Friday, 9 April 2010

Week 28

"Camping can be a real pleasure if you bring all the right stuff," Will told me a couple of weeks ago during a camping trip in which we brought a camping stove that had run out of gas (my fault, apparently) and a punctured inflatable mattress that was too big for our tent. The Baden-Powells - founders of the Boy Scout and Girl Guide movements - would have been disgusted.  

Our destination was Siurana which is about a three-hour drive south-west of Barcelona. Getting to the village and campsite involves driving up steep, twisting roads and you're rewarded at the top with stunning views of green valleys and sheer cliffs. The area is very popular with rock climbers - in fact, Will and I were the only people at the campsite who weren't wearing technical clothing (actually, my leopard-print top could well be moisture-wicking but I can't be sure).

Everything was going quite smoothly until it was time to cook dinner on the first evening. Will lit the stove and it sneezed a trickle of gas. It had run out. Will threw the lighter to the ground in a rage and we had to abandon sausage and lentils for dinner at the campsite cafe.

Bedtime brought more kerfuffle. To compensate for its inevitable deflation during the night, we over-pumped the punctured mattress. This meant that it took up most of the tent and I felt as claustrophobic as I would on a packed underground train. I needn't have worried. By morning, we were lying on flaccid plastic, our bones chilled by the cold, hard ground. Next, it was time to trudge from tent to the communal bathrooms. This is another thing that troubles me about camping: people - strangers - can see you first thing in the morning. It's bad enough that Will has to witness my morning mouth crust and unkempt hair but I hate that other campers can see this, too.    

But enough of my whingeing: Siurana is a beautiful, idyllic place, it's great if you like walking and the local wines and olive oil are highly recommended. Just make sure you bring the right camping equipment for added enjoyment.     

This is where you have to sit when you forget the camping gas

This week has been Cinema Week. Christina and I went to see Shutter Island on Monday, which I would recommend, although it's not as good as the other, amazing, Scorcese/DiCaprio film, The Departed. The film's confusing psycho-drama was added to by the Cinema Verdi's popcorn, which contains an hallucinogenic quantity of salt, and the fact that we turned up after it had started  – the films at the Verdi start at the time on the poster, not after 45 minutes of adverts, so we missed a couple of minutes. What happened in those minutes? Crucial plot developments? Or just a long shot from a helicopter flying over the sea? No idea.

On Tuesday, I went to a film club in a bar in El Raval. Here I met a bloke who was from Barcelona, but had moved to Swindon for a while a few years ago. Why anyone would move to Swindon from anywhere, let alone Barcelona, is beyond imagining, but he told me he moved because he'd been offered a sweet job in the events centre of a big hotel. In Swindon.
          "It was crazy," he told me, "just absolutely crazy." I bet it was.

The film on Tuesday was Mediterraneo, which is a film of the novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin, but released two years before the book was published... about the same time it was being written, in fact. Still, it was funny and enjoyable, unlike Harry Brown, which Christina and I watched last night.
    Bleak is hardly the word for Harry Brown, a film in which sweet old men are murdered by drug-peddling rapist hoodies (and vice versa) on a massive council estate. It may have been well acted and beautifully shot, but I couldn't tell, because I was so depressed I could barely see. Films like that should come with a warning label, and a complimentary copy of Kung Foo Panda to watch afterwards.

Shutter Island: Good film, followed by salt-induced renal failure and a discussion about what the hell was going on. 4/5.
Mediterraneo: Decent Italian pacifist comedy, confusing thoughts of Swindon throughout. 2/5. 
Harry Brown: So depressing I cried myself into a dehydrated husk, like a big, sad pork scratching. 0/5.
Kung Foo Panda: Superb. 5/5.

A train of caterpillars walking nose-to-tail

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