Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Autumn colours reach Montrondo; a family weekend.

Hiya again,

Friday morning saw us all preparing to leave for Montrondo. There were so many preparations – last minute suitcase packing, loading all the food needed for the 6 of us plus the rest of the family, leaving Phoebe and Henry serviced with food and accommodation outside while we were away, etc, etc. Thus we weren’t able to leave until past 11 in the morning. We went in 2 cars; the 3 girls in one and Eladio, my Father and I in the other and judging by the boots and back of both cars it looked like we were going away for a month and not just 2 days!

O course, it being a bank holiday, we were to face the proverbial traffic jam out of Madrid. It actually took us 3 hours to crawl less than 50 km. Luckily we got to Rueda (about half way) by 2 o’clock, just in time for lunch. The Palacio de Bornos wine cellar is a must on every trip to León and if you ever go, which I highly recommend, you will understand why. They sell the best white wine in the world (remember the name RUEDA) and their ham and cold cuts are of superb quality.

Oli, Copi and Susi at the Palacio de Bornos in Rueda

The Palacio de Bornos in Rueda, the place to stop on the way to León.
We arrived quite late really, but not too late to appreciate the wonderful Autumn colours that have now reached Montrondo. We were greeted by Eladio’s brother, José Antonio, our sister-in-law, Dolores and their oldest son, Miguel – just back from 2 years in London. They are just finishing building their own house in the village next to the family house. You can tell by the beams on their face when they show you round the new house or when you sit round the fire in their new lounge at night that it is their pride and joy.

There was time before dinner for a short walk to Murias (the bigger village down the road). The “boys”, José Antonio and Eladio decided to take us on the old route through the fields where there turned out to be an obstacle for the last lap of the walk and we all had to climb a sort of ditch to get back on to the road. It was actually quite fun.

Eladio and José Antonio by the Peña de Dios (God's Rock) on the way to Murias

Climbing the ditch

Miguel and I on the walk to Murias
Dinner together round the kitchen table was a happy affair and the mountain air guaranteed great appetites from all 10 of us.

Needless to say we all slept well. We had expected cold and damp weather but we were extremely lucky to get lots of sun and it was only cold at night, nothing that couldn’t be remedied by a nice hot water bottle.

The view from our bedroom window the next morning was a wonderful surprise as a family of horses had installed themselves in the field right outside it. In fact the whole village is full of lovely brown coloured horses. They are a lovely sight for sore eyes.

View from our bedroom window
If we were 10 for dinner on Friday night, we were going to be 20 from Saturday lunch till Sunday lunch which, of course, meant a lot of work in the kitchen. But I didn’t mind as I find cooking very relaxing and actually quite creative. Cooking in Montrondo must be a bit like cooking in the army or at a scout camp. You need huge pots and pans and enormous quantities of everything. The only problem is calculating how much food to cook or how much bread to buy. Funnily enough 1kg packet of lentils was enough for 20 people! I would never have known that!

As the morning progressed, the rest of the family who were joining us began to make their appearance. We were to be joined by Eladio’s Mother and his sister Pili and his brothers Isidro and Alejandro plus their respective families.

Saturday afternoon was spent chatting and working in José Antonio and Dolores’ house. Once again we took a walk, this time up the mountain to the “Abedular” (Birch tree wood). It’s quite a walk up but the views are breathtaking. On the way down we were stopped by what must be the last herd of cows in the village which added to the bucolic scenery to be had in all Montrondo.

By the Abedular

A close up of me on the way up to the Birch tree forest (Abedular)

My Father at the Abedular - a 1.5h round trip walk from Montrondo. We did it once and he did it 3 times! Not bad for 88!

Eladio posing in front of the famous Tambarón mountain that towers over Montrondo.

Isidro and Yoli with the Tambarón behind them too.

The last herd of cows in Montrondo?
And all too soon it was Sunday morning and our stay was coming to an end. We had an unfortunate end in that Andrés, Pili’s husband and one of my favourite borther-in-laws, had an accident while the “boys” were cutting branches from trees in one of their fields. He fell off a wall and on to his bad knee and was in such pain he was unable to walk. To add to the bad luck, their daughter Paula had been sick several times in the night and was feeling very shaky. The three of them, of course, had to leave suddenly to go to the hospital in León. News later was that poor Andrés had his leg half in plaster and has to be immobile for 2 weeks and will then to be x-rayed again to see what damage has been done to his knee. I wish him lots of luck from these pages. Sorry Andrés!

We did still manage to have a happy lunch all together before packing and closing up the house to go home. Luck would have it again that we had another 6 hours of traffic to face before we got back home.

Despite Andrés’ accident and the traffic there and back , a good time was had by all, not least by my Father. He stayed at a lovely country inn in Murias called El Holandés Errante (The Flying Dutchman) which is actually run and owned by a Dutchman, Hans. He stayed there because it is much more comfortable for him. If you are ever in those parts, it’s a beautiful place to stop for a meal, a night or two or even just for a drink.

And that was our bank holiday weekend in Montrondo.

Cheers till next week

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