"Where are you?"
"Just driving with some friends along Gran Via"
"Just remember to wrap up warm ok?"
"Ok mum, see you soon"
And with a click she hung up the handsfree phone and continued driving, not paying any attention to the taxi driver that almost hugged the side of our car.
"Are we safe?", I slurred - the soporific effects of wine making the ordeal less terrifying than it could have been.
"If you don't drive like this, you can't drive in Madrid", she flattenend the accelerator with her foot and leapt through an amber to red change, "we don't drive like grandmas here!" My nails sank into the surrounding soft car furnishings. I laughed a little.
But, truth be told, Marta had a point, and I did survive. She's not crashed in all her 5 years on the road. Maybe the little Spanish belle had changed my mind about how the Spaniards drive. I mean they can certainly handle their cars. A student said to me, "we drive the car well, we just don't drive well". True.
I nearly got hit by a car last Friday. The green man had just appeared and I started walking. Behind me, and through the fizz of my mp3 player, I heard two older Spanish men say 'aaaaiiiii' or something, and I glanced left to see that a grey car had decided to take his chances rather than stop. He had to break very hard. Very hard indeed. I shot him a filthy cocktail of hatred and disappointment and carried on, aloof, and thinking myself king of the world, secretly glad I hadn't been turned into a red Picasso painting.
This driving malarky took place on Saturday. Marta doesn't drink (but she likes Baileys) so she was happy to drive us out. We then spent an age trying to find a space to park the car. At one point we saw a space, on our side of the road, but suddenly were faced with a vast boat-sized SUV screaming down our lane towards us and proceeding to squish his fat arse into our place. Not only was this dangerous and illegal, it was bloody annoying. Safe to say the ensuing language was both multi-lingual and colourful. His smug smile and shoulder shrug didn't help either. Euan later kicked his wheel when we walked
past his four-wheeled behemoth. Petty, but it made us feel better.
Sunday was spent in Cercedilla, a village in the North of Madrid in
the hills. It was also this time when snow was a common daily sight in the beating heart of Spain (as you can see from the photo at the top). We took the C-8 cercanias train to Segovia and alighted at our designated stop, inhaling the frosty air. No map, no idea where to go or what to do, we headed up. Up was good. Up would take us to hills.
We walked for maybe 25 minutes. We, by the way, were me, Heather, Philomena and Matt (Anna joined us a short while later). We perchanced upon a charming looking restaurant called 'Los Frutales'. We entered. Log cabin-esque inside and quite clearly a family affair and labour of love.
'This'll probably be expensive'
It was reasonable. And I had the best, biggest, most glistening and sumptuous leg of lamb I have ever had. Only 16 euros. Anna joined us at the restaurant in time to eat with us.
Full of dead animals we headed further up the hill. Eventually (having asked vague directions from the owner of the restaurant) we reached the tourist office. We were given a map and information about the different routes around the valleys and mountains. They varied from 1.5km to 15km. We chose 'El Camino de los Aguas' ('The Route of the Waters'), at 4.1 km. Starting our trek we entered a forest. A winter wonderland, all virgin snow and ice. It started to snow slowly, lending a magical, serene air to the woods.
The snow came down heavier. We made snow angels, threw stones into a far away frozen reservoir, we fell over, we found abandoned buildings quilted with white, we shivered, we had wet feet, and we followed our map. About one and a half hours later we arrived back in the town. The ghostly peaks and cloud dandruff world we had just been in seemed unreal somehow. Far off. Mother Nature showing us just what she could do.
"Pretty isn't it?"
"Yes, yes it is"
"How about if I just started snowing now, lightly, like a dream, would that be even better?"
"There you go..."
"I think I love you"
"At least someone does..."
At 18:36 we hopped onto the last train of the day. Our feet were frozen and wetter than the sea, but at least we were cosy. We spent our trip back playing guess who - the game where you all give each other names on a piece of paper and slap it on your forehead. I was both Hannah Montana AND William Shakespeare. And that ladies and gentlemen, is a talent.
As far as work is concerned, it's the week of the Trinity examinations so we are all finishing up our preparations so that none of our students fail spectacularly, complain, and get us all fired.
I am sure more things will happen that I can tell you about.
I'm sure of it.