A New Year, A New Rant


How was New Years Eve?? Did you have fun and celebrate in style?? Then, when the clock struck 12:00 you beat yourself up for allowing you, and your life, to be such a failure during the past year?? Did you then vow to stick to your new year resolutions, the resolutions that would ensure that in 2014 you become a better person???

Oh dear.

I know New Years Eve can be a strange time. It can often spark melancholy, regret, reflecting on all kinds of good and bad experiences and emotions. We all reconsider what the past year brought us, and how we lived our lives. Can this reflection help us in the new year to come though??? Can regret ever be healthy?

I am not going to tell you to make resolutions or not make them. I’m not going say that 2014 will be your year, that you have the power to transform and achieve. Personally I don’t get all that. I see all of that as negative life assassination, and unnecessary pressure. It is assuming that with the new year we will suddenly all transform and morph into wonder women or men. In 2014 we will definitely be destined to become another person, a wonderful person, in fact a person you were probably never actually meant to be.

Resolutions are very like false promises.

Why is it we always allow ourselves to perceive that the previous year was a failure, a let down, we didn’t perform and weren’t good enough? Isn’t that really what the notion of resolutions allude to – we are all failures, and therefore are required to modify and rectify that at all cost? Why can’t we just be us, and not need to change a thing?

Isn’t the notion of changing, of morphing, of transforming just a little bit delusional?? Just because it is a new year doesn’t mean anything has fundamentally changed. We are still, by virtue of our genetics, who we were upon birth; we haven’t grown extra limbs or suddenly become impervious to disease. We can’t shrug off the past; we all have our individual life experiences, thoughts, ideas, desires and so on.

Why is it with a new year we then become washed clean??

Or, more importantly, why do we want to be??

Isn’t life, from one year to the next, merely about the experiences we have and share, the learning curve, the path we travel, the thoughts and desires, hopes and dreams we harbour?

Isn’t life about those things??

To say we can be transformed, and washed clean assumes that we can all be famous artists, discover the cure for cancer, travel into space, be elected to Government, be an Olympian or whatever else! We are, most of us, normal folk with normal lives – average wages, children, mortgages and wrinkles. No amount of new years will ever change that either!!! We will never really transform.

So, why torture ourselves with pie in the sky -‘this year will be different’ – NO IT WON’T BE!!!!

Sorry, I get that positive thinking and hope are a great combination to have on your side in life, and I do adopt their principles as much as I can. However, I am also a realist and a little sceptical. I wonder how much we can actually change, transform, morph, and wonder if we really want to? If we don’t achieve, create, progress, succeed, dominate and control (or whatever!!!!) why is it seen so negatively? Why is it we can’t be just satisfied with being us?

This year I’m not going to become a millionaire, a success or even a glamour model who adorns the covers of popular magazines. I know that isn’t going to be what 2014 has in store for me.

I know it’ll be more of the same; living day to day, trying to survive, building relationships, trying to maintain motivation, good health and keeping some faith in me and what I want; basically boring stuff, not very inspiring or exciting!!! So, doesn’t matter how much I wish for miracles, money, fame and whatever else, it doesn’t mean it will come to fruition!!

I can make a million resolutions, but it doesn’t mean I can or will fundamentally change!

I’m just trying to say; be real, be kind to yourself and stop applying the pressure to be what you’re not. ALSO, stop viewing you and your life as a failure thus far, see your life as experience and a journey (which won’t be over, until it is over, and your six foot under). Stop stalling with resolutions and waiting for another new year to come and go; live without military precision, live and have fun amassing experiences to reflect on, not to feel negative and guilty about!

Live your life now, while it is here, and see what it brings you! All the ups and downs are welcome, it is life and you can’t just pick and choose the best bits and edit the rest, it isn’t a script after all!

Let 2014 be what it will be – life as we know it!

A Very Spanish Christmas and New Year


This Christmas, my boyfriend and I chose to remain in Madrid. We had considered returning to the UK but the prospect of confronting; the packing of many suitcases, the crazy airports and masses of people, delayed flights, bad weather, the hustle and bustle of the usual Christmas shopping frenzy (in ALL stores, but especially supermarkets, where food hoarders fight over the last Turkey!), the lack of personal transport and general malaise of UK Christmas cheer – in short, this bedlam really didn’t hold its usual appeal! So, we decided, sensibly, to stay put and experience a Spanish Christmas.

I admit, I was pleased and relieved to be staying in Madrid for Christmas, so too was my boyfriend. It saved us a lot of angst and hassle, plus, it has been great just having time to ourselves. We don’t seem to have enough quality ‘us’ time, and being here meant not having the usual obligations to please anyone, but ourselves!!! Selfish, it might be, but true!

In all, Christmas here hasn’t been such a culture shock. We have managed to buy the food we needed without hassle, without pushing and shoving and fighting in the aisles for the Brussel Sprouts or pigs in blankets! I did feel slightly peeved; I couldn’t buy any Mince Pies, Cranberry Sauce or my beloved Bread Sauce (the Spanish don’t know quite what they are missing out on!), and my home made gravy lacked its usual pizazz due to me forgetting to buy in extra stock cubes. Yet, regardless of this and the fact Spanish Christmas cakes and sweets just aren’t all that, we managed to survive!!!

We listened to Christmas songs and carols from King’s College Cambridge (the best Christmas carol choir service). We opened our presents, even though the Spanish wait until the Three Kings (6th January). We didn’t have a tree or any decorations, but then I knew we wouldn’t be buying those this year. We celebrated Boxing Day (26th December) by going out for a fabulous dinner and indulging in some lovely cocktails, although the Spanish don’t celebrate Boxing Day.

So, we didn’t miss out on anything really. However, I did think that it would be a quiet Christmas, as it was going to be just the two of us, but I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Nearly every night we have been out and about, far more actually than we would have been in the UK. On our doorstep are cafes, bars, clubs and restaurants. It has been easier to have fun and celebrate the holidays just because we are in the heart of the city. We can, on a whim, just go where we want, when we want and don’t need to rely on anyone else or fit into anyone else’s schedule. It has been great!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends to bits!! I also enjoy spending time with them, and miss them dearly!!! Yet, Christmas in the UK can sometimes become, well, a little bit claustrophobic. Let me explain; I think people get stuck in a Christmas rut, a routine whereby every Christmas ends up becoming the same, without any real changes. Most importantly, the fun factor is often left out of the equation for one reason or another. This Christmas though, hasn’t been in anyway ‘rutified’ (Definition: to be put into the mould of a rut – I know it isn’t a genuine word!).

This Christmas has been a change of scene, it has been something different, we have come and gone as we pleased and we’ve had fun. This is why for me, in many ways, this Christmas has been one of the best. I always wanted to go away for Christmas, but hadn’t felt I could before, because of not wanting to upset my family and make them think I didn’t want to be with them. It is considered to be somewhat selfish, doing your own thing at Christmas; it is after all fundamentally about being with family and friends.

Yet, by living in Madrid we had a legitimate reason for not being there with them at Christmas time, even though for the previous two Christmases we returned to the UK to be with them. This time, we wanted a change though, we wanted to make the most being in Madrid. We haven’t got that long a time remaining here, this time next year we will in fact have already moved back to the UK. So, understandably we wanted to maximise every opportunity that being here affords us, which includes, a Spanish Christmas.

Hopefully then, we haven’t been deemed too selfish, as I do know our family and friends have enjoyed their Christmases too (even without us there with them)!

So, now Christmas time is over (very nearly over), I have, as most people do, been remembering all that has happened in 2013. More specifically, the life I have lived here in Madrid during this time. Although being out here for these few years hasn’t been all plain sailing, I feel that this year has been a year for positive changes. I feel quite good about things. I am also feeling quite saddened by the prospect of not being here in Madrid for next Christmas. It does seem as though this chapter of my life will soon enough come to an abrupt close, and without any fanfare I will be back where I was, as though these few years in Madrid never happened. How weird!

So, for my boyfriend and I it is even more important than ever before to enjoy the time we have left living in Spain!!! This Christmas sort of encapsulates that momentum we feel, the fact that we want to have fun and experience life to the fullest without feeling bad about about doing so!!

Anyway, before I become maudlin, and I don’t even have New Years Eve as an excuse, let me say I have thoroughly enjoyed the ups and downs of my time in Madrid (and hopefully will enjoy the year to come)! When the time comes and we depart for the UK, I can take back with me a whole new perspective and life experiences. As someone, at sometime once said; “nothing good can last forever”; maybe not, but I can of course treasure the memories forever!

So, here’s to a fabulous New Year – for me, you and everyone out there in the world!!!

I shall be celebrating my New Years Eve in Puerta del Sol, drinking some alcohol and some eating grapes (not as strange as it might sound – it is a Spanish tradition to eat grapes as the clock strikes to signal the new year).

Where-ever YOU are and what-ever YOU do, have fun and enjoy every last minute of 2013!!!!!!

The Servitude Of Service


I possess a fascination for all things historical, but especially those things which relate directly to my own family history.

Unlike most of my peers I took an avid interest in the stories that my grandparents, and great grandparents imparted to me about our families lives. They talked of a different time, a different world, but nevertheless what once transpired, what became collective experience, created a sort of ripple effect upon the lives of subsequent generations. This impact was so severe, the effects remian evident today.

My family is of mixed heritage and fortune. Some are Irish, English and of course Welsh. They have been rich, poor, immigrants, miners, ladies maids, officers, gentlemen and in business. Some have lived abroad and others never left their home town. They spoke foreign languages and played musical instruments, skills which they never thought to teach to the next generation.

In all of this history, throughout all of the stories two threads were always woven the deepest; poverty and domestic service.

Apparently one in ten of the current UK population had an ancestor who worked as a domestic servant. Not so surprising I think considering the perpetual imbalance between wealth, the staunch class division and poor educational standards of the past, if not the present too.

Poverty was, and is of course very real. Although now there are mechanisms in place to help alleviate such misfortune, in my grandparents and great grandparents lifetime this was not always the case. It was a very real threat to be poor, to be below the bread-line.

People couldn’t survive on benefits, they didn’t truly exist as we take them for granted now. People had scant opportunities if they were poor, often becoming a domestic servant or indeed being admitted into a workhouse was their only option.

When people now think of domestic service, the imagery which might spring to mind is the popular Downtown Abbey series or, as I prefer the 1970s British television series Upstairs Downstairs.

Yet, neither of these programmes are a true reflection of what life was like as someone else’s servant.

Below stairs gossip, flirtation, autonomy, opinions, democracy, individuality, freedom, holidays, good food, parties and camaraderie are all fictitious story lines to create good television.

A servant was seen as the other, them, the underclass. Even looked down upon by fellow working class people in other professions.

Servants new their place. They didn’t deign to question their place or to challenge their betters in society. They were the silent majority in the UK workforce.

Mistreatment was normal. Sexual, physical and verbal abuse was common place, and not always at the hands of their ’employers’ either.

Servants were often under paid, they held no employment rights, they ate left overs, were permitted no free time or holidays, no sick leave and no entitlement to medical care. They could be sacked for illness or any minor misdemeanour without reference, they couldn’t marry, their wages would be docked for anything broken or food wasted. They were controlled by their masters and mistresses, but also by the strict hierarchy of the below stairs staff chain of command.

Plus, it was a 24/7 365 days a year job or grind, with no real scope to develop or progress.

The life of a servant in comparison to other people in other forms of employment was vast. Being a servant was a different kettle of fish. Nothing compared then or now to what these people experienced and were subjected to.

A good servant would be deferential, know and accept their place, display loyalty, follow unquestioningly, never be seen to want or expect more, surrender themselves to be used and abused.

All of this indoctrination still lingers somewhere in my genetics, so much so, it frightens me! Yet, it doesn’t inspire me to listen or to comply, but to rebel.

My families history in service heralds as a warning. It made my family question their status, life, desires and wants. They were not comfortable ‘doffing’ their cap to their betters. Subsequent generations learnt the lessons of those in service, they were inspired to be the complete opposite of what their heritage and ancestry had told them to be. No longer were they content to be seen as somehow less of a person because of their class. They wanted their children to achieve, to be educated, to progress to go out into the world and claim a stake of it for themselves.

This whole rebellion against servitude in service still remains, as I have stated previously. I know it is derived from, and linked to my families experiences as house-maids, laundry-maids, ladies-maids and cooks. I suppose such ingrained ideals and attitudes just can’t be over-thrown at once, they tend to make an impression.

I look at my ancestors lives and still think; no one will treat me like that, I won’t be anyone’s servant.

I suppose this attitude should be celebrated, but, it also has a sting in the tail. It could be seen as a ‘chip on my shoulder’.

Any time I perceive I am being treated like an underling, I cannot accept it, it infuriates me. I have actually left jobs because I felt as though I was being treated like a servant and not an employee! No, I was beaten or whatever else, but sometimes employers do treat staff like usable and abusable, never ending resources. They often forget we are humans with rights. It can be all too similar to how servants were treated in the employ of Lords and Ladies. The echoes of these times too close for my comfort. In my opinion the attitude of the ‘master of the house’ hasn’t altogether left society, merely mutated into another form of abuse of power.

Sometimes though, I find myself envying the servants life. It was certain, it was a path deemed destined and people knew nothing more. Their aspiration were not as complicated as ours are today, their disappointments therefore not as many. It was what it was, a means to an end.

All things considered we look back with the luxury of hindsight, and think that they had to be thoroughly miserable. Yet, I actually believe they wren’t.

Who are we to really judge their lives on our standards! The other side of the coin can present another set of questions; is it better to be master of your own uncertain life, or a servant knowing your place, your path? Or, is it the case that we are all merely servants conning ourselves into thinking we have miracously become the masters? What in fact are we masters of? In reality how far has society fundamentally progressed since the time of domestic service?

Servants and masters, masters and servants; isn’t it all really the same thing in today’s world?

Learning Gender Roles Via The BBC


The BBC have recently been accused of sexism with their remake of children’s classic Topsy and Tim.

It was claimed by parents that the BBC misinterpreted the original children stories, and chose instead to reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, which were being aimed at very young children. The charecter Tospy is a little girl who is seen baking princess cakes with her Mum, while her Brother Tim is informed baking is not for him. As a boy he can play outside on his bike or help his Dad with “mans work”.

I wondered, as I have on many occasions before, how do we learn our ‘gender roles’? Is it nature or nurture, and how can we be sure?

Thinking of my own childhood, I recall never being compelled by my parents to be particularly ‘girlie’, and naturally I wasn’t this way either. I was always encouraged to just be me, and perhaps by being a headstrong child who knew what I liked, pressures to be ‘girlie’ (if they existed), never affected me. I therefore feel surprised that in the 21st century children are still being encouraged to mimic, and reflect, what their own parents deem to be acceptable gender specific stereotypes. It just seems almost self defeating and rather odd.

Why would any parent force their child to be anything, and ruin their own child’s ability to blossom and develop naturally, free of preconceived ideals laid down throughout the eons?!

What is so terrible about girls playing with cars and bikes, and boys playing with kitchens and dolls? Surely having diverse skills and interests make for more rounded and capable future adults?

I know if I had children, I would indeed encourage them to be them; who else can they be after all!

Don’t get me wrong, their is nothing wrong with traditional gender roles, if those people performing those roles are happy enough to do so. Yet, there is nothing wrong with mixing it up either!

Living in Madrid I see many more examples of the conventional family unit than I do in the UK. The wife cooks, cleans, takes care of the house and kids, while the man works, is head of the household, applies the discipline and often the education of the kids. This is almost expected and seen as the social norm.

Now my household has never been quite like this, to the surprise of the people I meet in Spain. People are shocked that I am interested in politics, and also that my degree, career and writing all have a political grounding. I have actually been told how unusual it is for a girl! Obviously they haven’t heard of Emily Pankhurst, Simone de Beauvoir, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher, Naomi Wolf and Hilary Clinton; what about Eva Perón?

For me, applying any expectations upon a person, especially at a young and impressionable age, just becomes a simple case of the self fulfilling prophecy. You get what you expect. Women and men then become merely caricatures of their gender, nothing more than that! How can we then argue they are naturally as they should be?

Have women actually been able or allowed to genuinely break through that “glass ceiling”? Not if the 21st centuries depiction of gender is the reference point; a woman’s place is still at home, while the man still belongs to the world. This has to be true, the BBC even think so!

To be serious, in recent years it has been a giant step backwards for men and women alike. Adverts, marketing, media and society in general have peddled the over sexualisation of the younger generation. This has drip fed a generation with gender specific notions of beauty, relationships, sex and availability, youth, frivolousness, self obsession, celebrity culture, diets, gossip, fashion and materialism.

So, maybe reverting to the stereotypical gender roles is only the natural step forward from this re-education?

For me I feel it is difficult to distinguish, and therefore state concretely, how much of nature actually plays a part in a child’s socialisation, self perception and development. Especially with all the dross floating around their environment.

Think about how difficult it is for us as adults to really separate ourselves, and our choices from all the expectations applied upon us, what we have seen, learnt, experienced and absorbed into our psyche?

If it is so difficult for us as adults, the question then remains; how can a child?

Nature v’s nurture, for me there is no real contest to contest!

Jealousy Is The Biggest Compliment


I have been thinking recently about those people, I am sure we are all aquatinted with, who enjoy making little sly remarks, boasting about themselves, feel they have something more to say, enjoy gloating and generally revelling in making those around them feel bad about themselves.

They play a game, a very specific, but a harmful game. A game called jealousy.

Jealousy is destructive, obsessive, consuming and dangerous, but, it is also the biggest compliment anyone can pay you.

For someone to be jealous of you, they must deem you to be a threat, highly important and a person who makes them (the jealous people) feel inferior or appear inferior.

Is this your fault? No, this is their problem and not yours, but they want to aim their problem at you, to make you feel as badly about yourself and your life as they do about themselves and their lives.

If you play their game you will lose. To become embroiled in their inner turmoil you give them what they want, a reaction and ammunition to continue pulling your strings with. This game gives them and their lives some temporary meaning – harsh, but very true.

Many people feel intimidated by those who display jealousy, they often feel they cannot retaliate or they don’t even realise the person who is aggravating, upsetting and being nasty to them, are actually jealous of them.

Yet, 99% of the time, people who suffer bullying, nastiness, bitchiness, lies, back-stabbing and so on, are the victims of jealousy. Jealous causes most of the problems between people, jealousy drives people to do strange things to one another.

I have experienced people trying to hurt me because they have been jealous, and people can and will be jealous of anything! Of course I have also at times played the game of these jealous people, and sorely regretted it. Through this experience I see clearly what the outcome of such things will be, and I avoid those I see that jealousy resides within like the plague! It is difficult though, because sometimes regardless of how impartial, diplomatic, genuine or nice you are, you attract jealousy. Once these jealous people have you in their sights, they point blank refuse to let you go; well, not until they have attempted to wreak as much damage upon you as is possible.

I have experienced their damage too, and believe me, on some occasions the pure maliciousness of the jealousy aimed in my direction caused me great turmoil.

I am however a great believer in karma. What goes around does indeed come around. I have though been lucky enough to see the malignant and jealous individual fall, and was able to inform them I knew their game, jealousy.

Regardless of how much hate they muster, how much spite they spit, how much damage they claim to cause, these jealous people can never escape what they wish they could, themselves. They will always be stuck with them, long after you have been freed from their jealous radar, they will still be the vile creature they always have been. Again, this may seem harsh, but it is very, very true.

I have no qualms in feeling as I do about jealous people. I have no mercy for those who are jealous, because they have no mercy for anyone else. In fact, they take great delight in attempting to destroy people. They therefore deserve nothing more than pity, but not sympathy.

Jealousy I feel is useless though. It destroys, but not only the victim of the jealousy, but the perpetrator too. If only these people could understand that fact, and employ as much effort into changing what they feel bad about, instead of ploughing their energies into jealousy, things would be different.

When all is said and done though, it is only us who tolerate jealousy. In reality, jealousy needn’t have a place in our lives, just don’t tolerate it; call them out, name and shame, publicly humiliate them! Remember too that you are far better than those who seethe with jealousy, and also, karma is always a bitch!

30 Days Of Change


Interesting concept; in 30 days you can either adopt a worthwhile lifestyle choice or delete a negative one from your world.

In just 30 days we, the humble human, can be re-programmed!

It doesn’t take a lifetime then? No, just 30 days. So, a Leopard can change its spots? YES, I suppose it can if you think 30 days is all that is required to change!

In ‘Try Something New For 30 Days’ Matt Cutts talks about how he begun embarking on his quest to change, in, you guessed it, ONLY 30 days. He also talks about how the tasks then grew in difficulty, how they challenged him and what profound changes actually occurred.

Inspiring? Well, I think so 🙂

 

The ‘talk’ is really short so; please, please, please watch this link!

Try Something New For 30 Days

Let me know what you think; are you willing to take the challenge?! 

Where’s Autumn?!


Dear Autumn,

RE: Where Are You This Year?

I write to you with a grave concern I felt compelled to express. I am consumed with sorrow, because of your absence.

May I enquire, why have you decided not to visit Madrid this year? What have we, the people of the city, done to offend you?!

It is the MOST horrible thing about living in Madrid, the fact I rarely have the opportunity to enjoy your company.

There has been this year, as last, a distinct lack in seasonal change, which is once again intolerable. In fact the only season that seems to last the duration here is summertime. Summertime never knows when it is polite moment to leave!

Snow, well, that too would be some kind of miracle. I think I saw some last year, but it was similar to someone with bad dandruff shaking their head nearby. Madrid’s version of snow sucks, just like their version of ‘Autumn’.

You Autumn are merely Autumn in name alone, and you should be ashamed of that fact!

The sun is unashamed, it remains fixed in the blue sky, mocking anyone who wants to feel a cold northernly wind scratch at their face! The temperature still hovers around 25 degrees, even though everyone walks around in coats, with runny noses, colds, and coughs. They, like me are willing you to put in an appearance and offer reprieve. Yet, regardless of this, you Autumn, are NOWHERE to be seen!

This for me is sorely disappointing. I mean, how can I truly enjoy Halloween, the highlight of your season, without a chill in the air, without a sense of the eerie or melodramatic?

It is unnatural, celebrating Halloween in a tee-shirt, and probably shorts. It sucks!  This suckiness is something YOU Autumn, are responsible for!

I want the cold, the rain, the icy mornings, the crisp evenings, the purple and red leaves, the thick wooly hats and scarfs, the coats, the extra socks and cold nose, seeing my breath in the air and feeling winter is on its way!

What is extra odd though, whilst mentioning the changes in leaf colour, or absence of such; that even if you Autumn are confused about the date, the tress aren’t. OK there are no dramatic leaf colour changes, because of your late arrival Autumn, but nevertheless the leaves vacate their branches. I feel deprived when leaves merely fade from green to brown, as here in Madrid, they just curl up and die! Every leaf on every tree falls by the wayside, they slowly just decide to give up the ghost! They realise it is October and they should be shed already, they hurry in their departure.

You see the trees know the seasons, even if the weather does not! Yet, you Autumn haven’t been involved at all, shame on you for shirking your responsibilities!

What I want, what I miss is the cold, is the sign Summer is over. So, please, please, please Autumn let it be cold soon!! I have had enough of the heat, the dry scorching air, the dusty roads, the parched vegetation, the hardly there attire!

You know what, to add insult to Autumns injury, today I saw a butterfly flutter past me whilst I was walking to the university! Yes, there it was as bold as brass, basking in the afternoon sun. It was just like summertime, summertime in the very nearly middle of October! Despicable! Absolutely despicable! What do you think Autumn? Are you now fully shamed into making your appearance?

Anyway, if you are by chance reading this, belated Autumn, get your bottom in gear and hurry up and arrive! Better late than never!

Yours sincerely,
A frustrated city dweller.

Updates!


Yes, well I thought it about time to update everyone, and anyone interested in recent and interesting events.

Things, seemingly, have settled down.

Is this the power of positive thinking at its best? I am inclined to think so!!!

OK, I have, *cough* and drum roll, officially become an English teacher. How the Hell did that happen?! She asks bemused!

I mean I had to be THE most unlucky and hap-hazard teacher in ALL of Madrid. Everyone else had floods of students, and me, well I couldn’t catch a fish if, well, if I fell in the river and, however the saying goes!

 

Yet, with a little ‘networking’; hehe, get me, a little networking, well I never! Seems that International Politics degree did give me some skills to transfer into my life after all! I’m being cynical, it has worked wonders for me so far, honestly.

What makes the work situation better, is that I am calling the shots. This is the great thing about taking on private classes! Oh, but I may have an interview on Friday.  Just thought I’d throw that one in the mix too! It has taken long enough, so I am EXTREMELY happy!

NO jinxing me, please! Remember, what goes around WILL come around.

So, from all of this soon to be teaching, there is money in the bank? Well, not yet, but it will happen! Yipppeeee! So, I can tick one ‘to do’ off my list then? Hoping so!

The social groups are revealing THE most interesting people. ‘Like attracting like’ (rules of attraction); there I go again, blowing my own trumpet, dear me.

I have met so many people who have just been able to open the relevant doors for me. I actually feel, although reticent to say it allowed, blessed.

For once in a long while, I feel my direction is going in a direction! I feel like I am walking on rose petals and not poisoned thorns, a little dramatic I know, but so true.

There is fertile ground, land ahoy, the storm is over – OK, not over, just a temporary reprieve and I am sure it will resume soon enough. So, I err on the side of caution, BUT, maintain a positive outlook!

I have also managed to meet some pretty cool friends too. I have been a bit of a social butterfly recently, and am loving it! Why not, I am young and although not single, I am free (not cheap, merely free).

The volunteering is still going well, I am chief researcher; ta dah! I maybe a real ‘geek’ , but I LOVE research.

Oh, and I am writing for ANOTHER blog, as a guest writer! This is great, as there is a ready made ‘fan base’. I am so unused to lots of people merely just liking my writing without prompt, I could get used to it!!!!

Finally, but not nor ever will it be THE end of it; my Spanish practice. Mas or menos igual; in other words, it is more or less equal to what it was. Though, I am feeling more confident.

Today I have had to speak to people in Spanish via the telephone. What the Hell has happened to me????!!!! Actually speaking on the telephone in a language I have been quite afraid of using!!! Telephone conversations were posing an obstacle for me on the confidence stakes. Yet, I managed it, although, not in a hurry to repeat it.

Oh, but I have found THE best ‘intercambio’ partner though. She is a Spanish teacher, and so nice. I do feel my confidence to increase my communication is on the rise, yes actual conversation, woo hoo! Watch this space people, anything is possible!

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Things That Shock Brits In Spain


This post has come as a response to a feature article from an online newspaper/magazine, which reports Spanish news in English. The publication is called ‘The Local’.

The article by reporter Alex Dunham; ‘Top Ten Things That Shock Spaniards In The UK’, made me immediately have a response with the opposite opinion.

What is shocking for us ex-pat Brits in Spain?

Well ponder no longer as I have constructed a list for you all to peruse!!!

Here are the top ten I have come across; not just me though, I am not that biased folks! Others I know have raised these points too, and they definitely make a worthy top ten.

Manners: Let us forget Spain as the traditional, quaint and quiet little idle, full of flamenco and sangria. This is not the Spain of today! The people in Madrid can be grumpy, rude, ignorant, pushy and annoying like any other nation’s inhabitants can be!! It is a shock to realise they say ‘speak to me’ upon answering a telephone or greeting a customer. People will normally reply with ‘I want’ and ‘give me’, which are demands many from the UK might be uncomfortable with! Yet, odd manners are replicated out on the street, metro and in general too. People will quite happily barge you out of way, won’t think twice about hogging the isles in supermarkets, and of course jump queues; all of which is quite normal in most countries though! They may not be Spain specific, but are still annoying!

Time: Lateness is normal in Spain. Meet friends and expect to wait at least 30 minutes for them to arrive. OK, the relaxed atmosphere surrounding social gatherings encourages this, but in business, not a good idea. Most nations respect and expect punctuality, otherwise how would any deal get done, and any work get completed? It is just common sense, be on time to the office!

Vacations: Some companies apply a summer timetable. In effect people begin work early and finish early. Great, and yet I don’t know anyone in the UK who finishes work at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, just because it is summertime. Not to forget the long lunch hours! Oh, and that some places close for the entire of August!

Binge Drinking V’s Drinking Everyday: Spaniards drink daily. They are allowed to have a drink during their lunch break, even on company premises! They can buy alcohol in the cinema! Drinking is encouraged; a sherry after dinner, followed by beer and wine and then finish off with cocktails after 1.00 AM. Alcohol is sold in any cafe, bar, restaurant and club until the small hours, but you won’t be able to purchase it at the supermarkets after 10.00 PM. That rule makes ALL the difference!

Shopping: Certain shops run on a repeat loop; every street you walk down seems to have the usual suspects – Tiger, Starbucks, H&M, Zara, Lefties, Cafe & Te, Bijou Brigitte, Bershka, and so on. Also, Pharmacies are BIG in Madrid. You cannot purchase a little pack of paracetamol from Carrefour (Supermarket), ONLY from a Pharmacy. Yet, from that same Pharmacy you can be sold a pack of highly addictive Codeine based painkillers without a prescription.

Skimpy Outfits: Now Spain has ample excellent weather for the women of the country to parade around in skimpy outfits, so just because they have to wear a coat in winter to cover up on the streets, doesn’t mean their dress sense has suddenly become demure. No-one is that easily fooled!

Home Design: Home decoration tends to favour flounce and frills, brown and pinks, flowers and dark wood. It is quite traditional, and dare I say, a little 1980’s! The other odd thing I have noticed is that wherever there is a bathroom, the make of the suite is always ROCA! A little weird!

Food: Wholesome and healthy, well, I suppose in some places it can be. Yet, a favoured Madrid dish, fried Calamari on baguettes, doesn’t constitute as such! Olives, processed pork, tortilla, chips and fries don’t fit that bill either!!

Make Under: Women in Madrid ARE tan fanatics. They sunbathe in local parks, and break the cardinal rule by not applying sun-cream! Women don’t often dress up (as in going out on the town) or differently. Let me explain; I see plenty of plain clothes such as jeans, shorts, little skirts and tee shirts. These are all over Madrid, they are the norm for summer and winter. Fashion seems to be quite regimented in many parts of Madrid, and for those who like to embrace expressing themselves via fashion, they will find people staring at them oddly! Britain’s urban chic is however slowly catching on in certain areas within Madrid, which is good news!

Tea: great if you happen to favour the green variety or flavoured fruit teas, not if you want milk and sugar! Oh, and they aren’t fan of kettles here in Madrid; microwaves are used to heat up drinking water. Their coffee, well, it is the same as ordering a coffee in any other bar (etc.) in any other country, it is just coffee!

OK, I had to add in another point for good measure, hehe!!

Personal Space: Now the Spanish air kissing or facial kisses are fine with me, well, ordinarily. Yet, meeting people for the first time, and them expecting to get up, close and personal, is a little off putting. I like close contact and am not afraid of hugging people, but I do love my personal space too. On the Metro people will come and sit right next to you, even if there are ample seats available elsewhere. They are there up and close to you; talking loudly, snogging their boyfriend/girlfriend, allowing their children to stamp all over your feet, or applying their make-up. Oh, and in the parks, expect to see extreme make out sessions in full swing!!

Don’t get me wrong here, I do enjoy living in Madrid. It is just that NO country is perfect!!! I would be THE first to stand up and say that UK has it’s own issues too!

Hope you like the list? Please let me know what are your top ten shocks from the countries you have visited or lived in. I would be interested to know your experiences and of course, opinions!