|Adobe buildings in the Taos village in New Mexico|
|Oli at Taos village with an Indian last Sunday|
That afternoon, my dear friend from St. Joseph's school in Bradford, Geraldine was visiting her parents' graves which are at the same cemetery as my Mother's; Charlestown in Balidon. She offered to put flowers on it, knowing it had been the anniversary of her passing away on 1st October. That was so nice and later she sent me a photo of the grave with a bunch of flowers with pretty autumn colours. That would please both my Father and I. Before he left England in 2005 he had paid a nearby florist to put flowers there once a week for a year. Months later we visited and there were none. He had been duped. So thanks a lot Geraldine for such a lovely gesture.
|My school friend Geraldine put flowers on my Mother's grave last Sunday|
|Happy birthday little cousin Ruby|
Our "love birds" were up at about the same time. They were such a gorgeous couple. Pippa would bark at Valdo a bit sometimes and he said he was sure it was because of his thick Afro style hair. It was then that I showed them a photo of Suzy's beau, Dous, whose hair even beats Valdo's hahahaha. They spent the whole day at home, only going out to buy food. They just wanted to be together and we left them to it, respecting their love and need to be together. I told them that they had come to the right place as our house, in a way, is the "house of love", because we ourselves are in love and because many of our guests have told us what a lovely and loving atmosphere our house has. I also told them that in the room they were sleeping in, Suzy's room, a marriage proposal had taken place this summer between an equally in love English couple, Luella and her partner Brent. Later when they sent me this photo of the two of them by the pool with the caption "the house of love", I was as pleased as punch. Nice eh? I'm so lucky to have such wonderful guests and from all over the world.
|My two love birds, Valdo the Portuguese football player and his Spanish girlfriend Elo who lives in Malta. Lovely couple|
In the afternoon we spent the time reading. For the first time since before the summer, we read inside. Meanwhile our lovebirds were hogging the last of the sun by the pool and we wanted to respect their privacy. That afternoon we got unexpected guests for tea. Richard had brought his son, Alex, to meet us and to talk to us in Spanish. If Richard was tall, at least 6ft, Alex towered over him at well over 6ft and at just 18. He seemed like a giant next to Eladio and I wished I had taken a photo of the two together. I offered them tea and biscuits served with my lovely Emma Bridgewater pottery and we had a nice cozy time in the lounge which, in fact, we hardly ever use. Alex whose shoe size is 15 (that's 51 in Spain), is a lovely boy. He will be studying French and Spanish at Exeter University and, as I said, is on his gap year here in Spain, teaching English in nearby Boadilla while completing his TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course. Richard only wished he had found our house for his son when they came looking for accommodation. I just wondered whether our beds would have been big enough for him hahahaha. It was nice to have English visitors for tea that day.
We had dinner indoors too that night which was also the first night since about the beginning of June that we used our duvet. It was lovely to snuggle under.
Tuesday came and the weather was similar to Monday. Rain threatened but it wouldn't come until the next day. That morning we had a check up appointment at the vet for dear Norah our beagle who was so ill last week. We finally got the MRI results which were not too bad as we were expecting the worst. She has a cyst next to one of her ovaries which will have to be removed. She also has something called discospondylitis. This is what caused all the pain and is apparently an infection of the inter vertebral disc space. The good news is that it is not pressing on the medulla and she is being treated with antibiotics. The other good news is that the ongoing leishmania illness she has, provoked by a mosquito of the same name, has not affected any of her organs and the illness is now under control. Dear Norah needs a lot of looking after from now on; even more than before.
After the visit to the vet we drove home and decided to go on our walk in the afternoon. I would be busy again with Airbnb guests coming and going as I would be for the rest of the week. That morning I had another sudden booking for my only free room left that night, the Green Room, from someone called Jennifer from Abu Dhabi. I wondered who she was but would find out later.
I was having lunch out that day but would leave a meal prepared for my men and Lucy. While I was in the throes of making "fabada", (bean stew), cream of vegetable soup and even home made bread, I was joined by my English guest, Richard, who was leaving that morning. I gave him a cup of coffee and more of my home made bread and we had a lovely natter together in English. Hopefully he will be coming again. I suspect so as his son lives nearby.
One of the highlights of the week was lunch out that day with the girls from my events agency, QuintaEsencia. This amazingly creative agency with whom I have worked with for years and who I wouldn't swap with any other, is run by 3 sisters, each very different: Cris, Bea and Gloria and I love them to bits. They had invited me out to lunch as we hadn't seen each other for a long time. I was sad to have missed Gloria's wedding to Ramón but it coincided with my "cousinade" in France this summer. They took me to "De María", a lovely Argentinian restaurant in Majadahonda right next to the Atlético de Madrid's training grounds.
We had a great lunch, as the food is superb, but also we chin wagged all the way through as if there wasn't enough time to catch up on all our news and lives in general. I was interrupted by a sudden new booking for the one spare room I had for Wednesday and Thursday night. It came from a French chap, "Jean", from the basketball world whose daughter studies at the University here. Then I got a call from Eladio to say Jennifer and Manjit from Abu Dhabi had arrived, were hungry and didn't have a car. Thus I had to curtail the lovely "sobremesa" - word in Spanish which means time after a meal talking around a table - to rush home to their rescue.
|Lunch with 3 sisters - Gloria, Cris and Bea from my events agency QuintaEsencia.|
After they had settled by the pool with their meal and bottle of wine, Eladio and I went on our walk with the dogs. Eladio didn't really need it as he had walked enough that day by spending most of the morning mowing the lawn. In any case it was as lovely sunny and cloudy walk and I needed it.
I came home to make our own dinner just as Valdo and Elo were going out for theirs on their last night with us. They would be leaving the next morning at 5 am so we said our goodbyes. They promised they would come again and this time with their "Mums". They were such a lovely couple, we had to have a photo before they left and this is it, courtesy of Andrew, our Scottish long staying guest.
|Saying goodbye to my "lovebirds" Valdo and Elo|
Meanwhile, it was 8 hours earlier in New Mexico and Olivia was visiting the apparently famous "White Sands dunes" there. She adored them and even slid down the dunes on a toboggan. I read it up on internet and learned that this "gypsum crystal dune field" is the largest of its kind on earth (710 km2 or 275 sq miles). Here she is on the beach with the person she was including in her programme.
|Oli and a colleague or maybe one of her "madrileños" at the White Sands dune beaches in New Mexico on Tuesday|
|Death and destruction in Majorca this week|
|Rafa Nadal from Mallorca joined volunteers cleaning the streets in the island yesterday after the flash floods|
The rain made us postpone our walk until the afternoon. Thus the morning was quiet although busy. More guests were leaving and others coming. That morning Valdo and Elo, our two lovebirds left as did the couple from Abu Dhabi. I saw the latter off at 7 in the morning. I was later delighted to read their reviews in my treasured guest book. They were so lovely that I am including a photo of what they wrote here. Their comments left me feeling that Airbnb is not just about earning income. It's also about meeting interesting people from all over the world and making new friends.
|Some lovely comments from my Airbnb guests this week in my guest book.|
The next guests to arrive were repeat guests but they weren't coming until the afternoon or evening. Jean from Nantes in Northern France was coming with his wife, by car (yes the French drive long distances!) which is just over 1000km away and a 10 hour drive. Their daughter who is studying physiotherapy in French at the local UEM University is in lodging just up the road. Our other guests would be the Russians from Lithuania whose son and his friend are studying at a school near us that specialises in basketball, their country's main sport.
We enjoyed our peace before they arrived with a quiet lunch and quiet siesta. It was still raining and thus we watched a bit of Netflix, the film about the Norwegian massacre of young people on an island near Oslo that happened on 22nd July 2011. The film is simply called July 22nd.
The French were the first to arrive. Jean's wife does not speak English or Spanish so I had to speak French which I was happy to realise had improved since I started taking lessons. It was only then that we could go for our walk. Thankfully by about 6 pm the rain had gone and was replaced by sunshine.
We came home to make dinner and just as we were starting, my Russians arrived. Instead of the three people who came last time and who had booked, Veronica and Vladim, the parents of George and Viktor, their friend, the father of George's friend, Maximillian, only Veronica came but with her oldest son Artur. Thankfully Artur speaks English so communication this time would be a whole lot easier. They came late as they had waited 4 hours at the airport to get a hired car. Something tells me they didn't book it beforehand. They arrived loaded with presents; a special cake from Lithuania and black Lithuanian bread. That was so kind. Called "Sakotis" it is a tree shaped cake made of butter, eggs, flour, sugar and cream and is probably Lithuania's most famous culinary item. It's a total bomb as far as calories are concerned and I am concerned about eating it hahaha. I remember being given one when I was in Vilnius for a communications meeting when I worked for Yoigo or rather the mother company, TeliaSonera. This is a photo of the cake and the black bread.
|Presents from my Russian Airbnb guests - famous Lituanian Sakotis tree shaped cake and the black bread.|
We had a far healthier meal, cold ham and salad. Our French guests with whom we had a nice banter in a mixture of French, English and Spanish, prepared theirs and ate it in our very large dining room. while we had ours in the kitchen. It was funny to see how the Mother cooked Spanish calamari in butter rather than in olive oil as they do in Spain.
We left them to it at about 9.30 and went upstairs to our quarters to get a bit of privacy and of course get ready to go to bed. We watched the end of the film July 22nd which is pretty grim and feeling drowsy, switched off the lights at around 11 pm.
Thursday came and brought with it more rain but again the sun would shine in the afternoon so we left our walk until later. That morning Olivia sent us a photo which must have been taken on Wednesday her time. It was with one of her "madrileños" in Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, outside one of the oldest houses in the USA. On the De Vargas street it is an adobe home which must once have been a house belonging to the Pueblo Indians.
|Oli in Santa Fe outside one of the oldest houses in the USA|
I didn't go out on Thursday, except for our walk, and spent the morning mostly cooking. I made a batch of "bitki" (Russian meat patties) for freezing. I also had a go at making baked apples for my Father and Eladio who love them. The best cooking apples in Spain are "reinetas" (little queens) but I had bought mine at Mercadona and not the Villaviciosa market and they were not as sweet unfortunately. Next time I will do this dish with the apples from the market.
|My baked apples|
We had a long siesta on Thursday. Unusually for me, I slept for about 1.5h. I suppose I needed to catch up on lost sleep as I get up so early. Norah was sleeping too and later I would find her rolling around peacefully on our Persian carpets in one of the lounges where she is definitely not allowed haha. It was obvious she was on the mend. Until Wednesday she was not well and I think Thursday was the turning point. She ate well, walked a lot better and even played with her "sister" dogs. She would enjoy our walk that day too.
The walk was lovely with the sun shining in contrast to the morning's rain. We came home to find most of our guests out. We hardly saw any of them that day. We were home quite early, so, with plenty of time on my hands, I made Spanish tortilla (with potatoes and onions) to which I added fresh spinach. It was scrumptious but we could only manage one of the two small ones I made.
|My potato, onion and spinach omelet I made for dinner on Thursday night|
We left them to make their meal and went up to our quarters to bed. That night we started watching a new TV series we shan't continue with; Elite. It is a drama set in an elite school but we didn't like the script. We thought we would enjoy it as we like series or films set in schools, hospital, prisons, convents etc. Don't ask me why as I am generally not a fan of institutions in real life hahaha.
Friday dawned, 12 October which is Spain's national day or Columbus day. It was a holiday in Spain. Eladio watched the military parade which he loves. However, the rain dampened the event as did the booing of the new PM Pedro Sánchez. People called him a "squatter" and called for elections. The King, however was cheered. The funniest thing that happened that day will go down in political history as one of the biggest faux paux for sure. After the parade, the King and Queen received visitors at the Palace. Members of the government, the opposition, authorities, etc queued up to shake their hands. Pedro Sánchez and his wife were the first in the queue and instead of shaking the monarchs' hands and walking on, they stayed next to them, thinking they had to be there to shake the other guests hands. It was an awkward moment and someone from the Palace Protocol team had to tap the PM on the shoulder and tell him to move on. Twitter blazed with memes and criticism of the PM and his wife.
|Yesterday's embarrassing moment for the new PM|
I wasn't at all interested in the military celebrations and I was busy too. That morning, our two guests from Nantes left very early and I had to see them off. Then I had to supervise and help get their room ready for our next guests. I was really looking forward to seeing Rania again. You will remember she is my new friend from Belgium although she is actually Lebanese.
She arrived late at around 12.30 accompanied by her dentist husband Pierre and little boy Raphael (11). They had picked up their older son Jonathan on the way from his University residence. We embraced immediately. It was lovely to see her again. My lovely Lebanese guests from Brussels had also brought us a present. We are truly spoiled by our guests. They gave us a splendid box of wonderful Belgian biscuits, some of them the famous "speculoos". We would eat some of them after lunch with my Father which would leave me feeling rather full and guilty. This is the beautiful box.
|The amazing Belgian biscuits Rania brought for us from Brussels|
Friday, of course, was the day of the royal wedding. Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's younger daughter Eugenie, aged 28, was marrying someone called Jack Brooksbank in a full blown royal wedding at Windsor. I wasn't very interested in the wedding per se, but was curious to see the family photo where the bride's Mother, "Fergie" would be photographed with Prince Philip for the first time in 20 years. Apparently she was very worried at the encounter as her ex father-in-law, had frozen her out of the family after the divorce and the famous "toe sucking" scandal which marked her exit from the family. Months after her split with Prince Andrew in 1992, a photo was published of her on holiday with her financial adviser, John Bryan where he was sucking her toe while they were on holiday near St. Tropez. That photo was her undoing, as far as the Royal family was concerned. So of course a photo of her with the family including Prince Philip was gong to cause news and bring up the subject of that famous incident once again. I bet she has regretted it all her life. This is the photo of the family together with Fergie just next to her former father-in-law. I bet they didn't speak or did they I wonder.
|Family photo after the wedding of Princess Eugenie on Friday|
|Dinner on Friday night at La Txitxarrería|
Meanwhile, Oli was on her last day of shooting in New Mexico. Friday saw her at the Tent Rocks near Santa Fe. A bit like Capadocia, according to my daughter, this national monument is actually known as the "Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks". It is famous for its cone shaped formations made of "pumice, ash and tuff deposits" from volcanoes 6 or so million years ago. Kasha Katuwe literally means "white rocks" in the Pueblo Indian language. Here she is living the moment, lucky girl. What a wonderful job she has.
|Oli at the Tent Rocks in New Mexico on Friday|
Saturday was the warmest day of the week with temperatures reaching 26ºc. Our guests all went out and the house was quiet but just in the morning. After our walk with the dogs, I got ready for my weekly French lesson which again would be a conversation lesson as Olivia was not there. Yesterday she would start her long journey home. She should be arriving today at around 15h and we hope to see her for dinner tonight.
When Helene left, it was up to me to make lunch for my Father and Eladio which would be a simple affair. We had our siesta and then some quiet time by the pool reading. I am now reading, as I said I would, South from Granada by Gerald Brennan. It makes for very easy and interesting reading. Eladio, meanwhile, cleaned the pool. It was full of conkers that fall from the chestnut trees surrounding it. You have to be careful not to stand under the trees as one might fall on your head. Here he is busily removing the conkers.
|Eladio removing the conkers from the pool yesterday|
Soon it was time for dinner and while we were in the kitchen, our guests slowly came back from their outings. Andy was there, making his meal too and then Rania, her husband Pierre and sons Johathan and Raphael appeared. We were about to go up to bed but my dear friend Rania urged us to stay and chat with them for a while. The kitchen was a cacophony of languages and banter. Zena, our Ukranian weekend carer was there too, adding another nationality. Eladio took this impromptu photo of us. Just the Russians were missing. And here we are together. Sorry about the "Mercadona" plastic bag in the middle of the picture hahaha. It was a happy moment.
|With Rania (white top), her family, Andy our Scottish guest (far left) and Zena (far right) last night in the kitchen|
I went to bed late after staying with my guests and missed the news. I only saw the end, the weather forecast which was all about Hurricane Leslie which had just touched down in Lisbon. Thankfully it had turned from Force 1 into a tropical storm. During the night it was on its way to Spain.
This morning it was very windy and was raining, no doubt, a repercussion of "Leslie". The north west of Spain will have been harder hit.
So today, Sunday, will be cool and wet, a sure sign, along with the conkers, that autumn is truly here. This morning my Russian guests will be leaving. Rania and her family will be going tomorrow so I'm glad I will be seeing more of them. I am also dying to see Oli who we haven't seen she left for the USA about 10 days ago. No doubt she will be suffering from jet lag when we see her, probably tonight for dinner.
I am now at the end of the tales of this week and must now get on with the day. Wishing you all a great week ahead, cheers till next week friends and readers,