Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Julio came to lunch

Hiya again

As I said in yesterday's post, Julio came to lunch today for the annual Summer "cocido". Here is a picture to prove it. It was lovely to see him again. Recently he seems to be having lunch around the world with his friends. So, if you visit Juana's blog, you will see he had lunch in Mexico City at the end of last week. Julio and I have very similar tastes and one is certainly sharing a meal around a table with good food and good friends and, of course, good wine.

All the best again


Cooking with the girls

Hiya again

I thought you might like to see this snapshot of the girls and I cooking in our fabulous new kitchen. We can be often found together making lunch and Eladio took this picture yesterday. We don't look that great, but he captured the atmosphere.

Until next time folks.

All the best/Masha

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pensión El Bosque open again – visitors from Yecla. Lazy August days, visit to Copenhagen.

Hello again

So when it looked like the whole family were back together again, my Father went off to Copenhagen for a week. Not bad for an 88 year old to travel that far on his own. Judging from the phone calls he’s having a great time. My father loves the Nordic countries and this must be his 3rd or 4th visit to the Danish capital. He will have visited Malmo across the bridge (the 3rd biggest Swedish town), Hamlet’s castle in Elsingor, the home town of Hans Christian Anderson and of course the museums, his favourite being one of Viking ships being an old “sailor” himself.

So the 4 of us were left alone together – the nuclear family, but not for long because a couple of days after my Father left, Merce and Josema from Yecla came to visit and The “Pensión El Bosque” was reopened after the holidays. Merce is a friend of the girls from their younger Santa Pola days. They come from Yecla, a smallish town in Murcia famous for furniture and wine, where, according to Josema, Merce’s boyfriend, there are more luxury cars per capita than any other town in Spain! They are guests we will love to welcome again as they came with their arms full of delicious local produce including 2 kilos of wonderful smelling home grown peaches.

So I have been very busy in the kitchen this last week cooking for many hungry young people, but also have had time to enjoy the afternoons spent lazily by the pool, reading, drinking tea and chatting with Eladio. I must add that this is always after a lovely long Spanish siesta.

Tomorrow there will be more cooking as my dear friend Julio will be coming for the now traditional summer lunch of “cocido madrileño”. He comes every year and I always cook his favourite dish, “cocido”. It is actually a very heavy winter dish; a sort of vegetable and meat stew where the main ingredient is the Spanish “garbanzo” or chick peas. So it’s a bit of a contrast to eat it in the summer, but then none of us are really very conventional in this home.

As they say at the end of the cartoons, “that’s all for the moment folks”.

All the best until the next post.

PS the picture is of Josema and Merce who came to stay last week.

Monday, August 21, 2006

23 years ago today

Today is our wedding anniversary. It’s hard to believe that we got married 23 years ago today! And here is a picture of the two of us on that happy day and another one of us celebrating our anniversary on Saturday night. Even though I say it myself, we do not look that bad 23 years later.

Suffice it to say and as a friend of mine once told me, you don’t get it much better than we’ve got it and that we apparently are one of the chosen few couples who will make it to our Silver Wedding anniversary in two years time, as now a days the divorce rates are so, so high.

Happy anniversary Eladio and roll on 2008 when we will go all out to celebrate our 25th.


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Eladio cutting the leafy tree

Hi again

One thing we had to attend to when we got back home was dealing with the bed of leaves on the garden outside the kitchen. Every day we have to sweep away loads of leaves from one very stubborn little tree which is a little too close to the house. It must have some sort of illness as it never stops shedding its leaves.

So the day after we got back we finally decided to do something about it and Eladio got out the ladder and saw and went to work. And here he is looking a bit like a Spanish mature version of Tarzan. I have to add he had help from Gaby, Suzy’s extremely fit and helpful boyfriend.

All the best till next time/Masha

The Mystery Play of Elche (Misteri d’Elx)

Hi again

The one exception to our routine at Santa Pola was when we went to Elche to see the Mystery Play. We go nearly every year so that is a bit of a routine too. It’s something we both look forward to immensely. It is held late at night because of the intense heat. It starts at 10.30 p.m. and finishes after one in the morning.

It’s difficult to explain but basically it is a sacred musical drama of the death, assumption and crowning of the Virgin. It has been performed since the 15th century in the Basilica of Saint Mary of Elche with special permission from the Pope. It is sung entirely and by men only. Small choir boys sing the part of the Virgin and angels. None of them are professionals and all of them are from Elche. They spend a whole year preparing for the event which has now become world famous. In 2001 it was awarded the title of Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the Unesco.

If you ever get the chance it is something well worth attending.

All the best/Masha

This photo is of the golden palm tree (the Mangrana) holding an angel which descends from “heaven” (a hole in the dome) for the angel to announce the imminent death of the virgin and to give her a golden palm to take to her grave.

Here is a picture of Eladio and me next to the sculpture representing the Misteri.

Lazy days in Santa Pola

Hello again

After our time in Montrondo we went to Santa Pola for our Summer Holidays, that is, my Father, Olivia, Eladio and myself as Susi went to Jerez to join her boyfriend Gaby for her holiday.

So it was lazy days which generally consisted of getting up at 9 ish and going to the beach at around 10. There we would read the newspaper (The Daily Telegraph and El Mundo), have a café con leche – well my Father has now got into the Spanish habit of having a mid morning “caña” or draught cold beer, take a bathe – carefully because of all the warnings of jelly fish which we actually never saw – go for a brisk walk on the beach past the very interesting nude beach – mainly men showing off their private parts – and then back to the flat to make a copious but simple lunch. After the copious lunch came the 2 or 3 hour siesta, then the 2 or 3 hour read – Eladio’s choice was Schopenhauer and mine was Danielle Steele, then maybe a quick walk, a light dinner, a bit of rubbishy television and so to bed until the next day.

Olivia found us so boring she summoned up her boyfriend, José Luis, from nearby Mazarrón in Murcia to come and rescue her which he lovingly did. We, however, did not find our routine one bit boring as we were all doing the things we love to do in life, as in sleeping, eating, reading, walking and going to the beach. Not a bad life! However after 9 or 10 days we were missing our lovely new home and Eladio started getting worried about the irrigation system, the level of chlorine or lack of it in the swimming pool and whether our beloved animals, Ruby the rabbit and Henry the cat were still alive.

So we cleaned up the flat for next time, packed our things and came back to El Bosque to find that most of our worries were unfounded. Apart from a burst pipe in the garden everything was ok.

The photo is of Eladio on the terrace looking extremely brown and relaxed. The photo includes the bouganville plant he so proudly bought at the local market to take back and grace our new garden. He had been after one of them for a long time. Hence the happy expression on his face.

That's all for the moment folks.

All the best/Masha

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Freijo brothers and sisters with their Mother

Hi again

I thought you'd like to see this picture of Eladio, his brothers and sisters outside their original family home in Montrondo. It's not often the 6 are together so we "snapped" at the opportunity.

From left to right: Alejandro, José Antonio, Adela, Pili, Isidro and finally Eladio in the yellow and white shirt.

Cheers Masha

Summer Shoes

Hello again

My sisters-in-law and I have the same taste, as you saw earlier with the black and white spotted dress. Well now the same taste is in shoes. When Pili (Ealdio's sister) came to stay last month she was wearing a pair of Summer espadrille with a green bow which I adored. So she bought me a pair when she went back to León. Then Yoli, Isidro's wife saw them when I went to Montrondo, loved them and bought herself a pair in León.

So when we met up in Montrondo last weekend I took a photo of Yoli and I with them on. Unfortunately Pili hadn't brought hers.

They are lovely.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Montrondo – The Annual Family Gathering


So once again we all gathered together in Montrondo on the last Saturday in July as we have been doing since the “abuelos” celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary nearly 15 years ago. Montrondo is Eladio’s family’s beloved home village where all 6 of the brothers and sisters were born. It is located high in the mountains in a remote part of the northern province of León. The countryside is spectacular, so green, the temperature at least 15 below Madrid and it is the most unspoiled village I know. In the winter there are only about 8 houses with people in but come the Summer months, the people who were born there return with their families and Montrondo comes to life again.

The only people missing this year were Alejandro’s sons and Miguel. This was to be the second year without Antonio, the “abuelo” whose absence is very much felt on such an occasion.

The annual lunch takes place in the old stable which has been transformed into a make-shift dining room. This year we were 15 “grown-ups” and 14 “children”, the oldest child being Roberto who is now 35 years old!! The news this year is that Roberto and Ana will be marrying in June.

Lots of things took place during the lunch this year, the most important being the presentation of the picture I had spent the last 6 months preparing for her – a framed poster with a picture of all the members of the family with a small message from each of us. My mother-in-law is not an emotional person but this did actually draw a few tears of joy from her.

See the picture of Ernestina receiving the picture and José Antonio explaining it to her. Very sweet indeed.

All in all we spent a great 4 days together. The brothers were busy cutting the tall birch trees in one of the fields surrounding the house, the younger generation spent most of their time turning night into day and day into night. As it was the fiesta time (Santa Marta) there were 2 nights of dancing with an orchestra playing and a make-shift bar set up for some heavy drinking.

We went on many walks, the best of which was to pick raspberries on the hills above Montrondo. It turned out to be very picturesque in a lovely rural sense as we went past a sweet grey donkey on the way up, as well as a large herd of beautiful brown cows and a gorgeous litter of new born kittens.

Here is the raspberry picking group on the hill overlooking Montrondo.

And now we are back home and getting ready for the next part of the Summer as we will be going to the beach on Friday coming, all of us except Susi who went to El Puerto de Santa María in Cadiz yesterday to be with her Prince Charming.

So my next post will come after our time in Santa Pola as there is no Internet there.

Cheers till then.