Northbound Journeying

Our journey up here was interesting to say the least. Our darling boy came on the longest trip he had ever been on in the car. He hated almost every minute of it and was very distressed crying and whining. He did not understand that it would be alright when we arrived. He wanted cuddles and reassurance it with his Mama in the front and him in the back it wasn’t possible. At nighttime he didn’t like the traffic noise of the lights of the vehicles behind us. It was a long Journey anyway it made all the longer by stress and tiredness. 

As we reached the border we were met with a beautiful red and orange sky, following the contours of the hills and mountains with silhouettes of the trees and occasional building or cottage.

Higher than our current landscape set way above our heads the colours did not reach all the way to the road ahead of us. 

It’s ethereal light creating another world somewhere above ours where all was at peace. Our own route now being cast into the darkness as we travelled onwards, but yet we were bathed in this warm orange glow. It warmed the soul sending shivers down my spine. “Look at that Sky!” he said to me. I am, I answered my voice almost hoarse with emotion tied up in a truly beautiful experience. Taking us away from the situation we have been in and leading us hopefully towards the next step. The orange sky like a molten sea coming down through the hills that night pooling into lakes with pine trees all around as we reached the border and our welcome to Scotland. The smile spreading across my face, heading home at last. 

Art Nouveau at every corner…

img_4675The thing that I loved about my recent trip is that it set me on my way for something on the bucket list, to find as many Art Deco and art nouveau buildings as I can and photograph them. Well, I am just back from Barcelona within the last month, which was a real eye opener for me and didn’t disappoint.

Of course I wouldn’t have to travel alone if a friend or family member wanted to join me, so that’s always an option. I don’t know how I’d be abroad totally on my own. I think I need a bit more confidence before I take that step. But there’s hope for me as I’m only uncertain not terrified at the thought of it. Time would be my own and I wouldn’t have to do a particular thing. There again though it wasn’t like that when Mum and I travelled it was very relaxed. We did not have an itinerary just expressed a wish of things to see and she noticed things that I did not when we were out and about. A beautiful doorway here and there, or architectural detail. Something on the bus which I made her get off to show me so I could capture it.

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Like this place for instance, a gorgeous and working original Art nouveau designed working pharmacy in Barcelona. What is lovely is that people were so accommodating when we wanted to wander around their shops taking photos. They invited us in to do so with no obligation to purchase something.

We did say that it would be interesting to see how many of our photographs were of the same things since we shared a keen eye for so many of the sights.

I don’t claim to be an expert on anything, merely an enthusiast.  Yes as I think about it, I am an enthusiast of so many things.

So along with my growing list of things that I’d like to do this year. I’m afraid my bucket list is growing too and I don’t think that’s a bad thing really. It simply means that I have not had enough of the experiences of this world. There is more and more that I wish to see and do before I die and if I don’t get to do it all soon, then I’ll just have to live a long and happy one.

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The Daily Post – Aesthetic

Mi Casa Su Casa – Casa Lola Via Laietana

It was a wonderful day, we had wandered about looking again in awe at the sights that surrounded us when we were heading back to the hotel. On our last night I was determined that although it was nice and I mean the food was really nice, I did not want us to be the Brits who always go to the same place to eat on holiday. That I would be such a cliche. So I pushed us to go back to the hotel to get freshened and dressed up. Mum had promised me a birthday meal whilst we were away and I did not want to go somewhere local once we came back, what would be the point of that. We were in this wonderful place and although we were tired, there were restaurants aplenty there. We were heading back with our feet aching when we stumbled upon Casa Lola. It wasn’t a cafe at all it served tapas and other lovely things and the decor put an immediate smile upon my face. I stopped to take photos from outside and a man strode towards us smiling. Come inside if you like, he said inviting us in. I said that we weren’t ready to eat, he said that’s Ok you don’t have to, you can come in just to take photos. So I did. It was five minutes walk from the hotel even in the heels I was definitely going to wear so I asked if I could see the menu and he told me that it is all freshly cooked at the bar where you can see it. I figured out that there was food I could eat and would also enjoy being an awkward diner due to allergies I have to check.

All good. I Thanked the man for allowing me to take photos and explained that we had to go back to the hotel but that we would return. He probably hears that all the time I thought, but I wanted to do this.

We walked back and got sorted out dressed up changed and walked back. He was pleased to see us “Thankyou for returning,” he said. I said that we would I replied. He showed us to a seat and we ordered wine. We still had half a bottle of a lovely Tempranillo Merlot sitting in the hotel room from the night before. It was so fruity and tasked like raisins but so smooth too, we had savoured a glass each before crashing out to sleep the night before. So we ordered a Tempranillo which was just as good, by the glass as it was already late we did not think we would have time to drink it all.

We began with a starter of Tapas I ordered steamed mussels which were absolutely right and tomato ciabatta bruschetta whilst Mum ordered cod. She made me try it, it was cooked to perfection and melted in the mouth and was served with a grilled red pepper and asparagus and lightly dressed with sea salt.

For our main course, we tried the seafood paella. It was darker than I had anticipated and served in a cast iron skillet but the flavours were intermingled beautifully. Mum was distinctly unimpressed with the seafood on top.

We sat observing the other diners, there are convex mirrors on the walls which made her view so much easier. Three ladies at another table were having a lovely time and we commented on it was like watching me with my two best friends when we got together. Although that has been far too long since that happened.

We looked at deserts which are notoriously difficult for me as Mum fancied one. I considered ordering the cod starter which she had chosen. It tasted so good. She went off to investigate them and spoke with the man who arrived back just before she did with a wonderful fresh fruit salad that he had made for me. The strawberries within it were so fresh and juicy it was just right.

He also asked the waitress to bring me another glass of red wine which was “a gift, on the house”

By 10pm it was starting to get busy in there. A man joined the ladies for Tapas and drink and then proceeded to rearrange the front of the restaurant to set up a sound system at about 11pm and started to play some really good tunes. A real mix of music and including a bit of jazz and some mixed up old songs. I’m not great with loud music but this was not too loud. You could still hold a conversation and Mum was considering getting up to dance, saying that was one thing that was missing from our holiday. Dancing. I told her that she could but I wasn’t drunk enough to attempt to dance. A necessity before I would have. I have never been a dancer.

We ordered coffee and as it arrived I smelled the coffee. We had not had a cup all day, no wonder we felt so tired and were flagging! But I have to say that at that point it tasted and smelled like the best coffee in the world! It was smooth on the tongue and livened the senses. I bowed to the coffee gods, thanking them, it made mum laugh.

At the end of the meal I thanked the man. Explaining that this I had a wonderful birthday meal and such a lovely evening in this wonderful place. I also thanked him for the wine. He said it was a pleasure and Thank you for your custom it was lovely to meet you.

We walked back to the hotel. We had a lovely evening and enjoyed the remainder of the lovely red wine as I rang my partner to tell him all about it. It really was the best way to spend our last night on this wonderful place.

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The Daily Post – Invitation

Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya – MNAC

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After my mother’s disappointment had become apparent when we arrived at the Barcelona Pavilion, we looked for something else to do. It took only moments to find from there. Looking up we found the National Museum of Art. High upon the hill with fantastic gardens surrounding it and the most wonderful far reaching views over Barcelona city and the Place d’Espagne.

The gorgeous building has so many wonderful features tucked inside, before you even get to the artwork.

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Although religious artifacts aren’t my thing, although there were some fabulous pieces in that section. I was particularly taken with a statue of St George, slaying his dragon. A mother and her boychild, then as I am a capricorn girl, I couldn’t resist photographing the last panel below.  As we were short on time, I wanted to get to the contemporary art section.

 

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We were lucky to find that there was a contemporary art exhibition on there, with such delights including doors and furniture by Antonio Gaudi and my particular something wonderful there some sculptures and sketches by Miguel Blay whom I had not heard of before, but will definitely look at more closely.


I was thrilled there was a photographic exhibition. I was cheeky enough to get a few pictures showcasing Marianne Breslauer’s career spanning the years 1927-1938 beautiful images of ladies for good measure before closing time, along with a few more monochrome shots from other photographers.

 

Lots of other photographs caught my eye, including a rather lovely picture of a starlet from a golden era.

There was a beautiful stained glass panel which I just have to share with you here, unfortunately I do not know who created it. But I must admit that glass is another of my weaknesses.

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As we left the gallery, we were met by the most beautiful sky and sunset. Like most of the other people who were leaving, we took photographs not of ourselves, just the scenery around us, it was exquisite.


The Daily Post – Exquisite

Dali v Gaudi

I do feel the need to explain. For those die hard art fans out there, it is simply my own opinion and fighting my own inner thoughts why I had no desire to go and see Salvador Dali’s work whilst I was in Barcelona. You see, I have never felt entirely comfortable with what little of his work that I have seen.  My mother said it quite succinctly “Well, he was totally mad!” and thankfully she didn’t want to go either. I know there are lots of “mad” people out there who are great artists, however I have always felt more than slightly uncomfortable with his work. Yes, he was probably a genius.  But very little of what I have seen makes me want to see more.

The same could certainly not be said for Antoni Gaudi.
Although I only recently came across his work, I have an absolute thirst to find more of it, he was brilliant in his architecture.  I don’t know what it is about it, but I am in awe of the colours, textures and patterns and the skills that were used.  It was a later arrival to my Barcelona wishlist, once I knew that I was going there and I certainly did not want to leave without visiting at least one of his projects.

Casa Batllo, on the Passieg de Gracia was the place we settled upon visiting whilst we were there.  Well it had to be once I saw the front window alone. It’s curves and frontage pleading me to venture there and see what else it would show me, I was little prepared for it and as it turned out we were in for one of the biggest surprises of our trip.  I walked around the place in absolute awe, listening to the pre-recorded tour, eyes wide from what I was seeing and was totally besotted with the house. Mr Josep Batllo was a very lucky man to live and work there and commissioned Antoni Gaudi in 1904 as architect to create a fine home for his family.  In 1906 it was completed and over 100 years later, it is a celebrated Unesco world heritage site, which is privately owned and the upkeep and restorations now financed by the admission fees.

I can quite honestly say that I have never experienced anything like it before.  My eyes were drawn to the colours, the shapes and wondering how on earth they managed to do it all.

I probably took about 300 photographs whilst I was in that building, possibly even more.  I could easily split them into monochrome and colour sections but I will not, I think there will be some stills and also a slideshow for here.  There was so much to see, a glorious assault upon the senses, which left me dizzy and eager to see what was around the next corner, or in the next room.  I adore the place and have happily dreamed of living in a building like that, if only I were lucky enough to do so.

The sitting room holds the most beautiful windows I have ever seen. Being very keen on architecture this is quite an achievement and deservedly so. The large bay windows are cavernous and have stained glass sections in multiple shades all around the top, as have the doors within this section of the house. It is simply breathtaking to see it for the first time and my photographs do not do it justice.


We walked around the house loving the design, it was a touchy feely building, your hands are drawn to the curves everywhere and the warmth created by the honeyed tones of the wooden fittings I think that this place brings a whole new meaning to the term “love handles” here are just a few of them here and they were exquisite.


The handrails of the stairs strong yet smooth where possibly millions of people have done the very same thing grabbbed the rail in eagerness to see what is next.

This is a place to reawaken your creativity. It is exciting, both in it’s form and humour. Likened to a dragon, it is a great beast of a building, fascinating and makes wonderful use of my favourite colour throughout.

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The light well is central to the building and which houses the entrances to the various apartments, the staircase and elevator is something to behold and the colour blue deepens the higher you climb, being the darkest at the roof. It occurred to me that it must hold every shade of the spectrum in that one building.

If you like ceramics or glass in any form then you will probably love this place after all, What’s not to love? 

As the tour continued upwards throughout the building, I felt that the clever architect brought a new feeling of calm as I walked through the rooms.

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The staircases, the curves in attic bedrooms of the servants quarters were welcoming and I think at the end of a long day, I would feel safe and secure being looked after within it’s walls. Everywhere we went, the light was wonderful and so cleverly used throughout. There was no dark cramped attic rooms in here, they were white and bright and yet had such softness, it must have been the curves and the clever touches throughout for storage. Not as flamboyant or colourful as the main quarters but just as lovely.

The sunny terraces were at the rear of the building and up on the roof.  I remarked upon the similarities to the enamelled ceramic colourful plaques in the rear garden and the artwork that my mother had produced years earlier in art college. She said that at the time, she had no idea as to what was possible and this had opened her eyes to it. I have quietly hankered after one day owning a particular piece of her pottery from that era. The rooftop also housed the highly decorated chimneys and the amazing roof which curled around the front of the building like a sleeping dragon its multicoloured scales at the front.

 

I think that my hardest task was to capture photographs without people walking across them. But I have to say the other visitors were very accommodating and would wait if you were poised for a shot. All these photographs I took on the iPhone I will ensure that next time I travel I will take a battery bank or two as my only complaint was that it ran out on me too early in the day. I decided to purchase a book, it was not hugely expensive and the photography was lovely. It also gave a potted history of the house which I could show my partner upon returning home.

We walked out late afternoon elated from the experience, so pleased that we had been able to see it on our last day, the sunlight on the building casting yet more glorious shadows upon its curvaceous form. I felt that if God took me now, then I would die with a smile on my face feeling as though I’d lived and grateful for the experience.

The Daily Post – Interior