12th April 2020

Darling Paloma,

If today you had the freedom to pick anywhere in the world to have Easter lunch, where would it be? It was a question I was asked yesterday. These type of questions are more poignant as they have ever been .

Two years ago this weekend, we visited Barcelona. It was a last minute decision made for a variety of reasons: it is near, the weather is good and your mother speaks Spanish.

The city never disappoints; such excitement, such grace, such curiosity.

Miles Van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion which we visited during our weekend.

On our last day there, we walked around the neighbourhood of Sarria. An area overlooking the city with weekend markets, the most beautiful of homes and a collection of squares and parks. Sunday was Sunday again: We walked past Amat Tower one of my favourite buildings. A building that I have always dreamt I would one day own an apartment in. It was warm and the purple trees were out and families were out wearing their best clothes in respect of it being Easter Sunday. It was just as it used to be. There was no incessant roar of cars as in the centre of the city. It felt timeless.

Amat Towers

Then we turned into a tree lined street, Carrer del Milanesat, and passed number 19. A simple plaque with Acontraluz engraved on it. A restaurant you dream of finding by chance. The pass-key to peace and passivity. Open and light surrounded by french windows which lead into a wonderful garden – the garden of Eden.

The first thing I noticed was someone eating a dessert. Caramel custard, brown and treacly dotted with thick cream. It looked as if you could lick the spoon for a whole day. We sat inside as the garden had been booked but we did not care. The owners were kind and welcoming. They treated us like locals and led us to a table right by one of the windows. The waiter wiped the white table cloth busily even though he didn’t need to and presented the menus as if handing over a prize. We sat there taking our time, sipping our red wine and watching the restaurant fill up; in us they had an appreciative audience. Everyone seemed to know to each other – the odd laugh, the odd slap on the back as a welcome. Bright coloured dresses, everyone looking their best. Easter Sunday lunch with the whole family: cheerful cousins, anxious aunts, glowing grandmas.

I don’t really remember what we ate. Was it lentils, the stew or the chicken? But I remember it being delicious and I remember your mother looking beautiful turning her head and the sun from the window reflecting in her brown eyes. I knew at that moment she would one day to be my wife.

We stayed for longer than usual. I am not someone that usually stays at his table for long. But we were one of the last to leave. Maybe it was taking the time to lick the treacle off our spoons? And before we left, we swore to each other that we would return. Next year or maybe the year after and bring your brother. It all sounded so easy at the time? Everything did.

But today we are in London knowing that we can’t visit our families or friends. The news continues to be grim. Another 737 new deaths were recorded in the UK today, a total of 17209 deaths in Spain and now nearly two millions cases have been recorded worldwide .

Perhaps this Easter more than any other Easter, we are sitting alone putting today’s problems into perspective. We are taking comfort from the memories of the ordinary day ordinarily passing, from buying a newspaper, picking up a coffee, to finding a restaurant by chance down a street you have never visited before.

Jardin Acontraluz

Te quiero mucho


Published by Simon Astaire

Simon Astaire was the youngest agent ever employed at ICM starting the Music department and representing a variety of clients before turning to head a PR agency where his clients included brands such as Bulgari, Armani and celebrities and members of the Royal Family. He is regularly quoted in the press and has been described in The London Times as a PR Prince. He had a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph called Station to Station where he interviewed a diverse mixture of high-profile individuals on their imaginary last train journey. He has written six novels and two biographies including soccer star Sol Campbell when he was nominated for best new sports writer. His latest novel The Last Photograph, was made into a film of the same name. It had a US theatrical release in November 2019 and is now available on all platforms. His blog ' Letters to my daughter' began March 19th 2020.

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