Sunday, 15 March 2009

Curry and cocktail combinations

Sitting in the park near our flat on another beautiful afternoon we got a text from our friend Belen offering us two tickets to see Sisters of Mercy. Tempting as this offer was we already had plans that evening to go and see one of Kate's colleagues perform in his funk band The Combinations. Besides, Kate was quick to point out, the hot, vampy-one was no longer in the band.

Naturally we couldn't spurn this kind offer out of hand, so we had to reply with a counter-offer - come for a curry! So Belen and our Venezuelan friends, Natalie and David, arrived (nearly on time) at Chez Berry-Salisbury for a couple of picante veggie curries with rice before we headed out en-masse to the gig venue in Calle Bernardino.

Our first gig in Madrid - a shocking statistic for two people who met at a gig and regularly used to attend 3 or 4 a week back in Bristol - was a mixed bag. The band sounded great, but the long, narrow shape of the bar, the low stage and press of people meant we could barely see them. Plus it seemed to be more of a social affair than a genuine collection of music fans. The place was clearly a refuge for English-teachers and previous Pueblo-Ingles participants. Kate's colleagues kept coming up to say "Hello", Belen renewed several old acquaintances and I ran into a couple of people I'd met the night before. Poor David and Natalie were a bit stranded!

As it hit midnight a collective decision to decamp somewhere less loud was made - if we were all bent on chatting then we should clearly be doing it somewhere where the ambient volume didn't require us to shout at each other. Wandering up the street a little way, the Spaniards wrapped up warm against the positively polar (18 degrees celsius) temperatures - I was in short sleeves - we discovered a Secret Garden just off Plaza Espana.

This beautiful little bar - El Jardin Secreto - was decked out in quasi-colonial style with wooden furniture, natural fibre ceilings and whirling fans and was also home to some of the most polite and helpful waiters we've encountered in Spain - Belen was almost in shock! They also had an astounding list of postres (puddings) and cocktails, so naturally we made a couple of selections. Our tongues wagged until late into the night before we finally had our traditional argument about who would pay the bill (we wanted to pay as the others had bought the drinks in the first bar, they wanted to pay as we had cooked - in the end I had to slip some 'petrol' money into Belen's coat) we headed home well satisfied after a lovely, impromptu night out.

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