Saturday, 13 March 2010

One year on....

1 year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8,766 hours. 525,600 minutes. 31,536,000 seconds.

As I'm writing this, I'll have been in Spain a full year (plus about 3 hours!). March 13th 2009 was a big day. I was hugely excited about my big adventure, but at the same time I was completely terrified. I think I said in my first blog that for someone who had been in the same job for 19 years and 11 months, had never been out of the UK for longer than about 4 weeks, and who generally didn't do anything alone, I appeared to be confronting all those things in one huge hit.

I've been trying to remember what it felt like on my first afternoon here, but it's difficult. Everything here is now so familiar and normal, that casting my mind back to how it was to be new is really hard. I know I remember that everything smelt, sounded and looked, well, just different. That's always the case in a foreign country but usually it's accompanied by a feeling of "Well, it's just a couple of weeks on holiday". But this time, no. This was it. Home. One way or another, I was staying.

I have no intention of rehashing what's happened in the last year - most of it is on this blog anyway.

All I'll say is that I want to thank each and every person who encouraged me, supported me, practically pushed me in some cases, to take the plunge and come here. It's not all been plain sailing, but then staying in the UK probably wouldn't have been either. So thanks to everyone in the UK for wishing me well, keeping in touch and not telling me I'm mad even if you think I am. And thanks to all my friends in Spain for welcoming me, helping me out and making the last year such a memorable one.

Without wishing to sound like an Oscar acceptance speech, I want to mention (in no particular order):
Louise, Andy, Debbie, Cathy, Dade, Sid, Julie, Mum, Hannah, Dad, Eve, Jorge, Nacho, Ann, Pedro (both of them!), Richi, Bev, Kim, Donna, Krizstina, Mariano, Gabriel, Lizzie, Javi, José Luis, Richard, Max, Alex, Nat and Moira. Without you I either wouldn't be here at all, or wouldn't be having as much fun!!!

A little photographic trip down memory lane can be found HERE

Sunday, 7 March 2010

What might have been......

......had I not taken the plunge, today would have been the beginning of my 21st year as a civil servant. What a horrendous thought!

I celebrated this non-event by going over to Rafa's place (where Louise now lives) for a very lovely lunch (crema de calabacĂ­n, home-made bread, cheese and walnut salad, pear and banana yoghurt with maple syrup, carrot cake muffins, wine and tea) and chatting in 2 languages. I got home from lunch at 7pm, relaxed for a bit, then at 9pm I met up finally with the Madrid Vegetarian Group. I've been trying to go to one of their monthly meals since October but the dates don't always work out. Tonight's restaurant (Ecocentro) is only 4 Metro stops from my flat so nice and easy to get to. It's a huge place with a full-service restaurant, a self-service cafeteria and a massive veggie/natural shop and bookstore. I'll be going back. There were 10 of us for the meal, 4 Spaniards, 1 American, 1 Belgian and 4 Brits. A good mix. My only wish is that we had been sitting at a round table, instead of long rectangular one which meant that conversations were limited to the people nearest you. Though that meant I chatted to Amy, Sa, Beatriz and Katherine, all of whom were lovely, interesting people. The food was good if a little more expensive than I'd hoped, but I enjoyed my crema de esparragos, and arroz horneado (cream of asparagus soup, and baked rice with vegetables).

So, given that instead of that I could have been sitting at a desk at Gatwick, dealing with crap files, an equally crap computer system, and probably arguing with several people on the other end of the phone, I know where I'd rather be!

And so career break 2 starts...........