xavier mas craviotto
is from Navàs (Bages). Before moving to Bristol, he did a postgraduate degree in language consultancy and publishing services in Barcelona and taught Catalan as a foreign language
Diverse and eclectic
Teaching Catalan language and culture is one the best experiences of my life There’s a lot of street art, live music, shows, indoor and outdoor activities
Why did you leave Catalonia?
When the pandemic started, I saw Institut Ramon Llull was offering readerships in the UK, and so I applied. After a few months of lockdown, I thought a change of scene would do me good. Also, teaching Catalan language and culture abroad looked like an extraordinary opportunity..
Why choose Bristol?
Teaching Catalan abroad was a challenge I’d always wanted to embrace. Bristol was one of the UK cities in the offer; I had the chance to talk with the former Reader in Bristol and, judging by what she told me of the city and the job, I knew it would be the perfect place for me.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found?
I’ve been here for a year and a half and feel extraordinarily lucky. Working at the University of Bristol teaching Catalan language and culture has quickly become one of the best experiences of my life, and one of the most intense! I learn a lot as well, not only from my colleagues, who are incredibly supportive, but also from my students, who year after year enthusiastically engage with our language, culture, lifestyle… and quickly become part of our small community of Catalan speakers in the UK.
Is there a casal català in your area?
There’s a big community of Catalans in Bristol, but there isn’t one yet. Maybe it’s time to set one up! However, at the university we organise and participate in lots of cultural activities to promote Catalan culture: last year, we did a workshop about Mallorca folklore, another one about memes in Catalan... We had some special guests: the writer Jordi Nopca, the translator of La plaça del Diamant Peter Bush... We also participated in film discussions with other Catalan students from all over the UK; we watched and talked about Incerta glòria, La mort de Guillem, Pa negre... and we got to talk with the producers, actors, directors of these films!
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
Bristol is a diverse, eclectic city. Neighbourhoods are very different from one another, this is why I always think anyone could find a place here. There’s a lot of street art, live music, shows, indoor and outdoor activities. I specially love the huge parks in the middle of the city, something I would really liked to have had when I was living in Barcelona. The atmosphere is laid-back, friendly, but it can also be vibrant and hectic.
What would you most like to change?
The weather! Also, Bristol is becoming quite trendy, and the price of rent is increasing a lot. It’s difficult for many people now to find an affordable place to live.
What is the best experience you’ve had in your adoptive country?
Meeting wonderful people, especially my flatmates, my colleagues and the rest of the Readers all over the UK. And everything I have experienced with them: nights out; birthday parties; brunches, lunches and dinners; hiking in the Wye Valley; trips to places like Wells, the Cotswolds, Cardiff, Bath, Portishead, Clevedon, Pensford, Abbots Leigh, London, Cambridge... Here I also took up activities that I used to enjoy but that for some reason I had abandoned, like swimming or learning French. Finally, I would highlight the day I launched my book of poems, La gran nàusea, in Wills Memorial alongside James Hawkey, who has become one of the most indispensable pillars here, and the admired poet Rebecca Kosick, who read some of my poems in English. It was a magic evening!
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
I will eventually go back, because readerships have to be renewed after a certain period of time. However, I will take all these amazing experiences and everything I have learnt here with me.
CATALANS ABROAD Bristol (United Kingdom)
Where are the best places for visitors to stay?
It depends on their interests. If you seek a quiet but central neighbourhood, Clifton is a good idea.
What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
One of my favourite places in the city is the harbourside. The suspension bridge is impressive, and it’s also a must. For a first visit, I would also recommend Brandon Hill, Ashton Court, having some drinks on Gloucester Road or Stokes Croft, strolling around the city centre, Cabot Circus, St. Nicholas Market, or the Christmas Steps. You could also try to find some of Banksy’s hidden graffiti art!
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
Then I would explore other neighbourhoods like Montpellier, for instance, or somewhere in the outskirts, like Blaise Castle and its surroundings. Or I would try some local food, go to a pub, listen to live music in the The Old Duke or The Lanes, for instance, or go dancing at The Fleece. I would also visit the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery; they have amazing photographic exhibitions! There is also a place I really like across the bridge, on the riverside, from where you can see the suspension bridge and the houses in Clifton. The view is amazing.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
I have very fond memories of having lunch with some of my colleagues in Chris and Jo’s Kitchen. It was one of the first meals we had together after so many months of lockdown and doing everything online. I am also very keen on buying something to take away and eating it in a park or by the river.
Where would you have a special dinner for two?
Maybe in Coppa Clifton Village or The Ivy Clifton Brasserie.
When is the best time of year to plan a visit? Bristol is especially beautiful in autumn: the colours of the trees are simply breathtaking. But it’s not a very good time of the year for the weather. Late spring is a good time to come, when the weather starts to warm up.
What is the best kept secret about the area?
Banksy! Who is he?
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