Our last full day in Madrid left nothing to be desired – it was exactly as we wanted it to be (which happens less than you may think on holidays). I think the reason behind this was becasue we had no time pressures, we weren’t going to see anything,we had nothing planned and we had no set timings. We also had no preconceived ideas of what the day was going to be like or how we wanted it to go.
We woke up around 11 am, so we had a good lay in (which to be honest I hardly ever get a chance to do when I’m away because my days tend to be packed full of things to do). Once we were up and about we wandered back to a shop we had found the day before which sold empanadas, where we bought not one, not two, but four different empanadas to share. We also picked up a bottle of wine, some lemonade and some crisps in a little super market. Now laden with picnic items, we began to meander our way to the Buen Retiro Park.
We got there and there were these really odd trees, the had been shaped so they looked like strange little puffs of green stuck on the end of the branches – so that obviously meant 10 minutes of iPhone photography to try and nail the good lighting through the tree that made us look all glowy (you tell me whether we succeeded or not – I suspect not). With the photo shoot completed we walked on toward the ‘lake’. Now ‘lake’ is a very loose term here, as what it really is, is a giant swimming pool with some fish and a few terrapins in it, but it has boats on it, so a lake we shall call it.
We found a nice sunny spot next to the lake with a bit of shade from some trees so I could hide my pale skin from the inevitable burn when the sun got too hot. We laid out the picnic blanket with a flourish and parked our buttocks firmly on the (slightly damp) grass. The menu was as follows:
Empanada 1: spicy tuna – yummo
Empanada 2: chicken – not sure where the chicken was
Empanada 3: cheese and ham – tasted like a cat food filled doughnut
Empanada 4: chorizo [insert Spanish lisp here] – yummo
White wine: nice and tasty, but harder to consume than planned, which I will explain.
We made the classic idiot English mistake of buying a bottle of wine with a corkscrew in it and not a screw top. And not being seasoned alcoholics, neither of us had a corkscrew in out bags. I know, I can practically hear you sighing at me over this. It is THE classic mistake to make when getting wine for a picnic and you look so typically touristy googling ‘How to uncork wine without a corkscrew’. So stupidly, the first thing we tried to do was push the cork inside the bottle. Now I think about it this is clearly a terrible idea as obviously you can’t push it inside the bottle because of the pressure, but I’m going to say we had had to much sun at this point and it had affected our intelligence. We then read online that you can get the cork out but firmly hitting the bottom of the bottle against a tree or similar, but we were too scared to do this for fear of the bottle smashing and wasting wine or resulting in serious injury.
So forlorn and seriously sober, I began to search through my bag for an implement that may assist us in our quest for alcoholic grape juice. And low, the holy grail was found – a pair of tweezers. I promptly set about gouging out the cork (which was halfway down the neck of the bottle after the previously ill fated attempt at removal) which took distinctly longer than I had anticipated. One pair of ruined tweezers later we were finally able to consume our wine, and thank God it was decent to drink – otherwise I think I would have lost my shit after all that effort.
Wine consumed, we decided it would be a great idea to take out one of the bathtubs they were calling a rowing boat on the lake. We hired a ‘boat’ for 45 minutes for the mere price of €6, which we thought was rather reasonable. We plonked ourselves down in the boat and headed out on to the lake. To say it was utter carnage out there would be an understatement. Boats were lurching around in all directions, the oarsmen bearing no regard to the other vessels. We managed to make it out to a clear spot, on the way to which we saw a dead fish (cod rest his sole) and a terrapin, or a floaty tortoise (which I think is a much better name). Here is where Claire spied a ledge that she thought would be the perfect place to precariously rest her Polaroid camera so we could use the remaining 2 photos doing ‘action’ shots of us rowing.
We rowed into place, rested the camera precariously on the ledge and set the timer and with the 3 seconds we had, pushed off hard from the side and quickly posed for the camera, then rowed hastily back to the side so a gust of wind didn’t blow our polaroid away. We did this twice in all, and it is safe to say we must have looked like utter nutters to any passers by, of which there must have been many. But I don’t care, because the photos were great and the proof is here for all to see.