Tuesday, April 30, 2013


The next new activity!  Sweep on a race.

That was as cool as marking it, easier too as you didn't have to figure anything out, just remember not to cut off a finger with the box cutter.

Another 20K, raining again, though not so much.  I wore more too, which helped.

Conducted a scientific experiment as well, gloves, even if they are super thin fleece gloves help.  Even if those same super thin fleece gloves are so wet that every time you make a fist water runs off your hands.  Still warmer than bare hands.

Something to bear in mind!

It was the muckiest bit of trail I have ever walked.  Mud that came up over the tops of the boots and so much of it that you don't even try to avoid it.

Didn't even fall, which has to be something of a miracle, and as the three other sweeps and I went dressed as witches, we had to have brooms after all, it was a BLAST.

If anyone ever asks you to do sweep on a race?  Do it.  Fun fun fun.

Monday, April 29, 2013

marking a course

The other day I had the good luck to go out and mark a trail race.  Never done it before and it was genuinely fun.

Trail races are sometimes marked with chalk on the ground, but with this one, they decided not to do that and it was primarily marked with plastic tape, like the cops use, hanging from trees and branches to show the way.

Five of us set off together to do it.  We started out pretty slow, but gradually got our pace up and better organised.  Figuring out how we were going to mark the corners and the confusing patches.....

The only thing that really made it stand out from most similar days doing something like this was that it was POURING on us.

You may record that a few days ago, I was commenting on the topless women sunbathing on the beach.  Now we're back in winter coats with rain rain rain rain and more rain coupled with wind.

We had 20K of mud and slop and rain.

Wring out your underwear when you finish kind of rain.

I have not been so wet in quite some time.

Fantastic, like a kid.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Flamenco and a four year old!

One of those, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore moments!

The other day I was teaching a class and one of the four year olds in the class asked if she could borrow a pencil.  The sweety even asked in English!

Better still, she sang the request....sang it Flamenco.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

One thing I learned from teaching

And this is definitive.

There is no such thing as telepathy.  People cannot read minds.

I have had so very many students staring at me so intently during an exam, as if willing the information to leap from my head to theirs, and it never. works.

I have often looked at students trying to find an answer or a word, projecting it madly in my head, to no avail

Sad but true.

We do not have this ability.  This I have learned.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sant Jordi and a temporary rose

Today is Sant Jordi here in Catalunya, the patron saint of Catalunya.

The tradition is that people buy each other roses and books.  I love this tradition I have to say, truly adore it.  The man and I went down to the plaça to look over the books.  meh.  The used ones were crap and the new ones were pricier than we felt we could spend.  We'll pick up a book for each other one of these days.

We picked each other roses from the garden and got a candy rose for Youngest.

At work, I got a couple of roses as well.  One is a miniature rose plant!!!   Lovely!  She's four.

Another little girl, five years old, leant me a rose.

I love this.  It is a plasticine rose that she made at school, really a very nice one, and she has given it to me till Thursday, then I have to return it so she can give it to her dad.

Well organised this child.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Difficulties bike riding

It has just gotten warm here, indeed during the last week, it was positively summery.

Folks flocked to the beach.  And as is typical here, many of the women were topless.  I am the freaky one, the hotter and sunnier it gets, the more I wear!

Now, I ride my bike back and forth along the beach to work three times a week, and during the winter, it is easy peasy, not too many people, pretty quite, some runners that's about it.

Last week though?  Goodness gracious me.

When we first got here, I thought that the guys would sort of get used to topless women at the beach, it would become something kinda normal.  Then I realised that no, they don't really, but whatever.

However!  The beginning of the year is a whole different thing.  The pedestrians are ok, they are walking slowly enough that they can gape and drool without missing much or changing direction violently.  The bicyclists though!!!!! They are going too fast to get a really good look, so when there is a lovely and extremely sparsely dressed young lady tanning on the sand, some fairly heavy braking occurs and the related swerving around as well.

As I do not find the view quite as, uh, titillating, my biggest problem is their suddenly erratic speed and direction.

These boys are both hard to avoid and hard to pass.

Maybe if I rode topless too?????

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A day out with Youngest. Un dia amb la Petita

Youngest and I headed into BCN to go ShoPpinG again.  Culture?   What's that, we shop it seems.

ANYWHO....I needed new runners and Youngest, headphones.

First though, an ice cream break.   The only problem with this photo is that it makes it seem like the double ice cream that Youngest had is smaller.  It isn't.  It's twice the size of my lemon one.

Urp.  Very nice ice cream it was too.

The running shoe hunt has so far proved rather hopeless.  I went to a local store on Fri, no luck, nothing that seemed really...right.

Then in today to the running store that the Man goes to all the time with tremendous success.  Seems that my feet are exceptionally large by the standards of Catalan women runners.  They had only two pairs that were theoretically my size and they were toooooo small.  So then they had me try on a bunch of men's shoes. My feet are toooooo small for mens shoes.  Frustration.

So, after doing some more shopping in BCN, successfully for Youngest's headphones, art supplies for Youngest, Eldest and me (PAPER!!!) and shorts and a new top for Youngest...we went home.

I c.r.a.s.h.e.d. in a delightful nap.

Then stubbornly I decided to go running in the shoes I have.  Longish story. A couple of years ago I bought runners to take up running.  They have now pretty much given their all, so I bought new ones a few months ago.  Only problem is that my knee started hurting with them.  Though that was also when I had a lot of longer walks and started riding the bike as well, so a little tricky to parse out exactly what was the culprit.

But, as I seem to be entirely unable to get trail running shoes that fit my feet in this country, I'm going to try out the -really fun and light and great to run in, but possibly hurt my knees - running shoes again.

Went today, short fun gentle run.  No problems,  fingers crossed.

I will probably buy some very cushioned mild trail runners in TO this summer for running on the road and a bit of trail.  They should have my size anyway.

Then Youngest and I went to the newly opened local bouldering gym, which we have been to every day this week (can you say obsessive?)  It is a whole lot of fun!

And there's still tomorrow in the weekend!  Weeee!!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Barceloneta and the Passeig Maratim in sculptures

The other day the Man and I went into BCN on a photo assignment!  Kinda sorta.....

We had to take photos of sculptures in Barceloneta and the Old Port. 

What a hardship.  This is what most of it looks like, little narrow streets, apparently the apartments inside are very very small.

An accidental sculpture....still pretty cool

The market out there, supposed to look like waves I take it.

Love this sculpture.  Love it.

Another view

And another.  See?  I do love it.

Frank Ghery's fish...glowing in the sunshine

fish and sculpture.

Found this one and I LOVE it.  Have to figure out whose it is.


The other one again

This one was OK, and I'm pretty sure he's a fairly prominent Catalan sculptor, I haven't done the homework for you yet though.

This I love though it doesn't look like much.  The Catalans  have a name for every different wind, and there are a lot of them.  In the pavement near the port, the names are embedded in steel.  Love the idea and the fun of going to find and read them.

Lichtenstein's tribute to the city.

Columbus Monument with the woodwork of the boardwalk and Montjuïc!

Graffiti art

The couple.

Lovely traditional boats

OK, this is a ramp, but I think they did a nice job with it.

Someone or other and Columbus peeking over the building.

In the port

Ones, or waves over by the cruise ship port.

Near the Columbus Monument.

Columbus himself.

A monument to a group of US marines that died in the harbour here in BCN, they were coming back from shore leave in a boat which was hit by another ship and sank.  A lot of them died, and it is apparently the worst accident to have happened to the US Marines outside of wartime.

It was quite a while ago.  I'm thinking the 60s but I could be WAY off.

Well, this would have been a better post if I'd done a bit more of my homework, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Hope you liked the little mini-tour.

Should do something similar again.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tea for two.

Lovely day, beach, breakfast with a friend, BCN with kids, out for lunch at a fabulous Pho place, got some new tea, work was good, a meeting with lots of laughter, and dinner at home that the kids 'waited' on us. Lovely lovely lovely.

This morning though.....the friend had bought new tea for breakfast and was a little dubious as to how good it would be.  So was I honestly.

Anyway, we'd both set the table, the tea was brewed, we sat down.  Poured out our tea, I put in sugar and milk, we chatted away, took a mouthful and started looking frantically for a place to spit it out.  Not the gardens (we were eating outside - I love Catalunya) so I ran in and spat it out in the sink.

The friend was a rather concerned that the tea was THAT bad!

but no.

Tea just doesn't taste all that great with salt in it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

London, day three...the final day.

Our last day in the UK we went to Bletchley Park, which was seriously amazing.

Bletchley Park was where the code breakers worked during the second world war.  Figuring out how to break the German's codes.  Seriously neat.  This is a reproduction of a computer - well, officially it isn't a computer it's some kind of electro-magnetic device, but it works like an extremely basic computer to eliminate impossible options for the codes.

Have you seen the movie, The Enigma, was made back in 2001, never heard of it myself until I went there, but the Germans had an encoder called the Enigma, all quite complicated, and it would be a long and slightly dull post if I tried to explain it, as I don't understand it well enough to explain it elegantly.  ANYWAY, around 9000 people worked at Bletchley Park during the war, one of the major centers for military intelligence spying!!!!

After HP and the fight against evil, we had the fight against Hitler the next day. Rather fitting in it's own way.  

Here's is a model of one of the machines they used, as mentioned above.

The German't enigma machine below.

Alan Turing was involved in the project and a key designer of the system that broke the code.  An amazing man, he was a brilliant mathematician, the father of Artificial Intelligence, created what is now called the Turing test, a wildly successful crypotologist, rowed for Cambridge where he worked, an accomplished long distance runner - indeed, on occasion he would run the 68K into London if he had a meeting of some kind.

Handsome too, as Youngest put it, he got the front of the line on every ability.  He was also gay was tried and charged for 'gross indecency' by the British Gov't at that time.  His punishment was either prison or 'chemical castrastion' with female hormones.  He committed suicide two years later.

Below is the official letter of apology from the gov't of the UK. From 2009.  Seems to me a wee bit late, but good to have still.  You should be able to read these things if you click on them.

We took a tour of Bletchley house proper, it had been a home farm with a good mansion'y kind of pile on it, lots of wood and decorations, like this ceiling.

The view from the loo.

Someone had a sense of humour in the boat model section.  Here we have a double scull.

and a rowing eight.

There was also an exhibition about the use of passenger pigeons in the war to send messages.  The trick of course was to send the pigeons out to the men and women in enemy territory.  So some of them were parachuted out in contraptions like this one.


Honestly, it was astonishing, and if you ever go, do take the tours, they are free and they tell you a MOUNTAIN of wonderful information.

Very very very cool.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

On the naughty step

While we were in London, on the first day, I wandered down a side street looking for a short cut to the riverside and went past a cop on a horse, on the way back I stopped to ask him a quick question and the horse turned his head to give me a big curious horsey hello!

Turned out the horse (sweet beast) was on the naughty step!  ( I found this particularly amusing as there was a step on the boat that the kids had to sit on if their behaviour had been particularly appalling, along the lines of, do that again and you'll have to sit on the step.

I didn't know that happened to horses, but it seems it does!

He had, apparently been very very bad.  I can't, personally, imagine what a police horse could do that would be all that bad outside of kicking random pedestrians, but seems their standards are rather higher than mine

Seems that, possibly as he is a young horse, he isn't very good at standing still (nor am I) so he was standing on this side street for half an hour.  Hence the naughty step.

When the Man and Youngest appeared he moved one forefoot a step forward.  Hope we didn't doom him to another half hour of standing!

He was a sweety and the cop sounded pretty amused.  He didn't seem overly bothered either.

It'd have to be a pretty big step, no?  Wouldn't fit on the one on the boat, that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Harry Potter, or Day 2, or the best day in Youngest's life.

Today, as far as Youngest was concerned was THE day.  And I have to confess I was pretty excited too.  My Aunt, Uncle and Cousin seemed pretty keen as well, even though it was a return visit.

Yes indeed, the Harry Potter Studio tour.  It was even cooler than I'd thought it could possibly be.  WAY.

I've read all the books (a couple of times), seen all the movies (a couple of times) have been on Pottermore (I'm in Ravenclaw, my wand is is 14 and a half inches made of Rowan wood with a Unicorn Heart string core and is reasonable supple), so you could probably safely say that I too am a fan.

I took a lot of pictures.  Sadly the lighting was kinda low so a lot of them are a bit blurred.

Here's a few:  (I took many more, so this is actually pretty restrained!)  If you're not an HP fan, you might as well go and make a cup of tea or something, or not, and maybe you'll be one by the end!

The bedroom under the stairs

Part of the entry into the castle

Slytherin robes

Ravenclaw robes

The great HALL!!!!!

Prof Flitwick, Mad-eye Moody, Prof Trelawny, Prof McGonagall, Prof Dumbledore, Snape, and Hagrid.

McGonigal and Dumbledor

Ron's bed with Harry's in the background

Ron's dress robes

The major wands


Various bits of amazing-ness

Snape in his rooms

The sorting hat

Mad-Eye Moody's trunk

Dumbledore's bedroom at the back of his office, fully furnished, but never fully seen in the movies, just glimpses!  AMAZING

Muggles under the new ministry


Umbridge's office

I solemnly swear I am up to no good!

How many millions of people half hoped to get one of these on their 11th bday?

Umbridge - tee hee!  *shudder*

The Potter house

THe NIGHT BUS!!!!!I got on board!!!!

Butter beer is YUMMY; though not warm.  Only slightly disappointing note in the entire day for Youngest

The bridge, didn't appear in the books, but it was a good innovation for the movies

A pawn...

Dumbledore's hands, a dwarf goblin from Gringott's bank, the one that Voldemort kidnapped, Griphook, Voldemort and Quirrel

Grawp, Hagrid's brother

DOBBY!  *sniff*

Look at the detail on those feet!




Olivander's!  LOOK AT ALL THE WANDS!

Fred and George's SHOP!

Puking pastilles!  The purple coming out of his mouth MOVED  :-))))

We finished the day off with Wii Mario Cart and take-away Indian food.  Fabulous day.  Simply fabulous.