Sunday, 3 May 2009

Weekend of the Workers

Another weekend, another puente. They seem to have a lot of bank holidays in Spain, which is brilliant in some respects (a day off work - what's not to like?) but also results in a cut in income for me, as being autonimo, if I don't work, I don't get paid.

Anyway, as in the UK, May Day is a public holiday. Here, it's held to celebrate the workers and you usually find various trades unions, socialist organisations and other groups of a leftish inclination putting together a token march or two for solidarity.

Theo and I have celebrated Workers' Weekend in time-honoured fashion by lazing about not doing anything much at all. Actually, in deference to the occasion, we have both planned a few lessons, so we haven't been entirely idle.

The weather is near perfection, with temperatures in the comfortable low to mid-twenties and all is resplendent with sunny springtime verdancy. The pattern of our holiday weekend has involved a relaxed breakfast with the newspapers (Guardian Online, mostly), followed by a little light creative work, then a picnic in Parque Tierno Galvan, which is a couple of blocks from our flat.

Tierno Galvan park is rather lovely: much less crowded than the Retiro, with better tended vegetation and set on undulating slopes with interesting cityscape views and on a clear day, sightlines out to the Sierra Guadalajara. At the moment, the mountains are still snow-capped, but I suspect they won't be for much longer if the current warm weather continues.

The interior of our appartment block has also truly come alive. After months of quiet emptiness as people hid from the winter chill in their flats, the sunshine has enticed everyone outside and as I write, the inner courtyard is a riot of shrieking children, watched indulgently by their adoring relatives.

Children are king in Spain and rather than trying to keep them quiet and out of the way, they are made welcome and provision is always made for their needs. Children are also considered a much more important part of the community than they might be in some other parts of Europe I could mention. In the last few weeks, Theo and I have been invited to several birthday parties for 5-7 year-olds, as general invitation posters have gone up around the appartment block for their fiestas in the shared sala. We've been quite tempted, too. Judging by the joyous racket going on, they really know how to party, these little'uns. Haven't seen their improvised kitchen flamenco yet, but I'm willing to bet they could hold their own.

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