In March and April, I once again took the (horrendously long) flight to the other side of the world, firstly to meet my new granddaughter in Barcelona, and then to spend time in a few places I hadn't been before. In all, I was away for nearly 6 weeks.
One of the things I badly wanted to do this time was go inside the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's astonishing as-yet-unfinished church in Barcelona.
When I first visited Spain, in 2010, there was plenty to see outside this amazing building, but you couldn't go further in than a small area inside one of the doors.
On later visits I just walked around outside, looking at the progress being made.
The lines were too long to stand waiting in the hot sun!
This time, my son was very organised and had booked tickets online, so that we could
just go straight in at opening time. Here are some of the photos I took inside.
Please click on the photos to enlarge them!
By 1915, when the building was conceived, Gaudi was focused on an organic style, imitating the shapes of the natural world. He intended the interior to resemble a forest, with inclined columns like branching trees. He didn't like straight lines at all! Natural forms can be seen everywhere you look.
There is masses of stained glass, usually progressing upwards from darker colours to lighter ones. The windows are not like traditional stained glass, but free-flowing in their designs, to demonstrate the beauty of the world.
One of the architect's dreams was that rays of light should bring the colours of the glass into the church, staining the air. You can see the effect he wanted here:
In this massive space, with so many wonderful things to look at, one of the most striking is the enormous figure of the crucified Christ, suspended in mid-air in the central spaces of the building:
Truly this is one of the greatest, most awe-inspiring man-made wonders of the world.
Yesterday was a very hot day, so the same track as my previous post
was a good choice. Manu loves that walk, because he can be off the lead,
and there are lots of trees, making it possible to stay out of the sun
most of the time.
Last year I read 108 books. Of these, there were 7 which merited 5 stars in my personal scoring system. One was a so-called Young Adult book, by the brilliant Patrick Ness; two were non-fiction: a kind of memoir by John Le Carré, and a wonderful book about the art and literature of this country in the middle of the 20th Century.
If I was forced to pick one of these as my absolute best of the year, it would beReservoir 13, which is quiet and beautiful, and unlike any other book I have ever read.
I was very sad to read in this morning's paper that under the new regime in Turkey, these words, attributed to Ataturk, have been "roughly chiselled off" the memorial to New Zealand and Australian soldiers at Anzac Cove, at Gallipoli.
The words read: 'Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives ... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours ... You, the mothers who sent their sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.'
It doesn't matter whether Mustafa Kemal Ataturk actually said the words or not; what matters is that the Memorial paid official tribute to, and showed genuine appreciation of, the roughly 11,500 soldiers from our two countries who diedthere in that terrible campaign in 1915.
I was lucky enough to be there in April 2015, a few days before the annual Anzac Day Commemoration ceremonies. Every year, thousands of New Zealanders visit the area, and pay tribute to our fallen heroes, those young men who never returned home. I found it an incredibly moving experience to be in that peaceful, beautiful place.