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. 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?


18 comments on “What’s Your Favourite Spot?”

  1. Jan says:

    Here Sir Christopher of Fowler am reading “Wild Chamber ” your recent gardening work and it’s SO GOOD. You said you were going to make some changes with the book. If I am really honest I abandoned it at first reading cos I felt the usual formula kicking in. Wot a Numpty I am it’s good Chris it’s my bestest favourite since White Corridor which i thought was a good novel. Taken out of their normal space that novel revealed a lot about the old gents.

    Hall of Mirrors I never liked much there were some interesting bits but it felt contrived and not in the way a detective story should.
    Mind you I never even got the Textual Avengers references so as per normal I don’t understand much …….

    In “Wild Chamber” i know who did it but it’s a very clever illusion really well put together and interesting. The snipings (and there are a few just part of the fun ) I’ll write to you about on another day after you have completed your Ernie Wise writing phase.

    Only: 7 days too go. Best you get a wiggle on.

  2. Ben Morris says:

    What’s my favourite spot? It’s in the Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia. At one location there are views of nothing but mountains and semi-arid desert. I’ve been lucky enough to go back there several times and pictures of the view adorn my walls at home. I’m aware that it’s away from people and in one of the least populated countries in the world, which may say more about me than I want!

    Recently it’s been my desk where I’m studying for my degree, each weekend I looked forward to getting back to it and learning, but at the moment I’m struggling to organise my thoughts for the 10 thousand word dissertation for my degree so I’m not envious of your 10 thousand words a day.

    Good luck Chris, keep plugging away.

  3. Jo W says:

    Chris, it’s good to see that you have got out of your dark working cell and into the sunshine. We don’t want you coming home with a prison pallor.
    What’s my favourite spot? Well,there is one on my back of which I’m quite fond………….

  4. Brooke says:

    As a treat for success in 10K word marathon, try Granada parador and get yourself into Alhambra palace either early morning or late evening.
    @Jo W–lol.

  5. Ian Luck says:

    The Moorish delight that is the Alhambra Palace, and also a harbinger for the end of the world. Two sculpted hands over the entrance are said to get closer to each other, by a miniscule amount each year, as they have done since their creation many centuries ago. When, it is said, they clasp each other, that will be when the world comes to an end. Nice.

  6. admin says:

    Bit of a schlep, the Alhambra, and to honest I prefer that mad bloody park in Seville. I just crossed Trevone off the list as a teenager has just plunged 80 feet down its sinkhole. I climbed it when I was a kid. I bet they close it now.

  7. Peter Tromans says:

    Over the years, the Cambridge Backs, Lake Como, the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens, Barnes and Noble on Bellaire Blvd in Houston, Blackwell’s in Oxford, Alpine passes, our back garden, the front seat of a Jaguar Mk2, my desk surrounded by my books, they are all places to relax and dream and escape. I’ve tried a few of them in hypnosis, but never really become hypnotised, don’t seem to have the capacity.

  8. admin says:

    ooh, ooh – Foyles!

  9. Peter Tromans says:

    Oh Foyles. In the days before it was ‘streamlined’, when it still had the most enormous and amazing collection of books outside of a copyright library, but after they accepted that most of their staff and customers weren’t intent on robbery and eliminated the long trek between book counter and money counter, well maybe it was the world’s greatest bookshop, but favourite place to relax and dream? All too breathless, in London in those days, I favoured Dillons in Torrington Place.

  10. Denise Treadwell says:

    Lake Madrone, Ca. So peaceful, especially during the week,, completely alone sitting on my gravity chair, sun hat , sunglasses and my books. That is my spot.

  11. jeanette says:

    Anywhere, where there is a beautiful sunset. We have big skies in Lincoln, so the colours of sunset are beautiful. I never tire of seeing these sunsets over Lincoln Cathedral.

  12. Ian Luck says:

    When I was a child, my favourite place was probably the garden of my maternal Grandmother. It was in two distinct areas: a very lush area of grass and clover, which had a couple of small bare patches, which, to my odd way of thinking, looked like forest clearings, and in which, I played with some tiny ‘Airfixâ„¢’ Robin Hood figures. I doubt that many of today’s children, who seldom go outside, let alone lie full length in long grass, playing with tiny polythene figures, would ‘get’ how much joy, a handful of tiny figures, and a bit of imagination, and a nice day, could bring. One of the bare areas was home to a tiny stone circle, which was fine as long as I picked the stones up after playing with them, or they disagreed with the lawnmower. The other part of her garden was a rocky area, which was, to me, anyway, the surface of an alien planet.I expect that, were you to dig there today (and surprise and upset the current owners), you’d find a stratum of tiny astronaut figures, and little plastic spaceships from cereal promotions.
    My favourite spot as an adult is difficult to pick. The ‘Surprise View’ of Fountains Abbey at Studley Royal would be one. The ruined castle (supposedly of Vortigern) at Dinas Emrys, in Wales, is another. The beaches of Arromanches in Normandy, are yet another, as you can actually feel, that here, not so long ago (6/6/1944), something happened that changed the world, still in living memory. A Tudor room in part of Ipswich Museum’s Christchurch Mansion, dragged there across town, when road widening in the 1920’s threatened the demolition of a lovely little town house, and attached seamlessly to the rear of the mansion. On summer days, when the windows are opened, the tinkling fountain in the nearby round pond can be heard. I think that that memory of working there, one summer, would make that my favourite spot, in amongst the old wood, uneven floors, the smell of beeswax, and the distant tinkling of aerating water made it a beautiful place to be.

  13. Ian Luck says:

    Oh, and I’m very fond of the hillfort ‘British Camp’ near Malvern. The utter silence on the top is literally awe-inspiring. It’s reputedly where William Langland fell asleep in the 14th century, and had a dream that led to him writing the poem ‘The Ballad Of Piers Plowman’. Yes, I can see that.

  14. SteveB says:

    A bit late to this party, but I think still Avebury / Silbury Hill.

  15. Peter Tromans says:

    Ian, by coincidence, places I left out of my long list were my grandfather’s garden and The British Camp at Malvern.

    Is there something about gardens and grandparents, comfort and protection?

    I’d also add Clent Hills.

  16. David Ronaldson says:

    St Paul’s Bay in Lindos on Rhodes at sunset is pretty special. I must have rubbed shoulders with Arthur Bryant a few times, too, as I often plant myself in the middle of Waterloo Bridge, again at sunset (Ray Davies got it right). Local to me and this time in the morning, Fairlands Valley lakes can be pretty special.

  17. David Ronaldson says:

    Sorry, two “pretty specials” there. Pretty stupid…

  18. SimonB says:

    Currently my fave is the old leather sofa in our summer house in the back garden. Stretched out with a book in hand and cat on lap.

Comments are closed.