“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” – Henry David Thoreau
View from the Tavira Tower showing Cadiz Cathedral
Looking at my blog, the last post was quite a while ago, about 3 months in fact. A lot has happened in between, however I’m now hoping to get back to writing on a more regular basis particularly as quite a few interesting topics have cropped up.
To start with, and something that conjures up pleasant memories, a 2 week trip to Spain in late Feb/March this year. Southern Spain was chosen as it seemed to be the best bet for good weather and we decided on a twin centre trip (Cadiz and Gran Canaria).
We flew from Bristol to Malaga and then drove along the coast to Cadiz which we assumed would be out of season and somewhat sleepy. The route we took meant that we arrved in Cadiz via the imposing La Pepa Bridge (see picture below).
To our surprise it was actually the last day of Cadiz Carnival so the town was jam-packed (the decision of where and what to do was fairly last-minute so we had little time to research).
One of the Cadiz Carnival singing groups
The only real drawback of the timing was that after the exuberance of the Carnival, most of the restaurants were closed in the evenings whilst we were there (to compensate for the long hours of the previous week).
Here’s a selection of photos:
Typical street in the Old Town
From the Puppet Museum
View from the Tavira Tower with the La Pepa Bridge in the background
General impression of Cadiz: delightful city, great to wander around and quite varied. Good place to make some excursions, such as visiting Jerez de la Frontera, by car or train, which we unfortunately had no time for.
Sardina, Gran Canaria
At the end of the stay we drove back to Malaga to get a flight to Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria. We started in Maspalomas in the south but the area wasn’t to our liking, being too crowded and touristy.
Leaving Maspalomas, we drove to the north west in the vicinity of Sardina. The apartment we’d booked was right on the coast with impressive views (see photos below). We took walks in the local area plus visited the nearby towns of Puerto de las Nieves, Agaete and Galdar.
Desolate roundabout at Sardina
View of the coast from the apartment balcony
View from the study (what a place to work from!)
Lunchtime view at Sardina
Lunch in Sardina featuring Canarian potatoes
View from Mirador, towards Agaete and the coast
View inland from Mirador
A bar in Agaete, still celebrating the local Carnival
We had Storm Emma for a day or two, howling winds, spray everywhere and the sound of nearby crashing waves.
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria
Moving to Las Palmas, we stayed just outside and explored the city centre plus surrounding inland areas.
Christopher Columbus House (Casa de Colon)
Exhibit at the Modern Art Museum
Beach area at Las Palmas
View inland from Pico de Bandama (popular viewpoint)
Typical street in nearby Telde
General impression of Gran Canaria: I really liked Gran Canaria when you were able escape the very busy touristy areas. The bewildering road systems in the main towns, presumably due to rapid expansion, are not for the faint-hearted.
“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman
Posted just because I liked it, such an impressive and unusual photo.
From the Guardian:
This is Henningsvær, population 460, although during September the number of people on this remote speck of land off north-west Norway will swell to 5,000 as artists and visitors arrive for the Lofoten International Art Festival (Liaf), Norway’s longest-running arts biennial. Drawings, video and installations, on the theme of “Taste the future”, are on show in three former fish processing plants. The village football pitch – one of the most spectacularly located in the world – will also be used as a backdrop for one performance.
Liaf runs until 1 October.
Photograph: Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost/Getty Images
From an interesting article in Ars Technica on how we can overestimate what we extract from first impressions:
Other people’s faces are thus more akin to mirrors reflecting our own biases than to windows revealing their owners’ inner lives; the first impressions we make of other people based on their faces say more about us than about them.
The article is a review of a recent book: Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions by Alexander Todorov (Princeton Uni Press, 2017):
We make up our minds about others after seeing their faces for a fraction of a second—and these snap judgments predict all kinds of important decisions. For example, politicians who simply look more competent are more likely to win elections. Yet the character judgments we make from faces are as inaccurate as they are irresistible; in most situations, we would guess more accurately if we ignored faces. So why do we put so much stock in these widely shared impressions? What is their purpose if they are completely unreliable? In this book, Alexander Todorov, one of the world’s leading researchers on the subject, answers these questions as he tells the story of the modern science of first impressions.
I’m a big fan of cookery books, even though my level of expertise in that area is still rather low (although enthusiastic). There are a lot of things that are wrong with these books (I’m still rather vaguely thinking of writing one myself to correct these errors, if only for my own use). You can easily read about the common complaints (usually too many and/or difficult to find ingredients, loose practical instructions etc) in Amazon reviews (once you’ve excluded the gushing ones).
In one case (book given above), I was quite surprised to find that the author had taken the time to reply to these criticisms, which was quite unusual although delightful. It’s a pity this is not taken on board by more authors, it could be quite enlightening. In fact, whilst checking this post, it turns out that the author, Diana Henry, replies to quite a few comments, quite exceptional!
It’s illuminating comparing and contrasting the two viewpoints, with the answer (at least in my case) being to aim for somewhere in between (so the response of the author has certainly been worthwhile and helpful).
As an example, first a reader’s comment (an extract actually):
When the ingredients of a recipe go well into double figures – that’s not simple. When the ingredients include ‘nduja (that’s an actual ingredient and not a typo), sambal oelek, smoked almonds, black “venus” rice, fregola – that’s not simple. I’m not saying I won’t cook some of these dishes, but they won’t be for midweek meals for my family. And while I may consider around 40% of these recipes to be simple, there are probably less than ten that I would attempt to put on the table midweek.
There are dishes that I will cook, that I want to cook, but this is aspirational rather than inspirational cooking. Make sure you know what you’re buying, so it doesn’t end up another beautiful cookbook on your kitchen shelf that you never open.
I’m the author of Simple and I’m really sorry (especially as I am also the mother with plenty of fish fingers and ketchup on hand) that this book was a disappointment to you. I did write in the intro to the book that I think you need to have some unusual ingredients to make everyday food a bit more exciting…
You cite the sea bream with pomegranate and walnut stuffing. You just mix the ingredients for the fish, fill the cavity and put it in the oven. It’s one of the simplest dishes in the book…
There are no difficult techniques in this book at all – I am not a chef – but there are interesting ideas and combinations of flavours. You are clearly a cook – as you say there’s lots you want to make – but please try some dishes which seem more unusual. I think you’ll be surprised. Often they seem more complicated – because they’re unusual in some way – than they actually are…
Very best wishes,