A Little Splash

July and August in Madrid are hot and dry. Madrid’s geographical placement, a pin dropped in the middle of the meseta that occupies the centre of the Iberian peninsula, means that the nearest beach is 350km away in Valencia. Phillip II hadn’t considered proximity to beaches when he took the Royal Court to this small …

Rain City

When I was a student in Manchester, I’d take the 142/143 (aka the magic bus) to uni pretty much everyday. Sitting on the top deck, I’d bathe in the neon glare of Rusholme’s curry houses and shisha bars, often staring longingly at my beloved (and now closed) Atlas Shawarma. At the time, I’d have said …

Stories of Violence and Serpents on the Camino

Last summer in Campiello, a small hamlet in the heart of Asturias, I woke from my post-walk siesta to a voice speaking Spanish in a strong Glaswegian accent. It was Gavin, another pilgrim walking the Camino Primitivo (the original route of the Camino De Santiago). He had spent the last ten years or so living …

Clubbing in the Time of Corona

A queue of people, mostly men and a few women, are waiting outside Sala Republik, wrapped up in black winter coats and black masks. It’s uncharacteristically cold (even for January). A week after the biggest snowfall in Madrid in the past hundred years, the road is still frozen and chequered with rocky piles of ice. …

Sore Feet in the Prado

You stop to look at someone in an art gallery. They are deep in contemplation, standing a few paces in front of a painting and unaware of your presence. Their eyes scan the brush strokes before resting on what you can only assume is a detail you have failed to notice.  A slow, telling nod …

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