Back in Sydney

We have been back in Sydney for a week now and the jetlag has more or less been ironed out of us. It hasn’t been too bad actually. Mostly just needing to go to bed a little earlier than usual which is not a bad thing. It was a very hectic trip over to Europe and obviously far too short. But at least Dani got to see his family; and they him.

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside….

We escaped the intense heat of Madrid and took a short trip over to the UK which gave Dani the chance to catch up with is British family including his cousins. While there we made a visit to the British seaside. The UK had already had its own heatwave back in June and by the time we were there it was back to what I suppose you would call normal British summer weather. In other words you could get almost every season in the same day.

Classic Bingo machines in the British seaside Amusement Arcades

These old seaside towns brought back memories for me. This is how we used to spend our summer holidays when I was Dani’s age. Back before flying off for a foreign holiday (to places like Spain ironically) became the thing. This one was on the North Wales coast, but they are all very similar. And there is nothing wrong with them. They retain their charm albeit (in many cases) in various states of decay. Some “resorts” could do with a facelift more than others.

Dani plays Bingo and the highly addictive Two-Penny Falls game.

Those Two-Penny Falls machines are instantly addictive for kids. As much, if not more so, than those bloody video games. But at least it’s a relatively cheap form of “entertainment”. It kept Dani and his cousin Stan amused for a coupe of hours at a cost of about three pounds. Naturally they wanted more money to continue “playing” the machines. That’s the idea eh… But no. Instead we had a few games of Bingo and left.

A week was never going to be enough but off we flew back to Spain for a couple of days before the long flight back to Australia. We arrived home about 11pm and Dani had his first day back at school the following morning with a 6.45am start – for the pre-school activity of football training. LOL. And he made it. Fine and bouncy. The next day he was off for a two night stay at a camp in Bathurst with his school year. Including a couple of touristy stops in the Blue Mountains. Lucky lad. It was a tough first week back in school for him but he managed.

Double Digits

Meanwhile back in Spain Dani’s cousin Susana is now at the landmark age of 10. Yes, double digits from now on. Where did those 10 years go? Wow! Dani and Su were almost inseparable for many of those years of course, doing almost everything together. More like twins than cousins. Happy birthday Susana.

What The FXck is This?

Meanwhile…. If you don’t already know; Twitter, that online (anti) social media giant has changed its logo. Gone is the little blue bird (called Larry apparently); and in comes the big “X”.

The New Twitter Logo (for those into such things)
Larry the bird. The old Twitter logo is being phased out.

This is all part of a new rebranding by new owner Elon Musk. I really couldn’t give a toss but the twitter link at the bottom of this blog’s page remains a bird logo. It seems that WordPress – the basis of this blog site – are not as quick on the uptake as some. Not to worry the link still works. Try it.

Apparently co-founder of Twitter was (is) a big Boston Celtics basketball fan and he named the company’s logo Larry, after the Celtics famous ex-player Larry Bird. Get it? Nah, me neither really. Well, OK, I do but… These social media nerds have a lot to learn about real life in my opinion. Still, they are the ones making billions of dollars… Grumpy old dad stuff I know, but cut me some slack eh…

Back in Madrid – Long Trip During School Holidays

This school holidays we are back in Europe. After a 24 hour journey we arrived in Madrid. And after coming from a fairly cold Sydney winter it is bloody hot!

A day later we headed off for a day out so that Dani and his two Spanish cousins (now on their long school holidays) could see a classic old castle. The classic palace-fortress  castillo de Manzanares el Real. 

The town of Manzanares el Real has about 9,000 inhabitants and lies to the north of Madrid. It is about an hour on public transport (bus) from the centre of Madrid. It is located at the foot of The Pedriza (see photos below), which is part of the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. In front of the castle is the embalse de Santillana (the Santillana reservoir).

The impressive castle of Manzanares el Real
The town and mountain backdrop to the castle

The castle is known as the New Castle of Manzanares el Real and is the best conserved castle in the Community of Madrid. Construction started in 1475. The old Castle is actually the ruin of a former fortress. Only two walls remain standing, now integrated into a garden complex. Unsurprisingly the castle has been used in several motion pictures, most notably El Cid.

Views from the streets near the castle

Views from windows and doors

I am sure you will agree that this is an extremely photogenic castle. If you haven’t visited this area and you get the chance I can highly recommend it.

Stadium Tour – Cheeky Bastards!

The following day we took the kids on a tour of the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Better known outside of Spain as the Bernabéu stadium, home of Real Madrid football club.

The stadium is currently undergoing major works as they race against time to complete the outer shell and retractable roof before the start of the new season. It’s basically one big building site inside. What an absolute rip off for people who have come from all over the world (and they do!) to see the stadium and hopefully get the chance to step on the famous pitch. It was basically all shut off – and you can see why from the photos. A total construction site.

Yet they still charge people for the “tour” – albeit at a slightly discounted rate. I guess that all goes to show how much these super rich football institutions really care about the poor fans eh? Wankers! (in my opinion). That is why I dislike the big football clubs so much these days and do not bother with football at all. But of course they won’t give a damn about what I think of it will they? Ah, who cares? The people flock to it like moths to the light.

The main thing is that the kids seemed to enjoy it and even bought some souvenirs from the “official shop”.

Tour of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium

A couple of days later the kids spent hours in one of those video gaming zones they now seem to put in all of the shopping centres. I think given the choice between a classic old castle, a famous stadium tour and a spot of virtual reality gaming, the kids would choose the latter every time…

Dani and Susana in the addictive gaming zone of one shopping centre
Another view of the castle of Manzanares el Real