26.11.20 — Journal

Christmas Around the Corner

We’re now a mere few days from December, and I’ve begun to make plans for my Christmas trip home back to England, trying to keep an illusion of normality and repeat last year’s festive holiday. We’re definitely in the latter, wetter stages of autumn here, with grey skies and miserable showers marking a stark contrast from the stuffy heights of the Madrid summer.

Christmas, however, has come slightly early for me, as I treated myself to a new phone which arrived a couple of weeks ago. I splashed out in order to get myself one with a great camera, and so this post will be punctuated with many photos that I’ve been taking along the way! Let’s see if this new camera marks a noticeable change like my iPhone X did three years ago…

In between my days at work, taking photos out of the windows, Jhosef came over to have a snoop at my new toy and urge me to finally move all my data over to it. After an evening of drinking tea, holding a spa evening at home, and a quick trip to the office to pick something up, I finally made the switch to the new device, and off I headed for the rest of my weekend’s activities with its three new cameras in tow.

The proceeding week was as busy as usual, with plenty of working hard and playing hard. With the arrival of another member to the Erretres team, we took the opportunity to head out for a team meal, and I made plenty of time to relax back at home after long days in the office. This relaxation is made even more zen by the coloured lights, which I have added to even further, with a new lot installed under the desk of my home office.

There’s nothing like a relaxing evening in with some chill music.

These evenings in the office do have their perks, though, as the new space receives some lovely evening light and offers great birds-eye views over the boulevard below. The new location is especially great for spontaneous evening plans after work, which came in useful when me and Jhosef arranged to meet up one Friday for an end-of-week lunch.

Autumn has to be the best time to be starting out with a new camera.

After work that day, I haded down to the rental bike station which sits just on the eastern edge of the Parque del Oeste, which was looking resplendent in the afternoon sun as you can see above. Instead of grabbing a bike and heading straight home, I called Jhosef to see if he wanted to nip up to a rooftop terrace for a beer and a bite to eat, and so the plan was made.

We had lunch framed by this amazing view down Gran Vía, Madrid’s main artery, and then headed out on to the outdoor section of the terrace to take some photos as we watched the sun set over the west of the city. From here, I talked Jhosef into taking a bike with me back home, and so we flew down the steep slopes of the south of the city at full pelt as day turned to night.

I began that weekend with a spot of decorating my flat ready for Christmas. In keeping with my minimalist take on everything, I opted to try to kit my place out with the bare minimum, decorating my existing plants with lights and tinsel that I had spare from the year before. It’s a stark contrast from my university room, where more certainly was more, and I went so far as to build a winter wonderland atop my coffee table!

I am rather happy with my little Christmas trees, even if they’re not the right kind of tree.

Making the most of my cozy new setup, I invited Sara and Jhosef over for the evening, and we took the opportunity to ring Kevin for a catch up. Sara, Kevin, and I met up often in my final year at Leeds University, where the two of them were studying their Erasmus, and since then I’ve spent many a drunken evening with the two of them up in the north of Spain before Kevin sadly had to leave us to the US.

The day after, and capitalising on Jhosef’s new found taste for cycling, I insisted that we take a ride down the river, an activity which kept me as sane as possible once the lockdown restrictions began being lifted. Once we’d managed to find two working bikes which didn’t make funny noises or start jittering as soon as we picked up any kind of speed, we spent the afternoon making our way northwards along the river, ending our journey with a delicious roast chicken lunch at a Peruvian spot that we both always enjoy.

Once we’d devoured half a chicken and a whole lot of chips between us, we sauntered up Gran Vía in order to catch another bike back home. There I grabbed my laptop and set to work on a few things that I’d neglected to do during the rest of the weekend – drinks with Sara and outings with Jhosef had kept me rather distracted – before heading off to bed early to ready myself for the coming week.

I’m now currently enjoying a couple of days off work which I’ve taken in order to make myself a much-needed long weekend, but the three days I have worked have been as action-packed as ever. This was broken up lovelily by an evening spent at Hugo’s, where he whipped up a batch of delicious enchiladas for me and a few other friends, all washed down with a very strong Russian drink that his boyfriend had brought along!

So concludes my little overview of the past few weeks of outings around Madrid. As I say, I’m hoping to spend Christmas and New Year back in England, but we’ll have to take things as they come in these uncertain times. Either way, I do hope to be back with another post before then, so I shall be back very soon…