Thursday, September 24, 2009

A sporting nation, La Parra revisited, Eladio’s birthday and playing with fire.

The four of us in the patio of the hotel in La Parra, from left to right: Eladio, me, Maricarmen and Roberto
Hi again
In this new post congratulations go to Spain for once again demonstrating it’s a real sporting nation. In just one week, it was top in tennis, cycling and basketball. The Spanish team beat the Israeli’s in the semi finals of the Davis Cup and will now meet the Czech Republic in the finals in December. And they did it without Spain’s number one, Rafa Nadal who, although injured, is still number two in the world seedings.
The Spanish Davis cup team, happy after getting through to the finals.
In the same week, the Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde, once again showed Spain’s fighting spirit by winning one of the toughest races on the circuit, the Tour of Spain. This means too that the 3 big races, the Tours of Italy, France and Spain have been a hat trick for Spain this year. Cycling is a sport close to my heart and it’s great to see how the sport is making a comeback after the unfortunate doping issues of the recent past.
Alejandro Valverde, this year's winner of the Tour of Spain.
The amazing week was completed by the Spanish national team winning the European Basketball championship. They beat the Greeks in the semi finals and thrashed the Serbs, the best nation at the sport in Europe, in the finals.

All I can say is well done Spain and I hope Madrid gets elected for the 2016 Olympic Games. It certainly deserves it. Madrid’s opponents are Chicago, Paris, Rio and Tokyo and the decision will be made next week in Copenhagen. Keep your fingers crossed, mine are.

And, now on to the next subject of this post’s heading. Last weekend we went with our travelling friends, Roberto and Maricarmen, to stay at the Hotel Hospedería La Parra in a small village of the same name. La Parra is a small whitewashed village in the province of Badajoz in Extremadura, We had been there before last Easter and loved the place.

Maricarmen outside the Hotel in La Parra, very austere but at the same time very alluring and peaceful. I love the decor of wood, white paint and stone.
As I wrote in the entry then “it is an old convent, turned hotel which was built in the 17th century. It is a refreshing white washed building with an orange tree patio in the centre of the cloisters. It supposedly maintains the spirit of a convent in that it is a haven of peace and a place to get away from it all” They stick to that claim and purposefully do not offer television or an internet connection. I didn’t mind as I had my Yoigo internet usb stick and there was no time for the tv. I’m not sure Roberto and Maricarmen were impressed as they are more town mice than we are.

We had a grand time, except for 3 unfortunate incidents. The morning after we arrived we found that some local hooligans had scratched the bonnet of our car and made a “drawing” of a face on it. This hotel definitely needs its own private car park as we had read in Trip Advisor that one guest’s car was stolen in the vicinity.
The "drawing" the hooligans from La Parra scratched on our car bonnet, one of the black points of our weekend.
The second was a fine of 60 euros for parking in the wrong spot in the nearby town of Zafra and the third was the strange disappearance of the little silver horse medallion that Eladio had bought for me in India at Christmas.

I had prepared a special programme where our time was dedicated to resting (that oh so lovely other Spanish sport called “the siesta”), reading, eating great meals at the hotel’s restaurant, walking (sorry Maricarmen for dragging you on a 2.5h walk in that rather dry and colourless countryside!), visiting interesting nearby villages and of course buying ham; the local speciality.
On the long walk in La Parra.
As you can see in the selection of photos I’ve posted on Facebook, we visited Zafra where we also had lunch at the Parador, Salvatierra de los Barros where we bought some lovely local pottery, as well as the pretty town of Jérez de los Caballeros. And on our way back we also visited Oropesa in the province of Toledo where we had tea at the Parador too.
Eladio enjoying his dish of oxtail at the Parador in Zafra.
The girls, meanwhile, enjoyed having the house to themselves and invited lots of friends round as they usually do when we are away. They also went to the Majadahonda fiestas, something they look forward to every year.

This week has been marked by Eladio’s birthday, Wednesday 23rd September. Can I dare write that he was 65? I can hardly believe it as for me he looks as young and as handsome as ever. He’s my George Clooney, my Sean Connery in that he never seems to age, yet I’m sure he’s a far better husband. Those of you who know him will agree with me, I know. We have now known each other since the summer of 1980, nearly 30 years. He was 35 and I was a girl aged 23 and I have never looked back.

This birthday, as with all our birthdays, was celebrated together as a family and Oli came specially to spend the morning with us. Of course there was a home-made cake (joint effort between Suzy and I), cards and nice presents.
Eladio with his girls on his birthday on Wednesday.
Here you can see the set of photos of the “cake moment” on Facebook. Notice how Norah tried to get a look in, hahaha.

I have now reached the third part of this post: “playing with fire”. Of course I refer to the book I am reading, “The girl who played with fire” which is the second in the trilogy called Millennium by Stieg Larsson. I couldn’t put the first one down, “The girl with the dragon tattoo” and now I am nearly finishing the second one. I have ordered the third, “The girl who kicked the hornet’s nest” but it won’t be for sale in English until the beginning of October. I wonder what I am going to do without my dosage of Lisbeth Salander for 3 weeks. She has me totally hooked. But then of course you know as you’re probably one of the millions who are hooked on the Stieg Larsson books like me. Seriously, the second novel is probably even better than the first; just “jaw dropping” as the front cover promises. I have about 40 pages to go to the end and am rationing the pleasure as I don’t want to finish reading it. I’m amazed at myself as the detective genre was never my favourite but this is different. I know my dear Mother who was a great Agatha Christie and John le Carré fan would have loved Lisbeth Salander too.
I am thoroughly enjoying the second episode of the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson and wished he had never deceased.
I’m now at the end of this entry and am wondering whether to include the fact that I have a sebaceous cyst on my back. Well I have but I’m not worried. Right now I am doing all the tests necessary for its removal which I hope will be soon.

A much nicer thing to tell you is that tonight we will be going out to dinner with our friends Ludy and Pedro. Pedro is Pedro Delgado, the famous Spanish cyclist but then of course you probably know that. We will be going to Quënco, the restaurant we celebrated our wedding at 26 years ago. We have only been back once and that was in the summer with our dear friends Gerardo and Irene as you may have read here.

And that’s it for the moment folks. I leave you as I finish writing here by the swimming pool in the cooler sun of the end of September with Norah at my feet.

Till next time

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