Sky Full Of Morning Stars

It’s 6am on the first day of November and quite dark outside. I couldn’t sleep and so I tiptoed through the house so as not to wake Mrs Cortado and our dog Grace to go outside and get my phone which I’d left in the car. On my way back, I promptly dropped it (clearly no coffee yet having an impact) and happened to look up to see an incredible sky full of stars.

I’d never really thought about there being stars in the morning and don’t ever remember seeing them at this time of the morning, but of course one of the lovely things about living in this part of the countryside in southern Spain is that there is no light pollution and so the darkness of the sky is beautifully and very brightly illuminated by thousands of stars. And all you have to do is drop something to see it…

Just think, if I didn’t drop things, I wonder what else I’d miss noticing?

Photo by sergio souza on Unsplash
(I tried to take a picture this morning, but there’s only so much you can do with an Iphone. I much preferred this shot.)

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How Bruce Lee Helped Me Get A Spanish Driving Licence

Perhaps this is something we don’t like admitting, but although we may want to get things done as soon as possible, sometimes it will just take longer. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

 

I’ve just managed to get a Spanish driving licence for a friend. It’s been a process which started a few months ago and as is the case in most places, dealing with bureaucracy can be a challenge and in Spain, perhaps more so. Either way, after several months and visits to various official administrative departments, I collected the document this morning and I’m relieved and happy, even though it perhaps took longer than it needed to.

 

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However, when faced with a potentially unfriendly beast such as government departments with some staff who lean more towards the ‘computer-says-no’ school of customer service, I have found there are are four key elements to get what you are looking for:

 

1) be prepared, do your homework and make umpteen copies

2) focus on developing a relationship with whoever can help you as opposed to having a go at who is being obstructive. Perhaps I should have known that the grumpy man in the pink trousers was not going to be the most helpful. Having said that, can you ever trust anybody in pink trousers?!

3) take a breath and be patient (this one is important)

4) take another breath and be a little bit more patient (more important than the last)

 

Bruce Lee talked about ‘being like water’ where the water in a bottle takes the shape of the bottle or whatever container it is in.

 

In this case, I had to assume the shape of the staff in the Traffic Department and ‘speak their language’. In time, it worked, but in the meantime, being like water and working together with the ‘system’ was ultimately much more productive than if I had fought against it.

This approach may not work in all situations, but I know the next time I will have to deal with Spanish bureaucracy, like Bruce Lee, I will most certainly aim to ‘be like water’…

Baby image courtesy of The Odyssey Online.
Bruce Lee image courtesy of Bloody Elbow.

 

Nothing Like A Coffee And Some Time

I’m sitting on a lovely, ever-so-slightly battered brown sofa in my favourite bar (Cafe Cyrano) in Almería, my recently adopted ‘big city’, listening to my new favourite album (‘Hey Mr Ferryman’ by Mark Eitzel) with a cortado coffee and an orange juice.

Lovely & slightly battered old sofa

I’ve just put my car in for a service. Not a big deal for most people, but not having owned a car until recently, it feels like a strangely grown up thing to be doing. I dropped the car off at 9.30am and am told it will be 3 hours, so I’ve popped into the city to mooch around and am really enjoying it as it’s not something I can really do in the village where I now live.

I’ve been walking around for a while enjoying the buzzy morning atmosphere of a working day here. As with many cities, there are lots of ‘things to do’ here, some of which I’ve done and others that I will do, but as is often the case, I find myself doing a similar thing ie ‘not very much’ to some people.

But the joy I get from simply sitting in a bar with a coffee, listening to music on headphones, writing, reading and reflecting on nothing in particular is immeasurable.

Some people these days might call this being mindful. I don’t know why doing this works for me and maybe it’s best I don’t know, so in the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the positive and calming energy it gives me.

Hope you’re having a good day too…

Do Less. More

It’s Thursday, so it’s podcast day here at Away From The Noise and today we’re in the beautiful and perhaps under-rated city of Alicante.

On the last few days of our trip around Spain, Mrs Away From The Noise and I have been travelling in the countryside and along the coast of the Costa Blanca and as a result of being here, the podcast this week is called ‘Do Less. More’ inspired by being in this region and also a quote I recently saw online though I can’t for the life of me remember who said it. 

Don’t do more, more, do less, more.

As always, the podcast is like the best pop singles – inspirational and about 3 minutes long.

Listen to Episode 4 – Do Less. More

Happy listening!

Jason

PS The header image is of Benidorm in the 1960s when it was a fishing village before it became a resort. 

Things Are Looking Up (And Down And All Around)

It’s Thursday, so it’s podcast day here at Away From The Noise and today we’re in the beautiful city of Valencia.

This week’s podcast was inspired by almost literally bumping into the National Ceramics Museum based here and how we need to be more aware and connected with our surroundings to live more happily.

As always, the podcast is like the best pop singles – inspirational and about 3 minutes long.

Listen to Episode 3 of the podcast – Things Are Looking Up (And Down And All Around)

Happy listening!

Jason

Art Deco, Aluminium And A Bar In Madrid

Walking to the lovely Cafe San Gines in Madrid last week for their famous chocolate con churros, I was listening to one of my favourite bands The Aluminum Group. One of their songs is called ‘Without Erté’ and to be honest, I’ve never known what the title meant but always liked the mystery of the song. 

Wherever I am, I often like taking different routes each day to where I’m going as it makes each day interesting. One morning I turned right into a new street and ‘Without Erté’ came up on the headphones and as I looked up listening to the chorus as he was singing the word ‘Erté, I was standing in front of a bar called ‘Erté’. I swear to God! 

It was a bit of a weird moment as it’s not the most common word in the world and certainly not in Madrid, but it was such a coincidence that I started thinking about what it all meant.

It could mean that the universe is trying to tell me something or all kinds of different things, but perhaps we like to see more in things than there really are. 

I like to think of it as simply both an amusing and strange coincidence, as well as a reminder that there are moments which are out of the ordinary that we should never take for granted. 

Moments such as these can freak you out or they can make you smile, you choose. Either way perhaps it’s a reminder to always be open – to new ideas, surprises and early morning coincidences involving Spanish capital cities and bars specialsing in foreign beers. 

(FYI It seems the song ‘Without Erté’ is based on Russian-born French Art Deco visual artist and fashion designer Roman Petrovich Tyrtov, also known as Erté.) 

Now where’s that bar in Madrid?

PS… For those who are more grammatically inclined than others, The Aluminum Group are from Chicago, hence the American spelling. I’m English, hence ‘aluminium’ in the title of this post. 

If We Were Having Coffee… What’s Next Is Now

If we were having coffee, I’d say that moving to a new area where you don’t know anybody can be a challenge and moving to a new country even more so. Although my Spanish is reasonable, there can still be a language and cultural barrier at times which can be frustrating, but that’s part and parcel of moving to a new country. There are inevitable a few downsides, however there are also enormous advantages and fundamentally, this is the choice we have made and we are very happy in our ‘new’ home in the south of Spain.

 

One of the most challenging things about moving to a new place where you don’t know anybody is getting to know people and socially ‘starting again’ which can be both a hugely exciting and challenging prospect. We’ve made a few (Spanish and English-speaking) friends in the 18 months we have been here which has been lovely, although sometimes there are good days and bad days, but that’s life and happens wherever you are regardless of your location.

 

Moving to Andalucia has been a dream for such a long time and now we have realised it, I’ve recently been struggling to see what’s ‘next’, but the more I think about it, the more it seems to become clear that the ‘next thing’ is in fact now. Right in front of me. Really obvious perhaps, but there you go. I got round to it eventually. In my own time.

 

So, unlike other times when I’ve looked beyond now and today in favour of a supposedly more exciting and interesting tomorrow, I’m choosing who I am, where I am and with who I am here and now. Maybe there are benefits in getting older after all.

 

And now I know that what’s next is now, I wonder what’s next?

 

The Smiths never wrote a song called ‘What’s Next Is Now’, but they did write the glorious ‘How Soon Is Now’. Enjoy…

 


 

The title of this post is from something I saw on Suzie81Speaks. The ‘If We Were Having Coffee’ series was created by Part Time Monster. Share your coffee posts on Twitter every Saturday with #WeekendCoffeeShare