Day 35 – Sunday 19th April
There was a massive storm last night. Thunder, lightening and torrential rain. It was great! I love a tempestuous storm (as long as I’m indoors and dry). As I watched nature having a major strop I felt all my own frustrations melt away. Nothing like a storm for cleaning the air. Thanks for that Mother Nature. I was watching The Phantom of the Opera on YouTube at the time and the storm fitted in perfectly with the music and atmosphere of this production.
Then this morning I awoke to glorious blue sky and sunshine. A shiny new squeaky clean day. I spent an hour and half sunbathing in front of the lounge window. To shake things up a bit, I decided it was time to check if my car was OK. It has been sat in the garage for 6 weeks. Apparently this is not good for a car and I should start the engine every two weeks to make sure the battery remains charged. Also you need to check the tyre pressure and it is best if the fuel tank is full to prevent condensation (this is all according to AA motors).
So today I had a trip to the petrol station. Ooh the excitement! As it happens I had filled the tank before the lockdown, which is a bit annoying given how cheap fuel is at the moment, but the tyres definitely looked a bit deflated. In fact I think I may have developed a slow leak in one of them as it was significantly worse than the others. I plan to make another trip in two weeks time to recheck the pressure. There was no one at the petrol station, so it was quick and easy to do. Normally on Sunday you have queue fr the machine.
Strictly speaking this is not a necessary trip during the lockdown as I don’t need my car for work. I could have driven it round our enormous underground garage to charge the battery, and I have a tyre pump in the boot of the car that is powered via the USB charger in the car. However, I have no idea how to use this gadget and no desire to learn. My niece’s partner, who works in a garage, did kindly show me how to use it once, but I wasn’t paying attention. Besides it’s an excuse to get out of the house.
The trip to the petrol station was interesting. Driving in Madrid is usually a very frustrating and tense affair. To get to the station I have to pass two of the worse roundabouts in the area. Both have 3 to 4 lanes and lots of traffic. The Madrileños rarely use their lights to signal, have terrible lane discipline and I’m pretty sure never look in their rear view mirror either. You are constantly being cut up and if you’re not an aggressive driver can get stuck on these roundabouts with no way of getting across to the lane you need.
The route also has a ridiculous number of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings. About every 100m on a very long road. I counted them once and there are over 20 on a journey of about 3km. Many drivers get impatient and end up jumping the lights. In the summer sun it is also difficult to see the lights, so crossing the road here and driving is a hazardous occupation.
Today none of this was a problem because the roads were empty. It was probably the most relaxing drive I have ever made through Madrid. I quite enjoyed it. I was worried in case the police pulled me over and asked me where I was going (though getting petrol is allowed), but they were busy responding to a real crime. No less than four police cars passed me going in the opposite direction sirens and lights blaring. No idea what that was about.