Sunday, 28 June 2015

Some Like It Hot

Summer begins in earnest. As I begin writing this, it's 99 ºF but that feels like 108º F. My phone says that in my area we have 11% humidity, and that's the only saving grace. I think later on I'll go out and fry a couple of eggs - only joking. I'd have to put on some clothes to do that. My friend Jenny always says what weather they have in New York we get a couple of weeks later. Sure hope she's right, because I've heard some folks are getting temperatures in the 80's. I'm staying in until the sun goes down today that's for sure!

Yesterday I joined the end of term celebration of my old institute in the centre and prepared myself as best I could against the heat. I took a frozen bottle of water and sprayed my body with sunblock. Unfortunately, I forgot my fan. We were going to our favourite Mexican restaurant, but Penny said she'd seen a new Mexican restaurant in a square two minutes' walk from the institute, so we decided to try that. Honestly, I don't think we could have made it to the other restaurant without a few pit stops on the way to cool down. The food was spicier than the dishes we have in the other Mexican but was good too.

On Wednesday evening, I went to a party given by the mothers of my classes for me. All of the kids were there, except one who was studying for his university exams, and one of the dads came too. The food was delicious and plentiful - not much remained though. I might add that we ate out on the patio, because on Wednesday the heat was still bearable. Here's the lovely present I received from them, and is it ever heavy!

Not only is the stone big and heavy but so is the chain. I was going to weigh it on my kitchen scales. When I do, I'll post how much it weighs.There's an animal on the chain. I understood Cielo to say it was a cat, but looking at it I think it's some kind of reptile.

And here are a couple of black and white photos. This first one I've shared before, but have recently made a copy of it and put it in a frame for my friend Chris. It's of our old language institute that was founded in 1949, but the actual photo is from the 1950's. It's part of the pack and album of old photos I came across when I was helping to clean out the institute a couple of years ago.

The last one is from the now longest street in Madrid, Alcalá, from 1886. This was before the Gran Via, or Madrid's Fifth Avenue, was built.

I think I'd best do some clearing out of my bedroom at least, so I'm going to get to work after wishing everyone a good week.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Long and the Short of It

I'm one of those people who love trivia. Although I'm not a gamer, I've always enjoyed Trivial Pursuit. The other day I learned which was the shortest street in Madrid, and it's not this one. This is the longest - Alcalá Street, and this I've known for a long time.

The photo was taken nearly 5 years ago by my nephew when he came to visit. This was the year that Spain won the Soccer World Cup, but let's leave all the FIFA scandals out of this. Actually the building in the photo is located at number 39 of Alcalá, I think, and, on the right, a bit of the Alcalá Gate can be seen. I'm not exactly sure how many numbers the street has, as part of it used to be called Aragón Avenue. It must have 500 and then some, because I live near something like number 211 of Alcalá.

And here's the shortest street - about 20 metres in length:

It's called 'lance breaker' in English, and is on the corner of one of the most commercial streets in the Puerta del Sol area. There are lots of funny names for streets like Globe or Ball Street, Fish Street, etc. Again Rompelanzas is near our old institute that now has an updated version of the same institute in one of the same buildings.

Today I can say that I've done almost nothing. Later on, I'll probably be sifting through more books, papers and things to get rid of. Yesterday I went to a crafts fair in the home of one of the two-beez. Look at the lovely awning, made from scarves, that they put together to keep the garage cooler.
This photo was taken just as they were getting ready to open to the public. I went before anyone else showed up, because I knew later on in the day it would be blazing hot. It was and is even hotter today. Summer has returned to stay I suppose. That means gazpacho weather for me.

Here's something I bought. Can you guess what it is, besides a champagne cork?
So this is the long and short of it for this week. Happy Father's Day and also a happy week for everyone.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Long Johns No, But Long Sleeves Yes

Since Thursday when Madrid and much of Spain had more rain in a short period of time than the drains could handle and lots of flooding, it's been cool in Madrid. Okay, it's afternoon and although I'm not dressed for the street, I am wearing long sleeves and enjoying the cooler temperatures while we have them. We'll soon be hot again.

At the end of May there were elections in the Community of Madrid. This building, usually referred to as the Telecommunications Palace, is the Town Hall. It's only been that since 2007. When I came to Spain, it was the central post office. 

One of the candidates who actually received more votes than the woman who will be the new mayor (because of a pact with another political party) said she wouldn't use this building as the Town Hall. Madrid has another building that was used for the Town Hall until somebody in Government decided to change it for this magnificent location.  Can you imagine how much money it must take to run? 

Somebody said that one of the ex-mayors even had a secret apartment in the palace. I don't know whether that's true. Anyway, the building was constructed in the early 20th Century and finished round the same time as my humble block of flats.
               The Telecommunications Palace

Curiously the building used by the President of the Community of Madrid (not to be confused with the President of Spain) is also a former post office. It was built in the latter part of the 18th C and is located in what is traditionally called the centre of Madrid, the Puerta del Sol. 

Outside this building in the street is the marker for 'Kilometre 0' from which distances are measured in Spain. Everyone at one time or another has stood on Km 0. The clock you see is the one that rings in the new year for the people of Madrid. The Puerta del Sol is the place I always swear not to visit ever again at Christmas, and is where my old institute was located. However, I usually worked in the one near where I live - round the corner really from my house.
                    The Royal House of Post
That's my history lesson for this week, and I did it without a lot of political references. Politics makes people angry and friends enemies, so it's a subject I try to avoid.  Now onto present history.

Last night I went to a housewarming party for our friend Eirian and her husband. We had a lovely time and too much to eat. Cathy and I had similar ideas. I made an onion dip and took chips and Cathy took sour cream and onion chips. Both of us took wine. Chris was the practical one. She took a present for the house in the form of glazed clay cooking dishes. When we left, Eirian gave me enough pasta salad for two meals. Incidentally, housewarming parties are not traditional in Spain.

And on this note, here's where I finish up another week. Hope everyone's weekend has been a pleasant one and hope your next week goes well. 


Sunday, 7 June 2015

Summer Couldn't Wait

And so summer begins unofficially! It just couldn't wait until the 40th of May! I assume that means we're in for a hot time. My place is still relatively cool no thanks to me. I opened all the windows too early last night hoping some nice cool breezes would come through like they did the night before. I wasn't worried about the noise from people in the street after the bullfights, because I wasn't watching TV or trying to concentrate or sleep. Sleep is something I can do with the windows closed or after everyone finally decides to go home. Anyway, I can't believe how much hot air came in the little time I had the windows open. I'll bet the street was cooler with my windows open though.

Yesterday was our monthly get together, but some of us will be going to one of our friends' house for a housewarming party next weekend. This was my first time in the new old place where we almost always go for our lunches. I don't know if you remember that the family that owns and operates the bar decided to retire and rent it out. The food was nice and well-presented - a bit more expensive mind you. The service was good, maybe since we were the only ones in the restaurant part. I took a photo of my main course which was lamb chops with fries and padrón peppers. Padrón peppers are small peppers and every so often you'll get one that's hot. I didn't this time. I think one of the peppers looks like a mouse's tail peaking out from under the chops. For starters we had either salad or gazpacho. Gazpacho for me is a staple in hot weather, so that was my choice. We were told to put in requests for what we'd like to eat in future, so I'll be the one to stop by and tell them. After all, I live just round the corner.

True to my promise, I went this morning to give one of my students a preparation class for his school exam. I couldn't believe how much English he spoke without me saying 'In English, please!' I hope he does okay on the exam. The material and vocabulary isn't too difficult. Poor kid was scratching the whole time. He had mosquito bites everywhere and made me itch too out of sympathy I hope.

Other than stay out of the heat, go out with friends and the usual things we have to do, I've been sorting out teaching material that is useful and throwing out lots of old stuff. I took a few things to the paper bank when I went out this morning. I may sort through a few more things today, but will hold off throwing them away until tomorrow. All the motorcycles parked obstructing the containers makes it difficult to throw away glass and paper. Thankfully today is the last day of daily bullfights. There will still be some and concerts and other noisemakers in the bullring. The bullring, for your information, is where the Beatles performed their first concert in Madrid. AC/DC gave two concerts here last week, but not in the bullring, of course.

That about does it for me. Hope everyone has had a good first week of June. Enjoy the second week too.