A foreword ought to be said about this sabbatical. However, I shall not be doing it at this moment. At this moment I am, not quite literally, embarking on a 12hr 20 minute flight to Buenos Aires from Madrid. To date, I have passed just over a week of the pre-eminent three months’ sabbatical that I have been granted: no doubt for my years of good service. Anyhow, I resolved to write some sort of blog / recount of 500 words every three days. Out of necessity / apathy, this shall have to be every week and may be upto 1000 words. I suspect, and indeed hope, I shall get upto a good deal of rather time-consuming antics and this will slip to a monthly recap that, disclaimer, could reach thesis levels of word count. Fans, admirers, past lovers: please remember to breathe!

PARIS

The grand departure from the UK took place on a Thursday, I think it was. Midday I left the blessed Albion. Not much can be said of the flight other than its forgetfulness – for someone who hates flying – it was fine. Arriving in Paris, likewise, fine. I have a feeling the pilot may have been a woman; I find that female pilots always land more softly… makes up for bad parking! Reach Harry in a remarkably nice Parisian flat. Without much ado, we ascended the steps right by Muller st. (funny for all who know a Mr. Tim Muller – by reputation or otherwise). Muller’s steps take us to an abhorrence of a church that had spectacular views over the city (I am sure it still does – just deciding what tense I am to put this in!).

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It seemed a brilliant idea to collect two bottles of red wine from a winery, a collection of cheese from a fromargerie and some fresh bread (clearly French) from a boulangerie. This, accompanied by some excellent chat, which I received and was merely a necessary second for, did for our formal or otherwise outside-the-flat dinner. With looser legs we made it to a bar. Later, with tottering ones we found some bikes, having hatched a plan to “hit a club” in the centre. Here I should point out that the allure was the fashion week in Paris (that appears to have been going-on for a month or so). Before entering said club, we consumed a much needed, and much overpriced, macChicken sandwich apiece. Thus we approach and enter the club. To beer and to dancing we went.

I woke up feeling worse than I can recall ever having felt – like a giant had taken a large vegetable and inserted it into my head. (Cannot think of another analogy.) Ingestion of Ibrupofen and consumption of some musley brought me back to sleep, which lasted until 5pm.

H. and I took a cycle ride around Paris to bridge the gap between leaving the house and Kalina arriving in Paris – two hours. I must say that Paris really is quite a beautiful city. Got to love them flying buttresses of Notre Dame. A massive highlight was a brass plate marking the centre of all roads in the country: what a thing to have beheld!

I presume the night was like my flight: really quite pleasant and without too much turbulence. We did not go out! I perhaps slept on the most comfortable sofa I have yet encountered – having been ejected from H.’s bed at K’s arrival – seemed fair.

The Louvre, day three’s activity, was very large. Paris was very wet.

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As a rule, I have 30mins in me to look at Art.We looked at art there for two and a half hours. I have come out of the experience having suffered and feel a better person because of it. Ps. The French do love to hail a lady with her breasts exposed!

Evening’s activity consisted of more modern art proceeded by some dance music ~ not quite what one would think of I don’t think. It was a rather good DJ whose audience 1) were not dancing and 2) had an average age of around 65. Impressionists – bah – only so many times one can look at Picasso and say “you know what, refreshingly different!” My thirty minutes came and went and then were followed by two sets more!

<Another Heavy Night>

Woke up in time to leave for my train with plenty of time ie. lunchtime. Of course, this is assuming that the French are not idiots who cannot run trains, nor unhelpful thus will not direct you to the replacement service. After my taxi was stolen twice, I resorted to Uber. Met a great French chap (almost redeemed the antics of the cheese eating surrender monkeys). I DID reach the plane in time, but it was far from comfortable and was at CDG Terminal 3. It was still raining…

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MADRID

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Naturally the metro is closed from Madrid airport. My train required a change. Now, while I have google, which taps into the information published about transport for all major cities and thus knew my train line and the time it departs, Spain announces the platform at about one minutes’ notice. This means that one must sprint to said platform and hope that it is not changed at the last second. On this occasion it worked, on the return trip it did not.

Hostel, upon arrival, was immensely welcoming! Moreover, the first place that cooked for me that I’ve been – not that the food was any good. In spite of some compelling offers to go to a Jazz bar, I chose bed.

[The following morning’s journey to the language school, and its four following siblings, have rather endeared me to Madrid.]

Día Dos hosted an especially complex process of purchasing trainers. Having left England with Tendonitis, I was not expecting to possess the ability to run. Spain does not sell trainers simply, they send you on a rat-run around the city because 46 (UK 10.5) is such a strange shoe size as to warrant visits to two huge department stores. Overpriced shoes on feet I have my first run for a year! Was rather wonderful. In the evening, at the somewhat un-impressive dinner, I spend time with Chilean and Argentinian travellers. That day I had learnt the word for “posh”, which is pijo in Spanish (at least that it is what is said in Spain). Thus, when questioned on my type of english accent I reply “tengo un acento pijo”. South American spanish: “I have a dick accent”. Suffice to say this evoked a fair bit of laughter.

<A Heavy Night>

<A Heavy Night> With compound drinking, I woke up feeling:

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The proceeding days somewhat blended together, morning of hangover recovery ~ Ham, Tomato on toast wth coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice is certainly something I could accustom myself to, followed by learning the odd bit of Spanish. On that front – how on earth is one meant to keep track of Spanish prepositions!? Afternoon of a run and then an evening of watching the sunset by the Prado followed by trips to the museum. Thoughts on various museums:

Regina Sofia: Guernica, Picasso – what a painting. Of the museum itself, I would say that the thing I enjoyed most was the lift: glass on the side of the building that looks over the plaza. The museum depressed me a good deal!

Prado, on the other hand (which I visited on Thursday) was somewhat more spectacular. Had I visited it on Friday, I may have joined the longest queue I’ve seen in my life. Prado had a very wonderful Veracruz – Mercury and Ander. It had my favourite Zurbaran also. None of that “nature imitating art bollucs”: paint what you see!

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Of course I am forgetting to mention the Goyas – second and third of March: fascinating. Perhaps I should give a shout-out this beauty too:

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I feel that someone should have interjected at some point: parents; self pride; artist’s abhorrence; potential buyers’ repugnance.

As I left the Prado, there was a big old protest against – something. I cannot really say much more than that sadly! I have a feeling it was about unequal education / any reason to march down one of the main avenues declaring one’s consternation with the establishment. Rather that than Brexit.

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The only deviation from the norm of Lessons > Tapas Lunch > Run > Bugger around trying to learn Spanish > Bed that took place was when I was asked-out by an immensely pretty girl in the park… on behalf of her gay friend. It was all going well until she dropped the “chico” bomb! Suffice to say that is the last time that I shall be doing anything  topless with this slightly chubby, white body; its clearly irresistible.

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I must conclude my flight: it was too hot (Iberia do not trust you to deal with your own heat regulation and thus concluded that everyone should be roasted to death in spite of my repeated requests to the contrary); my chair did not decline properly (translation of explanation: “meigh”); it lasted for 12hrs 20 minutes; turbulence; the bags took a jolly long time to arrive; I ordered the uber to the wrong place. Other than that – seamless! Bienvenido a Buenos Aires.

 

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