Zen and The Act of Kindness

IMG_0772“Seriously?  You have a bath and a kettle in your room?” I said to new Club Med friend Els. “It must be a deluxe one: I was told they’d done away with most of them in the refurb – part of an economy drive around water. I agree with that – but I do love a soak in the bath after a hard day’s table tennis and lounging by the pool.”

It was the first of many changes I spotted during my week at Da Balaia. It seemed that like some of its guests and the world at large, Club Med is also partial to an identity crisis: Rooms are refreshed; a newly decorated bar upstairs is all blonde wood; the nightclub area bright and airy, however in the communal areas the same old comforting carpet greeted me – a little tired around the edges now.

I followed crowds of beards from a tech company visiting for a conference to the dining room for lunch.

Ines, a Gentil Organisateur (G.O.) tore me away from frowning at chipped plates and cups, and the large round table next to me of eight French bloggers superglued to their ‘phones.
“So, how was your morning?” she asked, smiling. I told her what I’d done and hadn’t done and we found shared experiences to bond over.

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Leaves on the Tarn

p1080223From Toulouse to Gaillic: Graffiti decorated station buildings, small maintenance boxes and animal sheds strewn in the fields we slowly pass, stamped with the mark of ‘I was here’ in street art language.

A well outside a front door of a small home dwelling.  Shuttered properties that lead to my perennial fascination with where everyone is in France.  Towns we stop at so quiet and boarded up, it’s like everyone’s left for the day, or perhaps longer if no glow is to be seen coming from doorways and windows that night.

Corn has been harvested from by now dry golden stalks. Sunflower heads drop in the subdued blue of a sky that says September, not summer.

And the leaves. The leaves on trees in the Tarn.  Just October, they’re greeny golden, a slow metamorphosis into the blazing oranges and reds they’ll become by the end of the month.

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Norte and South

IMG_3249I’ve long been fascinated by graffiti and street art – from days of New York living where the subways trains rattled past spray-painted with a thousand colours.  By whom, I used to wonder, and when and how? The mystery of incognito people decorating vehicles and walls in the dead of night or when no one was looking intrigued me.

Fast forward to August 2016 and the opening of ‘Norte and South’ an urban art exhibition at Atzaró hotel in Ibiza, and it’s clear things have developed in that world.  Possibly the most beautifully situated luxury boutique hotel in Ibiza annually hosts a show of street artists whose work now fetches none too shabby prices, and adorn the walls of the most high spec villas and homes. In short – it’s moved from the outside in.

The artists’ names indicate anonymity: Sixe, Inkie, Vinz, Miss Van are some that together with the use of masks in many of the paintings perpetuate the theme of mystery and secrecy necessitated by illegal street painting.

I asked Inkie what the difference was between a graffiti artist and a street artist. “Grafitti is about making your mark by spray painting surfaces freehand – then you tag (sign) it – to show you’ve been there.  It’s a territorial thing.  If someone graffitis over an existing piece on a wall somewhere – there’s gonna be trouble..”

So far so understood.  But what about street art? “Well, that’s work produced using stencils and print.  It’s more iconic image based work.” I was getting the gist.
“And your name?” I asked, “Inkie?”
“You know, it’s like an ink fingerprint.”

It was all making perfect sense, until I spotted the magnificent ‘Dimensions’ by Sixe Paredes. Continue reading “Norte and South”

A Hot Day For Cycling

P1070915I picked up my means of transport.  It was hot, a damned hot Ibiza day, but I was on a mission to discover all there was to discover on the Orbea Optima electric bicycle.

Oscar, at Kandani showed me its features one by one and handed me a helmet.  I asked him about the charging element. “I’m a bit worried, Oscar, what if I’m half way to Santa Inés and I run out of juice?”
He paused, midway through adjusting the seat, raised his head and looked at me incredulously: “Nobody empty the battery in one day. Nobody.”

Feeling chastised but comforted at the same time, I smiled, sat on the comfy padded seat and waved goodbye. “Are you sure I don’t need the off-road model?” I called out to him.
“No, this is enough for you. Make sure you start off on ‘Tour’ and then move up to Turbo as you go.  Don’t start on Turbo or you will take off very quickly and that could be dangerous!”

Heading towards San Carles I felt the joy of minimal peddling and maximum speed.  Despite the heat, the teeniest breeze generated by the motion felt cool on my face.  I smiled from sheer joy.  Past heat-baked fields of ripening tomatoes, sprinklers freshened them and me as I motored by. Further on the scent of pines cut through dusty air, and the faint aroma of fig as I passed a tree laden with this sumptuous fruit waiting for its moment to drop.

How far would I go?  How far did I want to go? Would I climb the Sierra De La Malacosta or would I simply go to the beach?

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Sweet Fennel, Pure Silver

P1070497The first thing that struck me was the dogs.  They were everywhere.

A meeting place of Las Dalias in the heart of the Ibizan countryside for the Silver Mines Walk had a group of about 30 of us gathered to tackle the14km jaunt ahead.  Collies, a Basset hound, a few smaller dogs whose breed I couldn’t identify, and a small white rough haired puppy accompanied us.

Attached to their owners by leads on the side of this busy road they were eager to be off.  Greeting each other sometimes tentatively with a sniff here, a nose rub there, the occasional growl – overall blatant friskiness and exuberance was the shared canine mood.

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Misty Whisky

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The Edinburgh Fringe is actually not so much a test for comedians and the like, but rather of one’s ability to drink at any given hour, and adopt the position ‘When in Rome’..

The first night had my Scottish lady host and I craning our necks to see Harmonium at Usher Hall.  “Do you think the choir is singing live?” I asked J.  A gentleman beside me passed a wine glass to his friend in front of my nose: “Why don’t you stop asking questions and just enjoy it!” he commented.

The next afternoon, I followed J into the monkey bar.  “You’ll love it here” she told me, “They show movies a few times a week in the afternoon and I think it’s the cheapest Prosecco in town – £12 for a bottle, if I remember correctly.”

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Austentatious

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Scudding soft blue skies and lots of them met me as I ambled into the elegant city centre of Edinburgh on day three of the Fringe.

Searching for the exact venue in this most packed and convoluted of festivals, I eventually found the Udderbelly – my number one entertainment destination for the day.

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On entering the upside down cow, we were given a slip of paper.  It looked like a Penguin novel cover, but the title was blank, and herein lay the magic of this particular theatrical experience.  The audience were invited to write down a title suggestion for the ‘long lost’ Jane Austen novel and submit it to one of the cast who wandered about with a black bowler hat collecting them.

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