20.07.20 — Journal

A Slow Summer

It’s now been over two weeks since my last post, but I’ve still been trying to get out of my flat as much as I can. Be it to run errands to IKEA for more coloured lighting or to head out with friends to eat, I’ve been slowly taking back the streets as we head into the height of the Spanish summer!

As you can imagine, though, this same heat can sometimes become rather insufferable, and so I’ve been spending the majority of my afternoons in my flat sleeping the siesta, prepping some food, or cleaning the place in the comfort of the air conditioning. My neighbours seem to be doing the same with their weekends, and so one Saturday I awoke to a flat bathed in the warm glow of the light reflected off the neon-pink towel that they had hung out.

My kitchen is bathed in a pink glow.

Even the plant that I’d left out left a lovely green and pink glow.

A pink glow and a green light from a leaf are shown through the frosted glass of my bathroom window.

That same weekend, I arranged with my friend Jhosef and his sister to visit IKEA, as the three of us needed to pick up some supplies that we’d noticed we lacked during the lockdown. I was, however, mainly in it for the meatballs, but I did also decide that I’d probably splash out on some new coloured lights seeing as I’m now spending so much time in my flat.

After a rather stifling metro journey down to the shopping centre, we were ushered through the many steps of preparing to enter the shops: temperature checks, alcohol gel, and a stern word telling us to neither sit down nor come to close to others. Other than the taped-off seats, the queues to enter the shops, and the detour that we had to make through the horrible outdoor heat in order to enter IKEA, everything seemed like business as usual.

Me outside of the IKEA sign.

You can feel the heat in this photo that Jhosef took of me in the car park.

Our shop around IKEA was quite normal, except from the one-way system and the many signs telling us to only touch what we were going to buy. The experience at the cafeteria was very different, however, as we’d to wait to be seated, have our drinks poured for us, and were not even given napkins.

After arriving home late that evening, sticky and exhausted from the long journey and daytime heat, I was rather cross to discover that one of the lightbulbs I had bought was the wrong type. I wasn’t sure what I was to do, but in the end I decided to make the hour-long journey all over again the day after in order to get it replaced – if I know one thing about myself, it’s that if I don’t do something more or less immediately, it’ll probably never get done!

That Sunday evening was then dedicated to wiring up all these new lights that I had bought, alongside some that I’d had in storage for a while. Jhosef later came over to take a look at what I’d made of all these lights he’d seen me purchase, and we took a few photos around the house. I’ll be sure to hold a little photo shoot of my flat by night at some point and it’ll get its own little blog post (much like when I first moved in and started decorating), but for now I’ll leave you with a couple of teaser photos…

A plant is bathed in the glow of both a red and blue light.
Jhosef stands in a doorway, bathed in the glow of both a red and blue light.

Something I’ve also been working on (and which I never really stop working on) is the design of my new website! I’m always cautious of bringing the topic up, as I’m well known for changing the design a ridiculous amount of times before launch, but I thought I’d share a little peek of some new features.

My laptop screen shows my new website design.

As I say though, do take this with a pinch of salt, as last time I shared details on my new website design (the one you’re seeing right now) I wrote a whole blog post about it, only to wind up changing typefaces, layouts, and other details before launch. It’s no lie when I tell my friends that my website is an eternal project!

Anyway, when not in my flat, I’ve been trying to visit the more green areas of the city, as I do occasionally miss the countryside that I grew up in. This has included the park by the river near my house, another green area by the railway tracks, and even a trip across the city to the Temple of Debod, an Egyptian temple donated to Spain and transported to the centre of Madrid in 1968.

I swooped by here with Jhosef after he took me out for a delicious Peruvian lunch at a local spot, where we dined on delicious roast chicken, ceviche (a dish based on fish which has been cooked by soaking it in lime juice), mussels, and papa rellena, a fried potato-based dish stuffed with meats and vegetables and all things nice. This was washed down with chicha, a delicious drink made from purple maize and infused with herbs and spices. It was absolutely delicious, and we definitely needed the climb up to the temple in order to walk off the lunch!

Stairs lead up through a blanket of trees at the Parque del Oeste in Madrid, Spain.
The "Building of Spain" hotel seen through one of the arches of the Debod Temple in Madrid, Spain.

Social distancing meant that I could get this shot of the old and the new.

Another evening I ventured a little less far from home, opting to head down to the river for a couple of hours to call some friends back in England, watching the world go by and the sun go down as I hid in the cool shade of a bunch of trees.

A canopy of trees seen from below.
A selfie of me in the evening sunlight.

A conundrum that I find myself faced with in this post-lockdown world is the struggle between the desire to get as far away from my house as possible and explore, and then the aversion to using public transport except when absolutely necessary. To this end, I settled on a solution, which was to pick up one of the city bikes and cycle as far away from my home as I could before I’d need to turn back in order to get a decent night’s sleep in.

A view over the centre of Madrid, with the royal palace and cathedral on the skyline, illuminated by the evening sun.

This little aventure led me all the way to the northern transport hub of Moncloa, which I managed to reach by simply crossing a bridge before arriving at the end of the park’s path. This led me on to a series of quiet back roads, which then took me past a flat that I lived in whilst working at Erretres for the first time over four years ago.

A red railway overpass is lit in the warm glow of the evening sun in Madrid, Spain.

After a lovely evening on my bike, the weekend saw me and Jhosef head out to celebrate the end of his university course. We headed up to Chueca, where we had some cocktails on the roof of the market, before heading down to a local restaurant and gorging on croquetas and fried squid. It was a lovely evening, and the cocktails certainly went down a treat after many weeks of hard work!

The streets of Chueca in Madrid, Spain.

This isn’t all I’ve been up to, however, but it’s as far as I’ve gotten with organising my photos to upload to my blog! Me, Jhosef, and Hugo just spent a good few hours this weekend splashing around in the pool at the office, and of course there are plenty of photos, but that’ll have to wait until next time!

For now, I can reveal that I’ve booked myself a little escape to Tenerife and then Murcia for my work holidays, and so fingers crossed that the coronavirus situation in Spain remains under control so that I can get out to see my friends on the island and then my auntie and uncle down in the south. I’m sure that all will go well, and of course I shall return with many photos and I’m sure a good few stories too. Until then!