Off to Barcelona!

This is just to say that I am going to dance some tango today!

The first time in many months.

Originally I planned to go to a milonga alone and just see if I could get a dance – I don’t find it easy in Barcelona, it was better when I first came and I was full of determination.  But then I went through a barren period and haven’t really recovered my confidence. 

I saw that Gisela, my teacher in the past, is running workshops today, Hoy Pruebo El Otro Lado, in dancing on the other side – leaders following and followers leading.   It seemed a good way to re-enter the world without putting myself through some kind of lonely milonga torture.  And I can already lead so I don’t have to worry too much. I am still nervous though.

So off I go!  I even arranged to meet a friend and so won’t have to go in alone. Looking after myself!

I will report back how it goes. I’m so looking forward to walking through the Cuidad Vella down to Carrer Avinyo.   I love that area.   I am heading for a cafe called Venus.

Open Doors at Hospital Sant Pau – but not for long!

On Monday I went up to Barcelona to meet a friend and we went to visit the recently restored modernist hospital of Sant Pau.  Until March 16th you can go and wander round this amazing place for free but after that some parts will be used as offices and as a conference centre and only a small part will be open to the public as a museum

There are 12 buildings in this huge complex and a landscaped garden with orange trees

It was constructed between 1902 and 1930 and is a must see for anyone interested in architecture in general and modernism in particular. I had no idea it would be so magnificent – everywhere you turn it is WOW!

For four years it has been under restoration with European grants and although some parts are still being worked on there are several buildings open for viewing

The buildings were the work of the famous Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner

The origens of the hospital go back to the 15th century when the Consell de Cent (the old parliament) brought together six Barcelona hospitals and started building the Hospital of Sant Creu. At the beginning of the 20th century the banker Pau Gil funded the construction of a new hospital to provide care for a rapidly rising city population, The result was the Hospital Sant Pau
He wanted his initials to be an integral part of the building  – so you find P and G in many designs

I am not going to go on any more about the history – we need all the space for pictures

I thought this was the caduceus but I now find it is the Rod of Asclepius which has only one snake

The caduceus has two snakes and wings and was the staff of the god Hermes.  Asclepius is a god of healing and medicine. The original Hypocratic oath began with the evocation ” I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods…..”

The ceilings are worth a post to themselves

and the windows

 designed to let in the maximum light. They knew about light and space and the importance of beauty

Imagine being in a hospital ward with these roses all around the walls

Here is a picture of the women’s ward when it was fully funcioning

The exterior walls are also full of interesting details

The restoration has been as environmentally friendly as possible. The whole complex is heated using a geothermal system with all components hidden underground.  It is incredible to think of all the work that went into creating this restoration. One of the exhibition displays likened it to healing a very sick patient – first the diagnosis which revealed terrible deterioration and years of neglect, then creating a plan and making decisions, followed by intensive treatment  and now finally the result – a potentially vibrant and inspiring place to visit and work.

The pictures speak for themselves – this is an incredible place and if you have the chance to see it before March 16th then go!

Market Day in Figueres

Up bright and early to go on the school run to Figueres. Bonnie was a bit surprised to be leaving the house at 7.30am when it was still dark.

We had a wander around the market watching them set up their stalls. It was much quieter than the market in Granollers – people standing around chatting rather than shouting at the top of their voices.
But to be fair perhaps they are like that in Granollers too at 8am – I have never been to look!

In the vegetable market there is a large sculpture of George and the Dragon – both looking strong and proud – forever caught in that moment before the fight begins. I much prefer it to depictions of the dragon losing the battle. But whatever George thinks – that Dragon will always rise again!

Beside the police station with it’s Spanish flag there is a window with the Catalan one

A Figueres hotel welcomes old cows like me!  In the Taurean sense of the word.
As we left town it began to rain – I can’t remember the last time it did – and as usual most people had umbrellas handy – except us!
Yesterday we took the Blue Dog sculpture down to sit in place beside Blue’s grave.

A very peaceful place to sit and dream.

The view to Canigó

We are now at Sant Nicolau.  Bonnie is happy and well.

Our morning walk is down the lane which leads winds through the woods and emerges at what must be one of my favourite views. Across the fields lie the mountains.  On the left I see the dark shape of Mare del Deu del Mont which is actually not far from here

Beside it to the right, or so it appears, is Canigó now covered in snow

This beautiful mountain is in the Pyranees, in the region of Rossello´ in France. But ask any Catalan and they will tell you it is in Catalunya Nord, that part of the country which was ceded to France by Spain by the Treaty of the Pyranees in 1659

Canigó is deeply symbolic for Catalan people. There is a famous poem about its legends by Jacint Verdaguer.  And a beautiful song called Muntanyes del Canigó. I am trying to learn it while I am here and practise singing every day on our early walk as well as in the little church.

I am not always moved by mountains, I am more of a sea person. But I love this view.  A few years ago we went to Prades and climbed Canigó. Just short of the top there was thick mist so we turned back but it is something we will do again sometime soon.

Every year at the feast of Sant Joan, close to the summer solstice, a group of young people from Perpignon take a flame which is kept lit all year round and climb with it to the top of Canigo´. There a large bonfire is lit and more torches are taken from this mother flame and carried far and wide across Catalunya to light the Sant Joan fires. Crowds of people climb the mountain to be part of this ancient ritual. After the descent the torches are taken away by foot, on bicycle and in cars. they say that over 3000 bonfires are lit from the one at the top of Canigo´.

The flame is symbolic of the life and vitality of the Catalan culture. The mountain, although it lies outside the borders of the present Catalunya, exists outside the world of treaties and countries and frontiers. It is very powerful and as I look at it each morning it is clearly part of this landscape

Here is Marina Rossell singing Muntanyes de Canigó.  I searched through several versions and this is the one that I like best. It is a beautiful song but so often these culturally significant songs are sung too sentimentally as I know from a similar tradition in Scotland.
This one is lovely and listen to how she rolls her rrrrr’s!    I need to practise that more.

Muntanyes de Canigó
fresques son i regalades
sobre tot ara a l’estiu
que les aigues son gelades
que les aigues son gelades


Saturday night much needed Vermut

As Fly Lady says, ‘you are not behind, just start from where you are’   So……

I’ve just had a friend to stay with me here in Granollers who I haven’t seen for two, or is it three years?  We had one of those wonderful weeks where there is plenty of time to catch up with everything but not in one great gulp.  We let the conversation meander between memories of when we were 6 and first met, to recent life changes, to current concerns, to music, back to families, stories from when we were teenagers, drugs, books and poems, kittens and dogs and everything else in between.

I’ll try to do the same thing now with you, letting the subjects rise and fall in their own rhythm.

I gave up my fasting diet for the week and ate and drank solidly throughout. It was lovely but now I’ll be returning with pleasure to the 5/2 diet where for 2 days a week you reduce your calories and feel hungry for a change. I’m pushing myself to get fully into kilos and grams and let go of pounds and ounces in more ways than one!

The Foot
Every morning this week I cycled to The Mútua for physiotherapy on my foot.
The journey up through France and north to Scotland then back down again caused a repetitive strain tendinitis in my left ankle.
I now know that this is a common injury and could have been avoided if I had rested more.   It didn’t start hurting until it was too late and by then I still had to drive and walk so compounded the problem.  For two months now it has been hard to walk, not helped by my impatience to take Bonnie out so that as soon it gets better I overdo it again.
I am having Laser and Ultrasound and Tens daily. It’s a sort of DIY system in the clinic where you clean the equipment and get your own ice-packs thus freeing up the staff to spend more time chatting with each other at reception

Art at Last
My friend Christine and I went to an art class in Granollers this week. It is amazing and is exactly what I have been looking for since I arrived but before I could only find classes for children.
We practised mixing colours in acryic paints which was like a meditation and totally absorbing

 I’ve always ended up before with mud brown and now I know why.
For days afterwards we were ‘seeing’ colours all around us. Look at this street corner in Granollers

Did you know that Malva is the Spanish word for Mauve?   And the Malvinas?

Now to get to the biggest theme of the week. The car.
In brief (which is difficult to do when something is obsessively churning around in your head) I bought a left hand drive Spanish registered car when I was in the UK. We drove home in it which meant that I could rest my ******* ankle.  It is a lovely car but when we went to Sabadell to register ourselves as the new owners, we couldn’t. We don’t have the correct paperwork from the UK dealers.
This is Spain. You need the correct papers and lots of them.  It is all a terrible muddle and errhhhh!
It has driven me crazy these past two weeks.  Very luckily we were able to get it through the ITV which is nothing to do with television but is the Spanish equivalent of the MOT.   You don’t need  to be the owner at the test.  The car is insured but that is it –  we don’t legally own it, there are several outstanding debts on it, we are not able to pay the road tax as we are not the owners…….. and the phone calls to the dealers are no fun.  I’m sure there will be a follow up to this saga….

That’s it for now then. If you are interested in seeing lovely photos of our town then can I invite you to take a look at the Facebook page Aboutgranollers?   I am building up a collection of images about what was called in the Guardian, this nondescript Catalan town.
And a last picture from today’s walk/limp in Montnegre. These are the trees that give us cork – they look so naked and unprotected after their outer bark has been taken. Think of them when you next open a bottle of wine.  But meanwhile, Salut and have a happy weekend wherever you are.