Tell

Tell me who this young lion is

and how he leaped into the air

as they hunted him

from Musrara to Sheikh Jarrah

 

Tell me about that gaunt and gallant man

and how a whole squadron assailed him

at Qalandria checkpoint

and could not bring him down

 

Tell me about that girl who stood tall

as the bulldozer levelled her

like an almond tree in March

 

Tell this to those

who say we’ve been defeated

 

Tell” by Najwan Darwish. 

Radiant

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“We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge on our wedding day. We’re both former basketball players and collegiate coaches, so basketball is near and dear to our hearts. Then we went on a “Volunteer Honeymoon”, where we joined Jumpball Programme to help run free basketball clinics for kids in Kingston, Jamaica. It was a great way for us to share our love of the sport with the world.”

Erica and Julie, redefining love on the A Cup of Jo blog. What a beautiful picture – their love and happiness really shines out in it.

Joan Miro Fondacion

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Faced with one last day in Barcelona, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend it inside an art gallery.

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It felt like what I’d do in London and therefore maybe a waste of time in Barcelona where I was meant to be doing something different.

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But in the end, the fact that tickets for the Sagrada Família were sold out freed up the time and a trip to Montjuic meant I could follow up on the numerous recommendations to take in the Joan Miro Fondacion.

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I’d never been a huge Miro fan, but seeing his works in the flesh was a revelation.

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The variety, the fact that he changed tack from painting to textiles to sculpture and back again, constantly innovating was impressive, and the works themselves are housed in a fittingly distinctive building.

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The fondacion also has temporary exhibitions and when I was there it was one on Lee Miller and Surrealism, a pleasant reminder of my Farley Farm visit years ago.

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All photos Nov 2018.

Walking Barcelona

 

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The part of Barcelona we were staying in was full of quirky details – carved gargoyles, tiled walls, flower shops.

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Nearby in the Gothic quarter were chocolate shops, churros and frites takeaway stops and pen shops tucked down little side alleys.

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Hat shops next to saints’ plaques.

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And of course La Boqueria.

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And far away in Montjuic, the grand exhibition halls and galleries were backed by a hillside of parks.

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Definitely a city made for wandering. All photos November 2018.

La Catedral

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Everyone talks about the Sagrada Família, and for some reason I’d assumed before going that that would be Barcelona’s cathedral, but of course as the royal capital of Catalonia it has its own genuine Gothic cathedral,

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warm and golden inside, pillars splaying out across the ceilings from a central point like ropes in a circus tent,

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side chapels with stone steps and shelves for placing candles on,

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steps carved into walls, dynastic tombs and a giant organ on one side of the nave

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Most amazing of all was the carved wooden choir, so like the carvings in German cathedrals of the same era and entered through a very stern neo-classical version of Christ’s house at Bethlehem.

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Finally, the exit took you out to the old cloisters where palm trees and a pool with noisy geese greeted you before you rejoined the city.

All photos November 2018.

Villas

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I’d gone to Barcelona expecting to see but not particularly admire Gaudí (all the mosaics! why the bulging lines?), but of course I was blown away.

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I’m still not sure I can keep up with the reverential tone of the audio guides at La Predrera and Casa Battlo and their sheer excitement about spines of mystic creatures, but I do like the imagination mixed with practicality in these spaces.

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A tiled courtyard where the colour of the tiles graduated from cream to dark blue to respond to the sunlight and window sizes change floor by floor to filter out the fierce summer light.

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A ventilation system copied from the gills of fish, or deliberations of different zones by using different flooring.

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Even the roofs and terraces were calming rather than creepy when you’re in them, and the facade of Casa Battlo is really mesmerising – even if not every visitor is that interested in them!

All photos November 2018.

Familiar comforts

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Barcelona, November 2018. Of course I feel comfortable here – these 19th century neighbourhoods were literally made for people like me to walk around and buy a cake before going back home to our comfortable apartments. It’s the same reason I enjoy Berlin or recognise certain neighbourhoods in London. Mental familiarity plus beauty. I wonder how others experience these streets.

Rita Konig

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I’m at that stage of a house project where doing the pretty bits actually seems within grasp again, and I’m devouring Rita Konig’s articles on her website (find the section “Rita Says”)

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Unlike a certain modern Mrs Miniver, there is a lack of smugness in these pieces that allows you enjoy them greatly and wonder just how you’d make that tiny box room interesting, where you could get some over-the-bed mirrors from

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and whether you’d have the balls to do that level of colour combination / bold wallpaper yourself…

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images by tat.london, patrickmele, salvesengraham, msputneystripes and ritakonig, all on Instagram