A fun-filled fortnight

So it’s been a really really long time since my last post. Mostly because I’ve not had anything particularly exciting to report and life in general has been a bit normal! That isn’t to say that I’ve not been enjoying life here in Spain, just that I’ve got a lot more used to it. Despite not wanting to make this blog sound like a list, the highlights of the last two weeks are as follows:

I had a pretty busy first weekend back in Madrid. On Saturday I went to el Parque de Atraciones in Madrid with the family, which although I’m not the biggest fan of theme parks (I get scared by fairground rides…) was actually really fun! I’ll admit I did get a little nervous on a child’s roller-coaster in the shape of a dog… The girls were SO excited about everything; I’m continuously amazed by how easy it is for children to be excited by anything. I managed to keep them entertained with bubbles for a good half hour today; incredible. I definitely don’t remember them being that much fun…

On Sunday I had a proper Spanish breakfast – churros! It was great, although I ate considerably more of them than I probably should have. I then spent the afternoon doing some sight-seeing in Madrid. I wandered round the Museo del Prado for a good few hours (burning off my breakfast) which was really impressive, although I think I’ve now seen enough paintings to last a lifetime. Then, as it was a beautiful afternoon, I went for a walk around the Botanical Gardens next to the museum. All in all it was a wonderful and surprisingly cheap day as I managed to get into the museum for free!

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As the girls will be going back to school soon I’ve been helping the eldest a lot more with her English and holiday homework. On the whole I like to think this has been quite successful, although there are times when I feel like I’ve never identified with the phrase ‘getting blood out of a stone’ quite so well…

I spent most of last week with the family, Tuesday was fun every though we didn’t do anything particularly special. Belen and I spent a good half hour at a fuel station in an attempt to use the compressor to inflate a car shaped paddling pool. It didn’t exactly go as planned. We then went on an accidental shopping spree and spent the rest of the afternoon trying to blow up the paddling pool at home. We made home made pizzas for dinner and Belen taught me to make a vichyssoise soup. Followed by a quick swim at about 11pm and the Great British Bake Off (serious cake cravings – for some reason the Spanish aren’t so cake obsessed) it was all in all a quite random day!

I had a lovely day Saturday exploring the historic city of Toledo with José.  We left really early so as to avoid traipsing around in the boiling midday heat and began with a beautiful walk by the river (see photo). As the old city of Toledo is at the top of a hill the climb was quite an effort!  The walled part of the city is however fairly small so we had more than enough time to see most of it, and thanks to the small winding streets we managed to get lost several times in the process. What stood out for me was just how many churches there are in so small a city; in fact the whole place felt a bit like stepping back into the past (albeit with A LOT of tourists) as on almost every street we’d find another historic building. We climbed to the top of one of the church towers where I got some amazing views of the city. We stopped in a bar for a drink before heading back, don’t think I’ve ever had a beer at 11 in the morning before..

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I decided to do a bit more sightseeing on Sunday (I’m literally the perfect tourist) so I went for a wander around el Rastro in Madrid, a HUGE market held every Sunday in the capital. Even if I hadn’t already written down the directions, I think I’d have been able to figure out how to get there through the sheer number of people crammed into the metro.. After getting off at La Latina, most of the stands comprised of jewellery, touristy tat and market clothes, however as I continued on I found other stalls selling just about anything, from antiques, books, incense and vinyl records to what quite honestly just looked like junk.

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On Sunday evening I went out for a lovely meal with my Madrid friends – SO good to see people!!! I indulged my ever growing love of croquetas (they are the quite possibly the best thing ever) and realised one of my worst nightmares; I’ve forgotten how to speak French. Whilst attempting to talk to a Belgian person I think I may have even said ‘je n’ai pas hablé.’ So very bad. However continuing with the theme of language confusion, I’ve discovered that the Spanish make mistakes too. Instead of saying ‘pusimos’ one of my friends accidentally said ‘ponemos.’ So I think everyone was slightly surprised (impressed..?) when I managed to correctly conjugate the past 1st person plural of ‘andar’ (anduvimos) as it’s easily mis-conjugated as ‘andamos.’ This lead to a discussion about the teaching of grammar in schools, as I learnt that here in Spain children actually have lessons and tests on the conjugation of verbs, use of object pronouns and other grammatical constructions, things I’d pretty much taken for granted in English.

Monday I met up with friends again which involved more beer and pizza (I going to seriously miss the Metro bar when I’m back in England) followed by Game of Thrones (yaaaayy) where, 3 months after the rest of the world, I finally watched the Red Wedding. Needless to say, it was a fairly traumatic experience..

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Pre Game of Thrones happiness…

Anyway, I’m going to finish on a food-related note! Today I ate jamón serrano (a type of dry-cured Spanish ham) with MELON. Yes, melon. It was actually surprisingly nice! Apparently it’s a typical dish. This was then followed by fish (bream?) which had been cooked pretty much buried in salt. It was sooo good! I’ve included photos so you can be as impressed as I was! I’m aware that this blog is rapidly turning into a food diary…

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