Sunday, December 16, 2012

Drawing friends

Hello. It's been surprising warm the last couple of days, I'm dressed normally, no hoodie and no hat, here in my flat. This was not the case on Tuesday night when I sat in my hat, scarf, gloves and coat, scribbling frantically for 15 minutes at a time trying to capture the poses of my fellow drawers (people who draw, is there another word that isn't furniture?) at the Tabacalera, an old tobacco factory at Embajadores in Madrid.

Dibujo Madrid meets each Tuesday with a different theme, and basically some people pose, perform, do what they do, while the rest of us draw. It's a great idea, totally free, and they're very welcoming. I'd been putting off going out of fear of arty folks (since art school my fear has only grown) but am so glad I went back. I'm the only Scot so far, but there are people from all over.

I heard that a Dibujo London is starting up, which is great news for you southerners, and someone should really get on it in Scotland too. Do it. I'll link you to the website, and also to my other blog where I'm going to be uploading my sketches and maybe some new paintings too, please have a look and comment, I need encouragement and criticism!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Gauguin, Gijon, Good Good Good

Paul Gauguin

Paul Gauguin

It's amazing how good an exhibition can make you feel. I could have stood in front of some of those paintings for hours. I want to paint like Gauguin, jungles and exotic trees and bodies in the sun. Preferably in Tahiti, though I'd settle for a room with heating really. Painting isn't so appealing when my fingers are cold, though, saying that, I could probably paint in gloves couldn't I? Worth a try.

Emil Nolde

Life is good.

Beautiful paintings. Candles and an ironic rose on the tabel in front of me, The Lumineers playing and a cup of tea. Going for a walk to see the Christmas lights later. Danced my socks off in Ocho y Medio last night, alas no-one from Blur was DJing this time but it was still a lot of fun. And no hangover. Cut out my first sewing project and made mistakes and still don't understand all the words (in English), but I'll get there. It's a skirt with 2 pockets on the front and lots of pigs, I'll post a photo later.

I made excellent use of the 'puente' (Bank holiday followed by a day off to join it to the weekend) and went on a road trip to Gijon in Asturias, right in the middle of the North coast of Spain.

We ate a whole range and a huge amount of really amazing food; fabada Asturiana, paella, solomillo wrapped in bacon with honey and mushrooms, fish, lamb tagine, churros with chocolate, and *cough*pizza, and drank about the same variety and quantity of alcohol... but mainly Sidra! It has to be poured like this:

And you have to drink it in small shots quickly before something happens with the sediment, which isn't hard as it's delicious. Mmmmmmmm.

It was so nice to be somewhere else, out of the city where you could see for miles and miles, and on the beach, and driving through snowy mountains, and not thinking about anything. Happy making.

Had a midnight paddle in the sea too. Pretty cold, but very fun. I'd have gone in properly but couldn't be bothered taking off the many layers of clothing. And it was realllllly cold.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Going Out Face

I had a thought. As I was putting make up on yesterday getting ready for a lazy Sunday afternoon, I realised I was putting on going out make up, by default. Eyeliner and everything.

From this I deduced: I've been going out a fair bit. Too much? Nah, almost Christmas isn't it, need to build up the alcohol tolerance before getting to Scotland for the holidays...

Also the fact that I was picked up and taken to Las Rozas for lunch and a walk around and told repeatedly "you need to get out of the city", and later, "yeah you needed to get out of the city"... trying to tell me something? Like, weekends are for something other than recovering from a late late night and preparing for the next one? Really?

I have been neglecting Madrid's more sober side, but the Prado is free all day today so maybe I'll go. Or maybe I'll go and find a framer for my paintings. Or take my satchel to get the strap fixed. I definitely need to go to Lidl. And work, shit. Better go shower.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Unrelated bits of news (No-one else is listening)

Is Spain rubbing off on me? Meal times, yes. Late nights, yes. Language, gradually yes. Gushingly poetic blush-inducing flirting? Maybe. This is a turn up for the books. Receiving, obviously; I am not the most poetic or demonstrative person I know. You'd be lucky to get 'you're nice'.

Unrelated, there seems to be stuff going on, like, stuff I want to go to and see. I need more jazz fans, and tap dancers, and arty folk, to hang around and scrounge free wine at openings with. There's an afternoon of free jazz on Saturday, but who could I persuade to go with me? They would see it as a punishment!

I did see a free exhibition on Monday which was an unexpected treat, Louise Bourgeois at La Casa Encendida. It's some of the work she did in the last 10 years of her life, it's great. Can't wait to go and see the Gaugin exhibition at the Thyssen, and to go back to the Museo del Traje, as I only got up to the 1900s and the best is still to see!

Also found a new club on calle Augusto Figuero, El Intruso. Free to get in, really nice atmosphere, little stage for a fun wee dance, good music.Might try and go again this weekend, I'd recommend it.

I have a girl in one of my classes who tells me she loves me every week. It feels good for me. Not sure if it makes up for all the other ones who look at me like I'm a smelly idiot, but it helps.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A year on, it's November again

I keep thinking about what I was doing this time last year. It often occurs to me on certain dates, but this time it's different because I'm in the same city, same country, if not the same gloriously central heated flat. I do much prefer my current flat, but really if I could be back in my old bedroom right now I would be, with the window open to let some cool air in... Instead I'm huddled on the sofa with my biggest scarf, hands too cold to sew or paint...
Obviously if I moved a bit more I'd warm up, but the laptop battery is at least keeping my thighs warm so I'm going to stick with it and just take turns to sit on each hand.

I got part way to starting sewing today: I took the pattern of my 'learn to sew' skirt out of the packet and started to read the instructions in Spanish. 10 seconds later I switched to English; better to not be too ambitious. I washed the cotton, because it told me to, as it is likely to shrink. It's drying. I didn't understand all the words in the instructions, in English, so I gave up. Poor effort? You're right. I did clean my room though, and made loads of pasta so I don't have to cook tomorrow. Little steps.

A balloon gave me a huge fright earlier. I don't know where it had been, presumably floating around on a big draft, but it landed noisily into the cardboard boat hiding behind the couch right behind my head. Last night a short man with a glowy thing and some roses gave me an even HUGER fright by popping up right in my face in a bar on Calle Pez. I was really scared. The balloon in comparison was just a wee fright.

AAAAAArrrrrrrggggHHHHHH it's so cold!!!!!

Tempted to crawl under 2 duvets and 2 blankets into bed, but I'd never get out again and I'm planning on going out dancing later, to prove I'm not an old fogie.

I was going to tell you about what I was doing last year, what I'm doing now, and how much I've grown as a person and how much wiser I am, but you can just look at last year's posts and decide for yourself.

(I am still wearing my slippers.)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I am Grown Up.

Well that was quick. I don't know how long I think a month is in my head but it's a lot shorter in real life. I'm 25 now, and it's the last day of September, and tomorrow it's definitely October.

Now I'm a grown up. Need proof? I went out for a birthday meal last night and I didn't eat so much I felt sick, and I didn't get drunk, and I went to bed at a reasonable hour. We went to Rustika Casa Angel, which I love, it's got different areas decorated like different places in the world, (I'm not explaining it very well, you should just go) and then the gin bar, also go. Don't know what it's actually called, but it has lots of gin.


I've spent a good part of today attempting and finally succeeding to thread my new sewing machine!!! I really struggled with the instructions and my brain, which made me realise I haven't learned anything new in a long time, except for things I didn't want to learn, like that my boots aren't waterproof.
I shall be a seamstress! And I shall make beautiful things! Starting with... some lines of stitching on an old bedsheet! (cause that's all I've got to hand.)

Also, maybe this doesn't fit the theme of this post much, but for my birthday party we dressed up like a circus so I got all tattooed up as an old style Painted Lady, and I kind of liked it... The smudging when I bent my arm wasn't great but I reckon real tattooists don't use eyeliner. I had a proper sleeve going on! Might post a photo later. If I had drawings all over me I wouldn't be able to work in the proper strict catholic school anymore with the nuns, but I would be able to join the circus, which, be honest, sounds like a lot more fun.

I have loads of classes to plan, which is why I'm still talking. I'll let you know how my new career as an inked up fashion designer and circus performer goes.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Really, already?

It's September, this makes me nervous. How has summer already happened? It passed while I was photocopying in locutorios, spending hours on buses to far away classes, and lying perfectly still trying not to let any part of my body touch another in the sticky, sweaty heat. But more of it happened drinking iced coffees in the shade of parasols in plazas, or beer from cans in the dark at Dos de Mayo, accompanied by Germans on guitars. And at the pool, and on a boat in Retiro, and walking through the quieter August city.

A summer that I was afraid might be lonely turned out to be filled with friends, fiestas in Lavapies and La Latina, countless nights in Sala Sol taking up the whole floor, and many nights at the mexican restaurant on the plaza. Generous and lovely new friends took me to Salamanca where I didn't "do tourism" but totally fell for the nightlife and actually spoke Spanish.

An old, wonderful friend came to stay and brought an equally great girl with her, we became friends when I swiped her in the glasses with a tortilla. She makes breakfast burritos that make you want to get up after too few hours in bed. We hit all the old spots together (of course El Tigre, Star Studio, 100 Montaditos, Museo del Jamon, Tupperware) and some new ones. We watched a flamenco Don Quijote. We made kiwi caipirinas, and danced and danced in RRR. We drew on ourselves so we'll never forget. We baked a rainbow cake. We surprised one friend for her birthday with photos on her walls and feathers hanging from the ceiling and drank Baileys with cinnamon icing on the cake at 3am.

Now those friends have gone but others have returned just in time, and within the month two of my favourites are coming to stay. September means organising, timetables, meetings over coffee to talk about working together, and Priorities. Earning, of course, but also travelling less around the city and more on weekends. Doing more art classes but not being too worn out to paint at home. Finding a tap class (maybe even teaching one) and a Spanish class and arranging work around them. Going back to Dibujo Madrid in la Tabacalera. Paying back debts. Much more than January 1st, September is when I make resolutions!

And next week will make it a year since I came back. And it's almost my 25th birthday. And there's a chilly breeze about, I put on jeans this morning! Time is getting on!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Cat for August

As soon as the sun came out I abandoned this blog completely! How fickle. I'm inclined to restart it this month as I'm the only person in the world, or so it feels, working in Madrid all month. Friends have deserted me, others will be around but on holiday which is possibly even worse as I've got 4 new jobs this month and a lot of preparation to do...
Anyway the real reason I'm writing is that I've ended up with a 7 week old cat to look after for a fortnight, and I can only assume it'll do enough funny things for me to have something to write about. At the moment he's sitting on the sofa licking himself. Now he's looking suspiciously at his own foot. Paw. Licked again, then looked at me. Licking again.

I've never been a cat person really. Didn't really have a chance to be as half my family are allergic, but the one cat I knew as a family friend tended to rip my tights and dig holes in my thighs, which made me a bit nervous. This one is looking at me suspiciously now, through half closed eyes. I think he thinks my toes are little mice.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Goodness, this needs a bit of an update. I can´t really be bothered writing now though, so you´ll have to make do with a snippet.

Been busy. Two new classes this week. With adults! Two days off last week.
Quite a few nights out. Lots of hanging around in cafes and bars.
Found another board game cafe, played late night Scrabble.
Proudly watched my friends´ new play.
Got off the bus in the middle of nowhere, to the driver´s consternation, and had a lovely walk.
Went to three really good exhibitions. (More on them another day.)
Laptop got a huge nasty virus, I´m leaving it switched off in the hope it gets bored and leaves.
As usual, the job hunt continues. Summer is up in the air.
May is already good month, April was wobbly. 
It´s going to be hot this week. FINALLY!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No more hugs. No time.

I feel that this is a low. Half ten at night, sitting on my own in McDonalds in Edinburgh, on the window seats looking at my sad reflection and people walking past, going places. I don't think I'll ever be able to live outside of a city again. It's awful, it's impossible to get anywhere and you waste hours of your life on public transport, and even more time sitting waiting for it, because buses only run every 2 hours and 10 minutes.

I don't even mind bus journeys, and I do some good thinking on trains, but doing it two days in a row is tiring enough, and I'm going to be doing it tomorrow, the next day, maybe the day after too and definitely the day after that. I might cry.

I did choose to arrange to socialise with different people in 2 cities, two days in a row, but that's usually not a problem! I'd forgotten how much of a nightmare it is living 1hour20minutes and a cold bumpy bus journey away from friends, bars and nice places.

It doesn't help of course that my empty gum hurts and the chips I bought to stave off hunger are not hot and a bit limp.

I wish I had enough money to just get taxis and stay in hotels, or even hostels. Actually, I'd settle for a phone so I could call someone and crash on their sofa.

Still half an hour till the bus leaves. Might start the 5 minute walk to the bus station now, it'd be my bloody luck to miss another bus (the last bus) because I was too busy moaning about having to wait so long for it. If only I hadn't hugged Alex and just waved bye instead- I'd have caught the 8pm train to Edinburgh, I'd have got the 9.05 bus to Gala, I'd have got home 5 minutes ago and I would be in front of the fire.

No more hugs for anyone.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Scary wisdom removal

I'm still in Scotland, in the countryside, and the weather? Dunno. Haven't been outside.
Yesterday was exciting though. I had my first ever operation! I know lots of people have lots of operations but I never do, I'm more an unusual illness than a broken bones kind of girl. This dreaded first time surgery was to get my wisdom teeth out. When I was telling people they'd say "oh that's fine, I had one out it was nothing, which one are you getting out?" and when I'd reply with ALL FOUR they'd just kind of say "oh."

So I was a bit nervous going to the local hospital, with my old dressing gown and borrowed slippers. My sister's boyfriend helpfully told me that his friend had her wisdom teeth out and she came out with bruises on her collarbone where they'd been kneeling on her while someone else was holding her forehead down.
Then at the hospital they told me The Risks, stuff like intense pain and losing feeling in your mouth. ("Most of the time it's temporary so don't worry.")
Surprisingly, when when they took my blood pressure and temperature they were both a bit high so I had to go sit in a cool room to calm down... IF SOMEONE SITS ON MY COLLARBONE I'LL BREAK!!

Anyway I must have managed to lower my temperature enough because next thing I was putting on a funny gown (very modest and no bum on show, contrary to expectations) and then walking into theatre. It was pretty scary, walking into a big room with one bed in the middle and tools around about, and lots of people looking at you in expectation. I get nervous giggles, always have, so must have looked absolutely mental. So I got on the bed, and they did blood pressure on my one arm while they started to stick a big needle into the other hand, chatting away about Spain and studying art to try and distract and presumably calm me. They were doing a good job, I was starting on a run down of my complaints about art school when the anaesthetist said 'nope, that's not working, that's just not working!'
Personally I think he could have just signalled to the others or something, been a bit more subtle.

So suddenly they all swapped sides and stuck the needle into my other hand, and pretty soon after I felt a bit weird like I might faint, and I thought 'I wonder if I should tell them', then realised 'that's probably meant to happen', but I was waiting for them to tell me to count from ten to zero but then I was asleep. Then I woke up with tears in my eyes and I'd obviously been having bad dreams, which was a bit disappointing after people telling my I'd be nicely high when I woke up. After a while they gave me some jelly and ice cream which I struggled to get past my huge lips, which it turned out were normal size and they just felt huge because of the drugs. Weird. I appreciate this story isn't very interesting but really I haven't got much else to do, I'm on the sofa, I've watched Green Wing, The Thick Of It, Britain: A Natural History with Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie and Lola, I've eaten petit filous, jelly, ice cream, mashed potatoes, tomato soup and drank chocolate nesquick and warm tea and taken my medicines. I'm hungry but feel dangerously full of dairy, and feel my eyes might actually turn square. So I shall tell you my stories. But right now I think I'll take some paracetamol and watch Neighbours for the second time today.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I wish I was on a beach

"What's the weather, what's the weather, what's the weather like today?" is one of the disgusting cringey songs I am supposed to sing every Monday and Wednesday to my EFL classes. Obviously after the first half-hearted assault on poor 7 year old ears I didn't try it again. (I'm actually quite a good singer, but really there isn't a lot you can do with that song.) It's also a really repetitive way to begin a class, oh what's the weather like? I wonder, it's March in Madrid, I'd say sunny and warm?

BUT- if they had followed me to Scotland this weekend they would have had their little minds exploded. (I'm glad they didn't, that would have been like when I had to take a 3 year old then a 5 year old home with me for a week each, and we all remember how fun that was...) Anyway, exploded Spanish heads everywhere because  it's cold, it's rainy, it's hot, it's windy, it's sunny, it's freezing, it's pouring, it's drizzling, it's pouring again and now it's a bit sunny and partly cloudy, then it's night time and OH MY GOD IT'S REALLY SNOWY then it's snowy and it's sleaty and it's snowy and there's hailstones, and repeat.

I did not come dressed for the weather, and almost cried in Edinburgh yesterday waiting for the bus on North Bridge, officially the coldest windiest bit of Scotland. Great place for a bus stop. I actually stood there with my wee suitcase which I'd lugged up the Scotsman steps, dragged across the road with my hood up and face screwed up against the blizzard, and had tears in my eyes. You know when you can't physically unravel your face muscles from a big angry frown? That.
God I'm a moaner! So I eventually got home at lunchtime, the bus driver ploughing on, and put the kettle on, and put the kettle on again, and again, thinking I must have suffered mild brain damage from the cold because why was the water not hot yet? And there was no electricity. There was no electricity. There was no electricity until 8pm. Living in the olden days.

Do I miss Madrid? It's been less than a week, but SI! I'm sure I had less moany Scottish things to say, maybe later. Must go light the fire.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sunday feelings on a Friday!

I have had a very lazy day. I didn't get dressed, and I'm going to go to bed in a minute. Not working Fridays is amazing! Because if you go out on Thursday night, then Friday feels like Sunday, then you've got Saturday and Sunday again, and this weekend we're off Monday as well!! Happy happy happy face.

I was pretty tired after work yesterday, hadn't gone home in between classes so it was a long day, out of the house from 7.30 till 8pm. Slumped on the living room floor with a cup of tea and my big jumper, with no desire to get up, I ended up making plans to meet friends for drinks after tea. I don't understand how it happens!  So we did go out for drinks, and even after saying repeatedly I wasn't going out, I ended up suggesting the place to go next, leading everyone there, and getting dancey on the mostly-empty dancefloor. Where is my sensible side? I couldn't help it though, it was Ya'sta on a Thursday night, which as I've told you before, is great. So we danced.

What's great too is that I spent 6 euros. Pretty sure I owe someone a drink or two, but I might go out with only 6 euros on me more often. This morning I had a bit of a headache but soothed it with tomato on toast, tea, pineapple, coffee and biscuits. And more tea. I was going to go for a run (I know, out of character! Needless to say it was not my idea) but my flatmate couldn't find her trainers. What A Shame. I'm not sure how the rest of the day disappeared, but I did a quick drawing, and wrote a new cv, and started hunting for summer jobs. Oh yes, and I painted some petals purple, and primed some boards to paint on, and hung up my washing. And made some soup and ate some soup and then- the best bit- watched Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with my flatmate and some dulce de leche ice cream. That's not bad for a lazy day, except that I didn't plan any classes... and I need to go and have a shower now because one of the tiny flaws with this flat is that the boiler only holds enough water for one shower, and two of us are dirty and have to work early tomorrow.

I hope you enjoyed that account of my day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Bleeding children and sticky floors...

I've moved house! My new flat is lovely, big, and feels like home. I live with one of my best friends and another lives close enough to pop in whenever. We have young friendly neighbours who didn't mind that we had about 35 people round for a housewarming party last night. The party was great, lots of people I didn't know but enough of my own friends too, lots of well-made mojitos and- predictably, with so many musicians about- a bit of singing*. We kind of have two living rooms, one that’s really pretty with a balcony which leads onto a darker, bigger one that has no furniture in (because we don’t have any spare) which turned out to be perfect for a party, and everyone was envious, which I like. (Hear me, friends around the world, I have a lovely flat, come and visit!)

At about 3am we decided to go dancing and all cleared out to a club called TaboĆ³ that I'd never heard of, but was cool. The music was mainly techno, but with live sax and congas on top! I think the place was India themed, but there were dragons above the bar so I can't be sure. Had a bit of a dance and some expensive and wholly unnecessary drinks. Ended up finally going to bed at about half 7, as it was getting uncomfortably light outside, very glad to be able to close out the morning with my big shutters.

Today was mainly mopping up the sticky floors of last night, and picking mint leaves out of cups, the sink and off kitchen surfaces, and later making and eating a few rounds of crepes to cure the hangovers. Tidying up revealed a number of full and half full bottles of spirits; turns out house parties can be profitable! We now have a well-stocked mini bar, and a lot of fizzy juice to use up. We've also been left with a guitar, but I imagine someone's going to want that back.

Recently, it's been quite busy as usual, but more so because of moving. Since having packed up my old room my piles of important notes and lists haven't emerged from the box I stacked them into, which means my mind hasn't been particularly organised. And the internet here doesn't like my laptop, so I'm feeling a bit out of touch. Tomorrow morning I have a lot to do including buying a mattress, because after over a week on an airbed my body feels like it's suffering a bit. Luckily I'm free all day until half 3 because- finally- I have finished my movement class!

It was a dramatic last class on Wednesday. I was meeting the new teacher there to introduce her to the kids, the teachers and the labyrinthine school and she was late so the kids had plenty of time to get very overexcited. (Overexcited, enthusiastic, and energetic are my words of choice for parents when I really want to say your child is an uncontrollable maniac in my class.) This meant that when we got to the gym, instead of the majority taking their shoes off and noisily getting ready to start while a couple went mental, they all went mental. I went to drag a child down off the tall heap of mats and when I turned back around, a sweet little 5 year old was clutching her face, bawling, and dripping a puddle of blood onto the floor. The kids told me that she and her friend had bumped heads. I don't know what the other girl has under her hair but it must be bloody sharp, because this one was bleeding, a lot.

Having no tissues and knowing not to expect there to be toilet roll in a school toilet in Madrid, I stripped off my jumper and started to mop up the mess, trying to distract the girl from noticing the quantity of blood and her horrified, gawping classmates. I got her rinsed off in the bathroom then headed upstairs to try and find someone with first aid know-how or at the least an anti-septic wipe. It had emerged from under the blood there was a fairly big gash above her eyebrow, and suddenly all I could think of were the inevitable phone calls from parents, sueing me, demanding to know how I ruined their daughter's pretty face in what is meant to be an English class, taught by a competent teacher...
Upstairs we found a teacher coming out of the bathroom and after I explained what had happened she took charge and took the girl to get some ice and stuff, and I went back to the gym to take back the class from the poor new teacher, who was looking a bit startled, but probably less so than me. And less bloody.

Turns out the girl had to go to hospital to get stitches so of course I called my boss and told her, expecting to at the very least have to fill in an incidence report or something, but no, this is Spain, no pasa nada. Excellent.

Ooft, just got a wave of hangover, time to stop gazing at the laptop screen and maybe just shut my eyes for a bit. . .

*My flatmate's boyfriend is in a band that's actually famous, apparently!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It is not pancake day, you are mistaken.

What really is carnival? I know it's the big party and parade and dancing and stuff they do big in Brazil, but for me here it seems to mean people in fancy dress and adding feathers to any art project. Last week was Valetine's themed, this week carnaval, no wonder I've practically missed Pancake Day!

So I've decided to postpone Pancake Day to the weekend. It's one of my favourite days of the year, honestly, I think sometimes I prefer it to my birthday. So, seeing as I'm moving into my new flat on Friday (!!!) it will be a good start to New Stuff of 2012 to make a huge batch of pancakes. Providing the cooker works, and I can find kitchen equipment... damn I'd forgotten about that, I don't have any bowls, forks, pans or anything and my flatmate isn't moving in until Monday! I don't have a bed either, which maybe should be more of a worry. Hmmm. I just don't have much time before Friday to sort out any of this, and I have no money either, which is going to be fairly restrictive. But I got the keys today, there is electricity (though no lightbulbs) and a new washing machine and a front door doorknob will be fitted this week. Woohoo!
Need to get packing...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Things that make me happy.

Things that make me happy:

When D brings in sugar paper money to our little class and gives me some.
When I see the bus coming as I'm crossing the road to the bus stop.
It being light and almost sunny when I leave for work on a Saturday morning.
The prospect of not having to do my lunchtime class anymore.

Things that don't:

The gas running out when I'm in the shower and having shampoo in my hair, and having to go outside onto the balcony, at 6:50, at minus 3 degrees, to change the canister.
Teaching my lunchtime class every Monday and Wednesday until the next teacher starts.
Having to go outside another morning, this time at 7:45, to swap the boiler back onto the full canister of gas so I can shower, because someone took it off the night before.
The difficulty of finding real turpentine.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


My memory is faulty. I proudly told someone yesterday that when we went out on Saturday i didn't spend too much money because we drank at the party then didn't buy anything at the place. Lies! I had forgotten, so honest lies, but oh dear, how selective my brain is.
I've just been reminded about not only the fact that I had a drink but that I accidentally drank someone else's (mine had a lemon in, hers didn't), and also- shocking that I forgot really- that someone pushed me!

For no reason, a girl just pushed me hard from behind on the dance floor. I was not bumping into her, I wasn't looking at her, I wasn't even dancing obnoxiously, I was, as my friend put it, just kind of swaying. So she pushed me and I almost fell and I'm pretty sure we gave her hell for it. Why are people needlessly aggressive towards me?! I try my hardest not to be an idiot foreigner but I'm clearly failing- remember the El Tigre incident?!

So far all the anger comes from the girls; the only trouble any boy gave me was that he kept trying to hold my hand, sneakily, from behind while we were dancing back-to-back, separately in 2 separate circles, which I thought was weird. It was as if he thought we were having a secret affair behind our friends' backs, but we definitely weren't.

If anything else is revealed to me I'll let you know.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Blues, the good type

On Thursday night I went with some friends to see a blues band at La Coquette*, and it was so good! I hadn't seen any live music for ages, and now I want to be a musician again. It happens every time, that and fancying the moustached band members. The band were great, but I can't remember what they're called! Definitely want to go back, it had a really nice atmosphere.

Did I tell you I'm moving house? Pretty sure I did. I'm imagining where all our stuff will go, what to bring over from Scotland to make it really feel like home, what bedclothes to buy in IKEA, etc... and keep forgetting that priority #1 is a mattress. At first I thought I'll need to buy a whole bed, but-  it can't be that hard to build a bed, can it? We'll see.

I wish there was a better rugby pub in Madrid, or that I could magically hop back to Scotland for each game. The one I was in today has staff who are like greedy hawks, as soon as your glass is half empty you can feel their 'buy another or get out' thoughts boring into your skull. Though if we had won I'm sure I wouldn't care! A try is a try at least.

Last night I went to a house party with the girls I work with at one of my many jobs. The flat was amazing, it has one of those showers that have jets that come from the sides, I was tempted to just get in right then. But it was odd because I think there was one Spaniard, one Brazilian, and the rest of us were Brits. It was the most English speakers all together I've seen in ages! And unexpectedly, I wasn't bothered. (At Christmas when I went to the pub i had to be dragged away, talking at top speed at anyone who looked at me, like I had too many English words to fit in my head.) Instead of being sociable we gossiped amongst ourselves and drank. For some reason recently I've been straying from my usual rum and drinking gin, or in this case, vodka I had leftover from another night. No more. Rum is my friend, it doesn't make me fall asleep in taxis or feel rough the next day. Vodka, unless you are caramel flavoured, I do not want you. Gin- you are nice but you make me fuzzy and almost immediately headachey. No thank you.

Anyway we went from the party to Rock and Roll Radio Club at Alonso Martinez and that was Fun. They played loads of old music and we danced our thick socks off. (It's freezing here at the moment, I am getting through lots of socks washing from layering them up.) I eventually left to get a taxi just before 6, and luckily the driver had a decent memory when i told him my address because I promptly fell asleep until he woke me, parked right outside my door. I hope I wasn't speaking or snoring. Lucky for me he was a nice taxi man and the meter only said 9 euros something so it's evident he didn't cruise around running up the charges while I slept. Thanks taxi man!

I watched Breakfast at Tiffany's today to soothe my hangover, it is so lovely.


Now I'm writing this while I wait for Glee to load. Maybe by midnight I'll get around to doing the things that I've written in my diary to do since Tuesday.

*La Coquette, number 14 on Calle de las Hileras.
I want a bath sofa!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fizzy fizzy, good karma please!

Oh I AM TIRED but still fizzing a bit with nervous energy- I just did my movement class, that I normally do two lunchtimes a week, as a show for parents. So, picture me in my lovely p.e. kit and with Siberian wind-slapped red cheeks. Picture a big primary school basement gym with a green floor, with benches around the edges and big dance-studio style mirrors on two walls. One cd player, some foam coloured stars, a book, and a bag of scarves. Then add 15 tired Spanish children at the end of a long week and various family members, coats and wooly hats.

To be fair it went quite well, the parents on benches provided a barrier between the kids and the mats and jumping-horse thing, and some of them told their kids off when they were ignoring me. I found A Lot of nervous energy and jumped around like a maniac to the songs and tried not to make eye contact with the adults in the room. I tried to pretend they weren't there.
Because I was so hyper and the kids couldn't run so far away we got through the class in about a third of the time it normally takes, so maybe now the parents think they aren't getting their money's worth... maybe they'll stop sending their kids to class, that'd be nice.

Big sigh of relief that's over!

And, I don't want to jinx it, but we saw a niiiiiice flat today that I would very much like to live in, and we have to wait to Monday to hear if they'll take us with just one month's worth of deposit. Fingers crossed please, and I'll be building up as much good karma as possible this weekend. If I owe you a favour, now is the time to cash it in.

It's meant to be- we'd met to go for a walk around, looking for flats with 'to let' signs on, and stopped outside one with a browned old sign on and were phoning the number just in case. A woman stopped outside the door just then and was looking for her keys. No answer on the phone and we both thought, let's ask her if she knows anything, and lo and behold she was the woman! She let us in to see the flat right then and miraculously it turned out to be nice, with massive wardrobes and balconies with plant-pots and big blue inside shutters and not too far out of budget! So, I'll let you know on Monday if I'm extremely happy and packing or crying, gutted. x

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Future, and winning (at Scattergories.)

Sunday board games at Manuela again, and I won! I do love Scattergories, especially when you get a nice abstract one, or a double.

Things that grow= greed. Things that smell bad= train toilets.

I also like that so many people clearly love playing board games in an old style cafe on a Sunday afternoon with milkshakes and coffees, so much so that tables are reserved and there was a queue to sit down when we left.

I've been thinking about, or more accurately not thinking about, The Future. I haven't got a Plan. That hasn't really ever been a problem for me, and it still isn't, except that I have many ideas of things I'd like to do and I realised that I'll need to work out when, how and in which order I'm going to do them.
It doesn't really help that as soon as someone else says they're going to do something that sounds exciting or exotic, I want to add that to my list too.

The list goes something like this:

learn Spanish
study painting (masters) and fashion (degree)
go to South America and travel around
work a ski season and snowboard loads
get a studio space and paint
join or start an artists' commune
do really useful volunteer work
get outdoorsy qualifications
climb mountains
go on an arctic adventure/expedition
road trip around the UK
do a big USA trip
make my childrens' books

...not in any particular order.

I will continue to investigate these various ideas and await your enlightening and ingenious ideas of how to combine them in cheap and wonderfully easy ways.


p.s. the photos at the end of the last post were from Valle de los Caidos, a very interesting and impressive place, definitely worth a visit. Maybe not on a religious holiday though, we made that mistake! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dulce de leche, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

I absolutely love dulce de leche and all its various forms. Right now, I'm enjoying my local cheapy supermarket's own brand dulce de leche ice cream, which is unbelievably good.

Thursday nights seem to be my new catch up with myself and write a blog day. Monday morning through Thursday night passes me by in a busy fast routine-y blur, and every single Monday I think 'why didn't I spend the weekend planning lessons and doing my to do list?' and every evening I think 'why did I spend 3 hours watching glee/gossip girl/an idiot abroad/ Gavin and Stacey instead of going to bed or planning lessons?' and I bumble through various classes thinking 'there must be a better way of doing this...'

And then it gets to Thursday night, and with the prospect of a whole entire free day off with no work tomorrow, I perk up around now, 10:30pm. I'll probably proceed to spend tomorrow having a great time, then realise at about 11pm that I am not remotely prepared for my art classes and end up making examples of art projects through the night. I tell my boss I make them look a bit crap on purpose, so it's more achievable and less intimidating for the kids... and then it's the weekend and I stop caring and have fun.

As I predicted, last weekend was great. Though saying that I'm going to have to properly think to remember it.

Oh yeah, me and Fiona went to Ya'sta for the 50s night, and it was pretty empty but so much fun, I recommend that everyone goes! There is a huge dance floor and we filled it with our foolish dancing, the two of us and our odd friends that we picked up during the night (one of whom did some things in the toilets and she had not the slightest bit of shame about it afterwards.) Another had a sailor's hat on, and another serenaded me in his top hat with Muse on his guitar on the pavement.

The next day felt very summery and bohemian, as I made crepes then drew Fiona while she half-slept (Beware: fall asleep and I will draw you. Creepy, maybe, but you've been warned) but then she woke up and read aloud, while I painted, from Love in the Time of Cholera. (Feeling like I live in a book again, and I love it. It wasn't even planned!)

Later I went to see The Artist and it was brilliant. Feels like it was made for me, and it totally justifies my love and huge enthusiasm for Fred Astaire, tap dancing, tappy music, romance and Jean Dujardin. (OSS 117) To everyone I've enticed, persuaded or just downright forced to watch one of my black and white tap musical collection, I do not apologise and hope you now realise how cool and ahead of the game I actually am.

I meant to go to the Prado on Saturday, to get my culture shot for the week and remind myself how to paint, but ended up drinking tiny cups of wine in Lavapies, in a beach bar with actual sand instead of a floor, and browsing flats on the internet. Yes, I have decided to move flats! So I'll keep you updated on that...

where was I? this is a bit of an epic post, but I guess if you got bored you've gone already, this is for me and my failing memory, not 'you', anyway.

Then I went out with the Spanish gang for Martin's birthday, and it was a fairly quiet, fun night, until people started to act inappropriately in a chilled out bar called Areia, that I've mentioned before. It has cushions and a bed-like bit, which is up on a platform next to the dj, that a fakey blonde Spanish 'older' lady and a young French man got a bit comfy in. After realising that they didn't mind one bit, everyone in the bar started to openly stare and laugh, and heckle them. They provided a fair bit of entertainment anyway.

The next day I started my new project of drawing what's in or lying in heaps around my wardrobe (which I will post photos of as soon as I get a camera that works) then popped in on a friend and went and played Scattergories in Cafe Manuela, in MalasaƱa, with an After Eight milkshake. I was feeling a bit down and it cheered me up no end. Board Game Cafe Sundays are going to become part of my weekly routine and I am well excited about it. Time for everyone to learn about my secret vicious competitive streak!

Actually, I've been busy, no wonder I'm knackered today. Tuesday night was meant to be a few drinks with friends and their friends, and ended up being quite a late night, and considering I'd been up for work at 6:45am, I'd say I did fairly well! And THEN last night; a Feast.

Kassandra, for reasons known to only herself and the turkey man, bought 2 kilos of turkey breast. That's a lot of turkey, but it was the best idea she ever had. I will get the recipe for what she did with them, because it was amazing. Rum, thyme, honey, chilli, yoghurt, coriander, lemon, roast potatoes with rosemary... I can't even remember what was going into it but it was the best thing I've eaten in a long time. Washed down with caramel rum and followed by Jungle Speed (new fav. board game), a game with a bitey dog, and Jenga.

I feel like I lead a bit of a charmed life right now, mainly from having friends who can cook, and enjoy tea and board games.

My goodness, if you're still with me, I don't know what to think. Full marks for perseverance? Get a life?!

Tomorrow I must be pro-active and do lots of photocopying and filling in forms, to prepare for my NIE appointment (to get my Spanish ID card) which I have been waiting 4 months for, and don't want to turn up without some obscure document I need. Because, when I finally get this elusive but all-important number, I will be able to purchase a contract phone, and join you all in this decade.

I will try and do less things in the next week so I have less to say, this has taken a long time. I finished my tea and ice cream ages ago.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Happy Days!

I just bought a sketchbook, 8 boards to paint on, and a big tub of gesso! Shopping for art stuff beats clothes by far, and since my paints arrived this week I'm all excited about it again! Lovely red sketchbook, off-white pages, wee page mark, lush. AND- and this is a bit of a marker in my adjusting-and-learning-to-live-in-Spain progress- I bought it from one of the scary shops (Casa Ponte) where you have to ask the man behind the counter for anything you want! I was terrified of these less than a few months ago! And I'm picky about sketchbooks, but he was very nice and let me leaf through a few before settling on the first one, obviously.

So, yey for me. And seeing as I don't work on Fridays anymore, I'm going out tonight, and this weekend is looking very nice from here- cinema on Friday night to see The Artist which I love already after just seeing the trailer, and another night out on Saturday, with some Spaniards... a chance to see if I have really improved or just have gained some misplaced confidence...

I'm sure I'll be finding some time for sketching and painting, and as this year has been designated 'cultural-and-self-improvement-year', I think Friday calls for a gallery of some sort.

I think I'm also happy because in my sixth and last class of today, my two boys were so funny I was laughing with tears in my eyes- all they were doing was shouting the past simple irregular verbs, but for some reason it was hilarious... oh the life of an English teacher!

This has been a bit lacking in pictures recently, I promise I'll try and find some soon. Kettle's boiled (YES! I have a kettle! Another reason for JOY) so I'm off for some imported Twinings. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Avoiding things again...

Forgive me for not writing anything for ages, and not writing anything interesting for.. well, a while. Busy busy! I'm only doing this now to put off even longer writing plans for my art classes on Saturday, that I have to email to my boss by the end of the day. (I take that to mean midnight, giving me another 36 minutes.) I just cannot concentrate before 11pm!

For my tea I just ate a pea sandwich and a carrot. It was delicious (if you haven't yet tried a pea sandwich, do it, the key is lots of butter or dairylea-type cheese to stick them onto the bread) but I must get back into the routine of actually cooking. I wish it was possible to get croissants and other baked goods sent from Paris every morning. I had intentions of eating patisserie for every meal over the weekend, but only managed one chocolatey, gooey thing from Paul in the end!
Yep, I was in Paris last weekend. Such a frequent Easyjet flier I should get discounts. It was AWESOME to see the Paris Crew (who have disbanded to all corners of Europe but reform for special occasions) and fun to see the family I worked for over there, even if I was more excited than the boys.

Oh damn, I'm not meant to be writing this, no I'm stopping, I'll come back to it. After Gossip Girl, and these blooming plans... oh god, I just don't want to do it! I'll write them now and they'll be so bad I'll end up changing them before Saturday anyway...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"She lives in Madrid"

Hello! Happy New Year everyone. Hope you're not struggling through today.
I had no hangover! Good start to the year, smug me.

I suppose compared to last Hogmanay- singing outside the Pantheon, looking down to the sparkly Eiffel Tower- Melrose is a bit tame, but they did have fireworks and the drinks at our wee pub are considerably cheaper than any Paris bar. And it means that I've started the year in a proactive manner, replying to an email I got in early October, printing 3 flight boarding passes, eating 2 pieces of fruit, making a birthday card, finishing reading my first short story in Spanish. This is boringly smug, sorry. Can't remember what I was going to write, but it was a bit more interesting and less self-congratulatory.

Anyways last night I met some friends of a friend, and was introduced with "she lives in Madrid", which makes your life sound really exciting and exotic! Until they ask if you're fluent in Spanish or have a Spanish boyfriend or if you have a job that doesn't include singing 'heads, shoulders, knees and toes' with the actions over and over.

A great thing happened the other day. I was in Edinburgh, hanging about after I got my haircut before meeting a friend to go to the Portrait Gallery, and just right as I turned onto Princes Street very loud, cool music started blasting out. For a minute I thought I was in my own film, it was brilliant. They were testing the sound system for the Hogmanay street party, but I like to think it was just for me.

The Portrait Gallery has been done up and it has a wall of "Hot Scots", which is fun.
Something to aim for.