Wednesday, 20 August 2014

From puff the magic dragon to the magic fountain

My wife and I desperately wanted to see the famous Gaudi dragon while in Barcelona. Turns out that Park Guell where it's located isn't entirely free to walk around. To see the amazing architecture and statues up close you need to book in advance and pay.

Our first trip to the park was a rather dry, exhausting and disapointing trip. However we went back, having booked our tickets and took the tour round a stunning display of Gaudi's work.

I'm not going to comment any more except to say if you like beauty, there is a lot of it to be found in Barcelona.

The magic fountain...? If you've never seen it yourself, you'll get an idea at the end. Google it. The display is quite something...








Sunday, 17 August 2014

From Catalonia to Caledonia

After completing book two of The Great Scottish Land Grab I promised my wife a holiday.

We got cheap flights out to Barcelona for a week and I tried to put the novel out of my head. Didn't work but at least I had left the laptop at home...

We were staying in an apartment hotel, one of the better ones with a reasonable kitchen and a fantastic pool on the roof. Managed to sunburn myself on day one... Shouldn't let Scots like me into hot countries...

Everywhere we went I noticed these colourful flags, yellow with four red stripes. Some with a blue triangle and white star.


Kind of hard to see unless you zoom in really close...


I assumed football colours. Lot of football supporters in Barcelona then.

Always dangerous to assume. I google searched and found the flag is a symbol of Catalonia independence, the Estelada.

No, I couldn't escape the referendum debate on holiday...

It is a beautiful flag, bright colours... at least when new. Some of the flags had obviously been in the sun a loooong time.

Once I knew what the flag represented, I found myself comparing it to the Yes and No Thanks posters and stickers that I've seen around Scotland.


Nowhere near as bright or colourful but still a barometer of how Scotland feels about independence.

Divided.

There are clusters of Yes. Clusters of No Thanks. There is definitely a rich and poor divide. I've seen far more No Thanks posters in affluent areas. Conversely, More Yes posters and stickers in what I would class as less well off areas, including my own.

But nothing is never as clear cut as one would like. Why is it that only one house in these three has Yes posters up?Why is it that in many affluent areas there are no No Thanks posters to be seen?

In Barcelona, while I had initially thought there were hundreds of these colourful flags, I quickly began to notice the large gaps between them. Whole streets with not a single flag in sight.

If you're interested in comparing the Catalonia independence call to that of Scotland's, Debating Europe has a handy beginners guide to some of the issues: Arguments for and against Catalonia independence. However, as an outsider who is only starting to learn about Catalan, I'm wary of assuming this is an unbiased site.

FT.com published this in April: Catalonia to forge ahead with referendum on independence. The comments section revealing for the views in English about proposed independence.

Wars of Spanish secession was also an interesting read while I was away.

I'm back in sometimes sunny, sometimes drizzly Scotland. I met one gentleman this week who was adamant he would leave Scotland and take his business with him if Scotland votes Yes. I contrast this with the only man who offered an opinion on Catalonian independence while I was away. He was against it.

Yet for every person I meet in Scotland I meet who is against independence I am meeting an equal number who are for it. Who are looking to a brighter future, a more colourful future, one where maybe we won't need any more food banks, maybe even job centres...

I'll leave you with my Estelada, something to remember Barcelona by...


Saturday, 2 August 2014

AJCWordsmith - A name in vain

I.
a name in vain
profane and vulgar-
yet I sit while you sin

II.
MY Lord's Name
carries weight and strength-
it carries my soul

III.
His name is no trite obscenity-
speak those two words with joy
and know power eternal

By Alexander Cunningham

It's not often as a blogger that someone says a blog post has inspired them to write a poem. Absolutely fantastic to read the powerful result.

I introduced myself to a new Facebook group - Christian Bloggers UK - last week, shared one of my posts from 2012 and within a day Alexander Cunningham had contacted me with the above poem.

You can view Alexander Cunningham's Facebook page here:
https://m.facebook.com/AJCWordsmith

Alexander has been asking people for three words which he has been using to write a linked, three verse haiku. If you'd like to help him with his project, contact him at his Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/AJCWordsmith

I couldn't copy and paste the text giving the full explanation of the project but (as I TwitFaced last week) fortunately my daughter has shown me how to take screenshots: