Thursday, June 15, 2006
On ‘holiday’ in Spain -- Madrid and Extremadura
By the time you read this, my wife and I should have enjoyed a whole week of sun and relaxation in the Spanish capital, Madrid, and further south in the region of Extremadura.
We flew out to Spain from Edinburgh Airport last Friday and now will be setting off in our rental Volkswagen to drive to Seville for night, before heading on further south to Cadiz and the Costa de la Luz (Coast of Light).
Ironically, when we flew out last Friday the Borders and the rest of Scotland were enjoying something of a heatwave with temperatures up into the 70s in the first real burst of warm summer weather so far this year.
I was dreading leaving those blue Scottish skies and bright sunshine behind only to find Spain was in the grip of its worst summer on record! Both Ally and I were really looking forward to our Spanish trip, as it was giving us time to catch up with friends who moved to Madrid from Edinburgh just about 18 months ago.
Both gave up well-paid jobs on newspapers for a life in the Spanish sunshine where they teach English to Spanish people.
Of course, I can pretty much guarantee that, as much as we will both be enoying our holiday right now, Ally will also be secretly worrying about her garden back home.
When we left all the vegetables were growing well, along with strawberries and raspberries, while flowers were bursting into bloom all over the place. A pair of housemartins had also started building a mud nest under one of our eaves and hopefully we will be back in time to see any chicks fledge.
As we live on a farm in the countryside, there are naturally plenty of insects and that means plenty of housemartins, swallows and swifts wheeling and screeching in the sky above our garden.
We are lucky in the sense that, not only can we afford a foreign holiday, but that we have a great home and garden, in a great part of the world, to come home to.
For many people, their annual two-week summer holiday - or vacation as you guys call it - is viewed as an escape from their day-to-day lives. If you can go on holiday and then be quite happy to return home to the ‘real world’ at the end of it, you are lucky indeed.
Countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, southern France, Portugal and, to some extent, Turkey, are popular holiday destinations with Scots since they are not too far away and you are pretty much guaranteed plenty of sunshine.
However, native Scots and the sun are not always the best of mixes. With our generally fair complexions and skin types, we tend to go red rather than brown when exposed to the sunshine. We get better tans from being weather-beaten by the wind and the rain.
My father, when younger, once went on a walking and climbing holiday in the Cairgorm mountains in Scotland, which included camping in a tent perched on a ledge high up on Scotland’s biggest mountain, Ben Nevis.
He apparently came back with a tan that looked like he had spent six months in Death Valley in Arizona!
When we get back from Spain at the end of next week it will be just in time for the annual summer festival in my Borders home town of Galashiels. So I will be sending in a report and photographs of the festival known as the ‘Braw Lads’ Gathering’.
Boy, are you guys in for a treat!
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