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.

IMG_8199

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

balneari
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?

image

Hello.

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?

 

I am the person who went away, then came back?

IMG_7653

When I promise I will do something I am usually pretty good at doing it.

But clearly when I promised to write here every day, I over-estimated my ability to actually do it. So perhaps I am not as I thought I was at all.

There is just too much going on and when I do have time to sit and write, I meet resistance. All I want to do is read, or watch In Treatment on ororo.tv.

My brain is totally full of lists and plans and ruminations on how to resolve the damp problem outside the house, whether to lay tiles or a floating floor, how to get the internet connected. Then the sun shines and we make a dash to the beach to try and swim while there is still a chance.

Everyone is saying what a bad summer it has been but really it doesn’t seem too bad. Isn’t this just what it is like in Cornwall in August?  I seem to have forgotten what is normal any more. Obviously it is not hot and dry like in Catalunya but isn’t this a typical summer here?  And when the sun does shine as it did two days ago, it is quite hot. Finally we made it down to Roskilly beach and had a swim. The water was warm-ish and as always, you felt so much better for having been in. But the thing with the weather here is that you can’t depend on it – it is changeable and not reliable. Like me?

What I wanted to write about tonight was the programme, Future Proofing,  I heard on Radio 4 this evening. They were talking about identity and how much it is affected by the communities you feel a part of. Family, home town, work place, country. So, if you are away from those familiar groups you can begin to wonder who you are. The positive side of this separation is that you are free to explore who you can be, outside of who you have always been.

Interesting thoughts. I certainly went through a crisis of identity when in Catalunya as I felt people mainly saw me as a foreigner, a stranger and an older woman in a youth-based society.   I wasn’t funny any more – just a quiet person with British reserve. It took a long time to begin to feel I had any other identity that was unique to me.

But also I felt free to be a different person – to speak, dress, behave, think, communicate in a more relaxed way.  I did things that I had never tried to do when I lived in the UK. Like dancing in the mountains.

And now that I am back do I feel the old identity pulling me back into line?

Yes, I do although it is self-inflicted and no-one is monitoring me but me. I feel a stiffening up, a tightness in how I walk, speak and act. I don’t hug people as much. I don’t smile as much. I feel more rule-bound and less experimental. Something seeks out the safe and familiar and rejects the strange and new.

Sunshine!  I miss it and how the warmth melted away my tensions.

But the main question that nags me since my return from Catalunya, and even more accurately since walking the Camino is ‘Who am I?’ and can I find more honest answers to this now that I am both returned from abroad and not yet fully back at home?

Do you know who you are?

Would you answer that question based on your family, your nationality, your work, your politics,your sexuality, your beliefs?  Do other people define who you think you are?

To Everything There Is a Season

I went away for 6 years so I shouldn’t be surprised that there are lots of things to sort out on my return. Both on the inside and the outside.

The house is the same house but it has also changed. I need to do a lot of work to make it comfortable.

We discover a large slab of granite right in the middle of my living room

IMG_7422The stone needs to be broken up. The floor to be excavated. Piles of rubble were dug out, shaking the foundations and ultimately creating more space

IMG_7721Move a piece of furniture and a damp smelly corner is revealed, mouldy from lack of air. Things hidden need to be brought out into the open.

IMG_7727

My stuff has travelled miles and miles – going south and then back north. It still hasn’t quite found a resting place.  Much still needs to be sorted out

IMG_7719

I need others to come and help.  It’s too much to do alone. Today the wood arrived and the process of construction began.

IMG_7725Always there is the sea and the sky.  Constant sources of peace and comfort.

IMG_7718It’s not only physical you know.   Moving means change on all levels.  Go somewhere new, come back to somewhere old and familiar, nothing is ever still and you never really can go back home.

 

It is always new and everyone and everything has changed – including you.

 

 

 

Up High

Remember what I said about the new cat in town getting perspective by going up high?

We happened to pass St Buryan church when the tower was open to visitors.

It’s a beautiful climb up the spiral staircase and then some amazing views from the roof.

20150808-224207-81727220.jpgI remember that when I first arrived in Granollers I liked to climb up to the Torre to look out over the town and beyond to the mountains.

Phoenix jumps up to the large storage shelf above the bathroom every time she feels scared.

Today we sat on a bench high up on the cliff looking down on Gwenver Beach

And here is the view from St Buryan church tower

Image I started the day feeling tired and heavy, wanting to stay in bed to avoid all the worries and the feeling of overwhelm about all there is to do here.

But after climbing up high, getting a different perspective, I end the day feeling much more peaceful and positive.  It’s quite interesting to see how it really does change your view of life.

(thanks to Pep Mogas for the photos today)