surinenglish

Customs and exercise

If you're bored, a fun game to play from time to time involves identifying the five aspects of Spanish life that you most enjoy and appreciate. It's a healthy exercise for anyone living in this wonderful country, especially if you've fallen foul of that periodic expat hazard of criticising your host nation to strangers in bars because somebody turned up late for something or an entire government office was shut for eight days because the secretary's second cousin was getting married the following month. No, this is never a good look for anybody blessed to be able to live here.

In no particular order, then, here are my top five favourite Spanish customs.

First up, public transport - especially the local trains. Those beauties are never late or, much less, cancelled because of sunshine on the tracks or anything. They just keep on keeping on and, in spite of a few price rises in recent years, remain remarkably good value. Top tip - if you're heading to the airport, the train is by far your best option.

Secondly, cured ham and Manchego cheese. Who could resist? Well, me actually. I couldn't abide cured ham when I first arrived and now find it nothing short of exquisite, especially when accompanied by the aforementioned 'queso.' Don't forget the cold beer.

Staying with the culinary theme, third on the list would have to be 'espetos' (sardines on a skewer), which taste absolutely lovely and give a raison d'être to that otherwise wholly unjustifiable beverage 'tinto de verano', which is a sort of poor man's sangría made up of wine and lemonade. This abomination should be studiously avoided in any other context but, for some reason, tastes magnificent with espetos. A bit like the way sugary tea only ever tastes good with a full English breakfast. Weird.

Fourth on the list would, I think, be (largely) civilised drinking. Spanish people can knock down a few scoops with the best of them, but seem strangely immune to the necessity thereafter of rampaging through town randomly wielding their fists at passing strangers which, sadly, is something of a strong suit where we're concerned.

Finally, how could we omit the greatest of all Spanish creations from our list? The siesta. What a marvel. Feeling a bit jaded in the afternoon heat? Not to worry, catch some zeds for couple of hours and you'll be as right rain.

In fact, I've just woken from such a state of slumber, fully energised and able to write what I'm sure you'll agree is my best article since - well, since last week, anyway.