Greetings from Madrid!
We should be looking forward to an exciting finish to the football season and a European Championship but instead we’re still not allowed out of our flats and the chances of seeing live football are slim to non-existent – unless you’re planning on moving to Belarus…
Where I’ve Been
Ok, let’s see…
I’ve gone to Lidl almost weekly, taken a couple of longer trips to Carrefour and Dealz (it’s basically Spanish Poundland) for the harder to find products as well as occasionally going to the bakery on our street. And not forgetting the regular essential trips to empty the bins.
It’s not exactly been the most exciting month for keeping a record of this kind of thing.
Most Popular Post
Things have been going pretty slow this month – hardly surprising for a blog based around football and travelling when there’s no football and you’re not allowed to travel.
The most popular post was April’s Monthly Musings, though the post(s) I put the most time and effort into was my massive two part review of Every World Cup Film Ever. Part I covers 1954-1982 and Part II starts in 1986 and goes up to 2018. And they’re a mixed bag to say the least and I watched them all so you don’t have to!
Life in Lockdown 🔐
Generally April has been much the same as the latter half of March. We were already used to the conditions so we’ve been trying to make the best of the situation.
I can’t help but think we’re blessed living in such a technologically advanced age, enduring this kind of prolonged isolation would be almost impossible without the Internet.
I’ve been enjoying the weekly classic matches provided by the Northern Ireland YouTube channel while Coleraine re-ran full coverage of the recent League Cup Final win. Away from football we’ve put streaming services to good use, rewatching all of the US version of The Office and working our way through Brooklyn Nine Nine, while I’ve also introduced Sarah to both Star Wars and the MCU on Disney+.
I’ve also been busy writing, including picking my La Liga team of the season so far for Get Spanish Football News, which features a couple of potentially controversial choices.
Book of the Month 📚
One of the benefits of this extended lockdown is that it has greatly increased the amount of free time I have to devote to reading, though not a lot of it has been football-related.
One of the standout books I’ve read was Crusaders by Dan Jones, fortunately not a history of the North Belfast Football Club but rather the story of the holy wars aimed at recovering Jerusalem for Christendom and their place in the wider scheme of Medieval warfare which also includes the Spanish reconquista.
The other was Burned by Sam McBride, an exhaustive (and occasionally exhausting) look at the systemic incompetence and corruption which caused a green energy scheme to run over budget and eventually cause the collapse of the Northern Ireland assembly and lead to two years of political paralysis in the country. It’s not an easy read, but I do think it’s an important one.
Then just a couple of days ago I started reading Ultra by Tobias Jones, inspired by the two part Golazzo podcast special I listened to earlier in the week. I’m only a few chapters into it, but it’s already proving fascinating reading as the author delves deep into the world of the Italian Ultra movement. I expect I’ll have a bit more to say about it next month!
Food, Glorious Food! 🥘
i thought I’d use this section to highlight some of our own creations from lockdown. We’ve tried to maintain a healthy mix between cooking ourselves, often making meals that can be spread out over two or three days in the Crock Pot we got as a wedding present or making use of packed spices and sauce mixes we bought back in NI at Christmas, and ordering in – making use of the fact a lot of restaurants in our area have remained open for takeaways only.
A couple of highlights include the cottage pie I made for our special Easter Sunday dinner, Sarah’s successful attempt at making khachapuri (Georgian egg and cheese filled bread boats) and the many creative things we’ve been able to do with our Mazal Bagels. We’re also excited about receiving our first order from Henry Hoggs, a Madrid-based butcher supplying traditional home-style sausages and bacon. Once we receive them, it’ll be time to break out the recipe for home-made potato bread and and a good old Ulster Fry!
What’s Up Next?
More of the same I guess, at least until after 11th May when Spain is due to formally begin scaling down the lockdown, with four phases to be rolled out gradually across all the autonomous communities with the idea of returning to some form of normality.
What passes for “normal” after the lockdown will be a long way from what life was like before.
What is certain is that it will be a long time before I’m back in a football stadium watching a match. If the 2019/20 season ever does resume, it will be behind closed doors with government recommendations stating that La Liga shouldn’t re-admit fans to games until January 2021 at the earliest.
I don’t know about you, but the thought of tuning in on TV to watch La Liga games played in empty stadiums or at training grounds just leaves me cold. Take away the fans and you remove a massive part of what makes football special and anyway, how will playing behind closed doors benefit smaller clubs who can’t rely on TV revenue and depend on people paying at the gate every week?
One early positive is that from 2nd May, we will finally be allowed to leave our homes for walks or to exercise outdoors. As someone who has been a regular runner for over ten years now, not being able to do so has been pretty tough (as well as having a significant effect on my consumption of podcasts) and although I’m excited, I’m aware I’m going to have to ease myself back into it.
Until next time,
All the best,