The Pig Yard

March, the end of which denotes one quarter of the way through the year and when it's put like that we are amazed at how rapidly our lives are passing by. With this thought in mind we have had another whirlwind month with something buzzing every weekend. To keep up this pace we have maintained our health and fitness, Jane more so than Steve, but we haven't got time to be unwell.

The Audi TT is now three years old therefore had it's MOT this month. It obviously passed and so it should because it has only done 20,000 miles. Apart from annual servicing and a set of front tyres, (something to do with the way Steve accelerates at the speed of light) there have been no problems at all. We look forward to another three years of trouble free, low cost motoring, but something tells us we are going to be disappointed.

Early on in the month we managed to get to see Missing, starring Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones. This was far more than a western, it gave a realistic view of how hard life was in New Mexico in the late 1800s. The main characters were beautifully and sensitively portrayed and unlike other films of the genre there wasn't an easy ending with everyone riding off into the sunset. The view of American Indian life was well illustrated having not been displayed in this way since Dances with Wolves.

Not a great film but still worth seeing. We've tried to see a number of films but the local cinema seems to only have our "wanna see" for about a week before they disappear from the schedule, examples being "House of Sand and Fog", "Lost in Translation" and "The Last Samurai" to name but three.

We managed a weekend in London staying with Jane's brother Richard and his partner Nicola. We try to get to stay with them once a year as this gives them an opportunity to take us around the cultural hotspots of the city. This time we went to see the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Hayward Gallery and also the Saatchi Gallery in the old County Hall.

Lichtenstein is Pop Art in the Warhol vein, he has a colourful, interesting style. The Saatchi Gallery is completely different, outlandish and very challenging - is it art or just a load of weird "stuff". The definition of art seems to be that if it generates a reaction then it is art - on that basis a bowl of vomit could deemed to be art.

Visit for more details on the exhibition which runs until early May.

The highlight of the month was our short break in Barcelona with Graham and Sue. Steve did most of the organisation - flights booked with Easyjet from Luton and Hotel Rubens from the Octopus link on the Easyjet site. Apart from a minor cock-up on the car parking the journey went well, leaving Luton at 07:20 we were in our hotel just after 13:30 with a one hour adjustment from GMT to Standard European Time.

What a beautiful city it is but it would be nothing without the Antoni Gaudi architecture. The man was a genius - he managed to create surreal buildings from drawings, no plans existed of many of his creations and at one time he had over 6 projects on the go at the same time. He was not someone who believed in straight lines as can be seen from this picture of the seats in Parc Guell.

The Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882, Gaudi worked on it until he died in 1926. As funds have allowed, his design has continued but they don't expect it to be finished until 2025. We walked around the building and went up the towers on the older side of the building. This was not a visit for anyone suffering from claustrophobia, Acrophobia (fear of heights), heart condition or high blood pressure.

As you can see from this photograph there were some beautiful blue skies and the temperature was around 15 degrees Celsius on most days.

Over the four days we were there we walked the length and breadth of the city, visiting museums, parks, Gaudi designed buildings and the usual coffee shops. Jane and Sue couldn't resist popping into a shop or two just to compare prices and styles with the UK. The Rambla is an area of market stalls with live song birds and flowers on sale everyday. There was a covered market that sold a whole range of fruit, vegetables, cheeses and meat. The colours alone made it interesting but the variety of foods was very different to the usual items found in UK markets.

We didn't make a big deal of eating out and apart from bread and cheese snacks on the balcony at the hotel we had a single meal in the hotel restaurant on the last evening. It was very good value at 12 euros a head and that included bread, wine and water. The only additional expense was the espresso coffee and Steve not being a great coffee drinker then experienced hyperactivity from this injection of caffeine.

For more photographs click here.

This has been a month for music. We can go for ages without changing our music tastes and then suddenly our ears are awakened to new sounds and we take the time to revive some old passions. The new artist CD we have bought is Joss Stone's "The Soul Sessions", she is sixteen years old, from Devon and sings like a 40 year old soul sister who has experienced a difficult life. It's a mature voice singing mature themes. We purchased the second Norah Jones album and at first hearing it sounded like a remix of her first but it is in fact very different and equally good.

Our last two purchases were Eric Clapton's homage to Robert Johnson and the Essential Bob Dylan CD.

We're also playing Simon & Garfunkel, very light and happy for the impending spring and Martina Sorbara "The Cure for Bad Deeds" who we saw as a supporting artist to Brian Ferry last year. She is not famous but has a tremendous voice and range of songs, all her own writing. We did borrow a Kate Muella CD but neither of us liked it for various reasons.