2012 WordPress Review

31 Dec

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 30,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 7 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

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2011 WordPress Review

2 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mixing it up at Mestizo

8 Oct

Oh how I’d been looking forward to visiting Mestizo on Hampstead Road, Euston. So many Mexican restaurants in London. And so few serve REAL Mexican food, and yes, that is said as one who has been to that gorgeous country and tasted its fine cuisine. 

What really led me here was my quest to find real mole in London. No, not guacamole, mole, a delicious sauce made with up to 80 ingredients including chocolate and chilli, and particularly scrummy when served with chicken! Many a time I’ve scoured an uninspiring menu in a London Mexican restaurant, asked whether they serve mole and been met with a gormless expression- “Do we serve whaat?” It seems most Mexican restaurants serve Tex Mex- nachos, tortillas, enchiladas, tacos, you’ve got the picture. I was disappointed on a recent trip to Wahaca where the food still fell into that category, but Mestizo serves up all that stuff and then the real thing too. Continue reading

Backpacking in Chile- The Top 5 Highlights

3 Oct

Firstly, I must say, at the risk of sounding cheesy and predictable, that Chile is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. And that’s pretty much for one reason alone: The Andes. They’re enchanting, breathtaking, and pretty much omnipresent in Chile- just take a look at the map. The country is bordered by the Andes to the East forming a natural border with Argentina, legendary for its precarious mountain crosses, which claimed the lives of many Spanish conquistadores. If all goes to plan I’d like to return to South America to trek in the Andes and take in their beauty in Argentina and Peru also. The mountains have a spirit, echoed by the friendly people you meet all over Chile, and that sort of sentimental kindness is infectious- I’m surprised they haven’t tried to bag it! So, with the Andes as my absolute number 1 highlight, here are my real top 5 destinations I visited during my time backpacking in Chile, from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama…

Stunning Andes

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Chilean Adventures in the Spirit of Neruda and Mistral

3 Sep

HispanicLondon is about to undertake a voyage… to Chile!

It’s the wrong time of year for it- Santiago’s cold winter is turning into spring and a snowy view of the Andes is on the cards. But what better way to spend two weeks than backpacking around Chile, from Santiago to the Atacama desert in the north.

Santiago en invierno

The trip starts in Santiago where the schedule is packed and adventurous. There’ll be horse riding in the Cascada de las Animas and mountain walking in the Cajon de Maipo– hopefully with a visit to the hot springs! Pablo Neruda, the famous Chilean poet, had a summer house at Isla Negra outside Santiago, which should be well worth a visit for its “spectacular setting on a windswept ocean headland”, according to the trusty Lonely Planet. It was in this house where Neruda died of cancer after it was ransacked by soldiers loyal to Pinochet after his coup in 1973. Continue reading

A Taste of Spain on London’s Regent Street

7 Jun

Central London shoppers were in for a special treat on Sunday, when A Taste of Spain converted Regent Street into a festival of Spanish culture, just for one day. Some 500,000 visitors checked out the food stalls, music stage and other displays that stretched the length of Regent Street from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus, closed off to traffic.

Jump right in! Paella Valenciana- yum!

The colourful fiesta included giant paellas from Valencia, dancing horses from Menorca and drummers from the Tamborrada de San Sebastián, who performed for the first time away from their basque home town. A foody’s delight, the festival also featured numerous stalls with culinary delights from Andalucia and Navarra.

Dancing horses from Menorca

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Good Morning Freedom! Spanish cinema after Franco at BFI Southbank

28 May

Almodovar at his best

The death of Spain’s fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975 gave rise to an alternative, adventurous and eclectic movement within Spanish culture, the movida. Next month BFI Southbank will host a season celebrating this brand of cinema with showings of Cria Cuervos (Raise Ravens, 1975) as well as Pedro Almodóvar’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios, 1998),and the lesser known titles The Anchorite (El anacoreta, 1977) and Opera Prima (1980).

Franco’s death signalled the end of censorship, and the birth of a filmmaking generation unleashed from a climate of repression. Famous Spanish directors like Pedro Almodóvar and Iván Zululeta approached subjects that were previously beyond taboo: sex, drugs, homosexuality, politics and all with an innovative, free spirit that brought together filmmakers, professional and amateur actors, designers and musicians.

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