A Chat With My Nan About the EU

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Beaconsfield Buildings, Caledonian Road, where my nanna lived for her early life.

Good day and happy Saturday. I did not plan to write this post today. I am at home this weekend, back in the shire. So it’s going to be short and sweet and reflective.

 I visited my nanna today. Nanna May, born Ada May in 1930. Nanna May was born in London and was raised in Islington in two bedrooms with no running water or electricity nor outside toilet. When she married in her early twenties she moved to housing for families who had a member in the police force to a block of flats just off Mare Street in Hackney. She couldn’t believe that she was now to have three bedrooms in addition to running water and a toilet. In fact she told me when she first moved to the flat all she did turn the taps on and off in disbelief.

 Nanna May moved to Buckinghamshire many years ago now. She lives in a small chocolate-box village (you can thank Location, Location, Location for that descriptor) which is significantly populated by the white middle class. A far cry from her humble Islington beginnings.

 I asked Nanna May what she thought about the EU referendum. What she said astounded me.

 (This is slighly paraphrased as obviously I didn’t whack out a dictaphone on my nanna).

 ‘Well throughout the whole thing I just thought better the devil you know. All the old people (says the 85 year old) keep banging on about immigration and we can’t handle it but we need to think about the young people and their future. People have been coming to this country for years and years and years and they will continue to because we are an island and we’re individual and people will always want to live here. The problem isn’t the people, it’s the way the government are handling it. ’

 Then she told me this story.

 ‘When I lived in the flats (the Hackney ones, when she was married) I lived with all sorts. Some were white and some were asian and some were black and we all got on. One day, I noticed these kids who had a box with a dead cat in it. There was a Jewish kid and an Irish kid and a white British kid. They had dug up the flowerbeds to give the cat a funeral. First they gave it a Jewish funeral, then a Catholic funeral and then another funeral. We all lived in those flats and we lived together happily and peacefully’.

 The referendum is over. We are leaving the EU. I’m upset, I’m wishing it had turned out another way and I don’t think I’ll quite be over it for a while.

 But what my nanna told me today, this small, anecdotal, everyday story, is going to stay with me.

 We are stronger together.   And hopefully, we will all pull together and make the most of this situation. I am hoping we can continue to live in peace and harmony alongside each other, regardless of voting preferences, race, religion or class.

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We Want Our Country Back

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During times of political turbulence, I tend to find that certain people latch on to phrases.  They latch onto phrases, perhaps, in vain hope that if they repeat them again and again and again, they will start to sink in and make sense to people.

In fact, I wrote a little thing a while back about one of my personal favourites, ‘looking after our own’, here.

Now this particular phrase – We want our country back – particularly bamboozles me.  Firstly, I am under the impression that the country has not geographically moved significantly for millions of years.  It has not gone anywhere for us to get it back from.  It is still bobbing around in the Atlantic, alongside its neighbours.

These neighbours that I speak of, are the ones that we have been at peace with since after the second world war, when the origins on the EU can be traced back to.  These neighbours are the ones who we have frequently visited and lived with, and in turn have visited and lived with us.  These neighbours are ones who don’t put up high barbed wire to segregate us, but rather little wooden picket fences with gates so that we may enjoy each other’s gardens with ease.

I hope you all enjoyed my analogy there.

Let’s return to the phrase.  It, alongside the other Vote Leave favourite ‘Take Back Control’ , have a significant word in them. BACK.  As in, in the past.  Already happened.  Ellapsed.  People seem to have this warped obsession with taking our country backwards.  Back to the glory days, the good old days, the golden era.

Ah yes, the golden era.  Do people refer to a time when European countries were at war with each other, and millions of innocent lives were lost?  Or perhaps time when equal pay, maternity pay, 28 days annual leave and human rights laws did not exist.  Maybe people would prefer to take it back to the good old days when discrimination against minorities was rife and there was no protection against it whatsoever.

With these stock phrases, I feel that people are glamorising this by-gone time of Britain.  They are ignoring the failures of the past but rather trying to conjure up this image of a blissful Britain, where everything is scones and cream, games of cricket and Yorkshire tea.

They are ignoring the amount of progress that we have made.  Britain used to be a country where no money meant no medical care, education or even the slightest chance of getting out of the poverty cycle.  But, we made progress.  We introduced the NHS, we introduced compulsory state education.  We progressed.  But things were still not perfect.  We fell out with some countries.  We went to war.  We lost many british citizens, but we also failed to notice the millions of people murdered by the Nazi regime.  So we did something about it.  We joined forces with a club of countries, to ensure such atrocities did not occur again.  We gained human rights laws, laws for workers, equality and discrimination laws.  We progressed.

We didn’t go back.  We moved forward.  But I am terrified that if we leave the EU, we will go backwards.  I read a thing somewhere about history having a funny way of predicting the future, referencing a rise of right-wing fascist political party with a charismatic leader.  That is one thing we really, simply cannot afford to go back to.

So please, let’s continue to do what we do best.  Move on, progress and evolve.  Let’s remain and continue to improve making our craggy lump of earth a better place.

Disclaimer: I haven’t included anything about trading or immigration or any hard statistics because I don’t feel knowledgeable enough to do so.  I don’t want to pretend to understand a whole lot about these things.  I’m just writing as a person, a human, a citizen of the earth.

(Obviously I’m voting in.  But if you’re struggling and want some balanced arguments, check out the economist).

 

Hulafit with Shakira

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Something strange has happened to me recently.  I’ve started enjoying exercise.  I’ve stopped feeling like I want to die after 3.5 minutes of physical exertion.  I own a variety of jazzy printed lycra leggings.  I discuss classes I’ve been to *almost* as regularly as I discuss how cross I am that it is raining in summer.

I’ve got into a really nice routine of doing 2-3 classes per week, plus the occasional run. It’s taken a few months of this routine, but I really do feel better for it.  I can leap up stairs and run for buses and do dancefloor lunges much more effectively that before I started taking exercise (we all know the lunges are the most important here).

Now I am not a competitive person in the slightest, so team sports were never going to be the thing for me.  But I came across Hulafit via another fitness class that I was already doing and had visions of me twirling 10 fire hoops around various bits of my body and decided YES let’s do fitness and learn some skills at the same time.

Let’s just say we’re not *quite* at ten hoops nor fire yet.  But STILL, every journey, single step, bla bla.

For me, a crucial part of exercise is that it is fun.  After a long day at work, the last thing you want to be doing is wailing in pain/boredom/tedium at an exercise class.  Hulafit genuinely is FUN.  It’s the perfect balance of working out (you do get gloriously sweaty, a sure sign that you’ve actually worked hard) and actually enjoying flinging a hoop around your body.  You also get to use THREE different hula hoops, what a treat.  You start out with a weighted one which is easier to hoop, then move onto the pretty stripy ones which are a little lighter and then also some super light smaller ones which you use for arm hooping.  Right fancy.

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My favourite part of the class is at the end when you’ve had a good sweat and you get to play around and do TRICKS.  My current one trick is spinning a light hoop on my hand whilst having a normal one round my waist.  It’s taken quite a while as I have dreadful coordination skills with anything that is not part of my body.  I can dance and move pretty okay but ask me to catch a ball and I am totally hopeless.  So I am full of optimism that my dream as a hula performer *may* come true one day.

Our Hulafit instructor is Shakira who is totally lovely, patient and encouraging, which for me makes a huge difference with an exercise class.  I cannot stand going to classes where the instructor just barks at you or ignores you because you’re rubbish.

The great thing about Hulafit is that as long as you are moving, you are working out, even if you’re mainly moving between upright and bent because you keep dropping the hoop (ahem, me).  By the even the second session though, I noticed myself dropping the hoop waaaay less that session one.  This is great encouragement as I do enjoy a bit of immediate gratification.

So, in a nutshell, you should probably go to Hulafit.  With Shakira if you live in North/East London.

Because, when have you ever seen someone looking miserable whilst twirling a Hula hoop round their body?!

Hulafit with Shakira is held on Mondays and Thursdays in Hackney and on Wednesday in Kings Cross.  See website for more details.

Website: http://www.hulafitwithshakira.co.uk/

Twitter: @hulafitwithshak

 

20 Life Lessons From Living With a Boy

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So it appears to be A WHOLE YEAR (give or take 24 hours) since I wrote this post.  The one about my long distance relationship.  The one that was randomly super popular.  The one that I wrote as Joe and I were on the cusp of becoming cohabitants.

Now, I know people say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and ‘Goodness, where has this year gone?’  But SERIOUSLY, I can’t believe how much it feels like I wrote that post just the other day.  On the other hand, it feels like we’ve always lived here and been doing this whole adult thing for forever.  Weird weird.

So, a little life update for y’all.  Mid-July last year, Joe and his 483583 worldly possessions squeezed their way into my Leytonstone flat that I shared with two of my besties.  We did that thing for about a month whilst flat hunting and waiting for my contract to run out.  We ummed and ahhed about where to live for a while; the general toss-up in London is either: spend less, get more house, crappier location OR: cry every time your rent comes out, become incredibly nifty at storing your life in gaps of wall but live in your area of dreams and do a little happy dance when you walk around your hood ‘cos it’s so bloomin great.

Can you guess what we went with?

Area of dreams of course, our beloved Stokey ❤ ❤ ❤

We also got incredibly lucky with our flat.  It is TINY but it is also BEAUTIFUL and I feel very lucky to have found it.  Also we got some great news the other day; we get to stay for another year YAY.  We moved in on the 15th August last year with the help of my fabulous parents and a zipvan. A few weeks later, 2 became 3 (alright, maybe 2.5) with the addition of Puddy, our little babe of a then kitten, now cat.

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Before moving in together, I did try to seek out some life advice.  The main  thing I remember was this gem that a good friend told me:  ‘It will be bliss for 6 months, then the housework arguments will start’…let’s just say, this is a piece of advice I have passed on infinite times and it should probably be printed onto one of those plaques people buy in shops that say ‘Live, Love, Laugh’ etc.

I digress. Stuff I’ve learnt…

  1. Apparently, playing a different Fleetwood Mac album every night does not constitute as having a wide variety in music taste and your boyfriend will have had enough of it by the end of week one of cohabitation.
  2. Turns out, you are much hairier than you thought. All those times you thought the hair down the plughole in your flat share was someone else’s = WRONG.
  3. You can’t proclaim to be a hard core feminist anymore because you would 10x rather do th washing up then change the lightbulb.
  4. Pairing men’s socks is the worst. They all look black, but apparently the various shades indicate different sock partners.  Joe’s socks are no longer monogamous beasts, rather they have been with every other sock in the drawer.  Dirty buggers.
  5. Washing up karaoke is not as fun as when you lived with your gal pals, as Joe doesn’t know any of the words to ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat’’’.
  6. Furthermore, his washing up karaoke suggestions include ‘Big Daddy Kane’ and ‘Pete Rock’, who rap mainly about G’s and Hoes. Far less wholesome.
  7. You realise the true definition of compromise. Rather than meeting in the middle, this means ‘for one person to get their way, whilst the other backs down and then sulks’.
  8. Coming home after a long day to your bae waiting with a cup of tea and kitty cuddles is the most comforting thing ever.
  9. Ditto waking up on a Saturday morning, making tea, getting back into bed and snugging just cos.
  10. The moment when you realise that you have doubted your boyfriend’s culinary skills all these years and in fact he just *might* be a better cook than you..
  11. Finding really in-depth conversations about ‘what we’re going to buy next time we go to IKEA’ and ‘when the last time the tea towels were washed’ strangely entertaining.
  12. Playing bin buckaroo is no longer tolerated and your boyfriend will get cross with you.
  13. Doing the food shop with another is far less pain-inducing than doing it alone.
  14. Mainly because on the week where it is his turn to pay, you can run around Sainsburys pretending like its free and buying all of the things.
  15. Only to be reminded of your frivolities the following week when it’s your turn and you have to buy all the expensive cleaning products that just happened to run out at the same time.
  16. When you go to bed first and feel like when you were little and your parents were still up. What’s he doing?  Is he having fun without me?  Maybe I should sneak back in and see if he notices?
  17. Men’s clothing is so much easier to hang out to dry. Only 4 shapes of clothing exist.  T-Shirt.    Sock.  Pant.
  18. Similarly, you will never get tired of watching your boyfriend try to understand tights, strapless tops or dresses with cross strap backs. WHAT IS CLOTHES?
  19. When football is on, making comments such as ‘go on football’, ‘I hope football wins’ and ‘Is that Tim Henman?’’ will ensure that football is mostly watched at the local pub, i.e. not in MY flat.
  20. Realising that your main sources of arguments are over random clutter, washing up and bed-making and therefore concluding that your relationship is pretty damn good.

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Brunchin’ at The Blue Legume

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A few Sundays ago, Joe and I decided to treat ourselves to a Sunday brunch, before he ran off again on tour and left me alone talking to the cat for a week.  We headed out into Stokey, full of hope and promise of a scrummy brunch.

As did every other person in Stoke Newington plus all of their relatives twice removed.

Bloody heaving it was.

So busy in fact, we kept getting turned away from places and we ended up following people down Church Street who had also been turned away.  It was a bit of a domino effect.  It got to a point where we would share weak smiles as we passed people for the second or third time, thinking ALL WE SODDING WANT IS SOME TEA AND EGGS.  SOMEWHERE FEED US PLEASE.

And then, our prayers were answered.  Tucked next to Clissold Wines (another Stokey fave – a wine shop with two of the cutest persian cats in residence) on Church Street is The Blue Legume.  We ate in The Legume back in August when we moved here, and it really impressed us.  Cosy little restaurant, vast menu choice, well-priced and super friendly staff.  We just hadn’t realised it did brunch too and so were absolutely overjoyed when we noticed the menu on the chalkboard.

The Blue Legume are a small chain, all based in typically yummy mummy areas of North London (Stokey, Islington, Muswell Hill and Crouch end) so you would expect to enter and be bombarded by bugaboos and babychinos and pay £3305845 for a milky coffee.  Wrong, my friend.  The Blue Legume has a reputation with locals (and I mean, proper locals) as serving damn tasty food in a relaxed atmosphere and therefore you get a really nice mix of people eating and drinking and enjoying.  The food is a fusion between British and Mediterranean cuisine and where possible they use local and sustainable produce.

On this particular occasion, I queen basic bitch, was craving some form of eggs and hollandaise so opted for eggs benedict, which came with a cute little side salad and nice chunky ham.  I also ordered a little side of extra avocado cos no breakfast complete without a good old hunk of avo.  Joe was being exotic and opted for the Mediterranean breakfast which naturally I had all of the food envy for when it arrived. There were olives.  There was feta.  Hell there was even mozzarella as well as many British brekkie faves.  We had standard tea and coffee and also a vat of freshly squeezed orange juice which was just heaven.

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Stoke Newington is far from short of brunch places and to be fair we had not planned on going into the Legume at all but I am really bloody glad we did.  Sometimes it takes a gentle nudge in a different direction to remind yourself that there are millions of alternative brunching options on offer…all you need to do is look a little deeper.

The Blue Legume

101 Church Street London N16 OUD

Nearest Tube: Stoke Newington Overground

http://www.thebluelegume.co.uk/

 

Striking the Social Media Balance

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Hello blog.

It’s been…a while.

I would like to say that I haven’t written anything because I am now on track to become part of the Olympic synchronized swim team and so have to train for four hours an evening or maybe because I have won the lottery and I have been on a beach with no internet for the last month drinking champagne cocktails out of a coconut but alas…not such.  Actually, I’ve just become a little bit disillusioned with it all.  It all being social media and all it entails.

I think my return to my public transport commute to work a couple of weeks ago has something to do with it (I had a short break thanks to babysitting my lovely friend Katy’s car whilst she jetted around the world).   My journey is now a) double the time it was when I was driving and b) time that I can utilise again to do a variety of tasks (drinking tea, reading, scrolling up and down on my phone or doing my make-up if I’m running late). However, it terrifies me when I look around the silent tube and EVERYONE is peering down on their screens.  Me included, a lot of the time.   It all feels a bit like a scene from a Charlie Brooker program. Some people I’m sure are reading the news or doing Sudoku or something useful on their phones.  However, you can pretty much guarantee that the other 96% (totally made up stats, of course) are pulling down and refreshing fb/twitter/snapchat/Instagram/wanktalk/friendenvy.com.  People are so desperate to escape consciousness of one of the most mundane parts of the day that they would rather get sucked into other people’s lives rather than focus on enriching their own.  Quite a depressing thought really.

 Now, I’m not in this camp of ‘we should all be deep in intellectual conversation with a stranger next to us’ kind of vibe.  Before phones, yes there probably was *a bit* more conversation on public transport but to be fair, in the morning, people do just want to mentally prepare for the day.  Re-frame.  Go from ‘home you’ to ‘work you’.  But I’m sure burning through all your data to scroll through someone’s snapchat story is neither a productive nor positive use of this time.

Just after my Madrid trip, I deleted the facebook app from my phone.  Just having that bloody icon on my home screen makes me click on it and scroll up and down on it multiple times in the day when I could be doing something useful with my time, rather than looking at pictures of someone I went to school with’s countryside walk with their new boyfriend.  And I’ve noticed that naturally I do post a lot less personal experiences on facebook nowadays.  But then I get those little memory things come up and feel like OHMYGOD I need to keep posting pictures online otherwise they’ll be no more records of me and I’ll forget what I looked like when I was 25 and all of the fun stuff I did ARGH.

Social media makes it oh so easy for us to want to overshare EVERYTHING.  It gives us the easy option for mindless entertainment.  It gives us information at our fingertips with minimum effort.  It allows us escapism with the quick flick of a screen or touch of a button.  But like many things in life, the easy option isn’t always the healthy, mindful option.

It’s so frustrating.  I can’t promote this blog without social media.  The only way of staying updated with busy best friends who live on the other side of the world is to flick through their pics on facebook.  I would forget most people’s birthdays without facebook helpfully prompting me.  And I probably wouldn’t have a clue where was good to eat and drink in my beloved London without following various twitter accounts.  Social media has just become this extra limb we all have.  This extra shadow.  In fact, one thought I have is that phones are a bit like the daemons in The Northern Lights trilogy.  No YOU were an absolute nerd of a child.

(That particular thought occurred when I went to the pub with pretty much all of my closest pals, and most of us had our identical phones with their different cases perched on the table.  WHY?!  We were all together, catching up.  No need to be contacting anyone else at that particular point).

So I’m trying verry hard to strike a balance.  To ensure I’m not too social media addicted but rather I can use it as a tool for life.  To let it remind me, to let it allow me to reminisce, to let it me allow to share this blog with the hope that hopefully someone somewhere reads it and enjoys it.  But I don’t want it to detract me from my human interactions.  I don’t want to use it to numb my brain from some of the more tedious moments in life.  I’m trying to make sure that it compliments life, rather than let it take over.  It sounds wanky but I’m trying to observe the little things in life.  I’ve been making the conscious effort to look around me on the train and take in the different sights.

Which reminds me.  Yesterday, I watched a girl contour her face on the central line.  I NOW GET IT.  Wouldn’t have learnt that if I ‘d been glued to my phone.

 

3 Nights in Madrid

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Around about 6 weeks ago, I was curled up in bed sifting through Facebook on my phone, insanely jealous of what seemed like everysingleperson I know on a half-term city break.  Don’t get me wrong, staycations are great, but when you live in a city where doing anything mildly entertaining costs you half your wages, you may as well pay for a flight to somewhere else and spend 3 days marveling at how ‘everything is so cheap!’ and ‘we should probably move here instead of London’.

And they say Londoners don’t do anything but moan about living in London…

ANYWAY. Madrid.  We didn’t choose it as such, but rather I felt skyscanner did.  I.e. Madrid was the cheapest flight on their with the hope of some glimmers of sunshine.   We flew with Ryanair and the flights were £60 return, WHAT A DREAM.

We opted to stay in a hostel rather than an Airbnb, as it was only Laura and me on the holiday and we both rather like making holiday pals.  We arrived at our hostel, which seemed pretty empty, except a couple of very young groups of what we thought were German youths.

At this point, we panicked, our quarter life crisis once again kicking in, deciding that we must be far too old to stay in hostels at the ripe old age of 25 and that we should probably leave right away.

Of course, that evening in the hostel bar, we met people from all over the world ranging from 18-35ish and were instantly relieved of our fear.

Madrid is a bloody beautiful city.  It is very typically European, full of expansive plazas, stunning architecture and rammed full of tourists with backpacks of their fronts standing as in the way of all the locals as possible.

Plaza De Espana

On our first day, after dumping our bags and having a quick clothing change at the hostel, we headed out in search of ‘Chocolate con Churros’ , a Spanish specialty.  Essentially a really thick, dark hot chocolate which you dip fat, deep-fried pastry into.  We were recommended to go to ‘Chocolateria San Gines’, just a couple of minutes from the Plaza Major, where tourists and locals sit outside the café, drinking and eating all of the heart-attack inducing goodies.

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We then took a Time Out recommendation and took a wander down the ‘Grand Via’, Madrid’s answer to Oxford Street.  However, the roads are so bloody wide I did also pretend I was in the US at one point.  Not sure why, never been.

We ended up in the Plaza de Espana, and decided to take a 15 minute nap/lay in the sunshine.  Bliss.  It was at this very point Laura and I remembered why we are good on holiday together.  We both enjoy regular breaks to lay horizontally.

Our plan was to then go on a walking tour.  Now, many people groan at the idea of a walking tour, I know 20 year old Christina certainly would have.  But TRUST, they are the best way to get an overall view of the touristy parts of the city, as well as a load of historical information.  I try and go on walking tours in pretty much every city I go to, and from experience I can say they are always informative and the guides are usually super enthusiastic and knowledgeable, as a good walking tour should say it is FREE.  Of course, nothing in life is actually free and what this translates as is ‘free to begin but pay in tips what you think the tour is worth at the end’.  Hence why the guides are good, they usually ONLY get paid what you tip them.

However, sadly we rocked up too late to the meeting point and were told no way, Jose, and to come back tomorrow.  It was Saturday and sunny so we probably should have got their earlier but NAPS.

Instead, we decided to head to the ‘hipster district’ of Malasaňa, which turned out to be the best decision in the world.  We found a lush little plaza full of locals sitting in the sun and drinking cervezas, whilst listening to some bloke having a right good go on a clarinet.  We ordered a load of food and sangria, and proceeded to sit and drink and eat for about two hours.  In typically British form, we also realised after sitting in direct sunlight for two hours without suncream, we were burnt.  When we arrived back at the hostel, we realised that I looked particularly ridiculous as I had burnt my nose and the top of my throat and chest thanks to my high-neck top.  This scrapped my plans for a Bardot top for the evening as I looked like patchwork quilt. Cheers fashion of 2016 and your ever changing necklines.

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That evening, we went out with people from our hostel to a variety of terrible bars thanks to our participation in a bar crawl.  Luckily, we were both pretty merry and had made some pals so it was all good fun.

One thing we hadn’t been prepared for was how late everything happens here.  We went to a wine bar type place prior to aforementioned bar crawl, returning to the hostel at roughly 11pm thinking we would be heading out soon.  Oh no, 1 o’clock was our time of departure.  And Madrid by night is thriving.  There are people EVERYWHERE eating, drinking, chatting and just generally loving life.  Of course, London and many cities in the UK have people all over the shop late at night, but the main difference was that no one was throwing up in the street.  No one was sat on the floor with their heels kicked off wailing to their mate or scoffing a big Mac.  It all just seemed a bit more sophisticated.  People can handle their drink.

This is probably largely down to the tapas culture.  With every drink you order, you receive usually olives or crisps to nibble on while you booze, for freebies.  If you hunt out some of the more local places, you can grab patatas bravas or more substantial tapas for free with your drink.  In fact, on our second evening, we went to a place called ‘El Tigre’, where we paid 5 euros for a PINT of sangria, and with it came two dinner-plate size portions of tapas.  The delightful bartender also produced two shots of vodka, which when we refused to drink them, dumped them into our sangria before we could protest.  Fab.  BUT.  Dinner and giant drink for 5 euros each.  Cannot complain.

I’ve skipped ahead to the evening on day 2.  During the day, we did actually attend the walking tour, which was ran by SANDEMANs.  They have tours all over Europe, the Middle East and the US.  So yeah if go away anywhere check to see if they have a tour in your chosen destination.

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Puerta Del Sol

On our final day in Madrid, it was raining an absolute shitload.  We spent the morning lolling around the hostel, moaning about the rain.  We then spent the afternoon hot-footing it to various eating and drinking establishments, whilst moaning about the rain.  We spent the evening on another Sandeman’s tour, this one a TAPAS TOUR (that’s right, a tour involving eating tapas as three different restaurants, one stop being the ‘Museo de Jamon’ aka The Ham Museum.  Lolz), whilst now moaning to other people in our party about the rain.  I think it comes with being British.

Anyway, I cannot recommend Madrid enough.  Small enough to walk everywhere, yet plenty to see and do.  Oh and Tapas and Sangria.  All of it.

Recommendations

EAT

Chocolateria San Gines – for chocolate con churros, local style

El Tigre – Cheap as chips, good pre-night out nibbles

Rosi La Loca – Andalusian tapas

DO/SEE

Walking Tour /Tapas Tour– check out SANDEMANs for more info

Plaza Major – Main Plaza

Puerta Del Sol – Another plaza, large meeting place for Spaniards on night out, some nice fountains/statues etc

Plaza de Espana – at the end of the Grand Via, there were market stalls there when we were there on Saturday

Royal Palace – a replica of of the one in Versailles!

Cathedral – hilarious to look at as encompasses many different architectural styles as built over very long period of time

Malasaňa – cool neighbourhood not far from the Grand Via, local hangout

THINGS WE MISSED BUT YOU SHOULD DO

Retiro Park – big old park, too rainy for us sadly though

Art Museums – there’s 3, but we’re not that bothered about art (so uncultured)

Temple of Debod – nicknamed ‘Egypt in Madrid’