2023-03-15 – quest for a cable

Before the recent developments in Mataró. we had an idea to head into Barcelona for the day today, but we were both of a mind to have a quieter day again closer to home. This change of plan gave me some time to head off to Mataró on a quest to find the audio cable I needed to perform at Molly Malone’s on Friday night and then if successful visit the pub again test out the technical side of things and firm up the gig.

The bar owner suggested I might find what I needed at a nearby music shop in Mataró, close to Plaça de les Tereses, which is a square we had visited on the Sunday we happened upon the Ball de Diables. To be honest, I have been finding the little conversations in shops conducted in Catalan to be extremely rewarding. After all I have been learning a bit of the language for about 5 years now so I should be able to put it to some use. The man in the music shop had a cable that was almost suitable, but too short at 3 metres. I needed at least 5 metres to give me enough slack to reach the stage in the pub. He was able to recommend an electronics shop (Milliwats), where I should find what I needed.

After a 10 minute walk I found Milliwatts and had to wait my turn at first. This is a great wee shop for electronics and audio equipment. Eventually, I got my chance to describe what I needed and the guy in the shop was able to put his hand on the perfect 5 metre cable right away.

Back at the pub, the bar owner and I took a bit of time figuring out how to get my guitar output through the audio mixer, but thankfully we got there in the end. I was just a bit unsure if I would need a microphone. The bar owner explained that he was actually not that keen on too much amplification, as he has to keep the noise level very low in this old and quite residential part of town. He reckoned the strength of my voice would be enough, even in a busy bar. We will see in Friday night, but he was happy to confirm the gig with me and I was happy that the guitar will have a boost and I can start working on my set list.

2023-03-13 – rest and risotto

The cupboards were getting a bit bare again, so I decided to get up nice and early on this Monday morning to go out to the Bonpreu supermarket again. It was the first one I found when we got here and is still my favourite I think. Big mistake though – at 8am on Monday morning, no supermarkets are open here – they all open their doors at 9am.

A bit of a false start, but I was able to catch up on doing this journal after what had been a busy weekend. At 10am we were to have a visit from our AirBnB host (Pere) – it was good to finally meet him. After that I was able to make a successful attempt at my supermarket run. Alison fancied a wander in the shops too, so we decided we’d make the day a “stay close to home” day.

In terms of planning what we do each day, we have quite a relaxed approach, not making too many concrete plans and very often deciding what do to when we get up. There are a lot of places to visit for a day and we are steadily making our way through a list of them. There are some special days in our time here that do need some extra thought, research and preparation. Our birthdays, St Patrick’s Day and I have a gig in Igualada on Fri 24 March 2023. Conversation has turned to what we should do for St Patrick’s day, which falls on a Friday this year. I’m still harbouring a slightly unrealistic desire to find a pub in Arenys de Mar that would welcome a sing song session, but the consensus is for going out to an organised celebration of some sort somewhere.

I set about some research into Irish pubs in the area or any other establishments who might be putting on a St. Patrick’s Day special. We don’t really want to go as far as Barcelona, even though there will be plenty of Irish bars there doing their thing. Calella looks like a lively town for night-life and we haven’t yet visited yet, but I draw a blank on any leads for Paddy’s day events there. Mataró is the biggest town in Maresme county and I discover there is at least one Irish bar (Molly Malone’s) and interesting looking Belgian bar (The Drunk Monk). I can see the bones of a mini-pub crawl coming together there. Indeed we resolve to go on a scouting mission to Mataró, hopefully tomorrow night (Tuesday) and see what Molly Malone’s has to offer for the Friday night.

As the afternoon petered out, I got an urge to make risotto for dinner. I had bought the rice in the morning, but needed the other ingredients. I think I was driven by the slight disappointment the arosseria (rice restaurant) La Tasqueta didn’t have a veggie rice dish on the menu. I nipped across the road to Ametller Origen and got the few things needed and that’s how we spent the evening. A nice home-cooked mushroom risotto, some beer and a few telly programs.

2023-03-11 – Calçotada popular

A calçot is a vegetable somewhere in size between a spring onion and a leek, similar in form and taste and extremely popular in Catalonia in spring. They are roasted, often over a barbecue, peeled to remove any charred layer, dipped in romanesc sauce and eaten by hand. We were lucky to be able to attend a community barbecue of calçots, a calçotada popular, right on our doorstep in the church square. Continue reading “2023-03-11 – Calçotada popular”

2023-03-09 – Michael Collins evening

Two trips to Barcelona on the bounce! This was an evening excursion to check out a music session at the Michael Collins Irish bar near the Sagrada Familia. We had been tipped off that a friend of a friend is a regular at a slow and easy tunes session every Thursday night there starting at 6.30pm. We’ll use this wee trip as a tester to see how practical it is to jump on a train to Barcelona just for the evening, bearing in mind our last train home is at 10.30pm. Continue reading “2023-03-09 – Michael Collins evening”

2023-03-08 – first day in Barcelona

Our first trip into the big smoke of Barcelona coincided with the arrival of my sister and her husband there for a couple of days. They have a daughter living there and it was great to catch up with her and her pals in the evening, where we had a few drinks at the Garage Bar and then something to eat at Hummus Barcelona. Continue reading “2023-03-08 – first day in Barcelona”

2023-03-07 – murals of Malgrat de Mar

It is our first Tuesday in Maresme and the plan is to take the train to the northernmost town (Malgrat de Mar) in this long narrow coastal county and possibly walk back south along the beaches through the two neighbouring towns, Santa Susanna and Pineda de Mar. It’s looking like a gorgeous day here, so we’ll play it by ear to see how we manage. Continue reading “2023-03-07 – murals of Malgrat de Mar”

2023-03-06 – peelings and pealings

Our first Monday in our new home from home evolved into a very nice rest day. We didn’t move from the flat, we enjoyed the plentiful light we get through the day and relaxed with tea, coffee and a bit of improvisation with the food we still had in the cupboard.

With no excursion today, today’s journal entry is an opportunity to explore a couple of the more mundane facets of our experience in Arenys de Mar: the peelings and the pealings, by which I mean the recycling and food waste scheme they have here and the bells of the Església de Santa Maria. Continue reading “2023-03-06 – peelings and pealings”

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