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Chasing Wabi-Sabi in the garden

13 Aug

For the last week or so, I’ve been house-sitting for some friends who live in the tiny village of Alella, near the coastal village of El Masnou. It’s been a week of slow living, and a week of luxurious living, due largely to the little pool in the backyard.

I’ve enjoyed the novelty of living in a real house, a grown-up house. They even have grown-up books to read.

I read one last night called Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers. It’s an introduction to a Japanese aesthetic called Wabi-Sabi. It’s a funny little book and the author, Leonard Koren deserves a lot of credit for keeping it short.

As to how well he describes the philosophy, I can’t say since I’m not Japanese and my knowledge of Japanese culture is appalling.

According to him:

Wabi-sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional.

Inspired by this book, and a lack of cable TV, I took my camera into the garden. I don’t know what it was about the philosophy, but it ended up being the most fun I’ve had taking pictures for a while.

Tomorrow, I return to madness.


Photo blog Day 15: Missing – Nature

5 Jul

Earlier this year for my birthday, I decided to buy myself a water lily. I ordered it online from Penlan Perennials.

My little lily arrived, was duly planted, and promptly withered and died. When moving house we were about to fling it out but realised that under the rotten mess, there were new shoots. So the lily moved house with us. Then sat in a plastic bag in the bathroom for about a week. Then got dumped in plant pot with an inch of water over it.

Then, for no logical reason, it decided to fight like a muthafuka!


To celebrate this little clear water revival we had going, I decided we needed biodiversity. Sadly the aquatic frogs in the fish shop were too delicate for al fresco living and the turtles were bought and returned within 12 hours. I fulfilled a childhood dream of having turtles, but they tried to eat the lily.

I know. Duh!

I then decided to take my little fish net, a glass jar and a reluctant husband (who eventually had more fun that he’ll admit) down to Parc Ciutadella to gather pond creatures instead.

My ambitions were small. A water boatman, pond skater, water beetle or similar. I had no hopes of tadpoles or dragonfly larvae.

What we found instead was nothing but barren ponds. Even the big boating pond appeared to have nothing more than fish, turtles and crayfish (the cockroaches of the fresh water world). No insects. Zilch!

I’m naively shocked. Yes this is in the middle of a large crowded city, and we’ve made no place for the poor wee buggers, but insects are tenacious. They don’t need a gilded invitation or the red carpet rolled out. They turn up, steal your spot on the couch, kick their shoes off, switch the telly on and ask for a beer.

A near complete absence of the single most important section of the ecosystem, from what I assumed was a natural oasis (park pond) makes me suspect the good city of Barcelona is waging chemical warfare on our little amigos.

Internet research threw up very little on treatment of water for public ponds. You can read the latest on pond conservation at the European Pond Conservation Network, but it’s very boffin (UK Slang for scientist) orientated and has no papers on urban conservation. Boo!

One study which does look promising is the Reading Urban Pond Project by students at Reading University. The students have created several ponds in the city of Reading and then left them as blank canvases. They are now going to monitor nature’s ability to populate these ponds and what level of biodiversity can be achieved by simply letting it be.

Have I revealed too much of my inner geek with this post?

Possibly. But…..

It’s not all topless lesbians and waking up in a nest of beer cans people, it’s also about making space for the frogs.

Start your biodiversity patch today! Bring back insects to Barcelona!

Barcelona photo blog Day 11: Gay pride baby

1 Jul

The Rainbow is cool.

I know it. You know it. The baby knows it.

Barcelona photo blog Day 8: Family portrait

20 Jun

The first family portrait includes hubby, Iran the cat, Humphrey the red goldfish and Wanda the orange one. Wanda replaced Dr.Pepper. Dr.Pepper was prettier, but Wanda was chosen for her sturdy, peasant, salt of the earth style.

The second portrait includes myself, and Iran trying to fish.

Barcelona photo blog Day What? Sonar

17 Jun



Barcelona photo blog Day 5: Cycle love

16 Jun

Composition tip number one which I picked up from the internet : the subject should be facing into the picture.

One small adjustment, and my picture improved a 100%. Result!