Saturday, 18 September 2010

The Joy of Reading

In the very early 70’s – probably 1970 in fact - I was 5 years old, and started at Drighlington Infants School a little late due to getting chickenpox and whooping cough together (yes, even at that early age I was an awkward sod!)  I was very, very poorly, and needed a doctor.  The first stumbling block was that it was the weekend.   The second was that Mum and Dad were running a pub at the time – The Spotted Cow.   The emergency doctor who came out was Muslim and wouldn’t step foot in the place, subsequently attempting to diagnose me from the window… Dad, funnily enough, wasn’t confident with his diagnosis, and when I got worse found someone that would actually step foot in the place.  However, my abiding memory is screaming the place down when he tried to listen to my chest with a stethoscope. I’d never seen a black man before – remember it was 1970, and I was very young…come to think of it though I hadn’t seen a stethoscope before either, which when the freezing cold thing was put on my chest whilst running a very high fever, might have contributed to the hysterics!  By the time he’d arrived and seen how ill I was, I was too poorly to be moved to hospital. I nearly died, and as a result was convalescing for some time afterwards, hence the late start.  Anyway I digress - as always! 

When I started after the start of school term aged around 5, no one would sit next to me because of all my spots.  Even worse, they’d all started their budding friendships – I was sooooo on the outside… My integrating into the class was stymied even further when it became apparent that I could already read (and knew the alphabet ‘properly’ – not the new phonetic system that was being introduced. – I point blank refused to use that when spelling out words…yes – belligerent already, as well as awkward…!)  This made the reading period more than a bit of a challenge for the teacher.  There she was, ready to start everyone on the Ladybird ‘Peter and Jane’ early reading books and I was reading them cover-to-cover in less than a minute flat!  Bless her, she quickly realised that a bored Jacqueline Winterburn was NOT a good idea and gave me the key to the book cupboard into which I dived, head first, happily blasting my way through the Schofield and Sims ‘Through the Rainbow’ reading collection.  These were a series of colour coded books that oddly went further than the breadth of rainbow colours into Silver and Gold – I think that was the first time the words ‘Indigo’ and ‘Violet’ slipped into vocabulary and I can’t hear them without visualising that wonderful old cupboard and the tiny metal key to the lock.   Another completely different memory in there is of a poor girl called Samantha who was always farting – the teacher kept a can of air freshener to hand and sprayed it not only in the general area of the offending smell, but also all over the poor girl!  Personally, I’m not sure what smelt worse – her farts or that air freshener…

So, from that point in my life books became my best friends, non-judgemental and always there when I reached for them, giving me hours of escapism.  I don’t remember the words in books ever being too hard for me to read – if they were interesting enough I kept going until they were finished, if they didn’t capture me after the first page, they were put down again, a habit that’s still with me today when choosing new things to read!  Mum and Dad weren’t very big readers at all – Dad’s passion was the daily paper, which he pretty much read cover to cover -  in fact that’s probably where I learnt to read – sat on Dad’s knee while he read out the paper.  This meant of course that my reading material was limited at home.  My long suffering sister who’s 10 years older than me, had to go through the heartbreak of seeing her beloved books be subjected to her little sister’s habit of scrawling all over anything that had paper content with whatever writing instrument she had in her hand,  (I also scribbled all over her dolls – especially their feet – and of colouring in any shape on any page of anything – including the spaces in letters… I hope that she knows that when I got a little older, I deeply regretted it, as her books became my books.  Over the years I looked with horror at what I’d done to them.  Even now, I’m fastidious about the condition of our books, hating it when the spines get cracked on paperbacks, or their covers get a little dog-eared – and as for folks folding the corners down as place holders – get a bookmark!!!  

Once we moved out of the pub and she went school, then moved to Manchester, her books became my most treasured possessions, eventually taking pride of place in my bedroom on top of her old school desk (I had that until my late teens).  I read ‘What Katy Did’ and ‘Little Women’ hundreds of times, (I must admit that after a first reading ‘Oliver Twist’ just looked at me – I’ve never liked Dickens – well maybe ‘A Christmas Carol’…), ‘Five Children and It’… even ‘The New Encyclopedia for the Younger Generation’…Her copies of CS Lewis’s Narnia books were read so many times the glue on the spines failed, and the pages started to fall out... I also remember Enid Blyton’s ‘The Little Picaninny’, which I loved, and an odd little collection - ’40 More Tales’ - oh, and ‘A Pilgrim’s Progress’ - the full version  I might add but in modern English. 

Once I had access to libraries I must have devoured over 100 books a year  - I remember in one summer holiday I read all 12 of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle books and all 9 of Tove Jansson’s Moomins books – they were fantastic! Other classics greedily consumed included – ‘James and the Giant Peach’, Roald Dahl’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator’, Louisa M Alcott’s ‘Little Women’ and ‘Little Men’, ‘What Katy Did Next’, and then I found other collections to work through – ‘Anne of Green Gables’ et al, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books, Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books…

My relationship with some of those early books is a very close one, and I happily return to their pages.  They’re old friends that welcome me back, ready to let me once again travel with them on their adventures and discoveries, sharing their hopes and their fears, their tears and their joy.  Some will never be donated to charity, but have their permanent home on our bookshelves.     Books like Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence – these were an early present from my sister that I had to rebuy a few years ago –  just like her original set of Narnia books, they were read so much they disintegrated – it took over 20 years for it to happen but if I wanted to be able to easily read them again they had to be replaced… I also possess a hardback version of the Narnia books, with beautiful coloured versions of the original drawings.

And that is how my love of books and reading started.  Long may it continue!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Espresso...NYC Style...!

As part of our trip to NYC in June we decided to have a coffee 'theme' and seek out some of the small espresso bars in the city.  The New York Times had run an article earlier in the year (March 2010) entitled 'New York is Finally Taking Its Coffee Seriously ( - it may need you to register before you can open the link - it's free though).  It caught our eye and decided to select some of the places listed and went off in search of what New York feels espresso should be.

Some of the places we chose didn't meet up to our expectations - too small, no seating, and in some cases just too 'hip and trendy' for us middle aged Brits (places where the baristas were far more interested in having fun with their colleagues, chatting to each other, not really acknowledging customers, carrying on a conversation about something really interesting (to them) while they filled my order - I don't like to feel I'm more of a by-product of their fun place of work rather than a reason they're there...). 

This photo of Mike sums up what we were looking for on our search ... somewhere to relax, enjoy really good espresso and decompress - ok, decompress and caffeine may appear to be a contradiction but it works for us....! We went out each day, with reading books, as well as in my case my notebook ready for any jottings Jaxter felt like making, hoping to find somewhere to settle down and do our thing...

At Third Rail Coffee we found it - and that's where the photo was taken :)

Located on W 3rd and Sullivan Street in SoHo, they offer a small, perfectly formed haven of tranquility, and despite the 110% concentration that goes into the creation of every cup of heaven,  (my cortado was complete with its beautifully feathered thick milk foam) you're left with an overall feeling of serenity.  We sat in the window, perfect for people watching both inside and out. The NY Times article says ' Third Rail Coffee punches above its weight. It’s one of the city’s smallest coffee bars, and its most focused. The owners, Humberto Ricardo and Rita McCaffrey, offer at least two different espresso blends (each needs its own grinder, a commitment of capital and counter space), single-origin coffee in a Chemex and a full range of espresso drinks. The cortado is memorable.' Yes, it certainly is!

Culture Espresso also fitted the bill nicely.  It turned out to be just a couple of streets away from our hotel (72 West 38th, just off 6th) and was a real find.  It hadn't been on our shortlist of ones to try, (the blurb in the article was very brief) but we are so pleased we did.  It may not be on one of the prettiest streets but it more than makes up for it on the inside! It was a very late find - the day before we came home - but we know where it is for our next trip!

And then there was Jittery Joes... 


Now their NYC store turned out to be located in the ground floor lobby of a large office  building on East 54th between 2nd and 3rd.  If you decide to go there, don't be put off by it's location - it may not have its own ceiling, and it may feel a little like an impromptu film set ready to be taken down and packed away never to be seen again, but it does great coffee!  It was hot hot hot in the Big Apple during our visit, and with this in mind I had an iced Americano, ready to add lots of half and half to take away any unwelcome bitterness but much to my surpise I didn't need any!  It was thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly refreshing!  Mike had his usual espresso, and whilst it was way too strong for me (I soon found out that this wasn't specific to them - it's the NYC way of making espresso - espresso strength = ristretto strength...or even stronger than that in some places!) he said it was great! It has a small seating area and we happily whiled away half an hour there, watching the baristas work and their customers coming and going.  

We loved this sign - and having witnessed this so much at home in the UK look forwards to seeing it appear in our coffee shops!

Having looked at their website, it's a shame they don't have a 'proper' store in the Big Apple - we could have gotten carried away with merchandise purchases (or should I say their merchandise would have been carried away by us LOL!).  The NY Times article says 'Based in Athens, Ga., it opened its first New York branch in the gloomy lobby of a fashion business school in Midtown East — it’s a makeshift setting and the beans are dark roast; the baristas are talented.' Yes, they most certainly are!!!  Whilst it wasn't what we expected, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and somewhere we'd visit again if we were in that part of town.
The last place we visited on our coffee tour (on our last full day actually) was Stumptown Coffee, which is situated at the Ace Hotel  I decided to try an espresso con panna rather than my usual cortado... which in some ways was a mistake.  Their espresso hits you straight between the eyes - almost daring you to drink it, and when you do....wowzer!  The article says... 'With its travertine floors, walnut bar and natty staff, this is a striking setting for a cappuccino. The drink is up to the surroundings. Cold-brewed iced coffee tastes as bright and fruity as berries steeped in water, while a shot of espresso is so sweet and plush you’ll wish it lasted longer.'  I'm not sure whether I'd say sweet but hey!  I'm not THAT much of an espresso connossieur...but I doubt I'm brave enough to have it again without a certain amount of milk in it....!.  It is an exceptionally trendy place though - baristas wearing the ubiquitous flat caps or other such fashionable head coverings seen at pretty much all the places we visited, and full of beautiful, young, trendy people on both sides of the counter, with a dose of tourists for good measure.  There's no seating without going into the hotel lobby, however you can stand at the long narrow counter in front of the window and gaze at the world passing by, which of course we did!  I wanted to put this into my blog almost as a counterpoint to the others in here - there was no seating, the coffee was waaaay to strong for me, and to be honest, I wasn't entirely comfortable there (far too many beautiful people :) ), but out of the rest of the places we visited apart from Third Rail, Jittery Joes and Culture Espresso, it best fit what I think the NY Times article was trying to highlight - New York is definitely taking its coffee SERIOUSLY - almost TOO seriously for me.  Espresso for me is a pleasure, something to be savoured, appreciated and most of all enjoyed, not something that overwhelms my tastebuds.  The glass of water that accompanies my espresso is to cleanse my palate (as well as to counteract the inevitable dehydrating effect caffeine has on the body),  it's not meant to be a necessity aid in diluting the extremely strong aftertaste, nor should I be seeking out more several glasses of water after I've finished that one.  Having said that, and in an aim to give some perspective to what my taste buds were going through, at the time of our trip I'd just almost totally given up milk, which meant giving up my beloved lattes and moving to cortados and the occasional espresso - perhaps if I had still been drinking those, I might have appreciated the intensity in a more diluted environment.  Having said that, I had no problems with espressos at home... even those made by the most traditional and talented Italian baristas...

Who knows...maybe I'm just an uneducated Brit with an inability to appreciate art when I drink it ;)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Immersion Therapy...NYC Style!

Mike and I like good coffee.  We also like to immerse ourselves in cities we visit.  We like to find places to sit and experience the world going by - folks doing what they do, travelling from one place to another, living their lives - it's like having a little window from which to watch those little snippets of routines...get a kind of insight into their lives...

Anecdote time...  We visited Las Vegas in 2005 for my birthday, and had the pleasure of staying at Bellagio.  Now the mall in Bellagio has a great coffee shop and patisserie and you guessed it - we found it.  Well there we were enjoying our coffees - large extra strong latte for me, double espresso for Mike - and sharing a very good cinnamon bun.  A man and woman sat at a table next to us and the woman proceeded to get out their itinerary for their 2 night / 3 day trip - they'd just arrived.  The woman proceeded to walk the man through the itinerary and believe me it would have made a 5 star general proud (if a little exhausted...).  They basically had 6 minutes to have their coffee after which they had to be in the lobby meeting friends...they then had 7 minutes to get to the front of the hotel to see the next fountain show - they couldn't watch all of it as they had to be at Treasure Island for the next pirate show, then get their skates on for the volcano show at The Mirage... they could grab a sandwich at some point as they wouldn't have time for a full meal - they had to be goodness knows where for what by when.... We were pretty exhausted eavesdropping let me tell you!  She managed to have a scheduled phone conversation with their children that had been left with grandparents and then they were off! (They left most of their drinks....) Now we were only there for 3 nights ourselves, but apart from wanting to see the Star Trek Exhibition at the Hilton (it's no longer there which is quite sad...), see Ron Lucas's show at the Rio and have a nice meal in Prime for my birthday night, we were pretty much flying by the seat of our pants, agendaless and it was a great trip!  How can folks go on a trip which pretty much wipe them out, leaving them more exhausted than before they left?  Where's the 'holiday'?  Where's the 'relaxation'?  I'm sure some of you reading this will be shouting 'We do and we love it! It's a perfect holiday!' and I'm glad for you but it is SO not for us! :)

When we go to Barcelona, we spend a fair amount of time doing just the same kind of thing - sitting in nice cafes or coffee bars, or great market eateries and menu del dia places, enjoying great espresso and cafe con leche, good food, and completely surrendering ourselves to the ebb and flow of life, equally and perfectly happy to either chat to each other or just watch and listen to the interactions around us - the banter between bar staff and kitchen staff, the 'Hi, how're you doing Mary?' or 'Usual Fred?' or any of the thousands of brief interactions we get the chance to observe in our day to day journeys.  We actually got to see the Olympic Flame be run through the centre of Barcelona in 2008 simply by deciding totally at random whilst walking around Eixample one morning, to have nice little break in a coffee shop,  and have some 'do nothing for a bit' time,  which lead to reading the local paper and seeing an article about it happening - that day!!! 

This June we return to New York.  Mike and I first visited for Thanksgiving in November 2008 - my first visit.  I've been twice more in 2009 mainly as sanity for Mike during his long stays (he worked for a Madison Avenue based company) and just to actually sleep in the same bed as my husband - he'd been away from home ALOT that year.  The stay was quite hard though - he'd be in the office before 8am and if we were lucky he'd be back to the hotel around 8pm - each day hoping to leave the office 'at a reasonable time..' (6ish) but always getting dragged into something meaning it would be much later than that.  We did find a couple of bars where we could do our 'immersion therapy' though - Annie Moore's near Grand Central - it's an amazing place for that.  I had a really nice chat (under the watchful eye of Nicky I might add - one of the bar staff who had taken his role of guardian angel very seriously for the couple of nights I went there by myself to meet up with Mike - thanks Nicky :) ) about the baseball game on TV with a friendly old chap who was a self confessed barfly.

Another bar that was great for immersion therapy was up 92nd and 2nd - Blondies - it's changed hands now which is a shame.  (I arrived on St Paddy's Day in March - a totally mental time in NY - and we did our get-a-seat-at-the-bar-chill-and-watch-the-world-go-by thing.  We weren't quite prepared for the madness of one of the bar staff getting up on the bar in his hastily wrapped-around-his-waist stapled-on Ireland flag skirt, walking up and down with a bottle of Jack Daniels in his hand, pouring it into eager customer's mouths...but it was alot of fun to watchto'ing and fro'ing of lighthearted insults and anecdotes from the evening).

Back to June though...unfortunately the weather was not kind.  I was there for nearly a fortnight, and I had TERRIBLE weather - it absolutely teemed it down for about 7 days in a row - rain like you see on the movies and TV shows set in New York - it was like a monsoon!  So... no sitting in Central Park under a tree with my book, or on a park bench in Bryant Park in the shade with my lunch, or walking miles and miles exploring... Even the locals kept saying it was soooo not the norm for that time of year.... So, I basically frequented a lot of Starbucks that I already knew the locations of - usually to dry out my jeans - they'd be soaked from mid thigh down...  I loved it in some ways though in that I got to see the same folks interacting with the Barista's each day on their way to work, or at lunchtime, or when they popped in for their mid morning drug of choice, and I got to see the Baristas interacting with each other during their working day - the jokes they'd make, the general banter, and it was great.

So - to bring all of this stuff I've just waffled on about for ages together - we've got a bit of a plan for this visit, the idea for which came out of a New York Times article:

Whilst 'The Man' (i.e. Starbucks) may still get the odd coffee sale from us, we're gonna try the independents - places where New Yorkers not only go to get great coffee, but that seem to have a great sense of community and friendship.  Potentially perfect locations for Immersion Therapy!  This one for example:

And another one that catches the eye....  Isn't that just a fantastic name for a coffee shop!

So - watch this space in June folks - I'll be blogging about the places we visit along with pictures, observations and insights :)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Of Endings and Beginnings


Last Thursday started just like any other day...until my boss asked if I 'had a minute...just want to have a chat ...'

The outcome of that chat was my being made redundant.

And you know what...I'm absolutely fine about it!

Yes - really!

I'm the type of person that can put up with alot of crap in my work, it pays the bills and gives Mike and I the funds to do the things we want (within didn't pay THAT well :) ), but what that means is I 'make do', I 'settle' when I really should get my finger out and find a position that actually uses my skills and experience - that doesn't constantly make me doubt abilities...

For a variety of reasons, two and a half years ago I made a career decision too quicky - one that I knew was the wrong one pretty much from day one on the job, and if I'm honest, I've been unhappy since then.  When friends and family asked me the question 'how's work...?' they pretty much got...'no comment....' which was very unlike me!  I've been given the chance to change that.

I'm lucky that my redundancy package gives me the gift of time so I  give careful thought to what I want to do next - as well as have a very well timed couple of months off.

I'll miss some folks - pretty much everyone who leaves the place consistently says they'll miss the people, and I'm not an exception to that - but all in all, I'm doing Snoopy Happy Dances in my head.

Seriously folks - I'm a big believer in fate and synchronicity and I'm happy to relax, and get on board for the ride to wherever it decides to take me...

Happy journeying everyone!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Holding my own water (so to speak...)

You know that saying 'don't tell them, they can't hold their own water...!'? That euphemism for someone not being able to keep a secret? Well I'm in that predicament and can't 'relieve myself' until Monday... I hate it. It goes against the grain when it's something that affects me more than anyone else in the situation, and until 'relief' is achieved, has the potential to make others think badly of you for possibly letting them down, or the perception that you've just dropped off the face of the earth...

Writing this is sort of a 'letting off steam' approach - releasing some of the pressure before my head explodes (metaphorically speaking of course!). It's suitably vague yet satisfyingly cathartic.

But fear not faithful readers! Come Monday I will be able to Tweet, Facebook, fact say whatever the heck I like about it, wherever the heck I like, however the heck I want to - releasing all the steam (or hot air if some of you've experienced my random ramblings and jottings :) ) and becoming my own personal tittle tattle - whohoooo!

See you Monday folks!

Monday, 19 April 2010

I'll save this....

What is it about some of us, that when given a particularly nice 'thing', we want to put it away - save it 'for later' or for that 'special occasion'...

Those fabulous large pasta shells lovingly carried home from Italy by your sister and her husband...too good to use with just any old (homemade from scratch) sauce but squirrelled away for a 'special' meal...

The great wine glasses you have that are a 'bit delicate' - you might catch and break them, so they stay in the glasses cabinet - at the back...

The fabulous heavy silk pashmina bought as a Christmas present that's 'too nice to wear' so it's been in a drawer in the wardrobe for over 4 catches your eye every now and then - you take it out, drape it around your shoulders loving the colours in it before carefully folding it up and putting it back away...

The gorgeous red Le Creuset shallow lidded pan passed on to you from your Mum-in-law's kitchen after she passed - they spent their lives hung on their own rack looking marvellous but never being used as they were far too heavy for her and she never liked to use one of a set. You have it now and don't want to just use it any old time - it's a 'keepsake'...

The first leather jacket you eventually bought yourself when you were in your 40's (!) which you love on but didn't like to wear just any old time...yep - you thought you'd save it for 'special' occasions....

Well folks - I just want to share something with you... if you, like me, think that way about these 'things' watch what happens when you start to push back - rebel against that inner voice...

Those fabulous large pasta shells lovingly carried home from Italy by your sister and her husband...Well I decided that enough was enough - they were bought for us to eat not decorate a cupboard! They were bought in a country that doesn't decorate its kitchens with ingredients - they USE them, enjoying them as part of a meal with family and friends, maybe with a glass of wine. So, an embarrasingly long time after we were given them I decided to use them in a pasta bake with my homemade meat sauce. We even took that risk eyes wide open ready for them to taste a little 'cupboardy' and guess was wonderful - we now look out for that pasta in different shops in the UK that do 'artisan' pasta so we can experience it again!

The great (but VERY fine) red wine glasses you were bought as a Christmas present several years ago... This one was a little nerve wracking to rebel against, as I am terribly clumsy with glasses... I had to give myself a bit of a talking to...swearing to myself they would NEVER see the inside of the dishwasher (thankfully, the stems are too long - they don't fit....), only ever being handwashed... And guess what! They're both intact and have an outing not every time we have a bottle of red wine, but at special dinners during the year - a happy comprimise you might say!

The fabulous heavy silk pashmina bought for a Christmas present, that's 'too nice to wear'... This one is a bit more of a 'work in progress' and really what made me think up this post! This pashmina may be a little large for wearing when we go out for an evening, but will be wonderful to wear around my shoulders at home - why shouldn't I enjoy the lovely colours and patterns during my normal day? I could wear this on a cool Spring or Summer evening in the garden - and I'm going to! It is coming out of my cupboard this week!

The gorgeous red Le Creuset shallow lidded pan passed on to you from your Mum-in-law's kitchen...I'm sort of rebelling by proxy on this one - I have strong enough wrists/hands and only have one of them. I loved seeing those pans everytime I was in Mum's kitchen and always dreamed of having some of my own. I never could (and still can't) justify their price tag, but thanks to a thoughtful 'gift', I at long last had one of them in my kitchen. I dipped my toe in rebellion to begin with - only using it for 'special' meals... (arrrgghhhh!!!) but now it's my pan of choice for potato and fennel gratin or cauliflower cheese, which I cook often. I love the weight of it, I love how it changes colour in the fierce heat of the oven, and I even enjoy getting all those hard baked on bits off - making it lovely and clean to use again!

The first leather jacket you eventually bought yourself... The first 18 months in my ownership, this jacket was worn probably only 3 or 4 times - each time I loved how I felt wearing it, but wanted it 'to last' - a good thrifty sentiment but one that meant I didn't wear it as often as I thought about wearing it...then we went to New York for Thanksgiving in 2008 and I wore it almost all the time. Well that was that really.... I wear it in Spring, Autumn, Winter (with pashmina's and gloves in that season), in rain (and boy is it good in rain!) and in shine. Yes it's scuffed on the seams, showing the wear, but you know what - I love it all the more. The leather is increadibly soft. It could have still been relatively pristine, waiting for me to take it off the hanger for it's infrequent outing, but it wouldn't have kept the freezing cold New York wind off me that November - boy does it stop the draught! It wouldn't have kept the unseasonable showers (and downpours) off me last June (again in New York), and then be breathable enough to wear when it got muggy, finally being carried when it got a little too warm, but I didn't care as it had done such a great job. It wouldn't have been my first choice to wear with jeans at the weekend, or with more formal trousers for an evening out.

So - the next time you think 'ooo....that's far too good to use' or 'I'll save that for a special occasion' or any other such thing - be strong! Tell yourself that it's not too good to be used - it's its purpose and probably the reason you were bought it to begin with. 'Special' occasions can be any time, not an ever moving destination that you never seem to reach! It's worth the risk - honest!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Our Clever Camera...

We've got a new camera - a Canon SX200 - which has a rather neat feature - 'Colour Accent' - you select a colour you want it to focus on, and it does the rest!

I love this picture - it was taken in March this year at Tibidabo Amusement Park, Barcelona.

It was a beautiful crystal clear spring day (very different to our visit last May when it was VERY cloudy).  Typically very cold in the shade, but quite warm in the sun...we actually needed sunscreen!  Here's what the park information says about the ride...
  • AviĆ³  Young and old alike will delight in Tibidabo's most emblematic ride and history's first flight simulator. Powered by its own propeller it has been flying since 1928 on a flight that will stir your imagination.
It's safe to say that as we both have quite a fear of heights, and that the plane swings out over a very, VERY big drop, we didn't have a go, but it was wonderful seeing people going on it - both young and old, just as it says in the text - and coming off it with big smiles on their faces!