Expeditions to Northern Spain

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Saluting the Picos de Europa

As the wretched heat, crush and swell of Madrid dropped behind us, I began to relax. Just another amongst the screaming torrent of cars squeezing out of the city on a Friday afternoon, we dragged smoothly along the motorway, leaving behind us stretches of browning grass before being swallowed by a swollen black cloud. Rain broke over the cracked pores of parched landscape as we drove North on the Spanish motorway, and an atmosphere of calm reigned throughout the car. When we finally arrived in the tiny cantabrian village 6 hours later, everyone stiffly slipped out of the car and dazedly went their separate ways, happy to have a few moments of stationery bliss.

And so began an absolute marvel of a weekend with the family discovering Northern Spain:

– Communicating with friendly mountain goats at the top of the Picos de Europa;

– Smoking apple flavoured Shisha with in a moroccan bedroom decorated with beautiful lamps, rugs, cushions and slippers (we drank proper mint tea too and then watched Pirates of the Carribean in Spanish);

– Actually enjoying coffee (though it will never beat a good cup of Earl Grey);

– Trying Queso (Cheese) flavoured ice cream (seriously don’t love it till you try it);

– Eating exquisite food in a tapas bar in Burgos which had a tree growing through the middle of the roof;

– Helping two elderly Spanish ladies up the hill with their shopping bags in Potes (apparently the local shop didn’t do home deliveries at the weekend);

– The entire 800 year history of Burgos Cathedral was also pretty interesting.

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I do still sometimes feel like a fish out of water being constantly surrounded by Spaniards, because I don’t yet understand everything they say. This is improving slowly but a lot of the time I get only a vague, hazy idea of what they’ve said, and working out what reaction they are looking for proves difficult. I still can’t work out if last Thursday a friend of mine recounted a comical anecdote about an old woman called Lourdes or told me an actual story about their grandmother who died last year.

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Burgos

Work has been good this week. It does feel like I’m living the Devil Wears Prada, I am the incompetent new employee compared to Sophie who seems to understand everything and has fabulous clothes, and I’m surrounded by very efficient women. One of them told me that she liked my top when we were in the kitchen the other day, and one said ‘Buenos Dias’ when I opened the door for her, so poco a poco I will learn their ways, their style, and how not to be reduced to a nervous wreck when I don’t understand clients who turn up at the door without warning. I’m just waiting to become fluent so I can force a laugh out of them with dry English sarcasm. Despite the cultural difference in sense of humour, it might work.

I’ll leave you with another favourite Spanish hit: Enrique Iglesias with Bailando http://youtu.be/NUsoVlDFqZg

Besos from Madrid xx

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