Yesterday night I got back from a week in Barcelona and as usual my home was the post-trip bomb site of baskets of washing and a fortnight of dust - today I really ought to have spent the day at home organising and working but instead I decided to just have a nice day (taking S's 95 year old neighbour's advice to 'enjoy life while you can'). Well I hardly painted the town red but I did start the day off with a load of pampering (face masks, scrubs, manicures etc), which were much needed after a week away, then I wrapped up warm in boots and woolly tights to spend a wintry day in Madrid. Pre-Christmas really is one of the most pleasant times in this city, it's chilly (10 degress) but not too cold, the sun shines and the streets of the city take on a sort of festive happy vibe that I can't imagine you get in that many places in winter. I went for a curry with my old friend C in Mughul, a great Indian near Plaza de España where they do what is possibly the best Tandoori chicken in the capital (the place is mid priced, much better than the dodgy dives in Lavapies, but not as unnecessarily posh for a curry house as the fabulous Annpurna). We then went for a walk by the palace (the grandeur of some of the buildings in the centre really stands out in winter) and stopped off for tea and cake in nearby cosy cafe, Rayuela - the chocolate-orange tea was good, but as ever here, the carrot cake just doesn't hit the spot! (For good carrot cake and other amazing baked goods, the only place worth the trouble in my opinion is Delic in La Latina, and even if you don't order the cake you can always stare in amazement at the eclectic mix of macarras (chavs), pijos (posh, but not in the aristocratic sense, in other words Burberry and big fringes), guiris (johnny foreigners) and minor celebrities that hang out there. No worries though, because the mediocre carrot cake was made up for by the fabulous caipirinha made by the charming Brazilian waitress. All this was very pleasant, but perhaps the highlight of the day was stopping by the newly renovated Mercado de San Miguel, which is an old glass and iron covered market near Plaza Mayor that has been shut for years but has recently been re-opened as a down-to-earth but high-end delicatessen and eaterie offering the finest Spanish food and wine from Jamon and red wine to Oysters which you can purchase and eat on the spot. Best of all it has that great buzzing atmosphere that Madrid la nuit is famous for - see photo above. Open all day until the early hours I think. And to finish the day off I'm devouring a 3-pack of the ambassador's tackiest chocolates, Ferrero-only-sold-in winter-because we're-so-'delicate'-not-a-marketing-scam-at-all-Rocher. Sorry for that ridiculous sentence.