Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Best Book to Learn Catalan for New Beginners

Passos 1 - Passos 1 Nivell Bàsic: Llibre de classe. (Octaedro Ed.).

So, we've been here for 9 months now, and I still haven't really come far in my Catalan. I'm struggling with everything.

However, one good thing occurred since the last time I wrote about my Catalan classes.   I quit.

Yes, I had a big argument with my partner Albert (who is Catalan to the bones) and I quit my classes.  I asked the school if I could go back to another class. The level was too difficult. I couldn't understand anything. After several weeks, we were called up with a new class.

The text book I'm using is fantastic for learners of Catalan who do not speak Spanish. (that's my category) There is a lot of repetition and it goes easy on the verbs. Perfect.

I have taught English in Japan, Norway and here in Spain, and I'm always on the look out for excellent language books. This one is highly recommended and the best of the four I've seen before.

Wish me good luck!

Oh! and this year, our resolution was to speak Catalan at home on Mondays through to Thursdays. I think its going to make a big difference for us.

Photo: Tiffany Jones

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year for 2010!!

Its time to say goodbye to 2009 (two thousand and nine) and greet the new year with a big smile of welcome.

At this time of year, many of us spend time remembering the past and promising ourselves not to make the same mistakes for the new year.  We make lists of things we’d like to do, and bad habits we’d like to give up.

In this last year I moved to Granollers from Australia. Its been a year of change, acceptance and adaptation.  In 2009 I’ve begun to learn a new language and discover a new culture while making new friends and exploring a new landscape.

I’ve lived through my first hot granite summer in Granollers, my first St John day (St Joan), my first festa major, my discovery of noisy fire crackers and the devils running through the streets, my first dolmen, the Caganer, the Caga Tio, and soon my first experience of the three kings. I’ve been to the Montsegn in the Autumn, to Montserrat to pay my respects to our lady  the Black Virgin, to the Costa Brava for relief from the sun,  to Tarragona to see the statue of the human castles. And that is just my first 6 months here.

Its time to begin to cast our eyes into the future. To receive my first rose for St George’s Day (St Jordi), to see the spring sunshine begin to warm the city faces of  Granollerians, to discover a new host of fairs and festivals celebrating the history of the area.

My friends and family ask me if I am happy here. I must admit that its difficult sometimes. And yet, yes, I say, I’m happy here. Many people are warm and generous and I love the food.

I like to walk the streets in the middle of the day, when its quiet and there is little traffic on the roads. I like to sit and think of all the people that have passed through these streets on their way to and from Barcelona.  The history of the town walls impresses me every time I think about it. Europeans have only been in Australia for little over 200 years, so our history is really quite different.

Yes, I say, I am happy here. So, in typical Aussie fashion, let me raise my cold beer (its summer back home you know) and say ‘three cheers for the new year’. Wishing you all a happy new year for 2010.

Originally published in Revista del Valles

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas In Hamar, Norway December 2009 - Part III

We woke a few days after arriving to 30 cm of snow!

Jett was so happy. They hadn't had much snow before we arrived, so we were lucky. He's wearing my old skiing pants.

These were some beautiful reindeer from Finland sitting in Ingebjorg's shelf.

I took this photo from our window. There are many places with food for birds. I realised just how difficult it is to get a great photos of wild animals.

The middle of Hamar. The main centre where I lived on and off for ten years.

While I was in Norway, I took a few yoga classes at Espern and a yoga workshop. Thank you Grethe  Lillesand, for taking the photos. Thank you for all the participants. I don't know about you, but I had a great time!

It was -25 - and here are the beautiful pictures of the area farmor lives in Ottestad.

This is the same place as the above picture - just warmer weather!

This year, on the strike of 12, we ate grapes (or pieces of mandarin) with each bell toll that heralds in the new year.  They do this here in Spain. Albert really wanted to do it, and it was actually fun.

I had a great visit this time. One of my best, happiest holidays. When I first arrived, it felt honestly like coming home. I don't have a home town. We moved around a lot when I was a child. Hamar is the closest I've got. Seeing friendly faces and hearing the lovely words 'how good to see you' - really - thank you, it lifted my spirits to see all of my friends and family for the holiday season.

Happy New Year for 2010!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Christmas In Hamar, Norway December 2009 - Part II

This is Ottestad Church. People take lights and put them on the graves of loved ones. It was really lovely to see. It was about -8, not too bad, and we could be out for a while. It was really something to see the candles on the graves and so many visiting. I hadn't seen that before.

Ingebjorg and Tiffany.

We ate lasagne and I added the sour cabbage (that sounds disgusting but I like it), potatoes, and salad. Albert made a goat's cheese salad that is my favourite..

The typical Christmas dessert is riscreme (rice cream) and red sauce. Its quite yummy.

Time to start opening the presents. (In Australia we open them on the morning of the 25th)

Ole Jonny and Albert.

Jett loved the job of giving the presents.

Geirmund. Our host.

Jett received Sims III and he was so happy. Just what he wanted.

Jett being doctor Evil. :)

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Christmas In Hamar, Norway December 2009 - Part I

This year we went to Norway for Christmas. Jett's father is Norwegian and we have many family and friend ties to Hamar.  Here we are at the airport in Girona.

We arrived to Geirmund's famous pizza. I was very happy.

The view from our room. It was -5 when we arrived.

This is the side of Geirmund and Ingebjorg's house. Most of the houses in Norway are wood.

Down the side of the street.

Every day it snows, of course, someone has to take the snow away.

Geirmund and Albert mawking the snow. :)

Its typical that people decorate the entire house for Christmas. Norwegian Christmas!

Its typical to have 7 or more dry cookies for offering guests when they arrive.

These Christmas people are called 'Nisse' - and they are not the same as santa. They are folk who live in the forests.  This one sits and greets people at the front door.

These are nisse and a mother. they are looking into the kitchen.

A special Nisse for Lizzy.

Blue nisse!

Our Christmas tree!!!!

And even a little remembrance of what all the fuss is about!!

 A group of singing nisse.