The Adventures of an Au Pair begin…

Wow! What a week it has been. But, before I jump right into the middle of things, I can´t move straight onto Madrid without first quickly mentioning my last two days in Granada. They were both fairly relaxed, and with Elvira busy studying her younger brother Paco showed me around. The first day we took a walk through one of the more Arabic parts of the city, to a typical “tetoria”, a traditional teahouse, that reminded me very much of Morocco. We drank milkshakes, ate traditional arabic sweets and smoked shisha, in a gorgeous setting draped with middle eastern fabrics and candles.

The next day we spend visiting Granada´s huge and famous science park. This involved visiting the tropical butterfly centre, watching a falconry show (think: sitting in the scorching sun at 40 degrees, sweat pouring down your neck, while the falconer shouts in Spanish that you MUST NOT MOVE or the falcon will launch itself at your head) and visiting some of the indoor exhibitions. That evening (or maybe the previous evening, my memory fails me) we went out with Elvira´s older brother and Sonia for Tinto de Verano and of course, the free tapas.

On the Wednesday I said goodbye to Granada and Elvira, and hello to my new home in Madrid, in the suburb of Tres Cantos. I unsuprisingly spent the whole 5 hour bus journey being terrified, and somehow convinced myself that I was going to live with a family of ferocious, flesh eating wolves. However, as soon as I arrived, I realised this was not the case. The whole family was there to greet me – Sonia and Fernando, and their beautiful daughters Sandra (10), Paula (8) and Eva (3), with Paula insisting that she drag the massive orange suitcase the whole way. We drove back to their house in Tres Cantos through the absolutely roasting centre of Madrid, so that I could get my bearings a little and see a bit of the city and some of its main streets. I can´t say it helped me to orientate one little bit, but it was interesting.

The first few days here have been fantastic – apart from my own family back in Scotland, I couldn´t ask for nicer people to live with. It seems like we already know each other quite well! Tres Cantos is a lovely suburb of Madrid, with a nearby swimming pool that we have already visited several times, loads of little shops, green areas and parks. A great chance for me to improve both my swimming and my tan!! We have also been down to the park to play volley and help teach Eva how to skate, and visited the school that I will be taking the girls to for their summer course on Monday. I have also met all four grandparents, all absolutely lovely, and the cousins Clara and Rosio who live just round the corner, as do Fernando´s parents. Clara is 21, and took me out to meet some of her friends. It´s great to have met so many people already, and I can feel my Spanish improving all the time. Sonia has been especially helpful in correcting me and helping to fix my bad habits. The girls all lovely, completely normal in that Sandra and Paula fight all the time in the way that only sisters can, Eva is completely crazy at three years old and one of the most adorable little girls I have ever seen.

Most photos snapped on my phone, so quality isn´t too great, but never mind!

On Saturday we went out for the day, to a huge swimming pool in the countryside, about an hour away. We met up with a group of Sonia´s old friends and their children, and had a fantastic picnic in the way only the spanish can – tortilla, pork, chicken fillets, pasta salads, empanada and chorizo, all washed down with cups of gazpacho. Delicious! By the evening the sun was beginning to hide behind the clouds, so we got back into the cars and drove to a nearby small town where we had a drink, and went for a walk around to see the castle (only to be hurridly shooed out as it was past closing time).

Sunday we went to a workshop in the middle of  huge park, where the children played games about plants and the things that live in the soil. Having made a trip to the supermarket (with me swooning over all the different types of olive, even though I don´t really like them) we then went to have a delicious lunch at Sonia´s parents house (even though they weren´t there) and watched the second Johnny English film, which turned out to be better than expected. We had to make a rapid retreat to the house, which left me feeling a little guilty, so that I could get ready to go out with Clara and her friends to watch the Spain v Italy Euros final in a nearby bar. We arrived two hours early in order to get a good seat, but with drinks and tapas for only one euro each, the time passed quickly, and it was worth it to have a good view of the game! With everyone sporting Spanish facepaint and waving our free gifts (very poor quality, but they were free, thanks to the bar staff!) it was set to be a great night, and as the game went on, only got better! With every goal the whole bar went mental, screaming and jumping in the air and hugging each other. 4:0 is a pretty impressive score for any game, but for the final, it was BRILLIANT. I´m just glad it didn´t go to penalities as I would have sweated off my makeup for sure. I have concluded that since I was in Italy when they won the world cup, and in Spain when they won the Euros, I must be some kind of good luck beacon. Just a shame it doesn´t seem to work in Scotland.

Today has been my first day of proper au-pairing, ie the first day of the schedule I will have for the next month. It was an early start at 7:30 to get the girls ready for school (luckily I had Carmen, who comes for two hours every morning, to help out) which involves shoving breakfast down their throats, dragging them into the bathroom to force hair into ponytails, cover them in suncream and run out of the front door. By some miracle we managed to arrive at the summer school on time, and by an even greater miracle, I managed to get home without getting lost, and even feeling semi familiar with the route! After having breakfast myself (doing so earlier would have been impossible) I set off on a mission to locate a nearby language school and see if they did any language classes. After asking about half the population of Tres Cantos, I managed to locate it – a tiny little building at the very last corner of the block. The lady inside was very friendly, and gave me information about the classes – they are a little expensive, but may be worth it, so I am going to give them a try this week. And if they turn out to be rubbish, I will just run away!

I managed to collect Sandra and Paula, again without error (wow) and after a delicious pre-made lunch we spent the afternoon painting. This turned out to be fun, but extremely messy. EXTREMELY messy. At least we made some pretty snowflakes. And as the afternoon went on, I had to remind them less and less to speak in English, which is good. We had just managed to clean up when Sonia arrived home with Eva, and we all went on a trip to the library. I got Harry Potter 4, Artemis Fowl (both in Spanish obviously) and a Learn Spanish CD, although I am slightly skeptical about how useful it will be. We returned home for more gazpacho, delicious ham-slash-bacon and an early night. The “first proper day” has been fun, and I can see myself enjoying the wee stroll back from school after the frantic early start. It will be good if I can find a class to do in the mornings as well. And as for activities to keep the girls entertained… I´m already coming up with a list!!!

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