Friday, February 23, 2007

Giant Squid - The Revenge!

Or rather, to be taxonomically more exact, colossal squid - part one. But this is a worthy addition to my collection of monstrous coleoidea.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Or the Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles. Or the Spanish RNIB. It has a massive lottery which makes it a huge amount of money, and is therefore a significant political force.


Because even if it is the carnival, the washing isn't going to do itself.


So, Cádiz is famous throughout Spain for having the best carnival in the country. There seem to be three factors required for a good carnival - sherry, people and music. Sherry is always to be recommended. The centre of town was so crowded with people that it was impossible to move. Music is provided by groups of roving singers. At least, if the crowd density allowed for roving. The singers perform in one of four genres: comparsa, chirigota, coro and cuarteto. The best are the chirigotas, which are funny. The singers stand on stages or sit on tractors and wait for the crowd to flow around them. This is a chirigota which was finishing just as we forced our way to the square. It moved off, as stately as it is possible for a tractor hauling a false castle filled with false knights to be.

It really was very crowded.

The stage was then open for the chirigota 'Los Prejubilados'. These were supposed to be men who have taken early retirement, and who therefore have nothing to do apart from fornicate and avoid work. As both my father and my father-in-law have taken early retirement, I was sceptical. Especially as they allowed their kids to perform with them.

But they were, broadly, funny.

It wouldn't be a carnival either without balloons.

Or a giant inflatable triceratops. Actually, it might be a lifesize inflatable triceratops - scale isn't really my thing.

But it was a fun day out, I suppose. On top of all this joy, my father-in-law lent me some more CDs of the great Silvio Rodríguez. His full name is Silvio Rodríguez Domínguez, and his first three albums were called Silvio, Rodríguez, and Domínguez. His next album was called Autobiográfico. A pattern he rather spoilt with his fifth album, Descartes.

Rocks and Weather

The beach which the flat faces onto, the Playa de los Bateles, is only one of a series of beaches which stretch off to the north. These are separated by little headlands. You could represent this diagrammatically by a series of 'v's, thus: vvvvvv. The sea comes right up to the top of the the 'v's, and so it is only possible to get from one beach to another when the tide is low. I think I'm making heavy weather of this explanation because I don't want to call the 'v's 'coves' or 'bays', because I don't know exactly what makes a beach a bay or a cove.
Anyhow, the tide was particularly low a couple of days ago, so I was able to walk a whole w to the north, and take a photo of the sandstone cliffs out there. The shore was littered with the skeletons of squid.

By contrast, the tide was very high a couple of days later, and a heavy onshore wind forced the sea to cover the whole beach. It was slightly apocalyptic.

This Thing of Darkness

This is Cortylandia, by some way the scariest playpark I think I have ever seen.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Giant Squid

This and this are, aargh, the stuff of nightmares. But it's going to make me feel even happier every time I eat squid from now on: 'you may be the king of your little ocean, but here on the land all you can do is be served with chips and garlic.'

Monday, February 12, 2007

Books Read in January

This post is a steal from my brother's blog, but that doesn't make it any the less fun as an exercise.

1. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm (1932)
2. Laurie Lee, Cider With Rosie (1959)
3. Raymond Carr, ed., Spain: A History (2000)
4. Paloma Gay y Blasco, Gypsies in Madrid: Sex, Gender and the Performance of Identity (1999)
5. Eric S. Rump, ed., The Comedies of William Congreve (1985)
6. Feliks Roziner, A Certain Finkelmayer (1981, trans. Michael Henry Heym 1991)
7. Richard Davenport-Hines, Auden (1995)

These were all enjoyable, although Congreve got a bit samey after a while, which is a shame, because if I'd read the plays in reverse order, I'd have started with the best (The Way of the World) and worked my way down. A Certain Finkelmayer, originally Некто Финкельмайер, is a samizdat classic: it's about a Jewish poet in the Soviet Union who finds that the only way he can get published is to pretend to be a representative of an interesting Siberian tribe and publish his work as if it were in translation. It's good, as samizdat classics go. Cold Comfort Farm I hadn't read before; Marian had to tell me to stop laughing.

Possibilities for embarrassment

Had anyone walked into the gents while I was taking photos of myself in the mirror, my Spanish would have been hard-pressed to explain exactly what the hell I was doing. Fortunately, I was left alone for the duration.


This was a cat called Monchú, as far as I recall. The little girl who told me its name wasn't willing to repeat herself.

Doorways, Passageways, Doors

We went to Vejer de la Frontera last Friday. It's one of my favourite places in Spain, or at least in the bits of Spain that I know. For those who didn't know this, de la Frontera is a common addition to town-names in Andalucía, because they used to be on the frontier between Christianity and the Moorish world during the Reconquista, when this bit of the peninsula was the Wild South. It's very nice and medieval.

The following isn't a passageway in Vejer, or even much of a passageway at all. It's in Cádiz, and I liked the fuseboxes and the pushchair.

And this is the bus station while we were waiting for the bus to Vejer, which isn't one of my favourite places in Spain at all - it's let me down too many times for me to feel even slightly well-disposed towards it.

Back to Vejer, and some more entrances (or exits, I suppose).

And these last two are in Cádiz. We were waiting for a friend, who showed up late and was a bit distracted.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


OK, I made the sacrifice and went - in my pyjamas - onto the balcony and took a photo of what happens when it rains. The river at the left of the photograph is my path to the beach. I suppose this shows that the town does drain adequately.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


This is a very thin cow which has just come out of a river and eaten a very fat cow. It still seems hungry, however.

This is a goldfinch. A captive goldfinch in a cage / Puts all heaven in a rage.

These are some goats. There is nothing mildly facetious or slightly blasphemous I can say about a bunch of goats.