Greetings from Northern Ireland and Happy New Year!
I’ve been enjoying a bit of a break from work over the last week or so. A busy first term combined with getting used to living in Madrid has taken a lot out of me, so it has been a real relief to escape to my quiet corner of this island and make the most of some downtime.
The last few weeks of the Autumn term were fairly relentless, with exams swiftly being followed by reports, which led into Christmas dinners and parties and Sarah’s birthday. I was extremely grateful for the long weekend we had at the start of the month, which not only allowed me some time to get a lot of that admin work done, but also allowed me to go to four matches in three days. Thursday saw a highly unusual, but enjoyable double-header at Villaverde and the Bernabéu.Saturday brought an exciting clash between Atlético and Alavés which was in no way the walkover the 3-0 scoreline would suggest. But that wasn’t the true highlight of the weekend, that undoubtedly came on Friday evening when I took Sarah to Leganés (where dreams come true) to meet Super Pepino, sample the famous bocata de lomo and experience the atmosphere of a South Madrid derby.
But despite all that, it still wasn’t the best game I saw in December…
Game of the Month
Does it sound stupid to say that the best game I saw in December was the only 0-0 draw?
Of course, there are 0-0 draws and then there’s Rayo Majadahonda 0-0 Depor, which had no right to finish goalless. Yet somehow contrived to end up that way.
There was much to love about this particular contest, the fact it was Rayo’s first match back at home after their brief sojourn at the Wanda, the eerie atmosphere stemming from the thick fog that enveloped the ground before kick off and then the fact we were treated to two teams giving it their all from minute one to 90+whatever it was.
Most Popular Post
In a month which brought the most clicks in the history of the blog, the most popular post was the one published on the very first day of December.
Monthly Musings (December 2018) got this record-breaking month off to a superb start (no doubt helped by Sarah sharing it on her Facebook page, which brought a significant spike in clicks from the USA) and it continued throughout December with a few old posts getting boosts from being featured on my Twitter #ThrowbackThursday series. El Derbi Histórico, my look at the aforementioned trip to the South Madrid Derby also helped boost numbers over the festive period.
Book of the Month
The holidays are a great time to sit back and relax with a cup of tea and good book and this has been a real blessing for me. Madrid life can get pretty busy, which affects the amount of time I have to read for pleasure.
I was able to finish Jonathan Wilson’s Angels With Dirty Faces midway through the month and since I’ve been at home I’ve been enjoying Euan McTear’s Hijacking La Liga, about the rise of Atlético Madrid in the Diego Simeone era. Essential reading considering how often I’ve been to Atlético games since I moved to Madrid.
Christmas at Home
This holiday fortnight is such a busy period for me as it means lots of driving around catching up with people I haven’t seen in four months. And when I’m not doing that, I’m usually eating.
One of the undoubted highlights of being at home is the amount of home-cooked meals I can enjoy. Especially the traditional Christmas dinner, which in my family we have on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day. There’s just something perfect about the combination of Turkey, Ham and Stuffing with Roast and Mashed Potatoes, covered in Gravy. Even the Brussel Sprouts, which as a child I always turned down, have grown on me and become an essential part of the meal.
And no trip home would be complete without at least one visit to the Ramore Wine Bar in Portrush. With great food and even better views of the harbour and West Strand, it’s pretty much the perfect place for that Christmas holiday reunion with friends, even when you have to endure a lengthy wait for a table.
I’m extremely fortunate that I’m from the part of the world that I’m from – undoubtedly one of the most naturally beautiful spots on Earth. Maybe I used to take it for granted, but ever since I moved to Spain I have definitely appreciated my time at home a lot more.
I spent my final day of 2018 walking around Portrush making the most of the unusually mild conditions and admiring these beautiful views.
A New Era
Sunday 30th December 2018 was a landmark day in the history of Mis Viajes en Fútbol as I finally made the leap from a free WordPress site to a fully paid-up self-hosted one!
I suppose it’s something I’ve been considering for a few months now, especially as the last couple have been great for traffic, with, as I mentioned earlier, December smashing the record for most hits and visitors.
I’m still using WordPress but being self-hosted gives me a bit more freedom to tweak the look of the site and add new features. This will obviously take a bit of time to get things just as I want them, but I trust that you’ll all be patient as I play around with things. My geeky side is already really excited about launching one particular feature – something I’ve wanted this blog to include since Day One.
What’s Up Next?
I still have a whole week of my Christmas holidays to enjoy and I intend to spend at least two afternoons watching football. Circumstances have meant I’ve not been able to get to any Coleraine games since I’ve been home but today (New Year’s Day) and Saturday, I’ll be able to go to The Showgrounds and (hopefully) see Rodney McAree’s men get 2019 off to a good start.
Once I get back to Madrid there will be some football on the agenda, hopefully I can get round to visiting a few more of Madrid’s lower league grounds as well as seeing a couple more big matches.
I have went into a bit more detail about some of my football dreams for 2019 in a post to be published later this week, so keep an eye out for that.
All that remains is for me to wish you all a happy, prosperous and peaceful New Year and thank you for coming on this journey with me.
All the best,