02.12.22 — Journal

Art Lessons & Art Markets

Alongside a fun but long day out in Santander just last week, I’ve also been up to the odd thing here in Madrid despite the cold weather which, as all my friends agree, leaves us wanting to do little more than relax in the warmth of our houses. 

Up first on the agenda was a rather important task: rest. This year and after the rather brain-numbing pandemic period I’ve been very keen to do as much as possible, but I’ve realised I need to plan myself some time to rest. This can be cooking, wandering around my neighbourhood, or just collapsing onto the sofa with a glass of wine to watch some telly. Last week, it took the form of a little cycle around the city!

I pass by this lovely archway on my way home from the office.

Later that same evening, I returned to the Puerta de Toledo where the photo above was taken in order to attend another painting class. I’d been just a month before with Sara, but this time I was accompanied by Luis. He’d heard me talk of the concept of painting whilst drinking and snacking and was all for giving it a shot!

It wound up being somewhat of a private class as the other people who’d signed up were a no-show. We made the most of it all though and once again I was pretty pleased with my koi fish painting!

Again, not bad, but maybe I should have stuck to orange dots.

The next day I had another plan for an afternoon with friends. After my weekly shop at my favourite place in Spain, the Mercadona at the Mercado de Santa María de la Cabeza (quite a long name for a market), I headed down to the Museo del Ferrocarril (The Railway Museum) to meet up with Bogar, Javier, Hugo, and Sergejs.

We’d arranged to meet there to visit the Mercado de Motores, a pop-up artisan and food market held amongst the old trains once a month. As the place is just five minutes walk from my house, I’d been meaning to go for years, but I’d never got round to it. About right for me!

The market was absolutely lovely, so I did kick myself for not having visited sooner. No sooner had I begun to browse the first stall than I got chatting to the owners and wound up buying some handmade chocolate treats. This story then played out again and again at many other stalls. I wound up grabbing lots of cured meat, some cheese and a sauce called mojo from Tenerife, some postcards, and the odd Christmas gift.

Just being inside the Museo del Ferrocarril was also fascinating, with plenty of old rolling stock on show inside the lovely old train station. I was shocked when I came across an impressive green and yellow behemoth only to look up and be confronted with the word “Yorkshire”. Who’d have thought that’d I’d run into a train made in Sheffield here in Madrid?

Seeing one of my home counties in Madrid was a nice surprise.

With my purchases done, the five of us headed to the outdoor area and grabbed a table for a quick drink. After a glass of vermouth, Bogar and I were feeling peckish, and so we treated ourselves to some sinfully delicious food. I grabbed a tray of huevos revueltos con torreznos (egg and chips with fresh pork scratchings) and Bogar went for some patatas con mojo (potatoes in that sauce from Tenerife I mentioned earlier).

We shared these two dishes between us and they were both absolutely divine. I was shocked at how good the spuds in sauce were – they might even have rivalled the ones that Cami took me for the first time I was actually in Tenerife!

After another drink, we all parted ways and I wound up heading down to a shopping centre in order to continue my Christmas shopping. It turned out to be a bit of a useless trip, as although I did buy some stuff, it was all for me!

The next day I allowed myself another day of rest at home, but the weather turned out to be quite nice and so I managed to rope my colleague María into going for a bike ride around the city with me. We began in Retiro, Madrid’s main park, before heading down the huge Gran Vía to see the Christmas lights. It was a lovely afternoon out which was ended as all Sunday afternoons should: with a beer.

Cibeles always looks lovely at this time of year.

Back home, I allowed myself another cheeky drink as it was once again time for me to call the Cake Club girls: Megan, Loredana, and Heidi. We spent another long evening gossiping and having a good laugh over video call from our respective countries of Spain, the USA, Austria, and Norway.

The working week then began in earnest, but it was to be a special one thanks to the staff Christmas do we had coming up and thanks to some rather spectacular sunsets along the way. One day I left work to be confronted by this amazing view, with the setting sun creating a perfect gradient across the sky.

It’s been a while since a sunset has left me genuinely lost for words.

Then came the event of the week in the form of the Christmas dinner we hold every year at work. It’s been on hold for the last couple of years thanks to the pandemic, but we were all back and ready for a lovely night of food and tipsy shenanigans this Thursday!

I got dolled up for the occasion and we all met in the city centre at a Basque restaurant. We enjoyed a series of starters from croquettes to chorizo, and I then ordered some fresh cod for my main. This was all helped down with a couple of shots of patxaran, a sweet fruity liquor that can be quite dangerous!

I didn’t stay out too late however, as I was tired from a long day and had plenty to do the next day! More on that next time, though…