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The News in Barcelona

30th September 2017

As you'll know there is a referendum on the future of Catalunya planned for tomorrow, October 1st.

The question on the ballot paper is:

​'Do you want Catalunya to be an independent state in the form of a republic? YES/NO'


As well as sending in an additional 6,000 National Police officers and Civil Guards with orders to dismantle and disrupt the logistics of the vote, the Madrid government has closed down more than 140 pro-independence websites​ without warning; have ordered Google to take down a Google Play app which gave instructions on how to vote; seized control of the regional government's communications centre; mobilzed an army of internet trolls; and tried to block dozens of Twitter accounts and feeds.

Madrid is spewing out vast amounts of propaganda and misinformation, much of it exaggerated beyond parody and much of it based on fabrication.

Used to be a regular reader of El País and El País in English — not any more.

For a concise, and more accurate, summary of events up until September 28th watch the introduction to Matthew Tree's English language Avui TV programme: HERE.

For more up to date information go HERE: El Nacional.

Adéu Monarquia — Hola República.​

Safety & Security

12 Sinister Symbols & Ciphers in Barcelona

26th June 2017
Burglars and house breakers symbols, Barcelona, 2015

UPDATE June, 2017: Thought to re-publish this post not to alarm but by way of making you aware that given there are now many, many more vacation lets (both legal and illegal) in the city than when I first wrote the post — and, given that local sympathies are changing — some visitors’ apartments are now considered easy targets. Always check your vacation let is properly registered with the Ajuntament (City Hall). Otherwise, if things do go pear-shaped you’ll have a much harder time claiming for any loss and/or injury.

A sure sign warmer weather is on the way is the appearance of warnings posted in the entrances of apartment buildings advising residents to check for symbols scratched on, or near, their front doors.

With the warmer weather more of us spend more of our time outside the house. S’only natural. But our absence is often seen as an invitation to opportunist plunderers.

Having enjoyed a day, or weekend, hiking, biking, climbing, rafting, or simply mazing and grazing around, the last thing you need is to return home, find all your most precious things gone and something nasty in the fridge.
But these things happen — don’t let them happen to you.

You don’t need a brain like Alan Turing’s…

Continue Reading…


Happy New Year 2017 from Barcelona

31st December 2016


Wishing you a healthy, productive and prosperous 2017. And, if you can squeeze in some happiness, all the better.

See you next year. Sincerely hope it’s a great one for you.

The illustration is by our good friend, Oscar Astromujoff — a brilliant artist and illustrator —and a wonderful human being.

Oscar’s work is best known locally through his regular illustrations for the newspaper, La Vanguardia. In fact, there was one of Oscar’s illustrations in today’s (31/12/2016) edition. His artwork extends beyond simple illustration.

Thanks to Lali, his lovely partner, we were at Oscar’s apartment on Sant Esteve (Boxing Day) last week for a tea party. All good fun.

Anyway, here’s wishing you all the very best for 2017.

Fins aviat!


Barcelona Public Holidays Calendar 2016

2nd February 2016

Public Holidays Barcelona 2016

If you’re planning a holiday, short break or business trip to Barcelona this year it could be useful to check your proposed dates against the above list of official public holidays.

You may want to avoid these dates, or, conversely, you may want to coincide your visit with a local holiday.


(E) = Official public holidays across Spain.

(A) = Official public holidays in Catalunya.

(L) = Official public holidays local to Barcelona.


We’ll get 14 public holidays in 2016. We’ve gained 1 NEW public holiday in Barcelona — Friday, February 12th — Santa Eulàlia.

This new holiday was nominated by the current mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau. Santa Eulàlia is the other patron saint of Barcelona and is celebrated every year with a festival which takes place in Sant Roc, the area of Barri Gotic between the Cathedral and Les Rambles. The focus of the Santa Eulàlia festival is on children as Santa Eulàlia was only 13 years old when martyred by Romans.

Sant Roc also has its own festa major in August (13th—16th) which takes place in and around Plaça Nova in front of the Cathedral.


Though we’ve gained one new holiday we’ve lost TWO public holidays this year — May 1st (Workers’ Day) and September 11th (La Diada or National Day), both of which fall on a Sunday this year. Unlike other countries, such as the UK, if a public holiday falls on a weekend it’s too bad — we lose the day — we do not get the following Monday as a holiday.


Other dates that you might want to consider when planning your visit which are NOT listed above include:

  • MARCH 3rd, Thursday — Sant Medir.
  • APRIL 23rd, Saturday — Sant Jordi (St. George’s Day).


Enjoy your visit to Barcelona



A week before Learning to Drive in Barcelona

6th July 2015
Bacalao al pil pil con pebrots de Padrón by Bil Sinclair

A glimpse of how life is lived here.

Last Sunday evening caught up with a friend from the States en route to Italy.

We headed to Bar Bodega Quimet for a few vermuts before grazing around and settling awhile in a tapas bar, Gastarea, on Carrer Verdi, which I’ve never visited before, to enjoy a couple of montaditos before tucking into plates of bacalao al pil pil and pebrots de Padrón. I’ll be back.

After a stroll, and a relaxed cocktail at La Cigale, we ended the night in one of my favourite drinks bars, El Cine on Carrer del Torrent de l’Olla.

First thing Monday met with an esteemed theatre and opera director to discuss his forthcoming visit to the Edinburgh festival.

Later, after spending an hour or so on a novel in progress (Heavensfield), and an hour or so on a non-fiction book (How to Eat like a Local in Barcelona), I met with a trusted friend at his parents’ apartment in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample. We discussed plans for a very special tri-lingual wine-tasting I’ll be hosting in November.

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença

Entrance to an apartment building on Carrer Provença in L’Antiga Esquerra de l’Eixample

On Tuesday that once very special design store, Vinçon opened and closed its doors to the public for the very last time. I didn’t go along. I’d read Quim Monzó’s piece in La Vanguardia and… well, for slightly different reasons…couldn’t face it. Something about being here, in Barcelona, has now died.

Vinçon, Barcelona

Thursday evening  met with the film-maker, Justin Donlon, at Gredos, a granja, or snack bar, across the street from Verdaguer metro, to discuss my role in a planned documentary about the artist, Geoff Harwood.

On Friday evening we met up with dear friends at Gredos and went along to a Beer Festival in Poblenou. It was a good do, and a grand time was had by all.


On Saturday evening my better half, her son and I met at Bar Oller for a drink before traversing across Gràcia to a 22:20 screening of Isabel Coixet’s, Learning to Drive at Cines Verdi. We dropped into Bar l’Amistat, where we had morros and zarajos, before calling in at Lucania II, where we hoped to spend time enjoying slices of delicious pizza. However, it was really very busy, as always, and the clock was against us. We ate what we could but, at the end, had to ask for a doggy-bag. But it was still delicious, excellent pizza, which we scoffed surreptitiously during the movie.


The movie, Learning to Drive, starring Ben Kingsley, and directed by local dirctor, Isabel Coixet, was ok, verging on good. The acting, camerawork and editing all superb. But for me, the script lacked a certain necessary tension.

Enjoy Barcelona.


Art, Food, Wine & great company in Barcelona

5th February 2015

February 3rd, 2015 — 

Off to an art exhibition opening at Vinçon for 8pm and to meet with two visitors from Montreal — Binky and Jennifer.

Very interesting evening.

Francesc Artigau

The opening seemed much more busy than is usual. And, the age profile of those attending seemed much older than usual. The older demographic is in part explained by the fact that the artist, Francesc Artigau, first exhibited at Vinçon in 1975 — two years after the gallery opened. The exhibit consists of just one large painting split over three canvasses.

  • Here’s a LINK to background about the exhibit.
  • And, here’s a LINK to the artist’s website.

We met Binky and Jennifer, and, from the off we hit it off. We had a Moritz beer and a few bites of cheese, crackers, olives and llonganisa then took a tour of the store.

Bar Bodega Quimet

Then we all headed up to Gràcia and Bar Bodega Quimet — one of my favourite haunts for a bite and a drink. At around 9pm it’s a comfortable 15 minute stroll — during the day it can be a frenetic hike. During the day you spend as much energy, if not more, sidestepping the shoppers, gawkers and strollers, as you wend a way up Passeig de Gràcia.

Bodega Quimet was packed. Tuesday night on a cold, damp February evening — packed. Must tell you something.

We perched ourselves at the bar and ordered a bottle of Montsant and a few delicious bites. Then got ourselves seated at a table and ordered more bites and more wine. The chat flowed readily. Laughs came easily — in part prompted by my being locked in the toilets.

Good food, good drink — great company.

We met having exchanged a few emails — we parted as friends.

The Barcelona effect — again.