Greetings from Madrid! It’s been a while since I wrote that…
September was a pretty crazy month in more ways than one.
Can I apologise for the delay in this post appearing. Life occasionally gets in the way of this, especially as the blog remains very much a hobby for me.
Anyway, here we go…
Where I’ve Been
I started off September in La Línea de la Concepción and Gibraltar, where I was going for the civil ceremony part of my wedding.
After that, we headed back to NI via an afternoon in Málaga and stayed there until the 25th. As Sarah has only spent a few, mostly dark, winter days in Northern Ireland before, it was a brilliant opportunity to take her sightseeing and over the three weeks we were there we saw plenty of the country’s iconic landmarks including the Giant’s Causeway, Dunluce Castle, the Coleraine Showgrounds, Queen’s University, Windsor Park, Belfast Castle, Botanic Gardens, The Dark Hedges (from that one scene in Game of Thrones) and more besides.
I rarely get to go into full tour guide mode back home, so I definitely appreciated this aspect of the trip, and it gave me the chance to update my photos of some of the sites we saw.
Then on the 25th, after all the wedding craziness had subsided, we caught the Aircoach down to Dublin Airport as we returned to Madrid for the new school year.
Game of the Month
Amid all the craziness, football had to take a bit of a back seat this past month. Despite this I did manage to take in four games.
My game in La Línea was more notable for the spectacular backdrop than anything that happened on the pitch, while the less said about the Northern Ireland v Luxembourg friendly the better.
Coleraine’s 5-0 win over Dungannon Swifts was let down by a non-event of a first half, so it falls to the game I saw on Saturday to be my game of the month!
Fuenlabrada v Rayo Vallecano was brilliant entertainment for the most part, but particularly right at the end, with Rayo taking the lead in the 90th minute with a goal awarded after a lengthy VAR review, only to self-destruct in the most Rayo way possible and give away a 95th minute penalty which was duly converted.
Fuenla have adapted well to the Segunda since their promotion while Rayo haven’t really hit the ground running, as usual off-field issues proving an unwelcome distraction. It’s going to be another interesting season in Vallecas and hopefully I can get down to a few games there.
Most Popular Post
With other matters taking up most of my time, it wasn’t a vintage month in terms of clicks on the blog, but one post did rise above all the others. Unsurprisingly it was my September Monthly Musings post which dealt with a lot of the wedding build-up, a couple of days in Gibraltar and lots of stuff about my summer back at home.
You can also check out my Retro Trip look back at my visit to Milan in 2010, which looks increasingly likely to be the only time I get to see a game in the iconic San Siro.
Food, Glorious Food!
Through my travels during September I had the opportunity to take Sarah to a lot of my favourite places back in Northern Ireland and even visit a couple of new places.
But first up, our route back to NI involved travelling up the coast to Málaga, where I was delighted to introduce her to a place I fell in love with on my first visit to the city in March 2016.
Amigos is a restaurant which serves both Indian and Mexican food and since curry is relatively scarce in the south, it was nice to tuck into a chicken madras washed down with tinto de verano.
Upon getting back to Northern Ireland we had a late lunch at the Bothy, one of my favourite coffee shops, tucked away on the North Antrim Coast near White Park Bay.
We also went to the Ramore (obviously) but in a first for me, we went to Neptune and Prawn, across the road too. Part of the same restaurant complex, it serves Asian-inspired food as well as the Ramore favourites, so of course I had the chilli chicken pasta.
Ok, on to what you probably really want to hear about…
Wedding Part I: Gibraltar
For us the Gibraltar ceremony was all about just getting the paperwork done. Way back in December when we came up with this plan we both agreed that we wouldn’t see ourselves as husband and wife until we said our vows in church in front of our friends and family. That meant Gibraltar was a fairly low-key affair and we only had two witnesses and our photographer accompanying us.
That’s not to say that the day didn’t go without a hitch. My dress shoes did not react very well to the heat and humidity and by the time we’d walked from the place we were staying in La Línea to the Gibraltar border, parts of the sole were already hanging off. It’s quite a trek to the registry office, so that required careful management throughout the morning.
After the ceremony itself, which only lasted about 15 minutes, we got a few photos taken and had lunch together with our witnesses before going to a cupcake shop to get a snack which served as our wedding cake.
By this stage my shoes had long since passed the end of their useful life, so for our evening photos in the Alameda, I was required to wear my running trainers with my suit. A slightly miss-matched combination and not one I’m going to try and make a fashion statement out of!
Wedding Part II: Northern Ireland
In contrast to the Gibraltar ceremony, the preparations back home were a bit more stressful. Lots of running and driving around, lots of checking things were ready, lots of last minute purchases which needed made, I was quite glad come Friday night as I could go to bed and relax, knowing everything was good to go.
The day itself came together beautifully. The weather was fantastic, unusually for Northern Ireland! The work put in by family and friends behind the scenes really paid off as the church and reception venue both looked amazing. Coleraine even beat Crusaders 4-2 while we were getting photos taken and travelling to the reception. Special mention to Scott Smyth who managed to sneak away after the service and watch most of the match and then make it to the reception in time.
The reception was at Laragh Lodge, near Glenariff Forest Park and it’s famous waterfalls which provided a stunning backdrop for some of our wedding photos.
On that note, I must mention our photographer, Aaron Jean, who did tremendous work capturing both ceremonies. He’s an American photographer based in Madrid like us and he provided plenty of advice as well as some superb shots which you can see in this post. You can also follow him on Instagram – @aaronjeanphotography. We’re really looking forward to seeing the full set of photos soon.
The reception itself was great fun. With the pressures of earlier in the day over, we were finally able to relax and freely socialise with the family and friends who had come to celebrate with us.
And I became aware of an American wedding tradition. Apparently when someone clinks their glass with their cutlery, the groom is obligated to find the bride and kiss her. Easy enough when you’re sitting beside each other, not so easy when you happen to be at different sides of the room talking to people.
We finished off the night by travelling over to Portstewart for a stay in a B&B and the following morning, despite a change in the weather overnight, a walk along the beach.
What’s Up Next?
Well, as I said at the beginning of the post, we are already back in Madrid and the most pressing priority is to find somewhere permanent to live. We looked at a few places in our first few days back but they either didn’t meet our needs or the owners made over-the-top financial demands. The hunt continues and hopefully we can find something in the next few days or so.
I was fortunate enough to find a new job teaching English inside the city limits this time, although the commute from our temporary accommodation makes the trip to Rivas last year look like a piece of cake.
Getting settled is my main priority this month and with that, I hope to be able to resume something like normal service on the blog. I have a lot of drafts sitting here waiting to be finished so with my new work schedule being Monday-Thursday, I do hope that I can get a few more posts out. And take in the odd match on Friday nights!
One thing I’m looking forward to is the second día de fútbol modesto in Madrid on 13th October organised by friend of the blog Lester Drake. Taking advantage of the international break, it aims to bring people together to experience the joy of lower league football. I missed the first one of the season last month, so I’m extra keen to make it along to the second!
#DíaDelFútbolModesto2 13 Octubre
1º partido confirmado/1st match
Ven a un campo/club histórico del fútbol madrileño
Everybody welcome/todos bienvenidos
Quedada antes en el bar/Meet-up before in the bar #DDFM2
— Football Pirate (@LesterEDrake) October 4, 2019
Until next time,
All the best,