Summer, seven weeks in…

Where has the summer gone?

There are still three weeks left before I return to teaching, but it has been almost seven since I last taught. I find that absolutely incredible. It has felt like no time at all.

For the first few weeks I was my usual busy self, cramming my calendar full of activities and self-imposed deadlines. I’m not going to apologise for that. It made for a productive few weeks. I edited half a dozen stories, wrote two new ones, and picked up on the novella I’ve been meaning to come back to for way too long. I started an online Norwegian course. I completed half of the exercises in a C1-C2 Spanish vocabulary book (which was hugely helpful for building my confidence). And I did a few Catalan and even French exercises too.

But then we went on holiday.

View from the Alcazaba at the Alhambra

Eight days felt like about the right length of time to be away. After a long but uneventful car journey, we spent five nights in Granada. We had plenty of time to relax, unwind, swim in the pool, visit the Alhambra twice (once by night and once by day) and wander round the town. Then on to Córdoba for a further three nights, which again felt about right. 

The Roman Bridge in Córdoba. Overheard tour guide: ‘The only remaining ‘Roman’ elements are the foundations and the name.’

My comment to D at the end of the trip was that I liked Córdoba with its bustling narrow streets and open, green spaces more than the steep, cobbled streets and busy modern centre of Granada, but the Alhambra was more impressive than the Mosque / Cathedral in Córdoba. I’m not sure that actually does a service to either place. The truth is that I’d recommend visiting both if you haven’t already. And if you’re veggie or vegan, we found some great places to eat in both.

Córdoba city wall.

As for the heat, well, let’s be honest, yes, it was hot but not so hot that we couldn’t enjoy our stay. The air conditioning in Granada could have been more effective and there were a couple of nights where I didn’t sleep brilliantly, but the pool was a definite bonus there (as indeed was the terrace).

The greatest surprise was the apartment in Córdoba. I wish I’d taken a photo to show the thickness of the walls. It is no exaggeration to say they were at least 50cm thick, and probably more. The result? We didn’t put the air con on once. And this in August.

The other notable feature of the Córdoba apartment was the lack of bathroom door. The sink was actually in the bedroom. The shower was through an arch from the bedroom, the toilet tucked behind a little wall alongside the shower. There was a screen you could put up to avoid a direct line of sight, but still, it was certainly an interesting feature! To be honest, it was a great little apartment and I’d have no hesitation in recommending it for established couples – but maybe not for a first weekend away together!

Anyway, usually when a holiday is over I get a little melancholy but this time there was none of that. It’s not that I wanted to go home exactly but I most definitely didn’t mind heading back to Valencia, or indeed to the flat. In fact, I was actually quite excited about it. You see, while we were away, my flatmate moved out. Now, I mean no offence to her – we seem to have rubbed along together quite happily for the year she was here – but this meant that D and I now had the place to ourselves and could rearrange it to suit us. And that’s just what we did.

Home sweet home

It is amazing what a difference moving a few pieces of furniture around can make. (It’s also amazing how easily you can fill a spare room with unwanted furniture and other stuff accumulated over the years. And I’ve only been in Spain less than three.)

We finally finished the job of moving him in yesterday, when we collected his bed from his old flat – yes, on one of the hottest days of the year. Maybe not the brightest idea ever, but we wanted to get it done before he went back to work – which he did today. Not as a Covid Auxiliary this time – whether or not they’ll be reintroduced remains to be seen – but in a new job in a supermarket. And that means that I’ve time once again for all the activities that have taken a back seat over the last few weeks while he was off.

I have still been writing and doing Spanish and Catalan and Norwegian exercises over the last couple of weeks since we got back, but it’s definitely easier for me to motivate myself when I’m here by myself. So I’m trying to gently pick up the pace a bit over the next week or two, before I have to knuckle down to the serious work of preparing for the new term. It’ll come around soon enough – and I still have a few writing projects left to tick off (not to mention the language exercises I haven’t yet got to).

The summer’s not over yet.

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