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It has been a busy old time this last week and two days. Last weekend started with a Friday night cheese-and-wine fest with folks from work, and ended with not remembering getting home sometime around 4am.

One for Dr John - Doctor Bar, with syringe lampshades and anatomical drawings on the wall. I don't remember taking this photo. I feel it's quite telling of the latter end of that Friday night.

One for Dr John – Doctor Bar, with syringe lampshades and anatomical drawings on the walls. I don’t remember taking this photo, which is quite illustrative of the latter end of that night really.

This then posed some challenges for Saturday morning, when I was headed to Córdoba with my flatmate and a few other chicas. We weren´t getting the the train until lunch time, but nevertheless ended up in a mad rush, having to change buses and flee through the train station. That´s surely the only way to go anywhere though, right?

I was excited to get out of the city for the first time since arriving, see some landscape, some hills, some Andalucían streets the same but different. There was a medieval market on that weekend, which we hadn’t quite known what to expect of but it turned out to be a big affair.

Meat was the over-arching theme of the fair.

Meat was the over-arching theme.

Giant and unseemly shaped vegetables, a close second.

Giant and unseemly-shaped vegetables, a close second.

Face-painted men in leather playing bagpipes! Man, medieval times were exciting...

Face-painted men in leather playing bagpipes and drums. Medieval times were well exciting!

Horns and red trousers a-plenty!

Horns and red trousers a-plenty!

The above photo exhibits two delights of the day – one being the horn clutched on the right there – mulled wine from a horn, the hangover cure to beat all. The horns were all the rage within the market arena, but were met with judging glares when we bared them in the outside world…

In the background there you can also see a red-trousered man. My attention was first brought to red trousers by this website. Sevilla (and Córdoba, it seems) is awash with red-trouser wearers and they have become my obsession. Red trousers are a particularly popular weekend choice among the andaluz male. Córdoba also offered a new delight of bright blue trousers, which almost equalled the red in number.

Street art (literally) in the style of the street name letters. 'At last I have found you'.

Street art (literally) in the style of the street name letters. ‘At last I have found you’.

There's not a whole lot going on in Córdoba , but you can find the biggest tortillas en el mundo! There the size of, goodness, I don't know, a whole baby? If you flattened it out...

There’s not a whole lot going on in Córdoba , but you can find the biggest tortillas en el MUNDO. They’re the size of, goodness, I don’t know, a whole baby? If you flattened it out…

Córdoba’s small (or at least feels small, despite being a city of 300,000 people), a one-horse town when it comes to nightlife, but we squeezed all we could out of our one night away and after a visit to a ‘fairy’ bar, a variety of dubiously-coloured shots, and dancing (and singing – !!) along to Elvis, Bon Jovi and some questionable Spanish rock, we clung on until a respectable 7am.

Unfortunately for Sunday, this meant an accumulative hangover and some very bad bus/food choices.

I survived on into the next week though, and if the medieval market had been the close of winter, spring had most definitely arrived by mid week. On my lunch break I was able to bask in the sun and breathe in the aroma of the cypresses released by the heat. Winter is DEAD! Roll on the summertime…

Basking

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I’d awoken with a headache and horrible, foggy eyes from sleeping with my contacts in after I don’t know how many hours sleep, but not many.  The flat was silent and stale smoke pervaded, but there had clearly been an effective pre-bed tidy-up, so I didn’t feel too bad about heading home. It would be about a 25 minute walk back to my place. For once I was glad to see a grey sky, since I’d neglected to bring walk-of-shame sunglasses. I’d anticipated making the walk through the Alameda and into the centre as quickly as possible, to breakfast and my bed at the other end, but there was something so satisfying about those streets this morning…

Calle Miguel de Carvajal, one of many interesting street names in Seville which I must investigate.

Calle Miguel de Carvajal, one of many interesting street names in Seville to investigate.

In contrast to New Year’s Day at home, which has something of the post-apocalypse about it – desolate street scenes with occasional bands of refugees, fleeing, bedraggled from a night of kamikaze boozing, or family units wrapped up to the hilt against a bitter northerly wind, journeying to share sustenance with elders; barely a vehicle on the road and absolutely no public transport – the streets were full of people. Walking dogs, jogging, or dressed in smart coat, umbrella in gloved hand, as if out for a Sunday stroll. And there were buses running. Given the Spanish fondness for holidays and – dare I say it – not working, I was a little surprised. All of the shops and most of the bars and cafes, however, remained closed. It was a great opportunity to feel Sevilla differently, without the distractions and the bustle of commerce, of shoppers, of the crowds taking tapas. The dull light added an unexpected, soft peace, and right away I made the decision not to take the quickest route home, but to turn in another direction and find a path previously unknown.

Vespa under orange trees.

Vespa under orange trees, que Sevillano.

Rain on Plaza del Museo,  a marble, hedged patio endowed with two huge, ancient fig trees, outside the Museo de Bellas Artes and five minutes from my flat.

Rain on Plaza del Museo, a marble, hedged patio endowed with two huge, ancient fig trees, outside the Museo de Bellas Artes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned midday and the bells on all the multitude of churches clanged.  Along with the Chino bazaars, they were the only thing open. Seville is a city of twisty-turny streets and alleys, without hills, and so churches come upon you unexpectedly – a high, flat stucco wall suddenly merging out of a block of apartments. Through one great, studded wooden door, I saw a set of Franciscan sisters in white habits. Through another, I heard Gregorian chant benedictions. I walked on but the sound echoed in my head, and the tinny pop music from a café a few streets on seemed unbearably empty. I tried to find my way back, not sure that I would – the streets here are tricksy like that – but then the church came out of nowhere again and I heard the monks. I lingered in the small plaza outside, under the ubiquitous orange trees (they have fruits, even at this time of year) where someone had parked their Vespa, and listened, trying to pretend I wasn’t. I’m not religious and I always feel a bit awkward and embarrassed to show interest in it. There are moments sometimes though, like that one, where I understand it…

Door to the church of the Gregorian chanters.

Door to the church of the Gregorian chanters.

The unusual motif outside the church of the chanters. The saint is Guadalupe, but I'm not sure of the significance of the turbaned men who flank her.

The unusual motif outside. The saint is Guadalupe, but I don’t know about the turbaned men who flank her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I walked on, and around the corner this time (I chose a different one) I could hear above me a continuing party with a soundtrack of funk. I smiled, felt a little envious, and carried on into a shabbier area, with broken bottles, swept piles of revelry rubbish, and homeless sleeping behind cardboard ramparts.

Walking the damp streets of my new city this morning, I really felt that I was starting this new year in the best possible way. I’d celebrated the previous evening with my fabulous new colleagues in my new job. Here I was, exactly one month into my stay in Seville, first wages in the bank, a spacious place to live, and no longer a waif. A whole year ahead of me to explore and love and hate this country that’s been on my mind so many years. I can relax! For a bit, anyway…

A man out for a New Year's Day stroll.

A local flaneur, out for a New Year’s Day stroll.

I’m trying desperately, desperately hard to remember where I am and why I should be happy. But godammit, I’m not. I’m afflicted with an imposing sense of malcontent, making me grumpy, angry even, with far more regularity than is usual or acceptable. The line down my brow has returned with a vengeance due to excessive scowling. The centre point beneath my ribcage feels fit to explode with frustration and a desire to do recklessness: the pressure of boredom. I remember the last time I had this feeling – when I was working at a supermarket and had no outside intellectual stimulus whatsoever. I would go to work, put on the customer service veneer for a few hours, and pound the walk home with my insides feeling like they wanted to burst out.

I’m bored on this island. It is pretty and warm and easy-going, and it is small and samey and cultureless. The same pish songs play relentlessly. There is nothing worthy of dancing to. Last weekend I was eating my breakfast when one such number began blaring from across the street. I had a fork in my hand and in all honesty that moment could have stabbed someone with it. The majority of the tourists are vacuous blonde types – educated, I mean they have brains in there, but not an interesting word seems to make it out of their mouths. The reprieve of anonymity is not available. Everyone sees and listens and gossips about everything you do in that small-town way that I detest my small-town hometown for so much. And you would not believe how tedious hot and sunny can get.

Therein lies another fundamental problem. Too much heat and too much sun fry the brain. I feel uninspired and by-and-large empty. Not much is going on up there. I hate to say it, but I need the winter. I need the edge of misery that comes with grim weather to needle the creative parts of my brain…

Despite the general discontent, moments of happiness do abound in small things. Drinking from a glass glass is a rare pleasure, as is an occasional dabble in hot water. Yesterday, I clambered over seaside rocks again. We located a source of plain yoghurt this week, and I earned enough money to splurge on some Danish cheese, which I ate on crackers with avocado whilst sipping a low-quality Chilean sauvignon, and by goodness did it make me smile. This morning I fed our adopted dog, Dingo – who is still terribly emaciated after suffering worms for so long – the remaining eggs from my brunch, which he enjoyed immensely. For a creature on the brink of starvation, he is unfathomably fussy, so I too was immensely happy that he ate the eggs.