it in a nice box for safety

Friday, July 29

I wore emerald silk

to attend the festival

looking around the market area there was a table piled with old costume jewellery which I picked through and found some earrings to go with my favourite daisy necklace (which I was wearing as you can see from this picture taken near the best food stand)

The jewellery seller sidled up, looked at me and then at the earrings I'd chosen and said approvingly  

Ah yes, I can see that you're a fan of early plastic

Other things

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Thursday, July 28

Vine leaves were the biggest challenge

I live near Turkish supermarkets and various sorts of hippy shops and imagined these to be the least of my problems but it appears that Bristol is experiencing a World Leaf Shortage (and I needneedneed them for WOMAD see my post from two days ago)

I returned home leafless to meet the new electrician who arrived before I'd had time to clean the grease off the broken kitchen light that I hoped he could fix

at peak panic a chum appeared and we both busily phoned potential vine-leaf vendors while watching time running out on shop-opening hours

at the latest moment a leaf supplier was discovered and the person with a bike had to cycle to the other side of the city to buy pickled foliage while I washed my embarrassing light fitting and made tea for the electrician

Tuesday, July 26

A naked man was in the road

two doors down from the friend I was visiting this evening

it was raining so I wondered if he was making the most of the free water but then I saw the mattress wedged half-in-half-out of the open front doorway of the house - maybe it was throwing him out for being unfaithful

he saw me looking at him and said

I forgot to put it out earlier

Monday, July 25

to make Kale crisps

tear up dry raw pieces of kale leaf without any stem, rub them over LIGHTLY with nice oil and lay the pieces out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and bake in a moderate oven for about 5 minutes.   When you remove them from the oven you must EAT THEM INSTANTLY they are delicious for precisely 30 seconds ... at 31 seconds they are foul

I'm all about food this week

WOMAD starts on Thursday - this is the 10th year that I will be shopping, chopping and hopping around for this musical food event

This year's big challenge has been to find a ewe's cheese like one used in Romania to make a rustic dish called Shut-up-and-swallow. I am also looking for live clams, garden eggs and several shades of yellow/green plantain

three years ago Babylon Circus made this film about their experience of Taste the World

*if you click the 'womad' tag below all previous posts on this annual extravaganza will appear

Saturday, July 23

The Man cycles to the pub on Friday nights

he meets other people there, they drink pints, talk about car engines and catastrophise about Brexit

today he told me about the previous evening and said that he thought that his daughter might eventually want to join in on the Friday night pub merriment

why do you think that?

well I asked her along and she gave an excuse rather than just said no - it'll probably take a couple of years before she does though

Friday, July 22

An abandoned steel chair frame

arrived at our house 5 years ago

I gave it an new coat of red electrical wire  which faded and became saggy and sad 

luckily i was recently given a few miles of knicker elastic by the underwear factory down the road  - chair is refreshed

Thursday, July 21

Doloresand I visited the river today

She produced special oily ham from Spain and I supplied a pair of pears. We ate our picnic listening to a roaring weir and squealing children then I picked my way into the river for my first dip this year.

Wednesday, July 20

from the end of the garden I could smell hot jam

and figured that my neighbours must be processing some of their abundant fruit.

then I remembered that I had put plums on the stove to stew - the burning jam smell was coming from my kitchen ... 

Friday, July 15

Kale Mountain

I'd photograph it but the pile of vegetation arriving from next door has got to the point that I can no longer push my way into the kitchen, there's also lettuces, raspberries and a cabbage the size of a big man's head

In Other News

I've been scraping the rust off my Spanish - listening to Spanish radio through the computer and language exchanging with Dolores - in this dayandage we should be able to meet in a clinic, have wires attached to our heads and download each others language files but unfortunately we are still poor so we meet every day for one hour: Spanish on Monday, English on Tuesday and so on for ever until one of us leaves the country.

Tuesday, July 12

So I made a gooseberry ice-cream

but I can't get it in the freezer because it's full of the wool that I've been hiding from the moths

so I haven't actually made ice cream at this point - just a sort of cold fool!

Monday, July 11


arrived on my doorstep today, plus raspberries so soft that I have already squashed them into some cream and dates for my tea

Saturday, July 9

While I was in Wales

the Man started putting out food for Mrs Bird. 

I was hanging out clothes this afternoon and she came hopping around near my feet - the Man said

she wants blueberries

I put some blueberries out on a plate

no you have to cut them up, she likes them quartered

I did this then turned my back to do some other chores, when I looked back at the plate the berries were so cleanly gone that I was sure that it must've been the Man eating them and pretending - like he used to do the Tooth Fairy. He came out behind me and looked at the clean plate

she likes some cheese after blueberries - shave a little Parmesan for her

It's like Santa Claus all over again

Friday, July 8

I was in Wales

and seeing a tiny charity shop, I went inside, it was crammed full of the sort of items that might be left after a garage sale had finished, all piled in that way that the removal of one thing will bring an avalanche of plastic beakers, blankets and jigsaw boxes down on the large woman on the sofa in the middle of the jumble who was staring at me

then a cross woman came in

My daughter's just bin yer, she bought these curtains off you and she wishes she never 'ad - she wanted plain and these are patterned and they don't suit 'er room at all - will you change 'em?

sofa lady indicated the other two curtains available - a single stained shiny boudoir curtain and a torn stewed-gooseberry throw. Curtain lady and I dos y doed in order that she could get into position, inspect them properly and decide which would look better in her daughter's room.

I'm nuturing a growing obsession

with bacteria - the more I read about them the more I love mine. Ten days ago the dentist made me drink a suicide cocktail of antibiotics and I've spent the intervening days growing a replacement microbe population.

In scientific experiments, lack of gut bacteria makes mice unhappy and listless - they won't bother swimming to safety and that definitely happened to me - I too forgot how to swim to safety without my biome.

This enthusiasm for all things bacterial might not be making me the best company at parties - best avoid me until I'm past the honeymoon phase of this particular relationship.

In Other News

Summer popped briefly in to the UK last month - then we had a referendum - Summer buggered off leaving Squally Showers to punish us for being pillocks.

Our political landscape has become a surreal farce with various overgrown schoolboys running away to hide behind their mother's aprons while peeping out to point and laugh at the Punch and Judy show going on in the Labour party. Our next Prime Minister will be one awful woman or another awful woman, which might be better than a series of awful men - but not much.

A Happy Thing

Mrs Bird still  pops in to nitpick about the state of our kitchen

Saturday, July 2

is there a word for the opposite of talent?

Inabilities doesn't seem right I want to call it 'anti-talents' which might be an infection caught from a year in academia where making up words is de rigueur

Friday, July 1

my gum is stitched up

the wrist magically normal again

I paid my mother-in-law a visit - her back is bad and household chores are accumulating.

The job that most needed tackling turned out to be ironing - it didn't seem fair to mention that I'm the world's worst ironiste so I got started ...  

After a while we decided that I might be more usefully employed in the garden.

So that I wouldn't feel bad about the ironing, mother-in-law listed the two other people (both children) who are worse at ironing than me.

Monday, June 27

Owchy time

the IN/OUT of Europe referendum has stirred up an underbelly stew of misery - we're still reeling from that debacle.

also my wrist has been malfunctioning - today I went for a cortisone injection at the hospital which was really really hurty. On my way home from the hospital there was a limping man who was hurting a lot more than me and really needed the hospital so I turned around and we walked back there together with him using me as a walking stick and it must have looked like a very funny three-legged race because the path was all pot-holed and we stumbled like a pair of drunkards.

Tomorrow I am having more dental work done but afterwards I shall go back to London and look after my favourite cats while my bruises go yellow and purple.

In other news

The Birds have tolerated us poking about in their garden for long enough and have started visiting us for a good nosey around. Mrs Bird, appalled at the standards of housekeeping among humans, comes in every day to try and tidy us up. Mr Bird sometimes comes with her but he usually gets tangled in glassware or computer cables and makes things worse so she usually leaves him behind to look after the children. This is today's visit

Friday, June 17

Where to start?

there were cats and now there are none

there was school but that's  finished for summer

I'm sort of back in Bristol but keep going away - that embroidered rendition of Clifton Suspension Bridge was discovered on a visit to a Stoke Newington junk shop on wednesday with my fairy-godmother-aunt who haggled mercilessly to buy it for me. After the f-g-m-a left I met my tutor and asked him if our exam results were out yet

yes but I haven't worked out how to publish them

visited Holy Island with the Man to see the priory and the upside down Hobbit boats

then to Scotland to see my sister and the nibblings where a discussion of future careers was going on:
adult: you can be anything you want
five-year-old : can I be a Wot Wot Hoo Ha?


I feel the need to draw your attention to this poem about hermits

Monday, June 6

It was like the Sleeping Beauty House

While I've been up in That London for the last few months the dust snuck in and blanketed the house - slightly less in the places where someone had brushed a space to eat at the table or torn a path through the cobwebs on the stairs.

But I'm back and banging moths out of their sexy revels in my jumpers, degreasing the stove, taking the bindweed off the pinks and marigolds in the garden and getting my sunny sunshine clothes out from the under-the-bed-boxes.

It's lovely to be home
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