Vuelta al cole

Hello, I'm back in Spain now, and melting like every one else. Thanks very much to Sarah for her excellent blogs over the past month while I was away. She wrote about exactly the sort of interesting topics which it's easy to overlook when you've been here for a while, especially the Andaluz accent. Hopefully she can be persuaded to write some more posts for us over the next few months. It's always a wrench coming back from the UK after the summer, leaving your family, and facing the heat. But it happens every year - from cold (sorry, but where was the UK "summer"? June and early July, apparently, ending precisely two days after we arrived) to extreme heat (48 degrees the night we arrived), holidays to school, time-off to work, UK TV to Spanish TV. I'm not sure which of those is more of a shock to the system. Luckily for us freelances, there's no back-to-office dread to negotiate, just sitting down at the ever-messy desk covered in kids' toys and chaotic, fire-hazard stacks of paper, whose order and purpose is incomprehensible to everyone except me. For those of us who live here permanently, what do you miss most about the UK? It's something I get asked a lot, more there than here. Like most people, it's 1) family and 2) friends, but these are followed closely by 3) cakes and puddings (GU chocolate puds, fruit crumble, carrot cake, ginger cake, fruit cake... yes, I know I could make them myself, but it's also nice being able to pop down to the Co-op for a packet of lemon cupcakes to scoff with a cup of tea, isn't it?), and 4) cosy pubs where they shut the door, and have comfortable chairs and subtle lighting, with no tiles at all, on floor, walls, ceiling or bar. It doesn't take long to feel like I'm "not from around these parts". Walking down the street in my local village, I get astonished and pitying looks from the women, showing off their deep, mahogany tans in their just-back-from-the-beach strappy sundresses - as my skin is as pale as ever. Where I live there aren't many non-Hispanic foreigners - about five, I think. So fair-skinned people are freaks. "Didn't she go to the beach for her vacaciones?" they must be thinking. "Que raro. How awful it must be for la inglesa, being so white like that, looking like una fantasma!" All the girls who work at my daughter's nursery were deep, deep brown, while she was - yes, you guessed it - lily-white. So everyone is settling back into normal life, regular routine, work/school/nursery, and I can't decide if this is a good thing or not. It's predictable, so you can plan things, and have more freedom (as in child-free-dom) than in the holidays. But it's just not as much fun. Although having said that, it's still feria season. Next weekend is one of our local ferias, my husband's home town one, while this weekend we're off to a medieval festival in the Sierra Norte. In case you don't know this part of Seville province, it's a lovely and untouristy part of Andalucia (apart from my friend, who is practically a local now, I will probably be the only foreigner there), with rolling hills and Moorish castles. With flaming torches lighting the narrow, cobbled streets, it will feel like going back in time. Fancy dress is compulsory, as the friends we're staying with are medieval pros, and know to a tee what is genuine for the period and what is not (my suggestion of a musketeer's outfit - tunic with coat of arms, as seen on many a jouster - was roundly rejected; I foolishly thought it could pass as a knight's). We have the sword, at least, an essential accessory for every three-year-old knight-at-arms. I am anticipating lots of excitement and running around, a few inevitable tears, and very tired but very happy children.
Blog published on 1 September 2010