Those of you who read my drivel on Facebook will have an idea of the bizzyness I've been going through for the last couple of months. I've really had no time to blog at all. The thing that was driving me nuts was trying to move house. We actually found a place we liked last October, but our landlady said we could only move when the lease has expired (I'm still not convinced this is actually true) unless we find a new tenant or pay all the rent that would be due until the end of April. So that flat didn't happen - we had actually paid a month's rent to hold it, and fortunately the landlord paid it back. We bided our time (not very happily, it must be said - we were desperate for more space) and during April we found an utterly amazing apartment. It's twice the size of the old one, has 2 bedrooms, 2 terraces (one of which is glazed-in and only useful for utility stuff, but the other one is for full-on sunbathing/barbecuing/growing planty things), a well-equipped kitchen and, best of all, an astonishingly low rent.
There was a little catch, though. The owner insisted on using a County Council scheme called Plan Alquila. This is an admirable thing that encourages landlords to rent out their empty property by insuring the tenant's rent. So there's no risk of the property owner not being paid. But, this being Government, there are many hoops to jump through, and nothing happens when it should. We had to apply to Plan Alquila for approval, and the process that they said would take 2 weeks ended up taking 7 very very long weeks. I have no idea why it took so long, but finally the contract got signed and we moved in towards the end of May, having extended our previous lease by 2 months.
Just to complicate things a bit, in the background to the move was a long-standing order for 103 pies for a friend's 40th birthday party. So we got the keys on Wednesday, hired a truck and 2 Romanians on Thursday, got everything moved in by about noon, and then I set up my prep table in the bedroom and started making pies (I couldn't put it in the kitchen because that would involve removing a narrow worktop and we hadn't got permission to do that from the owner at this point). But the bedroom was okay - it has AC and didn't have a bed.
I finished making the pies on Friday, and MamaDuck made a trip to IKEA in the evening to buy us a bed. This cost an astonishing amount of money, and was promised for delivery the following afternoon - the day of the party. I managed to get my pies made, collected and delivered by about 2pm, but the IKEA guys didn't arrive with the bed until about 5pm.
Then we rushed off to Moncloa Bus Station to get up to the party. Our friend had rented a house in the country for the occasion, and all his family from Liverpool and Ireland were there. A fair amount of drink had been taken by the time we arrived, and when I was introduced as the pieman there was a liberal amount of hugging, kissing and handshaking.
The party coincided with the Champions League Final between Barcelona and Man United, and our mate had hired a TV projector and big screen so we wouldn't miss it.
All in all, a terrific day.
Paris Booksigning, Sunday – November 30th
7 hours ago