Thursday, September 30, 2010



OK. I am just swamped with work so what you'll get here, and you'll probably prefer that over my usual blathering, is a slew of pictures of the train ride from Malaga to Seville (once I flew from UK southampton to spain itself) and pics of my first few days in this gorgeous city. I am getting the hang of tapas, and a little AndaluTHian spanish, nothing like south american variety, found some nice wines and met some wonderful kind people, especially my hostess Isabel and her husband Eduardo, two of the nicest people anyone could ever have the good fortune to know, much less stay with,much less eat some of Isabel's wonderful cooking!! I shall write down every recipe to bring home some day. (Jasmine there on the wall, smells devine, i put some in my hair today onthe way to the metro)

And the shoes!! I have YET to see the same pair of (always sexy and stylish, and i mean HOT) shoes on two women's feet in this city. I drool as i pass the shoe shop windows. I've so much work and no time to shop.

Hate my course. Dont care for most of the instructors, except Clem. He's very good. Rest are dumb and self important and unnecessarily chaotic. Have told myself only three weeks to go. I'm imagining that I'm in a German concentration camp and the Allies are landing in three weeks, telling myself "just hang on, they'll be here soon." God help me. I went in the chapel next to the cathedral (the real cathedral is massive, no pics yet) to pray for strength to finish.

so pics are at bottom. sorry i can't label them. Just enjoy them. click to enlarge. Any questions about what they are, leave comment and i'll answer over weekend when i have some time. The green guy is a mime, way cool. that is the chapel to cathedral. White neighborhood is where i live outside city on a hill, and it's great to leave the city at end of day and ride slick new metro 'home'. ten minute ride. Most pics are what i see walking from Puerta Jerez, my metro stop in city, down Avenida de la constitucion past the cathedral each morning to the playa nueva near the school. It's the best part of the day, the avenida walk. One of these days i'll take the time to stop at Hornos San Bonaventura and have a nice serrano ham Bocadillo (sandwich). Will you all totally lose faith in me if I quit the course and just study the local history and stuff? Otherwise i won't get to cause the course is so demanding i'll have been to Seville and not seen most of it... well, it's just a thought. do be kind in your responses...

love and all that good stuff

at hornos san bonaventura... to die for serrano hams

olives trees by the mile, and orange trees

See the strikers with their red flags heading for protests on the 29th? This was about 8 am as thousand of them converged on center city to protest govt cuts, sheister bankers, and their boolsheet 'measures'. Most businesses closed in support of the strike and were proud to post signs in their windows saying so. The city was Very quiet until the protests started, for a weekday. I loved being here for that. The protests were LOUD, we could hear them at noon from the school windows. Cannons going off and such. Power to the people, right on.

and lastly.... the jasmine in bloom that makes my morning sweet.. put some in your hair and you're good for the day

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Note: Moon's full.

Look out below!!!

By the way, I am NOT posting these at the hour listed below each post. My computer is still set to US East Coast time so I don't Skype anyone in the middle of the night or do anything beyond my usual shenanigans...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You're going where now?

The Watermill Theatre..

On Saturday...

Gill insisted we get tickets (and were lucky to get them) to see Spend, Spend, Spend, (click here and watch the 3 minute you tube, the end bit is the best) the musical hit based on the true story of a woman in 1960s England who won the lottery. I wasn't expecting much, as , to me, most modern musicals are sad imitations of the great ones of the Lerner and Lowe and Rogers and Hart, Hammerstein era.
WOW was I surprised!
I'm fully prepared to say this rated right up there in the top ten musical/theatrical experiences of my life. Can you imagine a cast of, say 14 people or so, all engaged in serious acting, singing, dancing of the highest calibre and ON TOP OF THAT everyone is playing a musical instrument? THEY ARE THE BAND as well! Click here for the Guardian synopsis and review. Just amazing, and in a tiny theatre no bigger than my old garage. The Watermill Theatre is famous for the high quality of its performances, a local stage, but it felt very Shakespearean to me, that sense of presence and audience engagement, intensity you don't get when the stage is over there somewhere. This was right in our laps, and it was superb. I would venture to stay, stunning. I was speechless, wishing my kids could have witnessed this level of theatrical prowess. It was a treat! Raised my expectations to a new height; I know, I know, just what you wanted to hear, right? I loved it, tears in my eyes at least four times. What has become of that old cynic? Pure genius, that.

Stunning Saturday to mellow Sunday...

Brahma Kumaris center

Spent Sunday wandering, chilling, smelling things, and having nice tea at the Brahma Kumaris spiritual retreat center where we heard a talk on journaling. It's a special place to G, an old country estate that has gone through several permutations over the centuries, now, with an apparently considerable amount of money behind it from the likes of Sting and others, is a free retreat, one of many worldwide. You must book well in advance. G says it's like a 4 star hotel. You are free to make a donation of course to cover your weekend stay, but basically it's an organization devoted to giving people of any means a place to chill and get in touch with whatever needs touching. Celibately, of course (one of their rules...) I enjoyed the grounds and believe I swung on the bigggest swing in the world. Had to be 40 feet of rope twixt the seat and the mongo branch from which it hung. So high a swing when I gave Gilli a push I could run under the seat and out the front! The interior of the place was amazing, very Versailles, and the flower gardens lavish and well-, but not too fussily, tended. A nice end to the week.

And now.... a little change in plans. It would appear, thanks to help from Ben, Sophy, Lois and others, that I am headed to Seville, Spain, not Florence, for my TEFL course, and mighty quickly at that. I leave in a couple of days, and will be finished with my course, which starts Monday, by the time I am due to meet you-know-who for a sojourn through Italy. SO! Just goes to show, you never know.

Seville! Flamenco! Tapas! (I'll finally find out what that really is) Oranges! The Alhambra! (see photo at top)

life is good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Market Day in the market town....

I ventured down to Market Day today and met some jolly people; got two lovely rainbow trout for supper for 6 pounds twenty, a good deal as they were fresh and he gutted them right there for me. Then some very nice bread, "good french flour" the woman said, won't crumble apart like the english bread does when i slice it for toast, some very nice tomatoes and broccoli-ettes. The butcher shop caught my eye, as did the Max Headroom sign. Those metal posts in the middle of the road which block traffic from the center of town? They submerge to make way for busses to pass and then re-emerge like magic. Truly, I thought I was hallucinating. So here's a bit of my day in pictures, along with a Ford model you won't see across the pond.

Ciao for now...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hail, Britannia!

And we are back in business! And in Britain! Lovely Britain! "Where the history comes from!" to quote our favorite authority, Eddie Izzard. Having successfully found the proper adapter (MAC of course has already thought of this; that big white block that's part of your plug thingy on a MacBook can handle wattages from 100 to 240, so all you need is the plug adapter itself, not a converter as well... )

The trim on this house looks good doesn't it? Until you realize it's faux, most of the flat white parts are painted on!

My next car: An Alpha Romeo wagon!!?? Who knew?...Some cool cars we don't get to buy in US....

The flight from Beantown was really fast, under 6 hours, the wind at our back apparently. Barely dawn over Ireland never fails to impress. I had a charming seatmate, and we had an empty seat between us, which makes for amiable travel as well. I paid the extra 80 bucks to sit by the (front of economy) escape hatch, money well invested for a long legged, somewhat claustrophobic creature such as myself. My flightmate, an engaging film lecturer from London, recently affianced to a grad student in Boston, was a bit nervous about flying, (he'd been in New York for the Nineleven event in '01) and so we spent a few hours in interesting conversation with the steward discussing his flying experiences, turbulence, etc. It may have been the valium I slipped my seatmate that calmed him down in the end. Nice guy, interested and interesting. Shall I send him my novel to read?

Arrival at Heathrow was, let's be plain, hellish, as we landed, not at the designated gate but miles away, requiring a trek through acres of labyrinthine hallways long enough to require giant conveyor belts for people to hurry along. I was however, grateful for the chance to rest my two heavy carryons on the moving railing. This adventure nearly did me in after a long flight and a half hour's sleep. I had attempted to watch Iron Man II on the flight (I was so looking forward to that!) but the cheesy Virgin Atlantic headphones let in too much plane roar (a disadvantage of sitting by the escape hatch); suffice to say that, having outgrown the easy recourse of my twenties, I knew more volume is NOT always the answer. Particularly following a previous few days of temporary hearing loss in my left ear, which was simply nothing more than my brain telling me I was sick of hearing everything. I gave up; Mr. Downey, Jr. will just have to wait.

I finally reached PASSPORT CHECKIN for Non UK passport folks and OH MY GOD. There were twenty thousand people waiting to be admitted to the UK. And it was HOT and my phone OF COURSE would not work, despite all my preparations, and people were unbelievably patient but quietly pissed. Women in black chadors everywhere, some with just a slit for their eyes. A new experience for me. Muslim men are fools if they think this getup makes women less mysterious or alluring. I think it's their (the men's) way of remaining in a constant state of being seduced... but i could be wrong. It took nearly an hour to get stamped and allowed to carry on ten more miles to the baggage claim where I picked up my bag, which is the size of a BUS, lugged it along the cattle drive of humans as best I could until... LO!! There she is!! G! Waiting for me in the mass of people lining the barricade, like a parade route! just like they do in Love, Actually. A sight for sore eyes as I hadn't seen my gorgeous friend in a few years. Of course it immediately felt like yesterday to me and we started in....

We proceeded west in her car down the insanity that is the M4 to the country and the madness that is Driving In Britain. Warning: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS EVER if you value your life. It's quite enough to just be a passenger in a car here, with the high speeds, narrow lanes, and everyone driving on THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD! You are constantly shouting "LOOK OUT!" to the driver, thinking they are about to turn head on into an oncoming car, but of course, they aren't about to do that at all. The lanes are opposite ours. Drivers are quite polite actually, at least in town where the lanes are tres narrow and the cars TINY to accommodate the tiny lanes. (Now isn't that logical?) The DO have the AWESOME cars here, small, cool, efficient, and sensibly space saving, comfortable too. AND they have BBC! How unfair is that? Our PBS can try all it wants, but it will never come up to BBC standards. How could it when BBC has so much $ support? AND it's more than one tv and radio channel. There are like TEN or something BBC choices.

Anyway, the weekend included a trip to The Vyne, a lovely old National Trust site, originally 15th century I believe, manor house. Lovely trailing willows along the waterway, gardens to die for, organic farm as well. Poetry in the courtyard with tea and G's friends. Nice walk along the waterway picking wild berries and eating every one, none saved for 'tomorrow'.

Sunday, a gorgeous, relaxing day in the garden helping with the lawn and general tidying. Lovely apples from the tree, and the last of the greengage plums, sweet and juicy. A fresh fig tree out front promises to provide a multitude of snacks this month. Lunch in the sun and more poetry reading (see below). Evening BBC telly, and my god, I just can't say enough about how much better that is. Our political talking heads are ranting babies compared to the witty and hilarious repartee that passes for debate here. May they ever spar!

Here's a poem by Philip Larkin G read me as we sat talking about our kids:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

This totally cracked me up, momentarily lightening the burden we all carry that somehow, we could have done it better... even though we know we tried our best.

So... what a few days it's been! Even something as simple as the search for a proper adapter, one that wouldn't blow up my laptop, has been an opportunity to meet helpful people and explore little areas I might not otherwise have ventured into. I look for opportunities to be helpful to others as well, figuring America's image can use a little burnishing on this side of the pond; we who hoodwinked (thankfully, not all of) them all into Iraq, who are now attempting to privatize their NHS (ratcheted up under Bush's gang of thieves), and who are contributing as I write to the general corpulent slide into type 2 diabetes of the planet with our hurry up food and chemical high fructose corn syrup soda fixes. So I help old ladies into cars, offer the odd suggestion (demurely, of course) in stores. People seem to be appreciative and my kharma can always use a boost. The local paper carried on about the supposed success of US charter schools (another 'privatization' in sheep's clothing) and I was tempted to write in to the writer, but realized he'd been permanently "blinded by the light" of education for fun and profit.

I have to rave about the Waitrose stores, which Anne introduced me to years ago with an egg salad sandwich to go that was lovely, which continue to impress. It's a chain of groceries. part of the John Lewis cooperative of stores, miles beyond what the greedy, overpriced Whole Foods has to offer, and cheaper. Folks here think Waitrose is pricey, HA! A lovely five inch cake with healthy ingredients at 1.99 (one pound ninety nine) sounds good, but is in fact, what? about three bucks american. But isn't that a good deal? I paid four bucks for a pastry for ONE at Whole Foods only last week. This lovely little cake I bought here (not junk ingredients, you KNOW how choosy I am) was three bucks plus and fed five people! See what I mean? The Brits don't know how good they have it! Must have something to do with the proximity to Europe, where the eatin is good and cheap, contrary to popular myth. But there IS a fairly healthy and growing national movement to buy local, support UK food producers. Of course, as with anywhere, one has to shop the bargains to be sensible... avoid prefab food...

Here are a few pictures of my stroll to the south side of town. Today I venture further north, perhaps to the market square, although the sunny sky is quickly becoming smothered in a large grey mass that does not bode well for walking.... at least without an umbrella.

Oxford on the agenda later, and the search for Inspectors Morse and Lewis...Ciao for now...

Brick is the preferred building material here...

Downtown Newbury, note schoolkids in uniforms, left sidewalk

massive cedar tree in local cemetery below
looking north over the garden

Kitty yoga on the roof outside my window....


Have you seen that Helen Mirren has done a film of The Tempest and is playing a female Prospera, directed by Julie Taymor? Now that will be a film worth seeing!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


SO PLEASE STAND BY. SHOULD HAVE IT SORTED IN A DAY OR TWO!! LOVING THE BERKS! Visited a wonderful Jane Austen type National Trust House (read: mansion) Saturday afternoon, complete with stroll along the grounds, wildfowl, catttle grazing in the slanting afternoon light, tea outside in the sunny courtyard and wonderful company and conversation and poetry reading... i love it here.


Monday, September 6, 2010

A Walk out Beauchamp Point... best swimmin hole on the coast.

click on pics to enlarge

September on the Maine coast.... what could be better?

The tourists are gone (mostly); the traffic is mellow, the breeze is divine, the clouds are works of watercolor art, the light is golden, and, to quote Mr. Gershwin, the livin is easy...

A fond adieu to my home of the last sixteen years... A gorgeous week after all that heat.

As President Bartlet (don't we wish) would say: What's next?