Time Lords and Holy Water

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Two seasons of Doctor Who in as many weeks. That’s getting dangerously close to an addiction. Fortunately, it was as much a memory run as it was a time-filler; the buck stops with the last of the Tennant episodes. For some reason I never got into the Matt Smith series. Maybe I grew up.

Yeah. Like that’s ever going to happen. Continue reading

Shift

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The Levant, otherwise known as the Levante or Sharqi, is a wind that blows westwards through the Strait of Gibraltar. Local myth has it that the wind has an ill nature and has curious effects: some say it slows the mind, others that it induces fatigue, and yet more claim that it invokes a general feeling of indescribable malaise. When it blows, the temperature seems to drop and clouds fill the sky, though it remains humid, and no amount of deodorant can hold back the sweat. People just seem to friction up. And yesterday, after a three day assault, it died away with the news that my home country had severed its ties with the EU. Truly, the Levant is an ill wind. Continue reading

Spring Cleaning

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I did a test-run with the packing today. I think I can just about get everything into one suitcase and a rucksack, if I can only jettison a few books. It’s always the books. If there’s one constant that’s true for everyone in my family, it’s that we’re all great accumulators of stuff. Not fridge magnets, not stamp collections, just… stuff.

I booked my flight home a couple of days ago. I booked my onward flight to Morocco the day after. I’ve been in a kind of denial ever since. Three weeks and two days to go. By this stage in Jordan I was getting feverish over the tally calendar in the back of my notebook. Right now I don’t even want to think about it. It’s a testament to just how much I want to hold on that I’m sticking it out right up until the end, rather than ducking out of the last two days like the others. I’ve got a job to do. It’s a bloody brilliant job.

I don’t want to go.

It was raining this morning. Rain… One of the only things I miss about England. Whenever I was home from university I used to put my bed against the window, draw back the curtains and go to sleep listening to the sound of the wind in the trees outside. The colder, the better. It was especially magical around Christmas time, with the street lit up with blinking yellow fairy lights and the chill of frost in the air. Nights spent wrapped up in bed watching Watership Down or Harry Potter.

Winter in England. It’s the only time I ever get nostalgic for home.

Three weeks remain. History lessons this week. I’ve been meaning to do a lesson on British  history for a while. We’ll do something time-travel related so it can span the year groups. I might even throw in a little Doctor Who. Tennant, though. Naturally. And no historians in these lectures, no sir. Just full-on individualism. Just the way I always wanted it when I was at school.

Cracks at the seams, I think. Did you notice? I’m nearing the end of the DVD collection I had sent out. I forgot that I took out at least half to make room for The Tudors and then forgot to replace them when I took them out separately. I guess that means I’ll have to fall back on reading again. That’s no bad thing. I’ve had a nice long break since finishing Shadow of the Moon. M.M. Kaye writes with a golden pen but she doesn’t half suffer from a Stephen King-esque page-churning syndrome. Pavilions took me months to wade through, what with all the research I kept going away and doing…

I tidied up my room today. Threw away a lot of junk. Found some things I haven’t even used yet. Stuff. The wryneck feathers were at the back of the drawer where I put them way back in October, along with the vulture feather I found in Badajoz, of all places. My first aid kit. Andrew’s adaptor. The condom from Fresher’s week ’13 – ‘just in case’. The diary that lasted all of two months. As is so often the case, it documents the build up to yet another one-sided love affair and then, like a candle, it snuffs out. I might add it to the pile when I get home. Or not.

There’s a sizable part of me that doesn’t want to go to Tetouan in June. A part that wants to toss in the towel with this two-and-a-half-year Arabic sortie for good. It’s the very same part that gave me cold feet the night before Arch and I set off for Morocco last Easter. The part that turns telephones into air raid sirens and bank clerks into drill-sergeants. The part that turned the vale of Jordan into a personal Hell.

I have strange triggers.

I don’t want to be a spy, or work for the government, or serve in the Middle East. I want to settle down to a quiet life teaching English in Spain, writing novels on the side and searching for the One, wherever she may be. I don’t need Arabic for that. I really don’t.

No. Hold it right there. I’m many things, not all of them good, but I’m not a quitter. I’m not quitting on this, nor will I ever. I fought for the right to go to Morocco. There’s no backing down now. This time, I’m determined to make it work. That’s why I’m pulling out all the stops: going solo, staying with a local family, extra classes on the side. It’ll cost me, both in cash and freedom, but it’ll be worth it. Besides, everybody gets cold feet from time to time. It’s perfectly human to be afraid of the unknown… but even more so to face it head-on.

I’ll be twenty-two in a month or so. The open world yawns and it looks a lot like Extremadura right now. But that’s OK. I know where I’m meant to be. BB x

P.S. I’m going to lay off  HBO’s The Pacific for a while. It’s put me in an odd mood this evening…

Tactical Retreat

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I love travel.

In fact, I don’t just love it. I’m obsessed with it. I’ve tried telling myself time and time again that if I had to live in a quiet, country village surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges and gushing rivers, I’d happily stay put.

But I’d only be kidding myself. I’ve got a bad case of wanderlust and I don’t think even a year in Paradise would cure me. Perhaps not even a month. Continue reading

Fly on the Wall

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Good afternoon Wednesday. One more day and we break for the Easter holidays. It doesn’t really feel like an end of term, if I’m honest. If it weren’t for the fact that my afternoon classes have had a turn-up rate of 0/3 so far, you probably wouldn’t notice. Maybe that’s got something to do with the fact that Semana Santa is just that: one week. You can forget the languorous four-week break for Easter from university. It’s a mere seven days of freedom and then we’re straight into the third term of the year. I was very much ready to take a break this time last term, but whether that’s because I was still worrying over my primary classes back then or because of the stress of the Christmas concert (I suspect the latter), it’s a different story now.

I’m sitting in a sweltering staff room waiting for what will probably be the next two zeroes in the aforementioned afternoon classes. I’m almost certain that 2º Bachillerato won’t turn up, but I have my doubts with the second class… so here I am. Radio Futura’s oh-so-80’s Escuela de Calor is playing in my earphones on repeat. I really need to invest in a new laptop, if just to tweak some of my music library, which has been untouched since my old laptop expired on the way back from Elvet Riverside last February. Fortunately, everything’s cheaper in Spain and I’m settling down as the year draws to a close. I’m not saying I won’t go traveling anymore… I’m just getting sensible about how much I spend on it.

It’s hard not to fork out on long breaks in new locales every other weekend when your classmates are spread across the world in Cuba, Lebanon, Argentina, Australia and such likes. Until this year I’ve never been ‘in the money’ and so my travels have always been necessarily shoestring, for which I’ve somehow managed quite a lot: Uganda, Morocco and Spain from north to south on foot, for one. However, whilst I’d be the first to encourage travel, I’d also point out that it’s worth reining in temptation for the bigger fish. I must have spent at least 500€ on my various adventures over the course of the first term alone, and perhaps even 1000€ including the second. All totally worth it, but I have big plans for the summer and the little costs do add up. It’s very easy to be reckless with money, especially in Europe, so I’m screwing my brain in and preparing to sit this holiday out. Perhaps I’ll even get some more work done on my book. That’d be good.

That TLRP could also do with a little work… Like, starting it. Them. Both of them. Pronto.

In the meantime, spring is here and it’s going to be very difficult not to get out and about celebrating that. The swallows have stopped moving through and are here to stay. The storks began nesting last month and the first of the lesser kestrels came screeching into town two days back. Any day now the bee-eaters will arrive and when they do I’m bound for a quiet weekend in El Rocío. Spain always reminds me just how important the natural world is to me and that’s so very important. I had little reminders in Durham, like the badgers that haunted the path behind the business school and the hedgehogs in our garden (a major advantage of not living in student-infested viaduct), but out here it’s hard to miss. Sure, they may be lacking in a decent music scene, but on the wild side it balances out perfectly.

I’ve major plans of a more forward-looking nature this weekend, which I’ll inform you of in due course. Expensive plans. And that, above everything else, is why I’m clamping down on the travels for the moment. BB x

The Punjab comes to town

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I’m completely out of it. I just cleared half of Seville at a sprint. The Sunday evening bus from Olvera pulled in five minutes earlier than usual and I figured I could just about make the eight o’clock bus to Villafranca at a run. As you might expect in such situations, all the traffic lights went red as I reached them, but despite everything (and aided by a significantly less-crowded city centre than usual) I made it to Plaza de Armas with five minutes to spare… only to be mortified to find it operating on a pre-paid tickets service. I’d already resigned myself to a two hour wait and a miserably sloppy 2.30€ egg salad sandwich that almost fell apart in the vending machine (one of the world’s most villainous rip-offs) when the bus driver hailed me over. There was room for one more after all. Just once, just this once, I got lucky.

And now it’s your turn to be out of it, because this one’s a real titan. Get comfortable. Continue reading

Winter in Madrid

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I’m spent. Completely and utterly spent, in heart and body and mind. Ready to drop to my knees and sleep for a thousand years like some twenty-first century Rip van Winkle. I’m back in Spain, I’m back home, and I’m back in bed, and if it weren’t for the sake of this blog, I’d be fast asleep by now. But that can wait.

I’ve dropped enough hints over the last few months for you to guess what I’ve been up to. I’m back from three days in Madrid with my dear friend Ali, who has stuck with me through thick and thin over the last few months and been a most valiant and enduring friend, putting up with more of my less-than-perfect Spanish than she deserves. As a way of saying thank you, and as a birthday present, I took her to the capital (a long-term dream of hers) to see El Rey León, or The Lion King (a long-term dream of mine). And since Madrid’s a long way from both of us, we decided to make a weekend of it. Continue reading