Friday, 18 September 2009

And the nominations are.....

A couple of days ago, the lovely Dade ( nominated me for the above. Having been somewhat lax, and in my opinion, not terrible creative with mine, that was a very sweet surprise for which I thank him.
I have no idea, and nor did he, where the idea came from but that doesn't diminish it one bit.
In return, a recipient is asked to share with their readers "7 things that I love", not including people, and then nominate 4 brand new worthy recipients, simple.
So, 7 things I love
1) Playing the guitar. I've been doing it since I was 10, on and off, but in recent years probably more off than on. I've been getting itchy fingers though, in the last few months and having had a couple of opportunities to play, finally bought myself a second hand one here in Madrid!
2) Madrid - what can I say? For someone who doesn't like cities, very much, it's been a revelation. I love the people, the different barrios, the buildings, the sheer chaos of the streets and the tranquility of the Retiro.
3) Marmite. Say no more.
4) Music - after a dry few years in the 90s when there was nothing I liked and I stuck to listening to my 80s classics, I'm pleased to be back interested in music again. My mp3 player comes everywhere with me these days and there is rarely a silent moment.
5) Vaughan Town/Pueblo Ingl├ęs - yes, I did actually put them together. I'm aware this is sacrilege, but no matter who runs them, any immersion program in beautiful parts of Spain, where Spaniards can get the equivalent of 6 months' English in a week, is a good thing. They both lead to lasting friendships and experiences that will never be forgotten.
6) Water - OK, not the most scintillating choice. But still. It's what keeps us alive. I am never without a bottle of water, as certain people regularly point out, and possibly make fun of. I don't care. It's good stuff. It lets me eat and drink all the other rubbish, enjoy myself yet not always suffer the after effects!
7) Greece - After Madrid, it's my favourite place. OK, probably higher than Madrid! If I live anywhere else, it will probably be Greece, Crete hopefully. I love everything about it - the food, the lifestyle, the scenery, the beer (Mythos!), the people, the perfect little blue and white houses and churches you stumble across everywhere, the skinny cats, the beaches........ you get the picture.
And so, my 4 nominations for blogs are:
1) More Or Less : This is my friend Debbie's blog about her life in Madrid these days.
2) Crystal Jigsaw : I've been following this for a while. The writer has a great turn of phrase and some of the most moving entries I've seen.
3) A View of Madrid : - this is Richard's informative, amusing and well-written take on, well, Madrid. Obviously.
4) Rockin' On : - I stumbled across this a while ago, while searching the net about halloumi cheese. Don't ask. It's a random blog, but I just like it!
So there you go, my 7 and my 4. Thanks again Dade, for the nod!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I guess the bumming around, living off my ever-dwindling savings and generally lazing had to come to an end sometime. And the start of the academic year in Madrid seems like an obvious time for it to happen.

It's been good to be here, experiencing the city and life in a foreign country properly for the first time, but reality sets in eventually, especially when I look at my bank balance. Plus, I'm really not good at doing nothing. No, really, I'm not. Stop laughing.

So work it is. Two interviews in the last week and it appears they were both succesful. For one of them, I start teaching at 8am next Monday morning (ouch!) - in a government dept (not sure which one). The company has a 3 year contract to teach English on site to various government offices all over Madrid, so I'm going to be teaching civil servants. Ironic, really. At least we'll have something in common. My first 2 students are "directors" - not quite clear what that means here other than presumably they're reasonably high up and slightly older. The woman who interviewed me said she thought that would be a good reason to send me because I'm "slightly more mature". Ouch. Backhanded compliments all round.

I'm excited and terrified at the same time. I guess this is the crunch. I find out if I'm actually a good teacher. At least I start from the position of thinking I probably am! Having been on training teams etc for a lot of years, and generally feeling pretty pleased with myself when I have trained/taught someone something, I feel I've got a good base. But can I teach English? We'll see. All I can do is my best, which I will.

The kicker is going to be getting up in the mornings, for the first time in 6 months. It's not like I've been in bed til 12 every day (OK, some days) but I also haven't actually had to set an alarm really for ages. From now on, Monday to Thursday, I'm going to have to be up around 6.45. I just checked online and sunrise here is around 8. Still, at least in the dark I might not look as trashed as I'll actually be! So there will be some early nights coming up, which will be very unusual. My body clock seems to have very happily swung onto Spanish time, and bed at 3 or 4 in the morning is pretty normal. Still, again, years of shiftwork mean I'm fairly flexible and reckon I'll deal with it OK.

The other company hope to have some classes to offer me in October sometime.

2 of my 3 private students want me back too, which is good and they've moved their lessons so that I teach both of them 2 evenings a week at their flat for 2 hours. I'm waiting to hear from the 3rd one as to whether or not he wants to continue. His work is pretty demanding so I think it's the timing that will be the issue.

So there we have it. I'll have an income again. Not a king's ransom but a good start.

Now - the third conditional. What's that again?