dilluns, 27 d’abril de 2015

Tortosa

Finally giving in to public demand, here's a few lines on Tortosa - where I live - for my international followers!
Basically, this is not the typical place where English migrants end up. No English supermarkets, no Marmite, no John Smiths beer, no groups of "Brits" gathered round SKY TV channels in noisy bars watching Premier League teams. Nor is it the other extreme, the dream-home for the English-man "gone local" who spends his time caring for chickens and olive groves before playing his guitar out on the verandah on a moonlit night. No, it's just a normal town with normal people.

Wikipedia says it all, but basically; a reasonably-sized town in the south of Catalonia with a population of about 35,000 inhabitants.The main feature is the river Ebro, which winds its way through town on its way to the Mediterranean.
It is the main town in this area, though, and, as such, has a plethora of shops, services, and public bodies, making it a pretty important place. It has its old part, with Renaissance period buildings and a castle built originally by the Moors. At different moments in history it has been an important town in Catalonia, and the trilogy of Moors, Jews, and Christians have all left their mark on the town's history and culture. However, its days of splendour are long gone as all the real action in Catalonia happens up near Barcelona or further north, and the economic crisis has also taken its toll. Most youngsters have to leave to find work or if they want to go to university. There is very little industry, and most of the local economy is probably based on the above-mentioned service industries as well as agriculture (which isn't exactly blooming) and a sort of green-sustainable-tourism thanks to its location. In more recent history, Tortosa was the focal point for the tragic Battle of the Ebro which more or less culminated Franco's coup back in the 1930s' Spanish Civil War. The town was bombed out of recognition and thousands of lives were futily lost in months of trench warfare.

We are only a 30-minute drive from the El Port mountain chain - with peaks higher than any mountain in Great Britain - or 30 minutes from the spectacular Ebro Delta with amazing wildlife, unique landscapes, and miles of beaches.
Tortosa suits me - big enough to have a fair share of things to do, near enough to Barcelona in case I ever want to see The City, but small enough to more or less know everyone and live a peaceful small-town life.
Maybe a few photos will give a clearer idea....

















And the afore-mentioned Ebro Delta looks like this...


diumenge, 26 d’abril de 2015

A couple of songs by Faerground Accidents

Un altra troballa gràcies als misteris de Twitter. Suposo que hi ha milers de grups nous sortint a Anglaterra, però per casualitats que no acabes d'entendre - perquè tu has seguit tal, o has parlat de tal - de sobte un dia et trobes amb un grup de Sheffield per Twitter i escoltes les seves cançons i penses, wow! Vivim en un món on la sort té molt a veure, si el grup x cau al twitter del nou George Martin en comptes de Brian Cutts, ves a saber com acabaria ... mentre esperen aquest cop de sort, només els queda l'opció de continuar fent allò que els agrada i juga a totes les opcions de publicitat que poden trobar.... 
.... 
Another pretty amazing group I've found thanks to the whims and quirks of Twitter. There are probably thousands of new groups out there just waiting to be discovered but by chance this is one of the few to fall into my lap. Maybe I followed someone who follows them, or entered a key word related to this group, or whatever... but somehow I ended up finding this twitter account and listening to their music. A crazy mix of great music and black humour lyrics, just up my street. I think only a northern-England group could pull this off! Who knows where destiny takes us - if the same tweets sent out into the dark reach the twitter-feed of the new George Martin, the sky's the limit. If they reach mine, well, I just hope my followers enjoy them as much as I do - and I'd encourage the band to stick at it, doing what they enjoy and playing the social network publicity show for all it's worth. 

dissabte, 25 d’abril de 2015

Ups and downs of Sheffield life - Live for the moment #TheSherlocks

No sóc d'aquells anglesos que marxen del país però al lloc on aterran volen veure la televisió anglesa, comprar productes anglesos, tenir més interes en les eleccions angleosos que els d'aqui etc. Si estic en un lloc (com a Catalunya), prefereixo pensar en la vida aquí. Per això, durant anys i panys he evitat, o simplement no-buscat, estar gaire informat del que passa al Regne Unit, però ultimament gràcies a les xarxes socials, m'hi he posat una mica més al dia. Principalment sobre noticies locals dels llocs on vaig cada estiu per visitar familia etc. No m'importa gaire si les anglesos volen a Cameron o Miliband, però si que m'importen noticies com aquesta que he trobat gràcies a Twitter....

... a la ciutat de Sheffield, s'ha fet en els ultims anys, i decàdes, molts canvis sobretot en la part comercial. Com a gairebé tot arreu, el centre de la ciutat perd el seu interes mentre la gent prefereix anar a comprar als nous centres comercials a les afores on pots menjar McDonalds, comprar als Marks & Spencer's o anar al cine (com a tots els centres comercials del món, vaja). No obstant aixo, hi ha rincons de Sheffield on petites botigues independents i originals s'han aguantat i encara funcionen. Són unes petits joies per a la gent que les usa, on pots comprar i xerrar una estona, i encara gaudir de ser una mena de "common person" com diria Jarvis Cocker. Concretament hi ha una que ens encanta, una botiga super-petita, un laberint eclectic ple de petites sales amb llibres, revistes, i discos de música que no trobaries a cap lloc més de la ciutat. Es diu Rare & Racy. Pos, resulta que l'ajuntament de Sheffield ha donat el OK als propietaris dels edificis on es troba aquesta botiga i algunes més del mateix estil, per a tumbar-les :( Aqui teniu un bon article al The Guardian, i es pot seguir la campanya per a salvar-les al Twitter de @SaveDevStreet

Bé, no tot son noticies dolentes. Gràcies als misteris de Twitter, no sé com, vaig trobar aquest nou grup de Sheffield dels que estic segur que en sentirem parlar...
..........
I'm not the typical English person who goes to live abroad and spends his days watching the BBC, reading the Daily Mail, buying English products or showing more interest in the UK general elections than the local news of his place of residence. If I'm here, I'm here and this is my life. I wouldn't say I've made an attempt to avoid English news and contacts over the years, but I have definitely not sought them out... however, thanks to the ease of social networks, over the last few years I have begun to show an interest in local affairs of my birthplace, especially as there are places we go back to every year. I do find it useful to know what's going on in Whitby, to encourage Barnsley record shops to stay open, or to follow Sheffield artists etc.... 
so I was shocked to read this news the other day. Sheffield city centre, like most English cities, is struggling to stay alive when everybody prefers to go to out-of-town commercial centres where you have all the big name shops and entertainment you can find in any other centre. The only way the city centres can stay alive is by offering something different, original independent one-off shops and cafes for the few of us who don't want to spend every day in McDonalds or HMV. The area of Sheffield around Devonshire Street is one such place- an oasis of eclectic offerings to make anyone's day. However, a couple of weeks ago I heard that Rare & Racy, the most amazing record (and more) shop, was going to be knocked down with the OK of the Sheffield City Hall - as well as some other cool shops. The full news story is here in The Guardian.

I just hope they see sense and reverse this decision. If not, I expect to see Sir Yorkshire Pudding throwing his full weight behind the campaign to save these shops - a campaign you can follow, for example, on Twitter at @SaveDevStreet
To finish on a brighter note, also thanks to Twitter I have discovered this new group who are surely going to be BIG one day soon...


dissabte, 11 d’abril de 2015

An afternoon near the Roques de Benet mountains











Una setmana santa tranquil·la a casa, descansant i fent coses de casa i de familia - però un dia vam fer una escapada. Una tarde vam anar a Horta de Sant Joan, o més concretament la zona d'El Port amb les muntanyes Roques de Benet, i el camí cap a la Mas de la Franqueta. Molt bonic, com sempre (és un lloc que visitem sovint), aquests dies tot verd i amb els barrancs i rius plens. Vam passejar una estona i vam contemplar les muntanyes cubistes tal com va fer Picasso fa uns anys. Fins i tot vam esperar fins gairebé la nit per a fer 4 fotos dels ultims rajos de sol i uns nuvols molt xulos.
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So, a quiet Easter at home doing "family things" but one afternoon we drove up into the local mountains for a stroll with the kids. We went to a place near the town of Horta de Sant Joan where Picasso spent a couple of summers as a youngster and where he apparently "invented" cubism. Looking at the interesting skyline of the town, but above all the "square" mountains of Roques de Benet, he "saw the light" - or so the story goes. We had a grand time and even waited till dusk to get some sunset type photos as the last rays of the sun turned the, normally red, rockfaces golden.

[update]
This is one of Picasso's first Cubism paintings and is apparently of factory, and rooftops, in Horta de Sant Joan: