Tuesday, 18 August 2009

What I did in my summer holidays!

After the gloriousness of Vaughan Town, I packed myself off to the UK for 11 days. That may seem a strange place to go in the height of summer when you live in Spain, but....! Those of you in Spain will know that August in Madrid is 2 things: dead and HOT! Not just a bit hot, not just pretty warm, but hotter than hell. 40-45 degrees. So despite the fact that it's lovely that it's so quiet, it's kind of wasted cos you just don't want to go out! I realise that complaining about the weather may seem like rubbing salt in the wound of those of you living with grey, cloudy skies but really - try living day to day in over 40 degrees. Not as fun as you might think!!

Be warned - this is a bit long. Sorry.

So - anyway, August in the UK. I'll get the weather out the way first. Changeable. Predictably changeable - if that's not a contradiction in terms. I had rain, cloud, sun, wind, heat, you name it. Well, apart from snow. Though it wouldn't have surprised me if that had put in an appearance too.

After my previously detailed delayed arrival, I launched into my social whirl on the Sunday with an afternoon BBQ for the 60th birthday celebrations of an old family friend. It was a lovely, chilled afternoon in their garden, with a fantastic spread of "normal" and veggie BBQ stuff with very tasty accompaniments (including beer of course!). Followed by no less than 8 cakes! Most people were settled in around 4 big tables and there wasn't much mingling so I chatted most of the afternoon to the birthday celebrant, his son, my mum, dad and stepmum (always an interesting fly-on-the-wall experience to have the 3 of them sitting together!!! :-)

Monday was spent ferrying the slightly damaged cat backwards and forwards to the vet for stitches in her inexplicable wound! One VERY grumpy moggy finally came back home at 6, complete with pretty purple soluble stitches, but a look on her face that said she'd be taking a long time to forgive me. Pushover that she is, some chicken and tuna seemed to change her mind quite fast and she's now healing well!

In the evening, I went out with Andy (in case anyone doesn't know - he is now ex-boyfriend, formerly known as boyfriend). For the duration of my trip to the flat, he was away house-sitting for a friend so any awkwardness there might have been trying to share with a recent ex was avoided. So we met for beer, pizza and chatting. And it was really nice. Really, properly, nice. Think we've found we get on much better as mates than as a couple. Yay.

Tuesday was a mishmash of sorting out my storage lockup in a hunt for things to sell (got to pay my rent in Madrid somehow), then 6 hours trying to fix my mum's laptop. Fairly successfully, if I may say so. Then she took me out for curry at the yummy Blue India in Haywards Heath.

Wednesday I spent the day blitzing the murder mystery that Cathy and I are desperately trying to get ready for the beginning of September, then Ange treated me to food and drinks at The Open House and we chatted. A lot. (And I made her cry. Accidentally!)

Thursday was my only day to myself so it was more murder mystery prep, a trip into town to try and flog some jewellery (total failure!), caught up with some random TV and listened to Spanish radio! Oh, and at the back of a drawer I had found an old SLR camera - with film, not digital! Worked out I probably last used it in about 2001 and it still had film in it, with 13 photos taken. Curiosity got the better of the me and despite the fact I thought the film would be knackered, I used up the rest of the pictures and took it off to Boots for developing! And in the evening, I learnt to play the ukulele that I got for my birthday!

Julia and Mike, more longstanding friends, came down for the weekend. Friday night we went out for a gorgeous Sri Lankan curry (if you're in Hove, go to Moonstone in Church Road), with Cathy, Ed, Andrea and Carol. Another good, fun, chatty evening accompanied by great food. I nearly missed the last bus home but was very glad that I didn't as I would have missed the spectacularly impressive transvestite bus driver.

Saturday I collected the photos from Boots, expecting little, but getting 36 perfectly good photos! The first 13 were indeed a blast from the past - a weekend away with mates in, we think, North Devon and some shots of a very bizarre girly pampering night for me and Cathy at my flat. Facepacks galore! I met Cathy, Julia and Mike again and we went for lunch at The George (vegetarian pub). We got over the disappointment of them not having any veggie sausages available and scoffed tasty halloumi baguettes, baked goats cheese and vegetable soup. Then we went to Devil's Dyke on the open top bus. Breezy. Bracing. OK, probably cold! By the time we got to the top, there were very threatening grey clouds, strong winds and we had to admit that our planned beach BBQ might not be the best idea ! We walked on the Dyke for a while then headed back on the bus. We stopped at a pub near my flat then Sarah joined us for takeaway pizza at mine. I wish they'd open a branch of Oregano's in Madrid!

Sunday was Ed's birthday so brunch on the seafront called. Summer had returned and it was lovely to sit out with our veggie sausage sandwiches and cheesy chips in the sun and the sea breeze. Cathy and Ed headed off for a birthday surprise night away, and Julia and Mike had to go home so I met up with Sarah and Sid for a late afternoon laze in the park, with ice cream.

On Monday, I spent the day with my dad. Lunch at Tosca's in Shoreham was tasty as ever (though disappointingly the very gorgeous Italian waiter wasn't working!). I played about with his computer too, installing his webcam and Skype so we can have strange disjointed conversations in future, and getting rid of IE8 which they'd downloaded but hated! In the evening, Ange came round for food, chat and a jam session. We've been singing and playing the guitar together since we were about 13 - to be fair, on that basis, you'd think we'd be better by now! But it's always amusing to us even if the neighbours don't agree. The video evidence, which some of you will have been unfortunate enough to see, says it all.

Tuesday was packing and saying goodbye to the cat day. A long walk on the seafront with Andy was relaxing and refreshing. Then for my final evening, I went to Misty's for cocktails with Cathy, Sid, Deb and Carol. A rather drunken evening, I have to admit. Doing 2 for 1 offers on cocktails til 9 is very nice of them, but does rather encourage binge ordering. We'd already had 2 each when we realised it was 8.50 and we'd better get to the bar. Ordered another 2 each plus somehow an extra communal one for the table! Still, I can't complain about an evening that starts with a Sicilian Kiss, goes through Purple Rain, Brandy Alexander, another Sicilian Kiss and ends up in an Orgasm. Slightly the worse for wear, I climbed into our "taxi" (thanks, Andy!) and Sid and I went to her place so that I could wake up far too early this morning, only 10 minutes from the airport.

So that's my last 11 days. What have you all been doing?!

Photos of my trip can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.es/emsr2d2/UKTripAug09?authkey=Gv1sRgCITC3YrjoqG01gE&feat=directlink

Monday, 17 August 2009

Am I home yet?

My time back in the UK was weird. Good but weird. As future blog will show!

I had some great fun meetups with my mates and family, and I definitely should have put the cat in my suitcase and smuggled her back to Madrid, but still somehow it was odd. The flat felt strange for the first few days though it didn't by the end.

But the couple of times I referred to going back to Madrid as "going home", I was met with slight surprise by the person I said it to, yet it felt totally normal to me. But is it home? Kind of. It's where I spend the majority of my time. Yet I don't have a "real" job, I'm renting a room in a shared flat, I still get lost (a lot!). I've got friends here, but I've known all of them less than 2 years, and in most cases, only since March. Having said that, they're fast becoming very good friends.

With the other Anglos (or should that just be non-Spaniards?), maybe it's the shared experience of living abroad that kind of throws us together. Someone said to me today though that it's a perfect opportunity to meet people that probably you wouldn't meet under any other circumstances. They're right - the majority of my mates in the UK are either school or work related. Common ground, of course. And without exception, they're great and I wouldn't be without them. But I guess it's another comfort zone thing - there's no impetus to find/need other people there!

So maybe I have 2 homes. Or none. Maybe I'm just learning to enjoy wherever I am.