Summer special: death by twitter

I have been back to my Italian home town for a few days now, yet another road trip completed successfully. But this time my old Land Rover Defender just made it: leaking steering pump, quasi-dead steering box, dry ball joints are just some of the issues. The vehicle is not in good shape and needs some costly TLC, but how can I retire it with endless roads still ahead of us?

© Claire Homewood

In other news: Summer weather is gloriously hot and sunny, and I have quickly sunk back into the laid-back attitude of Italy's backyard. A little frustrating since things really seem never to change here: food, drinks, trips to the mountains. More food. Mostly this is how I spend my days.

Lazy? Never. It feels slightly different. I was talking about it with a friend just now and, how did I put it?... yes:

"It's like being at the end of Summer holidays, when in September you don't want to go back to school. You haven't done your homework and you're worried of having to get up early once again."

Plus, saying that I do don't much with my time wouldn't be true. I've done some picture editing and lots of tweeting.

End of day at the local bar - Cenicientos, Spain.

A drink and a laugh - Cenicientos, Spain.

Noori - Avignon, France.

Bicycle bell - Barcelona, Spain.

A late afternoon walk - Barcelona, Spain.

Man praying - Barcelona, Spain.

On my way back

So time has come to leave this oasis of tranquility and get going again. The trip back to Italy will follow a well-known route: from Barcelona through the south of France — Languedoc and Cote d'Azur — across the Alps into Italy, and then north towards Biella.

Fran and Trabucco the house donkey — Cenicientos, Spain.

The following are a few images of the last week or so.

Girl and dog playing in the Abbey's courtyard — Cluny, France.

Noori, my favourite baby girl on the planet — Avignon, France.

1789 remembered — near Carcassonne, France.

Entering Andorra on a fine day — Pas de la Casa, Principality of Andorra.

Metro station — Aluche, Madrid, Spain.

Circulo de Bellas Artes: the other side — Madrid, Spain.

Spot the difference — Madrid, Spain.

Holding hands on Paseo del Prado — Madrid, Spain.

Cloud 1 — Some place, Europe '09.

Photoespana 09

I am still in Cenicientos, a small village in the Madrid region, a mere one-hour drive from the Spanish capital but a whole lifestyle away. Rural, simple, and very quiet.

The other day, my good friend Federica and I went to visit our old friend Gwen, a lovely French girl who's lived in Madrid for the last 2 years, and while in town we had the opportunity to see a couple of the many exhibitions of this year's Photoespana.

Firstly we saw the work of German artist Gerhard Richter, some 400 overpainted photographs taken during personal trips and family occasions since 1989. See the complete series here.

After that we went to see Annie Leibovitz: a photographer's life 1990-2005, a great exhibition of more than 200 images shot by one of the most acclaimed portraits photographer of our times. And indeed some of the pictures displayed are such unique and true works of art, in which Leibovitz conveys the signature familiar approach with her subjects.

Finally, we quickly looked at a couple of exhibitions held at the Circulo of Bellas Artes — Club of Fine Arts: quirky images of shop windows in the 1930s by Chzech artist Jindrich Styrsky (On the Needles of these Days); a small retrospective of portrait photographer Patrick Faigenbaum (Photographs: 1974 - 2008); a film on urban China by documentary photographer and filmmaker Zhao Liang (City Scene).

Of traveling

It occurred to me the other day when I was crossing the English Channel La Manche in French — that traveling is a lonely business. One can love and hate being by oneself, and being alone is both a curse and a blessing that often occur at the same time.

Postcards of Cluny, quaint little town dominated by what remains of its grandiose abbey.

Even when traveling in a group of people, be they close friends, simple acquaintances, or strangers met for the first time at the beginning of the trip, one cannot help but being somewhat introspective, feeling that they can enjoy it as well as fret about it. Travel than become a true journey of self discovery, of varying proportions and impact.*

I personally experience the full impact of this when I am on a road trip and am driving, then it really does not matter if I am by myself or I have somebody sitting in the passenger seat, as I can very easily drift off and begin to wonder: about the the road ahead of me or the one just left behind, about new and old work ideas, about projects, people, friends and foes. Driving as a Zen-like activity, this is how I came to see it. Very much like cooking, it is an activity that feels natural and calms me down to a point where my mind enjoys a serene focus.

View Larger Map

I am in Avignon in the south of France at the moment — pinpoint E in the map above — visiting some friends before they also leave for a road trip, and before I finally make my way towards Spain. They got in touch with me on my first day back on the continent, and in a minute my plans were changed. The idea now is to leave here tomorrow morning, get to Barcelona first, spend the weekend there, then see my good old friend Yoga Dhara near Madrid and spend a few days with her before beginning my long(ish) journey back to Italy.

Stay tuned — more pictures soon.

*I envisioned quoting from Jack Kerouac's book Lonesome Traveler here, but I haven't gotten hold of a copy yet. Please feel free to add any thoughts or extract from the book if you've read it.
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