Notes by Nectar

Your destiny lies in your own hands

Your week ahead (25-31 July)

I used the Universal Waite deck again for this week’s readings. Have a good week!

Aries

Pentacles_ace

Ace of Pentacles – improve your health/body; become involved with nature; prospering; use common sense; believe in the good faith of others, proceed with trust

 

Taurus

Hanged_man

The Hanged Man – let go – accept what is; re-order your priorities – see things from a new angle; take time to simply be – live in the moment; sacrifice – put others first

 

Gemini

Swords_2

2 of Swords – blocking emotions – maintain your cool; avoiding the truth – closing your eyes to what’s really going on; reaching an impasse – being afraid to act

 

Cancer

Swords_4

4 of Swords – rest – take a break, give your body time to heal; contemplate – listen to your inner voice; prepare – get ready for the future, tie up loose ends

 

Leo

Wands_9

9 of Wands – defend yourself – take extra precautions; persevere – don’t take ‘no’ for an answer; show stamina – demonstrate physical strength, continue in spite of feeling tired

 

Virgo

Wands_ace

Ace of Wands – use creative force – stimulate your imagination, allow a talent to unfold; show enthusiasm – give 110%; have confidence – believe in yourself; know things will work out; proceed with courage – go beyond your limits, be true to your beliefs

 

Libra

Cups_ace

Ace of Cups – use emotional force – get in touch with your feelings, let your heart lead the way; develop intuition – trust your inner voice; experience intimacy – fall in love, get closer to someone; proceed with love – express affection, get rid of negativity

 

Scorpio

Swords_10

10 of Swords – bottoming out – having nowhere to go but up; feeling like a victim – feeling powerless and/or self-pity; being a martyr – being self-deprecating and putting your own interests last

 

Sagittarius

Pentacles_page

Page of Pentacles – have an effect – make your plans real, be practical – use common sense and stop daydreaming; be prosperous – enrich yourself, seek abundance; be trusting/trustworthy – have faith in others, keep your word 

 

Capricorn

Swords_6

6 of Swords – feeling the blues – feeling a little depressed, trying to keep your head above water; recovering – getting over a tough time, feeling hope again; travelling – taking a trip or experiencing a change of scene, entering a new frame of mind

 

Aquarius

The_world

The World – integrating – experiencing wholeness, working in unison; accomplishing – realising your goals, seeing your dreams come true; becoming involved – using a gift or talent, giving of yourself; feeling fulfilled – savoring the present, taking pleasure in life

 

Pisces

4_emperor

The Emperor – fathering – setting direction and tone, bringing security and comfort; emphasising structure – creating order out of chaos, being organized; exercising authority – taking a leadership role, exerting control; regulating – applying rules or guidelines, setting standards of behaviour, following a regimen

Card of the week

 

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Silent Sunday 7

2011

 

Silent Sunday

 

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A night at the Proms

The Proms are an eight-week season of daily classical music concerts held every summer, mainly at the Royal Albert Hall. The season culminates in The Last Night of the Proms held on the second Saturday in September. Tickets are highly sought after and you can only get tickets to the last night if you’ve bought tickets for five other concerts in the season. The aim of the Proms is to present the widest possible range of music to large audiences at a reasonable cost. As well as seats, standing (or ‘promming’) tickets go on sale 2 hours before each concert and cost only £5.

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The last time I went was in 2005 – I took my mum and grandmother to see Ravi Shankar, and the year before that I saw Yo-Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble.

This evening the BBC Philharmonic’s newest conductor, Juanjo Mena, took us through images of musical Spain – I didn’t notice the Spanish theme when I booked it as the composers listed were Debussy and Ravel (both French) and Falla (who I’d never heard of, but it turns out he’s Andalusian) but not the actual music that was going to be played. I booked the tickets quite late and the only area where there were two seats together was the stalls to the left of the stage. When we sat in our seats, I was pleasantly surprised to find that each individual seat swivels so that you can see the stage without straining your neck for two hours. Whoever thought of that is a genius!

I have to admit that I didn’t know any of the music played this evening. Not one piece. The programme consisted of:

  • Debussy – Images – Gigues
  • Ravel – Rapsodie espagnole
  • Debussy – Rondes de printemps
  • Ravel – Alborado del gracioso
  • Falla – Nights in the Garden of Spain
  • Debussy – Images – Ibéria 

And, honestly, if I were to hear any of these pieces of music again, I may not even recall ever having heard them.

For me, the star of the show was the conductor. He was so entertaining to watch – animated, graceful – waving his arms around like he was a fairy godmother with a wand! During some parts he was practically dancing on his podium and at other times he moved so slowly he seemed to be wading through water. I don’t know why but I kept thinking of the old Tom and Jerry cartoon ‘The Cat and the Mermouse‘ when Tom falls into the sea! If you watch this video for 1 minute from the 2-minute mark, you’ll have some idea of what I mean…

The Proms are definitely worth going to – there’s a huge variety of performers, music and it’s good value for money – there’s something for everyone!

2011

And now, back to Angry Birds!

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iPad 2 – my new toy

My dad came back from his recent trip and brought me an iPad 2 – 64GB and WiFi only:

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I didn’t ask for it but he bought it for me anyway… It’s white, and it has a pretty pink Smart Cover:

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I’d thought about getting an iPad ever since the first one came out last year but I hesitated because I already have a laptop, a Kindle, an iPod and a Blackberry, so what would I need an iPad for? 

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And I never got round to buying one. 

And now that I have this, I’m still wondering what I’m going to use it for other than to play ‘Angry Birds’ until 2am every night. And I’ve only just figured out how to play this game – I was playing last night and was getting *so* frustrated. It was only when I downloaded the full version that I realised if you touch some of the birds when they’re in mid-flight, they either split into three birds or drop eggs or turn into bird bombs (or other things). No wonder I was getting so irritated.

2011

What do you use your iPad for? And how does it differ to a laptop experience??
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Barcelona – Day 3

Not much happened on our third day in Barcelona in terms of sightseeing and enjoying ourselves.

Our Easyjet flight was at 3.40 in the afternoon so we had plenty of time – we were just 5 minutes from the train station, the train journey was half an hour and that should be enough time, right?

But, no, of course not.

We checked out on time, left our luggage at the hotel and went to have the last taste of tapas. We found a cafe/restaurant on the Passeig de Gracia, sat down and ordered. Two of us ordered canelloni (Barcelona style) – it’s supposed to be the city’s dish so we thought we’d give it a try. The waiter told us it was pasta in a creamy sauce with chicken and beef. The others stuck to chorizo sandwiches and ham/cheese sandwiches – the safe options. When he brought this canelloni, it looked completely unappealing and was inedible – it was mush. The ham/cheese sandwich suddenly looked like the tastiest thing in the world. We told him we didn’t want the canelloni and could we change it for ham/cheese sandwiches? He agreed and even said he wouldn’t charge us for the canelloni – I thought we’d have to pay for them.

At about 12.45 we should have been making a move but decided to have our last taste of sangria! We practically downed it when it came, paid the bill and headed off to the airport.

At Passeig de Gracia station we spoke to a most unhelpful woman who couldn’t tell us what time the next train to the airport was. It turns out that it was at *that* minute. We ran to the platform and only just made the train. I thought we could just relax then. In 30 minutes we’d be at the airport and that would be it.

But, no, of course not.

We got to the airport and looked for the check-in counter for Easyjet. It said it was in section C so we walked towards section C. And we walked. And we walked. It took us almost 20 minutes to walk to the check-in counter. At this point it was 2.25 and there were a few people in front of us in the queue. We still had 35 minutes so I wasn’t too concerned. It soon became clear that this queue was moving at a snail’s pace because there was only one counter open. And had we arrived any later there would have been 20 more people in front of us! We eventually checked in at 3 on the dot and had to rush to the gate as the flight was already boarding. I didn’t get a chance to buy any treats for my colleagues and I didn’t get a chance to buy anything for my nephew Vindoo either. As we approached the gate, I could see people still queueing to get on the plane, so that was OK, right?

But, no, of course not.

Being Easyjet we had to get onto a bus which would take us to the plane. As soon as we left the terminal it started pouring – so you can imagine what a state we were in when we finally boarded! It rained the whole time we were queueing to get onto the stairs to get onto the plane – and my clothes were still damp when we landed in London two hours later!

All in all, it was a great trip. I think everyone had a good time, especially the birthday girl… but I will have to go back for longer to see all the things I missed out on!

Read about our first and second days in Barcelona…

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Barcelona – Day 2

We were quite exhausted after our first day in Barcelona so we decided to have a lie-in on Saturday morning and meet for breakfast at 10.30. Which really meant 11. Which meant we didn’t leave the hotel until 11.45. Later than I would have liked, but there you go.

We decided to walk to the Sagrada Familia – which our hotel told us would take 20 minutes. I’m glad we decided to walk because we wouldn’t have seen these buildings had we taken the Metro:

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A residential building

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Bullfighting arena

And then there it was…
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 We could see it in the distance, with the cranes around it, still working on it.
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Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and is still incomplete. Gaudi devoted his life to this project but when he died in 1926, less than one-quarter of the church was complete. Progress was slow as it relied on private donations and it was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. Construction was resumed in the 1950s and progress was still slow. There is now an entrance fee to see the church and it is estimated that it will finally be finished by 2030. Once the spires are complete, Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church building in the world.

A sad story – in 1926, Gaudi was knocked over by a tram, and nobody came to his aid as they didn’t recognise the city’s most famous architect. They assumed he was a beggar because of his worn-out clothes and neglected appearance. A policeman took him to hospital and it was only on the following day that the chaplain of Sagrada Familia recognised him, but by then it was too late.

The queue to get into Sagrada Familia went all the way around the block so we didn’t get a chance to see the inside. (Tip: Get there early if you want to see the inside – or book your tickets online!)

Of course the hundreds of tourists in the area also attracts some weird entertainment:

2011
I wasn’t even sure the dog was real as it barely moved.

After looking at the church from every angle on the outside, we decided to head to lunch. I’d booked a restaurant called Agua in the Port Olimpic area which was on the beach. We sat outside, under the shade, enjoying the view, the breeze and the good food…

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After lunch, we decided to split up – some wanted to shop, some wanted to sightsee – so three of us headed to the Picasso Museum which was very near the Gothic Quarter where we were the day before. I had no idea that Picasso had created a series based on Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas until the previous day and I wanted to see it, the original Las Meninas being one of my favourite paintings:

2011
Velazquez’s Las Meninas
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Picasso’s Las Meninas

After the museum, we walked through the Gothic Quarter and down La Rambla for a while. We met up with the two shoppers outside the cathedral and were met with the sight of dozens of men and women dancing in the square with live musicians playing music. The sardana is a circle dance and people dance in the squares on weekends…

2011
After watching the sardanistes for a while, we walked back to a quiet square for some more tapas.
2011
Again, we intended to order some light snacks, but it just didn’t happen!

By the time we got back to the hotel it was 9pm (long story – lost little Italian boy on La Rambla followed by an idiot cab driver) so I changed our dinner reservation to 11.30 (which seems to be the normal time to eat in Spain)…

I’d booked dinner at La Barceloneta in the Port Olimpic area. The outside of the restaurant looked like a ship – and the seafood was excellent. I had the baked cod with garlic and paprika – which was excellent. We also had two bottles of rosé (also excellent)… After dinner we started walking towards the area we had lunch in, where all the clubs are. The staff at the restaurant told us it would take 10 minutes. Fifteen minutes later we were still walking and I could see where we had to get to – and it would have taken us an hour to get there! At that moment, two rickshaws pulled up and offered to take us to the clubs. I don’t know what we’d have done without them – our feet were killing us! Another 15 minutes later, we pulled up outside a couple of clubs and decided to go to CDLC – it had the shortest queue. We ordered some drinks (they’re very generous with their vodka), danced a bit, and managed to find a table outside. What I did find funny was that one of the dancers on the podium managed to look utterly bored while dancing – and every few minutes she would turn around and lean over, but still moving half-heartedly. We couldn’t figure out what she was doing, but then caught a glimpse of her checking her phone which she’d hidden in a vase behind her!

2011
The bar closed at 4am and we were the last to leave. Unfortunately all the other bars in the area closed at the same time and trying to find a cab was a complete pain in the ass. It took us an hour – and that was only after we’d enlisted the help of the concierge at the nearby Hotel Arts. Initially he said he couldn’t help us as we weren’t staying at the hotel – and it was only after we told him a friend’s foot was bleeding that he agreed to help us! We eventually dragged ourselves into our hotel at 5.15 – already dreading having to check out at noon, just a few hours away!

Read about our first and third days in Barcelona…

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Barcelona – Day 1

I spent the weekend in Barcelona celebrating a friend’s 40th birthday.

Five of us flew out on Friday morning on Easyjet from Gatwick. I was expecting it to be chaotic (it is Easyjet after all) but everything went smoothly – check-in took 5 minutes, security took 5 minutes and that was it. We even managed to all sit together on the flight as it wasn’t that full. The flight landed on time and we took the train to Passeig de Gracia – which also happened to be the nearest Metro stop to our hotel. And we didn’t even plan that! (Tip: Buy a T10 ticket at the RENFE station at the airport – this will give you 10 journeys on public transport and you can also use it on the RENFE train from/to the airport.)

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The train journey took about half an hour and we were in the centre of Barcelona. We found the hotel (thank you, Google Maps!) – we stayed at the HCC St Moritz on Carrer de Disputacio. I have to say the location was perfect for us. It was just off the main street Passeig de Gracia (where the designer shops are) and 10 minutes away from the Gothic Quarter.

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The reception area was nicer than I imaged for a 4-star hotel and (most of) the staff were very helpful.
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Three of us took one room and two took another. The rooms were spacious and modern – plasma TV, mini bar – we weren’t tripping over each other. The bathroom was spacious too – and the shower was lovely, especially after a long day!
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After unpacking and freshening up, we walked towards the Gothic Quarter.

I’d read that Barcelona Cathedral (or La Seu) has a lift that takes you up to the roof of the cathedral and that the views from up there are incredible. It was the first place I wanted to go. It was a shame that the front of the cathedral was being renovated and covered in scaffolding.

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And it was closed. For another hour. So we walked around for a while, enjoying the shade in the narrow streets of the old city.

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Souvenir shop after souvenir shop – T-shirts with rude slogans, dolls with the scariest expressions I’ve ever seen, and these little figures of men with their trousers down:

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I don’t know who would buy them, but I’d never seen anything like them before!

There were as many little cafes serving Spanish delights as there were souvenir shops:

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We decided to find a tapas place where we could sit outdoors and enjoy some food and wine – we still had some time to kill before the cathedral re-opened. We eventually found a quiet place in a square where we could relax. We thought we’d order a few light things but before we knew it there was a feast in front of us – and most of it was croquetas and ham! We finished it all and headed back to the cathedral.

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By this time it was about 45 minutes before the cathedral closed for the day and the lift had (apparently) closed. The person I spoke to didn’t seem too sure about what time it opened, or even where it was in the cathedral! A lot of the inside of the cathedral was also covered in scaffolding, which was annoying.

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So we walked back to our hotel and decided to relax before heading out later that night.

We had a few recommendations for some tapas places close by and started walking. We passed Gaudi’s Casa Batlló (which I didn’t get to see properly – nor did I get to see La Pedrera) which was lit up at night:

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There seemed to be huge amounts of roadworks going on in Barcelona, reminding me of London!

We decided to start at La Vinoteca Torres on Passeig de Gracia.

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We sat outdoors, ordered more ham and a bottle of rosé wine. I can’t get over how cheap the local wine is. The bottle of rosé we ordered was only 10 Euros and it was lovely! When we were done with the food and wine, we were feeling too lazy to move on so we ordered another bottle of wine. At 11pm the waiter told us that we had to move into the restaurant as they had to close the outside – so we decided we’d head to one of the places the hotel had recommended.

We managed to find Cerveceria Catalana on Carrer de Mallorca but were told we’d have a 40-minute wait for a table. It was already 11.15 and nobody felt like looking around for somewhere else so we put our names on the list for a table and ordered another bottle of rosé at the bar! I’m so glad we stayed because the food was amazing. Yes, there was more ham. And ‘chipirones’. And croquetas. And other things too. There was even more food than we’d had earlier that evening. Our whole meal, including the wine, added up to 75 Euros – 15 Euros per head – which I thought was such good value for money! We were the last to leave the restaurant and strolled back to our hotel…

I had to speak Spanish a few times throughout the day – and it was weird after so long. I used to be almost fluent, but hadn’t been to Spain in almost 8 years. In fact, the last time I went it was to Barcelona in September 2003 but I was just there for a day and night for work and I didn’t see much of the city. I still feel like that and will definitely have to go back again!

Read about our second and third days in Barcelona…

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Your week ahead (18-24 July)

I used my new Universal Waite Tarot deck for this week's readings. Have a good week!

Aries

Emperor

The Emperor – setting direction and tone, bringing security and comfort, creating order out of chaos, exerting control, following a regimen

Taurus

Cups_page

Page of Cups – let your feelings show, act on your hunches, solidify a friendship, make thoughtful gestures, forgive yourself

Gemini

Cups_2

2 of Cups – make a connection or cement a friendship, heal severed relationships, recognise a bond that is developing and let yourself be drawn in

Cancer

Cups_7

7 of Cups – indulging in wishful thinking, having many options, eating/drinking/partying to excess

Leo

Pentacles_7

7 of Pentacles – assess and evaluate your status – reflect on progress to date, reap a reward, consider a direction change – think about your alternatives and question your choices so far

Virgo

Wands_8

8 of Wands – take quick action, strike while the iron is hot, find successful resolutions, expect important news

Libra

Fool

The Fool – start something new, be spontaneous and live in the moment, have faith and let go of worry/fear, accept your choices – trust your heart's desire

Scorpio

Pentacles_knight

Knight of Pentacles – being unwavering and stubborn, cautious and unadventurous, thorough or obsessive, realistic/pessimistic, hard-working and keeping your head down

Sagittarius

Strength

Strength – show strength, be patient and compassionate, achieve self-control; demonstrate the strength of love

Capricorn

The_world

The World – experience wholeness and work in unison, realise your goals, use a gift or talent, count your blessings

Aquarius

Pentacles_8

8 of Pentacles – show diligence, increase your knowledge – take a course or learn a new skill, pay painstaking attention to detail and be extra careful

Pisces

Swords_5

5 of Swords – the most positive outcome: acting in your own self-interest – looking out for number one; the most negative outcome: losing your moral compass or sacrificing your integrity, choosing to battle

Card of the week
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Silent Sunday 6

2011

Silent Sunday

 

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What happened to the war on terror?

'Mumbai was attacked by terrorists today. Three bombs went off within 15 minutes of each other. So far 21 people have died and 113 have been injured – and this number will probably rise over the next few days. And now back to our main stories…'

If only the Mumbai attacks had received that much coverage on the news this evening!

These continuous attacks are shocking, outrageous, deplorable. Fortunately, my family and friends have been unharmed every time. I can't say the same for other people I know. 

What I found shocking was that there was NO MENTION of these attacks on the BBC News this evening. I was watching the BBC News channel from 8.25 to 9.05 this evening – not once did they mention any terrorist attacks in Mumbai. They covered:

  • News Corp withdrawing their bid for BSkyB
  • The hacking inquiry and more about Rupert Murdoch
  • An industrial explosion in Lincolnshire
  • Mila Kunis is going on a date with a Marine (Seriously? Are you f***ing kidding me??)

THOSE were the 9pm headlines. Isn't that prime viewing time? There was no mention in the ticker running along the bottom of the screen either.

I switched over to CNN at one point while the BBC were talking about the Women's World Cup Final (who knew?) – nothing on there either, but the attacks did at least get a mention on the ticker.

Apparently *just* being bombed by terrorists isn't enough to make the headlines these days – you have to be under seige in a 5-star hotel with 'foreign nationals' and a D-list celebrity to even get a mention on 'other news'. 

FFS, media companies – sort yourselves out.

2011

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