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Last week Hayden's hard drive crashed and burned.
Today I discovered the airline company I bought tickets to Canada with has gone bust.
Oh hey, look at that. The toilet's broken again.
We've been busy little bees of late. Poor excuse for having neglected elisse.org for the last year, however revamps and updates on the way as I once again journey far from the real world into the impenetrable artistic depths of Banff, Canada. 21 days and counting...
Hayden and I have been cooking up a new website which is set to greatly enhance the lives of classical musicians everywhere. Launch is 9 days 22 hours away. We'll let you know when we're rich and famous.
We went camping.
Thanks to Hayden accidentally bringing back 2 tents from London (he thought one was the fly); the Tim, the Angela, the Me, Hayden and Daniel and Mai went up north to the Costa Brava - lovely beaches, lots of wind-surfing and piles of Dalí.
Not only did we manage to get the tent up without drama (thanks Cat!!), the boys rigged an interesting solution to the new tent that Mai and Daniel ended up with: no poles, no covers, nothing more than what looked like an inside 'doorway' into other tent-rooms.
So we got some sun, nabbed some fresh orchard apples and had a yummy pizza at this cool place with giant chess AND trampolines! The mosquito bite count ended up pretty standard - Elisse: 23, Hayden: 0
The two of us drove up to Cadaqués - gorgeous fishing town on the most easterly tip of Spain, and home to the Orchestra of Cadaqués, in which my flute teacher Jaime plays and increasingly conducts. It was very pretty and we saw lots of rock-pools and sea urchins, however not a single starfish! I'm no longer convinced they exist in the rest of the world...
Following that, we spent a couple of days with my adoptive Family in a small town near Figueres. They did a very good job of fattening us up with yummy russian food, and we went to see uncle Leo play with his jazz trio at a restaurant. All in all very lovely and relaxing.
Though it doesn't stop there, with the Festa Major de Gràcia starting tomorrow (yep, we've been here a year!), followed by Hayden's family whisking us off to Andorra for a few days. Certainly enjoying this long mediterranean summer!
Well, that's it, first wedding I've been to for a school friend (or anyone close to my age for that matter). Tank and Paula got hitched yesterday in Sedgefield, County Durham and Evan and I made up the Australian contingent. The two of us left London yesterday morning and hopped on a train up to Durham, where we were staying, checked in and then caught a cab to the church. Much to my surprise our travel arrangements went like clockwork, with the train arriving a mere 2 minutes late into Durham station, acceptable by anyone's standards.
The service was nice and the priest (or father or whatever) had a great sense of humour and a bag full of teacher jokes which kept us all amused throughout the entire service.
The reception afterwards was good fun - the table Evan and I were seating on finally worked out our connection halfway through the meal. We were all the people who knew Tank as Tank, not as Andrew. The tables were all named after places from Winnie the Pooh, we were seated at "Big Stones and Rox". The meal was great and the speeches were amusing, especially Iain's. Jill (Tank's mum) told us that there were some friends who came up from New Quay and thought they had the furthest travelled guest title in the bag, apparently they were a little bit annoyed that Evan beat them by such a large margin.
I've got photos, including a few of Tank, Paula and myself - to prove to you doubters that she does, in fact, exist. For now I'm sitting at the train station in Newcastle (all stations and trains seem to have free wireless now, which is brilliant) and the rain has just stopped, so I'm off to my hostel and then flying back to Barcelona tomorrow morning.
I'll post a selection of the myriad of photos that Evan took when I get back home.
I am a purist when it comes to chocolate. Since my easter job at Haighs many centuries ago, I will only adhere to the highest quality, mostly dark, and savoured in prime conditions.
Yesterday I sat down to my well-deserved square of dark orange Lindt, which to my horror did not break away from the block. It bowed drunkenly, and proceeded to melt to a sticky brown river in my hands. As much fun as I had licking it up and trying to return the remainders to the packet, it dawned upon me that I would have to resort to the unthinkable: keeping chocolate in the fridge.
So there it is, my lone block of Lindt, next to the spinach and manchego cheese. Perhaps it's high time those swiss took a stroll away from their alpine comfort to see how real people suffer in hot places.
The Domi, the Hayden and I went to stay at a farm in Chianti (vineyard/olive oilery). It's an Agriturismo thing - one of a bunch of Italian farms that have set up a small accommodation bit, and its revenue gets put back into the farm. A brilliant system, especially when it means surprisingly cheap rustic-muffin accommodation for us on a well maintained, GORGEOUS farm and a welcome gift of wine and olive oil. Mmm Mmm!!
So we stayed 3 nights with bleeding gorgeous views of San Gimignano (medieval Manhattan), drank, swam, cooked bolognese and risotto, had Limoncello, panforte, regional cookies and fragoli liquor, bread with olive oil for lunch, that sort of thing. Amazingly we also managed to squeeze in trips to Siena (where they were setting up for the horse race), Monteriggioni, Volterra, and San Gimignano. On our last night we scored an outrageous panoramic-view dinner in San Gim which included Hayden and Dom sharing a Florentine steak (3 fingers thick) and me working through gnocchi with truffles and cheese. Honestly, we couldn't even order a dessert between us.
So after this dreadfully relaxing and stupidly-gorgeous-in-every-way holiday, we drove back to Spain via the scenic route. We went past La Spezia, got lost for lunch somewhere near Genova, saw Nice (and swam there), Cannes and stayed the night in Toulon. Having managed to drive through the busy delightfully smelly sunday market there (olives, rosemary), we went off to spend the day in Marseille. Didn't see white peugeot taxis, but did climb up to the Notre Dame and had another very enjoyable, panoramic day. We later got caught in a massive traffic jam, and jam of diversion of traffic jam, where we decided to stop off and have a french pizza from a mobile pizza place mid-jam, which was kind of sweet.
So here we are back in Barcelona with lots more wine bottles, a huge hunk of left-over parmesan and Pepe. It doesn't seem like much of a step down, except it's very noisy during the summer nights here, and we are adjusting to some new housemates. Crazy ones, that get up at 5:45am and go for a run, then go back to bed...
Armed with a far too general 'map of Europe', I managed to survive the solo drive from Barcelona to Florence. As a bonus I ended up with broken air conditioning: not fun traversing the whole of the south of France in summer, survived an intimidatingly thorough police check, managed a grand detour (my own fault entirely) almost up to Lyon and arrived in San Remo too late for dinner. However, I did arrive in gorgeous San Remo, and had a delicious hazelnut/chocolate gelati whilst observing the cool Italian youths hangin' round their vespas in too-tight pink polo shirts. Damn I'm old..
So I had a lovely time with mummy seeing Florence, Prato, Lucca, Viareggio and Pisa. Highlights included the Uffizi and Academia museums in Florence, swapping my car for an air-conditioned Fiat in Lucca then spending a lovely quiet day there following mum's bargaining for our free parking spot, an INCREDIBLE lunch at a random out-of-the-way restaurant on a windy road (the one with the Panna Cotta), climbing the tower of Pisa and sitting on the roof of the hotel in Prato drinking wine and eating Haighs chocolates (thanks mum!). Oh, and surviving driving into Florence!
Then Hayden came by plane, and we met with the Danni and the Dom. Walking through the streets of Prato (a small, quiet town) on our first night all together, I heard somebody call out "Elisse!"
Who else could it have been but the wayward modeling traveling manscara-wearing Rick (of the Josh and Rick fame) who happened to be dating a Monash lass that had already had a lecture from my mother. Yarrrr
So we did some things together which Hayden can tell you all about because I'm off to eat my two fresh custard tarts from the Portuguese shop!
On Saturday night Elisse and I went to see Camille playing at the Palau Mùsica. It was absolutely incredible. Firstly the Palau itself is quite spectacular and although we didn't have the best seats in the place we could see most of the stage and were very close (just very high up).
Camille came on stage with her ensemble, which consisted of a pianist, 2 beatboxers and 4 singers. The singers were incredible in themselves and Camille used them like a sampling machine, singing a beat and then just pointing at them and they continued it while she moved on to the next layer.
The set was intense, it was more or less 2 hours of non-stop music, with Camille jumping about and dancing through the whole thing. By the end of it Elisse and I were in awe and had a lot of trouble saying more than, "wow, that was incredible", for the next half an hour.
And to top it all off, being in Europe as we are, the tickets were only 10 each.
After almost 11 months living in Barcelona, I finally feel totally at home here. Here are some of the reasons.
- I know the whereabouts of the local uber alternative/organic supermarket
- I'm familiar with the tiny street with all the wild second hand clothes shops
- I know how long it takes the hot sun to burn my fair skin
- I know where to source fresh cream, halva, harissa and sun-dried tomatoes (it wasn't easy...)
- I'm adept at using the bicing system
- No matter how hippy I decide I'll be in the morning, I've never felt out of place in the streets. There's always more dreads, peircings, tattoos and legging-skirt-pants in a 5m radius than I could ever collect
- I know that a real paella does not contain chorizo