Monday, July 23, 2007

Safe arrival in Galicia

Hi again

And here I am writing from our hotel in Galicia where we arrived last night in the pouring rain. The hotel is nice but the location is ghastly. The hotel is supposed to overlook a beach. Well it does but there is an "eye sore" of a building in front which completely obstructs the view. It's funny how there is no sign of the eyesore on the hotel website! The beach is no great shakes either but the location is fine for visiting the Rías Bajas; everything is nearby.

Thankfully internet is working beautifully, as you can see from the picture of Eladio using it in our hotel room.

The trip, nearly 700 km from Madrid was very long but interesting for us as part of it, from Benavente onwards, was completely new for us. We stopped for lunch at lake Sanabria in Zamora on the way which is well known for its beauty.

By the shores of Lake Sanabria on our way to Galicia
Cheers from las Rías Baixas.

Siesta in the hammock

Hi again

We have a new garden accessory. It's a hammock some publicity firm sent to me. Eladio put it to good use, as you can see from the picture, when he took a siesta in the garden on Saturday in between mowing the lawn in preparation for our holidays.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Annual Summer “Cocido” and the beginning of the holidays

Hi again

Today Julio and Fátima came for lunch for what has now become something of a tradition, the annual Summer cocido. So what is cocido my non Spanish friends may ask? It’s difficult to explain but it is one of Spain’s best kept culinary secrets. Spain may be famous for paella, gazpacho, even ham these days but no so commonly known are suckling lamb or pork or cocido. Cocido is cooked slightly differently in various regions of Spain but the common deonimator is chickpeas, chorizo, various cooked meats/bones and cabbage, potatoes and carrots. My speciality is “cocido madrileño”, a slightly drier version and one which Julio, my dearest male friend could probably die for.

Funnily enough there is always “something cooking” at these lunches and it was at last year’s lunch when the idea of applying for my current job was forged. And I must say, it is thanks to Julio’s insistence and investigative skills that it all worked out as planned that particular day.

And here’s a picture of the 3 friends over an after lunch coffee served by Eladio. The photo was taken by Eladio using my wonderful new Nokia N95 phone, cum camera, cum sat nav device. Great little device if only it were compatible with the BMW 320 blue tooth hands free kit. That’s my only complaint apart from the battery not lasting very long.

And this weekend marks the beginning of my Summer holiday!!!! It was going to be the beginning of August but we have had to put forward our holiday in Galicia one week so as to be able to be with the “abuela”, Ernestina when she is operated on her hip on 2nd August in León.

On Sunday, therefore, Eladio, my Father and I will be heading off to the Rias Bajas of Galicia, right up in the western corner of northern Spain in the province of Vigo which is practically on the Portuguese border. It’s a beautiful part of the country which I have never visited properly. So more news on that from Galicia next week, pending a good internet connection at the hotel. Keep your fingers crossed.

Cheers till then

PS Just had to add this wonderful picture of "stylish" Henry dozing in the plants, again taken with my new N95 but this time by Oli.

Congratulations Ana and Tommy


Just a quick post at the end of the week to include the news that my friend Ana (Valdivieso) is pregnant with Mencía. Mencía is due on 4th November and Ana is looking splendid.

I know Ana from my Nokia days where she was the legal counsel. She is now with HP but we still keep in touch, of course. And this week Fati and I had lunch to celebrate her pregnancy.

Congratulations to her gorgeous husband Tommy from this page too.

Love you both and Ana you are looking great as these pictures prove.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Visit of Adela, Primo, Marta and Ministro

Hello again mid week,

Just a quick post midweek to include Adela and family's visit here on Monday:

On Monday Adela, Eladio’s sister, her husband Primo and daughter Marta and husband Fernando, commonly known as Ministro came to see us to pick the abuela and take her back to León. It was their first visit to our new house which made the event even more special. Primo is the son of Virginia, the lady I wrote about not so long ago who died in her late 90s and is of course from their native Montrondo.

Unfortunately Susi was not there to welcome her beloved older cousin Marta but she left both Marta and Ministro a lovely note. You may want to know why Fernando is called Ministro. Well I don’t actually know the reason but that was his nick name when he was a football player in the “Ponferradina” second division football club. These days he is a PE teacher but still plays football in his free time for the third division Ponferrada football team. As you will see from the pictures he is extremely “fit” and in more ways than one!!!

They were here late Monday evening and after a welcome drink we all went off on “our” daily walk to work up an apetite for dinner. Oli and her boyfriend José Luis joined us and were 10 round the family table. The “grandparents” went off to bed quite early and we all stayed on around the table drinking cherry tea, coffee with “orujo” (high alcohol spirit from Galicia) and, in my case, pacharán which, of course, gave me a huge headache all night. I never learn!

On Monday we showed them around our neighbourhood, El Bosque, and then went home to prepare an enormous barbecue as my calculations for meat were very unproportionate and there ended up being far too much.

After the hot afternoon siesta, the family left to take the abuela back to León. Of course we will all be seeing each other again soon at the annual family lunch on the last Saturday of July in the family village Montrondo which always coincides with the village “fiestas” in honour of St. Marta.

It was a short but sweet visit as we don’t often get together with Adela’s family, although of course we did have her son Roberto and his new wife Ana to stay very recently on their way to their honeymoon in Greece.

There are some nice pictures at the top of this post of the family together having a coffee and a beer in El Bosque and one of Ministro and Primo enjoying their beer.

It was great to have you all. Come back soon!

All the best

Monday, July 16, 2007

Not much to report.

Hi again

Well a week has gone by since my last post and there is not much to report. It has been a quiet week.

We have had the abuela, Eladio’s Mother with us for nearly a fortnight now and today Eladio’s Sister, Adela and family will be coming to pick her up. It will also be their first visit to our “new” house. So a dinner party is in order tonight for all the family.

The abuela’s main occupation when she is with us is sewing. She is no great reader, like us so when we are still reading the Sunday newspapers after more than an hour, we have to find some sewing for her. She has also knitted Susi a lovely woollen waistcoat while she has been here.

Susi went off on holiday with her Prince; i.e. her boyfriend Gaby. He is from the south of Spain and this week they are visiting his family in Jerez and Cádiz. And on Sunday they will make their way to Asturias in the north of Spain where they plan to camp at beach camping sites.

So that left Oli here at home. However we don’t see much of her because during the day she is at work with the Mia magazine and in the afternoons and evenings she is forever out socialising; a very normal occupation when you are young and beautiful like she is!

On the work front, I had a reencounter with dear Rose de la Pascua, a Spanish “girl” born in the UK of Spanish parents whose English sounds like Lady Diana’s did. Rose is the head of a communications agency called Cohn and Wolfe here in Madrid. Like me she has 2 daughters and in many ways we are soul mates. Rose is really my only English speaking friend in Madrid. Strange eh! We had lunch at Bice, the PP’s (Spanish right wing party) favourite haunt and this time saw the ex Minister for Foreign Affairs, Josep Pique. His lunch guest was a beautiful young blonde. It must be something to do with the eroticism of power or else it was his daughter. Who knows?

And on Thursday my boss and I had lunch with my two good journalist friends, Mar and Mariano (parents of the famous Sam – little Chinese boy). I hadn’t seen them since the Autumn so there was a lot of catching up to do. Time doesn’t change for either of them; although priorities do. Sam comes first in everything and so he deserves to. Great to see you two again!

The weekend was quiet and very hot. A lot of it was spent by the pool cooling off or in the siesta with the new air conditioning on.

This week will start with a family visit we are very much looking forward to.

Cheers till next time.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Quiet summer weekend, another family visit for the Abuela.

The two brothers,Eladio and José Antonio, with their Mother Ernestina.
Hi again

Last week there was time to catch up with old friends again. It was great to meet up with María Rodríguez and Ignacio Calderón, old colleagues from my Defex days who now head up the FAD (an anti drug association). We hadn’t seen each other for quite some time and it was fun talking about the old days! Then later on in the week I had lunch with Jill from my Nokia days and we had a great girly lunch at a great new Indian place in Madrid.

The weekend has been quiet, uneventful and very very hot. This weekend was the first time we have used the new air conditioning and wow does it make a difference to weekend siestas.

On Friday we hired a film called Cándida which turned out be a complete flop. On Saturday we took my Father and Eladio’s Mother to El Pardo to see the palace where Franco used to live. Unfortunately it was closed because of some official act and won’t be open again till next Friday. Anyway we had a great lunch at El Gamo which is where we always go to in El Pardo. However the lunch was so heavy and the heat so intense that it produced a 3 hour siesta at home upon our return. It also gave me a huge headache which I only shook off on Sunday.

The girls were away all Saturday leaving me with the “oldies” and I must say I very much missed them. Their boyfriends were away for some car rally so they went to Copi’s house. Copi is their “best best” friend and they go back a long way to when they started school together when they were 3!! My daughters are now 22 and 23 and in Spain “children” generally stay on at home until they get married and as people get married later than ever these days, you often find your “children” living under your roof until their mid or late 30s. And, you know, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love them living with us; they bring so much life to the house and keep us up to date with so many things; fashion, technology, …

Sunday brought a visit from José Antonio, Eladio’s next brother down and his wife Dolores. It is through Dolores as I have said many many times that I met Eladio. She says it’s destiny but it is really thanks to her. They came for lunch and to visit Ernestina, the “abuela”. So lunch was a big affair with 8 around the table.

As we were having lunch, Nadal was fighting Federer at the Wimbledon mens’ final which Federer went on to win after 5 sets. He thus equalled Bjorn Borg’s 5 successive wins at Wimbledon. This was Nadal’s second final at Wimbledon but as we all know he is a “clay” tennis player and not grass.

Also as we were having lunch, Raikkonen was winning the Formula 1 race at Silverstone where Hamilton had the pole position but only managed to come 3rd in the end. Thankfully Alonso beat his team mate and came 2nd this time.

The afternoon was spent lazily by the pool over the Sunday papers and cherry tea. The girls went off again to Copi’s and I wasn’t to see them until Monday.

After preparing dinner for my Father and the Abuela we went for our evening walk with Roberto and Mari Carmen whom we hadn’t seen for some weeks. After the walk we drove to Boadilla for a light tapas dinner at a place called Lizarrán, quite recommendable if a bit slow.

Summer evening dinner, my Mother in law, Ernestina and my Father.
So as you can see a quiet weekend was had by all.

Cheers till next time.

PS Just had to include this picture of our dear cat "stylish" Henry on the roof of the garden hut. It seems to be his favourite spot in the evenings, around our walk time. Isn't he lovely?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Oli’s graduation, the “abuela” came to stay and a visit from the family

Eladio, happy at home with his Mother.
Hi again

Here I am writing early Monday morning because I didn’t have a moment yesterday and I’ve got a busy day ahead, starting with going to the equivalent of the Inland Revenue office to finalise this year’s income tax return forms which have become something of a headache this year.

Friday was Oli’s graduation in one of her degrees – Audiovisual Communication. She is also doing Publicity and Public Relations as well as Journalism so will be graduating again next year in these two other subjects. So off we went in our best clothes to a very long ceremony at her university, the UEM which is just a couple of kilometres down the road. It was held outside and there were thousands of people – 4 per student at least, as one whole year was graduating. Oli looked beautiful but I’m afraid I have no pictures to prove it as I lost my camera during the ceremony. Miraculously I got it back but too late to take pictures of my daughter. Eladio and I were so hungry that at about midnight we left before the ceremony was over and went to have a quick Chinese meal in Boadilla which turned out not to be particularly tasty. In fact we won’t be going back for quite a while.

The graduation ceremony set up
This weekend, Eladio’s sister, Pili and family (Andrés, Paula and Mario) came to bring Eladio’s Mother to stay with us for a couple of weeks. She was here last Summer and again at Christmas and her visits are now quite regular. This was, of course, a great opportunity for a weekend family get together. We were 11 around the table on Saturday and 12 on Sunday. Saturday afternoon was spent lazily around the swimming pool.

The 3 girls round the pool

Eladio and his sister Pili
In the evening after the walk, the kids went out to dinner to Tony Romas as did we 2 couples to Ars Pasta in Pozuleo. It is fast becoming our favourite but this weekend the service was extremely slow and we ended up waiting more than an hour just to order! There was a fight at the end between Eladio and Andrés about who was going to pay. It was quite a struggle but Andrés won in the end. Thanks Andrés for a great dinner together.

The cousins, dressed to kill!
On Sunday after a roast lunch and just before Pili and family set off back to León, we discovered “bingo”. Susi’s boyfriend has a great bingo game with a proper machine which mixes the numbers and pops them out quite professionally. So there we were nearly the whole family playing at half a euro per game. José Luis was the overall winner.

A good weekend was had by all. And the pictures in this post well prove it.

Cheers until the next post