Monday, August 10, 2009

Santa Marta 2009, the Freijo family reunited once again. What was different from other years and what was not?

Alejandro and Andrés surprising us at lunch with this fancy dress. It's a laugh a minute with these two in the family always.

I am writing from Santa Pola (separate post on that later) this humid and windy afternoon in August whilst everyone else practises that wonderful Spanish sport, the siesta. So Suzy, Eladio and my Father slumber as I write. Oli was with us for the weekend but left yesterday as she has to work.

Every year in August we go to Montrondo for the village “fiestas” on the first Saturday of August and the whole family gets together for lunch that day which is cooked and prepared at home. Each year I include this visit in my blog. So what can I say that is different this year I wonder?

Certainly different was the journey. This year we travelled in our lovely new Volvo XC90. We means: Eladio, my Father, Oli and I. Suzy was travelling direct from Portugal where she was on a camping holiday with Gaby in Praia da Mira. What was different too was that we were joined by Andy, Amanda, Cordelia and Jane. As you will have read from my latest post, they had stopped at our place on their way to Salamanca where they are doing a Spanish course for one month at the University. So after just one rushed night at home from returning from England, we made our way to Montrondo.

The plan was for them to follow us and to stop for a light lunch at Palacio de Bornos in Rueda, of white wine fame. The stop, as ever, was delightful and we all enjoyed the local cold cuts (ham, chorizo, lomo, cheese) washed down by the delicious white wine (sauvignon blanc). Too soon we had to part but agreed we would travel to Salamanca to visit them after our holiday in Santa Pola. So, cars filled with newly bought wine from Rueda, we said our goodbyes, they made their way to Salamanca and we made ours to Montrondo.
The Palacio de Bornos in Rueda, a must on the way to León from Madrid.
This was my post from last year where I basically described the way the kids and the “grown ups” lived Santa Marta. They generally turn night into day and we keep life the same. But even that was different this year. They must be getting older though as this year we seemed to spend more time with them.

I use the term “kids” when actually the youngest, Alicia, my god daughter, is 17 and the oldest, Roberto, who I must mention is going to be the Father of the second great grand child in the family, Diana in December, is in his late 30’s. The “grown ups” start with Isidro who is in his mid forties and end with the “abuela” (the grand mother), Ernestina who is in her late 80’s.

We were 13 or so on each table this year in “la cuadra” (the old stables) which in recent years had been turned into a sort of lounge. Even the “cuadra” was different this year, thanks to great efforts from Andrés to restore old tools and instruments from the house and use them to decorate the walls. Also thanks go to him and his wife, Pili, for bringing new chairs and their old sofa, all of which contributed to making it a nicer place to be. I should mention too that I brought along 30 or so framed photos of some of my best pictures of Montrondo which now proudly decorate the same walls and which fascinated all and sundry.
One side of the "kid's" table in "la cuadra", notice this year's I love Montrondo t-shirts.
The biggest difference, at least for us, was our accommodation which had been improved with all our recent efforts in decorating and acquisition of new furniture. Thus we all slept much better and had room to put away our clothes rather than living out of a suitcase as we had always done in the past.

What marked a difference too this year was that it rained on Saturday 1st August. It did spoil the fiesta as we had to stay indoors most of the day. I do not remember it ever raining before on that day, at least not in the past 15 years of our going there.

What was certainly not different was the moment when Andrés and Alejandro put on hippy fancy dress to surprise us at the lunch. The photo of them illustrates this post. Of all the family they are the two who think up the things which make us all laugh over and over again. And this time was not different.

The rest of the stay was pretty much the same as ever. The kids went out at night to party, some of us went to church, some of us went to have coffee in Senra, the women cooked, the men looked for work around the house and garden, some of us went for our walks in the evening and we all ate the very same food over and over as we never get the quantities right. Well it’s not easy calculating for 20 odd people. I guess we are all getting a bit sick of chorizo, pie, potato salad, roast lamb, barbecue cooked meat and long for a change. Thankfully we are now on a diet of fish and vegetables and loads of fruitPili dressed for church posing in the unglamorous kitchen in the old house in Montrondo..
Yoli stayed behind to cook which she loves to do. She is the queen of the kitchen in Montrondo.
You can see the rest of the photos here on Facebook. Perhaps the most curious is the one of Toño, Eladio’s second brother carrying an enormous log of wood by himself. This was after the men had felled a lot of trees in the orchard next to the old house. They wanted to save the wood for making beams and thus removed the bark. In this photo he is actually carrying bark but you would never have known if I hadn’t explained.
Toño carrying the "log"
And all too soon people started leaving and numbers went down, from 26 to 20, to 18, to 16 until we ourselves left on Tuesday to return to Madrid. This time we were joined by Suzy instead of Oli who had actually returned with Gaby on Sunday night as she had to work on Monday.

Different again was the end of our trip in that we had the pleasure of the company of Suzy in our now traditional stop for lunch at one of the paradors on the way home. This time it was at Benavente as you can see in the photo of Suzy and Eladio here.
Suzy and Eladio outside the Parador in Benavente.
And that was Santa Marta this year, a mixture of tradition peppered with some differences. What does not change though ever is the harmony and good will that reign in this amazing family. And may that never change, so say I.

Cheers till my next post.

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