Clumsy Bones

I have always been clumsy.

I have always been clumsy.

Bumping into walls? Check. Tripping over my shoelaces? Check. Burning my leg by spilling boiling water on it and ending up in the hospital? Unfortunately, check.

Sometimes I feel like objects should have a sensor and if I come too close, quickly take a step back. Or beep. Cars can do that. Why tables can’t? It seems unfair.

Lots of bruises have always decorated my legs. They come in all sorts of sizes and shades of blue. It’s like body paint, but free!

A few days ago, a thought stroke my mind: “Am I clumsy or just mindless?”. Hmmm. Food for thought here. My head is sometimes floating in the clouds, lost in some remote universe. Is that why I don’t see the wall that’s right in front of me? Or should I get an eye test?

I can’t help but also wonder: can someone be mindful and clumsy at the same time? Or being mindful automatically regulates your clumsiness levels? What about someone who is mindless but not clumsy? Is that a thing?

I’m just pondering something here… Is being clumsy a consequence of lack of coordination or simply briefly getting distracted from the present moment? Maybe I just have butterfingers! And clumsy bones! (Well, maybe more like clumsy joints or muscles)

Let the facts speak for themselves

According to Macmillan Dictionary, this is the definition of clumsy:

a clumsy person moves in a way that is not careful or graceful, and breaks things or knocks against them

Ouch. Graceful! Interesting. Ballet is all about harmony and graceful movement. I started attending ballet lessons two years ago. If I keep practising, will it cure my clumsiness once and for all? Are there any positions that I should focus on? (If you have insider information, please contact me) I’ve just pictured myself walking in the street and stopping to do some pliés every once in a while. Not sure if this is the solution…

I decided to do a little research. This is what I found…

Hispaniolan Solenodon
Hispaniolan Solenodon by Frank Wouters

Let me introduce you to the solenodon. This cute(ish) little fella has an insanely long nose and tiny eyes. It’s also able to survive in really horrible conditions. However, its saliva is venomous (no one is perfect, I guess). Turns out solenodons have received some nasty accusations of being slow and clumsy just because they walk in a zig-zag. Maybe they’re just trying to be graceful in their own way, like I am! (If you’re intrigued about these creatures, find more info here).

I was about to write the conclusion of this post, but then I jabbed my toe and lost the plot. Please accept my apologies. I’ll be more careful next time.

My First Attempt at British Christmas Cuisine

2020 has been the year of many firsts. Lockdown, self-isolation, furlough… the list is endless....

2020 has been the year of many firsts. Lockdown, self-isolation, furlough… the list is endless. It’s also been my first Christmas away from home since I moved abroad in 2016. I had always been very lucky and managed to get holidays over Christmas and fly to sunny Barcelona. I guess it was something I sort of took for granted. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to spend Christmas here in the UK, away from my family. It didn’t seem like a good idea. The truth is I’m not crazy about Christmas but I’m not the Grinch either. Christmas equals family time and copious amounts of food.

This year I was hoping to go home, but after two flight cancellations and travel restrictions, I had to stay in Edinburgh. It wasn’t only my first Christmas away from home but also my first attempt at British Christmas cuisine. I killed two birds with one stone, I guess. Having an English boyfriend makes things easier, but it was also his first attempt at cooking Christmas food. It was a challenge for us both.

After we had decided on the menu, we headed to the supermarket. The queue was painfully long and I was scared we wouldn’t be able to find any turkey. Surprisingly, the supermarket was well stocked and we managed to get our hands on everything but cranberry sauce. Sigh.

Our star dish would be a roast turkey crown with orange and home-made gravy, following Mary Berry’s recipe). For those who don’t know her, she’s one of The Great British Bake Off’s judges. It was indeed a hands-on job (pun intended). The first step was quite delicate. We had to carefully loosen the skin to separate it from the meat, making sure not to tear it.

Afterward, we had to smear a mix of butter and thyme leaves all over the meat. I felt like I was giving a very oily massage. Then, the turkey was ready to be stuffed with orange slices all over and transferred into the oven. Every half an hour, we would check on it and sprinkle some port or lemon juice to keep it moist. The result was delicious!

Roast Turkey Crown
Our magnificent beast

A 2Kg turkey was definitely not enough for a Christmas meal. Of course, we had more things up our sleeves: roasted sweet potato and parsnips, pigs in blankets (pork sausages wrapped in bacon), Yorkshire puddings (we didn’t make those from scratch, unfortunately) and gravy.

Yorshire pudding, pigs in blankets, roasted vegetables and roasted turkey with orange Yorkshire pudding is the pastry on the top left

I’ve never been a fan of gravy. I’d tried it on very few occasions but didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. On Christmas Day, we made gravy from scratch. The flavour is very different from those soluble granules you can find at the supermarket! We just had to boil the juices of the turkey, add some flour, soy sauce, the unpronounceable Worcester sauce, port and chicken stock. It was heaven on earth. Well, heaven on turkey, Yorkshire pudding, pigs in blankets and roasted vegetables.

We had been overly optimistic about the amount of food we would be able to cook on Christmas day. Therefore, we had to continue our cooking adventure on Boxing day and on the 27th. What was missing? Stuffing and Brussels sprouts.

I’d always thought Brussels sprouts weren’t my thing. I would always skip past them at the supermarket. I’d always avoided them and to be honest, I can’t even remember if I ever tried them! Apparently, Brussels sprouts are a must in the British Christmas cuisine. I couldn’t avoid them anymore… Luckily, the story had a happy ending. Turns out I do like Brussels sprouts! (The apple sauce helped, but now I feel ready to eat them on their own)

Last but not least, we had to make the stuffing. I was busy in a video call so James made it. It’s something a bit hard to explain, but it’s basically sausage meat combined with old bread, celery, herbs, egg, etc. There are many different versions of this dish. This is the recipe) he used if you’d like to give it a go. It was amazing!

Sausage herb stuffing Yummy stuffing! Special guest appearance: Brussels sprouts (top left)

I almost forgot one last thing: mince pies. I tried them for the first time this Christmas. I’d always been intrigued and slightly confused about their content (some of my expat friends went through the same). Mincemeat. What are we talking about here? Are they savoury? Do they have pork mince inside? Turns out they’re sweet. ‘Mincemeat’ is a code name for dried fruits and spices.

Merry delayed Christmas, everyone!

Have you ever spend Christmas abroad? Did you eat or cook any traditional food from that country? Tell me in the comments. 😉

Rooting for Ginger

I honestly can’t remember when I started rooting for ginger. It was like my brain...

I honestly can’t remember when I started rooting for ginger. It was like my brain had been rewired and now, I just can’t imagine my life without ginger. In the past, I remember noticing pickled ginger while eating out in Japanese restaurants. It never caught my eye. More recently, I started getting into honey, lemon and ginger tea. I loved the freshness and spiciness from ginger combined with the sourness of lemon and balanced with the sweetness of honey. This tea is now my best friend during the cold winter months. However, back then I was unaware of all the other things that ginger had prepared for me.

Lemon ginger tea with some lemon wedges and ginger root on the side


If you’re tired of eating rich tea and digestives, you should give them a try. They’re usually lactose-free which is great for me and the rest of lactose intolerants in the world. Ginger biscuits, nuts or snaps are quite crunchy and Christmasy gingerbread biscuits are soft but they are both an absolute delight.

Ginger Beer

I am fond of the alcoholic Crabbie’s ginger beer), which is produced in Edinburgh. (Proudly supporting local products!) I am not a huge beer drinker and usually stick to lager or light beers. Crabbie’s has brought my beer experience to another level. It’s refreshing and I enjoy every single sip! I’ve just found out there’s a Crabbie’s with raspberry flavour: I’ll keep my eyes peeled for it on my next visit to the supermarket.

Ginger Root

Ginger tea that you buy from the shops can be tasty, but since it’s blended with other ingredients, ginger content is usually around 30% or 40%. If you want to up your game, feel free to add some grated or chopped ginger root into hot water. I usually add some lemon juice and honey. I’m not going to lie: it will be spicy, but it will also be worth it. Shoutout to my friend Tom who introduced me to this drink idea :).

Dark Chocolate Coated Ginger

Unfortunately, I have mixed feelings about these ginger gummies). I bought it last year and was fascinated by the combination of chocolate and ginger. It was so good I couldn’t stop eating. After that binge-eating session, my stomach is very reluctant to ingest that concoction ever again. If you have more self-control or a stronger stomach, nothing is stopping you from trying it, I guess.

Ginger Shot

I bought this one day I was feeling a bit run down and my immune system needed a bit of a boost. I’m guessing you can find many manufacturers of ginger shots in the market. It’s usually fresh-pressed ginger root combined with lemon or apple. I tried the MOJU) one and ladies and gentlemen, I couldn’t handle it. My throat started to burn and was itchy like hell. On MOJU’s website, they describe the shot as “fiery” and “unapologetically strong”. At least they give their potential customers a fair warning ;).

I’m so happy ginger exists. It’s not only delicious but also can help with nausea and vomiting, acts as an antioxidant, can help with seasickness, etc. It’s only a matter of finding the ginger product that matches your spiciness tolerance level. However, ginger might be one of those things that you either love or hate. What side are you on?

Feel free to share your favourite ginger products or recipes in the comments :).

I Wanted a Sandwich, but Asked for a Sangwich Instead

As a language and phonetics nerd, I am really curious to observe how people talk,...

As a language and phonetics nerd, I am really curious to observe how people talk, how they pronounce certain words and what sort of language they use. My brain also has fun making mental associations between people who speak in a similar way. Sometimes I’d love for them to meet up!

I’ve been living in the UK for four years now and would like to share with you one of the many pronunciation struggles I’ve had as a non-native English speaker.

Sangwich vs Sandwich

I’ve pronounced the word “sandwich” wrong ever since I can remember. I only realised it last year, when a friend mentioned it to me. I was embarrassed and fascinated. Since it’s quite a subtle mistake, I have successfully managed to hide it for many years. Like a language ninja. But now that I know I am mispronouncing the word, I try to pay extra attention while talking about those two slices of bread with some cheese in between.

The British pronunciation of the word is /ˈsæn(d)wɪtʃ/. Instead, I pronounce /ˈsæŋwɪtʃ/ (‘sangwich’). Please don’t kill me. Here’s the thing: if I try to pronounce ‘sandwich’ including the ‘d’, I find it quite challenging. I have to slow down to make sure I am doing it properly. My tongue feels clumsy. If I choose to ignore the ‘d’, as many people do, and go for “sanwich”, I still struggle. Sad times.

Our vocal organs always try to make things easier for us while pronouncing words. This mechanism is loaded with an inventory of phonemes (sounds) which varies depending on our native language. This video by A Way with Words sheds some light on this topic:

Sangwich speakers: assemble!

They explain that the cluster of consonants ‘ndw’ is quite difficult to pronounce by people who aren’t English native speakers, as our original inventory of sounds doesn’t include those sounds. Turns out I’m not alone! There are many people around the world happily saying ‘sangwich’ instead of ‘sandwich’ too. Apparently, it’s a common mispronunciation within the Italian-American community in New Jersey, New York, Canada and also some Spanish speakers. This makes a lot of sense. I’m a Catalan native speaker and Italian and Spanish share a lot of linguistic traits with Catalan.

I still would like to dig a bit deeper though. Why do I find ‘ngw’ easier to pronounce than ‘ndw’? I can’t seem to find any Catalan words with the cluster ‘ndw’. I found one with ‘ngw’: “pingüí” (penguin). Somehow I find it easier to transition from the velar /ŋ/ to the bilabial /w/, and that’s why my tongue has been making these little adjustments to make speech smoother for me.

What about you? How do you pronounce “sandwich”? Apparently, there are at least four different ways. Let me know in the comments! 😉

The Unexpected Home I Found in Edinburgh, 1,897 km Away

I’ve been living away from home for almost four years. To be precise, I live...

I’ve been living away from home for almost four years. To be precise, I live 1,897 km away from my hometown (Sabadell, Spain). It would take me at least 358 hours if I attempted to walk there. If I cycled, “only” 108 hours.

It’s funny how when you have lived living abroad for a while, the term ‘home’ gets a whole new meaning. As now Edinburgh is also my home, I usually refer to my hometown as ‘home home’, for some reason. I also use the term ‘back home’, but this often creates misunderstandings.

Brick house surrounded by grass next to a tree
Commendator’s House Museum (Melrose, Scotland)

There are certainly a lot of things that I miss from Sabadell, but today I would like to think about what makes me feel at home here in Edinburgh. Casually running into people I know in the street is one of them.

When I moved to Edinburgh, I didn’t know that would be possible. Edinburgh is a fairly big city but small enough to come across a friend while you’re out shopping.

It might seem like something very trivial. It’s a mere coincidental encounter. Being at the right time at the right place. Am I overthinking it? I don’t believe in coincidences, though. I like to think that everything happens for a reason, even when you can’t pinpoint what it is. Therefore, this magical crossing of paths brings some warmth to my heart. The bliss of the unexpected. The ultimate reassurance that no, you are not alone in what initially was unexplored territory. Now you can finally call it home.

Houses reflected in the water
The Shore (Edinburgh)

Another thing that makes me feel at home is that Scottish people are really friendly. They helped me on countless occasions when I was confused about my bus journey. If you ever take part in a Ceilidh dance, you’ll be able to taste that exquisite friendliness. You’ll probably be clueless and randomly jumping around trying to pretend you know what you’re doing. You’ll most likely bump into someone or who knows, slip and fall. Good news is that it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake, you won’t see any grumpy faces. They will just smile and happily get you back on track.

Last but not least, there’s ham. I know it might sound superficial, but it’s not. One can actually taste a country with their food. I miss eating dry-cured ham that wakes me up at night begging for water. It’s worth it, please take my word. I don’t need the fancy stuff (even though I would happily accept donations of Jamón Ibérico), just a Serrano does the trick. It’s a bit hard to find, but I promise you that it takes the homesickness away. At least for a few minutes.

If you’re living abroad too, what makes you feel at home?

Unofficial Olympic Sports

Before digging deeper into the so-called unofficial Olympic sports, let’s do a bit of background...

Before digging deeper into the so-called unofficial Olympic sports, let’s do a bit of background work.

Unfortunately, the Olympic Games which were meant to be celebrated in Tokyo next month, have been postponed to next year due to the coronavirus crisis.

However, there’s no reason to worry. Life challenges us every single day so that every one of us has the chance to take part in their own Olympic Games, a totally personalised experience.

Yes, you’ve read it properly. Forget about pole vaulting or synchronised swimming. Think about yawning with your eyes open or putting your contact lenses on with your eyes closed.

There are small daily victories that, unfortunately, are still labelled as unofficial Olympic sports.

  • Blowing your nose when it’s windy.
  • Typing on your phone at high speed with extremely long fake nails.
  • Holding a child in your arms for an extended period of time.
  • 200 metres sprint with obstacles (optional) towards the bus stop.
  • Sprinting to reach the first available seat before the bus starts again.
  • Trying not to lose balance in the underground or bus while standing up and when you have nowhere to hold on to.
  • Changing nappies in 15 seconds.
  • Changing the duvet cover.
  • Bring the washing inside when it rains.
  • Freestyle artistic sliding (falling is optional) on wet or icy pavement.
  • Stacking your grocery in the bag in 15 seconds, placing the heaviest and sturdiest items at the bottom and working from there, leaving the lightest and more delicate items for the top.
  • Juggling tangerines.
  • Slaloming on a Saturday afternoon on the busy Princes Street, zigzagging any obstacles.
  • Playing Twister.

Visible Fictions Keeps Creativity Alive During Lockdown

Over 100 people joined the Visible Fictions online event Phone Fictions Watch Party that took...

Over 100 people joined the Visible Fictions online event Phone Fictions Watch Party that took place on Tuesday the 28th of April at 3 pm on Facebook.

Dougie Irvine, Artistic Director of Visible Fictions, gave some background on the project.

“The premise was really simple. We asked artists from all over Scotland to pitch ideas to us for short stories that could be filmed from the comfort of their own home using their mobile phones.”

“All we asked is that they would be entertaining and uplifting.”

Irvine said they aimed to commission 10 films but ended up choosing 15: “The quality of the pitches from artists across the nation were so fantastic that we knew we had to make more.”

The family-friendly online event showcased diverse art forms such as stop motion animation, original music, sketches, and monologues.

Halfway through the show, Sophie Ochojna, Marketing and Development Manager for Visible Fictions, talked about the prospects of the company.

“If the restrictions are lifted and we’re allowed to, we’re going to be touring a new production this autumn around Scotland.-

“It’s by playwriter Morna Young and it’s called The Squawk Talk Secrets, suitable for families with children over seven and up.”

Ochojna said the tour would include community venues, theatres, and schools.

During the watch party, viewers could post real-time comments.

In the comical piece “Clover Light Field” by James Beagon, food and toilet paper mysteriously disappeared in a flat.

Darrel Williams commented: “Excellent – just how I’m feeling.”Laura Kwiatkowski said “Wow what amazing creativity with an avocado!” after watching Elspeth Chapman’s piece. It was a stop motion animation of some hands carving faces out of avocado seeds.

Cooking Disasters Brighten your Life

Today I would like to honour my cooking disasters. I feel like they deserve a...

Today I would like to honour my cooking disasters. I feel like they deserve a post on my blog. Yes. Cooking disasters brighten your life. They also provide a really good opportunity for that long and liberating crying session that you’ve been postponing for months. How boring my life would be if every time that I tried to cook something it turned out amazing!

Burnt NYE Pizza

Yes, I’m not afraid to admit it. Burning a pizza on New Year’s Eve is starting to feel like a tradition. Bear in mind that when I say burn I mean burn. I am not talking about a gently toasted or lightly browned pizza. Just picture a black circle. Then add your favourite topics: black pepperoni, black mozzarella, black and crispy bacon… As you might know, in Spain, we eat twelve grapes at midnight on NYE. If you don’t, you can expect bad luck for the rest of your life. Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. I’m starting to think my calling is burning pizzas instead.

It’s not pizza but it’s close enough. Source: GIPHY

Easter Cake Fail

Like many other people, I felt like baking during lockdown. Unfortunately, my first baking experience didn’t go as expected. Easter was around the corner, so I thought it would be nice to try to bake a very special cake that we eat on Easter Monday. When I say we, I am referring to the Spanish regions of Catalonia, Murcia, and Valencia.

This delicious sponge cake (we call it Mona de Pasqua) will try to steal your heart with its apricot jam, candied fruit, and chopped almonds.Getting the ingredients was already a challenge. I couldn’t find any flour, baking powder, or candied fruit. Instead of giving up, I decided to innovate. After some Google research on a very slow 4G, I bought some cornflour, cream of tartar, and really cute tiny icing carrots.

Back home, I assembled all the ingredients on the kitchen counter. While I was casually reading the cream of tartar label, I found out something horrifying: if I wanted to use it as a substitute for baking powder, I had to mix it with bicarbonate of soda. Spoiler alert: I didn’t have bicarbonate of soda. The supermarket neither.

I decided to proceed regardless. I added some egg whites to the dough in a desperate attempt to increase the volume. It just went worse and worse from there. I messed up while pouring the dough into the cake tin and some of it ended up all over my jeans. I oven-baked what was left of the dough. You can see the result below… Even after baking it in the oven for what seemed like an eternity, it was still kind of raw inside. The taste was atrocious, believe me…

Can you guess which one I made?

Scrambled Zombie Pancakes

I woke up late, feeling like a zombie with a creepy hoarse voice and craving pancakes. I didn’t have enough flour according to the recipe. I’m sure you know that zombies don’t like going to the supermarket so that wasn’t an option. My flatmate kindly lent me some of her exotic coconut flour. There was some light at the end of the tunnel. But no. The pancakes kept breaking after turning them. I kept the momentum going and instead of crying, I listened. The coconut pancakes didn’t want to be normal pancakes. They were born to be scrambled.

Truth is those pancakes had a strange flavour and texture… I ate them anyway, though. There is nothing that lactose-free chocolate and hazelnut spread can’t fix.

By the way, I also use the scrambled trick on other occasions. For example, it’s quite useful when you’re initially going for an omelette but you observe too much resistance. Give it a try ;).

Lightly Salted Cake

What a fancy name for a cake. Well, it’s not. It’s just the name of another of my cooking disasters. It’s the result of not labelling containers. You can already guess what this is about: I was happily baking a cake. I added 260 grams of “sugar”. Later, I realised it was salt. I took the block of concrete out of the oven, waited for it to cool down, and ate a slice binned it. Life’s too short. Be gentle with your arteries :).

What about you? Do your cooking disasters brighten your life as well? Feel free to share them on the comments below. Happy cooking and crying!

First Day with Contact Lenses

The first day of wearing contact lenses is big, exciting and scary at the same...

The first day of wearing contact lenses is big, exciting and scary at the same time. No one is ready for that, to be honest. You assemble a mirror, tie your hair up in a ponytail and wear your most comfortable clothes to allow freedom of movement. You do some arm stretches, followed by some wrist and finger stretches and tapping exercises. Fine motor skills need to be at their best today.

You take a deep breath.

The contact lenses are happily floating in their solution. Yes, it feels kind of cruel. You will take them outside of their natural habitat and place them in some strange and uncharted territory (aka your eyes). And drumroll please… they might not like it there. They might get annoyed and dry your eyes so much until you give up and remove them. Or they might feel all cosy and just let you be, and see, most importantly.

Gathering strength from God knows where you carefully grab one and place it on your index finger. You inspect it carefully to check if the shape is correct (if it’s not a perfect circle, it might be inside out, as your optician warned you). Everything seems fine. In slow-motion, you bring the contact lens closer and closer to your right eye. Your terrifying look is undeniable (Thank God no one is around to immortalize the moment). You are almost there, and your eye is wide open, ready to embrace his new friend.

Plot twist. Your eyelid closes. Again, again and again. It’s like there’s a switch somewhere: as soon as the enemy is too close, it’s time to close the curtains. And then you sort of wish you were in that A Clockwork Orange scene where the eyes are clamped open… But then you think again, realise it might be a bit painful and forget about it.

After several failed attempts, somehow you succeed. You are now wearing one contact lens on your right eye. WOW! It’s a whole new world out there, you think, keeping your left eye closed. Fuelled with adrenaline, you rush and manage to put the contact lens on your left eye on your first strike. Oh boy, does it feel good…

It’s like seeing for the first time. The frame of your glasses is gone. Your eyes are wild and free to look wherever they want. Everything is clear and focused. It’s better than a dream! Every once in a while, your hand reaches up in an attempt to readjust your glasses (which are no longer there). It will take a while to get rid of this automated action… Later on, you’re chilling on the sofa and decide to read a book and out of force of habit, you reach for your glasses and put them on*.

*All memories of what happened afterwards have been meticulously erased. Thank you, brain, I owe you one.

Thank you, Writers’ HQ for this lovely exercise on day#1 of 14 Days of Self Write-solation :).

P.S.: Aliens struggle with eyesight too. Find evidence on that here.

Sun-kissed banana skin

Someone should have warned me about this. I mean, I knew about the bagpipes. The...

Someone should have warned me about this. I mean, I knew about the bagpipes. The rain. The Highland cows. But this? Is it a gift for Pomona, the Roman Goddess of fruit and nut trees? A Celtic ritual? A prank? First, it was a banana skin. Then, a handful of grapes. Maybe it’s just a genuine act of goodwill. But hey, whoever left the skin of a banana wasn’t feeling too generous, don’t you think?

The thing is that every time I return the shopping cart after my grocery shopping, I experience an extremely disturbing sensation as if someone was watching me. Even when there is no one around, I still get the same odd feeling. Morning and evening. Weekdays and weekends. Like two sharp knives tickling softly the back of my neck.

I nervously get my 1 pound coin back and I start walking: straight back, shoulders down and chin up. Usually, things fall off my bags and once I almost hit a lamppost. No matter what happens, I don’t stop walking. I have to get away from the supermarket ASAP.

When I start crossing the road, I get goosebumps. And then, that strange beeping in my right ear which lasts 27 minutes on average. As you might be thinking, I’m starting to dread my weekly shopping. And it used to be my favourite thing to do. I would even offer to shop for my friends! I’ve tried shopping in several supermarkets (even in different cities) but nothing seems to work.

Now I can’t help but wonder if I should be leaving some fruit on my cart too. Who knows, perhaps this way my nightmare would end. Maybe a kiwi? Some tangerines? Strawberries? How could I be sure that it would be appropriate? Sweet would be a safer choice than sour, right? I wouldn’t want to offend anyone. Here I am, at 2 am, wondering what fruit I should leave at my cart tomorrow. Without having made a final decision, tomorrow I will go to the supermarket. And the knives will tickle me again and again…

Websters Land: You're Only Allowed If You're Good With Computers

Websters Land: only certain people were allowed there).

Websters Land: only certain people were allowed there).

How to get in

First of all, the requirements were secret and confidential, so if you wanted to join the club, you had to request an appointment and wait to be assessed. There was no way one could prepare for it, as you would do for an audition or exam, and that was part of the deal.

An entrance to a building with a black fence and the title "Websters Land"

Mysterious sights

Looking through the bars, I spotted an intriguing sign: “No items to be left in the walkway or chained to railings”. Was it a minimalist club? Some sort of feng shui gang? Or maybe the assessment took place in the walkway and that’s why it had to be hazard-free and empty. Why would they need so much space in the first place?

Maybe it was all about a fight, a dance or a Twister competition. One could just dream and wonder. It was equally exciting and terrifying. If you signed up for one of the assessment sessions, you would sign a contract agreeing to basically everything. Just between you and me, I’ve applied 99 times in the last month. Much to my surprise, they never got back to me a single time. I’m not entirely sure what might have gone wrong.

Sweet old Websters Land. I guess a decent degree of computer literacy would help pass the test. What else could ‘webster’ mean? It’s surprisingly close to the word ‘hipster’ and ladies and gentlemen, I do not believe in coincidences.

A webster must be someone who is cool with computers. Someone who writes code while making home-made vegan meatballs. Someone trendy. Websters Land is the paradise of IPs, binary code and cookies. And I can’t wait to be part of it. I’ll just need to apply one more time and hope not to land on the SPAM folder.Maybe this time I’ll be able to find out what’s all this about. Or maybe I’ll never will. Maybe it’s all just a big computer-generated dream. Wait, is it 7 am already?!

Disclaimer: webster is an archaic term for ‘weaver’ (someone whose job is to weave cloth). I do not take any responsibility for the confusion created within the human population, linguists and IT professionals.

Keeping the Magic Alive

I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I promise you there is an elf running...

I know it’s not Christmas yet, but I promise you there is an elf running around the streets of Edinburgh. But surprisingly, he is not helping Santa deliver any presents. He is doing something even better.

As you might already know, he works at night so that’s why you have never seen him and you never will. He hides behind a tree, explores the area with an avid glance and when he is 120% sure that there is no one in sight, the fun begins. He quickly tiptoes to the nearest traffic light and BOOM! In less than 8 seconds he finishes the job and can go back to his warm and cosy flat.

Smooth and efficient: that’s why they chose him amongst the 299 other elves who had applied for the position. One traffic light per night, as the contract says. Princes Street, Howe Street… Who knows: maybe your street is next. If I were you I’d go to bed early and refrain from going out at night. Otherwise, he will have no choice but to miss your lovely street. What a shame, I know. But I don’t make the rules: the contract makes it very clear: “If some human catches you in the act, the magic is lost and therefore, you are fired”. So yes, being an elf comes with endless moments of cheerfulness but also requires bags of discipline, responsibility and agility. I swear that the application process was harder than that slice of bread you left on the back of the shelf for more than two weeks.

So please, do him -and yourself- a favour, and the next time you press the button and -impatiently- wait for the traffic light to turn green, take a look around and you might be surprised. Remember: every time you smile, he is smiling back to you. Let’s keep the magic alive. Are you in?

New music

Listening to new music refreshes your soul.

Listening to new music refreshes your soul.

Even if you don’t like it. But especially if you do.Sometimes the tune feels so familiar, so close to you that you just click with it. You know it: that song was meant for you. And you’ll never know if you’ve found that song or that song has found you.

Can you imagine how many songs might be out there,waiting for you to listen to them by chance or thanks to someone’s recommendation? Tones of songs. Millions.

Probably they are just patiently waiting in a playlist or in an old cassette stored in a box somewhere. Others might be waving hello at your face but you just don’t notice. You don’t even know they exist.

Maybe it’s the next song playing on the radio, but you don’t get to listen to it because you’ve just got out of the car.

Maybe it’s like the people you meet in the street on your way home. Chosen by a strange supernatural force.

Crazy About Beer

For Czechs, it’s always a good time to drink beer. It doesn’t matter where or...

For Czechs, it’s always a good time to drink beer. It doesn’t matter where or when, beer is -and will always be- the best option. Perhaps the only one?

In Prague, beer is cheaper than bottled water. (No joking here)

Dues gerres de cervesa

Czechs drink, on average, about 160 litres of beer a year. Why would they do that? You’d think it’s because it’s cheap… I’m afraid I don’t have a scientific answer to this, but I’d just say that they do so because they are completely IN LOVE with beer.

Okay, so as soon as I arrived in Prague ready to start my Erasmus exchange, I was aware that beer was an issue I had to deal with. Truth is back then I had a little problem: I didn’t like beer AT ALL. How was I going to survive in a country where beer was the national drink?

Well, definitely I was willing to make an effort and try it, but I must confess that it wasn’t easy. The first time I ordered a beer in a pub, it came in a huuuuuuuuge glass, which didn’t help much. I didn’t like its taste, so my friends had to help me finish it… (Okay, they actually drank most of it)

However, I was still not giving up. Here in Spain, it’s very common to order a “clara” (a beer mixed with lemonade), so I guessed I could try the same in Prague. So, while we were at a boat party I happily went to the bar and ordered a beer with Sprite. I can still remember the face of the waiter… He was literally like “What’s wrong with you? Are you really going to drink this abomination?” After his face had come back to its original shape, he just gave me a bottle of beer and a can of Sprite so I could mix them. He was SO not going to do that himself, of course!Anyway, my beer with Sprite was delicious, and after a long tasting process I ended up LOVING it -even without Sprite-.

Much to my surprise, some weeks later, I discovered that the Czech beer Staropramen had a lemon-mixed version. I couldn’t help thinking: “Thank God I’m not an alien anymore…”