09.11.20 — Journal

Evening Walks & Indulgent Spreads

Another fortnight has passed and a lot has happened, both in my own life and in the world. From the move to the new office to the long awaited end of the Trump era, it’s been a busy couple of weeks which have flown by once again, so it’s time for me to bring a quick update on what I’ve been up to in between times!

As I say, the move into November has marked the first few days in Erretres’ new office space, which has been a healthy mix of socially-distanced work sprints, video calls from every corner of every meeting room, and plenty of time spent trying to work out where the big plates are stored in the new kitchen. With a couple of new members joining the team, it’s also been a great chance to socialise, with various lunches held both in the office and in its surrounding restaurants.

As well as the restaurants, the new location also offers quite a few other perks, one of my personal favourites being the ability to grab a bike home from the nearby BiciMad (Madrid’s city bike network) station. The two-minute wander to the station takes me to the edge of the Parque del Oeste, with its spectacular view over the west of the city – hence its name, which means “Western Park”. It’s a spot that I frequented a lot with Ellie and Johann when they visited a couple of years back, as there’s always a good sunset to be enjoyed if you catch it just at the right time.

Last weekend was a lovely three-day break thanks to Spain’s celebration of All Saints’ Day, which was – of course – preceded by Halloween. To celebrate Halloween this year, we’d to get a little creative, and so Danni, Abi, and I borrowed an idea from earlier in lockdown: a virtual fancy dress quiz! Once again we’d hold an online quiz with the three of us connecting in full costume, and the results were as hilarious as last time!

After a miserable performance in the Halloween-themed quiz, I spent the Sunday after cycling around the city once more. My little route took me up to the north of the city and to the British shop to stock up on Vimto as I’d nearly run out – disaster averted!

As I said, I then had the Monday off too in order to relax, but Sara was having none of it, and dragged me out of the house and up to the north-west of the city for some lunch. After meeting up outside the rather impressive headquarters of the Spanish Air Force, we wandered around some of the streets of a neighbourhood I’d never properly explored, and wound up sitting down for a delicious lunch of spring rolls and huevos rotos (chips with fried eggs on top, but in an odd twist, these ones came with chicken and caramelised onion instead of the usual cured ham).

I would have gotten closer for a better photo but I didn’t dare approach the gate.

After some cheeky lunchtime vermouths with Sara, which then naturally turned into a full afternoon’s worth of drinks and nibbles, the working week begun. It was a busy week for my team, but it made Friday all that more rewarding and led us beautifully into another long weekend!

I kicked off the bank holiday break with a meal with Jhosef, his sister, and her boyfriend on Friday night. The four of us wound up in a lovely restaurant in Chueca that I’d visited with Jhosef a few months back, where we tucked into a garlic-prawn-filled tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette) and a plate full of morcilla (blood sausage), fried peppers, and quail’s eggs.

It was nice to see the old Schewppes neon lit back up.

This was proceeded by a rather calm Saturday, which involved me heading out for the weekly shop and proceeding to deep-clean the flat – a couple of rather mundane things that I actually quite enjoy. A trip to my local supermarket, Mercadona, is always good fun, and I don’t mind scrubbing my shower if I can listen to Lorde on full blast whilst I do so!

Sunday was much more animated, however, as I’d arranged to host brunch at my flat. Initially I’d just invited Sara, who agreed to bring along a bottle of vermouth to share, but upon realising the sheer quantity of food that I’d prepared, I thought it best to invite Jhosef along too!

The issue of excess food didn’t really get resolved in the end, however, as Jhosef also brought along an absolutely delicious lasagne which we all shared alongside the vast spread that you can see above. After sitting around and chatting whilst we did our best to finish the feast, the vermouth soon kicked in, and before long we were all singing along to a playlist of some of the most iconic Spanish classics.

After Jhosef had to head off, me and Sara popped the coloured lights on and danced some of our energy off to the timeless tunes of the Vengaboys, reminding us of the many nights we spent drunkenly dancing to cheesy 90s and 00s hits in Leeds together with Kevin. After exhausting my playlist of songs from my very British childhood, the two of us crashed out on the sofa, grazing on the leftovers from brunch whilst we watched a couple of episodes of Derry Girls and brought our most excellent Sunday to an end.

I was then supposed to spend this Monday off advancing the design of my new website and writing (and translating) this blog post, but in the end I found myself dragged to IKEA by the need for a desk lamp and the thought of more gratuitous spending in order to further fill my flat with plants. Said mischief was managed, and so my desk setup is now complete and I have welcomed a whole eight new additions to my plant family!

I thus once more bring together another update looking at the past fortnight of shenanigans, of which I’m sure there will be many more as I inch slowly but surely towards Christmas. I’m still hoping to head back to England to spend a week or so with my family, but with England’s descend into a second lockdown, we’re all just having to take things one day at a time.

Missing bonfire night this year has also been a bit of a sad one, as I always remember the many nights spent at bonfires all over the place with my family, and then in Leeds in later years with friends. I also feel like it’s the only annual event that we celebrate in England which is 100% British without being related to any key dates of the current monarchy. But hey ho, and to quote my dad: never mind, we’ll just have to make the bonfires twice as big next year!

To conclude: Halloween is over, Bonfire Night has come and gone, and with it so has Trump. With him on his way out and only Christmas left on the 2020 calendar, things are looking up. Although I do have to recognise that I’ve been very lucky compared to many, I think we’re all ready for this year to come to a swift end!