Towards the southern end of La Castellana, the architecture of old Madrid begins to make itself known.
Spanish culture focuses on late night activity unheard of in the UK. I found a street market open and trading well after 8pm. But then, dinner rarely starts before 9pm�.
Possibly the smallest petrol station I’ve ever encountered.
I used my precious free time in Madrid to walk down Paseo de la Castellana, the main road that forms a spine down the centre of the city. One of the first things I encountered was Bernabeu Stadium, where Real Madrid play. Normally, I’m neither a fan of football nor of concrete buildings, but this one caught my attention.
Perhaps it was the striking design. Perhaps it was the copious open space around it. Maybe it was just the light – but I did like it.
I couldn’t write about my time in Madrid without mentioning the coffee. As one conference attendee put it: “It really leaves your heart thumping, doesn’t it?” An Italian journalist I had lunch with dismissed the Spanish coffee as “brown water”, but personally, I think she was being disingenuous.
The Spaniards like their coffee strong. They like their coffee breaks. And they like staying up late. I suspect that these facts are connected.
I have a bad habit of forgetting just how busy some conferences can be. My trip to Madrid was one of those. On the whole trip I had, perhaps, a couple of hours of free time. I took a whole load of pictures but as they were, technically, on work time and work-related I won’t be sharing them. However, I did spend my few hours free walking and photographing, and I’ll try to share some of those images over the next week.
Last Monday marked four years since we lost my father to pancreatic cancer.
One of the few positive things to come out of this experience is that my mother has been heavily involved in a project examining how care for terminally ill patients is handled. You can read a news story about the report here:
When Roy was diagnosed, the whole family came home and met the oncologist as a group, and as their son’s wedding was coming up he decided to have chemotherapy.??�It was an emotional time, but he decided to have chemotherapy to hold it off for a period. Once my husband came home, the doctors and community nurses gave us all the information we needed and the GP visited every week until Roy died.�??That was four years ago, when he was 65. More recently, Mrs Tinworth was asked to be involved in the report and sit on its Project Board.
Well done, Mum.
Today was absolutely hectic, so all I can do is leave you with a couple of pictures from this evening’s gala dinner�
Airports are depressingly similar wherever you are in Europe. Sure, the iconography of the signs is different, and the language varies, but it’s not until you get outside that you really start to feel the cultural differences.
In Madrid today, the differences started the minute I tried to catch a taxi. There was a queue, as you’d expect. Except, well, it wasn’t actually a queue: it was a starting grid from which desperate travellers would hurl themselves forwards trying to grab a cab. There was no order or reason to it. You just threw yourself at a cab, accompanies by good-natured horn blowing from the cabbies, and hoped that one would take pity on you.
Of course, being British, I watched this in horror for about 10 minutes before realising that I had to join in if I wanted to get to my hotel. Initially, my chosen cabbie rejected me, but after it became clear that he wasn’t getting a better offer, he begrudging let me into the hallowed portals of his cab.
I don’t want to talk about the journey. The sight of a fat man in leather, riding a motorbike at 150 kilometres per hour, while fondling his exposed privates is not something I ever want to think about again.
The hotel, though, is fab. Stylish with good-sized rooms and WiFi throughout. Perfect, really. Oh, and the view. The view is stunning. But you already knew that, didn’t you? It’s at the top of this post.