Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Back in the old routine.

Life in the bijou residence is settling into something of a routine. I get up in the morning, don my running gear and walk up to the Castro where I run two or three times round one of the sandy paths. I am becoming convinced that other runners must go a lot faster than I do as I am often overtaken more than once by the same person, who must also be doing more than one circuit of the place. Either that or they know some shortcuts that I am not using. 

On the way home I pick up the free paper – ideal for extending your galego vocabulary as “De Luns a Venres” in always in the regional language – and buy some bread for breakfast. I am patronising different bread shops until I find one that produces our ideal breakfast loaf. I’ve not found it yet. 

It would be very easy to slot back into the old routine of our life here two years ago. I called in at the library yesterday to say hello to the French book club and as I tried to ascertain their whereabouts I discovered that the Italian book club was also going on. So I popped up to greet them too and found all the old familiar faces still there. If I choose to do so I can start going to an Italian conversation group at the Rosa Negra cafe once again. You see, the old routine has just continued in my absence; it’s quite reassuring really. 

 So I got to see the Italian and the French book club people and had a lovely chat. I did see the lady who organises the Castilian/Galician book club as well but she sailed past without acknowledging me. This is probably ever since I gave up her book club in favour of Italian and I became a persona non grata. 

The library has not changed at all. The system is still as un-user-friendly as ever. If you know exactly what you want you CAN look for it on the computer and it will tell you where it is located in the shelves. That is unless it tells you that the book is not available until some date in the future, something that happens frequently with the most popular items. Otherwise, browsing is a nightmare; you just wander around hoping that something good will fall off the shelves into your hands. However I need to find some extra reading matter so that Phil and I do not come to blows over who is using the kindle. 

Another non-variable is the Rottweiler-lady-librarian. This is the person who in the past policed membership of book clubs, ensuring that nobody was a member of more than one, even if it meant that one of the clubs didn’t have enough members to get off the ground. Presumably she still believes that fairness says you can only attend one group, thus preventing complaints from people who waited too long before enrolling. 

Yesterday evening she wasn’t in full Rottweiler mode, just too busy chatting with her less fierce sidekick to give any proper information without your having to ask for it five times over. And I am not the only one to experience this. The French book club adjourned to a cafe in the Plaza de la Constitución as this was their last meeting and informed the Rottweiler to that effect. After about fifteen minutes a flustered late-comer found us, having looked in every cafe, and informed us that “estas inútiles de la recepción” (the useless library reception ladies) had given her no indication whatsoever of where we had gone. 

Finding bars with WIFI, so that we can do things like post photos on my blog without using too much of our precious internet allocation on the Vodafone mobile dongle, and bars that serve good free tapas, so that we have a tasty mid-evening snack, has also become part of our routine. 

In the process I have been collecting coffee-related sayings by the rich and/or famous off sugar packets. Here are a few of them. 

 “I judge restaurants by their bread and their coffee.” Burt Lancaster. 

“Coffee makes us rigourous, serious and philosophical.” Jonathan Swift. (So even back then he was a coffee-drinker!) 

 “If you want to improve your understanding, drink coffee; it is the drink of intelligence.” Sydney Smith. (writer and Anglican cleric 1771 to 1845, another old-time coffee drinker. My ex-student Sara would agree with him; she assures me that modern students cannot survive without coffee or, failing that, Red Bull.) 

“In my next life I want to be tall and slim and to know how to make good coffee.” Paula Danziger. 

“I never laugh until I have had a coffee.” Clarke Gable. 

 “Coffee is balm to the heart and the spirit.” Giuseppe Verdi. 

That’s enough of that. If I find any more, I’ll keep you posted.

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