Thursday, May 31, 2018

Sun and sad news

Lorraine and I heard the upsetting news today that Andros had died. An email from Sophie, saying that the funeral would be held next Tuesday. I shall of course be going to it, although as it is the first day back at school, as headteacher Lorraine won't be able to.

Otherwise we had a lazy day today.  When we eventually crawled out of bed, we sauntered down for  breakfast in the Salon du té. It was our hottest day so far, and the super stylish manageress, who seems to have taken a liking to Lorraine, gave us a plate of baklava sweetened with honey. Delicious stuff.  We did not seek out museums or art galleries today, but decided to get our travel sorted and mooched up to the station and bought tickets (remarkably easily by simply explaining in Spanish that I didn't have Spanish) for Saturday. The timings for the journey are going to be tight however.

Instead after a walk we spent lots of time basking by the pool, reading and unwinding. Then another evening walk in the heat, walking around town and sitting in a bar near the river, and drank a toast to Andros, although he would undoubtedly preferred coffee. We walked about, crossing over the beautiful river. Eventually we went to the La Fragua restaurant opposite our hotel, neither of us was hungry, but I had a tasty rice dish.

Below another doorway outside the Mesquita, the shop that we buy our water from (which always makes me think of my friend the super bizarre Richard Fleming) my lovely wifey on the Puente Romano, the Roman Bridge, as part of our evening stroll, and the Puenta de Miraflores, back over the river, which we crossed when we got to it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Holiday mode

Lorraine and I just going into Holiday mode today, and loving not feeling pressured to do anything much. Back to the Salon du Té for breakfast. We were not bothered by it being overcast and cool (for Spain) for most of the day. To the Cordoba Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum, and plenty of interesting history inside, and a beautiful museum. They seem to have invested lots in their museums and galleries, and places of historical interest. Of course this makes sense, as it is something that attracts people to Cordoba in the first place. Investing in the arts makes financial sense. Anyway, we looked with interest at the objects, then in the basement of the building was the remains of a roman amphitheater.

Out next and we had coffee served by a surly waiter in the cafe in the nearby square, before heading back to the hotel. Lorraine and I still braved the pool, reluctant to leave even when it started raining in the afternoon. The water was cold but I still managed a couple of swims, and secretly enjoyed seeing a man and his wife, I think they were Japanese, tidily come to the pool in bathrobes and slippers, dip their toes in and flinch away in horror. I imagined they were hoping for a warmly inviting onsen experience.

An afternoon walk, ended in a mostly empty bar restaurant (we were early). The had beer on tap, and we had some good food there. For some reason they were playing the same track Stay by Rhianna continually. We were snickering at the chorus... 'round and around and around we go'. Eventually two Spanish women pointed it out, and the music changed. Only for the song to reappear twice before we left. Somebody must have loved that song.

Below the museum's courtyard, an Aphrodite with realistic flesh, some beautiful lace-like work in marble. Noticed this coffee cup painted on a wall in the streets. Also, passing the Mesquita this evening, noticed a greenish look about one of the doors. Gorgeous green.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Three galleries

Mooching around the old town this morning, and popped into three galleries today. The Museo del Bellas Artes, had some strong work.Across the courtyard was a museum dedicated to the work of Julio Romero de Torres Museum. I didn't know de Torres work before now, and my two favourite pictures by him were actually in the Museo del Bellas Artes, one of them featuring a woman with a face like thunder, with a title that translated as love sick. de Torres was, we learned, obsessed with Flamenco and many of the featured famous singers, dancers and musicians of his time.

Apparently the temperature here is much cooler than usual at this time of year, which makes it warm and perfect for us lily-livered brits. After these two galleries, we crossed the Guardaquivir river to the Museum of Modern Art. This was an enormous space, which isn't properly open yet. There were about three works or art in it. An olive tree with labels to tie your wishes by Yoko Ono by the entrance and another piece about immigration to the European Union. The building itself is huge and full of glorious space. Be interesting to see what they do with it. Lorraine and I wandered about alone, apart from the attendants. It was a bit of an odd experience.

Then out into the bright day again, and we walked along the riverside, and crossed over the Roman Bridge and headed back to the hotel for afternoon basking, and reading and swimming, and lurking in the honesty bar in the courtyard. Bougainvillea petals on the floor of some of the patios in the afternoon, looking lovely before they are quickly swept up.

Out again for walks in the evening. Out for a fine tapas tonight, not repeating the pizza debacle of yesterday.

Below the courtyard between two galleries. I was intrigued by this picture by Ginés Liébana in the Museo del Bellas Artes, called Buenas mujeres para ser caballos, which I think translates as good women become horses. The other two are by de Torres, a portrait of Bendición Sánchez, and Mal de Amores,  which means Love Sickness. In the Modern Art Gallery, not yet properly open The Yoko Ono piece by the front door, and a piece by SUPERFLEX about people building a boat and setting off for an island owned by France, which gives them access to the European Union. The screen behind showed film of them building the glass fibre boat, and then the screen at the front showing them setting off from the beach.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Spellbound by the Mezquita

Lorraine and I decided to try the hotel breakfast this morning.  It was excellent if a bit pricey, but it was a buffet of cooked breakfasts, and all the coffee you could drink, which turns out to be quite a bit if you put your mind to it.

Off today to the mind-blowing experience of the Mezquita. It is a huge mosque, which has, which, after the reconquest of Spain, had a lofty cathedral built inside it, and it became a Christian building. The Cathedral part seems full of bling, and crowded and bright. What you notice in the Cathedral is the faces, and the representations of Christ, Mary and God and so on. My two favourite things there were a painting of the annunciation and the mihrab, which was one of the most spellbinding things I have ever seen in my life.

After this excitement, we headed back to the hotel to sit by the pool and chill out, and enjoy a cold beer.

In the evening, during our walk I suddenly had the idea of eating pizza, and Lorraine gamely agreed on a pizza hunt. We found ourselves in an obscure part of town, and entered a pizzeria that had miraculously appeared. The waitress was surprised to see us, and the place was utterly empty. We had two pizzas however, which were perfectly nice. We asked for two beers too, tubo, which were short fat glasses with about half a pint in them. There was no music and had all the atmosphere of a small asteroid. As we walked home, we decided that we weren't going there again.

Below  light from a stained glass window falling on the marble, the dramatic light inside the Cathedral; the annunciation; a gorgeous bible; the mosque's double arches; a geometric glass; and the miraculously beautiful mihrab.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


A great night's sleep. A big comfortable bed, and fabulous not to have to get up early. Spent much of the day exploring the old town. Back to the Salon du Té where we had an Andalusian breakfast, of omelette, olives, hummus drizzled with olive oil and a sprig of mint, lightly toasted bread, and a bowl of strangely delicious chopped tomatoes. 

Mooched about town. Passing the Mesquita, which we are going into tomorrow. However not before Lorraine was harassed by gypsy women selling rosemary. Saw a few people buying from them. At one point we were in a square watching a sparrow (there are many sparrows here) attacking a cricket which is not something you see every day. I snapped Lorraine against a background of bougainvillea. 

In the evening we walked across a bridge and back to the Roman bridge near the Mesquita. Early bats and late swallows zooming about in the sky under the full moon. All rather lovely.

Below a gate into a patio, one of the entrances into the garden of the mesquita, a typical street, Lorraine among bougainvillea, the Puente Romano, seen from the Puente de Miraflores, and some snaps on the Puente Romano under the moon. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

To Cordoba

Up at three like zombies. Cats confused. Into the car, and Lorraine driving us in the dark to Gatwick. The airport very busy at that time of day. Luckily the French air controllers strike didn't affect our 5:50am flight to Seville. Sleasy Jet not quite as cramped as last time. Poor Lorraine stuck between me, looking twitchily out of the window, and a nervously talkative farmer. The flight was fine, but I felt tense and weird and fuzzy as I had taken a diazepam.

Landed in Seville, which proved to be an easy to use airport. We caught an airport bus to the Santa Justa station. We managed to buy tickets to Cordoba in Spanglish, and some warm chicken and bacon baguettes in the station, which we ate hungrily with a couple of cokes. Three ticket checks before we were able to get onto the platform, and our cases had to go through airport style security scanners. The coaches were confusingly labelled. Several people including ourselves were ousted from their seats, by people taking their rightful places. We had in turn to oust some others from ours.

Journey to Cordoba speedy, the tilting train travelling it said at 220 kmh at some points. AN almost Japanese experience of train travel, leaving and arriving exactly on time too.

Once in Cordoba, we'd worked out that the hotel was walkable, and we wheeled our cabin cases by a green strip of park through the centre of town, and alongside the wall of the old town, and lots of water features.  We found Las Casas de la Juderia fairly easily. A whizz past various gorgeous patios, and straight into bed for an early afternoon snooze, having been up for ages.

Began ambling through the old town, narrow streets with patterns of pebbles set in concrete. We are in the old Jewish quarter. Wandering through in a bit of a dream. Stopped at Salon du Té  and drank  excellent vanilla tea, and soaked up the Moroccan vibes. Lorraine ordered some hummus and flatbreads, drizzled in olive oil. Then we threaded back through the streets back to our hotel, and had a drink in the 'honesty bar' in one of the patios, and ate the mixed nuts that the sparrows in the courtyard hadn't already tested.

We wandered out again, and found a restaurant which had been recommended, but the staff were unfriendly, so we chose another which was friendly and fun. Several plates of tapas, the tortilla and the Iberian ham particularly fine, as was the rich bottle of house rioja. Back to the hotel, and slid happily into our very wide bed, and watched the second half of the European Cup Final, where Liverpool were beaten by Madrid.

Below through a doorway in the hotel; a typical street view; a statue; in Salon du Té; and through a doorway which just happened to catch the light and make it golden -- through the door are two folks dressed in clothes for what imagine was a fiesta.

Friday, May 25, 2018


Lorraine's last day today, then all the packing to be done, and general tying up of loose ends. I wanted also to get a couple of poems sent off, but I had no printer ink. Off to Argos then, and back, before I could print anything. Chatting to Sonia, and then packing bits of my case. We are going to travel light, which means I won't be taking my computer. Lorraine home late, and we went to the Preston Park Tavern cheerfully for food and a quick drink before returning home to finish packing, and going to bed with our alarms set for a repugnant 3 o'clock.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tiredly back into the wild

Last day at the agency today. They are uncertain if I'll be needed after I come back. So I left the office not quite with a song on my lips, but with the sensation of having been released back into the wild, but on good terms. Tired, and very happy to be going home to get organised. Lorraine only has one more day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Living for lunch break

Conflicting messages about whether they'll need me beyond this week. Either way is fine, but knowing what is about to happen is obviously preferable. Greatly looking forward to our holiday now. Another long walk at lunchtime, the lunch break walks are keeping me sane, and meaning I make my 10k paces easily every day. Off even further down the canal today. It feels harder and harder to turn back towards the office instead of simply carrying on.

Below reached Wedlake Street on the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal today, which had the interesting view as below. Also snapped green foliage reflected in office window glass, and this sign as I walked back home from Brighton station.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A small beano in Bloomsbury

Not much work to be done, and what there was, slightly directionless. However it became clear that I would at least work until Thursday, (i.e. my four day week). Have the sense that things may be drawing to a close as the agency's workflow is a bit slow.

Concentrating on having nice walks at lunchtime, going further along the canal than before. I was rewarded by finding a stretch garden bordered by  wall covered in tiles and what seemed to be historical inscriptions. An older man, who had been tending the trimmed trees, made his way back into one of the houses, and I think it must be one of those ongoing slightly obsessive art projects.

The evening good fun. Off to the Marquis, in Bloomsbury where I met some old agency muckers for a few drinks. Great to catch up with gossip in general, and with these folks in particular. Keith back working where he and I did a stint this time last year. Pat in town on various bits of business, Noyala now MD of the agency in Tavistock Square, and Jaz deciding on his next big move. Only there for a couple of hours, but it was a great laugh.

Below Pat and Noyala, Jaz an Pat; Pat, Karam and Keith; and an interesting canal garden.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Why the long faeces?

New train timetable, so the train I caught was cramped, with standing room only from my stop and no elbow room to type. A long walk at lunch, where I spoke to Mum who had been gardening and sauntered by the canals. What is it about water, even a dirty old canal, that is calming to me? Water of any sort seems to be a natural tranquilliser. This afternoon I was told it might be a two-day week for me. A tad galling having paid for a week's travel, I did have a verbal agreement to be working with them till mid July, so I have asked for clarification. Either way is good.

Home, reading Fidelity, the collection of short stories by Canadian writer Michael Redhill that Innis had lent me. Good stuff, and nicely ambiguous endings.  Home, and Lorraine had just arrived, needing a glass of wine for various headteacher reasons.

Reuben sent me a joke today: two goldfish go into a bar, and the barman says, 'why the long faeces?'

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Open houses

Strangely hungover this morning. Lorraine however, awake early, and brought me a cup of tea in my footballer's mug. Very slow to get up. I made fried tomatoes on toast and brought back to bed. Then eventually up, and doing what Lorraine called paperwork, which was chiefly scowling at computer screens. Drove into town to collect money for our Cordoba adventure which will start on Saturday. Be nice to go to Spain. I've been to Portugal, and to Barcelona once for a gruelling stag weekend. But I'm looking forward to it.

Home again, and armed with Euros. Then Lorraine and I sauntered through a few open houses. A gorgeous sunny but not too hot day. Fewer houses open than usual. Saw one painting that was fairly good of the side of Tate Modern, and some amazing embroidery by Agnes Chevalier the embroiderer I'd bought some work from once for a present for Lorraine. Lorraine bought some gifts for people at school, and then we zoomed home.

Beth came by for dinner and a chat. Clem from next door dropped in to discuss decking and we agreed for him to go ahead.

Lorraine had cooked an excellent chicken tagine with pickled lemons, and we ate it in the kitchen with the sun streaming in. Watered the garden, and after Beth went, Lorraine and I watched the new episode of series two of the Handmaid's Tale. Grim stuff, but stylish and beautifully acted by Elizabeth Moss and the cast.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Chelsea socks

Lorraine up early today, to give Beth a lift back from the station to her flat and then to work. I got up and sought out my Chelsea socks, and tinkered with poems for a while. Breakfast later, and then found myself watching the Royal Wedding. Found myself drawn into the pomp and enjoying the acknowledgement of black people in it. Spotting Camilla - look it's Jane! Lorraine particularly enjoyed a fiery speech by an American preacher Michael Curry. I still say off with their heads though, although the Brits do market themselves as a heritage industry quite well.

After this Dawn came around, and had a cheeky cup of tea and a catch up with us. Nice to see her.

Then off to Anton's house for some food (home made wings with woof woof sauce, pulled pork and some lovely salads and so on). And the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Manchester United. It was a dire game but Chelsea won it, with a penalty scored by the best player on the park guv'nor, Chelsea's Belgian maestro Eden Hazard. Naturally, flashing my ankles emblazoned with the Chelsea badge, I was watching it with Anton, the GodBairns,  Klaudia sporting her Manchester United top, and Oskar full of Man U inflected opinions on the game, as well as Anne and Lorraine (who slept through much of it) meant that Chelsea's victory was greeted with more long faces than a pack of greyhounds. Still we had a really nice time, and the food was great and beer was drunk. All well.

Lorraine and I sloped down the hill to the station, where we cabbed home. Liveliness in the taxi queue, with two homeless people abusing one another (one of whom was about to get into a taxi with a takeaway).

Below, found myself being offered Clameur for a snip at just shy of £58.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A people day

Up early and working hard on the French stuff straight away all morning. My pals there said they loved what I had done, which always makes you feel good and valued. A fast early sandwich and watched Lorraine (the morning TV show starring Lorraine Kelly) and today's episode featured royal lookalikes. Spotted Jane of course. There was an item at the end of the program where some designer had suggested what clothes the royals should be wearing. Jane was modelling clothes on TV, which is something new to add to her list of accomplishments.

Had done and dusted by two o'clock. A chat with Sonia about something she'd read in the home country about worms that burrow in people's eyes having visited Africa, and then I walked over to Hove to see Janet and Ken. Scored some hazelnut brownies en route. Nice to chat with them.  Janet always so full of ideas. Ken looking well too.

Back home and a quick discussion with Clem who is going to re-deck our back garden, with excellent stairs and so on. Lorraine home, and extremely tired. I think she has whatever it was that was making me feel exhausted midweek, plus she has had a shattering week with SATs tests and so on at school. Today was tea to celebrate the royal wedding. I say bring back the guillotine.

I went out and scored some Friday night curry, and had a cheeky pint of Harveys in the Park View while waiting. Back to Red Chillies and found myself sitting with Philippa from next door. Nice chat with her about Japan, as she had been there with Harvey her partner before they had the baby.

Lorraine and I watched a film called Hunt for the Wilderpeople -- which we both enjoyed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

White flowers

A day of solid work, but from home. Still feeling somewhat tired and underpowered, but took two short walks plus an hour's walk at lunchtime to do my paces. Working on an interesting, but challenging brief but from the comfort of my own home, so I can think. Luxury.

Spoke to Janet today, whose birthday it had been yesterday. She got the flowers we sent. Her sister Ann who I had met,  had died last week in Canada after a long illness.

A beautiful day, and at lunchtime I walked up to Hollingbury and through the backstreets home. Views towards the downs and to the sea. Lovely blue sky and fresh air. I've missed working in Brighton.

Below a path by white flowers of cow parsley and a may tree into the sky. And a snap from our kitchen window.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday weekend

Feeling somewhat unwell, tired and grouchy this morning. And as there was little for me to do in Paddington, I was released back into the wild at lunchtime for the rest of the week. This might have been a bit galling, however, it worked out very well as it allows me to do the much more interesting work for mes amis français on ebola, of which by coincidence there has been another outbreak this week. Gleeful about not travelling in tomorrow.

Lorraine out with Beth tonight, and I was happy to lay low quietly. I even snuck around the corner to buy fish and chips as I couldn't be bothered to prepare food.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


A busy Tuesday.  Trying to tinker with poems this morning, but my brain not joining the dots properly. No lunchtime walk, instead I had sushi to eat in payment for presenting to one of the nicer clients, the presentation went well, and I nodded and tried to radiate my enthusiasm at the right times. This being done, the agency was scratting up for work for me, and I found myself proofreading German documents about drugs. Sub-optimal given my inability to speak German. Still, it is work, and I can recognise the difference in shapes of words. Bah. Bolted work as soon as possible.

Found out I did not a winner one of the poetry pamphlet competitions I entered, which came as no surprise, as the collection was hastily assembled. The far stronger collection has not yet been ruled out yet. Left work late. Texts with Keith and planning a meet up with him and Pat next week. Walked back from Brighton station, where Lorraine was already home and putting together a stir fry. Happy to be home, though feeling tired.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Catfights and an old face

An alien ginger cat broke into the house last night resulting in a tremendously loud cat fight at around 4:30. Lorraine sprang up. I dragged myself out of bed eventually, and saw a ginger cat bolting out of the house. It must have made it in through the microchip catflap hot on Brian's tail

A fitful doze. Both up early, and Lorraine spilling things inside the fridge and then spilling soya milk over my trousers. Lorraine dropped me off in time for the 7:17 into London. Bumped into my old art director Mike, who I dubbed 'the gnome' on this blog when I was trying to keep everyone anonymous. Good to see him, and we were able to have a chat on the tube. Mike looks unchanged, despite it being ages since we spoke.

Work okay, though it seemed I was about to be released back into the wild for the week, but some work was found, and I ended up working through lunch (only ten minutes' lunchtime walk,  chiz) and left work a bit late. Heard from Sarah B who had sad news about her mother. Otherwise a not too eventful day, luckily. Home and Lorraine a bit cheesed off from a poor day. Spoke to Mum this evening and told her about our trip to Folkestone, where my great grandparents had lived and mum visited lots as a child. Then L and I sloped off to bed. Just dropping off to sleep and Betty phoned and there was a leak upstairs which was dripping nastily into her flat. Poor thing.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Folkestone with family

Off to Folkestone today, via Ashford where we picked up Pat and Maureen and Ken. Enjoyed visiting Folkestone, where Lorraine had attended a sixth form college, and visited lots as a child. It is also part of my family lore too, with mum's grandparents living there when she was young, and lots of her summer holidays being spent there. We parked by the harbour, and I had haddock and chips (and mushy peas) in a harbourside fish and chip restaurant. Pat and Maureen ate huss.

Lots of seafood around there. We strolled down to the beach with the arches, which I know Mum played in as a child. We saw three planes flying in formation, a spitfire, a hurricane and a twin engined plane I didn't recognise, even after Ken had used his amazing camera to get several shots of them in the air. Ken really throwing himself into photography with gusto and doing lots of experimental shots while we were there. A brief mooch about the old side of town, before Lorraine drove us back to Ashford, along the seafront for a while, and over the military canal, which I didn't know anything about. Ken said it was built to counter the threat of a Napoleonic invasion.

Back to Ashford, where Basil is limping about but much recovered from her injury jumping down from a fence. Cups of tea and then back into the car. Home, and a few jobs to do, including returning the contract for the anthology of poems based on the theme of war I've been included in, and some stuff to do with finalising Telltale. Spoke to Toby too, who now has dates for zooming over to England in July. Really looking forward to seeing him.

Last day of the premier league today. Chelsea lost dismally, and confirmed their 5th place finish. Doesn't bode well for next week's FA Cup final. Their manager set to leave soon, in a typical Chelsea backstabby way.

Below some of my Folkestone snaps, Ken sent me some of his too, which I shall add soon.