Saturday, August 08, 2020

Goodbye Montrondo, home again and reunited with the family, contracts exchanged on the house, grandparent duty, former King Juan Carlos 1 of Spain flees the country amid financial scandal, Casa del Cueto now available on Airbnb, 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atom bomb attacks, a celebration dinner and other stories.

Madrid, 9th August, 2020.
Eladio and I - celebration dinner on Friday night

Good morning everyone.

How was your week? Let me tell you about mine.

This time last Sunday we were still in Montrondo with plans to leave at around midday. We went on our walk, the "secret walk" up the "Camino Valle" to avoid wearing our masks - oh how we hate them. 
On our walk in Montrondo last Sunday shortly before we left

We were back at about 11 and it took an hour or so to get ready to leave. The house was left in perfect condition for our next stay. We had been there for 9 nights and were sorry to leave but know we would meet again. We had lunch on the way at a run of the mill roadside restaurant where we had a not too bad "menu of the day", half of which we brought home as a doggy bag. As our journey progressed it got hotter and hotter. If we left Montrondo with a temperature of 23ºc we arrived in Madrid to 36ºc and it was boiling. 

The kitchen was a bit of a mess, the French family had totally invaded the house with friends and they had brought the grandmother to stay for two weeks which I was not really aware of. As I unpacked the food, all their stuff was in all three fridges and I had no idea what was ours or theirs. I calmed down after unpacking everything and went down to the pool to take a dip and of course greeted the family and their friends. Suzy was home too but in the garden with her friend Juli. Not long afterwards, Oli arrived with Elliot after taking Miguel to the train station as he had to be back to work this week in Valencia. The house was very full. Before hitting the pool, I printed my last two blog posts for my father and went to greet him. I got the warmest welcome ever from him. His words amazed me and warmed my heart. He said "It's you, my beloved daughter. I've missed you. It's great to have you back" and then added an amazing "I love you". It's one of the very few times he has said that to me and I was overwhelmed with love for him. Usually he is not at all demonstrative so these words were very special to me. I gave him the printed blog posts and tried to tell him we had bought a house in Asturias, known as part of "Green Spain", that lush green area on the coast in the north that goes from the Portuguese border all the way to the French border near San Sebastián. If you don't know the Green Coast I recommend it highly. Forget the costas in the south; the north is much more beautiful and so unspoiled in comparison. Ah, but don't tell too many people as we don't want to see it see it overcrowded too. 

We had a makeshift dinner that night out of what I could find that I thought was ours in the fridge. It was great to have Elliot with us again and after some initial shyness he was soon in his element, laughing, clapping his hands, crawling all over the place as well as cruising. He was the centre of attention and he loved it. Here he is playing with the fridge magnet in the kitchen - photo courtesy of Juli.
Elliot standing and playing with the fridge magnets he loves so much.
The house was so full - I counted 12 people including Elliot - poor Suzy had no bedroom for herself and had to sleep on the inflatable mattress in our gallery. We slept with the windows open and the fan on and it was just about bearable. I slept quite well and was awake at 6.30 in the morning. I woke up to find another reservation for our apartment in Santa Pola, my 6th this summer. That lifted my spirits. 

After breakfast I got down to writing the document for the exchange of contracts for the house in which we commit to giving a deposit. It's the first time I have ever drawn up a document like this. As there is no estate agency involved, we are responsible for all the paperwork before the signing of the deeds. Mari Paz had sent me all the details I needed and that's when I saw her website for the 3 houses she rents in Asturias. They are amazing. One of them is ours, the most modest, but still lovely. She and her husband, José Manuel, started their hospitality business 22 years ago after having been farmers tending a herd of cows. They have gone from strength to strength and I can only admire them for what they have done. This is their website which is quite impressive. Shortly afterwards I sent her the contract which she approved with one change. Instead of moving in on 1st October, we can now move in on 15th September. We plan to go together as a family although Oli will only be able to join us at the weekend. Once the contracts were signed and exchanged we sent the deposit. There is no going back now and we are delighted.

Feeling happy, Eladio and I went to do the shopping as our cupboards were nearly bare. My husband only accompanied me to Mercadona as one of us had to be home to look after Elliot once his mother had gone to work. These days she leaves at 12 and returns at 9 at night. I continued the shopping at two other supermarkets I got to; Carrefour Market and BM but also did a couple of errands going to the chemist and the bank. I sneaked in a coffee too at my favourite café, Alverán. I came back to help Lucy put everything away. We now have the large fridge to ourselves (sigh of relief). It was nearly lunch time by then and we had to feed Elliot who ate well. My father enjoyed his great grandson's company or rather watching him crawl on the floor around the dining room hahahhaha. 

After lunch Suzy took charge of Elliot and amazingly he slept a one hour siesta. Later the three of us convened and kept him  entertained as he needs to be watched all the time as he is so active. Eladio came down, Suzy played some songs on her ukelele and I quietly watched the scene thinking what a lovely family moment it was. I recorded it on my phone and you can see it here
Family moments with Elliot

I was relieved of grandmother duty for half an hour while I had my weekly Skype call with Amanda. She was delighted to hear about the house in Asturias and I invited her and Andy and their dog, Tess, to come whenever they want. At the moment they only go out for walks for fear of Covid and my friend told me they avoid the beaches where people are going in their droves. Elliot interrupted our call a few times so I had to cut it short until next week. 

Elliot needed more entertaining so Suzy and I took him to the pool for a swim. I was very careful as it was the first time in the water with him on his own and used his special float which I never let go of in case it capsised. He loved it and we spent quite a while in the water where he enjoys splashing. 
Elliot had a great time in the pool with us on Monday

These days there are water proof nappies for babies which would have been very handy for when our girls were small. It's amazing how much new stuff there is for babies. Miguel, his father, buys all the latest baby gear and anything to protect him from getting into harm's way.  When Oli brought Elliot on Sunday night he was wearing some leather shoes. I commented why did he need them if he can't walk yet. The answer was they are special shoes for beginning to walk! As if babies need shoes to learn to walk. Think about all the barefoot kids in the world. Suzy and I were shocked to learn they cost 40 euros! My elder daughter remarked that that was the equivalent of one month's rent in Bali!!!! I thought they looked cumbersome and immediately took them off him. But, of course I am British born and going  barefoot is often a form of life in the UK or it was when I was a child. 

We later watched his mother on TV although I am not sure he realised it was her. He didn't seem to miss her during the day but she got the warmest of welcomes when she came home at 9 pm. We were in the middle of giving him his dinner and as soon as Oli arrived all he wanted was her breast milk hahahaha. We had another lovely family dinner and had two things to celebrate. One was the new house of course and the other was news I can't yet reveal but it made us very happy. We were up late, Suzy singing for us again to which Elliot bobbed up and down as if he were dancing, then it was time for bed. 

We missed the news that night. The top subject was not about corona virus for once but was the story of the sudden exile of 82 year old former King Juan Carlos I of Spain. No one knows for sure where he is but it is rumoured he is staying with rich friends - of these he has many - either in Portugal or in the Dominican Republic. Since the elephant hunting scandal in Botswana, a few years ago which led to his abdication in June 2014,  his behaviour has gone from bad to worse. Once upon a time he was revered for his role in the transition to democracy after the death of Franco. In Spain, criticising the royal family was taboo but that has now changed. Yet we all knew about his womanising and it was vox populi that he and his wife, former Queen Sofia, led separate lives. It is rumoured he has had more than 1500 mistresses. Poor Queen Sofia I always think. How could she put up with him? The name of his latest mistress, now estranged, Princess Corinna Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, came to the public eye when he had the accident in Botswana. It came at a time when Spain was in a deep financial crisis. There was a public outcry and the King had to apologise on TV. They are no longer together but it is her revelations about his finances that have brought about this latest  scandal, the final straw that broke the camel's back.  He is alleged to have received millions of euros from shady deals for Spanish high speed train contracts with Saudi Arabia and other deals with countries like Brunei. Most of the stories have been reported in the international media but now the pressure is on him in Spain. Investigations are taking place even though he is immune to justice for the years when he was King but the question is whether he still is immune after his abdication; probably not. That night a letter addressed to his son King Felipe VI was published by the Spanish press informing him of his decision to leave the country.  The current king issued a response and at the end of the text thanks his father for leaving Spain. It must be a very sad moment for his son King Felipe.
Ex King Juan Carlos I and his son King Felipe VI together before the scandals that have estranged them. 
He had already left when the letter was published in which  he explains that he is leaving the country so as not to taint the royal institution. Well it is already tainted. Maybe instead of leaving the country he should own up to what he did and in my opinion he should have renounced his title of former King of Spain. His whereabouts are not clear although there are reports he is in Abu Dhabi.  He no longer deserves it. It is a very sad tale to the end of what could have been an amazing story of a wonderful reign but he spoiled it all by greed. He went from being feted for restoring democracy in Spain to this. I ask myself, why did he need all these millions of euros when he had everything he could possibly want? King Juan Carlos was born in exile, in Rome, like my mother, and he may now retire in exile too and all because of his greed for money. The Spanish monarchy was given a hefty blow this week and I wonder how it will emerge from this crisis. In Spain affairs of the heart are tolerated but affairs of the wallet are not and this time the ex King has gone too far and cannot be pardoned, however much he was admired before his downfall. 

That night we started watching a news Spanish series called "Inés del alma mía" loosely based on the story of Inés de Palencia in the time of the Spanish Empire and set in the "New World". I am loving it.

Tuesday came, our second day of grandparent duty. I got away with some of it as I had to cook our lunch and also made batches of food to freeze. I had a little helper in Eva, our 7 year old guest who lives in Paris. She follows me around like a little lamb and we have long conversations. My little guest told me yesterday she never wants to leave. I suggested she writes me letters and she proposed we  talk on skype. I didn't expect her to have skype but her mother told me that she does now after lockdown. So I look forward to calls with her after the family has left. At some moments this week I didn't know whether our home was a zoo with all the animals, a creche for children including Elliot or an old people's home including my father and Eva's elderly grandmother. For sure the house was full and the dogs are always under our feet in the kitchen. Eva helped me make a batch of "bitki" (Russian hamburgers), a batch of salmon and leek pies and also the fish we had for lunch that day. She loves her grandmother and asked me to keep a pie for her and one for her "abuelita" (granny). If I were her grandmother I would be a little upset that she is spending so much time with me. 

Eva missed me when I went to the hairdresser that afternoon - a welcome escape from grandparent duty (hahaha) but once home I had to be hands on. I took over from Eladio and kept Elliot entertained in the air conditioned dining room where I was joined by Eva, Suzy and Pippa. Suzy took a cute photo of us which is a nice memory of this summer. Here I am with Pippa, Elliot and little Eva. 
With Elliot, Pippa and Eva on Tuesday afternoon
Eva loves our dogs, especially Pippa. It took a while for Pippa to accept her and her younger brother, David but now they are the best of friends. I was feeding Elliot some fruit and asked Eva if she wanted to feed him. Her reply was no, adding that it was her job to feed the dogs and mine to feed the baby. She loves feeding the dogs and keeps on asking for permission to give them their treats. They are happy about it but I'm worried about Elsa the lab's weight hahahaha. 

I got down to bathing Pippa and brushing her teeth (her mouth stank😀) and Eva enjoyed the show as it was a sort of show. Dog bathing always is. 

Later we convened to the pool where Elliot had a bit of a splash. We had a fun moment when we took his nappy off to let him go "skinny dip" only to find it soiled. We dealt with the situation and then he enjoyed splashing in the water. We later watched his mother live on TV and I'm not sure he knew it was her that day. He certainly knew who she was when she came home that night at around 9pm. We were finishing feeding him when she arrived and I loved the huge grin of joy on his face when he was reunited with his mother. We had a long leisurely dinner consisting of the pies I had baked and some home made coleslaw (yummy). So it was another late night.

On Wednesday I was up at 6.30 and had a busy but pleasant day. It was day 3 of grandparent duty and between Eladio, Suzy and I we managed well. I have to say that he has behaved very well with us this week and was a little angel. Oli says he is a little devil at night! 

I spent part of the morning working on my Airbnb listing for our new house, "La Casa del Cueto" which we are estimating we can begin to receive guests from 24th September. I spoke to the the owner that morning to arrange for the signing of the deeds and lots of other details needed for it to be made ours. This is the listing by the way where I have included wifi that it doesn't have yet but will as soon as we move in on 15th September. The area has a great mobile signal but as friends pointed out people want wifi. Wifi is as essential as water these days and I have to agree. We would love to welcome you as our new guests and by the way the first 3 sets of guests get a 20% discount. So, if you are interested please reach out via a comment on this post. Of course, you can also book via Airbnb using the link above. 
Our new house, Casa del Cueto, which will be ours from 15th September. Already on Airbnb!

I also had to make the lunch while Eladio entertained little Elliot. We should have been  taking him for walks in the mornings but it was just too hot. Suzy took him off our hands at siesta time something we much appreciated. 

We haven't followed the news so much this week as we have been busy with Elliot. The biggest news that day was the explosion at a port side warehouse in Beirut. It caused the death of 137 people and injured about 5000. The head of Doctors without Borders compared the damage of the blast to the destruction of the Lebanon in the civil war which lasted from 1975 to 1990. Some compared it to the Hiroshima nuclear bomb. The only similarity though is the shape of the smoke caused by the explosion.  At first I was sure the explosion was caused by terrorism but it seems not. 
The blast from the Beirut explosion

Later in the afternoon we convened to the garden by the pool where we were joined by Eva and all three dogs. The dogs were there as Suzy was feeding Elliot some fruit. I had to capture the image on camera as it was another lovely moment.
Suzy, the children and the dogs. 
As my friend Sandra pointed out, Suzy is a natural with kids. She later entertained us all singing and playing her ukelele which we all love. I had to have her on camera too.
Suzy singing and playing for us on Wednesday
I had to have her on camera again when she took little Elliot into the pool. I joined him too taking care not to get my hair wet; after all I had been to the hairdresser the day before and didn't want to spoil it hahahaa.
Suzy and Elliot having fun in the water on Wednesday
I sent the photos to Oli and Miguel to show them that Elliot was doing well in our hands for which they were extremely grateful. Meanwhile Oli was getting ready to appear in the studio and sent us a photo of the look of that day. She was wearing red and looked spectacular.
Oli ready to go live in the studio on Wednesday

Eladio joined us later after doing some gardening or I think it was repairing a leak in the irrigation system. Elliot always goes ecstatic when he sees his grandfather suddenly and the admiration is mutual as you can see in this photo. 
Grandfather and grandson, mutual admiration
He was all smiles too when his mother returned that day as he is every time she comes back from work and I had to have them on camera as well. I took lots of photos on Wednesday, perhaps realising that this week has been a very special one in that the 4 of us have been together every day. I should say 5 to add Elliot of course. 
Elliot ecstatic to be reunited with his mother at the end of the day on Wednesday and every day this week.
The reward for grandparent duty this week has been lovely family dinners where we have enjoyed good food and talked until late in the evening. I then helped Oli to bathe Elliot and was finally able to relax in bed and watch something on TV with Eladio before falling asleep feeling quite contented. I felt very happy that night with all things good or as good as they get. Of course we have the underlying fear of corona virus which is not going away and seems to be coming back. It has changed all our lives so much but on Wednesday it didn't feel like it as we spent the day at home in our little bubble without venturing out.

I was up later on Thursday morning and was soon joined by little Eva. The only way to get some privacy in this house is to go down to the garden and read under the trees or work at the picnic table on the patio outside our study but even there we still get found. 
Suzy working at the picnic table where we both try and find some privacy in the mornings

After Oli left for work at midday, mot of the day was taken up with grandparent duty. Thankfully, Suzy took him off our hands again at siesta time. 

Thursday 6th August marked the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack.  The pilots of the first ever nuclear bomb were Paul Tibbets and Robert Lewis and the bomb was known as "Little Boy". It was no little boy though that let out a nuclear bomb that caused hell and damnation in the form of a mushroom like cloud. The fighter plane,  Enola Gay,  dropped the five ton bomb in a blast the equivalent of 15 thousand tons of TNT which reduced the city to ruins and immediately killed 80.000 people. It is estimated that that figure nearly doubled within a year. Even so, the devastation caused was not enough to convince the Japanese to surrender. Surrender came when two days later, 75 years ago today, a second bomb, named "Fat boy"  was dropped on Nagasaki causing similar death and destruction to Hiroshima. 
The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

In quick research on the subject, I read somewhere that the co-pilot Robert Lewis was horrified when he saw the destruction the bomb caused and is claimed to have said "Oh God what have we done?" Indeed. I wonder how any of the crew members could have lived afterwards  with their role in such destruction on their conscience. If God had anything to do with this and I doubt it, thank Him there has never been a nuclear attack ever again. I sincerely hope there never will be. At lunch that day, my Father mentioned it was the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombs in Japan and I commented that he would have been 26 at the time and would remember very well that most terrible of attacks. He nodded sadly that indeed he did. 

That was not the main topic in the Spanish news that day. Spain, of course was not involved in WW2, so that's probably why. Again the main topic was corona virus and the ascent of newly infected; over 1700 that day. We are seeing similar figures in France and Germany and in countries still in the middle of the famous curve, the statistics are frightening. I refer to the US, Brazil, India, Russia,  South Africa, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, the countries at the top of the table. 

We continued life in our little bubble. We didn't go out much this week and don't see many people which is a good safety precaution. We didn't go for our walks either as it was just too hot. That day mercury rose to 38ºc and at 9.30 pm in the evening the temperature was 35ºc. Elliot didn't need any clothes, just his nappy or his waterproof nappy for going into the pool. We had to keep him occupied again while his Mother was at work and when Suzy couldn't. Again she took him off our hands after lunch so we could sleep a siesta but we were in charge in the afternoon. Eladio and I did our best to keep him occupied with his toys in the garden, on the swings or crawling around the air conditioned dining room when it got too hot. 
Elliot on the swings with Eva. Eladio in charge. 
The pool was the only place to be outside and I took many dips. I took Elliot in with me too but was very worried he would slip out of my arms as he moves so. His mother, meanwhile, was getting ready to go live on TV and we would watch her at around 8pm reporting on the ever increasing number of contagions from corona virus. Here she is all made up and looking spectacular. 
Oli ready to go live on Thursday evening
I kept wondering why we had so many little bottles of water at home. It turns out they come from her dressing room where she is provided with bottled water and fruit; perks that come with the job of being a presenter. We watched her with Elliot who gets agitated when he sees her on TV.  His mother was back at around 9 pm to a laid table in the dining room with the air conditioning on as it was too hot to eat outside. As usual he got ecstatic when he saw her and left what he was doing to be swept up into her arms and then breast feed. I love their reunion moments every evening. 

After helping Oli to bathe him, Eladio and I, relieved of grandparent duty at the end of day 4, turned our attention to a special programme about the exiled former King of Spain and then to a documentary never seen before. The only new thing I learned was that his exile, a decision made by his son, the King, was punishment for his behaviour.  It is claimed he has said this is a temporary measure but in the programme we learned it was to be permanent. Again I thought, what a sad end for once a glorious King. 

I fell asleep before the documentary finished and was awake and up at 6.10 on Friday, our last day of grandparent duty (sigh of relief). It was a quiet day and again we didn't venture out. It was just too hot with the temperature reaching 39c again. In the UK too the weather was sweltering, all because of some Sahara wind apparently. Thankfully the mornings are slightly cooler. While I made our lunch, Eladio took care of Elliot. That morning saw him riding the red car that belongs to the French kids. I think he only sat in it but he loved every moment. No doubt, his father, will invest in a miniature car for him when he is a little older. Lucky boy.
Elliot in the French kid's miniature red car
I think Elliot has been well entertained during our grandparent duty. Our only problems were at siesta time as this kid just doesn't like sleeping. He was rather frisky as you can see in the photo below where he is playing with our pillows rather than lying down to go to sleep.
Frisky little Elliot not wanting his siesta on Friday
Thankfully, at 3.30 (after the news he wouldn't let us watch), Suzy took him off our hands and later he did sleep from 4 to 5. I was having my afternoon decaf cuppa of tea when they came down and then it was time to convene to the pool; the only place to be in such heat. I had to persuade my husband to put on his swimming trunks and take a bathe - he hardly ever does - but that day he went in the pool and I had to have a picture to remember the moment. I think it was the second time he's been in this summer. It was very clean thanks to the pool maintenance man who comes every Monday and Friday to clean it.
Eladio in the pool on Friday, an unusual sight
He was soon joined by Elliot who adores his grandfather so I had to get another picture, this time of the two of them together in the water.
Eladio and Elliot in the pool on Friday afternoon
Who were probably at the pool by our apartment in Santa Pola were my latest group of Airbnb guests there, two couples from Valencia. I'm so lucky to have someone to manage the apartment and guests. Lucy, our next door neighbour there, is doing a great job. 

We had a dinner date that night, a celebration family dinner and Olivia would join us coming straight from work. We just about managed to see her on TV in between showering and dressing Elliot as well as ourselves before setting off. We had booked a table at El Tinglado. It's probably the nearest restaurant to us and one of my favourites. The food is just divine and right up our street.

Elliot hadn't been out for a while and I think he likes restaurants as much as we do. We were in the middle of feeding him the pure I had made for him when his mother arrived; looking beautiful I must say as she had come straight from the studio without taking her make up off. She couldn't breast feed with the dress she had on, so both sisters went to exchange dresses; Suzy's being looser. I thought that was a lovely moment and, no, I don't have a photo of them changing into each other's dresses. But I do have a photo of them together with Elliot during the meal and I love it. I love it so much I printed it and is now in a frame on my desk.
My girls and Elliot at dinner on Friday
We had a great big round table far from other diners and again it was quality family time spent together. The only person missing was Elliot's father, Miguel, who won't be back until tonight or tomorrow morning. He will be relieving us of grandparent duty for which I am very grateful. Oli was very grateful to us for taking care of Elliot this week but we were three and it was not too difficult. If it had only been me, I would have found it very tiring. We all enjoyed the food and shared various dishes. My favourites are the artichokes, the croquettes and the foie. It was all washed down by delicious Albariño white wine. Eladio and I both remarked what a lovely dinner it was and just how lucky we are. We also spoke about the new house we are buying, thinking that, on the whole, we had made a good decision. Only time will tell if it was and I refer to getting reservations to help pay it back. In any case, it is an investment in bricks and mortar, something I far prefer to dubious financial products and it is a house where we will enjoy spending time. 

We were home by 10.30 or so and soon fell asleep watching some rubbish on Prime Video. I was awake at 6.50 on Saturday which would be another scorcher. I went shopping that morning with Oli and we were accompanied by Elliot. Midway we went to have a coffee at Alverán and the poor lamb fell asleep so we took him home, dropped off part of the shopping and continued to Carrefour Market for more provisions. Just as we were returning our French family's guests were arriving for the day. I don't normally allow guests to bring non booked guests but have had to make an exception a few times with our current guests who are here for 42 nights. That day we felt totally invaded and I vowed no future guests would be given the same permission. It was a blisteringly hot day and normally we would have spent the afternoon by the garden part of the pool but they had even invaded that. There is an unspoken rule that no one invades that part of the pool side so I was annoyed to see it occupied.  Eladio preferred to stay inside the bedroom watching a documentary with the air conditioning on  and was joined with Pippa. One of the reasons I don't like guests bringing other guests with children (this was a family of 4) is that Pippa takes a while to get used to kids and I have to lock her up. I spent the afternoon with the girls and Elliot at the end of the garden while we heard our guests splashing in the water which annoyed us. In any case we had a lovely time together. Suzy played and sang music and Oli had a go at playing the ukelele which she soon got the hang of. She said it was because she used to play the guitar but I marveled at that as she hasn't played a guitar for about 20 years. When Elliot got bored I showed him parts of the garden, pointing out the names of trees and flowers. I was amazed to find a huge grape vine with lots of grapes hanging; albeit not yet ripe. I have no idea if they will ever get sweet or even propser but loved the sight of them. I also discovered a large blackberry bush the other day I had no idea about either.
Grapes growing in the garden
It was getting late and it was so warm I decided to take Elliot up and give him a bathe in the pool, despite the guests. Thankfully they were no longer in it. When I returned to the garden the sprinklers were just starting so we had to leave. We then had the pleasurable task of making our dinner together, always the highlight of our days. The girls managed a quick dip before we sat down to eat. I wished we could skinny dip but of course that is out of the question when we have guests here. It was after dinner that an impromptu party started, all thanks to Suzy and her music making and to Elliot's enthusiasm. Here are the two girls together, Suzy singing and Oli playing the ukelele. 
My two girls making music
I took a short video which you can see here

It was little Elliot who turned the lovely musical family moment into a party with his enthusiasm and his clapping. He clapped each time Suzy finished a song and we clapped with him and I couldn't stop laughing he was so funny. Here is a little clip of the lovely time we had that night. 

Soon he turned to a new task. Lucy was loading the dishes from our dinner into the washing machine, a task the dogs always help her with as their favourite occupation is licking the dishes. Elliot being the same height as the dogs, joined them and I had to capture that on video too. He is so funny.

We were up till quite late and it was getting time to bathe Elliot and put him to bed. He goes to bed so late compared to the French kids who go at about 7.30 whereas his bedtime starts at 11 pm which is very Spanish and rather too late for a baby his age. On the other hand we love having him during our family dinner times. 

The day ended late for us too. Eladio and I watched some rubbish on TV - a silly Mexican soap opera which we shall not be continuing and then both being still awake talked until late into the night. Even so I was awake this morning at 5.50. I couldn't sleep any more so up I got to feed the dogs and enjoy my first cup of coffee of the day in peace. 

Today will be another scorcher but thankfully we will be able to reclaim our part of the pool and so cool off whenever we want. 

Next week will be a quiet week without Elliot and Oli who will be returning to their flat when Miguel comes back from Valencia tonight. Grandparent duty was a a responsibility but on the other hand we have had a lovely week with him and both our daughters; a time we will look back upon fondly. 

This week has seen a surge of new cases of coronavirus all over the world and in Spain the numbers are not good with hundreds of new outbreaks. I can only hope they get contained and the numbers don't go up next week. I am praying we won't have to go  back into lockdown. Worldwide there are now nearly 20 million cases and the death toll last night was 729.666 but these are only the cases and numbers that have been recorded. For sure there are many more. 

On that worrying note,  I shall leave you now to publish this post and print a copy for my most avid reader - my father - and then get on with the day. Wishing you all well, cheers until next Sunday,


Saturday, August 01, 2020

Sunny days in Montrondo, Coronavirus cases on the increase, record number of twins in the village, Suzy had to leave, 37 years ago we were officially married, found our house in Asturias and other stories.

Montrondo, Sunday 2nd August, 2020

Me on the staircase of our new house to be

Good morning my friends. I hope this blog post finds you all well wherever you may be.

Life is good at the moment, no complaints at all. That is on the home front though. What is not good is the fact that we are seeing an increase in cases of coronavirus after lockdown in Spain and many other countries. The reasons may be because people are relaxing social distancing and because of young people partying at night. Family gatherings are now seen as a possible cause too and in the UK they are being limited. The UK imposed quarantine on people traveling from Spain and in some areas in the north they have gone back into semi lockdown. In Spain we are seeing cases spiraling with over 500 outbreaks. The worst hit areas are Catalonia, Aragón and Navarra. We are also seeing that the average age of the infected is far lower but so too is the mortality rate which has gone from 11 or so percent down to about 1 or 2. We have to be on our guard all the time.  In Spain we are worried about all the new outbreaks but as a friend pointed out what is really shocking is the number of cases in the US where nearly 25% of all cases come from. Today the number of infected there is over 4.7 million and the number of deaths is 157 thousand.  Worldwide, the numbers grew again this week to a total number of cases up to nearly 18 million and 685.855 deaths. The virus is not going away. 

With no sign of Covid in our village, we had a great week in Montrondo. It was warm and sunny but we we were spared the excruciating heat of Madrid. We have visited areas in Asturias to see houses - our new and exciting project. Today is our last day here as we shall be returning home this morning.

Last Sunday was Grandparents' day but we were missing little Elliot who is now 10 months old. Oli sent us a beautiful photo of him to compensate.
Little Elliot last Sunday

I thought it was a beautiful photo of him. Even though I am biased, I think you have to admit he is a gorgeous looking baby. Don't you? In the evening we had a video call and were able to see him. He had taken a fall that day while crawling on the concrete around the pool where they live and had his first bruises on his face. Poor little mite. No doubt, there will be more. 

We wished he and his parents could be with us in Montrondo but that wasn't possible at all as Olivia is so busy with her presenting job that she wasn't able to come. Nor will she be able to come until September. 

Of note, by the way, an actress of the same name as my younger daughter, the much admired Olivia de Havilland, died last weekend, aged an astonishing 104 years old. Who doesn't remember her as Melanie in Gone with the wind, one of the most popular films ever? It's one I could watch over and over again and never get tired of. However, I didn't really like her role in the film as she was far too much a goody goody two shoes. She was British born and I heard that day that she and her fellow actress sister, Joan Fontaine who died in 2013, did not speak to each other for 40 years. Imagine. De Havilland was the only surviving member of the cast of Gone with the wind. RIP I thought. 

There was a little bit of  news about Montrondo which hit the local papers here and which I wanted to share with you. I think I have written here before that our village seems to produce more twins than normal. A few years ago there were 7 pairs. Well since then the number has grown. The article reports that there are now 11 pairs. That is quite incredible when you think that in the winter the population here is under 20 people. It seems the village may hold the record for more twins per square metre than anywhere else in the world. In the article, my neighbour, Salomé, who is a mother of twins herself (Patri and Adri),  is quoted as saying that when a woman from Montrondo gets pregnant her first question is not what sex the baby is but whether she will be having twins. It would be great to get the 11 pairs together but people come and go and none of them live here permanently so I can only show you a photo of just some of them taken a few years ago. 
Some of the twins from Montrondo
Nobody seems to the know the reason for this phenomenon but local lore points to the water from a spring near the village. Could the water really be the answer? I have no idea but I do find the statistics for twins here exceptional. 

We felt safe in Montrondo and only ventured out for our walk in the morning, joined by Suzy who had no classes as it was Sunday. We went along the old paths so as to be able to skip wearing a mask. It was in the woods part of the path that we were interrupted by cows who rushed past us on their way to other pastures. Pippa goes mad when she spies cows so thankfully we had just enough time to put her on her lead. I was not unduly worried as I think cows are generally very peaceful animals. Suzy though nearly had a fit hahahaha. Well we nearly all had a fit when on our way back a bull appeared and a gigantic one at that. Eladio told us to continue our walk and not to be worried. He was right of course. The bull was bringing up the whole herd and stayed a while to look at us to make sure we were not a threat. I found the whole episode quite exciting and took a short video which you can see here.

We loved the walk and I quite enjoyed the cow episode hahahaha. Here are Eladio and Suzy on their way down the path towards Montrondo. 
On our walk on Sunday 
It was coffee time when we got home and also time to make lunch. Suzy and I spent time cooking together and that day made my new salmon and leek pies which are just divine. I made a vegetable soup to go with it. Here is the table ready for our lunch. 
Our lunch last Sunday
The rest of the day was spent very quietly, lying on the sun loungers at the back of the house and under the shade of the apple trees with the help of a large parasol.

Monday came and our house searching resumed in earnest. We spent a lot of the day ringing estate agencies to see some of the houses on our list the next day. By the end of the day we had a list of 6 to visit on Tuesday and another 5 on Friday. 

It was just Suzy, Pippa and I on our walk that morning and we chose to go to Senra for the reward of a coffee at the grumpy man's bar, Cumbres de Senra. We then walked up the hill to the local bakery which has been going strong for more than 150 years but instead of walking home we called Eladio to come and pick us up as it was so hot. That day was possibly one of the hottest in Spain and even though up in the mountains it is cooler, it was still pretty stifling even in Montrondo. Suzy had her first lessons after the weekend and was very disappointed with the internet coverage here - plain ADSL - which hindered some of her classes. She was very upset as she had planned to stay with us for a week but could not jeopardise her job.  So there and then we bought a train ticket for her to return to Madrid that evening. We would miss her. We had a quick lunch and I had some time to rest before driving her to León - 75km away. Her Ave train (high speed)  was leaving at 8.30 pm and takes only 2.15 h compared to 3.15 by car, but we had a bit of time to get her some food at a nearby supermarket. I stayed on to buy more provisions while Eladio took her to the train station nearby.

Meanwhile, of course, we missed Olivia on TV reporting that day at 8 pm. We missed her live but were able to see her presenting when she sent us the links. She looked spectacular that day when she was wearing a royal blue dress which is definitely her colour. Her hair looked great too but I'm afraid her news was dire. Her first report was on restrictions imposed by other countries about travelling to Spain which you can see here. Her second report was more upbeat and positive and saw her reporting on new vaccines, some of which it seems may be ready by Christmas. Oh how they are needed. 

We weren't home until 9.45 and it was still light. I love these long summery days.  We had a simple dinner on the kitchen terrace which consisted of a most delicious meat pie I had bought at Gadis, accompanied by a glass of gazpacho and some much needed Rioja. 

We later went over the houses we were to visit the next day and even looked at more - there were so many and we were very undecided as to whether we wanted one out in the sticks, in a small village or in a town. There was a lot of choice but I knew it would all boil down to both price and a gut feeling of "yes this is it" even if it didn't tick all the boxes.

We planned to get up at 6.30 on Tuesday morning and leave at about 7.45 for our first house visit at 10 am near Cudillero. In the end I woke up at the unearthly hour of 5 in the morning. As I browsed my phone over my first cup of coffee, Facebook reminded me that that day, 28th July, 37 years ago had been our civil registry wedding. Wow I thought! We actually met 40 years ago this summer and for both of us it was nearly love at first sight. I have never looked back and consider I won the lottery of life when it comes to marriage. Our real wedding was the church ceremony on 21st August 1983 but as we were to be married in a non Catholic church, not recognised by the Spanish government, we had to have a civil registry wedding. We couldn't marry in a Catholic church as I am not Catholic and Eladio as many of you know was a priest and it was a no no for him. I didn't want to go through it but we had to do the motions. Our only guests were our two witnesses, Eladio's parents. We went out to lunch afterwards and I remember having an odd feeling of yes, I'm married but not the way I wanted to be. For the record, Susana, our older daughter, was conceived that night although at the time we had no way of knowing. We only celebrate our church wedding anniversary but officially it was our 37th this week. Here is a photo of us looking quite serious. I was 26 at the time and Eladio was 39 but looks far younger.
Our registry wedding 37 years ago this week

When Eladio got up, I told him and he said we must celebrate. We kissed and later forgot. We will celebrate properly in August and this year we are going away for a few days and have chosen Portugal. Hopefully the borders will be open. 

We left for Asturias at 7.45 and it would take us 2.15 hours to get to our first viewing in a village called Albuerne. I had a strict programme to see  houses at 10, 11, 12.30 in the Cudillero area, then at 13.30 in Candás and finally at 16.30 somewhere near Llanes. The whole day was a bit of a rush. The rain did not help either and we got soaked during the day. It was sunny all over Spain except for Asturias. I was wearing some yellow suede espadrilles which got soaked too and later I saw my feet were all yellow hahahaha. It still hasn't gone completely after several showers. 

We were to be met by various estate agency representatives and our first stop was Albuerne. We did not like the house and quickly moved on. We had some time before our next appointment so decided to visit the little village of Lamuño where we had seen a house we liked but couldn't visit because it was rented out to holiday guests. We wanted to contact the owner, and avoid estate agency fees which can be up to 5% of the price, so decided to find it ourselves. We loved Lamuño, just 1.3km from the  most amazing beach and we loved the façade of the house which we found after asking in the local bar - always the best way. This is it from the front. It is though very modern and it seems a pity the owners covered the original stone with some pink sort of paint. 
The porch entrance to the house (the one in the middle).

We bravely knocked on the door and a surly man opened it just slightly, a guest of course. We told him our story and he gave us the owner's phone and we rang him. The owner said it was fine to go inside but the surly man wasn't having it.  Later we spoke at length to the owner and he sent us lots of photos . It is a renovated 19th century terrace house which is spacious. It has 3 bedrooms, a study, 2 bathrooms, a wash room, kitchen and lounge and most importantly a garden. 
The house and garden from the back

The house is about 120m2 and the garden 300. Best of all it has been completely renovated and looks immaculate and brand new inside which means we would not have to do any repairs and could just move. Above all we  wanted to avoid having to renovate a house in Asturias all the way from Madrid. We did that in Montrondo and it took 2 years and we don't want to go through that again. Of all the houses we saw that day, this was the one we liked best. Also we loved Lamuño. It's a pretty and well kept village with lots of beaches very near and surrounded by beautiful views. For most of the week our hearts were set on this house but in the end we chose something very different. 

We were on time for our next appointment in Samao. The house was lovely but tiny with just two bedrooms and one bathroom so we saw it quickly and moved on to the next appointment in a village nearby. There the house was lovely from the outside but awful inside so again we moved on. Our next appointment was  a town house in Candás, a sea side town, and which we had had our eye on for quite a while. We arrived in pouring rain and the estate agent gave us gloves and shoe covers to put on before going inside - an anti Covid measure. In Asturias there are hardly any cases and they don't want more. 
Eladio in the rain - see the steps we don't like

We liked the house from the outside but it has  a big drawback in that it is built on a slope and has lots of steps to the entrance. 
The house in Candás
We actually liked the house and garden but I hated the surroundings - ugly blocks of flats and did not like the inside at all. Of course this is a house town so there would be flats. We were also told that everything was on our doorstep - shops etc, but we didn't like the streets. We are just not town people. The house is 500 metres to the port and beach and we went to have lunch on the sea front at a place called Nautico. As it was raining Candás was not looking pretty but I compared it to other towns such as Luanco, Luarca, Llanes, Ribadasella and I'm afraid Candás is nothing special compared. 

At 16.30 we were in the village of Hontoria near Llanes and saw a house which was great on the outside but terrible inside. The estate agent then suggested seeing a small house which had just been renovated in the seaside village of Poo. We went along as after all while we were in the area it was worth seeing another house.   It was lovely but minuscule, like a doll's house. We had finished our house viewing programme at about 17.30 and faced a 2.15 hour drive back home. It's amazing how Eladio and I have the same taste for houses or a feeling for what we might like and that day we both agreed that our first choice by far was the little house in Lamuño. But we still had to see houses on Friday so couldn't decide then. 

We were home by 8 pm to be greeted by Pippa who we had left in the house with the door open to the garden. I felt bad about leaving her but thought she would be better off at home rather than in the car all day. 

Again we had missed Olivia on the TV but saw her later via the links she sent. She also sent a photo of her ready to go live in the studio. She was wearing a white dress that day. She told us the whole process of getting ready to present in the studio (hair, make up and dressing)  takes one hour. 
Olivia ready to go live on Monday evening

Both of us were pretty exhausted when we got home. All we did was call the girls, have a simple dinner, look at the photos of the houses, ask the owner of the one in Lamuño lots of questions and then we went to bed to read before falling asleep.

I got up at 6.50 on Tuesday morning feeling rested after the long day driving and visiting houses. We both spent a pretty lazy day and didn't even go for a walk. It was very hot in Montrondo with temperatures reaching 30ºc and Spain has seen a heat wave this week with July being one of the hottest on record. The forecast for the rest of the week showed towns like Bilbao up in the north reaching 42ºc something that hasn't happened since 1940 odd! Instead of our walk I did domestic tasks such as the laundry and hanging out three washing loads in the garden. I also did a deep clean of all 4 bathrooms and felt very satisfied afterwards. We had planned our second house hunting trip for Friday and when another house came up for sale which looked like it might be a good fit, I rang the estate agent concerned, adding one more house to the list. 

I was even lazy about lunch and decided on a barbecue which meant Eladio would be the main chef. Here he is grilling our hamburgers and sausages.
Eladio preparing our barbecue on Wednesday. Note Pippa is lying in the sun nearby!
We watched the news and the top topic is still coronavirus. In Spain the numbers increase daily and on Wednesday there were nearly 2000 newly infected. The profile of those infected has changed since lockdown and it now younger people, men and women in their early 40's. That could well be because old people are now much more protected. The daily number of those newly infected is on a par with when we were in lockdown. However, very few are dying and there are not many people hospitalised. The explanation our top scientist gave for the increase in numbers is the increase in the amount of testing. He may have a point. I am still asking myself whether this is a second wave or a continuation of the first. 

It was a question I asked my dear friend Amanda in our weekly skype call that afternoon. She wondered the same. Of course, as she lives in the UK and I live in Spain we spoke about the UK Government imposing quarantine on all travelers coming from Spain. Most of our conversation was about the pandemic too but we also spoke about our house seeking. Being British born, we also spoke about the weather (haha) and I was happy to hear that the UK was enjoying good weather for a change. The UK had some very high temperatures again this week and saw droves of people hitting the beaches which looked far too crowded for people to maintain social distance. The cases there are also increasing. 

The good weather here has enabled us to eat all our meals outside every day since we have been here, including our breakfasts when it should be much colder outside yet it isn't. We weren't very hungry but had a pleasant dinner together on the kitchen terrace.

That day we did not miss Oli on the TV. Her news was also about the surge in outbreaks and cases in Spain of the virus; Catalonia, Aragón and now Madrid being in the top spots. 
Oli presenting on Wednesday
Later that night we started a new series on Netflix called Dark and which seems to be very popular. It did not have me riveted and Eladio soon fell asleep. 

I was up again at 6.50 the next day. It was another lazy day but this time we went on our walk and we needed it too. We chose the old paths so as to walk without masks, only donning them when in the street. We went early to avoid the heat. Here is Eladio that day enjoying our walk. Thankfully there was no sign of any cows to distract Pippa.
Eladio on our walk on Thursday
We later spent a lot of time finalising the details of our programme of visits to houses in Asturias the next day. We even found some new houses which meant more logistics, phone calls, scouring photos, etc. That actually took up most of the afternoon but finally I had a detailed programme for Thursday. We both feel so excited about this new project so late in our lives and commented to each other whether we were crazy to be buying a fourth house, albeit a very modest one with the budget we have. 

We were living in our little bubble in Montrondo that day and most of our time here. We missed the girls and Elliot. Oli is so busy now having to prepare content and present it live in the studio every day. We watch her as often as we can and are always interested to see what she will be wearing or how her hair has been done. On Thursday she looked spectacular in a shocking pink dress with the best hair style so far. I told her so and she relayed the information to the hairdresser who was pleased. Here she is on TV talking about the super spreaders of the virus - pretty frightening I have to say.
Oli in pink on Thursday with a lovely hairstyle

When she finished she got ready to go home. She took a picture of herself which had me laughing as she was still wearing the pink dress but had changed the high heeled shoes for her yellow sandals which made for a funny match. Her mask was at hand too reminding me of the pandemic which I sometimes forget about. It is still there and not going away. 
Oli relaxing after reporting - notice no high heels anymore

After work she rushes home to see Miguel and Elliot. She told me that night in our daily video call that Elliot gets very excited when she comes home. I'm not surprised. We also had a call with Suzy who seemed in high spirits which made me happy. She had a friend over - Pili - and has lots of plans this week. Good for her.

The rest of the day panned out as usual and there is nothing much to report. We went to bed early feeling excited about our trip the next day.

On Friday I was awake at 6.10 although we weren't leaving until 8.30. Our first appointment was at 11 and the drive was about 2.5 hours. It was to be an interesting day visiting parts of Asturias we didn't know. We were to see 3 houses that day and had no idea that at the end of the day we would have given our word in acceptance for one of them. 

Our first appointment was in a tiny village called El Cueto Meré, next to the village of Meré. These villages are located in between The Picos (Picos de Europa natural park), an important tourist destination, and the sea with lots of beaches to choose from which are just a short drive away. Meré is just 12km from the popular town in the Picos called Arenas de Cabrales where the famous cheese comes from. Beaches are very close too with quite a choice at only a short car ride away. We had found this house on internet last weekend and had phoned the owner, Mari Paz, who runs it as a rural hotel. We couldn't see it until Friday as there were guests and there would be guests coming too on Saturday. We loved the village as soon as we saw it with views everywhere of these extraordinary mountains. We loved the house from the outside but were wary about what we would find inside as our experience had shown us that despite the photos, many of them are fine on the outside but disastrous inside. This was not the case with La Casa del Cueto which is what probably influenced our decision to buy it. 

Our new house to be: Casa del Cueto

It was her husband, José Manuel, who greeted us and showed us the house. As soon as we walked in, without talking to each other, both Eladio and I knew that this was it, this was the house we wanted. Overall, for the budget we had, we think it is the best we could find. The house comes fully furnished and equipped, just as it is so we would be ready to move in. I like everything apart from some of the decoration and the settee and a few other pieces, but the rest is fine. I hate the bric a brac and pictures but they will be easy to replace. The main changes are minor and would be redecorating the lounge, getting rid of the cheesy bric a brac, maybe some new doors on the kitchen cupboards, a complete change of the pictures hanging in the house and getting rid of the hallway console which is just not our taste. The rest of it is fine. What we like is the structure, the floors, ceilings, doors and staircase which no doubt are original. The house is big on the outside, not so big inside but has everything we need: kitchen, pantry, lounge and bathroom on the first floor and 4 bedrooms and another bathroom on the second floor. There is also an attic which could easily be turned into another room, lounge or study. The house  comes with a garage which seems to be used as an outdoor covered terrace and an open terrace. There is no garden but as the house is surrounded by green, it's not vital. The house has been recently painted and is in very good condition. It is quaint and has a special charm. Being over 100 years old it has a feel and decor resembling the 30's. It is an old fashioned house which is right up our street. The owner told us that if our idea is to rent it, which it is, in between using it ourselves, that the house would eventually pay for itself. That is our hope too. We took some pictures and told José Manuel we loved the house, but had to see a couple more and that we would most probably buy it. We also asked him to let us know if there were other interested parties so as to secure it for ourselves. He kept his word. 
Me in the very old fashioned kitchen

You can see a full set of photos here
We left with a good feeling and drove down to the bigger village of Meré and had a coffee at a bar.
At the little bar in Meré 1.1km from the house

Then we drove back the way we had come via the nearest big town of Posada de Llanes and saw signs to various beaches on our way. Our next appointment was in a village near Colunga where we were to see a stunning old Asturian style house in La Riera. 
The house near Colunga. Wonderful outside but a disaster inside

It was fabulous on the outside but totally vandalised inside. It belonged to an investment fund and no way were we going to embark on a project to repair it entirely inside. We left feeling more convinced than ever that we far preferred the house in El Cueto actually called "Casa El Cueto". We liked it more than the house in Cudillero, despite the former being nearer the sea. 

Wanting to explore the beaches in the area, to see what they were like, I had booked a table at a popular restaurant called Fito Mar on the Espasa beach. We loved the beach but weren't so fond of the restaurant.
The Espasa beach near Colunga - very typical Asturian beach

It was full and very noisy and service was slow. What was excellent was my plate full of miniature scallops, not so the dish of clams as the sauce was terribly salty.
Miniature scallops - had these at the Fito Mar restaurant on Friday

I later had an ice cream enjoying the view of the beach.

With time on our hands until our next appointment at 5.30 we drove back to Posada to see what the town was like but we went at the wrong time. In the morning it looked thriving with a wonderful little market but when we arrived it was all sleepy. Thus we walked the streets a bit and then drove back the way we had come, this time to a tiny village called Carrandi also near Colunga. There we were to see the last house on our list, a modern construction perched on a a very steep hill. 
The pink house in Carrandi

The house looked great on the outside but we hated everything about the inside. We didn't like the plot of land either as it was on a sort of precipice. We did the motions of looking around with interest out of courtesy to Jorge from the estate agency but wanted to run away as soon as we had seen the inside. 

We must have left at around 5.45 and had a 2 hour drive back to Montrondo. During the drive we agreed we would buy Casa El Cueto. José Manuel rang us while we were driving to say he had other interested parties coming to see it the next day. Whether that was true or a strategy to make us buy the house, we will never know although I tend to trust him. Thus we agreed verbally there and then that we would buy it and give a deposit after signing a pre purchase contract. We can't move in or sign the deeds until the beginning of October so we shall have to wait. Eladio was impatient (me too) but I told him if he had spent all his life without a house in Asturias he could spend another couple of months. No doubt Mari Paz and José Manuel want to take full advantage of the high season before giving up the house. I would do the same. 

We came home to find lots of Eladio's family here. They were gathering for the annual Santa Marta fiesta which because of Covid is not going to happen maybe for the first time in the history of the village, bar the Civil War. 

We were soon in the house and made our dinner which we had outside on the back terrace. It was unbelievably warm at 9 pm at night which is very unusual in Montrondo. I didn't have much food left but rustled up a little meal of scrambled eggs and ham. Ah and we celebrated giving our word to the purchase of the house with a glass or two of Albariño white wine from the excellent Martin Codax winery in Galicia. La casa del Cueto will be our 4th house! We wondered whether we were crazy but thanks to Airbnb we have managed a good standard of living since I lost my job over 3 years ago and this new house is part of our business. 4 houses sounds a lot and it is but in truth the only house of real worth is our Madrid home. The other 3 are properties are of far less value compared. Reservations at our apartment near Santa Pola and the beach are coming along nicely, despite Covid and people traveling less, and that day we had our third set of guests; 2 couples from Valencia who were spending 3 nights there. Lucy welcomed them warmly and the guests told me they loved the apartment. I was glad. 
A glass of Martin Codax Albariño white wine to celebrate on Friday evening

We rang both girls to give them more information about the house and to catch up on their lives. We will be seeing them this evening and Elliot of course whom we have missed.

We watched some old Clint Eastwood film on TV but were soon asleep on the sofa and had to wake up to go to bed. I slept quite well that night.

Saturday came and it was 1st August. It should have been the village fiestas but that was not to be. Usually the village is full at this time but it didn't seem it at all yesterday. I went on my walk with Pippa and hardly saw a soul. Eladio stayed behind to hoover. We had changed the sheets and I had cleaned the bathrooms so everything would be ready for the next time we come here.

We were both excited about the house and keep looking at the photos. I keep thinking about the things I want to change. My husband who is not into interior decorating (haha) thinks everything Mari Paz is leaving us if fine but it is not. I shall make the changes slowly until the house is more our style. 

We had lunch from some of the last of our provisions and spent the afternoon as we have done here nearly every day, reading under the shade from the trees and parasol at the back of the garden and in peace. 

The day ended with our last dinner on the kitchen terrace and a video call with the girls. They were at home where they had all enjoyed the swimming pool that afternoon. I am not looking forward to the high temperatures in Madrid but I am looking forward to seeing the girls again and especially little Elliot.

We were in bed early on our last night here and this morning I was awake at just after 6 am. It's still dark as I am writing now while Eladio and Pippa sleep. We will be in no hurry to leave and will no doubt have lunch on the way home, maybe at the Parador in Benavente.

Next week we will be on grandparent duty and life will be back to normal at home near Madrid. You will hear all about it in next Sunday's post. Meanwhile, my friends, I wish you the very best until then.

Cheers for now,