Saturday, 20 May 2017

More Barcelona

Spending 5 days in Barcelona and 4 days in Glasgow, after over 2 years without a holiday was a sweet relief. It sure helped to blow some cobwebs to the side that had been built up when a 5 week job turned into 2 years of  long hours and not a lot of room for life.

Barcelona in particular had been a long held ambition of mine. For some reason Spain in general has never been on the radar for me, but since the 1988 Olympics the city of Barcelona has been drawing me in. Something about those Gaudi buildings, the streets, the football club left an imprint on my mind from a young age. Life though always had me going in other directions and destinations.

When I finally got there the city did not disappoint. The weather was every bit as good as it was in Glasgow. One morning of rain that delayed me going out as early as I could have but other than that more blue skies and warm temperatures to enjoy the city with. When I forgot to do something about my sim card before I left for Spain, I used the rain delay to spend extra time indoors to enjoy the wifi to better plan my day's iternary. Not that it worked to good effect on that particular day. I arrived at Parc Guell to enjoy the Gaudi mosaics at 12:30ish climbing up the hills and steps in 27C only to discover if I wanted to enjoy that part of the Parc I would have to wait until 8pm...well no, paitience isn't a virtue of mine when there is so much of the city to see, and so little time. The best laid plans of mice and men....I usually work better on spontanaetity when in strange cities.

One of my favourite places in Barcelona, when so many of the tourist spots seemed to be overwhelming busy was a chance discovery off Las Ramblas.

Las Ramblas itself is a busy promenade where tourists tend to get their bearings for the city, along here they can drink Sangria by the jug, or enjoy the La Boqueira Food Market, which sadly now seems to cater more for tourists than the locals. Personally although I liked the area, I wasn't tempted to eat along this street as I felt though there was plenty of options to do so along the length of the promenade it didn't really have a local vibe and certainly for the prices charged I felt there was probably better options in other parts of the city. 

It was actually away from the hustle and bustle of this area, just up one of the side streets that I found my favourite place in the city to chill. I'm an explorer my nature, I like to get lost in strange places in order to find my way around, It was on one those let's get lost and explore, that I came across this area.
Doesn't look much at first glance. but through this opening, a mere 15 minute walk away from Las Ramblas is a little piece of heaven in Barcelona. Here you won't see too many tourists. Its a locals spot where people chill out in the hot sun, play with there dogs, talk to old friends. When I had enough of the city and its tourists, I came here for a little bit of quiet time on 3 seperate days.
Here the people of Barcelona claim a secret spot of the city as their own, but on each occasion i'd spend enough tine here to chat away to some local people. On my first day a couple of old Spanish ladies were chatting away to me, after a dog decided to say hola first. I was really struggling, I couldn't make out a word they were saying, either my Spanish needs some serious practice after being under used over the last 4 years or they were speaking Catalan (always a possibility in Barcelona), but together we were trying to communicate, mostly me nodding my head alot wondering what they just said and throwing in the odd Spanish phrase here and there and opportune moments. That dog was the one pushing it though. Once we were up and running he decided he'd done his good work for the day and went off to play ball on his own again.

The next day you see a man the siting next to the pigeon, we were chatting away for half an hour, my Spanish was a little better by this stage, still struggling but between my bad Spanish, and his slightly better English, I was finding out a little about his life story and how he ended up coming from Morocco and settling in Barcelona. You don't get too much of that in the tube in London. Everyone is always on their phone in their own little world, not even wanting to interact with much in the way of eye contact. In this little oasis in the city of Barcelona though, noone brought their phones out. they were either just chilling in silence happy to be away from the buzz of the city, having something to eat or drink in a small restaurant to the right just out of  viewpoint from this photo above. Playing chess with giant pieces on the slabwork, or chatting to old and new friends.

When in Barcelona, explore. Beyond the tourists hotspots the true city hides little gems.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Had I planned this better, had I had some foresight of what I was going to do in Barcelona I might either have taking more pictures here than just the one, or at least straightened this one up and had more foreground. But really I don't really plan my shoots too often, instead I tend to go with the flow and see what I come across.

The reason I took a quick photo of the lawn bowlers in Glasgow was after 9 years away I completely forgot it goes on. In America, all bowling is indoors and involves pins. In London I don't know of any outdoor sites where bowls is played. There may be, but in a city where space is at a premium I certainly haven't seen any. In many towns around the Scotland its a sport played by middle class old ladies, but here in Glasgow judging by the voices of many of the anticipants it seems to be played by the young working class men of the city.
Its certainly not as nerdy as dressing up like Harry Potter and putting a fake broom between your legs that can't fly and playing a game of quidditch - that went on in the same park, I kid you not! Sadly at the time I was too confused at what the hell was going on to take that picture. It was only when I was some distance away that I put it together.

Un, Dos, Tres!

Vamos!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Glasgow

After 5 years of living in the States and coming up for 4 years in West London I finally made it home to Glasgow for a few days. I have always been proudly Scottish and a weegie to boot but it really took this trip to hammer home just how much I have Glasgow in my veins. Getting off that Virgin rail train it hit me hard just how much I miss this city.

I've worked hard at liking London, I go in and try and take in as much of the city and what it has to offer when I have my days off work, but despite my efforts I don't love it as much as I love Glasgow.

Now I got lucky on this trip home. The weather has been superb every day I got here. So those blue skies sure helps, but it goes so much deeper than that.

Glasgow is a young city. Its full of life. Young people seem to be everywhere. In London there is 10 million peope and of course there are young people everywhere too, but London is pricy to live in it seems to push the young aside, somehow Glasgow just seems to be all that more abundent with young people. Its affordable for housing. The music scene for such a small city is redicilously strong. It seems to be a city where if you aren't in a band you are going to watch a band.

The food scene has got really exciting too in the 9 years I've been away. I passed a bar that plays jazz and serves New Orleans style gumbo. In my London travels I have yet to see that, i'm sure its out there, but it sure wasn't available in Glasgow when I was last living here. As a foodie who has travelled somewhat, I'm immensly proud at the growth of my home city in my absense.

Then there is the art scene, it seems just as strong as the music scene, probably in no small part down to the affordability of living here. It might not be a city you come to for a tan (normally - this week is not the norm folks), nor is it the place you come for silly priced bottles of rosé, but it is a place where music, food and art breathes without taking you for a ride at the expense of your wallet.

Just walking the streets is testement to that. Car parks, underneath roads, or just bare walls, street art jumps out at you.








Thursday, 25 August 2016

I Am Not My Hair

Growing up as the son of a hairdresser I spent too much time as a kid sitting bored during holiday season or after school as finished in a quiet corner of the salon so as an adult the last place I want to spend any time at all is the hairdressers or barbers. I want to get in and, as little time sitting waiting for my name to be called and having my head in front of the mirror as possible

Not much in the way of chit chat, or small talk. No fussing, no running a hand through my hair looking into my eyes through the mirror reflection and asking me whether I want it this way or that. I'm happiest when there is no wait, and they just get down to it, spray my greasy hair with water, ignore any instructions I may have because quite frankly beyond getting rid of that annoying bit at the back that curls up when its getting too long I don't really know anyway. I'm quite happy if the barber just treats my head like its the Australian Sheep-shearing championship, scissors, comb, shoves my head from side to side, snip, snip, snip, done.

And yet dispute all this being true for me, there is a part of me that walks past strangers in the street and sees amazing hair on a daily basis and has a little bit of envy, not jealousy as such (because I'm way to lazy for that) but more awe. Some people seem to have hair that is like an extension of their character and personality, and others can rock having no hair. And then there is me washing mine with cheap shampoo and wondering why it feel likes straw afterwards and not caring enough to change it, as long as its not starting to curl up at the back – because then it has to come off.

Maybe I should start a new photo project and capture some of that wonderful hair out there, now that would be irony - something Mr I've spent so much time avoiding any interest in turning full circle to his roots.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

At this time of year, my heart has been at its heaviest the last couple of years. Back when I was married and living in the States, it was about this time of year that we as a couple got to keep the kids for the Summer months. As a couple we always busy and having two kids that needed to be entertained did add a little extra stress at for those 12 weeks of Summer, especially when both kids seemed to have very different eating choices at night. However despite the stress, it was a beautiful time of the year, it was a time that allowed to me to build a relationship with two loving needy kids, time that was denied us for much of the year but for every second weekend when they were getting schooled in another State.

I wasn't around for their births, I wasn't their blood father, but when I came into their lives at 5 and 3 respectfully, as someone who was marrying their mother I made the commitment to be part of their lives forever. Being a step father is never easy, trying to get the right balance, when their real father is still very much part of their lives, can be difficult. It can also be trying, I am not someone who cries easily, but there were times when something my stepkids could say something that could hurt deeply that maybe on another day wouldn't hurt so bad. And yet there was so much joy, for five years I watched as those kids grew up, and experienced life, and I miss being apart of that every day.4

I will always be there for those two beautiful kids, that my heart thinks of as my own, I still hope that one day I can take them around Scotland, and the world. I just hope that now that I am no longer with their mother, that the chapter I was in their lives doesn't become forgotten in the annuls of time.

A lot has been made of what happens to kids and parents when a marriage breaks down, but not much is written or talked about when a second marriage breaks down, and relationships are built up and pulled apart between kids and step parents. It can be truly heartbreaking.