Open water

As another wave washed over me and threw me off direction I thought back to what Lucas had been saying: “It’s the easiest of the travesías, it’s hard to get lost.” He had paused a second and then added, “It’s also the hardest”

john and lucas

Me and Lucas, before

In January this year I joined Ovimaster, the masters swimming club in Oviedo (Masters swimming is for swimmers who are no longer in university/competition but who still enjoy swimming clubs and meets). I didn’t do any of the indoor competitions but I chatted to the others about open water swimming. In Asturias between the end of June and the end of August there are open water events pretty much every weekend. Some are local affairs, with a handful of competitors, others are international, like Navia, where the whole town turns out and the 500 swimmers parade in the morning, part of the local fiesta. There are river swims (descents and ascents (against the current)) and sea swims (travesías). There are short swims of 800m and long ones up to 8km (although there are few takers, and the weather has to cooperate). The travesía del Musel had been described as the purest of the sea swims, because it had the most open of open water sections. The route leaves the industrial Musel port from inside the harbour, which is usually used by tankers, ferrys, cruise ships and big cargo vessels. Then as you leave the harbour you turn right, following the breakwater until that takes another right and heads inland while you strike out across the bay to the calmer waters of the leisure port 2km distant.

I hadn’t done any open water swimming but it sounded like a challenge I would enjoy. I started with a 1500m race in Gijón, along San Lorenzo beach, and then a 5000m river swim in Navia. And lots of laps in the pool.

ovimaster swimmers

Team Ovimaster

We registered at the finish line, then stripped down to whatever swimwear we favoured. Vaseline or grease was applied liberally (not goose fat, and not for warmth, this was to stop chafing) before 100 oiled swimmers walked down to two waiting buses ready to take us to the start.

swimmers waiting for the bus

Ready to get on a bus

We clambered over slippy breakwater blocks and sat half in and half out of the water waiting for the start. Some people swam lazy warm-up strokes. The woman next to me slipped and head butted my shoulder before apologising profusely and laughing. People started shouting for the race to start. I don’t know what we were waiting for but we spent 15 minutes in the water becoming increasingly impatient. Then we were told to get in and line up. This took a frustratingly long time. I spotted Carmen, from Ovimaster, who would probably swim a similar time to me, and we nodded at each other, we would stick together, we said. If we could.

swimming in the rain

swimming in the rain

And then we were off, and it was the usual press of bodies and jumble of strokes until the faster swimmers had gone and there was more space for the rest of us. Inside the harbour walls there weren’t too many waves, although I was out on the edge of the group nearer the middle of the harbour and the swell was noticeable. 700m or so to the first turn, out of the harbour. It was relatively easy to navigate, the harbour wall and the big cranes on the right, but even so, I zigzagged a bit and had to correct myself time and again, sighting every four breaths or so.

It was a different story as we neared the corner. The sea swell was much more pronounced, sighting was much harder, I struggled to time it to match the crests of the waves but they seemed to be coming from all directions. It felt like it took forever to make the turn and once I did, the swell got even bigger. In all probability it was less than 1m but it was intimidating. I swallowed a fair amount of water but I concentrated on breathing and sighting and kept going. Every now and again I would see one of the support kayaks but not the other swimmers. I realised someone was shouting at me and took a couple of breast strokes to listen to the kayaker telling me to head more to the right. I said thanks and reoriented myself and was off once again. Someone appeared suddenly next to me (the water was clear, but you couldn’t see anything more than a couple of metres away because of the turbulent surface), Carmen. We swam together for a minute before more waves pushed us in different directions. I tried to guess how long we had been swimming. The breakwater was still to the right, so I was still less than halfway. That was a bit unsettling, because I felt tired from battling the waves. I kept trying to breathe at the top of the swell and it was getting better but the breakwater was refusing to recede into the distance.

Another kayaker shouted and I reoriented myself, off in the distance I could see the tallest building in the Gijón skyline, the one everyone said to aim for. I continued, a kayak hit me and the kayakers apologised profusely, no problem I said and kept on. Every so often I had to lift up my steamed up goggles to make sure I wasn’t heading for Ireland. The breakwater finally disappeared from my view to the right, I could see the shipyards next to Arbayal beach in the distance. I kept on trying to keep close enough to the kayaks so I didn’t have to change direction too much.

On the east side of the bay the waves eased a little and the swimming was easier. All of a sudden I could see the big green lighthouse which marked the entrance to the harbour. Rain started to fall heavily, which felt quite nice. A man in a white launch yelled for me to head right, I was going towards the breakwater rather than the harbour entrance. I felt good, I was going to finish. As I reached the harbour wall and swam between it and the lighthouse I could hear a couple of people cheering, I thought it was Luciano (the president of Ovimaster) but couldn’t be sure, not being able to see much.

Finished, finally

One slightly knackered swimmer on the jetty

Once in the harbour there was just 500m to go, in flat calm water, which feltlike a luxury. I swam past an enormous catamaran and reached the jetty where patient helpers told me to come out on all fours because the concrete was slippery. They reached a hand out and helped me to my unsteady feet. Knackered. I walked up the jetty, kissed Liz and enjoyed the feeling of having accomplished something difficult. Everyone agreed that it had been difficult, rough swimming. It took me an hour and twenty six minutes, which is the longest I have swum for.

Lucas came in five minutes ahead of me. He’s sixty seven.

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Stage 4: Santarém to Golegã 31.2km

After a rest day spent wandering round Santarém and sitting in the Porta do sol park lazily reading, gazing over the river Tejo below and watching tour groups we started with fresh legs. The route took us out of Santarém through the Porta do Sol park through the Porta do São Tiago, an old gate in the city walls, and down through woods as the sun peeked over the horizon.

The river targus

Dawn over the Tejo

We took a slight detour to the train station and sure enough, the cafe was open so we had an early breakfast. After breakfast it was more vineyards and tomato fields and then corn fields. At about 11 we passed Vale da Figueira and had a coke stop. The village was gearing up for a fiesta, bunting all over, and it was decidedly picturesque, all the buildings pristine white against the deep blue sky.

As ever, the heat rose steadily. Mr B talked about heading towards a small copse and we fixed on that idea, planning to stop there for lunch under some trees. Unfortunately said copse continually failed to materialise, being instead repeated instances of stands of straggly trees offering no shade.

Liz on farm tracks

Liz bought a new hat in Santarém, it's a good hat...

Our new legs were beginning to feel like old legs (after 20km) and we saw a large olive tree at the side of the road and thought sod it, thermarests out and cake, biscuits and melon for lunch followed by a short siesta.

john under the irrigation

Unavoidable showers... I don't think they were doing pesticides...

Of course, 800m down the road we found not the copse but the next village, Azinhaga. This is where José Saramago was born, it’s tiny. We had ideas of stopping at the Casa Azinhaga (the swimming pool was big draw) but no one answered the door so we consoled ourselves by drinking lots of water from the fountain next to an unsettlingly oversized statue of Saramago in the village square (more of a triangle really, but shade and a drinking fountain are not to be sneezed at).

john and josé saramago

Faintly disturbed by the big José Saramago...

Then all that was left was the trudge along the side of the road into Golegã (the ã means that the a sounds like the a in cat, not the a in about). We succumbed to the heat and had another break in the shade, when a bend in the road meant that the shadow of the trees fell on a suitable place to sit. As we got up to do the last few kilometres Liz said, look, another pilgrim. Sure enough, behind us was a lone walker. Takashi is a French horn player in the Basel symphony orchestra.

The distraction of someone new to talk to made the last few kilometres easier, we got to Golegã and started thinking about where to stay. Golegã is a sleepy town except for two weeks in november when it’s the centre of the portuguese equestrian world. All the street signs and many of the shops have suitably horse themed signage.

We decided on the fire station for accommodation. Between Lisbon and Porto there are no dedicated pilgrim hostels (where you can usually stay for pennies, or free, or a donation). Instead you can ask for a bed, or a mattress on the floor at the Bombeiros Voluntários (the volunteer firefighters). Liz, being a fireman’s daughter, was all for this. Takashi thought it was good plan too. We followed the signs to the fire station and asked if there was a place to stay. A very tall fireman commanded us to wait. Five minutes later he led us to a big hall (why do fire stations need ballrooms?) filled with decorations and bunting in various states of preparation. The fireman explained (in slow Portuguese, which we could understand okay) that they were getting ready for a fiesta. He apologised for the mess and pointed us to a stack of mattresses.

john in the Golegã fire station

All you really need for a good night's rest... a mattress and a roomful of bunting

liz saluting

Liz showing solidarity befitting a fireman's daughter...

After a shower and a short lie down we started thinking about food. The fireman pointed us to the place to eat. I asked what was good, locally. He thought for a second and said, meat. At the restaurant an older chap that Takashi had been talking to earlier decided to help us decoding the menu, Takashi speaks no Portuguese, and very little Spanish… our Spanish helps us to understand but speaking is rather different. Anyway, Roberto, the older chap, joined us for dinner, insisting that we have a good wine, of his choice… and it was a fantastic local Almeirim white. Liz had grilled local freshwater fish, I had stewed lamb (on the waiter’s suggestion), Takashi went for steak. During dinner Roberto was like the Portugal marketing board, suggesting, or rather stating without allowing for dissenting opinions, that Portugal had the best of everything. Even ham? we said. Well, he said, the ham may be spanish, but the pigs are portuguese. A fine meal.

liz, takashi, john and roberto

Satisfied pilgrims and the Portuguese marketing board's most vocal representative.

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Stage 3: Azambuja to Santarém 32.3km

The early morning had been so nice the day before that we decided to do it again, up and out by 6:20. The downside of this is that the cafes in the town were all shut but we consulted Mr Brierley (or at least his guide book) and he said that 5km away there was an aerodrome with a cafe. We wandered past fields full of tomatoes in various states of ripeness, being passed occasionally by cars and vans full of the people who would be picking them pretty soon. The flaw in our plan became apparent when we reached the aerodrome to find it completely shut. So, plan B, keep walking until we hit Reguengo and breakfast there. No problem, it was still cool and the walking was easy.

john walking in the early morning

Nice and cool now, won't stay that way though

Reguengo is on the flood plain of the Rio Tejo. We hadn’t actually seen the river but according to the guidebook we were on its flood plains and it did flood with some regularity. This became apparent as we reached the tiny town. All of the houses, which were lining the one road, faced a four metre high dyke/levee/flood barrier. On the other side of this there were trees and fields and a park… way off in the distance, the river.We fell into the bar and ordered coffee and pastries. It was an old looking place, metallic bar, old coffee machine, ubiquitous TV high in the corner. The two barmen looked like father and son, the son looked in his sixties. We were subjected to curious looks but as we left a couple of Bem viagem’s were said.

John on the flood barrier in Valada

The river is on the right, they say.

We walked past the brightly painted single story buildings and followed the flood barrier. Soon enough we entered another town, so we had second breakfast, which is allowed. The bar in this place was newer and busier. Liz headed off to look for some food for lunch (Mr B having warned us that there was a longish stretch with no shops or bars) while I sat on top of the flood barrier and adjusted the compeed on my feet (I blame the heat, and the fact that my feet are rubbish). At 11 we passed the last cafe until our destination so we stopped in and had a beer and some bacalao croquettes (they were like little dense cotton balls of coddy goodness). As we were dawdling over the beer, contemplating a second (it was hot), we chatted for a while with a guy from South Africa who lived close by.

Beer and croquettes

We're in the shade, we have beer and bacalao, do we have to move?

Mr B said we left the asphalt and entered some “delightful sand tracks”. That’s probably true, if your definition of delightful is:- blisteringly hot, dusty and seemingly endless. We soon started looking for likely shady spots for a spot of lunch and a siesta. Eventually we found a stand of trees at the side of a field of tomatoes and settled on our thermarests. A couple of hours out of the sun.

liz with her shade


john sleeping in the shade


We slowed down after lunch, Santarém, our destination, came into view but it’s on the top of a hill and it was a long way off. We had another couple of rests when we found shade but there was precious little of it. The tomatoes gave way to vines and we passed under the A13, glad to be back on tarmac. It was still a good 4km uphill to Santarém, Liz was flagging so we were not going to break any speed records. As we got to the town we passed a bar and gratefully chugged an ice-cold coke.

john and the mutant

Mutant tomato provides diversion on the "delightful" sand tracks

The tourist information pointed us to a pensão (there were only two left in the town). After a bath (there was a bathtub, yay!) we went out for a shuffle around. It seemed deserted, or at least very quiet. There was a restaurant close to the hotel so we went there for their €7.50 menu. The waiter was very friendly, the food was simple grilled/barbecued fare, the wine was from the local Leziria vineyards… the following day was a day off… lovely.

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Stage 2: Verdelha de Baixo to Azambuja 32.2km

Given the heat from the day before (and the fact that we’d fallen asleep at about 10pm, so very rock and, indeed, roll) we were up at 6:30 and on our way by ten to seven.

John in front of the hotel

I'm thinking about the breakfast we're going to have soon

We retraced our steps and rejoined the camino, crossing over the railway line through a station, beyond which was an open cafe. So, breakfast then. As I mentioned bars/cafes seem to be primarily cake shops. Liz came out with a ham and cheese filled danish and a couple of pasteis de nata (basically custard tarts, but really really custardy and rather good).

pasteis de nata

A healthy breakfast is the basis of a good day

Suitably refuelled, we set off. The guidebook (John Brierley’s excellent Camino Portugués) had warned us that today would be a bit industrial and for the next couple of hours we were on the hard shoulder of the N10. We took a detour in Alhandra to avoid the traffic and we wound up on a riverside path that seemed pretty popular. That took us to Vilafranca de Xira where we admired the bullring and the tiles and the general impression that all of the buildings looked very similar to the ones we were familiar with in the non-Buenos Aires parts of Argentina. We popped into the (tiled of course) market and picked up a couple of bits to eat for later then paused in the main square.

Tiled market in Vilafranca de Xira

Did you get the tiles in?

The next couple of hours were similarly industrial, the instructions included a Lidl as a waypoint and we turned down the back of a series of warehouses and industrial buildings along which ran a stinking ditch. Very pleasant. The temperature rose steadily, hats and suncream obligatory. We pushed on to a bar in Castanheira do Ribatejo arriving at around 11:30. Some of the workers from the nearby factories came in as we were having a cold beer and some crisps (it was a temptation to do an Ice-cold-in-alex on it but we resisted, slaking our thirst with water first). People seemed to eat much earlier here than in Spain but even for our English sensibilities it seemed a little early so we decided to carry on. The industrial areas disappeared and were replaced by fields of tomatoes. We kept being passed by lorries full of them.

We walked into Vila Nova da Rainha ready for food, although it took a few minutes searching to find a cafe which looked promising. The first one we saw had one old guy sitting outside looking about as welcoming as cholera. Fortunately down a side road Liz spotted a cafe which looked much more promising. Unfortunately it was full but our obvious desperation for food led the waitress to asking a couple on a table for four if we could join them. They were also pilgrims, but heading for Fatima (on the same route until the following day). We chatted and ate (I think what we had was called Jardineira… basically stew). The girl was American, the guy Italian, both living in Paris. They had done the camino Portugués from Porto to Santiago the year before. After a pleasant lunch we parted, our plan was to have an hour or two’s rest in the shade in a white tiled park we had passed a few hundred metres before, they were going to continue.

Liz resting in the shade

"Thermarests are just fantastic" – Liz

The last seven kilometres were a bit tough, along the N3 being passed by tomato laden lorries. The heat hadn’t really started dissipating yet so when we passed a garage and Liz spotted the all important Nestle sign we stopped for an ice lolly, dawdling.


I wonder where all those lorries with tomatoes go? Wait, do you smell spaghetti sauce?

We got to Azambuja at around six. It took half an hour of wandering and asking directions (and finding one pensão shut) before we found our place to sleep. It was above a cafe and there were three old chaps outside sitting around a table. As soon as he saw us, one of them stood up and rung the bell of the residencial (like a pensão but, um spelled differently). There was no response, our faces must have fallen because he basically said, no problem, wait here, I’ll be back in a moment. He toddled off across the street and came back with the keys, let us in (again no messing about with registering or passports) and took our money for the room.

After a shower we went for a stroll, okay more of a hobble/shuffle along the cobbles… pausing at a pharmacy to pick up some compeed. We ate at the cafe under the residencial, the cafe owner recommended the green bean soup so we had that and then some fish and rice and cold white wine. The cafe closed at 9. Once again we were asleep by 10.

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Stage 1: Lisbon to Verdelha de Baixo 32.4km

Breakfast was included in the Pensão San João so we wandered up to the cathedral and collared a guy walking his kid to nursery to take a photo of us.

john and liz in fron of Lisbon Cathedral

Liz: "I hope he didn't get all the drunks in the doorway in the shot"

Then back down to the restaurant behind the hostel for breakfast and then down through the narrow streets of old Lisbon following the yellow arrows at the base of the corners of buildings… or as Liz put it, just at dog-pissing height. The arrows led us through the Alfama and Graça districts to the Fado Museum. After that it was less touristy and the tiles became more cracked, the facades more crumbly, the cobbles less even and the pavements narrower. Until we reached the expo site, where everything was much newer and shinier. We stopped for an orange juice (it was 10k after all) and contemplated the Torre Vasco de Gama and the 17km long bridge just beyond.

torre vasco de gama

A bit of a contrast to old Lisbon

Before long we were away from buildings and walking up a (rather smelly) river valley with planes going overhead every five minutes low enough to see people waving (okay, I might be exaggerating a little). It was hot. Which was not really a surprise, hot? In Portugal in August? Really? But it wasn’t suffocating, there was a breeze and we were heading for lunch. The guide book said that there was a place for lunch in a village called Granja a few hundred metres from the camino. so when we passed the small narrow bridge we crossed it and went to find food. The shady terrace was full, the inside less so. We made the usual internationally recognised signs for “we’d like to eat” and “can we sit here?” and the young waitress reeled off a list of what was on offer. I heard the word Bife so I plumped for that. We wanted cold white wine but there was none in the fridge so cold draught sangria had to do. It was so hot that we had to restrain ourselves from downing it in one. Beef and chips (and rice… chips and rice on the same plate, there’s something not quite right there) and salad and an hour’s rest and we were ready to brave the heat again.

liz and a fatima bollard

So I guess we go that way then?

We walked through cornfields and bamboo, I picked up a nice little piece which was to be my stick for the camino. It got hotter, and we stopped in the shade of a bar for a cool drink. Only six more kilometres, but they got harder as the heat persisted and our pace slowed a bit. Accommodation was a kilometre’s detour from the camino in Verdelha de Baixo. It was the Restaurant Afaia, which also had rooms. We stumbled in and maybe we scared the barmaid because she just handed over the keys and didn’t bother with passports or registration or names… Shower and rest, then down for dinner where surprisingly, the restaurant was almost full. Then we realised Benfica were playing and 99% of the patrons were men. It was only 7:30, we’re used to Spanish dining, which is rather later. We had a plate of calamares and rice, a bit of white wine and watched the men watching Benfica. Afterwards we fell into bed and were asleep pretty much as soon as our heads hit the pillows.

john in bamboo

Some of this bamboo stuff might make a good walking stick

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Pre-Camino (part 0.5)

After a night’s limited sleep on the floor in the airport in Madrid (my word but these Spanish can talk… and talk… and talk. and play football in the airport at 4am) and a quick easyjet flight, we found ourselves in Lisbon. We dropped our bags in the hostel/hotel/pensão we would be staying in that night and went for a wander. It was the first time in Portugal for both of us and we were both impressed. The old quarter of Lisbon is picturesque and well worth strolling around. In the afternoon we took one of the hop-on, hop-off bus tours, seeing as we were going to be walking around a fair bit the next few days.

the santa justa lift

I dunno Mister Eiffel, I think it could be more elaborate

Portuguese has always sounded like Russian to me, with lots of zh sounds. We were able to read pretty much everything and understand it but the minute people started talking it was a different matter. An unaccented a sounds like the a in acceptable (either one), the e disappears and the s, z and y (and rr and occasionally the r) all sound like the g in edge. Imagine Sean Connery speaking spanish with a russian accent… (shpeedboat).

liz eating olives

I'm not sure olives constitute carbo-loading

We stopped in bars, which are really cake shops masquerading as bars/cafes, had something traditional for lunch (feiojada… a bean stew), wandered a bit more, avoided the restaurant hawkers in the tourist heavy hotspots, goggled at the trams and Eiffel-style elevator to the barrio alto and generally did the touristy stuff until dark. The real walking wouldn’t begin until the following day.

a cafe in lisbon

Eat here please, we have very good menu, very good price, eat here please...

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Pre-camino (Part 0)

This afternoon we’re going  to catch a bus for Madrid. After arriving at the airport and catching a few hours sleep, we’ll be on a plane heading for Lisbon. We’ve got a day for pootling around the city then it’s North on foot following the Camino de Santiago. We have no accommodation beyond the first night, no fixed plans on where we’ll reach, not much more than this really:

This is what I'll be taking, plus the clothes I'm wearing.

Liz has a similarly lightweight rucksack packed.

There will be a full travelogue if when we get back.

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Road trip to Navarra

“Can you invigilate an exam in Pamplona?”

I said yes, thinking of San Fermín and bulls and historic cities and Navarran wine and that kind of thing.

The reality, as ever, was a little different. Everardo and I left Oviedo on the Friday evening after our last classes (so once we’d got the car sorted and such that meant 8pm). There are two choices to get to Pamplona according to google maps, South via León and Burgos, or along the coast to Bilbao and then inland. We plumped for the coast road. The sun sank lower and turned everything golden as we figured out the limiter on the car (don’t want to go over 110km per hour, thanks to the new speed limits and the police being all vigilant and all).


An unfinished part of the motorway

Eve said there might be some traffic but there was nothing, well, nothing compared to the M62. We drove until the car asked for fuel, and pulled off at the first garage… lights on, no one about. So on to the next, hoping it was within 25km which, thankfully, it was.

At the side of the garage there was a Meson, which is basically a restaurant, but one which doesn’t have any pretensions. I was a paper tablecloth kind of place. We didn’t really have time to hang around so we ordered a plate of chorizo, egg and chips each. It was bloomin’ lovely. Sugary coffee and a coke to keep alert and off we went again.

From Bilbao south, the roads get a little trickier to navigate, signs appear just yards before the junction, they’re poorly lit and they don’t always point you towards the bigger cities (I had in my head that we’d follow Santander – Bilbao – Pamplona, but the signs alternated between Pamplona and Vizcaya. Eve is not the worlds best navigator so we had to be a bit careful). Still, at one thirty we pulled into the car park behind the hotel and checked in.

After what seemed like a criminally short time we were up and out. Just 5km to the exam site. But in this part of Pamplona they’re building a lot of streets and there are neither houses nor street signs to help you. There are, however, a lot of roundabouts. Take the fifth exit, according to Google maps, onto Calle Juan Pablo II… oops, there are only three exits, and no street names. It took us forty minutes to find the damn place.

The exam itself is easy to invigilate. Hand out the exams while reading from the script (it’s an american exam) then watch and make sure there’s no shenanigans. For four hours.

Then pack up and head back to Oviedo. This time via Burgos. Total distance 999km. Six hours each way.

We’ve got another one to do next week.

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Representación por la radio

Mientras conducía hacía la casa ayer, después de una clase en Olloniego con un grupo de trabajadores en una nave industrial, escuchaba a la radio nacional en lo que hablaban de una nueva ficción sonora que transmitirían aquella noche en la radio 3. Aquí no hay mucha ficción en la radio en comparación con la situación en Inglaterra y es algo que lo echo de menos. Fue aun mejor cuando descubrió que la transmisión sería un podcast también. Ayer andaba por las calles con auriculares metidos en las orejas, escuchando a la historia conocida pero renovada para el siglo XXI, con emails y sms en el lugar del estilo epistolario del original. Estaba bien , la obra (pues, los efectos sonidos eran un poco ruidosos y faltaron casi la parte media del libro, llegando al castillo de Dracula muy pronto), pero lo que llamó la atención fue el programa entero. Lo introdujeron como si fuese un evento muy especial (hasta una función de gala), y era así con una ovación fuerte. Lo que me extraña es que, en la BBC radio 4, hay obras cada tarde, y algunas noches también, sin el alboroto que oí (incluso una noticia en la tele esta tarde sobre la representación).


the cast of RTVE's dracula

They don't make this kind of fuss over the Archers

Estoy contento que hay obras así en la radio, pero aquí tienen un camino largo si quieren llegar a una obra por dia, en lugar de un obra por año.


As I was driving home the other day from a class I give to a bunch of warehouse workers in Olloniego, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about a live version of Dracula that would be on the radio that night. There’s not a lot of radio drama here, certainly nothing like radio 4 and it’s something I miss so I was pleased to discover that the play would also be available as a podcast.

So, yesterday, there I was, wandering the streets (on my way to classes) earphones in, listening to the story, which had been updated to use emails and text messages instead of the epistolary nature of the original.

It was pretty good (a bit too heavy on the sound effects and they skipped the middle of the book so they managed to arrive at the castle rather quickly) but what was really noticeable was the programme as a whole. It was introduced with a lot of fuss, like it was a gala event, and it was treated as such, with a long ovation and interviews afterwards. What’s funny is that BBC radio 4 do a play every afternoon and some nights too, without all the kerfuffle (there was even a news report about it the following day)

I’m happy to find that there are radio plays, but they’ve got a long way to go if they want to do a play a day, rather than one a year.


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Después de una pausa…

No he escrito aquí desde hace 2 meses. En el caso de que alguien estuviese preocupado no pasó nada, bueno, nada aparte de ser perezoso. Nada mas que la vida normal y cotidiana estaba ocurriendo y así que no merecía escribir.

Pues, en fin, tengo que practicar el idioma entonces intentaré escribir con un poco mas frecuencia y principalmente en castellano antes del inglés.

A pesar de vivir en un pais (es decir el pais) hispanohablante, como vivimos dos ingleses juntos no mejoramos muy rapido. Liz tiene sus clases de español, y tenemos también las películas, los comics y los amigos.

nightclub scene from chico and rita

Cool animated Charlie Parker

Una película muy buena es Chico y Rita, la que vimos el sábado. Es una historia dulce y romantica con una banda sonora cojonuda. Hay muchas personas reales al fondo de los protagonistas, músicos de Cuba y Nueva York como Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk y Tito Puente, los dibujos quedaban increíbles. Tengo que decir, tenía algo en mi ojo al final.

Okay, so I haven’t  written anything here for a couple of months. Nothing bad happened, in case anyone worried, there just hasn’t been much going on that I felt merited a post. But I should really keep going at the old Spanish, So, I’ll try and write a little more often and in Spanish first… because, seeing as we’re a couple of English speakers living together we’re not necessarily improving as fast as we could. Liz has her Spanish classes and we’ve both got films, TV, comics and mates to help.

One film we saw recently which stood out was Chico and Rita, which we saw on Saturday. It’s a sweet, romantic story with a brilliant soundtrack. There were a lot of real people in amongst the protagonists, musicians from Cuba and New York like Charlie Parker, Thelonius Monk and Tito Puento. The artwork was fantastic and, I have to say, I had a little something in my eye at the end…


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