‘Don’t go to Madrid’ my friends advised, ‘it will be unbearably hot in August.’ But it was the only free time available. My daughter Megan is visiting me in Spain before she goes off to begin a new life at Winchester University. I wanted some quality time with her so we could make some memories to treasure, although our agendas slightly differ, I felt this was more her time than mine.
Madrid was hot, shops were air-conditioned and I found this preferable to standing in long queues outside museums and palaces. I can save that experience for another time. Madrid is within easy reach from where I am in the Jalon Valley. Alicante is only 50 minutes and then a couple of hours on the train makes it an easy trip. The trouble with August though is the train prices have risen to nearly double the price I had paid two months ago. Spending time with my daughter is worth it. Her hangover from the night before made her interesting company. She slept most of the way. I forgive her.
Our aim is to get our hair cut together, this has become a tradition when we visit cities. Our hotel is one block away from the Gran Via, the main Spanish broadway bustling with high street names. Called ‘The Great Way’ it entices you in like a spiders web, we are caught in the shopping trap. ‘Zara, Stradivarius, Body shop, the usual shops that will make any 19year old girl happy to wander. I followed dutifully like the good Mum I am determined to be.
“Hairdressers?” I reminded her. We asked a lady with bright red hair who was working in a small shop selling hair products for a recommendation, she did not hesitate to give us a card. Maybe that should have been a warning sign, but my daughter was smiling so I followed dutifully again as we navigated the back streets to an address, courtesy of Google Maps.
‘Come back at six,’ they said from the small doorway. They must be good if they are this busy. “We can give you a price when we look at your hair.” Now call me old-fashioned but I am always a tad wary when you have no prices advertised in the window. Back to the shops,
“Do you like this?” I hold up a floral mini dress
‘Nope, and that is why I would not let you buy me any clothes’ Such confidence she has in me. My daughter moves on to the next rail and then the next and the next. The thought of relaxing in a hairdresser’s chair starts to become more appealing.
The man in the salon takes a look at our hair, I start with I would like a cut and highlights. I show him my picture. My daughter also wants a cut and highlights. He looks and tugs at my frizzy locks, ‘You do not need highlights.’ Let me add here he thinks the grey streaks running through my hair are naturally appealing. He wanders off to the back of the shop and comes back with a quotation I would need a mortgage for. I kick myself, take a deep breath and tell myself this is Madrid. Megs looks at me with those big soulful eyes……We hesitate and discuss.
Take off the treatment and I save 80 euros and Ok, don’t bother washing it, that saves a bit more. My relaxing time in the chair is diminishing. ‘But Megs, you have what you need. ‘The woman who cuts my hair sweeps it back of my face. ‘You look like Sharon Stone,’ she lied. I end up in the chair for 40 minutes and Megs gets four hours. I relish my time in a cafe waiting for her, people watching and drinking cold vino rosado. I am back in the real world where I can sit on the sidelines and be in the moment. I reach into my bag and take out a new notebook I have purchased from Natura. On the front is printed a quotation.
‘It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.’
. How true is this? I decide to take some ME TIME and write about the things I notice in Madrid and I am grateful for.
I am grateful for the birds under the table eating the crumbs.
For holding my daughter’s hand as we go shopping
For Haircuts, whatever the cost.
A bowl of potato chips with my Rosado.
Watching the sun go down over rooftops.
Being kind to the beggars and buying them burgers.
The blind man in his straw hat who smiles at the old man helping him into a doorway.
Men in hats and tartan trousers.
Pink tote bags and silver charms.
white fluffy dogs on lime green leads.
Opera singers on the street who should be on a stage and singing for a few cents.
Cocktails on rooftop bars and frozen yogurt with kiwi fruit.
A royal palace gleaming white. Soldiers on horseback posing for pictures.
I wander back to the hairdressers to pay the bill. Two hundred and whaaaatttt!!!!!!!! You know life is all worth every penny, and I really do not mind (cough cough) paying.