Thursday, January 25, 2007

Being in Barcelona I

Last week, we went to Barcelona to celebrate our wedding annivesrary. It's somewhere I've wanted to see since discovering Gaudi during my City and Guilds course. I'm glad to say that it did not disappoint.

We rented an apartment and it proved an excellent choice, having a central position (in the old City), comfort and privacy, plenty of space and facilities, and letting us have complete freedom for doing what we wanted when. It also came with dishwashing machine, a living room looking out onto a public square and a quiet bedroom at the back, just a couple of minutes walk from La Ramblas. All in all, an excellent location for a restful city break.

This is the square - in fact, a triangle - taken from our balcony on the first morning of our visit. It was unusual to see all these vehicles - making deliveries and collections to/from the bakery and other businesses, plus a street-cleaners' van is there. Dotted around Barcelona are houses with these amazing painted frontages, very picturesque. In the square (Placa George Orwell)are a couple of café bars, a delicatessen, a "corner shop", a bakery, a sex shop (in which the only customer we saw was a teenaged girl, being ejected), a pizzeria, plus some funky clothes shops along the lane to the next street, across from the School of Fine Art.

These are the luscious plants on the balcony next door: a glorious sight. The pavement is wet not, as I first thought, because there had been rain, but because the pavements in this part of town were washed down every morning, as well as being swept several times a day.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Appearing on the Screen

Among my many activities (when well enough to attend) and affiliations is with the Avon Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. Last Saturday we were lucky to be given a workshop on silk screen printing at the meeting, run by excellent teacher and member, Sarah Harris. The last time I did screen printing was some decades ago, when we used paper masks in the screens as a means to print posters. This time, we were printing onto fabrics and using painted screens (using screen filler, a rubbery sort of pain. My elder daughter, Sarah, came with me, and she worked a wonderful flower design, a theme she has been exploring for a while.

I, on the other hand, worked with a rather art-nouveau-ish image from our Venice trip: peacocks from a wrought iron gate at the monastery of the Mecharist Armenians on the island of San Lazzaro, which caught my eye and imagination during our visit there.

I think my most effective image came from printing on hand-made silk paper, and best displayed on a darker background, like the glorious blue of the oil cloth that topped off the printing bed pictured above. It was very fiddly and time-consuming to work the screen, and all too easy to make mistakes - I had to go with the flow with those!

I enjoyed this technique, and will be doing more once I invest in some screen filler and screenprinting inks or medium. It was an exhausting workshop for me, and I had to go to bed for a longish nap when we got home, but it was worthwhile. Fortunately, the rest of the weekend was quiet so I was able to catch up some more on my rest.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Strawberries in December

These flowers and fruit were brightening my garden in December. Not true Strawberries, they are the blossom and berries of the Arbutus tree, which is also known as the Killarney Strawberry. Both appear concurrently, the blossoms forming the fruit for next year. The fruit, caught just before it falls from the tree, is sweet and has a more delicate flavour than the average strawberry. It would make a delicious jam or pie filling if only my little tree produced enough. After living in a pot for many years, it has romped away in growth since being planted out into a bed early last summer and I really hope it will continue to enjoy its new home. When it gets bigger, its bark will also be attractive. As well as the winter colour from fruit and flowers, it is evergreen, so much appreciated during the darker months, a true garden treasure.