I write this from an ever-so-slightly echoey flat. Last week my plans for 2015 took a significant step forward in that I moved the bulk of what is best described as my ‘stuff’ to Yorkshire and it is now sitting in a large heap in the garage of my brother. What remains here in Reading is the other ‘stuff’ that I need to survive my final couple of months of work; clothes, computer, a much-reduced set of kitchen equipment and almost all of my furniture. As to where that will eventually end up is currently to be decided. Storage? The purchaser of the flat? eBay? A charity? (A bonfire?!) I’m actually being a little premature in assuming that these will be my final two months in the flat as no buyer has yet committed to buying the flat although one is still very interested and another is waiting, apparently. I’m also being a little premature in assuming that you know what my plans are for 2015. You may want to read this before you continue… You may also want to read this ‘back of an envelope‘ planning post that I wrote at the end of August in which I summarised the cycle from Spain to Northern Norway as follows;Date of departure from Santiago de Compostela: Saturday 18th April 2015 Cycling days: 90 Rest days: 10 Distance to cycle: 7,000km Average distance per day: 78km Date of arrival at North Cape: Monday 27th July 2015. Ish…
The ‘ish‘ bit at the end is quite important and I’m already thinking of moving the cycle forward by a week or so. Why? Well, Easter is over the weekend of Sunday 5th April in 2015 and in Spain, where I hope to be spending the first three months of 2015 learning Spanish (see below), it’s a big thing to say the least, much more so than here in the UK where it’s more of an excuse for a long four-day weekend rather than anything remotely religious in most people’s minds. The Spanish, however, celebrate Easter big time. Referring to it as ‘Semana Santa‘ (it has nothing to do with a man with a white beard – the word ‘santa‘ means ‘holy‘ although there is clearly a linguistic connection to Saint Nicholas or ‘Santa Claus’) the people of Castilla Y Leon where I shall hopefully be living in the town of Salamanca celebrate Easter ‘even more fanatically than in most areas… including hooded penitents and processions of holy statues’ according to my Rough Guide to Spain. It would therefore seem a good point at which to bring to a close my studying of Spanish and move on to the cycling portion of my 2015 plan. So my journey across Europe will probably kick off at some point over the weekend immediately following Easter, Saturday 11th or Sunday 12th April. Let’s just hope that the weather is OK at that time of the year in northern Spain. (I’ve just checked – it isn’t great; it can be chilly with lots of rain…). The extra 7 days may prove to be very useful later on in the trip if I am to be in with a chance of seeing the midnight sun at North Cape.
So in just over five months, I’ll be setting off. Hopefully. Immediately prior to the previous two continental crossings in 2010 and in 2013 I had been at work here in the UK and more importantly, I had been cycling my 13 mile round trip commute from Reading to Henley five days a week. This stood me in very good stead when it came to being physically prepared for the much longer distances required to cycle to southern Italy and along the Mediterranean coast. Can you see the hole in my plan for the 2015 cycle? I only have another (maximum) 35 commutes to go before I leave my current job just before Christmas. Immediately following that will be the three months in Salamanca where, although I will have Reggie with me, I probably won’t be riding him on a regular basis, certainly nothing comparable to the 13 miles I’m currently cycling every day of the working week. So how will I keep up my level of fitness? It has been a question upon which I have been pondering for several days… If only I had an incentive to keep me doing regular exercise not just before Christmas but well into the new year in preparation for the lengthy 70-80km I will be required to do along the route of the Eurovelo 3+… Mmm… It wouldn’t necessarily have to be cycling; swimming or running come to mind, both of which I try to do on a weekly basis anyway… Prior to the Eurovelo 8 trip in 2013 my running helped me shed a few kilograms prior to departure… That would be useful again now… On one occasion, I even managed to run the distance of a half marathon around Reading, much to my surprise… If only there was an official half marathon in Salamanca at some point around the end of February or the beginning of March… What’s that? The 4th Marathon of Salamanca takes place on Sunday 1st Mark 2015? How convenient! It might just be the motivation I require to keep up regular exercise in the early months of 2015. I have plenty of time to decide as it’s not possible to sign up until 7th January.
This is turning into a bit of a rambling post summarising the progress I have made since writing about my 2015 plans a few weeks ago. Apologies if it reads like that. I’ve narrowed down the list of possibly Spanish schools in Salamanca. The current favourite is is a place called the Colegio Hispano Continental. It was recommended by a chap I met at the Languages Show in October. He specialised in sending British teachers to various places across the continent to upgrade their language skills (what used to be the Comenius Project but which has now been rebranded Erasmus Plus). I spoke at length to the owner about the courses she runs and other relevant bits and pieces, notably the accommodation. That said, other schools are available and I have in front of me the brochures from Tia Tula, Don Quijote, DIL, Mester and Unamuno. More research needed but there’s no rush as I can’t commit to anything until the flat is sold. For the lady at the Colegio Hispano it wouldn’t be a problem even if decided to enrol just a week or so before turning up. That is useful to know.
So, things are moving on, slowly. Tomorrow sees me start my final term at the school where I currently work. On that score there’s no turning back as they have already appointed my replacement. Apparently the new subject leader for languages had been waiting for my job to become available for some considerable time. If only I’d known; I would have certainly been open to offers!