Saturday, 19 December 2009


Beautiful things this week:

Harmony in a classroom, however brief.

A student suddenly sharing a detail from their life outside school with me, which explained a lot.

I played The Snowman for my youngest class today, and after initial complaints ("There's no talking! Why aren't they talking?") the whole group was transfixed. I loved seeing them enjoy it.

Hearing French spoken at home.

Waking up on a cold, sunny Saturday morning with the whole day to do whatever I want with. My only task is to get ingredients together to make mulled wine with friends this evening.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

'Tis the beat a log with a stick

Each December, children of Catalunya get very excited about the "Caga Tió" a log which has a litle face painted on one end, and which excretes presents from the other. No, really. It's a bit like having a Christmas tree, only with the Tió you have to keep it warm with a blanket, feed it little snacks (so that it will grow and produce more presents), and when the day comes, hit it with a stick and watch the presents tumble out. Unsettling undertones maybe, but best not to dwell on these. Seen though the childrens' eyes it's perfectly innocent!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Cold Snap

On Saturday I wake up early and go to the park. It's barely 5 minutes' walk from my door but feels like a different Barcelona. No cars, only birds, the pine trees and the amazing views down towards the city and the sea for company. I watch the sun coming up, shimmering on the water. It's cold this morning, and the light is hazy and wintery.

Today I have hibernated, writing reports and making tea with my new teapot. Late afternoon I put on coat, hat and scarf and walk briskly down the hill to meet a friend at a café. While I wait for her by the metro station I watch people side-stepping to avoid a Latin American man reading loudly from a bible. He approaches a group of teenagers, waving his arm, until they mutter at him and stalk off in the opposite direction.

Back at home me and my flatmate share the leftover wine she brought back from France, and talk about the attractiveness of various Spanish newsreaders and weathermen.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Yellow Line

On the metro a young man picks continuously at his fingernail, while balancing a little book of sudoku puzzles on his knee. When he glances up to check which station we're arriving at, I notice that just one of his eyes is very bloodshot.

Further along the carriage, three women in their 60s travel into town together, talking non stop, and simultaneously (a local talent). They are all wearing something purple and look like they go to the same place to have their hair tinted. I wonder how long they've been friends for.

We talk about Cumberland sausages on the way back from work. It gets me thinking and I pop into a supermarket with bangers on the brain. They're not quite the same, but tasty anyway.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The original magic pencil from the programme that inspired the name of this blog.

Photo #1: Catalan mountains (Pedraforca) on a crisp September morning.