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Friday, 18 August 2017

387: In the wrong place at the wrong time - almost!

Yesterday I came the closest I've ever been to being directly involved in a terrorist attack. I had arranged to spend some time at a 'gin and music' evening - well, who wouldn't - hosted by InterNations, a worldwide ex-pat group. It was scheduled to take place from 8-10 p.m. at the Petit Palace Boqueria garden hotel. It is located just off Las Ramblas, the most famous thoroughfare in Barcelona. Just before 5  p.m. the terrorists struck by swerving a van left and right into pedestrians walking along Las Ramblas. They killed 13 people and injured about 100 others. 3 hours later I would have been there. It could have been me. A sobering thought. There but for the grace of God....

In passing I wondered if this church was offering sanctuary:
My accommodation for the night was in the university halls of residence off avenue Diagonal, a long way from the incident, so instead of supping G&T I found a nearby Burger King and had to put up with a burger and a beer. I coped. Admirably.
The secondary reason for the visit was to visit/recce some (language) book shops for when I become inundated with Spanish students who want to brush up their English. This morning though, in the light of events, I decided not to bother but to go almost straight home. Not far from the Barcelona Sants railway station is a big square called Espanya and there can be found an old arena, it presumably once hosted bull fights, which is now given over to shops, a multi-screen cinema and 4 underground levels of car parking. I had a quick wander.

Turns out there was a second terrorist attack yesterday, this time in Cambrils - 5 miles from where I live in Salou. Police shot dead 5 terrorists. 
Spain, of course, is reeling, and they have announced 3 days of mourning. Those attacked in Las Ramblas came from 34 different countries. I have had "update my what to do when I'm dead letter" hovering near the bottom of the to-do list. This is a letter I prepared some years ago telling my executors which mattresses my pennies were hidden in. It is time to move it to the top of the to-do list. One never knows when there will be a bullet with one's name on it. Sorry to be maudlin.
One question, which is puzzling me, for the more sophisticated amongst you. I was puzzled by seeing several Nespresso shops. They all seemed to be almost empty. What is the point of them? Is this indicative of a new fad about to sweep the world, courtesy of George Clooney? This old dinosaur simply puts instant coffee into a cup and pours hot water onto it, topping it up with some milk.
The video, to finish, is a bit "rude". It features the "F word" in many of it's incarnations. If you don't like that kind of thing, and I generally don't, then please don't watch it. I am including it because there is a message to the terrorists right at the end. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

386: Dizzy Dezzy

I've hardly stopped since I got back from Spain on 13th July. I'm almost dizzy from all the travelling. I gave blood on 14th at the Cambridge Blood Transfusion Centre at Addenbrookes hospital. The interesting thing about giving blood these days is that some time after your donation you get an SMS to say which hospital it has gone to. I wonder if they'll ever tell us which person it has gone to. Would I want to know? Perhaps not. But we're all flesh and blood and all equal in the eyes of the Lord. 
The following day Olga and Alya arrived to spend the night chez nous. Olga is one of my Skype students from Russia and was in London with her daughter for some intensive English tuition. They spent a few hours exploring the delights of Cambridge and I picked them up from there to transport them to the rural idyll that is Ramsey. They seemed to enjoy their time with us and on Sunday went back to the bright lights of London.   
On 21st we headed off to Lancaster for an overnight stay before the 3½ hour ferry journey to the Isle of Man. I had carelessly bought train tickets from Lancaster to Heysham for Sunday 23rd rather than Saturday 22nd but some grovelling at the ticket office elicited the correct tickets at no extra charge. 
A very nice, relaxing week in the Isle of Man before heading back to Lancaster for another overnight stay before trogging North to Scotland for the duty visit to Mother-in-Law. 
A few walks hither and thither to start rehearsals for my two upcoming long walks: 15 km around Osterbeek (near Arnhem) in early September and 30 km across the Scottish Cairngorms on 24th September. If you're reading this and haven't yet succumbed to the urge to sponsor me on the long walk then please feel free to donate.
And finally, before I go back to Spain tomorrow, there was a 15 minute helicopter ride over Cambridge earlier today given to me as a present from No 1 daughter. Thank you Mo, it was great.
A small selection of photos taken during the month and a short video of the Nigg ferry 'docking'. What fun that was driving on and off.

lovely view of King's College from 2,200 feet.

The Isle of Man

The Nigg Ferry