If I turn right and walk the length of Calle de Ricardo-Oritz, I pass a host of small shops. I can buy anything here from a lottery ticket to cigars, pets to hair products, books to ice cream and I love it. England lost such a lot of character when the supermarkets took over and every town or village became the same. I like to be able to carry on my Nunhead lifestyle here and patronise the small shops where possible. Here they don't mind when I buy two tomatoes and an onion! The street is lined with huge apartment blocks that are all identical in layout. On the other side of the street there is a large sports centre with - allegedly - a pool, football grounds, gymn, etc. I have tried to get into the pool but with no success as yet but if I am staying around here I will crack that language barrier and check it out! Last time I was told I had to pay 60 euros a month and be a member but I am not convinced.
Further along, I pass the banks, a petrol station, bars and a restaurant or two and then I reach the main street that crosses the end. It opens onto a small square where there are fixed tables and chairs. Here there are elderly men sitting on torn up cardboard boxes - that also function as table covers - playing some kind of card game and swapping tables as a game ends. There are a few women too who either sit and stare at space or are absorbed with chatting or doing puzzle books. There are plenty of walking sticks in evidence and a few small dogs - a convenient excuse for leaving the house!
This is one of the best times of the day - around 8pm. The sun is down and there is a breeze. The atmosphere is fantastic and I love the way people do this rather than sit in a pub or at home in front of a TV.
I cross the road and head up a smaller street towards the trees I can see ahead. I have come here to find another open air pool. However this time my trip is less successful. The park is La Elipa and it is divided in two by the A30! I walk through trees and discover dirt tracks that are ideal for kids on bikes but of no appeal to me. There is also graffiti everywhere that it can be planted. I walk around, knowing that this is likely to be the one and only time I visit this park. I call into a Lidl on my way back and it is weird to be here as it is neither Spanish or English and feels more like south London than anywhere else I have been! It is of course a source of cheap alcohol so I grab a few bottles and head for home with cava, sidre and some vermouth!
I head back to my game-playing men and find a bar where I have a couple of welcome canas and watch the world go by. I say no to the recycled potato salad tapas they try to give me and then miss out on all sorts of other treats that go by. The tapas thing is interesting! You never know what you are going to get! However it is the reason that going out is cheap here as I can get free food and cheap beer! By 930, the last of the small shops have closed - the fruit shop and the pastry shop. It is getting dark and it is time to wander back up my street. The bottles are heavy and not for the first time I think I need to invest in a shopping trolley.