Greetings from the south of Spain!
It’s been quite a while (almost 12 months) since I was last in Andalucía, my favourite region of Spain, and quite a lot has changed in the intervening period. Not least that the reason I’m back here is to get married!
Where I’ve Been
For most of August I was back at home in Northern Ireland, spending time on the North Coast, with the odd trip up to Belfast.
But very early on the 28th I was off again. Leaving home at around 3am, I was off to Belfast International Airport for a flight to London Gatwick, where I would have to wait about eight hours for my connecting flight to Gibraltar. Mercifully the layover didn’t drag too much and I was able to keep pretty busy during the time.
Although I had a window seat for the flight, I was unfortunately on the wrong side of the plane for the aerial views of the Rock of Gibraltar as we came in to land.
Upon arriving in Gibraltar, I walked straight over into Spain as I was staying in La Línea de la Concepción and I spent the next couple of days crossing the border frequently.
Saturday brought a little bit of a change of scenery with a bus trip up the Costa Del Sol to Marbella for a little bit of beach time and some sightseeing.
Game of the Month
Nothing this month, perhaps nothing this season, can compare with watching Coleraine win 4-2 at Windsor Park against Linfield.
Going 3-0 up (including the opener being scored inside 14 seconds) before being pegged back to 3-2 and enduring all the nerves associated with almost throwing away a lead for the third consecutive game only to seal the win with a fourth in injury time. You have to enjoy results like this when you can because they don’t come around every year.
I can still remember the dread a trip to the national stadium brought on in the 2000’s, when Coleraine went almost nine years without a victory there before breaking the run, appropriately enough, on my 23rd Birthday. There aren’t many better presents!
Most Popular Post
August is a time to look ahead so it’s no surprise that Five New Grounds to Visit in 2019/20 was the most-read post on the blog during the month. And I’ve managed to tick off one of the grounds from the list already!
The Victoria Stadium was an interesting experience (one which will be expanded on soon) with plenty of goals in a fairly entertaining game. Unfortunately the due to the schedule, all I was able to see was a game in the newly-formed Intermediate League, which is effectively a reserve league, save for FC Hound Dogs.
Kit of the Month
The Coleraine 2019/20 away kit, which was worn for the first time in the aforementioned victory at the National Stadium, is one of the nicest the club has had in my time supporting them!
It manages to both be traditional, in the sense that white is a common away colour, but also do something completely new with the shirt in adding the two-tone central stripe which is reminiscent of classic PSG away kits from the 1990’s.
It’s gone down really well with the fans as well – the fact Coleraine have scored eight goals in two victories wearing it probably helps!
Yeah, the statue of a certain Man Utd and Northern Ireland legend outside the Olympia Leisure Centre side of the North Stand at the National Stadium isn’t the best.
See what I did there?
Food, Glorious Food!
A shout-out for the Cuban Sandwich Factory on Belfast’s Botanic Avenue, in particular their breakfast buffet which helped set me up for the day ahead of the Linfield-Coleraine match. A nice variety of items available, including an excellent Spanish tortilla, all for around £7.50 (drinks aren’t included).
And it just wouldn’t be a summer at home without at least one trip to the Ramore in Portrush for the legendary chilli chicken penne pasta.
And when we visited Marbella, it just so happened that our bus into the city centre drove past the city’s only Goiko Grill location, so I was able to get in a bonus visit to one of my favourite Madrid eateries.
As detailed earlier on in the post, I’ve been doing a lot of travelling in the last few days, so while I was waiting on my first flight at Belfast International Airport on Wednesday morning it seemed perfectly reasonable to buy a new book.
Given my interests Matt Walker’s Europe United, which describes his quest to watch a top division match in every one of the 55 UEFA nations during the 2017/18 season, was an excellent choice. Part football book, part travelogue, I’ve enjoyed reading about his experiences, the people he met and the difficulties of travelling.
I’ve only really had time to get about a third of the way through the book so far, but keep an eye on the site for a full review in future!
What’s Up Next?
The whole reason that we’ve come to Gibraltar is for our civil marriage ceremony which takes place tomorrow (Monday 2nd September). It’s pretty exciting that the journey Sarah and I have been on over these last two years (ever since I invited her to attend Spain v Italy with me in September 2017) is reaching its culmination.
Once we’re legally married we’ll be heading back to Northern Ireland for a couple of weeks ahead of our blessing and celebration on the 21st. Then the following week it’s back to Madrid. I’m still looking for a permanent job starting in October, so hopefully something will develop on that front by the end of the month.
Amid all this I do hope to see a few football matches too, you wouldn’t expect anything less from me!
Until next time,
All the best,