Thursday, 21 September 2017

Suddenly, it clicks

We've been in Zaragoza a few days, but today we properly got that holiday feeling.

We knew this would be a very different break to many we've had; two seiges in the early 1800s wrecked the city, so it's architecturally very modern, with a smattering of older buildings. (I think of anything after 1800 as pretty recent!) It's not a massively touristy destination either.  
We love Spain, so thought that wouldn't be a problem - but we hadn't expected it to be so quiet earlier in the week. I mean, it was dead. And all the things we were going to see seemed to be surrounded by housing blocks, so walking between them didn't feel particularly relaxing. Normally the Spanish cities we visit have an old town area, but thanks to Zaragoza's turbulent history, it doesn't have an ancient district of mazy streets and tiny, captivating plazas. 
So, what clicked today? Not sure. We've been to see loads of sights - origami museum, Roman theatre, Rosario del Cristal (a collection of stained-glass parade floats that are lit up and carried through the streets in honour of the Virgen del Pilar, patron of Spain. We visited the Basilica, which houses said Virgin, and the Roman forum museum. Having lots to think about definitely helped, and the Rosario was something beautiful that we just stumbled across.
We found a group of excellent tapas bars close together - no more 15-minute walks between one and finding another. Things just felt right. Effortless. Uncomplicated. Like holidays should be. We stopped looking for places to go and places to eat, and simply found ourselves in them.
Of course, the good feeling could be because I saw cats for the first time today...

Monday, 18 September 2017

Madrid, you will kill me!

I'm typing this in Zaragoza, having just spent a couple of nights in Madrid. Madrid is infamous for being a city that doesn't slow down - the nightlife is so good, I think a week there would finish me off.

We did try to be cultured; on our first night we went looking for a street Laurie Lee went drinking on back in the 1930s. All the brothel-bars Lee visited are gone, but we did find a sherry bar, about a century old. It had suitably grumpy staff; I guess if you have to spend every night telling people you sell sherry, nothing but sherry, and no they cannot have a beer, it gets a bit wearing. Thanks to Laurie we got soundly drunk and ended up in all sorts of places on that first night, including an Andalucian bar, a Pompeii-themed bar, and one I suspect might have been aimed at lesbians, given the tile murals of naked ladies (some enjoying each other's company) and the pretty couple on a dinner date next to us! Ah, Madrid. 
The following day we went to the decorative arts museum and for a walk round Retiro Park, which was jolly relaxing, before walking back to the district where we were staying (Sol) for MOAR BARS.
 I know most people seem to prefer Barcelona, but I really love Madrid.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Kick Miss Fisher?

Waaaay back in January I blogged that the creators of the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries TV series were hoping to bring Phryne to the big screen – well, it’s a step closer, as the production company has launched a Kickstarter to support Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears. (Nice title!)

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

New (old) work bag

As someone who tries to look after things, I find it really frustrating when I wear something out, and for some reason I seem to burn through black 1960s bags. The vinyl handle cracked on my first one (I’ve still got the back but haven’t yet got round to repairing it), and the cardboard stiffening the second literally gave way, so that handle didn’t just come loose, it tore out a chunk of the structure. Happily, I’ve started seeing the sorts of bags I like creeping back into charity shops. I do have two black ’60s bags, but one has a lace front and the other is snakeskin, and both are really a little too evening-y for work. As soon as I saw this one over the weekend, I pounced. It was a tenner in my local hospice chazza.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

My current vintage obsession: Helen

Helen in the Bollywood film Caravan
Helen in Caravan (1971)
Vix definitely mentioned Helen ages ago on her blog, so that’s where I first heard of her, and she’s become my latest vintage obsession. It’s probably at least a little because she’s a mix of Burmese, Indian and European, like my grandfather’s family, and like them had to move from Burma/Myanmar to India during the Second World War. My family came to England, but Helen's stayed in India, and between the 1950s and 1970s became one of the most famous dancers in Bollywood, dubbed ‘Queen of the Nautch Girls’. Nautch is an old performance art; the dancers were almost legendarily alluring. I don't know enough about it to know if they all moved like Helen, but to be nicknamed Queen of them all is no mean feat.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Professor Elemental takes Trowbridge!

 On Friday night, Professor Elemental actually did a gig in Trowbridge!

Why the excitement? Well, Trowbridge isn't a place where lots happens. I like living here, but despite being the county town of Wiltshire, it often gets overlooked, I always feel because it's very working class. When the council gave up the old Victorian Town Hall there was a fear it'd be turned into flats, but it's become an arts centre for the people. I actually make monthly donations to Town Hall Arts; I feel very strongly that the arts should be for everyone, not just the privileged, and not just people of school age. (My monthly donation is a tenner; it might just keep the place in loo roll, but every little helps.) The Town Hall hosts tea dances and free art exhibitions, theatrical performances and much more. It really does do stuff for most sections of the community. Sheer Music is a Wiltshire music promoter doing more in Trowbridge, and they brought the Prof to town. A venue I support hosting an artist I admire? That was Friday night sorted.

Friday, 1 September 2017



I am so glad to see autumn. I'm not a massive fan of longer nights, or of plants dying back, and definitely not of cold or rain, but I am very pleased to be able to get my lovely woollies out of the wardrobe again, both knitted and woven. I pulled my favourite old purple tweed dress out today and felt so happy to be wearing it again. (The poor thing is very well worn, and while it doesn't show its age too badly on the outside, the lining is completely trashed.) I always feel smart in this dress. Tweed is a very forgiving fabric; it doesn't show every lump and bump, and it's jolly comfy too.

The down side of autumn is that I really need to get my act together and sew that [blorp!]ing sleeve on the 1930s jumper I finished knitting last year, because it's not going to sew up itself.