Passing the border from Don Quixote-ville into Andalucía, I can feel my old accent returning with every mile. As our most recent visitors, Murray and Sean wanted to do some exploring in the south, I’m heading down to Granada to join them and Ruairidh, and to wander around nostalgically and say annoying things like “oh, I remember this!” and “the south is just such a special place, you know?”
We shouldn’t feel any surprise, but I’m afforded the time for a short trip away because this week Spain is celebrating public holidays on both 6th and 8th December, meaning that I have days off work Tuesday and Thursday, but have to be there Monday, Wednesday and Friday. What sense that makes I do not know. And, of course, uni just shut up shop for the entire week; no messing around there.
Work (however intermittent), the Masters, and many visitors have prevented me from any blogging recently, bar some restaurant reviews, and so much has happened that I’ll have to stick to selected highlights (sighs of relief all round).
- I ran my first ever 10k race, as part of the Run for Diabetes they had organised over at the Parque de Oeste. Just so that I could feel acclimatised from running in Scotland, the entire morning was drizzling and cold. I crossed the finish line and discovered to my horror that Strava had only counted 9.6km, and so I ran around the finishing pen in circles until I made it to 10km.
- Señor Logue himself came to Madrid and introduced me to some great new people, and as far as boozy bar crawls around La Latina go all weekend, we did a great job.
- As you’ll have seen from some go the food and drink reviews, Markus came to stay, and entertained himself on day trips before allowing himself patiently to be dragged to all my favourite bars and restaurants. Markus is working in Brussels, and single-handedly going to save the EU. I said, all casual, “Markus, you should totally write a blog, it’s so much fun!” And he then proceeded to tell me, in his wonderful and unassuming way, that he has just finished he first draft of a novel, and in fact is already listed as an author on Goodreads.
- The next visitors were Sophia and Jens, released temporarily from London’s Magic Circle. We had a top long weekend, vaya sorpresa, eating and drinking, and making merry. Sophia and I went to see an exhibition on 19th century fashion at the Museo de Romanticismo, and tried to have a trendy roof terrace drink at the Mercado San Anton, but were rained on for three days out of four. Sophia, who used to live in Madrid, got to wander around nostalgically (as I am about to do myself). It was so good to see them, even if they do spend most of their time trying to convince us to move to London and become their neighbours. In the sitcom where I do live in The London, I walk about smiling at people on the tube and going to the Globe every day and generally being a massive Kimmy Schmidt about all the big tall buildings.
- Murray and Sean arrived last week. On Friday we went to a concert of the electro-swing band Caravan Palace, who my sister had recommended – a risky game, but it paid off. The concert was great, and we all promptly fell in love with the lead singer, but the venue was a huge pile of No Gracias: the Palacio Vistalegre is like a crap Glasgow Hydro, with the band playing in a nasty concrete room underneath the stadium, with armed police outside, and a whole bunch of people were smoking. Yes, it is massively illegal, even if it is Spain. On Saturday night we went to a party (no big deal, no big deal) in a bar in Chueca to celebrate my colleague’s birthday, and went to bed at 4.30am.
- I got a tiny little piece of green cardboard with my details on it from the government, of administrative significance, and all I had to do to get it was an entire morning of pointless bureaucracy at a police commissary somewhere out at the very edge of the universe!
- I purchased some Christmas decorations for the flat from Wu’s Bazaar (where else?) and have strewn them about. I didn’t realise before it was too late that the lights are those ones which flicker on and off (“intermittent lights”, as the box describes them), so it has got all very Stranger Things. The city centre Christmas lights are all up now, in their tacky glory, but it turns out (as discovered from recent late nights) that they turn them off at 1am to save either the planet, or an electricity bill; I want it to be the former, but I suspect that it is the latter. There are also a bunch of Christmas markets, but all they seem to sell are Nativity scenes figures and Santa hats, and not mulled wine – so they are basically pointless.
- They call pretzels “bretzels” here.
Finally: do you remember my awkward exchange with my firm’s ‘ergonomics coordinator’ or whatever he may be called? When I accidentally signed myself up to a medical examination when I thought that I was asking for a workstation assessment? So I had to e-mail him the other week because I’ve started to get a super-crickedy wrist and so thought I’d request a wrist-rest (you know, one of those squidgy things you use to stop your wrists from slumping around when you’re typing and provides you with the false hope that your body, if not your mind, might be saved from being crushed by the corporate machine). And many days passed with out a reply, whilst my wrists continued to clickedy-clack around. Until finally, one arrived from the man in question:- [and I paraphrase]
“The firm does have at its disposal such items. HOWEVER they are not suitable for everybody. If you will recall, we had a workstation assessment on 7 October and I myself evaluated the linear positioning of your arms. I therefore advise that a wrist-rest will not be suitable for you. Please find attached a link to a series of wrist exercises that you may find useful to relieve any discomfort. I believe they will be of assistance to you.”
If that isn’t revenge for not accepting his medical examination offer, then I don’t know what is. Now I must stop typing, for my wrists hurt.