I readily admit to being a luddite. This article was complete and I don't know which button(s) I pressed and it disappeared and to my chagrin I am now unable to locate it!! Well, here goes again - there are several reasons for my absence from this space; a good one which was ill health the past year and some not so good, beginning with sloth! But things are looking good and the health is on the up and up which is great.

This trip to Barcelona, to celebrate my younger son's graduation is now coming to a close and has been quite wonderful and rejuvenating. It has been spent mostly eating and relaxing. We did make some new friends too, which is always nice. Remember it is very hot and humid in August.

First the eating; there were two standouts in Barcelona and only because we actually ate there. August is a month when locals usually take vacation and sometimes for the entire month. So first was Cal Pep and anyone with even the least interest in food who has been here will know about this place in Placa de les Olles. It is an institution. As with most restaurants it is best to go with seafood and here the menu changes daily because they cook fresh and local and can't guarantee you will get a dish you may have had before. Without doubt I had the very best tortilla ever. It melted in my mouth. I did try to go again but they are now sadly closed until September. The other was Bar Mut (www.barmut.com). It was to celebrate a friend's birthday, we let the kitchen do its thing here. We had delicious beef medallions with foie gras, octupus, squid, clams by the dozens, mussels, monkfish and lobster. All with their house white wine. All very happy campers indeed. I don't recall the dessert!

Unfortunatey El Laurel was closed, as was Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria - more about this further - but Universal at the other end of the market was wonderful. Again, go with seafood and house wine or beer. The preparation is almost without exception simple; flash frying or grilling then drizzled with virgin olive oil and malden salt. Don't forget to order pimientos de Padron - local fresh green peppers, deep fried and generously sprinkled with sea salt. Another option is to pick up a cone of jamon (ham) Iberico with a glass of your choice of freshly sqeezed juice. You will find a selection of simple orange to great mixes of pineapple and watermelon among several. Or buy the ham and Manchego (or Manxego in Catalan) cheese to snack at home. The melons are in season and excellent of course. The market is wonderful for anything related to food; produce, meat, seafood, utensils, cheese, oil - you name it. Also check out the the Mercat de Santa Catalina in El Born.

We were in Sitges for a couple of days relaxation and beach. Here we were lucky to get to two local Catalan restaurants; Zodiaco and Restaurante Galicia. The latter also delivers very good pizza; we saw them on their scooters going back and forth and my son had the pizza. Not exactly deep dish but with a htick crust. Zodiaco has been in the family for about 25 years, the senora is on the floor and her husband and son man the excellent kitchen. Let her suggest your dishes, you won't be disappointed.

Last but definitely not least is the little sandwich place in Placa de St Jaume called Conesa; get a botifarra (blanco or negro) with queso (cheese) and either a small bottle of wine or beer and you will leave very satisfied. All for under 5 Euros! Then head over for either a helado (ice cream) on Carrer de Llibreteria; Conesa is closer to the square and Ice Cream place (can't recall the name!) further along the street. Or just head to Xurreria on Banys Nous for xurros (churros). They make fresh batches all through the day!

Saving the sightseeing for the next blog.

As promised this is the blog about the sights in Barcelona. Ok so most of them are those favoured by tourists and recommended by anyone who has visited, or any book about the city. Again, for good reason because even though this was my second visit they all were worth the second visit, and most definitely worth the first.

For any of you with an interest in museums, of which there are numerous, it is a good idea to buy a pass for 30euros which gives you access to 6. It is good value even if you go to just 3. My favourites in no particular order were the Picasso museum, Foundacion Miro and MACBA - the museum of contemporary art. For historical reasons the Foundacion Antoni Tapies is helpful in the history of art in Spain besides being beautiful. The building of the National Museum (MNAC) in Montjuic, a lovely 10 - 15 walk through one of the loveliest gardens from the Miro Foundation is stunning. Not least for the view from the front of the building.

Like almost everyone who goes to the Picasso museum, his take on 'Las Meninas' is never-endingly intriguing; a full series of 58 works. Of course the original Las Meninas is also amazing, and worth a visit at the Prado in Madrid. You may have read an article earlier this summer in the Globe entitled 'Meh, Picasso', but honestly to see his work here, how it progressed and how prolific he was is jaw-dropping.

At the Miro Foundation, the 'mercury fountain' by Calder who was a very good friend of Miro's and made it for the World Exhibition in Paris is amazing. It was actually commissioned by the Spanish Republican government in 1937. It was actually not enclosed and people could see it up close in its original form. The fact that he used real mercury instead of water, the texture of the fluid is astonishing. There was a stunning work exhibited by an artist called Mona Hattoum.

One of my favourite memories as well as sights were the churches. Of course the Old Cathedral is a grand and beautiful structure. But my favourite was the Santa Maria del Mar in the Ribera. It is pure Catalan Gothic, stark and gorgeous and dates back to 998. Parts were under repair but even that did not take away from its stunning beauty and feeling inside.

A favourite pastime was walking the different barris (districts). We were very fortunate to be centrally located in Barri Gotic, but well worth a visit was Gracia where a local festival began in the middle of August where every street competes for being the best and most uniquely decorated. All traffic is stopped, but the throngs of people can make walking some of the street quite challenging; if you are at all claustrophobic you should stay away! Though not every street is that congested; also had some of the very best Syrian food here.

Now back to work, to work! I look forward to hosting you very soon. Hasta pronto!

It has taken me this long to digest and try to (still haven't) understand my misgivings about the play Blasted. So, Sarah Kane the 28 year old British writer who committed suicide wrote this and 4 other plays. That she was gifted and quite disturbed is apparent. While I understand that it is inherently a love story, and also the fact that life is completely random as one sometimes faces things bizarre; but the scene where the protaganist opens the hotel room door and is confronted with a terrorist with an AK45? Also why was I left so unmoved by the atrocities? Instead of being horrified I kept thinking ok now what will we see? rape? violence - extreme? cannibalism? check, check, check....think I understand how one can get inured to this.

Guess it is like most of us who read about atrocities in our society and because we don't have to face them it has no impact and she, justifiably felt, that it had to be made more immediate. But it did not work - for me, and some others who were at the show with me. I wonder why?

On the other hand Room by Emma Donaghue is a completely different story. Told from the point of view of a 5 year old whose mother is being kept imprisoned for sex (inspired by the true events in Austria) is heart-wrenching and compelling. Have to get back to it!

From Copenhagen we travelled to Berlin. Well, my son and his friend to Stockholm, and my friend and I to Berlin.

I had heard from everyone with whom I had spoken what a terrific city it is, and I was still very pleasantly surprised. It is much prettier, greener and bolder than I imagined. First of all it has - to my immense astonishment more waterways than Venice. It is traversed by the river Spree and canals, of which I too was unaware. Much more green space - and well maintained with artwork - than I ever imagined. It is more cosmopolitan and the architecture while not always pretty is bold. So I have joined the bandwagon and it is my new favourite European city, much like being in the first flush of love or infatuation! 

Soo - read Zeitoun.....interesting but definitely a heavy-handed political statement from Dave Eggers. Wish he would go back to the fiction he wrote. Like his style.

On the other hand Iain Pears' Dream of Scipio is wonderful. Gripped by it from the first sentence. Also started The Golden Mean by Canadian writer Anabel Lyon,and again the style and story appeal to me. Why is it that we can return again and again to classic themes and never tire of them? Still in the middle of 2666 - apparently Bolano has quite a repertoire and Chapters has a whole section on his work now! I thought he wasn't that prolific. Jury still out on 2666 though I did enjoy Part 1.

Looking forward to reading Ilustrado next....