My Swimming Diary

SO, this November I’m going to do a sponsored swim in London to raise money for Progressio.

My sponsored swim has a dynamic twist: I’m going to do it outdoors, because I think that will be funny(?). The reason I’m doing a swim at all is because (as close friends know) I am very bad at swimming and I also I’m scared of putting my face in the water (weird but true!). Continue reading “My Swimming Diary”

What do you feel in response to the election?

I’m not happy about the result of the general election. I’m passionate and over-dramatic and I respond to things emotionally. So, I am angry at the outcome, disappointed by the electorate, disillusioned and concerned about the future. Mainly I am frustrated that this will be the way things are for five whole years. It is a five years that, politically, looks bleak.

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Semana Santa in Seville

 

Nazarenos during Semana Santa marching with the Giralda in the background

Spring is fully under way in Seville, which means the streets are full of  trees in blossom and it smells INCREDIBLE!! The scents of Seville… from incense in Christmas to oranges in February to azahar orange blossom now… I’ve never know a city smell so great! Last week was Semana Santa (Holy Week), one of the most important and hotly anticipated weeks in Seville. People have been talking about it since I arrived in October, so I was very excited, even though nearly every person I know from Seville told me to “GET OUT DURING HOLY WEEK! ITS AWFUL!” It coincided with the visit from my parents so we went to have a look together. I got some great photos during Palm Sunday so thought I’d share them as well as some information about Semana Santa in Seville as its very interesting! Continue reading “Semana Santa in Seville”

Parents Visit me in Seville

So last week my parents made the exciting trip to come and visit me in Seville! I was filled with trepidation, with their visit to me in Austria somehow still fresh in my mind two years after the event… but Seville is a wonderful city for anybody to visit so I was confident they’d have a good time.

I emailed them the week before to warn them that temperatures had been reaching 26 degrees and they should bring sun hats and a summery attitude. Predictably, the day they arrived it began to rain. They first went to Granada and think they trudged around a soggy Alhambra. I think it brought back bad memories of when they came to Cuba and it rained almost constantly for a fortnight: locals kept remarking how unusually rainy it was!
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Blollings cooks: fighting a sore throat

There’s a nasty little throat virus spreading through the British contingent here in Seville. I’ve never had anything like it, my whole throat is swollen and it HURTS! Because its contagious I’ve had to miss work so that I don’t infect the children I work with. I’m not a particularly strong person when I’m ill, I usually feel very sorry for myself, but luckily this isn’t the kind of illness which makes you feel groggy or bunged up so I have managed to cook myself some food to keep my poor little strength up. So here I’ve got a Lemon Ginger and Chicken soup recipe, lemon and ginger tea recipe and stewed apple…

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Feminist Anthems for a Monday Morning

It’s International Women’s Day! I decided to celebrate by trying to think of some of the greatest female anthems that we can all listen to tomorrow morning when its Monday and we therefore feel miserable.

A close friend of mine once told me “you get away with your music taste because people think you are being ironic. But you aren’t being ironic.” He’s right! So here is my of female anthems that I love, in a non-ironic way. Continue reading “Feminist Anthems for a Monday Morning”

So you went to Carnaval in Cadiz?

Welcome to Cadiz!

Last week I wrote about my trip to Carnival in La Rinconada, 10km outside of Seville. Well this weekend marked the last weekend of carnaval and to celebrate we went to Cádiz, the capital of carnaval and (apparently) the only place where the dictator Franco failed to squash carnaval celebrations.

The most important thing about Carnaval is you have to dress up. I saw some American students on the train from Seville to Cádiz who had made very poor effort. One of them was wearing normal clothes with a Spanish football shirt on. I shook my head at her in disdain. I imagine she saw me… I say this because everybody on that train was staring at me. Due to circumstances out of my control, I was not sitting with my friends. Which meant I was sitting in a coach of people dressed in normal clothes, dressed like this…
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Carnaval in La Rinconada, Seville

In the UK this time of year usually revolves around Valentine’s Day and pancakes. But this weekend Valentine’s day barely even registered with me as in Andalucia, it is CARNAVAL!!!

I have a couple of friends currently experiencing Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. But who needs Rio when only 20 minutes away from Seville is the small town of La Rinconada!?

This is the town where I’m working at the moment, and over the past couple of weeks our workmates have been talking to us about carnaval. They told us carnaval is very important, and that we had to come and we had to dress up. When we started talking about costumes, they were very clear: this isn’t any ‘carnival’ style dress up like you might get at Notting Hill carnival. Our boss shook her head when we talked about bralets and headdresses. “You have to wear real costumes”, she said. “People spend months preparing!”

So we begrudgingly agreed to borrow some “Mexican” outfits from her. Our other wonderful colleague invited us to her house to go with all her friends. She told us we could NOT wear our costumes on the way to Rinconada. “You have to get changed HERE!” she said. It seemed like carnaval had a lot of rules. We bundled over on Saturday afternoon, costumes and a bottle of negrita in our backpacks, and the festivities began! The warning that carnaval was important really did not prepare me for what were getting ourselves into. After a boozy lunch at our friend’s house, we got changed and painted our faces. Our friends all went as bees, and had somehow commandeered a full-size shopping trolley that they filled with bottle of coca cola, cups and a polystyrene box filled with ice and rum. So much rum. I thought this was just the storage device in their home but it turned out that you had to take the trolley to carnaval with you.

We left the house, trolley in tow, and walked up the road just in time to see the start of the procession. Leading the way was the carnaval queen, who was pulled along by a tractor and half-heartedly throwing confetti into the crowd. Then behind here were hundreds of people. Everybody came in groups, all dressed as the same thing… chickens, aliens, clowns, dogs, farmers, bollywood dancers… the variety was impressive. I’d tried to reflect Frida Kahlo in my Mexican outfit, but it wasn’t very successful and I just looked like I was dressed as any old Mexican. I was a bit concerned people might think I was suggesting all Mexican women had monobrows, and be offended. It soon became clear I needn’t have worried as being offensive didn’t seem to be a concern. We witnessed quite a surprising amount of people who’d decided to actually black up for the occasion as they dressed up as “African tribes”…

We joined the parade and marched through the streets, looking at people’s costumes and drinking from our trolley. We passed our friend’s house on the way – and her mother’s! – so stopped off to use the toilet and have a break. Then, as the sun had set, we reached the plaza where there was a giant stage playing live bands and bars and candyfloss carts. We didn’t need the bars though, as we wheeled the trolley into the crowd and danced around it! It was so fun!

We wanted to go back to Seville to sleep, so we unfortunately had to take the last bus home at about 10.30. By this point we’d already been partying for like seven hours so it wasn’t too upsetting, but nevertheless it would have been fun to stay longer. There isn’t really a carnaval in Seville. This was made painfully clear once we’d got the bus back to the centre of Seville, and were wondering around feeling extremely bubbly with our costumes on. We were met with very lukewarm responses. Nobody would let us in to any bars! In fact, when we needed the toilet, we had to sneak into a little pub! It was a harrowing experience.

This week we are all preparing to go to the last weekend of carnaval in Cadiz. We have been told that carnaval in Cadiz is “a life changing experience”. Hopefully in a good way? Time will tell!
Continue reading “Carnaval in La Rinconada, Seville”