The halls be decked, but it isn’t really beginning to feel like Christmas – too much sunshine around, although there obviously isn’t the heat in it that there was. The days are crisp, the nights crisper (into single figures, centigrade) but there is no denying it is extremely nice to walk the dog past the allotments at nearly 6 pm and take photographs of the late afternoon sunshine. Even nicer to remember that in Scotland it would have been dark for nearly 2 hours and the temperature would not have been 17 degrees C.
The house is quiet, no guests at present, Goldilocks was the last and enjoyed herself, she said she’ll be back. Yay! Mr Goldilocks is a keen cyclist and as we drove about passing cyclists panting up mountains, or whizzing dizzily down the other side, she decided he would thoroughly enjoy a visit too. To each their own, but my next lot of guests in 2019 are, as it happens, cyclists from Germany. I asked if they needed the local hire place but no, they are bringing their own. Hikers are still hiking, too, this is definitely better weather for it than panting along in summer temperatures!
I’m seizing the quiet time between the tutoring to do some bits and bobs around the house, and also the next round of bureaucracy – I have to register for tax (ouch) and apply for residency and once I have the residency, for my Spanish driving licence. So the plan is autónoma (self-employed) which carries with it a monthly payment of 80 euros to the authorities for the next two years, which will also automatically cover me for any medical issues. After two years it goes up sharply until I retire but I’ll worry about that in two years time.
I’m also busily writing simple stories in English, translating them into exceedingly simple Spanish, and in the process teaching myself enough Spanish so that fluent I will be if odd I sound. The two big issues with the language are pronunciation, which I have basically cracked – although nearly every letter in the 27 (yes, 27) letter alphabet is said differently, and combinations of letters have unfamiliar aspects, the rules once learned are consistent. There are no nasty you / young / ouch pitfalls lying in wait, so I have reached the point where I can translate my question into Spanish and then sally forth confidently to ask it. One of these days I’ll even understand the reply.
The other big issue is word order, sentences are unfamiliarly constructed, and clauses turn into actual words, some of which I love. “I go” is voy – “today” is hoy – “today I go” therefore makes me feel like a Snow White character, hoy voy, hoy voy, it’s off to work voy . . .
I may never master sentence construction but the Spanish are very patient and so long as you are trying, they are friendly, helpful, and laugh with you, not at you. Anyway, the point of the stories is that if you go for Spanish lessons the teachers almost inevitably launch into verb conjugations (because there are oh so many verbs and oh so many conjugations) and a great many students give up. Learning useful pidgin Spanish through stories is turning out to be really easy so there may be a market for my stories. Keeps me occupied, anyway.
2018 has been quite a year. 2019 looms like an iceberg with Brexit a complete shambles.