25 February 2008


I'm going to send the blog into hibernation for a while. I have four weeks left of my current teaching job and have a feeling those weeks will be a bit crazy - stuff involving testing, marking and writing reports. And then the trip to Australia. See you when life is slower :)

Day 4: Dark and Quiet Places

Near the Roman Wall, Barcelona Inside a Cathedral, Barcelona
Arch leading to Roman Columns; inside a cathedral

I told you I chickened out of travelling to Barcelona alone. It's true. But I did actually spend the last two days there by myself - Lauch went back to London earlier. I did a tour of the old city - the Barri Gotic - and found some cool places. The top photo is of a little alley that I didn't want to go inside. It was at the end of a very narrow street and it was creepy and had flies in it. But I stepped through anyway and found the most silent and almost worshipful room with three or four incredible Roman columns, intact. The other buildings had been deliberately built around them to preserve them.

The photo of the candles was taken inside a cathedral. I was the only person in there and it was all walls of golden pillars supporting different icons of saints. All gold glinting in candlelight and ornate patterns on walls. The Spanish sure know how to make an impressive church.

24 February 2008

Day 3: The Rain in Spain

The Rain in Spain Maoz Felafel, Barcelona
These photos were taken in the same street, a few minutes apart

Just in case you thought it was sunny in Spain in the middle of Winter. It isn't. Despite an official temperature of 15 degrees, we still had to wander round in coats and woolly jumpers and actually shivered every now and then.

The photo below is Lauchlin's new favourite shop: Maoz vegetarian felafel shop. I never quite worked out how to say it - "Mah - otz"? "Ma-woz"? Whatever. They make you felafels inside a toasted pitta bread, and you can add stuff. The spicy yellow chillies are great.

22 February 2008

Day 2: Inside Casa Batllo - House Inspired by the Sea

Inside Casa Batllo Light, Casa Batllo, Barcelona

There was a cheesy voiceover on the audio tour, suggesting that now we had walked around inside Casa Batllo, we would never look at things the same way again. "Ha!" Lauch and I laughed. "As if our lives have been changed forever!"
I didn't admit it at the time, but secretly I think my point of view has been changed. Doorways that aren't square, but round? Painting the walls to look like cracked desert? Using cement to create flow and drips and ripples on the walls and ceilings? I honestly have never thought of these things and cannot believe Gaudi thought them more than 100 years ago.

Here are a couple of my photos of Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia. And here are a few more - because my photos hardly do it justice.

Day 1: London, And Then...

Coast Near Barcelona Escriba Cake Shop, Barcelona

We left for Barcelona at 5.15 in the morning. I'd originally booked to go to ALONE, on my first international holiday BY MYSELF, but.... the guidebook kept going on and on about how common theft is in Barcelona. I started to think it might be better to have a big muscly man by my side. In the end it was a good thing Lauchlin came, because we ate dinner exclusively by candlelight. Without him it would have been a waste of perfectly good romantic atmosphere.

14 February 2008

Buildings of the Future and Brains of Today

Barbican Barbican
Boys at the Barbican
We were at the Barbican, there to see a Luis Bunuel movie. I took these photos with Frank's wide-angle lens. Love the distortion!

I have nothing to say apart from that. My brain is scrambled eggs. Scrambled pirate-and-bookweek-and-tshirt-design-competition-and-and-and other end-of term madness.

11 February 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy (Happy Chinese New Year!)

Lanterns and National Gallery, Trafalgar Square

Chinatown Chinese Lanterns Dancing Ladies, Chinese New Year Parade

Souvenir Seller, Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

In which Luke, Trang, Lauch and I eat at Mr Kong's in Chinatown. (Where else?) In which we eat steamed sea bass, vegetables in black bean sauce, crispy bean curd and sauteed dragon whiskers in garlic sauce. And chinese green tea. And watch smoking, crackling fireworks during broad daylight. Clouds of gunpowder smoke fills Leicester Square and little red bits of firecracker drift down and cover our heads like red dandruff.

9 February 2008

Borough Market Outtakes

A couple more photos from the Borough Market area. Which is right near famous stuff like London Bridge, the Golden Hinde and the whole area along the banks of the Thames.

Borough Market Hipster Band Borough Market Flowers
Pink Floyd Graffiti Super Soft Ice Van

From above left: Borough Market hipsters busking; flowers for sale; misspelled graffiti (kind of ruins the whole attitude of the thing); Mr Soft Ice attempting to sell ice to eskimos. Or, really cold stuff to really cold people. Or maybe he has doughnuts in there too. Hot ones.

The Old King's Head View Under the Overpass
Space Invaders Tile Graffiti Hop Factors Building

From top left: The Old King's Head - a pub with reputedly wicked pub theatre; the road as you drive across London Bridge; Space Invaders Tile Graffiti; Hop Factors Building - so skinny, so cool.

7 February 2008

New Year

Vietnamese New Year

Tonight it is Vietnamese New Year at our house. There are red candles in pairs, incense that smells like lotus flowers (it's supposed to be lily but it's how I imagine lotus flowers would smell) and big bowls of fresh fruit.

3 February 2008

Lost in Time

Steam Rising from Mulled Wine, Borough Market
Steam rising from mulled wine, Borough Market

Borough Market has this incredible feeling of age. It's been a market since about 1860. Being there among the hordes of locals and tourists feels like being amongst all the people that went before me.

It was eight degrees outside, my hands were frozen inside my gloves. But somehow I felt caught up in time, walking through places in the footsteps of Shakespeare and Dickens and before the future people who will trail on after me. It made the world seem bigger than frozen hands.

Sometimes I wonder why I would ever want to leave this place.