March 2010

Having studied languages at university, and now living in Spain, I am fascinated by words. What I hear, read, speak - I don't get all of it, by any means (but oh, how satisfying when I do) - is a constant source of interest. In my early,enthusastic-student days here, I used to carry round a notebook, long since lost in a cardboard box on a shelf somewhere, where I noted down new and interesting words. One that I heard the other day, which I still haven't fathomed really, is ''barbaridad''. It seems to refer to extremes of both good and bad - ``¡que barbaridad!''.
Anyone who has ever been to Seville, and those who are fortunate enough to live there even more so, will appreciate the extraordinary, rich history of the city, from Tartessians, to Romans, Moors, and its important role in discovering the New World. Seville’s architectural and cultural legacy make it a fascinating place to wander round, with 20th-century Mudejar-style buildings, complete with tiles and horseshoe arches, hidden cloisters and plaques commemorating var
Those of you live in Spain probably heard the news a few weeks ago that Ferran Adria, legendary chef of El Bulli who had just announced his decision to close his restaurant, will front a seven-million-euro international ad campaign to convince potential customers of Spain inc (ie tourists), that it’s not just about beaches (those that haven’t been washed away, anyway) and cheap plonk. Ferran’s fairly unremarkable face will be appearing in the about-to-be-launched campaign, across 40 countries including China and India, with the tag line
Today is International Women’s Day. Thinking it was another of those 15-to-the-dozen 'read a book', 'eat more fruit'-type International Days, I was surprised to hear that it has been around since 1911, in the days of women’s suffrage. Women in those times demanded better pay (plus ça change), shorter hours and, most importantly, voting rights. IWD is now an official holiday in many eastern European countries. In some nations, it has equivalent status of Mother’s Day, and children give presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
I hope you're having a good puente, if you live in Andalucia, where yesterday - 28 February - was Andalucia Day. I am sure I'm not alone in thinking that three-day weekends are the way to go, especially when the weather turns out to be considerably better (warmer, drier, sunnier) than predicted. We here in southern Spain were lucky to escape the worst of the fierce storm, called Xynthia, which wreaked havoc on the peninsula’s north coast and south-western France on Saturday night.