Books, birthdays and booze

Diana's birthday

In our first and second days in Lisboa, we ended up being invited to birthday parties that we didn’t know were going to happen in the first place. We just happened to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Diana had her birthday celebration at home with a few friends. Simple and delicious salmon pasta went around, garnished by guacamole. Books were passed around and shared and taken note of. Germany won its match against Algeria

Márcia's birthday

The next day found us snacking snails, bifanas and beers, then crashing another birthday dinner party and following after the small crowd to a house for drinks. I for one was delighted that the Márcia, the birthday girl (plus a few of the guests) was from Portimão – the town right next to my home town. This way I got to hear that heavy accent they have over there and enjoy regional booze from Monchique: the notorious medronho and the less known (unknown even to me) melosa. The former is strawberry tree moonshine, bitter and warm, which Márcia explained that it is expensive to acquire, but almost every household has a bottle and that it is customary to be offered a drink of it as a guest in the standard Algarve home. The latter is liquor, sweet and mellow, distilled out of honey.

Breakfast of champions

A good night’s sleep had us forget about the full day in tin cans on rails and up in the air. After that, the first thing on the ‘to do’ list was to have a proper Portuguese breakfast. Down at ‘Talismã’, a corner snack bar in Benfica, we ordered a couple of long due galões (sing. galão) – coffee with milk in tall glasses – with torrada – dry bread toasted with butter – and pão de deus misto (lit. mixed god’s bread)- a sweet bun topped with coconut custard with cheese and ham.

Breakfast

Screw lattes and muffins! This is the stuff!

Later, I munched on one more pão de deus at Areeiro, overlooking some modernist/fascist buildings. Can’t get enough o’ them! The sweet buns, that is.

A sketcher’s greatest ally

Time! Time is a sketcher’s greatest ally. Time was what abounded in the plane trip back home for a few weeks of holidays.

KPH - MUC

Apart from the short bursts of slight turbulence and the lacking of depth in one’s perspective (which usually accounts for the fish-eye sketches), I’d say a plane is one of the few places where you don’t get much distraction from your sketching activity.

MUC

One other place being the very airport where said plane lands. Themes are as varied as can be – cars, modular buildings, coffee cups, assorted machinery and tarmac bric-à-brac, hostesses and passengers and a plane with the old Lufthansa logo and paint job being towed.

Sketching with Marie

So it goes when sketching becomes a tool for meeting people and networking. I had met Marie Flood some months ago, during the exhibition at Martas Café. She was there as part of a fanzine market and we talked about meeting afterwards to sketch together. And we did, during a sunny afternoon – way too sunny for this latitude. We sought the relief of shade and the comfort of caffeine and talked for hours about art, architecture, people and ourselves before we even laid pen on paper.

Marie Flood

When we finally did, I was happy that I chose an A4 sketchbook, so that the background would fit together with her portrait. I also had the chance to go through Marie’s impressive sketchbook. It was inspiring for me not only because of the quality of her sketches, but also because she sketches mainly from her imagination – something that doesn’t come naturally to me any more after years of sketching what I see. She says imagination is like a muscle and needs practice. I guess she’s right. It’s like every other skill.

Faux olde towne

Jakriborg is a neigbourhood in Hjärup, a suburb of Lund. Whoever glances at it from the passing train might find it very old and well-preserved in its quaintness. It’s not! It’s deceiving and mischievous. It’s the trickster’s doing.

Hjarrup

It was actually built in the 90s by realtors Jakri AB as a pastiche of medieval building styles backed by modern building techniques – below these impressively high gables you can occasionally find a concrete base with underground parking. The streets were designed to mimic medieval vernacular urbanism, with curvy streets and narrow alleys but it all comes out too neatly. It’s not even local Scandinavian architecture that is pastiched, the whole thing just feels very Flemish or German.

Despite all this, the town common was nice enough to spend a few hours and have a picnic. The town is completely car-free in its inner streets and that certainly improves the quality of life for its denizens. Not a sound was heard for hours, except for a few neighbourly conversations. Doesn’t take medieval fake architecture to create nice living surroundings, but Jakriborg succeeds in that at least.