Sunday, 27 April 2014

Colour and Black and White

Back in December I shared this piece of art that a friend was kind enough to gift me. I must say it's one of the most beautiful personalized presents I've ever received and it looks ever so nice hanging on the wall of my 'office'. Sorry about the slant of the photo, but it was one of the ways I thought up so as not to get too much reflection on the glass. I've never pretended to be a good photographer, although sometimes I surprise myself. Okay, maybe I've taken one very good shot.

I love looking at old black and white photos and was thrilled to find some old photos in a cupboard of the language institute I was helping to clean out. You may remember me sharing some of those this past summer. Here's one from 1974 just before the M-30 road was built in Madrid.
I lived (and still live) near this road, and in the summer used to go and sit in the park that was behind my house and watch cars go by and throw the ball for my dog Honey. Once I accidentally threw the ball over the fence that separated the park from the road. Honey barked and barked and wouldn't leave until I found a hole in the fence and plowed through the weeds to fetch her ball. Of course, I didn't go unnoticed, because one of my colleagues asked me the next day if she hadn't seen me walking along the M-30. Now I'd probably get caught on a camera.

Surprisingly our first week back after the holidays went by quickly. Not until Friday did I realize that Thursday and Friday of this week beginning tomorrow are holidays: May Day and the second of May, which is only a holiday in Madrid capital, so yippee!

The sun is out today, but it's still not as warm as it was during Easter. Thursday it rained most of the day, and again on Friday we had another accidental shower. I think a cloud came by and wet the street a bit yesterday evening too. At the moment, my hands are a little cold, but I'll be fine once I get up and start doing things. Anyway, I don't have any special plans for the long weekend.

Hope everyone has had a good week and that the next one is even better!


Sunday, 20 April 2014

All Good Things

Okay so the first few days I did absolutely nothing except rest my weary bones (I was that tired)! 1 did do quite a bit of spring cleaning, with some exceptions like my rain-spotted windows didn't get cleaned since we had rain predicted for yesterday, which didn't happen. It sure was windy and we had a big drop in temperatures during the night. 

This is the first Easter I can remember when the weather has been summery. I slept with the windows cracked open at night too. I even started taking out summer things, which I don't usually do until the middle of May, and came across an old pyjama top (pyjama = British spelling) that I thought would make a good chef's blouse. I think chef's outfits are more elegant than aprons and have always wanted the top anyways. That's the part of me that gets messy when I'm cooking. Luck would have it the top is about two sizes too small. A pity really because it's still in very good condition.

Master Chef is very popular here, and kids love the junior version. I sometimes give them a simple recipe to make such as the smoothie in my photo - not that I normally follow a recipe when making one. However, I did find a recipe on Pinterest that I thought sounded a bit like eggnog without the egg. It called for a frozen banana - something I often put in smoothies - a cup of milk, a teaspoon of cinnamon and half a teaspoon of vanilla plus the same of honey, which I omitted. That's the last time I follow this recipe to the letter. Let me tell you a teaspoon of cinnamon is too much! The subsequent time I made it, I added a dash of cinnamon. This was much much better as far as the quantity of cinnamon. I meant to decorate the smoothie with nutmeg and instead grabbed the ginger instead. I really need a system for arranging some of my other spices like I do parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Because of the lighter colour of ginger, I sprinkled on more than was necessary and my second smoothie was spicy. The one in my photo I think was made to perfection - finally.

Thanks to the fantastic weather all the Easter processions were able to take to the streets. This is one of my favourites in Madrid. I've witnessed processions and not just watched them on TV, but I'm not a lover of standing for hours and hours to get a good position to see them for a few minutes, and I don't particularly like being in crowds. So the first one is Poor Jesus leaving the church, although they had to take Jesus off the float to get it out the doors of the church. 

In the second, you see the statue with Jesus's hands tied. For me, this procession and the Macarena in Seville are two of the most emotional processions I've witnessed.
I know I'm not ready to start a new week, but we all know time flies. I don't know why it didn't when I was a kid. Anyway, hope everybody has a good week.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

April Shower Brings Dirty Windows

At the beginning of this year I was talking about a building which had been taken over by squatters. About 15 years ago when I was looking for a flat to buy, I looked at a small flat in the building on the right of the red building where the squatters have been living until the other day when they were finally evicted. I have no idea whether all of the many tonnes of rubbish and filth have been taken away, but I seriously doubt it. The interior of the building is completely destroyed.

Here's another photo I took. You can see some of the windows are open even though it was January.

Sad. What was going to be a block of luxury flats was turned into a block of pig sties when the constructor ran out of money. Can you imagine living in these conditions? Apparently there is still one 90-year old occupant in the building. She's probably one of those who pays what is called 'renta antigua' or a very low rent. It's good that the squatters have gone but where have they gone to? At least the neighbours from the adjacent buildings can actually open their windows without getting putrid smells and insects in their houses.

Yesterday was my first official holiday of Easter week. The only thing I did apart from a load of laundry and the shopping was nothing. Well, I finished reading a novel and wrote the review for Goodreads. Today, however, I've decided I have to clean out the fridge. We had a bit of a storm with some distant thunder and quite a bit of hail yesterday afternoon, so my windows are dirtier than ever. I'll hold off on cleaning them, because we usually have weird weather at Easter. So far the temperatures are nice. As a matter of fact, it's been a long time since we've had such mild weather in April.

I don't have any special plans for the holidays except the usual spring cleaning. I hope the weather permits the processions to leave the churches as I always like to see them. Hope everybody gets some time off to enjoy Easter too.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Water Off A Duck's Back

The week that is about to end, our first week of having the clocks moved forward, has been one of contrasts. We had a short, but intense, rain shower on Monday afternoon. I was one of the lucky ones who had an umbrella. Then on Tuesday it rained all day long. Our weather on Wednesday afternoon was an even stronger rain shower with some hail. For this mini storm I was safely inside. Yesterday it tried to rain but didn't quite make it. At the moment we have pleasant temperatures and a cloud passes over the sun just about every minute.

 My photo is one taken several years ago, and one I had posted on my page on Multiply, from one of my favourite parks where my dogs and I used to go. My dog Honey and I lived behind the park, and then so did Zara and I until we moved. I live much nearer the bullring now but still near this wonderful park. The other night my friend Chris and I were moaning about the problems we'll have once the bullfighting season starts. Hers will be difficulty in finding a parking space, and mine will be the noise and moving around all the crowds. Honestly I understand people who live in touristy places when all the crowds descend. I hope my choice of a title becomes clear with my next photo. It's one of the many great photos that comes from:

It was taken this week of the famous Cibeles Fountain by the owner of the website. It was taken   on one of the nights when it had been raining in Madrid. The fountain is lit up in blue for the Autism Awareness Day that was celebrated internationally. I know I've mentioned before that this is the place where Real Madrid FC come when they win an important title. 

The story that I'm going to tell involving this emblematic fountain is a funny one - one that  I can't believe I haven't mentioned before, and was only reminded of it recently when a car crashed into an underground (subway) station completely destroying the entrance. Fortunately this happened in the wee hours of the night when the station was closed and no one was injured, although I think it took the fire brigade a while to get the (drunk) driver out. In the case of the incident involving the fountain, it happened during my Christmas holidays also late at night. After driving his car into the Cibeles Fountain this particular drunk driver got out and hailed a taxi home. All the way to the guy's house they were laughing about the idiot who'd driven his car into the fountain. The taxi driver was surprised when they arrived at the guy's house and the police were waiting. That's when the taxi driver discovered the back seat of his taxi was soaking wet. Okay, maybe in this case it's water off a duck's butt!

This is me finished for today. I'm so looking forward to the holidays that start on Saturday for me. It has been a long long term! Hope everyone has a good week.