Sunday, 30 January 2011

Close quarters

Living so close to other people can be tough sometimes. In all the flats I've lived in here, the sound insulation has been poor which has meant I've had the pleasure of hearing each little detail of my neighbours' lives, from morning 'til night. I know that the little boy who lives directly above us has a cough at the moment, that the lady a floor down and across from us had a load of visitors over for lunch yesterday, that the man above to the right can't make it through the night without a trip to the loo and that the people next door triple lock their front door. Too much information? Yes, sometimes. But as well as the occasionally invasive noise, comes the opportunity to people watch. After I've hung out all my washing sometimes I stay on the balcony and on a bright day there are usually several neighbours out. There's the young couple who have a ground floor garden flat opposite my building, who often play with their dog and sometimes play fight each other. The man who tends to his plants on sunny mornings. The woman who has a balcony directly below ours, who pegs and unpegs washing so quickly and quietly. I could get some tips from her, I bet she never lets any of her clothes drop to the floor below. My sock mortality rate is increasing.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Happy New Year, smoke-free Spain

After the gasp-inducing cold of Britain, I appreciate the mild winter days of early 2011 in Barcelona. Our flat doesn't get the sun in the morning, but standing on the tiny balcony I can see warm light hitting the hills in the distance. I'm looking forward to sitting out in the evenings later in the year.

This is certainly a beautiful thing - to walk into a bar, cafe or restaurant and to be able to breathe in deeply without taking in a lungful of stale smoke. I've seen opinion polls in newspapers asking "Is the new anti-tobacco law a mistake?" but generally proprietors seem to be going with it.

Not so beautiful...while buttering toast, I stop and examine a foreign body caught in the bread. I shudder as I prize out what seems to be a cigarette butt. I think about taking a photo, putting the evidence in a bag and marching down to the bakery, but in the end just toss the slice into the bin. Let's hope the anti-smoking law extends to smoking at work!