More news from Catalunya

Catalan news from my Twitter feed

  • Albano Dante Fachin is Secretary General of Podem – the Catalan branch of Podemos. I liked his speech very much in the pre-independence debate and he is proving to be an interesting person to watch. He thinks for himself. He is Argentinian (a plus for me) and speaks great Catalan.  In a newspaper interview he said today, The Spanish and the Catalan Left need to make their minds up what side they are on – democracy or not. Today is is Junqueres and the others in prison – tomorrow it could be Ada Colau (Barcelona mayor) or Iglesias (leader of Podemos)

See what I mean – he’s not scared to speak out!

  • Barcelona football club has hung a massive Catalan flag on one side of the Nou Camp ground in preparation for the match with Seville.  That is a match I would love to attend. I wonder if Pep’s brother-in-law will be there with the family Barça ticket?
  • Today in the Usher Hall in Edinburgh there was a show of support for Catalunya with people holding up flags
  • Over 40,000 people marched today in Bilbao in support of Catalunya and against the anti-democratic actions of the Spanish government
  • 8 Catalan teachers have been charged by the Spanish courts with hate crimes. What did they do? They were leading discussions about the police violence on 1st October.
  • Remember the Galician teacher who encouraged his class to discuss Catalunya?  He is now in prison.
  • Meanwhile as I am sure you now know, the members of the Catalan government who returned to Barcelona from Brussels were sent straight to jail by a Spanish judge. They have not had a trial or been sentenced but are being held with no trial date yet decided. On the way to prison they were mocked, handcuffed, not allowed to eat and generally treated badly. Two were strip searched. All part of the Spanish government policy of humiliation and bullying. Lawyers have started putting in official complaints.

Someone asked me this evening what exactly Carles Puigdemont is doing in Brussels.  Obviously I don’t know the answer but I am confident that he is working hard for the Catalan people, speaking to other European leaders, and the press, and his lawyers and others who are taking a close interest in this matter. Even though EU leaders are quietly turning their heads away, there are many people who are outraged by what Spain is doing. Every day there are more and more statements from all over the world expressing dismay at the lack of democracy in Spain.

I see Puigdemont as a very rational and intelligent person – with integrity and a deep sense of responsibility.

He is not hiding.

He is not running away.

He is not pulling the duvet over his head and hoping it was all a bad dream

Catalans have long known the hidden side of the Spanish state and so all that now shocks us so deeply is not a surprise to them. It is a painful and sad time but it is a necessary process to take off the masks and see a new truth.

Now that Belgium has decided they will not extradite Puigdemont without a proper legal case being heard, there is the opportunity for the Spanish Constitution to be discussed, in public, in full view of the whole world. So long as the President is there, he is the best chance Catalalunya has of getting a fair hearing.

So, that’s my summary of some news that I read today. I also found a youtube video of a message written by a Spanish woman to her child – it was interesting and was a positive response to all that is going on. She denied the importance of the Spanish flag or the anthem, and gave a long list of what she feels it means to be Spanish – tortilla and tapas, friends teaching you the Sardana in Barcelona, drinking Orujo in Galicia, learning how to count in Euskadi, loving the Mediterrean, etc etc….a full description of all the cultures and the food of the peninsula.   I watched it then lost the link…..

If only there was a Spanish government that could embrace all of the land that is Spain and Catalunya and Galicia and Pais Basc. If only they would encourage people to love the diversity rather than fear it. If only Rajoy and his team would stop their mission of terror and decide to turn around and talk and make peace. Apologise perhaps for the mistakes they have made. Soften and open up their hearts rather than fuel the anger.



Catching up with the news from Catalunya

independence for Catalunya

There is so much happening that I don’t have time to write an individual post about each event.  We travelled back through France and are now in Cornwall – physically far from Catalunya but emotionally still very connected.

Here are some of the things that are coursing around in my brain

    • As we drove through France I put on a Joan Baez CD. There is a track Last Night I had the Strangest Dream and as it played I suddenly began to cry. The events of the last weeks – the vote, the police violence and the horrific videos showing attacks on unarmed people, and the refusal of EU leaders to speak out, all suddenly felt incredibly sad.


  • A teacher in Galicia is being investigated by the Guardia Civil after complaints from parents that s/he had led a class discussion on Catalunya.  We later saw students protesting outside the court in support of their teacher
  • Many companies including my bank Sabadell have moved their main offices to Spain to avoid problems should Independence be declared.  Now Seat – I am proud to say this is my brand of car – has let out a nasty little secret – that both the Spanish government and the King (!!!) had been on the phone putting pressure on them to leave too. Offering incentives of course. Seat have refused and will stay.
  • The more I watched videos of places where the police violently tried to stop the vote the more I realised that I was very lucky not to see any. I visited four places in the Emporda and actually there was a lot of police action in that area. It was just chance that Zero and I were not involved. Some places were small villages. Just like in my post about the voting – people were calmly and with determination protecting their communites and their ballot boxes. Until the Guardia Civil arrived. Someone suggested to me that places with Socialist majorities were not attacked but places with Independence parties in majority were targetted. No proof of this but it’s true that Granollers in spite of being a large town was left alone and its mayor is from the Socialist party.
  • Stories about the urns.

    What we would call ballot boxes. It is almost surreal. Hard to believe when you come from a country like the UK where many people can’t be bothered to vote at all.  The voting boxes were ordered from China. They were delivered to the part of France that Catalan people call Catalunya Nord (once part of Catalunya, a long story, for another time)  Then very shortly before the day of the referendum they were brought over – in private cars – little by little – by brave people.  Can you imagine this?  Feeling that you had to hide a voting box in your car and then in someone’s house?  Because it was illegal!!!!

  • Stories about the voting stations.

People I know, real people, slept overnight to protect the urns and the papers and the places. Others kept watch outside. There was a massive and well planned organisation to this referendum. Trust was important, and courage. It is so impressive.  And so sad that it had to be done like this.

  • Rajoy announced that he will be invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution to take over the Autonomy of Catalunya.

This hasn’t been done before.  So it’s still not really clear what will happen. But first he has to get the Senate to vote to go ahead. That is happening on Friday.  The plan seems to be to get rid of the democratically elected government and replace it with something else…..until more elections can be called.  They also plan to take over the police and the television and the radio.

  • Catalan firefighters have said no

More and more people are publicly stating that they are not having it.  . Today there was a press conference by TV3 and Catalan Radio saying they will not tolerate intervention. And the Catalan government is meeting tomorrow Thursday 26th October.  Will they declare independence finally?
Press statement from TV and Radio

  • It’s all big stuff. And it’s not just about Catalunya.

It’s about people and their right to be heard and to be taken seriously. Also democracy – and peaceful resistance to governments which abuse their power.  It’s about the lengths the powerful will go to when they feel threatened. Corruption is very central to the Spanish PP government and they have found a wonderful way to distract us from that – let’s attack the Catalans.  It’s also about the EU and how weak they have been in their response. Or maybe they want a showdown – to keep the masses in their place.  Even the UK Labour party has been quiet – I wonder about that one!  And there is fascism to talk about – and secrets and lies.

To me it is one of those times when you need to chose your side – whatever you think about independence this is a very human struggle to be heard and to be respected and to be treated as equals.

Isn’t that what we all want and deserve?

Can I Come Home Now?

It is almost three months since I last wrote here.

I can’t  blame it all on Christmas so I suppose it was just me not knowing how to write about the weird experience of being back here in Cornwall, yet in such a different life.

We managed to move into the main house at the end of October and got stuck-in to painting walls and finding places to put everything.

Just as life started to feel a little normal and calm…..we decided to get a dog.

sennen beach, border colllie
Sennen Beach – collie paradise

On November 15th we went up to Surrey to view a young collie who had arrived in the Val Valgrays rescue centre from Spain of all places. How strange is that?

It all happened so quickly and I know we made a lot of mistakes like, not finding out if he was good with cats (not) or asking if he was used to being in a house (from his anxious chewing the first few weeks I think he wasn’t) but after a very short introduction we ended up driving back to Cornwall with Zero, a Spanish border collie.  Some kind of instinct leads you on but it’s a big decision and I don’t know how rational it was – more emotional really.

All the time I had planned to spend on organising life, preparing for work, reconnecting with friends, writing the blog was immediately totally swallowed up by the need to bond with and find ways to live with Zero.

He’s lovely of course.  He is a good one.  We were lucky.  And I am walking much more than I have since the Camino.

He stops me worrying too much about what next?  Everyone wants to know how Pep is coping with his first Cornish winter but really he seems ok.   I however am reeling from the shock of finding myself back in Cornwall, with no set routine, in my new/old house, with changed friendships, in the endless rain.

And the boot is now on the other foot – I am the one in my home country, speaking my language, with responsibility to help someone feel at home. You’d think I would know how to do it after my experience in Catalunya. But interestingly, it isn’t that easy.

Be open, share everything, don’t try to control everything, be patient!    I am trying.

Lovely Cornwall – beautiful, fresh, wild, friendly, ancient, stormy, mystical, familiar.


I am here again.

What now?

Return to Catalunya

After a few months of work on the house on Cornwall the day arrived when I flew back to Barcelona.

I was really in two minds about the journey – both wanting to see my friends and to be present for Lydia’s second birthday, and also finding it hard to leave Cornwall just when the building works were coming to an end.

And also I was leaving my lovely man behind in a foreign – to him – land.

I had been sleeping badly for the last month and so just the idea of the journey was daunting.  I had a tic in one eye and an anxious knot in my stomach.

So it was with great relief that I arrived in Barcelona airport and felt immediately that warm comforting feeling of gladness at arriving in a familiar and loved place.

Went past Fernando Botero’s lovely Horse with a happy smile

Fernando Botero Horse

Straight into the station bar for a beer and a piece of truita accompanied by pa amb tomaquet. I always feel ridiculously proud to have a train ticket already.   I don’t see myself as that organised really.

pa amb tomaquet

Since being here I have stayed with friends in Granollers and felt so much at home that I got ill and spent a few days in bed!  Thank you Tiffany, Albert, Jett and Lydia for looking after me and being so patient!

I went to Barcelona to see friends and even bumped into someone on the metro – someone I hadn’t seen in over a year. Coincidences always feel good.

I love walking around the streets in the Gotic area. The main ones are busy with tourists but turn a corner and it is quiet and atmospheric

Calle Sant Sever, Gothic Quarter, Barcelona

Amma was in Granollers once again and I spent three days there soaking in the atmosphere

IMG_8177listening to the music, and eating far too many masala dosas.


I have been back to the old house.

It feels strange to be there again and to walk around the quiet rooms. I have been kicking myself for not taking all my things back to the UK when I had the chance. But it’s not always easy to make that sort of decision is it?  To leave a part behind, just in case, feels somehow reassuring. And perhaps I will be back one day. Who knows?

Meanwhile I took everything of mine and put it in one room – a motley collection of books, pictures and my own sculptures. I realised how much I want everything to be at last in one place. But I also had to accept that unless I cancel my flight and drive back in the Spanish car, for the moment, it’s not possible.

I realised that Granollers feels more like home than Barcelona. That’s funny isn’t it?  In spite of the pollution and the commercialism and the air of small town complacency, I like it here. It feels familiar and calm. And there are some very nice cafes

Catalan cafes
Breakfast in Granollers

Things to feel good about

I can still speak Catalan

I can drive my car with confidence and I know the way without a map

In the six years I lived here I met some wonderful people and have some great friends.

After arriving in Barcelona on the train within two minutes someone was asking me directions, in Spanish. Obviously I have something about me that generates confidence in my friendliness and my knowledge. This only happens in Barcelona. But it happens every time I go there.

And there are the balnearis

Broquetas Balneari

I have been to two on this visit.  One old familiar and one totally new.

That needs a whole post to itself so I will say goodbye now and be back again very shortly with a descriptions of those.

I had to write this post first – coming back is such a strange mix of familiarity and strangeness. It is a good moment to look at where you are and what has been learned but also it gives you a sense of the passage of time and the anxiety at the root of so many decisions. For me there is always a pull in two directions – to move forward or to stay where I am. To go out or to snuggle in at home. To advance or retreat. Something works in me to get me out and moving but I often have to deal with fear before I can get going.

Moving to Catalunya in the first place, then living here for six years, then going back to Cornwall, and now coming back for two weeks……it all feels quite strange and perhaps not a surprise that I got ill and had to stop for a rest.

Do you know what I mean? Do let me know in the comments if you have felt this too.


Where are you going?



I can’t let today slip by without mentioning that there have been some big developments recently.

Not so much in my life which continues much as before as we work on the house and start to build a new life here in Cornwall.

But yesterday there was another huge demonstration of Catalan solidarity and passion. Meridiana is the long diagonal road that cuts across Barcelona and on September 11th it was filled with people, calling for independence and for Catalunya to be a nation in its own right. Somewhere between one and a half and two million people were there!

Today the people’s choice, Jeremy Corbyn was elected as Labour leader. In spite of a vicious media campaign against him and attacks from within his own party, he came across as humane, honest, authentic and courageous. And people came out in support of him – hundreds of thousands of them.

Including me!

Then there was the terribly sad news that a body has been found near the Camino de Santiago which is presumed to be that of Denise Thiem.  A man has been arrested who was living slightly off the path that leads from Astorga to Santa Catalina.  I feel such a strange mixture of relief that at last we have news and also grief for her and for her family. I imagine anyone who has walked the Camino will be affected by this news – it casts a long shadow on what felt bright and clear.

There are days which slip by and you live life almost in a dream. These last two days have not been like that.  Things that have seemed to be locked in slow motion have suddenly come to an end.  Or they have reached a point of change that feels like one thing has ended and another has begun.

I am not going to make any more promises about writing here more often. It just seems hard to do it justice at the moment. But even when I am not writing here – I do think about you and about what I will write when the time is right.

There is so much change happening all around us now – and a great need to make decisions about where you are going, what you are doing and with whom?

Don’t you think so?