feria sevilla 2017

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This year’s Feria de Abril portada commemorates the 25th anniversary of the 1992 Expo and, imho, really couldn’t be uglier. This year there are two notable firsts. The Alumbrao (turning on of the lights and official opening) has been moved ahead to Saturday midnight, instead of the traditional Monday, in order to pack another weekend into the festivities. And there will be a Tourist Tent (caseta) for visitors, which will hopefully help them feel more welcome. A third possible first remains to be seen… whether my friend Cinta will be able to turn me into a Sevilla feria lover. She thinks she can. Game on!   😉

more signs of spring…

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The Tío Pepe tram is back in town. A harbinger of the famous Feria de Abril, even though this year the annual presentation of Tío Pepe en Rama was moved to Madrid… so, you know, wtf?

Another big change this year is that the feria is starting on Saturday night instead of the usual Monday midnight to Sunday midnight. And Monday will be a local holiday. Hey, all the better to milk this whole deal for all it’s worth by throwing in an extra weekend. Olé!

end of affordable housing?

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When I moved to my present apartment in 2011 things were bad enough. I remember looking at so many dumps, so that when I found this place I didn’t hesitate, even though it was considerably more than what I had been paying. A couple of years later I found out it was considerably more than what most people were paying, plus I had the serious problem of the bar noise in the street, and so the landlords put the rent down until this past February. Now it’s back up to not quite what I was originally paying, but it seems a fair price all things considered.

I haven’t seriously considered moving, in spite of the street noise, but now it looks like I won’t have any choice. Things with the landlady have become so stressful that it’s really affecting my sense of well-being here, and the state of the apartment worsens every month. She is refusing to pay for repairs on things like the central heating, or repay me for the oven I bought in December, or replace other basic standard equipment that has broken down over the past year or so. I mean, this is bound to happen after living somewhere for over 6 years. Things will need to be repaired, replaced and maintained, but the landlady doesn’t see it this way. So this morning I sent her an email saying that these things need to be addressed as they are in our contract, but I am dreading the next meeting with her. And in any case, I am sure that once the (now annual) contract comes up for renewal in February, she will say she doesn’t want to renew. And I won’t have anything to say about that. Meanwhile she will refuse to repair things.

Anyhow, I’d been casually looking around since the last Landlady Episode in February, but I think it’s time to start looking in ernest. At first I thought that within nine months I am bound to find somewhere else I like, but now I’m not so sure. The more I look around, the more I see that most housing in the centre has now been converted to holiday apartment and AirBnB rentals. And while I can understand that home owners can make more money this way, it is also destroying the sense of neighbourhood in the, um, neighbourhoods. A few years ago this was mostly apparent in the barrio Santa Cruz where I used to live. But now it’s spread to pretty much the entire Casco Antiguo, the central area within the old city walls, which is actually quite big. So it’s not looking very promising.

I remember not wanting to leave my old place in barrio Santa Cruz, but it turned out that moving to the Alfalfa to a larger apartment that had – or used to have – central heating and air-con, turned out to be a move for the better. Now I am feeling the same way, that I don’t want to leave, that I’ll never find anywhere I like as much… but you never know. Wish me luck!

lee buckley

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For ages this was the only image I ever had of Lee, from her Facebook page… and I came to think of her as this sassy Raggedy Ann chica. Then at long last I had the chance to meet her in person when I was in Madrid last January. She was still quite weak from cancer treatment, but was up for going out to have lunch, and we spent a lovely afternoon together.

Lee said she thought of me as her “cancer sister” because reading about my various struggles with cancer on my blog helped her when she was diagnosed. We could compare notes, as it were, and although our situations were very different, Lee felt like I would at least “get” what she was talking about. And yes, I think I did. I also got to enjoy chat sessions with a bright and funny woman, who loved cats as much as I do. I was also thrilled to meet her beautiful boy Tony during that last visit.

Anyhow, this morning I was out at that gastronomy event by the river and was randomly going through messages while enjoying a beer in the sun. Then I saw a message request on FB from someone I didn’t know. I clicked on it, and it was Lee’s dear friend Chris, telling me as delicately as possible that Lee had passed away a few days ago. And since then I haven’t known what to feel. Because the feelings are all so mixed up, the happy and sad ones, the scary and hopeful ones. And the worst one of all, the one I can’t yet accept – that I won’t ever be able to talk to Lee again. So for now, that’s all I can say. Except… be sure to hug someone you love today, and let them know how much they mean to you, how much you love them.  xx

Lee and I enjoying a fabulous lunch at Tandem in Madrid