Saturday, April 22, 2006

So what happened this week?

Hello again,
After the Easter holidays, there was a reurn to family life and routine. It’s so nice to enjoy meals together as a family; that’s so important for communication. We all go off and do our things but at meal times we have a chance to catch up on everyone’s lives and also talk about the things that are most important to us and at the moment, that is moving house.

Olivia has been extremely busy this week. She doesn’t always tell us what she’s up to but I do now that she’s been creating 3 adverts for the University competition next week called “Out of the Box”. But she did manage to go out to dinner twice with her lovely boyfriend, José Luis.

Susi came back from Jerez a bit depressed because after having such a lovely Easter Holiday she has exams to face next week. The first one is on Church Doctrine! That’s because she goes to a Catholic University. Oh well, she’s always got her Father to help her. The other thing that depressed her is that she and her boyfriend Gaby had a breakdown in Cordoba on their way back from Jerez and the clutch has to be replaced, all of which means he won’t have a car for a while; so with one thing or another she won’t see much of him.

Eladio has been busy checking out removal companies, getting things repaired and painted in the house on the Insurance, plus his usual looking after the garden and house in his very cheerful fashion. And, of course, he has been preparing his University tutorials.
Another thing he spends time on is looking at the pictures of the new house, over and over again – well I do too, of course. He has also found it on Google Earth.

Grandpa or Daddy has followed his usual routine of making his breakfast, going for his pre-ordered Daily Telegraph from the kiosk, going for a morning walk, lunch with the family, little nap or read, then another walk, this time with the family, more newspaper reading, dinner, news on the TV and so to bed. Not a bad life eh? This was peppered with a visit to the oculist because he had caught or got conjunctivitis which is over now and also one to the ear specialist for a check up. He sees and hears very well for someone of 86 and needs no new glasses and certainly not a hearing aid.

And me, what have I been up to? Well, I’ve been busy with the last minute preparations for the Doctor Honoris Causa of Mario Vargas Llosa next week at the University. I must say I was a bit disappointed in him when one of his secretaries sent me his “speech”. I was looking forward to some wonderful words, only to find that it was a repeat of the speech he had given in 1995 when he got the Cervantes Literary prize. Bit of a cheat really.

Working at the University you get the chance to enjoy and immerse yourself in the cultural activities going on. And this week there were books on sale for 1 euro as part of the Book Week promotion. But also I went to a conference about the Transition to Democracy in Spain and listened to quite an amazing character, Santiago Carrillo who was the leader of the Spanish Communist Party and supposedly the 3rd most instrumental man in the process, after the King and Adolfo Suárez. Carrillo is now 91, a heavy smoker and amazingly fit. I was astonished to see him talking without notes and also to hear the voice of a much younger man. People asked all sorts of questions about the politics of the time. If I had dared I would have asked him what was the secret of his amazing health and longevity.

Also I had a visit from the Director of the boys choir from El Escorial who will be singing at the Doctor Honoris Causa. It was lovely to talk about choirs and music and specially about that choir which is one of the best in Spain (Monserrat too). I had used them once before at a Nokia press Christmas event and they are marvellous. Rolando gave me a couple of their cds. I can't tell you how great I felt driving home and listening to Pie Iesu and the Brahms Lullaby! Just lovely!

And what else? Well, yes, a dear friend Rafa Gómez who is a renowned sports photographer in Spain, came to see me at the University as he will be doing the photos for the Doctor Honoris Causa next week. He had some great news, as he will be following the Formula One world Championship to take the photos of Fernando Alonso for the sponsor’s advertising campaigns.

Rafa came home for lunch with me, following my Volvo on his super motor bike. We came home to previously cooked spaghetti Bolognese. Susi had prepared the rest and laid the table. She also made the spaghetti and it was a good job she made the whole packet as Rafa had 2 enormous portions. He ate more than the rest of us altogether, amazing. He then ate the salad, some trifle and a cornetto!! Then he got on this bike and rode home to Madrid!!

Not much more to report. Am now writing here at my computer on Saturday night on a rainy Madrid weekend. We went out last night, so tonight we are staying in.

Tomorrow we will be going to Ana’s house for lunch, that is the whole family except Oli, who will be busy on some advertising activity. Ana who is a neighbour of ours was our home help for 4 years until about a year ago. We miss her so much, but most of all her cooking.

That’s all for the moment folks.


Pictures are of Rafa and Susi sitting in the sun after the spaghetti bolognese and of the location of the new house on Google Earth.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A lovely Easter Week .... Easter day with Fernanda + the Mexican connection.

Hello again my friends,

So we had a good week, very quiet with the girls away most of the time. Oli came back on Wednesday night from Poland and Susi came back on Thursday afternoon from Benidorm. But then they went away again; Oli to Tarragona with José to see the theme park, Port Aventura and Susi to Jerez to join her boyfriend. Olivia came back today, Easter Day but Susi won’t be back until tomorrow. We at least had the pleasure of Olivia’s company for lunch on Thursday and today but Susana was only seen for a few hours on Thursday as she left that very night for Jerez.

The highlights of the week were lunch on Thursday when Fátima joined us and Friday evening when we went out to dinner with Eladio’s brothers, Isidro and José Antonio and our sister-in-laws, Yoli and Dolores. We all felt like going for an Indian meal, so we went once again to the Ganges. Isidro and Yoli had come to Madrid to pick up their daughter, Alicia (my sweet goddaughter) who had spent the Easter holiday on her return exchange to Paris to stay with my cousin Masha’s daughter Sophie. We were delighted to see a big Indian family sitting on the table next to us and eating very similar things, as it added to the authenticity of the place, not to mention the rickshaw in the middle of the dining room and the two Indians sitting on a mat and playing the zitar. It all added to the atmosphere.

The last day of the holiday was the best though as we had the pleasure of the company of my dear Mexican friend, Fernanda Navarret who came for lunch and to spend the afternoon with us here at Río Tajo. Fernanda, now six months pregnant, is going back to her native Mexico after six years here in Madrid. I will miss her. I met Fernanda through work when she was with Ahciet and I was with Nokia. She and I have really connected people around us; through me she met dearest Anne, who then met Manuel, a friend of Ana Valdivieso’s. Manuel then met Paola, also a friend of Fernanda’s. And now, I hope that Fernanda will meet Juana and Oscar when she goes back to Mexico. They will have a lot in common, I know.

And here is Fernanda looking radiant and one of the two of us hugging (so blonde, so dark). But the best photo of all is of Eladio and Henry our cat, both taking a nap/siesta after a copious Easter lunch. That photo sums up the relaxing week we have had.

Tomorrow will be another day and back to my Doctor Honoris Causa to Mario Vargas Llosa project which actually takes place next week. So I will be rather busy from now until then. But the relaxing week has certainly done me a lot of good.

That’s all for the moment folks


Monday, April 10, 2006

Quiet Easter week

Hi again

Well here you have me at home. My new job is not that stressful; you see the University has closed down for the week. Well, I can't complain. So any work I have to do, I do from the quiet of my home.

The girls are away and at very different places. Oli has gone to Poland with her boyfriend José Luis. Funny place to go you would probably say but it's because they've gone to visit José's cousin who is on an Erasmus (University exchange programme) there. They went on Friday and will be back this Wednesday coming. A present from me to them was a stay at the Radisson Central Hotel in Warsaw for the first night where they told me they wallowed in luxury. Now they are down to student hostals and poor José has got sick on the heavy Polish food. Olivia just rang from Auschwitz - that's really something for her to see. She was describing the gas chambers on the phone! It all means so much to me because I was brought up on Second World War stories. And I think I've passed that on to her. Also I think the Ana Frank diary had a big impact on her.

Susi went to Benidorm with Carolina to stay with their "bestest" friend, Copito who has just gone to live there. Susi rang from the beach a couple of hours ago. It seems they are having a whale of a time with a lot of clubbing.

So that leaves us, "grown-ups" alone at home. So what have we done, apart from signing the contract for the new house? Not much really; boring things like taking the car to be serviced, getting quotes from removal companies, cleaning the silver, ... Oh, yes, well I did do some serious cooking this morning so that the family can be well provided for while I'm working. What did I make? Actually it was all Russian: "pelmeni" (Siberian ravioli), "Perushki" (small meat and rice pies) and "Bitki" (meat rissoles). I also made cheat Smetana out of yoghurt and natural cream as you cannot buy it here.

Also got a phone call from my dear friend Anne who told me that her ex, Manuel's new Mexican girlfriend, Paula, is pregnant. Very happy for them. Then I got a phone call from my darling Mexican friend, Fernanda Navarette who is also pregnant. I'll be having dinner with Fernandita this week as she will be moving back to Mexico forever. She says not to say "forever" but I know it is.

So, not much more news as we are spending a quiet Easter week at home.

Have a good holiday

Love Masha

Saturday, April 08, 2006

We have a new house, finally!

Hello again

Well, yes, today we signed the contract for the new house. We have been very quick choosing it and in the end it wasn't one of our finalists. We went to see it last Sunday, just 2 days after having sold ours. It was amazing. We walked in and both Eladio and I knew right from entering the front door that this was the house we wanted to buy. It was the style, the decoration, the size that decided us. While we were there, we called the girls to come and have a look too and they fell in love with it too. There was no discussion, we all loved it, including my Father for whom there is a luxury apartment all for himself on the ground floor.

And after a bit of negotiating this week, we all met this morning to sign the contract. The latest completion date will be the 8th July but we all want that date to be as soon as possible.

The photos are very poor but give some idea. It is a modern house, measuring 600 m2 in grounds of over 2000m2. The doors are white lacquer, the floors wood and the walls painted in the latest fashion (pastel colours and white). I won't go into how many bedrooms with en suite bathrooms there are - quite scandalous - but suffice it to say they are all en suite.

So all we do is talk and plan house moving and just how happy we are with having finally found the house we really want. By the way it is just a few km from where we live now in another "Urbanización", this time called, "El Bosque" which means"The Woods". So I will be able to say we have a house in the woods.

Cheers again

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Dinner with old friends + we finally got to meet Santi!

Hiya again

So we socialise during the week too. Yesterday night, Monday, we went to Julio's house to meet up with old friends, Juana and Oscar from my Nokia days who now live in Mexico city (The link to Juana's blog is on mine). We also got to see their baby, Santi, who I had heard so much about. Santi is 3 months old and weighs over 7kg!! Life has been good to them and they are looking very happy and well.

Julio's dinner was up to his usual high standards - most stuff came from the top Spanish caterers, Mallorca. Wonderful ham, uum!!! The dessert wasn't bad either, even though I say so myself, as I made it; good old English sherry trifle which we all ate heartily.

Here's a picture of Julio holding Santi and Juana cooing over him. Sorry neither Oscar, Fátima nor Eladio got their picture taken, but then Santi was supposed to be the star of the show.

All together a great evening.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

A busy weekend socialising and house hunting

Hello again

Well this weekend has been really busy. We had 2 social engagements on Saturday, a housewarming lunch at Ana and Tomy's and dinner with Eladio's brother and family. Isidro, Yoli, Alicia and Laura had come from León to send Ali (my God daughter) off to Paris for 2 weeks to stay with Sophie who is the daughter of a second cousin of mine also called Masha. Sophie had stayed with Alicia for Christmas.

On top of that we had to see some houses and possibly make an offer to those on our list of finalists. Of our top 5 only numbers 4 and 5 are now available, so we quickly arranged to see some more this weekend.

As things turned out, lunch at Ana and Tomy's was great (see the picture) but a bit rushed for us. Their new house in El Boalo is lovely and it was also nice to see the other Nokia friends, Jill and Paco, Zenaida and her dishy Finnish boyfriend Tapani, as well as Susana. The picture accompanying this post is of us all bursting after lunch. We also got a chance, finally to see the photos of Ana and Tomy's wedding and amazing honeymoon in Kenya. Beautiful!.

From there we went to makie an offer to our favourite house, the pink one but the negotiations turned sour unfortunately so we went home a bit sad.

Then we were off to dinner to Madrid with Eladio's family when we got a phone call from them at the airport to tell us Alicia had not been able to fly. The whole affair turned out to be a complete nightmare. Yoli, my sister-in-law had bought the ticket on internet and Ali, who is 14, was flying with a new low cost airline called "Vueling". They checked in ok, they saw her off, she passed 2 controls and then, just when she was getting on the plane they asked how old she was. She replied that she was 14 and they said that she could not get on the plane. All the arguing in the world got them nowhere, even though the police and aiport authorities were on their side. But Vueling would not budge. So they all went home to José Antonio's house in Madrid where we joined them for a very late dinner. Finally Yoli bought another ticket on internet, this time with Easyjet, for today, which, of course cost a fortune. But now Ali is on her way to Paris, on her first ever flight. Have a great time my love.

And today, well, today. Oh, dear, yes, we have seen our dream house. It is amazing and has more bathrooms than Imelda Marcos shoes. But will they accept our offer which is quite below their asking price??? Probably not. So, we shall carry on looking.

The nice thing about the house hunting was that there was no time for making lunch so my Father, Grandpa, kindly invited us to a slap up lunch at the club down the road which we all turned into a celebration for selling Río Tajo 5.

Let's see what this week will bring????