Greetings from Madrid!
2020 is finally almost over and while everyone hopes 2021 will be better, we’re not so naïve as to think things will magically get better overnight.
December will be a welcome chance to recharge the batteries and reflect on the past 12 months, while looking ahead to a hopefully better future.
Where I’ve Been 🗺
Thankfully football has allowed me to get out of Madrid on a few occasions this month.
All the way back on 1st November, I went to Las Rozas (or at least the outskirts of it) for the Segunda B game between the home team and CD Poblense, I made an ill-fated return trip to Móstoles to watch 45 minutes of football and then the following weekend I was off to Parla for the first time.
Any further expeditions were prevented by the Communidad de Madrid closing its borders on the two holiday weekends at the start of the month – probably a sensible option to prevent a wholesale exodus from the city.
On one of those holidays 9th November, a public holiday only in the city Madrid due to it being the feast of the Virgen de Almudena, we were able to book a visit to the Prado Museum, only my second time there and my first since moving to Madrid over two years ago. Certain parts of the museum were closed off, but it was still a great way to spend a Monday afternoon.
And on 30th November, the wonders of Spanish paperwork took me out of the city to Colmenar Viejo because it’s almost impossible to get an appointment for anything in the city. It’s definitely somewhere that I half-expected to only visit to see some lower league action!
Most Popular Post 💻
November was a great month for the blog with a couple of major milestones for the year being passed.
The most popular post of the month was my Recommended Reading list for 2020 featuring ten of my favourite football books I’ve read in the last year.
I had so much fun compiling a list last year, that I couldn’t resist repeating it this time round. And one of the side-effects of the way 2020 developed was that I read way more books than the previous year and it was quite difficult to narrow it down to a list of ten.
After the death of Diego Maradona on 25th November, there was a spike in the number of people reading my reviews of every Official World Cup Film ever.
Most of these people found their way to Part 2, in which El Diego features particularly strongly. It starts with his finest hour in 1986 and continues with him dragging Argentina through Italia 90 and his ignominious early exit from USA 1994 before surprisingly popping up again as manager of the national team in 2010.
But will either of these posts feature in my Top Ten of 2020, which I’m going to reveal on 31st December?
Game of the Month ⚽️
A better month for goals and entertaining matches than last time out at least!
Las Rozas-Poblense back on the first day of the month was good fun, a really nice day, a good walk through a forest to the ground and a competitive 1-1 draw, Santa Ana-Unión Adarve was probably the best performance of the month, with the away team running out 3-0 winners.
But the undisputed number one game of the month was my visit to Parla on 22nd November. A brilliant end-to-end game saw the home side come from behind to defeat El Álamo with an 87th minute winner followed by a classic pile-on celebration. Parla’s Estadio Los Prados is a great ground too and definitely somewhere I’ll consider visiting again in the future.
And then last weekend, I not only saw Villaverde win but score two goals in the same game. What a time to be alive!
Book of the Month 📚
Although I’ve already mentioned the whole post I devoted to books, I’d still like to mention some of the things I’ve been reading, one which made the cut and one which missed out due to timing.
First up we have Sacré Bleu: From Zidane to Mbappé – A Football Journey which tells the story of the French national team over the last two decades through the stars of their two World Cup wins – Zinedine Zidane and Kylian Mbappé.
Mbappé, of course, was born just a few months after France beat Brazil 3-0 to win the 1998 World Cup on home soil (yes I do feel old) and this neat symmetry allows Spiro to frame his early years and development as a player against the ups and downs of the French national team in that period.
The one which just missed the cut (because I’m still reading it) is Philippe Auclair’s absorbing biography of my favourite footballer growing up, the enigmatic Eric Cantona – Cantona: The Rebel Who Would Be King.
I’m just about halfway through it and I’ve really enjoyed learning a bit more about his early days playing in France, which are considerably less well-known than his imperial pomp at Old Trafford.
Food, Glorious Food! 🥘
Way back at the start of November, Sarah and I went to the American seafood-themed restaurant The Lobstar near Glorieta de Bilbao in central Madrid.
This is somewhere Sarah had wanted to go to for a really long time – we’ve been talking about it almost since I moved to Madrid in Autumn 2018.
It’s a little on the expensive side – due to the fact everything they serve involves Lobster or other types of seafood. I really enjoyed my Prawn Tempura roll (pictured above) though sadly they were all out of their lobster mac and cheese when we arrived. Ah well, that’s an excuse to come back some time in the future.
Thanksgiving 🇺🇸 🦃
Celebrating Thanksgiving has become part of my life in the last four years – though of course scheduling conflicts mean that we have to move it to the Saturday.
Lessons were learned from last year meaning that we started cooking earlier, getting some of the more awkward things done the night before.
The addition of sausage meat stuffing (a staple of my traditional Christmas dinner back home) definitely took things up a level as did the Pigs in Blankets (courtesy of Madrid-based butchers Henry Hoggs) while cooking a full Turkey breast rather than individual slices as we did last year meant lots more to go around.
What’s Up Next…
A very strange month is in the offing as we prepare to celebrate Christmas in Spain together for the first time, although it will be a Christmas shorn of a lot of the usual rituals and routines.
There’ll be no trip to the German Christmas Market on Paseo de la Castellana for gluhwein and bratwürst, though we have been able to order some Christmas sweet treats from them online.
We do have a long weekend to look forward to next week. The 6th and 8th are both public holidays in Spain but as the 6th falls on a Sunday this year, it rolls over to Monday creating, for me at least, a five day weekend.
Of course, we already know the regional borders will be closed so there’s no point in making plans outside Madrid, but I am hopeful we can come up with something fun to do. Last year some of the Tercera teams moved their games to Friday and I had one of my best days out of the year at Villaverde and Leganés B. Still slightly jealous of the others who travelled on to El Álamo for the third leg!
Perhaps some teams will move their games to the Monday and give us a bit of variety to choose from.
I’m also at the point where the next ground I visit will be my 100th on the Futbology App! So needless to say I’m planning a special one for that particular milestone.
And then there’ll be the weirdness of spending Christmas in Spain away from family for the first time. I fully expect we’ll end up confined in Madrid again over the holidays, so I expect it’ll be a quiet one.
So until next time,
A very Merry Christmas and all the best,