Monthly Musings (December 2021)

Greetings from Madrid! It’s the last month of the year and I’m getting ready for an incredibly busy period.

Signs of Christmas are everywhere, but I’ve got a lot to do before I can even think about celebrating!

Where I’ve Been 🗺

Although I didn’t leave the Communidad de Madrid, I did get around quite a bit in November. I’ve been all over the city and I even managed to escape the city limits a couple of times.

On 13th November I went out to Alcalá de Henares for an afternoon which incorporated a bit of a walk around the historic centre and two matches back-to-back, a long overdue return visit to RSD Alcalá’s El Val stadium followed by a first visit to neighbours Complutense’s Recinto Ferial.

And on the 21st, I went to Majadahonda, but more on that below…

Game of the Month ⚽️

November was my busiest month of the season so far as I saw seven games, thanks to the Monday 1st November holiday which allowed me a rare trip to a midweek La Liga game and a couple of weekend double-headers.

But there can only be one contender for the crown of game of the month…

Sunday 21st November was my first Deportivo La Coruña game since February 2020 and it came in the same week as the anniversary of my first ever visit to the Estadio Riazor. In the time since I last saw Depor play in person they’ve been relegated from Segunda and endured a horrific season in Segunda B, only just managing to secure a place in the new third tier. But this season, in the newly created Primera RFEF, they’ve had a great start and are attracting bigger crowds than a lot of La Liga teams.

Their visit to Rayo Majadahonda was a top of the table clash, and caught fire after only two minutes when Alberto Quiles put Depor ahead. A slightly freakish own goal gave Rayo an equaliser, but a great finish from Miku restored the lead. Depor could have maybe pushed on and scored a few more goals but they were content to keep Rayo at arms length and restrict them to hopeful punts into the box.

What really made the game special was the huge away support, which dwarfed the home following and brought a distinctly Galician feel to the suburbs of Madrid. I had a wonderful morning filled with the sound of Galician accents and left with the sound of the Depor chants ringing in my ears. Fingers crossed I’ll have a couple more days like this before the end of the season!

Most Popular Post 💻

November is traditionally all about books here and it’s no surprise to see my end-of-year best books review end up as the most-read post of the month.

I’ve read just short of thirty books so far this year, a mixture of old ones, new purchases and ones I’ve been unable to get around to before now and even by just limiting the list to football books, I didn’t really have much of a problem picking out ten books for the list, although there were a couple that crept in late in the day.

I spend a lot of time on public transport throughout the year and reading is one of the ways I manage to deal with that.

Kit(s) of the Month 👕

November was a spectacular month for seeing great kits. Especially when watching teams with “Rayo” in their name.

Rayo Vallecano’s decision to swap their famous red sash for a lightning bolt (the literal meaning of ‘Rayo’ in Spanish) during the summer caused plenty of discussion. Initially fan reaction was mixed, I wasn’t completely sure either, but having seen the shirt on the pitch for the first time at the start of the month, I’m now convinced it’s a classic. And supply issues permitting, I’ll be the proud owner of one with FALCAO 3 (I know…) on the back by the end of the season.

The Rayo away kit is just as good, a more traditional design with a lightning design inside the red sash and on the sleeves. I got to see this one in action a few days later when Rayo B played Colonia Moscardó.

Madrid’s other Rayo, the Majadahonda variety, have also gone with a lightning bolt design on their shirt, this time one that gives off strong vibes of Aladdin Sane era David Bowie (no bad thing!) although the break for the sponsor spoils it slightly.

And from that same game, I have to mention Depor’s black away kit with the central blue and white stripes. Back when it was first released in the summer, I was a bit underwhelmed by it, ranking it as my least favourite of their three new kits. But having seen it on the pitch and in the stands last weekend, I have come around to it.

Book of the Month 📚

Just scraping over the line for inclusion in my Recommended Reading list, Once Upon a Time in Naples is nonetheless a worthy inclusion, covering the epic story of Diego Maradona’s tumultuous time at Napoli.

This book provided the inspiration for the excellent 2019 documentary Diego Maradona, but has the advantage of not being constrained by a cinematic runtime, allowing a deeper dive into the state of Neapolitan society in the 1980’s, its relationship with the rest of Italy and perhaps the biggest omission from the film, the scudetto showdown with AC Milan in the 1987/88 season, where it is alleged the Camorra put pressure on Napoli to lose to prevent them from losing millions as a result of bets placed on Napoli retaining their title.

Thanksgiving 🦃

One of the joys of marrying an American is that Thanksgiving has become part of my annual routine.

This year was our third year hosting in our flat and in all honesty it was probably the least stressful one yet. No running at the last minute to try and find kitchen utensils or missing ingredients, no burning my hand on the oven, everything went almost like clockwork.

Food, Glorious Food! 🥘

🎶 Sent to me from heaven, Holy Cinnamon you’re my world 🎶 – (Sincerest apologies to The Stone Roses)

It might not exactly be my world, but Holy Cinnamon, on Calle Santa Engracia, has fast become one of my favourite cafés to visit in the city.

The main attraction is the amazing cinnamon rolls (pictured above) but also the downstairs seating, which is a rare oasis of peace and quiet in a busy part of the city.

What’s Up Next?

A busy month to be sure. I have three weeks of term left so that means lots of exams coming up and lots of reports to write before 22nd December.

Away from work, both the 6th and 8th are holidays here in Spain, so next week will be a pretty strange one as I’ll only have to work half the week but more importantly, a rare Monday off opens up the opportunity to go somewhere a bit further afield than usual on a Sunday. Will I finally be able to go to a Spanish match outside the Communidad de Madrid? That’s the plan anyway…

Christmas in Belfast

Sarah and I are going to Northern Ireland for Christmas this year although how much we’ll be able to do there will depend on the developing situation with the new Covid variant. As I write, the Northern Ireland Executive has said that anyone coming in from outside the UK or Ireland will have to self-isolate until they receive a negative PCR test result, which I’m not exactly thrilled about given the cost of PCR tests compared to the lateral flow tests we could have taken before the weekend and the potential for lengthy delays caused by the holidays.

Fingers crossed that the initial fears about it are unfounded (or at least things don’t get any worse) and we can travel as planned and spend the festive season with friends and family.

Until next time,

All the best,

Andrew

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