Donde el arte y la pasión se encuentran


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Where art and passion meet

My friend Mimi is chief among my encouragers where photo-journalling is concerned. With her usual enthusiasm and generosity of spirit Mimi spoke of enjoying “seeing Barcelona through your eyes.” If my beloved friends and family could only know how often I feel I’m seeing simply allsorts on their behalf as well as my own!

How to describe the extraordinarily vibrant and cosmopolitan city that is Barcelona?

Well: I’ve come to the conclusion that only the presentation of all things colourful comes near to proper description here. From tens of thousands raising their own heartbeats and ours in the Barcelona half marathon this morning, through a breathtaking spectrum of colours throughout the rest of the day, culminating in one of the best flamenco shows I’ve ever seen, heard or felt vibrating in my very bones, Domingo en Barcelona es

Donde el arte y la pasión se encuentran …

And I’m glad to be alive and marvel!

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Eccentric and wholly holy

Antoni Gaudi’s Catalan Basilica shocked me today – in the literal sense that I was rendered dumbstruck and tearful. Every time I tried to articulate a response I was overwhelmed. Words refused to take their usual shape on my tongue. My eyes flowed.

This House (which I saw late evening yesterday from the outside) utterly enthralled me on the inside. It ‘restored my soul’ – renewing my faith in humankind. That one person should imagine such a glorious, and eccentric, and wholly holy tribute to the Divine is miracle enough. That the thousands already involved in the project should be able to build such an edifice in this or any other age is quite another.

No other basilica I’ve encountered has a built-in Christmas tree fabricated in stone – sculptured shelter for Doves of Peace – nor giant snails sliding down its exterior walls, nor bunches of grapes, oranges and limes, horses and knights on their courses, and echoing music that appears to own colours as well as notation. This House is soaring, glorious, magisterial, stone crazy, profound, deep, high and utterly proximate. It is unforgettable. It is a covenantal rainbow. It speaks of a Christos, an anointed one, who reaches and teaches inter-faiths as openly and as far as any of us might imagine ‘universe’.

This House is not mean. It’s an abode that doesn’t look for the pecuniary counsel of the average church council. This dwelling-place is above and beyond average! – as all such temples of Life-Spirit (you and me) should be. Like that great artist of Life, Jesus of Nazareth, this earthly home spares no expense. Oil for anointing (yours, mine, or Mary’s) simply costs what it costs, and anticipates – like the Vocation of the Anointed. No cost is too high. The Divine Incomprehensible gives and anoints and lives and dies and lives extravagantly (heavens, look again at those colours), generously, and universally. And makes of every ever-changing shade and hue of humankind, indeed of all creation, a universally present Sagrada Familia. Yet the basilica openly asks something of us – including an entrance fee. This tent invites us to make a gift of both our cogniscence and our ignorance, our understanding and our lack of it. And here this seems appropriate and proper. 

The exchange and the offertory afford me opportunity to add something, to contribute something to the ongoing art, fabrication, consecration, adoration, admiration and – in the widest possible sense – the conversation, the prayer. And whether from the outside or the inside it invites me to be – perhaps expects me to be – overwhelmed, by a generous, and indescribable, and incomprehensible gift and grace. Yes. Dumbstruck. Overwhelmed. Surprised. Delighted. Shocked. Warmed. Coloured. Inspired. By Love.

a further photo gallery will follow here soon

Mirador de Barcelona

Footsore tonight as, after class, we took the Metro as far as it could take us before the steep climb on foot up to Parks Guell and Carmel for the panoramic mirador of Barcelona – and down again. Every muscle in our bodies, and especially in legs and feet, encountered the city’s surprise of the week. I was dumbstruck by the sight of octogenarians scaling the steep streets without turning a hair. They must have been born here. But oh, was the hike worth it? The early evening light was a photographer’s dream, and the stunning Sagrada Familia quite patently Gaudi’s! What a day.

En buena compañía

Photo at Pixabay

Blogging’s a bit like exercise. You can’t always do it every day, even if you really want to! The last couple of days have flown by – even as we ourselves have flown – to the beautiful Barcelona and a curso de español intensivo. 

We’ve found ourselves in good company today with a German electrician, a Jordanian Headteacher, a German surgeon, a Saudi Arabian architect, an English chartered accountant, an English student of politics and international relations, and a Scottish viajero – a world travellerin our class alone, with bags of opportunity for relating to the other 140 international students who, like us, think that studying in Barcelona is ‘the bee’s knees’.

Our professors speak to us only in Spanish, so we’re learning to swim in the deep end fast! But they – and all our fellow students – are possessed of warmth, together with cheerfully energetic good humour, so though I haven’t a clue (yet) as to how this might translate – we think we’re going to have a ball here! Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the fantabulous food on every arty street corner. And the Fitbit? Well, 5 miles already today, despite time in the classroom, and there’ll probably be another 2 or 3 tramped between now and bedtime.

Más noticias más tarde …

Poetry & prose


I often wonder what it is about periods of time that cause me sometimes to favour the poetic, and at others the prosaic. Both matter to me hugely. A frosty morning scene like this one tends to produce a poetic response – in a daydreaming sort of way, even if not in an actual poem.

So I was delighted to come upon Austin Dobson’s cheerful Ballade of Prose and Rhyme. He gave the subject a fair bit of thought too …

When the ways are heavy with mire and rut,
In November fogs, in December snows,
When the North Wind howls, and the doors are shut,—
There is place and enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever a scent from the whitethorn blows,
And the jasmine-stars at the casement climb,
And a Rosalind-face at the lattice shows,
Then hey! for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

When the brain gets dry as an empty nut,
When the reason stands on its squarest toes,
When the mind (like a beard) has a “formal cut,”—
There is place and enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever the May-blood stirs and glows,
And the young year draws to the “golden prime,”
And Sir Romeo sticks in his ear a rose,—
Then hey! for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

In a theme where the thoughts have a pedant-strut,
In a changing quarrel of “Ayes” and “Noes,”
In a starched procession of “If” and “But,”—
There is place and enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever a soft glance softer grows
And the light hours dance to the trysting-time,
And the secret is told “that no one knows,”—
Then hey! for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

In the work-a-day world,—for its needs and woes,
There is place and enough for the pains of prose;
But whenever the May-bells clash and chime,
Then hey! for the ripple of laughing rhyme!

Austin Dobson, 1840–1921

The gales sallying forth from the mighty – and persistent – Storm Doris are howling around our house and its chimney tonight. And close to the comfort of the hearth, my response is definitely a poetic one!

Storm Doris en route

Early evening weather-watching walk today, and I want to allow these photos their own space. Across six miles the sky invited poets to let their imaginations run wild. I’m astonished every day by how quickly the landscape changes. I’m often reminded that the Coleridges and the Wordsworths routinely walked distances that would make most of us blanche today. That’s where their poetry and journals came from.

As they were friends and companions for each other, so, too, they kept company with landscape, indeed with their entire natural environment. The met office reports tonight that Storm Doris is headed for the UK. The (bit of a) panentheist in me rather approves of the recent practice of naming weather phenomena. Though no new poem has arisen in my heart and head tonight, Dorothy Wordsworth’s instinct for journal-keeping nudges. I wonder what she’d make of twenty-first century blogging. Or motorised transport?

Bolognese daydreamer

Photo at Pixabay

I guess all of us daydream about food. I’m still working on losing some of the pounds that girded themselves about my waist over the Christmas period – so perhaps my culinary reveries have been sharpened a tad.

One of the ingredients that will combine with those in this photo is presently browning in the pan. I know what outcome I’m dreaming of, and thinking particularly of a world renowned city where I once revelled in the most enormous dish of it. What does this photo call to mind for you? And where?