28 April 2013

Good morning to you all on what is looking like the beginning of a decidedly dodgy week, which is a shame considering that this past week we enjoyed some pretty decent Spring-like weather – it’s been warmer than it has been and we’ve even seen the occasional spot of sunshine. Yesterday, however, provided a precursor to what the weather forecasters are predicting for the week ahead – hail showers and plummeting temperatures. Oh, well. Spring will arrive one day, I guess.

We gave you the least bad photos last week from our recent excursion to Barcelona. Today, a quick run-down of some of the highlights.

(A) The weather: it was fabulous. We left the UK with temperatures struggling to reach double figures (Celsius/centigrade, of course) and arrived in Barcelona where the sun was shining, the sky was bright, bright blue and the temperature was in the high 70s to 80 (24 to 26 C). Lovely!

(B) La Rambla and la Mercat de la Boqueria, the incredible food market about half way down La Rambla with its mountains of chocolate and strawberries the size of grapefruit. Hordes of teenaged school children, mainly French, racing around like packs of dingoes, their poor, bedraggled teachers wondering what on earth possessed them to volunteer to supervise a gang of wild animals in a foreign country.

La Sagrada Familia(C) La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s wacky basilica, was absolutely wonderful. Unbelievable, but wonderful.

(D) Wandering around El Barri Gòtic with its narrow alleys opening on to grand plazas such as the Plaça Reial

(E) Tapas at Irati just off La Rambla. A long, narrow counter laden with trays of tapas from which one helps oneself to be washed down, in our case, with a couple of glasses of Vino Tinto. When you’ve had enough the waitress counts the number of toothpicks on your plate and you pay accordingly.

(F) The Wilson Boutique Hotel which is where Nick and Lucy stayed on their visit to Barcelona a few years ago and which was excellent. The room was very comfortable, the location was good – just a short stroll from the Diagonal metro station – and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Absolutely first class.

We had a great time last weekend – on Saturday we went across to Nick, Lucy and Annabelle’s to (a) thank them for a wonderful break and (b) take them out to lunch at Wagamama’s in Leamington. While we were eating, Annabelle was busily scoffing whatever she could grab and I was reminded of a dinner many years ago when we were visiting Miles’ beach house and we all went out to a Chinese restaurant nearby. Sallie & Rod came up with, I think, some of the Rinderkinders and Susie, Emily and David were also amongst the several guests. When we arrived at the restaurant, I quickly grabbed the opportunity of sitting between David and Emily, imagining, for some reason, that they would not be overly keen on all the things I love, especially the various variety of prawn dishes. Imagine my dismay when, at the arrival of the first prawn-related dish, both David and Emily pronounced in loud and enthusiastic voices how much they loved prawns. I can see I am going to have the same problem with Annabelle.

And, just so that you don’t feel you’ve missed out on any of Greg’s Rants, a couple of links and snippets which caught my eye this week.

How democracy works – All but three of the 45 senators who torpedoed gun control measures in Congress have received money from firearms lobbyists.

How journalism works – the Daily Mail was “furious” at the BBC’s allegedly “biased” coverage of Mrs Thatcher’s funeral and backed their hypothesis with a genuine and accurate statistic:

So far, the corporation has received 766 complaints over its coverage of Lady Thatcher’s death

and they left it at that. What they neglected to point out was that 227 complainants felt the coverage was too anti-Thatcher (as they were claiming), 268 complaints were about the BBC’s alleged pro-Thatcher bias and 271 just thought they were broadcasting too much about her altogether. Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Gove and the Education Department have overspent on their Academy programme by £1bn, (yes, that is £1 billion) according to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, money which has been diverted from funding which was supposed to have been used to help struggling schools.

If Gove wants to know what education could be like rather than pursuing his 1930s ideology, he should perhaps have a glance at an article describing a new Lego school in Denmark.

In the UK you’re taught how to pass exams. In Scandinavia you’re taught how to think.

Rather similar to what our friends at The Treehouse School are trying to achieve.

Love to you all,