Ficklish Blog

Thursday, April 27, 2006


(I didn't feel a thing/it didn't mean a thing.... )

(Couldn't help myself. Apologies to those for whom that means nowt.)

Anyway, I've finally managed to load some photos, the link is here. Enjoy!

By way of update: I've all but moved in to a local cafe that offers free wireless (woohoo) and am spending my days trawling for job and house options. I suited up and had an interview with an agency this morning which seemed to go very well - they seem reassuringly confident about the prospects of my bank account being filled with delicious sterling before too long.

Still wish I was in Spain.

That is all, for now. Will work on something funny and be back soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Back to Life

You think you guys are going to miss my Valencia posts? I've been back in London for four days now, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight to my Spanish mourning. I miss that place so much I can barely stand it.

Alas, the bank account, she is weeping, and I must earn some nice juicy pounds to revive her so that I can get back there as soon as humanly possible.

This time last week I was lying on a beach in the sun. Now, my lovely tan is concealed under several layers of clothing to protect against the cold and grey. If this is spring weather, I'm a freaking daffodil.

Wait, did that make sense? Didn't think so.

Like the very diligent (and increasingly poverty-stricken) working holidaymaker that I am, I've spent the last couple of days hunched over a table in a cafe in Putney, blowing the dust off my CV and sending it out as far and widely as possible. I have one interview scheduled already, the suit has been dry-cleaned (to remove all traces of that lovely Dettol scent), and hopefully I should be doing something suitably mind-numbing before too long.

Then I just have to find somewhere to live. I'll start thinking about that tomorrow.

It's not all bad. Aside from the inevitable post-holiday glumness and necessary period of adjustment to vitamin D deficiency, I've had a fun few days catching up with some folks and doing some cool Londony things.

The highlights? On Saturday afternoon I visited an exhibition of spectacular paintings by the Lockhart River Art Gang, a group of Indigenous artists from Cape York. They were magnificent, and I had to be physically restrained from going out to rob the nearest bank so that I could buy them all.

Then, on Sunday, I went with the lovely B1 (who is demonstrating generosity above and beyond the call of our fifteen-year friendship by continuing to let me stay at her house) to watch her partner, B2 (it's his house too, thanks B2) run in the London Marathon. Having snagged a prime position opposite Buckingham Palace, about 200 metres from the finish line, we stood in the rain with thousands of others and cheered the runners on. It was quite an experience - these people are truly mad (but in a good way?). The elite runners powered through with nary a glance for the landmarks around them, the amateurs hobbled along any way they could, their faces contorted with agony. I confess it did feel a little smug to be shouting "Come on, you can do it, nearly there!" at people who had already fun further than I think I could crawl. We were there for a couple of hours, though, and I started to get a bit of Clapper's Cramping Elbow, so I totally understood what they were all going through...

B2 acquitted himself very respectably, finishing the race in just over three and three-quarter hours. Congratulations, B2! A very impressive effort indeed.

Other than that, it's all work and little play for our jLo at present. I'm in the process of sorting all my Spain photos, and as soon as I unravel the mysteries of Flickr I will upload them for your edification, amusement, and loud sighs of undiluted jealousy. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The End?

The staff at the Nest have given up saying goodbye to me: every time they do, I´m knocking on the front door again within five days or so.

It´s for practical reasons, this time - the ferry from Mallorca to Barcelona was fully booked all week, so I changed my flight back to London and came back to Valencia for a day.

Mallorca was great: I had a very relaxing Easter weekend. I spent a lot of time on the beach (I´m very brown), clambered on the rocky headlands, and wandered around the old town of Alcudia. It was, at one point, a Roman stronghold, so there were plenty of cool ruins to explore.

I was so busy with my jam-packed program of sloth that I didn´t have time to learn to dive - I´ll save that for another trip. I´m not sure I missed much - when I asked Jelly (the guy I stayed with) what there was to see in the bay, he said "oh, rocks, mud, fish... the odd bicycle."

One thing I did manage to do was jump back on the bookworm bandwagon. It will come as quite the surprise to those of you who have never known me not to have a novel in my bag (and who have even seen me read at the pub) that until last Thursday, I hadn´t read a single thing my entire time in Spain. I guess I´ve been busy doing all those things other people normally do while I´m reading. At any rate, Jelly had quite a library, and I think I managed to devour about five books over the weekend (thankfully, I hadn´t forgotten how).

It was possibly the first Easter of my life that failed to feature chocolate in a significant way. It did, however, feature a not insignificant amount of gin.

The only other notable thing about the weekend was the fact that Jelly has several dogs. Now, you know I´m not the world´s biggest dog person, but these dogs were friendly and well-behaved and we got on reasonably well. A house full of dogs is still a house full of dog, however, and upon my return to Valencia I was in fairly desperate need of laundry facilities to rid my clothing of fur.

This morning, therefore, having awoken with a vicious hangover (I only got off the ferry at 9:30pm last night, but Valencia did what Valencia does and within a few short hours I had been bewitched once more and was out dancing), I proceeded to put everything in my backpack into the wash, save what I was wearing (my sadly inferior B-list pyjamas). I attempted to go back to bed to sleep off the headache, but to no avail. I decided to head upstairs for a coffee, and in the interests of modesty (given my belief that one´s boxer shorts are best kept to one´s self) wrapped myself toga-style in a spare bedsheet, much to the delight and amusement of the hostel crew. When I discovered to my dismay that the coffee machine was broken, Steve managed to persuade me that the coffee shop down the street was a perfectly viable option.

Yes, my friends, I appeared on the streets of Valencia this morning wearing a toga.

To the amazed stares of passers-by (and more than a few car horns), Steve (in convulsions) and I (trying to saunter with dignity) walked to the cafe and had breakfast. By the time we were done I felt much better and proceeded almost without thinking into my favourite stationery store to buy a new pen (I´m going through them like you wouldn´t believe). There was a moment where I stepped on the corner of the sheet and nearly lost the whole ensemble, but luckily crisis was averted and my modesty protected.

I´m properly clothed, now, and have spent the rest of the day shopping (Lindy, you´ll be pleased to know that I am now the proud owner of a couple of items from the Zara spring collection) and having (another) farewell wander around Valencia.

It´s my favourite time of day now, Magic Light O´Clock, and I´m sitting in the park watching the fountain and writing to you all.

I can´t quite believe that the month is up, and that tomorrow I´ll be back in London. Finding a flat and a job seems so remote, yet that´s my next mission. Of course, if it´s too hard, there´s a job waiting for me here - as Cruise Director Jules, Chief Party Boat Executive of a new backpacker tour company.

There´s still so much I haven´t told you guys about - I´ve filled two and a half notebooks in Spain and there are many hilarious and embarassing anecdotes that I´ll have to remember to write about here. Like the time, for instance, I was offered an opportunity to write and star in a porn film, to be made, and I quote, "just the way (I) want it."

For now, I´m going to soak up the rest of the magic light and the spray from the fountain. I know it´ll be more than five days before I return this time, but hopefully not too many more.

Maybe ten.

Later, folks. In our next episode, jLo returns to the UK and tries in vain to break the habit of saying a cheery ´hola´ and ´gracias´ to everyone she meets.

Hasta luego.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It´s Who You Know

Hola, all - I´ve arrived in Alcudia, on the northwest (?) tip of Mallorca. It´s a small port town surrounded by rocky mountains, and it´s indescribably beautiful. I´m so lucky to be here - another random chance meeting that has led to something awesome.

Getting here was quite the adventure - seventeen hours of fun, let me tell you. The ferry that spent most of last week broken turned out to be a giant rustbucket named Don Pedro filled with screaming children. They´re lucky they lasted the night. When we arrived (finally) I disembarked in a daze and promptly boarded what I thought was a shuttle bus to the ferry terminal. To my delight, I soon discovered that I was aboard a charter coach that was depositing Spanish tourists to a resort in a town about twenty minutes in a direction exactly opposite to where I needed to go. I made my slow way back to Palma and got on the right bus (I really need to learn some proper Spanish, this is getting ridiculous) and finally made it across to here.

(Forgive the dodgy grammar in that paragraph, I haven´t slept yet).

The house is great, I have the best guest bedroom (and my own bathroom!). Steve, thanks mate, you´re a good bloke to know. I´m going to have a very, very nice Easter.

I wanted to briefly record a couple of highlights of my last days in Valencia:

- Finally going to see a flamenco performance at a local bar. I´m so glad I did - it was outstanding. Rhythmic and passionate, haunting and intense. The pictures I took are so dreadful I won´t be able to post them, but rest assured it was a most excellent evening.

- Getting to show a lovely new friend (hey, Erin!) around Valencia. It was nice to be the one in the know for a change.

- Going all Mediterraneo on the beach and sunbathing topless! Not for long, mind, but still. Tick that one off the list.

- Having the most spectacular farewell meal cooked for me by the lovely Ville - I went to the market yesterday morning and bought fresh salmon, and he cooked it up into a feast I won´t soon forget. Thanks, mate. I do have pictures of that, stay tuned.

It was hard to say goodbye to Valencia, but you know what? I have a sneaking feeling I won´t be gone for long. For now, happy Easter, you guys - I hope you have a great weekend. I´m off to explore some mountains and some beaches.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Home Away From Home

(I scribbled most of this on Sunday, so forgive the delay, kids. Internet time is quite the commodity in these parts).

I´m sitting in a beautiful park, in front of my favourite fountain. This fountain is spectacular - it´s in a long, rectangular pool and I lost count at about 120 jets of water dancing through a seemingly endless elaborate sequence. One moment they will leap like a dolphin show, the next they explode into fluid crystal fireworks. It´s amazing. I could (and have) spent hours here every day, sitting on the grass in a grove of orange trees, completely mesmerised.

I´ve got lots of company today, it´s a bright, warm afternoon and the gardens are teeming with people. Elderly couples walking arm in arm, kids on bikes and rollerblades, picnickers, young families, a swarm of smiling faces. There´s jaunty Spanish operetta music piping through the loudspeakers, and as I walk through the crowds it feels like a carnival. It´s so perfect it´s almost as if this is a movie set and no-one seems to care that the cameras have gone.

It´s Palm Sunday today, and I was awoken early this morning by the sounds of a massive procession making its way down the street towards the Cathedral for mass. I stood on our balcony, and watched as hundreds and hundreds of people waving palm fronds and singing sweetly in slow, perfect unison to an accompaniment of Spanish guitars wound their way towards the pealing bells of the Cathedral.

Coming back to Valencia after the whirlwind weekend in Amsterdam felt like coming home. I was greeted at the front door of the hostel with a shout and hug from the lovely Manuel, the cutest Spanish boy in all the world (and to whom, incidentally, I became engaged last week - he won´t let me bundle him into my backpack and take him with me unless he gets an Australian passport as part of the deal). Then I walked upstairs and Ville, my Jamaican architect friend had dinner waiting for me. Is it any wonder I haven´t left yet?

The other regular at The Nest is Steve, originally from the UK but who has spent the last twenty years in NZ and Oz. Both he and Ville are in the process of setting up lives and businesses for themselves here in Valencia, and they keep coming up with ways for me to join them so that I can stay too. It´s tempting, let me tell you.

The three of us have made an art of corrupting the unsuspecting travellers who come through the Nest. Last night we took three American girls to our local nightclub, where, to my delight, my favourite DJ (with whom I am on very familiar terms) was playing, and he was happy to indulge our many excellent requests. Ville´s quite a dancer, and Steve and I have a somewhat energetic approach ourselves - I can only hope the American girls made their train this morning.

Later that afternoon I wandered through a street fair, with dozens of stalls of regional wine and cheese producers. I went and gathered a posse of comrades, and we went down to sample the local fare. It was a most excellent evening - my new friend Erin had just arrived, and as it happened to be her birthday we were brought many free bottles of wine and samples of cheese by friendly Spanish gentlemen.

I occasionally get flashes of worry that I should be striving more energetically to get more out of this trip - going to more places, seeing more sights, taking more photos. But Spain is teaching me to slow down - I´ve got plenty of time and all those other places aren´t going anywhere. I´m really happy here.

That said, I am making a move this week. Steve has a friend who has a house on the beach at Mallorca, and I´m going to go and stay there for Easter. I was supposed to leave last night, but I got an hilarious phone call from the ferry company yesterday to tell me in the most endearing broken English that ´the ferry, she is broken´. So I´m staying put, waiting until the ferry, she is not broken, so I can sit on a sunny Mediterranean beach for the rest of the week (and maybe even learn to dive). In the meantime, a couple of extra days in Valencia suits me just fine.

Remind me to tell you sometime about the havoc that has been wreaked upon my clothes here: I ripped my jeans all the way up the arse the other night in a club, I´ve lost my pyjamas (?!) and my thongs have just about gone to God. I have to go back to London soon just so that I´m not walking around naked.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Alive and Brilliant

I´m not even sure what to say, folks. I´ve just spent the most amazing four days in Amsterdam with a thoroughly remarkable new friend. I don´t think I knew it was possible to have that much fun.*

Seriously, you guys, he made me laugh so hard that a couple of times I swear I thought I was going to die.

I´ve been high for four days, and the comedown is kicking my ass.

(The drugs weren´t bad, either... ;)

It´s a lovely bittersweet story that I might try to tell you one day if you ask nicely. I´m doing great, I promise - a little overwhelmed but mostly just really, really glad that all this is happening to me. I left home because I was tired of nothingness, now I feel anything (everything) but numb.

I flew back into Barcelona, and it´s weird to be back to square one when these last couple of weeks have been so full on. I´m not sure what I´m going to do next. My friends in Valencia are clamouring for my return, I have an invitation to go to learn to dive on Mallorca, and I still haven´t been to freaking Granada. I think I´m craving the familiar at the moment, so it might be back to Valencia for a day or two to make up my mind.

* Totally innocent, get your mind out of the gutter. God! I can´t believe the things you think of me.

Monday, April 03, 2006


After waxing that lyrical about Valencia, it would be hard to imagine that I would have moved on. But right now? I'm in Amsterdam.

Not quite what I had planned, but hey, these things happen. And let me say - if you're going to go to Amsterdam on the spur of the moment for one reason or another, even if things don't work out the way you want them to: YOU'RE STILL IN AMSTERDAM.

And I'm having a really, really fun time.

Back to Spain tomorrow. Please excuse this unscheduled break in our programming.