Sevilla tiene un color especial…

Whilst I wait for my film photos to be developed (I love shooting analogue 120 film), here are twelve quick iPhone pictures from yesterday with Gloria in Seville.

I love taking my time with my film shots to find a moment, sight, or ambiance I want to capture, taking care not to waste any of the 12 photos I get out of each film. Yet sometimes it can be nice to sit and look through the photos I have captured that day on my phone; spontaneous, unplanned, and authentic. The moment is what counts, not the framing or composition.

Therefore it seems natural and fitting to present these photos description-less, unedited, and raw. Enjoy.

Fixing my smile.

My pearly whites, actually looking white…
I’ve been very lucky with my teeth so far in my life: no braces or retainers, no fillings, and – save for one small chip on the edge of my right maxillary (or “top”) central incisor – no tooth-related injuries to speak of!

The only thing I’ve ever been less satisfied with is the whiteness of my teeth; some had become yellowed (I blame my fondness for coffee), and others had what I supposed (correctly) was slight plaque buildup between teeth and leaving some hardly noticeable – yet unsightly – streaking. Therefore when Gloria told me she could help me get an appointment for professional tooth cleaning with her hometown’s best dentist, I jumped at the opportunity!

Here in Spain to become a dentist you used to have to first complete a medical degree, before specialising in dentistry (impressive, right?), and so their family dentist studied alongside Gloria’s father (who went on to become a GP). As a result, when Gloria’s mum called him the day we arrived I was given an appointment for the next day.

The experience of having my teeth cleaned was entirely new for me, having had nothing more than general tooth health check ups done before (and too long ago at that). After some questions about my general health (in case I’d need antibiotics), I was told to rinse my mouth with a disinfectant and anaesthetic mixture, leaving my mouth feeling completely numb; my tongue feeling particularly strange (I will admit that the sensation unsettled me a little at first). Next, the dentist took a look at my teeth and told me that they, aside from the aforementioned cosmetic complaints, were looking nice and healthy.

Then the clean itself began. First plaque was removed from between the teeth and my gums, and between the teeth themselves, with a drill, before polishing and cleaning with a rough paste, and ultimately flossing, following which I was told to rinse and saw my new smile for the first time. Whiter, smoother, and “gappier” (I suppose the plaque buildup was worse than I’d thought, as particularly my bottom teeth were left with gaps larger than I thought they were) than they have looked for a very long time.

All in all, the experience was quick (about an hour in total), comfortable, and completely pain free, but most importantly of all my teeth look and feel amazing. Plus, I was charged mate’s rates, which is always a positive…

X.

Flight or flight.


It turns out the key to enjoying a flight (for me anyway) may be as simple as not fighting it…

As I write this, I am sitting in seat 18b of a Boeing 737-800, beginning our descent somewhere over the south of Spain, and despite all expectations, I am feeling fine. No, in actual fact I am feeling good. I am enjoying the flight, the views, and Gloria’s company (even if she appears a little less keen on the descent than I am).

I will not pretend I haven’t had a stressful morning, or that I was comfortable during takeoff – undoubtedly my least favourite part – or the majority of the flight, but for the first time in a long time I find myself excitedly peering out of a plane window at the lands below.

Early on in the flight I found myself unable to relax, my every sense sensitive to any change, my heart stopping at every noise, every movement. We’ve above the clouds, the seat belt signs are off, hostesses are going about their work as if they were waitresses in a bar; I begin to relax. Turbulence.

I reach for Gloria’s hand and turn to face her, wide eyed, adrenaline beginning to rush throughout my system. She then says:

“Shut your eyes and imagine you’re on a train. Feel like much movement now?”

And she is absolutely right, on a train this wouldn’t be cause for concern, perhaps reaching for a handle if standing, but nothing more. The fear starts to fade, and I think of my destination and the adventures ahead… I can’t believe what I’m feeling: excitement.

And so, the man who previously couldn’t sleep because closing his eyes made him too aware of movement (and scared of missing a sign of danger like smoke or flames, despite being powerless to stop either), found that by doing precisely that he could relax.

And he’s even relaxed enough to write!

X.

Airplane!

 

My next adventure is taking shape! But before I can let myself fully slip into adventure mode, I have to tackle undoubtedly my least favourite part of any trip: flying.

On paper, I am a seasoned traveller and no stranger to the phenomenon that is aviation. Throughout my life, I have clocked up an enormous number of hours above the clouds (often pushing three digits in a single year). I have though, unfortunately, spent a significantly greater number of hours fretting about this facet of journeying.

Flying is the safest form of travel. We’ve all read the statistics – or anyone also afflicted by a nervous disposition when confronted by air travel likely has, anyway – and if you haven’t… But fears don’t need to be rational. And for this reason, no amount of flying or number of comforting statistics has ever totally eased my nerves (although both undoubtedly help).

Lucky for us aviophobes, it is by no means a rare or embarrassing fear (just have a look at the number of famous actors, musicians, athletes, business people, and even world leaders who have openly – undoubtedly a tiny fraction of the total – discussed their fear of flying if you don’t believe me). This is truly a blessing; nothing is worse than suffering in silence. If fact, writing this in itself helps me process my thoughts and rationalise my fears.

Unfortunately I have no real solutions to offer you, but one thing I’d recommend to anyone is to never let your fears control you. Unless I am actually on a plane (where ironically I tend to relax a little, until I- “What was that noise?” “Why did the plane move like that?” etc…) I have only a toxic way of thinking to blame for my anxieties; I often let myself obsess over the process of flying itself, instead of the adventures to come, the reasons I am flying in the first place, and the fact that I am fortunate enough to have both the freedom and means to afford the luxury of travel at all. Ultimately, I suppose the truth of the matter is that for flying to genuinely be of such concern to me, I must have it pretty good.

And with these things in mind I start to relax, and look forward to touching down in Malaga tomorrow after a brief 3 hour flight from London.

Anyway, got to go: I’ve got a bag to pack.

X.

One way adventure (España)!


As a dual national (British and Spanish), I have spent a lot of time travelling to and from Spain. Most of the time, my base during these trips is with family and friends in Sabadell (my mother’s hometown), some 20km from Barcelona. As a result, my adventures have focused largely (but not entirely) in and around Catalunya, and more generally the North-East of the country.

Around a month ago I renewed my Spanish passport at the consulate in London, and it occurred to me that I have never obtained my DNI, the Spanish national identity card. It isn’t essential, and as far as I am aware does nothing that my passport cannot (and in fact, living in the UK as I currently do, can likely do significantly less), but is a more practical size than lugging around a passport and so I figured was probably worth having. I obtained all the forms necessary (all of which bear expiry dates, and one of which can only be obtained once), only to discover that the card itself can only be issued in Spain. Upon explaining this to Gloria, she immediately suggested we head out together and make a holiday out of it!

This trip will be very special for me, as we will be heading to Andalucia (in the very south of the country), her home region (and one I have fond, but distant, memories of visiting many years ago). In addition to the procurement of my DNI, we have planned to visit: Cordoba, Sevilla, Malaga, and many of the surrounding towns and villages. As we’ll be staying with G’s family and have access to a car we’re happy to turn down our planning and turn up the adventure! In fact, our plans are so open that today when booking our flight there, we decided not to book our return leg yet!

And so, in under 48 hours, I’ll be in the sky flying out, one way, to my next adventure… And whilst for now I may know little about what exactly lies in wait on this trip, what I do know is that an adventure it will be.

X.

Back in business!

And so, four months to the day since I last posted, I find myself sitting at my table inspired to write again.

My hiatus wasn’t a planned one – despite its exact length – but was a necessary one. When I first thought of starting a blog, I intended to create a space to convey my thoughts and express myself freely. At first, I enjoyed writing about any interesting things that had happened that day, whatever was on my mind when I sat down to write, or however I had been feeling. And I was loving it.

Unfortunately, this feeling was not to last. I would soon find my inspiration and energy levels at an all-time low. In a job with punishing hours and mentally exhausting work (both the biochemistry itself, and the additional workload of catching up with the rest of the research team, who’d been with the project since its inception), with each day feeling more routine than the last, writing each post became a battle against my increasing lethargy, and one for inspiration.

A particularly hectic couple of weeks around the end of last year completely threw me off my blogging rhythm, and after a forced and frustrating week-long attempt to return to blogging in January this year, more exhausted and uninspired than ever, I decided that this side-project – one that had started so naturally from a desire for expression and creativity – needed to be put on the back-burner until that writer’s itch naturally returned.

A lot has changed since we last spoke: I have left my job; spent some time travelling around Scotland, visiting the highlands at last; met a lovely young Spanish lady, with whom I have developed an (albeit complicated at times) relationship; finished recording my debut solo EP; but most importantly, I feel rested, invigorated, and inspired once again.

So here I am, back at my desk, and excited to be writing again!

X.

New year, new me.

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My new look for early 2017!

As I mentioned in last night’s post, this morning began with a trip to the barber. Despite what my that post’s images suggest (I let my hair down in the pictures to show how long it had got), I actually had a disconnected undercut underneath the mop as I felt it looked cleaner when tied back in a top knot (see image below). Unfortunately as a consequence of this my options this morning were more limited than they would have been had I grown out all of my hair, but I eventually settled for a cut loosely based on Jake Gyllenhaal’s haircut in Prisoners, and couldn’t be happier with the results!

I can’t wait to see how my colleagues react tomorrow… If they recognise me that is!

 

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Me again, taken under 12 hours before the previous picture (believe it or not)!

X.

Hair today, gone tomorrow…

So today at last, after a lengthy 4 months, my face was reacquainted with its old friend the razor! In this period my face had sprouted a rather glorious beard, but today I felt it was the right time to say goodbye and start afresh (and sure enough, my face does feel rather fresh!)…

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Before…

 

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After (with a very wonky circular barbell lip piercing)!

 

And the transformation will not stop there; tomorrow morning I have a date with a barber…

 

X.

Hey oh.

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Today I swapped my daily skate for a snowball fight!

Apparently I’ve not been paying close enough attention to the weather forecasts (actually, I haven’t listened to one at all for some time now…) because it was a complete surprise too! My colleague Alex and I ran out of the lab and after pausing for a couple of minutes to appreciate the snowfall (which despite not setting too well was fairly heavy) got straight down to business pelting each other with snowballs – a great way to let off some steam after a long day’s work.

There’s something so satisfying about sinking one’s fingers into fresh snow, even if it was the final blow to my already dry winter skin (my cold after-work skates don’t do my skin any favours), actually splitting open at the knuckles. Ouch. Between having had some fairly mild winters of late and having spent a few winters in the Caribbean it has been some years since I last saw snow, much less had a snowball fight, and sure enough they’re still as fun as I remembered – there are some things you just can’t grow out of!

Bizarrely my home, only 6 miles from the lab, appears to have missed out on all the fun, the roof of my car bringing the only snow to be seen in the area… Well, that and the half-melted remains of a snowball found in my jacked pocket upon arriving home. I’d like to say the snowball fight was a battle I won, but alas she got me. She got me good.

X.