The Garden of Eden

Today was a lovely dreamy relaxing sunny easy day at Sant Nicolau

Bonnie and I went down to do some meditation at Blue’s resting place

I had noticed there were daisies but suddenly I SAW them – hundreds and thousands of daisies and it reminded me of being a child and making daisy chains

How many actual daisy chains have I made in my life?  Perhaps no more than 10 or so.
I decided to make one to leave for Blue

Then Bonnie for the first time went to actually lie on top of Blue’s grave

I am sure she remembers this is where we buried her old friend

It was very special down there today

Later I went into Figueres with Helen and we looked around the shops, searching for a suitable dress for me to wear to my niece’s wedding next weekend. All the other times I have been there I’ve found the town to be a bit sharp edged and unfriendly but today it was open-hearted and warm. There were musicians playing jazz in the centre and in one shop a woman was holding a small baby. “He’s my new grandson” she said  “Three months old”  I went over to admire him and he beamed at me. Usually I am the sort of person who babies turn away from or they start to cry when I speak to them. But this baby in Figueres seemed to like me and what a nice feeling that is!

Every single shopkeeper switched to speaking in Spanish with me even after I had greeted them in Catalan.  I carried on short conversations just to show it was unnecessary to change but it seemed they didn’t notice and doggedly carried on in Spanish. I know they are trying to be friendly but somehow along the way they have stopped listening and are only seeing what I look like – a guiri.

But I found the perfect dress and when I have the shoes to go with it – I’ll show you a photo.

There is still snow on Canigo and when you sit in the shade you can feel the chill of it in the breeze.
Bonnie is almost totally better now and when I got back from town she was overwhelmingly pleased to see me and what a nice feeling that is too!

Thanks for visiting me here – I hope you also had a sunny dreamy relaxing and easy day.


I don’t like to be always comparing things here with how they are in the UK but I sort of can’t help it!
Out on the street when I see people leaning over prams or greeting small children I can predict what they are saying even when I can’t hear it – and usually most of the street can hear it!
‘Guapo!!!!  Ei que Guapo ets!  Ets molt molt guapo!!!!’
I think Guapo or Guapa must be almost the first words babies learn. Guapo actually isn’t a Catalan word but it is used by Catalan people. The correct word is ‘Maco’

I’ve surely said this before but I still notice it and think how wonderful to be a child who is told on a daily/hourly basis how beautiful, how handsome, how pretty they are.

And on Facebook I also see how often my Catalan/Spanish friends post photos of themselves, usually beaming huge toothy grins, and they receive the most warm loving affirmative replies….
‘Ke guapa!!!!!!!’
‘Guapa guapa guapa guapa!!!!!’
‘Estas hermosa!!!!!!!!’
Exclamation marks rarely come alone – they are sociable things like the people here.

Then there is the expressive spelling…..
‘Te Quieroooooooooooo!!!’
‘Que lindaaaaaaaaaa!!!!’

For research purposes I had a look at some UK friends pages. It took me a while to find self posted photos. What does this mean? Shyer?  More self conscious? Less happy about our teeth? (I include myself in all those catagories)  But they are there and there are responses…..
‘Great to see you looking so happy’
‘Looking good’
‘Great picture!’

Isn’t this great?  I love the difference and the way I can hear the voices as I read the words. I have noticed myself starting to use exclamation marks more, casually casting to the winds all school lessons in composition.  And when I recently, and very unusually, posted a photo on FB of me and Pep I was very happy to get exuberant replies and every exclamation mark gave me huge pleasure, like a little girl being warmly admired in her pram!
One of the reasons I came to live here was the expressiveness of the language.
And the warmth of the hugs and kisses.
When I am writing in Catalan or Castellano I end my messages with ‘besossssssss!!!!’ or ‘petonets’ as is normal here. But I wonder what my British friends think when I send ‘lots of kisses and hugs’ in English?  Does it hit a strange note I wonder?  I have stepped far enough away from the norms that I no longer know.  It isn’t customary here to use xxxx for kisses but sometimes I do that too.

Sorry for the mixture of Catalan and Castellano here. I am feeling a bit schizoid about it as I enter my first two week Catalan intensive of the year.

As this is my first post of 2013 I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

 Guap@s!!!!!!!!!!  Us estiiiiiiiiiiiimo! Amorrrrrrr i Pau!!!!   Besossssssssss y Abrazossssss!!!!!!!

Small things

Sometimes little things make a huge difference.
I was complaining to someone about how people walk along the pavement in Granollers, seeming to come straight at me, never giving way, forcing me to avoid them. My friend suggested I walk on the right-hand side of the pavement instead of the left and of course since then I have had no problems!  People walk like they drive!

And when my Catalan teacher gave us a lesson on how to pronounce the letter ‘o’.
There are two ways, depending on whether the ‘o’ is in the stressed syllable or not.
If it is stressed then it sounds more like a familiar ‘o’ but if it is not, it sounds like the ‘oo’ in ‘food’.

This has totally transformed how I speak. It is so easy to understand and she didn’t confuse us with explanations of open and closed vowels.  Suddenly it all fell into place.
I now realise how many words I was making a mess of.
Montseny – our local mountain –  ‘oo’.  The accent on the second syllable
Moltes gràcies –  ‘o’ as in ‘lot’. The accent is on the first syllable
Montserrat – the womans name or the mountain – ‘oo’ because there is no stress on it.  But the diminutive Montse is stressed on the first syllable and sounds like ‘o’ in ‘lot’.
Josep – how can I have been getting that one wrong for so long?  It is not ‘Joesep’ but ‘Joosep’
Comprar – Accent on the last syllable so the ‘o’ is ‘oo’

I walked through the park with Bonnie one day practising all the words I could think of.
I even decided that when I next tell someone my name – Wilson – I should pronounce the unaccented ‘o’ as ‘oo’. Perhaps I can then avoid having to say it over and over and over again.


I am watching the news on TV3 one of the Catalan television channels. They are reporting on a fire which killed three women yesterday in Sabadell, a city 20km north-east of Barcelona.  The report is in Catalan, the neighbours interviewed speak in Spanish (castellano) and the story moves seamlessly from one language to another. No voice-over. No subtitles. This is because people who speak Catalan are all bilingual so they have no problem switching between languages.
Interestingly in the recent furor over possible independence one of the criticisms I heard from Spanish speakers is that Catalans only speak one minority language. Actually it is the rest of Spain who only speak one language. People here in their daily lives are constantly moving between two – and in our home – three!

I try to imagine this happening in the UK – that the news is broadcast in two languages and changes from one to another with no warning or explanation. It is one of those things that make life here fascinating.

Meanwhile I wonder how many more years before I can understand all that is said on the news!

And home again

Back in Granollers.  And it is good here too!
I went to my first Catalan class of the year, actually the first in two years.
I am now doing Elemental 1 which sounds high level to me but someone  asked me  ‘is that all?’
This time my class is over the bridge in Canovelles. It’s like a different village, like going from Penzance to Newlyn. They are joined up but not the same.
The class was nice, The others were very friendly and even when the teacher wasn’t there they spoke CATALAN!  In my other class everyone couldn’t wait to revert to Castellano which meant I was at a disadvantage. Perhaps it is because we are paying for this course. It’s only 30 euros or so but still we pay so we are keen to succeed.  Class makeup – all women: one African, four Moroccans, one Valencian, two from other parts of Spain and one Scottish. A good group.

On the way home I looked again at the fields of yellow plants and still can’t identify them but now I am sure they are not Jerusalem artichokes. And I saw lots of fish in the river – so it must be fairly clean.

Then Bonnie and I walked to the Casino to meet a friend, we talked Catalan and nothing else for two hours, Bonnie didn’t bark at anyone and on the way home there were still bands of screeching swifts high above us.  Today is October 3rd and they are still here or at least some of them are. They must be the last broods, preparing to fly off to Africa.  And I am the only person in Granollers who stops mid conversation to point up at the sky and scream ‘Mira!  Falciots!  Encara!’   (Look!  Swifts!  Still!)