Interview By Nancy Todd
The Scoop Interviews Robin Graham, writer extroidnaire, who lives in Cadiz. His writing is about places and experiences in Spain, some as he says, “made up,” perfect for his site name: www.alotofwind.com His writing is well crafted and at times, when I plan to spend three minutes on his blog, I read and read and read. He transports me to the people and places with his insightful descriptions. Robin’s graphics are unusual and rare as is his photography. We are proud to also have Robin as a guest writer for The Spain Scoop. Be prepared to be captivated by his writing.
l. What is the most satisfying part of your work?
From time to time I feel as though I’ve written something competently. A story that takes an idea and sees it through without leaving loose ends and without labouring it. I find it incredibly difficult to do and so conclude that it must be worth trying. The less successful stories are ok by me, as they just get me closer to the next good one. They’re very very rare. You have to be patient.
2. Why did you decide to start your blog?
We decided to come and live in Spain not as an end in itself but as the first step in a process whereby we might change our lives. The decision followed a period of realisation; we were ok, but only ok, and moving in the wrong direction. It was time to admit defeat and settle for a life we didn’t want or to make a break for it. I had a couple of health issues at the time and was stuck in the house for a few months. Starting the blog was a declaration. Getting our hopes out there in concrete terms made them real and applied pressure to commit to them. It has also been a love letter to writing.
3. What overlooked gems in your region would you recommend to visitors?
It isn’t exactly obscure, but a great many people who visit Andalucia overlook Cadiz. It’s a magical city for me, reachable only by the one road which becomes a causeway over the water. A beautiful 18th century town that blossomed with trade from the New World, but with origin’s going back further than the Phoenicians. It’s just about the oldest city in the western world, and the fish and seafood are fantastic. Columbus sailed from here on his second and fourth voyages and the squares and parks are planted with wonderful American species. Once a year it plays host to the world’s second most debauched and spectacular Carnaval, after Rio.
4. What challenges have you encountered living in Spain?
It isn’t the bizarre and unexpected that gets you; it’s finding that even the most banal and everyday task – like making a phone call or opening a bank account – can become real obstacles. Apart from that it’s the noise. I’m having a love affair with Spain but the noise I could live without. I read somewhere that it’s the third noisiest county in the world and I’m not in the slightest bit interested in visiting numbers one and two, wherever they are. Three Spaniards could fill a stadium with noise. You see people standing inches from each other in otherwise deserted bars and happily screaming at the top of their lungs. At first I thought they were angry. Now I know they’re just Spanish.
5. What are your favorite foods?
I’m lucky in that many of my favourite foods come from within an hour two of here. In Spain, the simple things are the best. Tortilla de patata made with onions and good Andalucian potatoes is a staple in our house. Habas con jamon, another favourite of ours from Granada province is a combination of broad beans with cured Spanish ham, onions and garlic. I love the fresh fish and seafood you get around here too. They don’t do much to it – just whack it on the hotplate and serve it up with a wedge of lemon. To that add Iberico ham, creme brulee, Irish stew, New York cheesecake and good tahina-laden hummus. I could go on.