Winter is coming…

One thing which I don’t have much experience of is European winters.

In fact, my only previous exposure to such climates was when I foolishly decided to spend about four weeks in the UK from the middle of December to the middle of January about 10 years ago.

Think 30 days of grey skies, freezing winds, continual rain, 6 hours of daylight, and excessively hot air conditioning.

Suffice to say, I won’t be doing that again in a hurry…

Thankfully, although Madrid is getting cold (2 degrees overnight), it doesn’t seem to rain all that much. And I always find that being cold when it’s sunny is much more pleasant than being cold when it’s wet.

So, in the spirit of autumn, here’s a few things I am enjoying about this season in Madrid.

1. The leaves

The autumn leaves are amazing. On Saturday, I went to the Royal Botanic Gardens, a rather underrated tourist attraction. They had the most stunning trees there, and the colours were phenomenal. Here’s a couple of pictures that I took (and I’m not even a good photographer!).

It’s even more spectacular when you see the trees en masse. Absolutely incredible.

2. Doña Manolita

A strange obsession here is the Doña Manolita lottery. It seems that almost everyone wants to buy a ticket. But not just ANY ticket will suffice. Rather, you simply must purchase your entry from the “lucky booth” near Sol.

Yesterday, it was raining like mad, but, sure enough, there was a massive queue outside the “lucky booth.”

Using simple maths, it is obvious that if there’s 100 tickets in the lottery, and 90 people buy them from the “lucky booth”, then yes, it’s more likely that a winner will come from that booth. But that’s because everyone is buying from there, not because of some inherent mystical properties of the booth!

Maybe I should give a free lecture on the mathematics of lotteries to the assembled crowd? After all, I’d have a captive audience, as no one is going to leave the line without their tickets…

3. Chestnuts 

Another popular autumn offering in Madrid are castañas or chestnuts. Little kiosks spring up (or should that be “autumn up”? Sorry, that was bad, even for me!), selling roasted chestnuts by the bag.

I haven’t tried them yet, but apparently, they’re very nice. At the moment I have one, unroasted chestnut at home, which my friend in flamenco class gave me, for some unknown reason. I’m not sure if she expects me to cook it and bring it back to class, or eat it by itself, but I’ve had it sitting in my apartment for the last 2 weeks, because I don’t know what to do with it, and I feel ungrateful throwing it out.

So here it is, in close up, for everyone to admire.


All I can say is, why can’t autumn last all year?

3 thoughts on “Winter is coming…

  1. “One Chestnut to rule them all. A Chestnut to find them. A Chestnut to lure them all and tie them in the darkness In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows extend”. Take the Chestnut to Mordor, throw it to the Orodruin magma. After 5 minutes, you can peel it and eat it. Delicious! 😉


    • Ha ha ha! Good work, Álvaro 😉 Maybe I can take both my chestnut and some of the more troublesome students on a school excursion to Mordor. I will encourage the students to closely study the boiling magma for “educational purposes.”


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