Wednesday, 26 May 2010


Swallows are suddenly everywhere. I started to notice them a couple of weeks ago, when the weather began to settle.

Part of the reason why I like them so much is because they seem to appear during that beautiful part of the early evening when the sun is no longer overhead, but dropping, just reflected in windows. The heat of the day has gone and there is more bustle in the streets. The skies reflect the bustle, suddenly filling with lots of these dark, darting little shapes.

Never saw myself as a twitcher, and I'm not, really. I don't know the first thing about the habits of swallows, what they eat, when they breed or their migration patterns. I'm just pleased they're here. I feel a lift when I hear them, the sound bouncing off buildings and echoing through little squares. There's something mediterrenean about it which seems to fit this setting.

I even like the word for them in Spanish - "golondrina". Four juicy syllables which simultaneously make me think of sweets (another word in Spanish which sounds similar is 'golosina', meaning a chewy sweet) and gondolier.

By 9.30 it's almost dark - I go out onto the balcony and look up but they've all gone.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Valencia I

We meet at Sants station and as soon as we've had our tickets checked we are ushered into an incredibly tranquil waiting area. I can't help comparing it to a London train station at 7pm on a Friday evening. "Not exactly like Kings Cross, is it?" says B, echoing my thoughts.

The train rolls out of the station and after a few minutes we're free of the city and following the coast towards the south. "Right, fancy a G&T?" Music to my ears after a long week.

Despite my blocked nose and the paper-thin walls of the hostel I sleep well and we get going early. After wandering about in the city, speaking to several policemen and bus drivers, we find the bus stop we're looking for and head out to a freshwater lagoon, and the promise of a boatride and a good paella.

In the evening it rains, but only for an hour. We emerge just as the light is disappearing and the streets are beginning to fill up. Two little dogs wait for their owner on the step of bar, and a few streets away we chat to a whole crowd of dancers in traditional costume, who don't need any persuading to pose for a photo.