Saturday, November 30, 2013


I love living here, I am truly enjoying learning the language, and I am delighted with the friends I have here, so when you read what you say next, it is not meant in the spirit of criticism, ultimately, I am mystified.

There are many words that in English, we take it for granted that everyone knows.  The names of trees for instance.  Virtually everyone with a reasonably level of education knows a poplar, a pine, a spruce, an oak, a maple, several varieties of maple, etc etc etc...if we get exotic, something like a rowan, fewer people will be familiar with it (unless they read Harry Potter, or live where more of them grow).  I can't think of anyone who doesn't know what a saddle or a bit or reins are.  Or bricks or clay or a kiln.

Not so in Catalan.

Walking on the weekend, they were struggling for the name of a poplar - om they told me, though on further looking, that's an elm, and we were definitely looking at a poplar of some form.  Which I just looked it up and it's an àlbera particular type of poplar, or as I was told, a pullancre or a xop, which may be the name for poplars in general.   This leads me to think that alongside a general lack of vocabulary there are a vast number of names for different things like trees, which considering the sheer range of accent and vocabulary from town to town, that is not a big surprise.

I know a man who is a sculptor, he makes and sells art made of bronze and clay all over Europe, and he teaches this in one of the two art school in BCN.  He did not know the Catalan words for kiln and clay, which I just found out today.  A kiln is una bòbila, clay for making bricks etc is argila and a brick is un maó, which I have heard but totxo is much more common.  (my Catalan teacher did know these words, but had to be prompted - he is trained as an architect and rides horses, so my questions may have run in his favour, horses, woods and kilns!)

Saddle?  Sella.  I asked.

  • bridle - brida
  • reins - regnes
  • girth - la cincha (spanish, didn't know the word in Catalan - la cingla)
  • bit - el ferro (he's not sure that's the correct name, rather one they use)
  • stirrups - estreps

Mostly I wonder how it is that people don't know these words.  Adults with a good education.

I am mystified.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Finally, photos from the weekend!

This was, in all honesty, one of the coolest walks I've ever been on with the group here.  Really great.  COLD as all get out, what's that phrase?  Cold as a witch's titty?  Cold as a well digger's ass?

Whatever, it was chilly!

We climbed some a river way, which was, as you can see below, seriously vertical, very very cool.  What they call a grimpada, which means you have to deploy your hands to make it up.....

There were kids along with us who found icicles, and like kids everywhere, were eating them.   In Catalan they are often called 'caramels de gel' -  ice candies.  The girls were hilarious, parts of the climb involved the possibility of a serious fall, and involved some real climbing in cold and possibly icy conditions....the girls were forced to leave their icicles at the bottom as they needed both hands to climb, so they spent the entire time calling up to me asking if there were more icicles at the top.  Love what is important.  No fear, no nerves, just wanted another icicle!  They were great.

There were also another couple of women who were fast walkers!!!! They walked at my pace!!!!! And they were funny as hell.  We spent a large part of the time passing each other... and repassing and repassing.

We stayed in a refugi that was very remote.  Kind of pricey, but good, and had lots of wood work which is not typical here in Spain.

The next day, we saw lots and lots of animals...this little pony followed us out of his field, and as none of us were horsemen or women it took us a while to convince it to go liked following the kids when they were running, so that worked, we got the kids to run back in and then shut the gate and the climbed out.

Mountain horses and ponies tend to be big of body and short of leg.

We were greeted by some donkeys, who wanted affection and got it!

Saw a mass of beautiful snow covered mountains

The area was spectacular with lots of pointy mountains sticking up out of nowhere.  Beautiful!!!

Like one of those old chinese paintings.

You can get a bit of an idea from here, but mostly this is view......

Oh, and a cow.... her calf was running around in and out of the field.

Fabulous weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I have some photos from the weekend, but

I have something else I'm thinking about right now.

For some of the classes I teach, I put up readings that I find from around the internet for them to work on, develops vocabulary and grammar structures and then they have to talk about them in class.

Well, you know what?  They make up the kind of news I'd like to read.  You see I don't read the news very much.  It is one sad story after another of a corrupt stupid ass politician or a crime or a murder.  Some of these do have an impact on my life, but damn it is depressing and it doesn't change. Honestly we'd get on the boat for 11 months, and the news would be the same when we got back.  A couple of deaths....but really, not very different.

This kind of news is important in its way, we do need to police the politicians, we do need to know what is going on in our world and how it will change our lives, but the world is full of amazing and astonishing and awe filling things, and for some reason, they just don't get the same coverage.

So, here I bring you a collection of stories that I find excellent....

Otzi had tattoos!

Toddlers are smarter than 5 year olds

This house is AWESOME  I want to live in it

Seahorse hunting

Babies start wet, get drier!!!!!

Noisy street food in China

Limitless graffitti

Zoran Popovic

Worlds tallest domino tower falls

London book benches

Forgive me, but I think it is important too that art is being made in all sorts of places and has been for millenia, that toddlers are brilliant (never doubted that, glad the science is catching up) that seahorses are huge hunters, that we are bags of water.....that you can buy street food in China that is part art, part music and part performance.

Important, and this knowledge, and the knowledge that people are out there working on these things also changes the world, changes what I think about the world and changes our lives.

So there you have it, a collection of news, from me to you.



This is

Monday, November 18, 2013

went to BCN

and it rained so hard I had puddles inside my shoes and my undies were damp...twice in one day.

Got this photo.  That's it.

Yes, that is a bathroom sink, in the Olympic stadium though...and it's pretty cool...despite the crap on the's a tiled wall, a metal sheet that tips back and is set out from the wall and a big drain on the floor.  Spare, efficient and only wets your shoes a bit I imagine!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


The computer, blogger and all are being a pain in the butt, so this isn't the shot I wanted, but it's the one I've got.

Day off

Had big plans for today that I was really really looking forward to...and they got cancelled.  We were supposed to be kayaking on the Ebre with a bunch of friends, and it is a big muscular river.  My back is still quite dicey, the man has a cold and the forecast was for rain all day and up to 45 k/h winds....possibly against the current.

As your kayaking skills are, shall we say, limited, we bailed.  Better part of wisdom it seemed.

So, today, quiet.  Had a two hour nap, lost one of those nasty black toenails, painted a painting, that I think will be finished and read a whole book.  Also went climbing with Youngest, which given the back at the moment, meant mostly watching her and getting on the wall briefly amidst a cloud of swear words...figure it's better for your stomach than ibuprofen!

Will post a picture of the painting if I get around to it....and now I'm off to watch Big Bang Theory with Youngest.

Into BCN tomorrow......I hope, if it doesn't get canned due to the rain.  Catalans hate getting rained on, to make a generalisation.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Can tell I don't live in Wales

The weather today, 8 degrees, 45 k/h winds, some rain (max 20mm)

Everything grinds to a halt.  The lunch (admittedly a barbeque near the beach) got cancelled, the kayaking trip is going on, though without us, we don't have the experience nor the skirts nor them clothing, and I have bailed on the trip into BCN too....sitting by the fire.

Getting wimpy in Catalunya!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Into BCN again

Checking out modern architecture today.....

This hotel was designed by Jean Nouvel, who did the Torre Acbar in BCN, but also did the Museé Quay Branley in Paris, which I adore!!!!  Strangely he doesn't have it on his'd think you could pay someone to keep that up to date.

Anyway, it's a pretty cool building and was pretty darned empty when we were there.  I imagine that when there's a big trade fare's kinda not in the center of the city.  It also much have cost a BUNDLE!!!

This is the building we went to see, some kind of hotel...pretty cool design...

This building is next door, a sort of unexpected surprise.

The original one, this architect, I am told, likes to work with print on glass, I think it is kind of fancier than just print, but it doesn't seem like it is destined to last.

This one is by a Japanese architect, and is likely to feature again next week!

I like it.

The surprising other building, I like the geometry of it...


Back to the original goal...the other three sides all have that white palm tree top shape, while this has cloud pattern and is open in the middle, filled with trees and plants!


We went up to the terrace, the advantage of looking and speaking like you come from abroad, is that people believe that you come from abroad!

Nice pool, no?

This however is stupid.  This is what they have for goes up to about 6 feet or 2 meters.  NOT POSSIBLY can easily be climbed, and if you look, it would be quite a big fall.

We wandered in some of the central section as well....pretty no?

On the left are the bedrooms, a little tricky to figure out which is yours!

Another neighbouring building, not as elaborate, though I like the work with the red, blue and green.

And as an aside, seen quite randomly in another part of town.....some more traditional architecture.

Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just a dog walk

I've not got so much time for walking the dog this year, and so it seems more special again.  Took the camera along one time....

It is lovely to live here.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Seen in the woods:

Here's something more bucolic for you all!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Some random photos from TO

Clearing out the photos on the computer, and came across these.....

tossed in these nasty photos of my toenails after that overnight race.

Youngest figures you need a tough stomach to read the blog lately.  She may be right.  At least I haven't taken updated photos of those nasty kinda loose toenails!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mountain biking

Went mountain biking with the man today.  I do a fair amount of cycling these days, back and forth to work every day, about 14K with nearly 200M of climbing every day.  Not a ton, but not nothing either.

I have not, however, ridden on trails for a very long time, I'm thinking over 20 years.  Till today.


It was actually a lot of fun.  Anyone with any mountain biking experience would have died a thousand deaths watching us, but we had fun.  Part of our anticipated route turned out to be too technical for too long, so we bailed and took another route, that I had walked a couple of years ago.  Turns out I don't remember climbs well when I've walked the route.  THAT BABY WAS STEEP!  and LONG STEEP!


It was great we were debating our final route down home, we had two choices, the way we came up, which would involve no further climbing, or another route, which had the benefit of being different.

I had climbed.

At one point we saw the goats!  There's a big herd that wanders around and provides milk that is made into lovely cheese.  The dogs were working the goats, they had headed the wrong way and we could hear the shepherd, or goatherd I guess calling now and then, and the dog was rounding the goats up, no barking a muffled low whine kind of noise, and off they went....

action shots below.  If you look carefully, you can see the dog in both of the photos.

Shower time!!!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Youngest's hands

See, she's taken up rock climbing. More like she has been taken up by it.

Can you say obsessed?