Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Postcards from my travels : 2. San Sebastian

In San Sebastian we drink soft café con leche, admire sharp mountain landscapes, eat stewed red beans served with slow cooked cabbage and tiny pickled thin green chillis, play in parks with gentle carpeted floors, drink rough red wine, feel the heat, ignore keen drops on the winding roads, peer through the yellow beehived glass in our appartement's sliding door, eat a hundred second breakfasts of tender croissants standing at the bakery's wooden sculpted bar, feel exhausted, try to sit, walk through chic shops, spot Spanish fringes, bluntly beautiful, have a morning off the children, sit in the rustling comfort of a Reading Room in a Spanish public library, surrounded by old men, turning pages, browse articles in art reviews about John Cage and the Anarchy of Silence, relish in small bits of thinking time, fall into the colours of Stephen Dean, buy five litres of olive oil and a big blue sunhat, discover Spanish charity shops with my eldest daughter, search, look at the elegant remains of a Basque Palace, green seed packets and admire the smell of hanging laundry inside the internal courtyard.

Postcards from my travels: 1. Ten things to think about when you are driving to Bordeaux

1. Think about the distance - it's five o'clock and five hours drive, 520 km. I've just finished a day at work; run workshops, seen patients, eaten a plate of pale institutional pasta, imagined.
2. Think about entertaining two little girls; bubbling in the back of the car.
3. Think about black coffee, eating food, having a pit stop. Starting and stopping.
2. Reflect upon death. A close relative just came to stay, talked peacefully about where he would be buried one day; a spot in a rural graveyard. When he left, I felt like weeping. In the car, I feel at peace.
5. Think about trees. As we drive further South, they line the roads to shade us from the heat. The trees change shape with the geography of the land.
6. Ponder upon the taste of creamy leeks and chips, at the restaurant in the giant blue shop. Relish in the fact that I love cafeterias, the anonymity, the meeting of people, carrying my tray, being in this strange, multi-coloured, plastic world.
7. Think about driving, hands on the steering wheel, over-taking, using the indicator, leaving it on when you're in the left-hand lane. He says that only old ladies leave indicators ticking. Tick tack.
8. Think about sleeping, resting your head on the seat belt strap, when he takes over at the wheel. Try to stop the buzz of your brain, drift off with the sandman.
9. Reflect upon the innocence of sleeping children, when I see their heads nodding in the back. Remember the early weeks after their birth, the terrible vulnerability of a new-born child, a fragility that is hard to bear.
10. Think about carrying on forever, never stopping the car, just driving through darkness. Drifting along in the inky blue motorway night, lit by the yellow lights.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

my wall

on my wall: a soft pencil drawn baby duck takes it's first flight, a glaring bobby baker carries shopping home, two anonymous female relatives from the 1940's grin in gum boots and baggy trousers, cobatt blue hugs burnt sienna, keri smith explains how to be miserable as an artist, a photo i took in bombay from the inside of a dark metal bus shows an indian man holding a pink balloon, my eldest daughter jumps, three green old ladies cluck in a pen and ink drawing i made when i was 16, i stand facing the camera with my siblings and father in my grandparent's shadow-ridden emerald garden, a jumble of printed letters bedeck a hand-made postcard, a bluebird flies on a vintage wallpaper envelope, flowers bloom for spring.