THE BLOG

Notes From a Housesit: Barcelona

25/03/2015 12:23 GMT | Updated 24/05/2015 10:59 BST

Here in Barcelona rain is falling on high Gothic buildings. It's a mild Spring morning. I wrap myself in clothes the colour of juicy tomatoes, climb down endless stairs (the flat I'm caring for is situated just below the roof in one of the tall, tall buildings) and head to the market. My plan for the daytime today: cat-duties. Keep quiet. Acquire simple, perfect provisions. Write. Rest.

Market:

2015-03-24-1427209506-9464964-olives.jpg

2015-03-24-1427209161-5136718-juiceinbarcelona.jpg

In the market I sip a strawberry-coconut smoothie, peruse cabinets of olives, rainbows of fruit and vegetables, stalls of fish that smell of the sea. Purchases made, I slip back to where I'm staying. I'm in the centre of town, caring for three cats: Coco, a shy and beautiful grey-white boy. He's adopted me as his best friend since his owner departed. Our friendship floundered slightly the night he peed on my bed. He and his furry family no longer sleep in my bedroom. They're a great trio, though.

Coco:

2015-03-24-1427209690-5295038-Coco.jpg

The cat-crew also features Gina, friendly tabby, all-round good girl and unfortunate enemy of Coco. Gina image to follow.

Finally, there's Lolo: enormous, calm, ginger tom and possible Zen Master. Lolo's so massive he resembles nothing so much as a miniaturised tiger. He enjoys sitting on feet (mine) and sometimes cuddling with Coco. Lolo, however - like the best of us - is temperamental. He communicates this by swiping at people (or Coco) when he needs some space. He's recently had a cancerous cyst removed, and seems to be doing amazingly well.

Lolo:

2015-03-24-1427208025-525809-20150323_154730.jpg

I didn't know Barcelona before I came. In total I have nine days here. I picked people's brains for Barcelona recommendations before I arrived; it's such a much-loved city. Still, though, one of my housesitting pleasures is moving to my own rhythms. In new areas, more than anything I tend to want to soak up the atmosphere of a place. Though I visit specific places, search out history, places of cultural significance, follow wherever my instinct or senses draw me, basically I aim to be more than do.

I'm also moving to a relatively slow pace at present. I'm tired; still waking back up, re-emerging both physically and emotionally from a long, grey English Winter. Back in Bristol, I was acclimatising to a new city, discovering it gradually. Meeting new people, learning some of its hidden places, getting lost, finding new places. I promised myself not to rush. Here in Barcelona, a dual strand in my life emerges. I take the same tack, allowing myself to luxuriate a little. Saturday, I explore the direct area where I am, finding myself in a maze of interconnecting alleys and squares, greengrocers spilling bright produce, teeny-tiny shops selling a single product, the simple delight of the legume store.

Sometimes places are for trying on for size; seeing how they fit. Sunday, I catch up with a Facebook friend who happens to be in town for a poetry slam. We meet at We Pudding café (check out "We Pudding" if you're in Barcelona; it's great). We talk about pilgrimage. Monday, I head down the tourist-filled La Rambla and into the rather more interesting Ravel distract, an area mired in Bohemian history. Here, I find refuge in the square off Carrer De L'Hospital. Orange trees! My sleepy heart wakes up.

2015-03-24-1427208653-8432919-20150323_115017.jpg

From there, into an all-vegan juice bar/cafe, "Juicy Jones." Low on energy, I save a wander to the sea for another day; musing on that notion of pilgrimage; of my own ever-present tug towards the water. This evening, my dyspraxic sense of direction to guide me there willing (and er...my phone's Sat Nav,) I'll dance, Barcelona-style. I've written before about following one's longings. Two strands frequently permeate mine: the sea and the urge to dance. Right at the moment, I want to dance.

More soon.