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

New year, same country 

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So it’s been a while since I’ve hit the blog, I just haven’t known where to start with what I’ve been up to. It seems like I’ve been busy, but not doing anything of note. The Christmas holidays were great, it was lovely being back in England doing my usual uni holidays routine – seeing friends, family, doing band stuff, hanging around in Norwich and all the boring adult stuff (which incurred a hefty dentists bill, but I shan’t complain as I am glad with my family’s history that I still have all my own teeth). But getting back to my Spain routine was a little difficult – just at the time when festival lineups are coming out, friends are proposing holiday plans, and I’m having to say “sorry, I can’t, I have to be in France” more times than seems fair. But I’m trying to see the positives of it; as my trip to visit my fellow Durham year abroader Fiona revealed, France is actually a pretty cool country.

Clouds so cool they hang out with mountains 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

And the Manacles are Off

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My, but I’ve been a little slack with the posting of late, haven’t I? That may or may not have something to do with crashing into the warmth of my own bed after a ridiculously stressful final week or two of teaching children as the holidays loomed ever closer (you remember what it was like, nobody wants to work with Christmas around the corner). In the meantime, whilst I haven’t been up to anything of note since term broke for the holidays, I did finally managed to extract my photos from my first visit to Merida and Badajoz, and about time – some two months later! The post simply wouldn’t have worked without the photos, so I hope it was worth the wait. I’ll post the second instalment tomorrow.

So, without further ado, allow me to throw you headlong back into the heady days of early October 2015! Continue reading

Feliz Navidad, Return to Terredad

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So here I am again, back in the mother land for the first time since September, huddled up in a duvet in cosy old Norfolk.

It’s weird how much time I spent before going abroad, on the edge of my seat waiting to go and imagining what kinds of adventures I’d get myself mixed up in. To be honest I wondered how I’d actually deal with living in Spain. I can’t quite decide if the outcome has matched my expectations; I guess there’s some things you just can’t ever predict happening. Continue reading