Monday, May 11, 2009

Calle de Paris, Emma Bridgewater, a visit to Santa Pola, a pig in quarantine, the Pope visits the Middle East and other stories.

Eladio at one of the fruit and vegetable stalls this weekend in Santa Pola.
Hiya again

This week has been the warmest so far this year with temperatures reaching 30º. It seems the summer is almost here where we spend almost all our time outdoors and all family meals are outside. How I love the long Spanish summers. I think the weather has also had a positive effect on our animals as this week for the very first time, Norah and Joe ate from the same bowl peacefully. Phoebe still prefers to keep her distance!
Norah eating from the cats' bowl while Joe looks on calmly
Amongst other things, I met with my friend Elena as we do nearly every month since she left Ericsson as their Communications Director. We are neighbours and roughly the same age so share many common interests. Of note this week she told me about a musical group called Calle de Paris who are actually a brother and sister duo who are her sons’ friends and not a street in Paris as you may have thought. Patricia and Paul, of part French origin, compose their own songs, play and sing and very recently have become number 8 on the Spanish Cuarenta Principales chart. I love their music and thought you might like to listen to them too. They are as yet quite unknown so any ideas as to how to promote and help them would be very welcome.
The Calle de Paris duo, Paul and Patricia.
Emma Bridgewater is not another friend of mine as some of you may have thought. No, she is the designer of lovely English pottery I spotted at my friend Amanda’s house when she served me tea in one of her mugs. The word “spotted” is actually quite appropriate as her most famous design and the one I like best is “polka dot”. Thanks to Amanda again, I found the supplier on and have now ordered a set of baby mugs. I will be starting a small collection whereby each month I collect a few items and thus will have something nice to look forward to in the post apart from bills.
Some of Emma Bridgewater's pottery.
As the weather was good we, as in my two men and I, decided to spend the weekend in our pad by the beach in Santa Pola. We also wanted to check on how the refurbishing was going and to see that everything was ok after Oli’s visit recently.
Refurbishing at our block of apartments in Santa Pola. The progress is so slow.
Unfortunately the temperatures dropped everywhere in Spain this weekend, but that didn’t stop us enjoying long and brisk walks on our beach as you can see in this lovely photo of us. Eladio was taking photos of me when a lovely Icelandic girl offered to take one of both of us. And this is the result. Not bad, as my friend Anne said on Facebook, after 25 years of marriage. No, not bad at all.
Eladio and I on the beach at Santa Pola
We decided not to do much cooking and this time discovered a great fish and chip shop in the Urbanization where we have our flat. A fantastic couple from Glasgow have a “chippy" called Darby’s which is so authentic you could be in Leeds which is actually where they imported the machinery from. I was very impressed and asked permission to take this photo especially for my blog. The fish and chips were out of this world, so much so we repeated the second day and will be going back for more in the summer.
Darby's "Chippy" in Santa Pola, just like the real thing.
On Saturday morning Eladio and I went to the market in Santa Pola to stock up on great local fruit and vegetables which taste so much better than supermarket produce as they mostly come from private orchards.

Very soon it was Sunday and there we were once again, cleaning up and packing to go home. The worst thing about owning a second home on the beach or wherever are the preparations which you don’t have to do if you go to a hotel. We stopped for lunch at the Parador in Albacete which was full of First Communion parties as is typical in the month of May in Spain. However the treat was still nice.

Then it was home again and more clearing up or cleaning after the girls’ multiple parties or soirées despite our cleaner Zena having been here on Saturday morning. It’s always great, though, to come home from wherever you have been and yesterday was no exception.

And now I must move on to my new news section. So what caught my attention this time? I must admit my main sources are the online versions of The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Mail, the good old BBC, the New York Times , The Times, of London, of course and the never allowed to read at home when I was a child, scandalous paper, the famous Sun. Often these “papers” have great sections called “weird” which I love to browse through. Funnily enough it is these pieces of news that you then see in the “most read sections”. Often I am alerted to news too through links from friends on Facebook. Latterly and not just out of family loyalty I also use where Oli writes as my best Spanish source of information.

Perhaps the weirdest piece of news for me was finding out that there is one pig only in Afghanistan and that it is kept in a zoo! Owing to swine flu and although there is little evidence that the disease passes from pigs to humans, this poor singular pig is being subjected to quarantine.
It can't be nice to be the only pig in Afghanistan so being put into quarantine hardly makes sense!
If that was the weirdest, the worst was the news of a massacre of 45 people at a Turkish wedding in the Kurdish south east, probably caused by a blood feud between families.
Family feuds are awful but even worse in places like Kurdistan where they can end in a massacre like this
On a funnier note, poor Gordon Brown, the UK premiere, who is already in trouble for financial scandals and decreasing rapidly in popularity, had another media headache this week when his make up secrets were left in a taxi by someone from his advisory staff. The British press, who are notorious for making or breaking any personality they choose, are having a field day with Gordon Brown. The picture they used here to illustrate the story is a perfect example of classic British media personality assassination. I imagine he had no make up on him when this photo was taken!
Not a good photo of Gordon Brown which is precisely why the British press have used it to illustrate the lost make up tips document issue.
Of political interest, here in Spain, the socialist Paxti López was sworn in as head of the Basque local Government and will govern together with the PP, Spain’s right wing opposition party. The news here is not only that they will govern in a coalition but that they have taken over from the Basque nationalists after 30 years of sole rule.
Patxi López, the new leader of the Basque government
Also this week the Pope Benedict XVI visited Jordan in his first visit to the Middle East. Today he is in Israel to visit the Holy Land and later he will go to the West Bank. The BBC sums this visit up as his “facing a combustible cocktail of issues combining relations between the world's three main monotheistic religions, one of the world's most intractable political conflicts and the legacy of the Holocaust”. I wonder if that will ever change and I suppose this visit will not even crack the ice of the issues this area faces.
The Pope who will be praying for peace in his visit to the Middle East.
On a lighter note I move on to sports, the “opium of people” but actually something which generally unites us all far more than religion, except for sporadic episodes of violent football. So yes, this week, Spain got a place in the Champions League final to be played in Rome this month. Barcelona (I say it’s Spain!) beat Chelsea at the last minute and will be playing Manchester in the final. So who do I want to win if I am English yet have lived in Spain for “donkey’s years” (excuse the pun!)? I’m actually divided and don’t really mind. So if I am English and like fair play, my answer should be: “may the best team win”.

Finally this week Madrid was visited by the Olympic Committee to evaluate it’s candidacy for the 2016 Olympic Games. Here Madrid is competing with the likes of Tokyo and Chicago. Madrid was beaten by London in the last election and may well be outclassed again, probably by Chicago, the home town of the ever more popular Barack Obama. The good news at least is that the Committee dictated that Madrid was as apt as the other candidate cities to host the games. We won’t know however until September which seems a long time to wait.
And as I end this post, I wonder what the title for my next week’s entry will be. Well, like the Madrid candidacy, we will have to wait and see.

Till next week
Cheers Masha

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