What’s Your Favourite Spot?
If you’ve ever been hypnotised, you’ll know that one of the first things you’re asked is to think of your favourite spot. Familiarity is calming.
Favourite places change, I suspect, throughout your life. As a child mine was a small daisy-covered green patch behind my infants’ school where we were allowed to read on summer days. As an adult it became Trevone in Cornwall, which I had only briefly visited but fell in love with. Now it appears to have been given the National Trust treatment and has been shorn of its wildness. The English like to keep things neat and tidy at the expense of atmosphere.
The criteria for such a place is tranquility, safeness, harmony, peace.Â For the last four years my favourite spot has been somewhere I visit regularly and dream of when I’m gone. My flat has a tiny balcony and is very dark, but the Parc de la Cuitadella is 500 yards away and I treat it like a back garden. Barcelona is not the greenest city; when a new space is set aside as a park it usually has a gravel base instead of grass. There are none of the great emerald lawns you have in English parks.
Yet the park is magical. It’s not huge but is confusingly presented so that you don’t easily get the measure of it. It’s very busy and filled with people practising circus skills or having children’s parties. There are jugglers, tightrope walkers, yoga and tango classes, a bandstand dedicated to a murdered transexual, a children-only area, a boating lake, formal gardens and an immense grand fountain.
There is also a fairytale palace called The Castle of the Three Dragons, which has a baroque turret of glass. The park leads to a grand walkway and an arch of triumph, which is decorated in stone bats. A vast wooden hibernarium shelters the more delicate plants. Raucous parrots drop from the trees. Classical statues jostle with large chunks of modern art. There is a zoo. It’s all a bit scruffy and chaotic.
You can always hear people singing somewhere, or playing an instrument. The park is a place where you show off your skills. Unlike English parks, it does not have a small army of people ready to tell you off for touching anything. Messes are made and cleared away, dance classes come and go. Cycles, hover boards, Segways and dogs race past.
People come here to throw family birthday parties. It’s a Catholic country, so there are a great many children in the centre of the city, apartments are built with multiple bedrooms and often house several generations. This makes for small flats, so celebrations are often conducted outside, and everyone is free to congratulate the birthday child.
To me this is what a park should be; a recreational space in which to dream or exercise, read, relax or go dancing mad without judgement or restriction. Whenever I’m stuck on a plot it becomes my spot for thinking and dreaming, and for a brief while I do not wish to be anywhere else.
Where is your favourite spot?