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What is Ibiza like? – An Emotional Travel Guide: Cala Moli & Old Town

Ibiza. Eeh-beeth-uh. Party destination; earthy European glamour. The surreal, exciting, disturbing sensation of entering a bar in the dark of night and leaving it to find the sun. The sun has risen whilst your back was turned – you learn that the world does not pause for you to find a place to sleep. Tinted sepia-pink, greens morph into lush shades of olive, and the ocean moves quietly like a pan set to simmer. Simmering heat. White linen. Aperol Spritz. This is Ibiza.

Ibiza Beach Club Sant Josep Cala Moli

Cala Moli is carved out from sea-licking mountains and appears from the highway like an unpretentious Hollywood, with its curving tarmac lined by gargantuan forest trees. Through the dry and drunkenly undulating branches, I see wide, white houses with flat roofs. Their entrances are tucked behind the tall foliage which grapples up the hillsides, majestic wooden gates off some silver gravel track. Everything is high, hidden, reeking of unknown wealth and romances. As our car fights round the knotted road, my nose is filled with the scent of the swinging alpine air freshener, which has been baking for its lifetime in the trapped Cala Moli heat.

Ibiza Sant Josep Cala Moli

Afternoon sun is the most vicious, so the locals simply do not sit in it. They’ll be under bright white parasols, sipping tar black liquor, a digestif for the paella. And whilst they respect the swelter of the midday light, boozing gently in modest shade, Ibiza’s visitors rush at the terrific sun. There doesn’t seem to be an in between. Either vibrantly lit or a silhouette against it; either so hot that the plastic chairs themselves sweat, or entrenched in the deep, cool shadow of the Old Town wall. The island is all over oozing with this fantastical perception of life, where there is no monotony, no areas of grey, and only the dreamy extremes of joy and joyful sin remain.

Ibiza pool Sant Josep Cala Moli

It is beautiful how the trees, cacti, flowers and all matter of green burst so audaciously through the ashy dryness of the earth here, to all hang with thirsty longing over the rocks and ocean. I love most the way that the Old Town and its bikini boutiques and rare restaurants feel as though they’ve been built inside nooks of hills and crannies of land, that have sheltered them into a moment of time which keeps them young whilst they grow wise – every laugh, every love at first sight, every choice and consequence, seen and captured and lingering still. You can feel it in the noisy buzz of tongues speaking, singing, kissing, as you wander amongst it, the European class and bohemian money.

Ibiza villa Sant Josep Cala Moli

As we sit on the edge of the sea, inhaling sangria, tearing shellfish apart with our brown hands, I am absolutely content. My limbs are heavy and my skin is dewy with the sweet steam which perpetuates the island. Feet slipped from sandals rest upon the terracotta tile floor. Ice cubes hit my teeth. I spot the hairs on my arms have turned baby blonde. It’s only two p.m. – dinner is seven hours away; cold strawberry gin & tonic is nine. I’ll be awake for another sixteen. The never-tiring day turns to night turns to day, seems endless, in its bubble of dusty rock and opaque blue sky. And yet the day did come, despite all efforts to halt it, to leave my siesta-induced dreams in Ibiza – which will be waiting there for me still, the next time I get back.

Ibiza Sant Josep Cala Moli

All photos are my own, please credit if you use them.

Dark Bloody Blue: Mood / Inspiration Board

She sits and sizzles at the poolside. Hot skin, cold fingertips, resting on her sweating glass of drink. Vivid blues of chlorinated water and powdery sky, hold up weeping palm trees and orange mountains lost in steam. Wet footprints across the concrete soon fade in the sun. She can smell the tyres burning on oven baked cars struggling to cool down; the sweet, Hawaiian Tropic on her knees and thighs; the sweat that is crawling down her neck. It is late afternoon, the saddest time of day, and not long to wait before the wicked night’s crush. But there is bliss to be found in this everyday hell. She finds hers between his mouth and hands. Beneath his feet and within his chest. A ten minute drive away at the fluorescent red slushy machine, tongue stained, brain numb, frostbitten lips to kiss him with. There is bliss to be found in this monotonous paradise. In the hum of the fan that puts him to sleep. The scent of a brand new shampoo. The white light that pours in past midday and illuminates the rising dust like holy ash from the burning wings of an angel shamed. She sips her drink, to watch the sky descend into unearthly sanguine, and observe the shadows creep, threatening to grasp her ankles and drown her in the lukewarm pool. There is bliss somewhere amidst all this.

by Y.L.H.

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Novel Opening: a University assignment from 2014 being brought to light

I could not move when I woke up. Forced to lay in the glare of white sun, sliced into pieces by the blinds over the windows. The rings on my fingers pushed hard into my teeth through the skin of my cheek. Murky waters, like a swamp, swished back and forth over my sticky eyes. The scene grew cleaner, the place growing more and more unfamiliar. My flesh felt as if it were a bag full of damp sand, and I did not kid myself that I would be exploring soon. I did not kid myself that things would turn out well from this. I ground my already grinding jaw some more, in hopes it would slip and snap and I would spill out, and all the grime and dirt would leave me. Dragging my skull across the cheap metal on my knuckles and the hot pillowcase, I dropped it over the side of the bed, and saw his black eyes twitching from behind their lids. In between the petrifying moments, sticking out like turrets through a mist, are these images of searing clarity. I find that my mind tries to erase most things, leaving just the pressure marks on paper behind, the faint idea of an idea. But moments of him are recorded in ink; ink on skin. When he lifted his stare from his bottle of Sol, choosing me from the rest. These are the dots that connect each loose line.

Let’s begin at dot number one – it is seven in the evening, mid-November, and it is cold and dark. Lucy and I are walking carefully down the metal steps of a rollercoaster ride’s exit. ‘Inferno’, eight corkscrews, five loops, no build up, abrupt ending. He stands over six foot tall with a cigarette in hand and bleached buzzcut, zipped into a chunky, nylon, khaki coat, a bit metallic, looking all over a bit sickly, almost done with living. He has a strong nose and sleepy eyes. He is waiting by the wall of one of those gravelly flowerbeds that seperates the theme park tarmac into curving pathways. Lucy slows down with me, to figure out what it is I am gaping at. “Molly”, she says, “he is gonna catch you looking!” I want him to, so much so, that I stop walking, to continue wondering, to properly wonder, at the figure glowing by the overflowing bin, lit up by the green and purple rollercoaster lights. The sounds of the screaming and the adrenaline-induced blasphemy, the deafening spin of rushing, shaking wheels, layered over indecipherable announcements from rusty tanoys like foreign tongues through radio noise – all together they weave themselves into a loud and perfect drone. Nothing can describe him except for that, devouring, simultaneously numbing and purging, terrifying and euphoric symphony.

Prose and featured image by Y.L.H.

Spinach Pici Pasta

spinach pici pastaJamie Oliver’s Family Superfood aired on Channel 4 the other night, and the ingredients of the spinach pici were so vivid and colourful, and it involved fluorescent green dough, and pine nuts, and loads of parmesan – so I had to try it right away. I upped the 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes to 1 or 2 teaspoons, which ended up giving the dish a perfect amount of warmth, and adding an extra courgette worked well too. Roll the pasta thinly to create a more delicate dish, and do not forget your 50 (or 100) grams of parmesan to finish the sauce.

To try it yourself, Jamie Oliver has the Spinach Pici Pasta Recipe on his website.

3 miserable verses

A very vague novel idea. Here are some openings, although they all work well together as one. I like verse III the most. A novel that is like a contemporary American work, painfully real but very poetic in its awfulness. Reveals the misery of the mundane, the desperation of the every day. Finds romanticism within the ordinary. Something magical will happen to this otherwise average character – but the world will never lose its grittiness. No frills, in spite of it.

Up until now, any money I’ve had, I pissed it away. I don’t fucking know where any of it went. I imagine myself chucking a lit match onto a pile of cash. Sometimes it makes me feel sick; other times, I rejoice in the cleanliness of having nothing, and wish perhaps that I had even less, less and less to lose. The shame of privilege always kicks in.

I am disenchanted with my life. My father compares me to every other person my age, and older, and younger, but always more successful. They are more hardworking than I am, I must be lacking, all of my fucking money is gone. And I am a brainless imp beneath the manager, who spends her 8-hour shift writing up the staff rota for a soulless suburban high street store.

It is good to be ragged and pained. It is worth it. You might then learn something. From disease and dust, from the grime and gore. There rises the man. Not from the sand nor ocean, not sun, nor hope nor glee. The man, the woman, the beast arises, from the grimness, gutter, blood and rot; crime and anger, deception, foulness, fear and lust. There it grows, there it blossoms, flowers in the rancid muck.

Prose and featured image by Y.L.H.

Butternut Squash Risotto Recipe

My famous butternut squash risotto recipe, with spinach, pancetta and pine nuts. Beautiful colours; strong, autumnal flavours. Don’t be put off by the lengthy method – this recipe is all about putting one thing aside, whilst you move onto another. Very therapeutic. Interestingly, I have never used wine when making this particular risotto. I am prepared to pay for my sins.

Butternut Squash Risotto (Serves 4)

50 ml olive oil plus some for drizzling
1 large butternut squash
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1 large white onion
200g arborio risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock, give or take
100g grated parmesan
200g fresh spinach leaves
80g diced pancetta (or you can cube some yourself)
50 g fresh pine nuts

Preheat oven to 190-200C. Prepare the butternut squash. Peel the skin and remove the seeds. This can be tricky: I suggest a large knife, and placing a tea towel underneath your chopping board to prevent any dangerous slipping. Cube the prepared squash into roughly 2cm cubes, doesn’t have to be neat. Place squash in large baking tray, drizzle generously with olive oil. Season. Mix it all about so everything is coated in lovely oil. Place in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the squash is really browning on the edges and getting chewy on the corners.

Whilst the squash is cooking, start the risotto. Prepare the stock: heat roughly 1 litre of water in a saucepan and add the appropriate amount of vegetable stock cubes or gel, whatever you like. Whilst the stock is heating, cut the white onion into cubes, as small as you can manage. But don’t grate it. Heat the 50ml of olive oil in another large saucepan over medium heat, then add the onion and cook at a good pace, until soft and golden on the edges.

Now pour your 200g of arborio rice in with your onions. Stir so that all of the rice grains are coated in the oil. Cook them so you can hear the rice sizzling, until it begins to go translucent slightly. At this point, you can begin adding the hot stock to the rice, one cup at a time. You add a cup, stir occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed, then you add the next cup.

Tip 1: If you have the waxy end of a parmesan block left, after you’ve grated your 100g, you can add this block into the rice during cooking, and it will add even more flavour. Remember to remove it once done.

Tip 2: You will have to adjust the temperature of your heat throughout cooking. This is fine and good to do! If the risotto is bubbling like crazy, turn the heat down! Also, keep your stock hot so that it is easier to work with, but this doesn’t necessarily mean keep the heat on under it. You can usually just keep the lid on the stock saucepan whilst cooking.

Continue adding the stock until you reach a consistency you are happy with. You may use less or more than the 1 litre I suggest here. I always try the risotto in order to tell if it is done. The rice should be al dente, not sloppy. You want bite and movement, but not like a thick mash you have to flick off of the spoon. Once satisfied, add your grated parmesan to the risotto and stir to melt. Now, add all of the fresh spinach and stir it into the rice so it is all covered. It will wilt itself. Turn off the heat and allow the risotto to sit. This is good practice.

Check on your butternut squash. If it’s done, just turn off the oven and let it sit in there. I usually put my plates into the turned off oven at this point, to warm them up. Now cook your pancetta in a frying pan, and brown your pine nuts in another. Both will be done very quickly, so keep an eye. I like the pancetta very crispy, that’s easy. The pine nuts must be kept moving around the pan though, so that they are browned evenly and don’t burn.

When those are done, remove the pine nuts to a small bowl, and let the pancetta sit. Take the squash from the oven, and put roughly half to three quarters of the cubes into a food blender or bowl with hand blender. Or you can blend with a fork with some elbow grease. Blend to a smoothish paste.

Scrape the paste into your risotto. Stir to combine – it will turn a stunning orange hue. Serve up the risotto onto warm plates. Evenly serve the cubes of squash left onto each mound of risotto. Now evenly serve the pancetta on top also. Place the pine nuts in the bowl out onto the table, with a spoon, so people can garnish as they wish. Also make sure you serve with some more parmesan to grate over. Gorgeous!