Monday, October 12, 2009

Shopping with Suzy, goodbye Lis Salander, Montrondo again and a farewell Indian dinner

The 4 of us in Indian dress during the girls' farewell dinner last night.
Hello again (I always write “hi” so this time it’s “hello” for a change)

Another week has passed and today is the 12th October, Columbus Day, or what is known in Spain as the “día de la hispanidad” or “fiesta nacional”. It’s the day the Armed Forces in Spain celebrate with military processions. Eladio loves them and was watching them with my Father on the TV this morning. Apparently one solider from the Legion dropped his rifle and the commentator said he’d probably be cleaning latrines for the next 10 days.
The military processions in Madrid on Hispanic Day, presided over, of course, by the Spanish royal family.
I haven’t been cleaning latrines as luckily we have a cleaning lady, Zena, from the Ukraine, who does that twice weekly. But I have been doing some clearing out and that was in Oli’s room after the girls left for India this morning, but more about that later.

Now I am writing on the terrace and unbelievably it’s 27ºc which is very high for the middle of October. I am listening to my classical favourites list on Spotify, that wonderful internet music service for which I now have the premium contract which means you don’t have to listen to adverts in between songs and can even listen to the music offline.

I have my cup of tea next to me and a golden delicious apple which is part of my diet. You will be pleased to know I have now lost 5kgs. I’ve told my sister-in-law, Pili, that I’ll let her know when I’ve lost 10kgs so she can come and visit me from León and we can go shopping. I’ve also warned Eladio that very soon I will go on a big shopping spree. After all I haven’t bought clothes for ages. Can’t wait!
Photo of Pili and I taken in Montrondo this weekend.
And talking about shopping, this week I went with Suzy to buy all sorts of last minute stuff for the girls’ trip to India. We also went to do her University matriculation. It was good to see she has only 2 subjects to pass until she finally finishes her studies. We had a lot of fun together and drove in the little Smart car that they lent me at work whilst mine was being serviced. One of the places we shopped at was Sánchez Romero and it was for food. Sánchez Romero is famed for being the supermarket where rich people like the Real Madrid football players buy their food. I hadn’t been for ages and just loved the place. You can buy all sorts of gourmet products from all over the world and lots of delicious ready- made food too. We shall be returning for occasions I can tell you.
Suzy driving the Smart when we went shopping.
This last week was a lot of fun. Apart from shopping with Suzy, I had lunch with Juan, my colleague, at La Máquina in La Moraleja and on Wednesday I had lunch at De María in Majadahonda with my ex Nokia colleagues, Ana, Jill and Zenaida. Also I took the girls for a goodbye lunch to Qüenco, the place we celebrated our wedding at and where we have been back to recently. They loved it and so did I. The staff remembered me and kept referring to me as “la novia” (the bride).
Quënco on Alberto Alcocer, 16, hasn't changed since we celebrated our wedding there 26 years ago.
The highlight of last week though was an interview with my boss and his friend with the posh men’s magazine, Esquire, at the five star hotel, Selenza in Claudio Coello, Madrid. It was for a section called “real men” sponsored by the whisky brand Chivas which I learned actually belongs to the Pernod Ricard goup. I enjoyed the 2 hours of preparation. There were so many people and at least 100 photos taken just for one to be chosen. I look forward to seeing it published.
The lobby of the Selenza Hotel, quite something.
And on the topic of publications, this brings me to the second subject in my headline this week, “goodbye Lis Salander”. Last week I finished the last book in the Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, “The girl who kicked the hornets’ nest” and am now dearly missing Lis Salander. It arrived on Friday 2nd October and I finished it on in the evening of Tuesday 6th October. You may think that was fast but I actually rationed myself. As you probably know the author died prematurely and his works were published posthumously. He did not live to enjoy the fame of having sold 12 million copies of his trilogy worldwide nor did he live to develop his marvelous character Lis Salander, the greatest crime heroine of this century and probably the last too. Oh well, I can at least look forward to the second film which has only come out in Sweden, the fatherland of Stieg Larsson, so far. Indeed, goodbye Lis Salander. I wish I could know you better. I loved your fighting spirit, your sense of fair play, your amazing mind and just wish you could have been happier and of course married “Kale “bastard” Blomkvist” as you called Mikael Blomkvist but then again you were so unconventional that could never have happened.
Stieg Larsson, died at the age of 50 just after having handed in the manuscripts of the Millennium Trilogy.
And on Friday Eladio and I hit the road again and to Montrondo again to be with his family for the bank holiday weekend. We drove on Friday and had lunch on the way at one of our classics, the Parador in Benavente which serve some of the best “garbanzos”, chickpeas in Spain. Of course they are from Fuentesauco of chickpea fame. Friday afternoon was just for us in Montrondo and after settling in we went for my favourite walk to Murias. We went via the church and visited Eladio’s father’s grave to pay our respects. A headache spoiled the afternoon a bit but luckily I woke up without one on Saturday.
Eladio in Montrondo this last weekend. Waiting happily for his family to arrive.
On Saturday we were joined by Eladio’s Mother, his brother José Antonio and wife Dolores and their son Miguel, by his sister Adela and her husband Primo and son Roberto, by his brother Alejandro, by his sister Pili and her husband Andrés and their son Mario and finally by his youngest brother Isidro and his wife Yoli. All in all we were 15 people, half the usual crowd.

Saturday was spent together having lunch and going for a long walk. The idea was to pick hazelnuts but there were no longer any on the trees. The weather was superb and the autumn colours beginning to appear.
On the walk in Montrondo this weekend.
Then Eladio decided it was time to inspect the roof of the old house as there was a leak in his mother’s bedroom. Thus the “boys” were once again engaged and once again there was a “spectacle” to watch. Pili and Isidro held on to the rope that held Eladio who was on the roof and José Antonio and Eladio ventured into the inside of the roof through the flap in the kitchen which I imagine no one had been into for the last 40 years judging by the amount of dust and fluff on their clothes when they came out.
Eladio on the roof of the family house in Montrondo, inspecting and repairing the tiles.
Pili and Isidro holding the rope tied round while he was on the roof.
José Antonio appearing from under the ceiling.
On Sunday Eladio and I parted in the morning as we wanted to see the girls before they left for India and also to have a special farewell dinner for them. Goodbyes were said over coffee at the nearby village of Senra and off we went. Once again we stopped for lunch at the Parador in Benvente and couldn’t resist the chick peas again (damn, thanks to them the scales went up this morning!). You can see the full set of photos of this weekend in Montrondo here on Facebook.

Indeed we got back yesterday on time for our walk with darling Norah and to see the girls in the throes of packing their rucksacks. Inspired by our own trip to India, we put on our Indian clothes which had been made to measure in Udaipur, lit rose incense and played music by Ravi Shankar on Spotify. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to cook proper Indian food but then thought that they will be having enough of it anyway during their trip. The clothes we were wearing I think are called “Salwar Kameez” (pyjama like trousers and a long tunic), most comfortable I must say. Eladio looked the best in his turban which we bought in the sacred city of Benares (or Varanasi as it is also called). And here are the photos of that magical evening.

My girlies, Suzy and Oli in Indian dress during their farewell dinner last night.
And this morning my girlies left in a flurry of nerves and hurried preparations. Gaby, Suzy’s boyfriend took them and on their way they picked up Rocío, their other travelling companion. They are going to have a great time, I know. In their plans are staying with a friend in Delhi who works with an NGO that cares for children, visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra and visiting Sumit and Sandeep’s and his families in the Punjab where they will join in the Diwali celebrations (festival of lights). They have gone loaded with presents of turron and Spanish fans and perfume as in Diwali there is a lot of present exchanging as there is in at Christmas in the Christian culture. They will probably visit Rajasthan too but will, unlike me who plans everything, will decide once they are there.

They will be back on 27th October so meanwhile life goes on here at home. Just before I finish I must mention that I had some good news this week. Pernille, our dear Danish au pair will be visiting us in November with her lovely husband Thomas. And then I got a message out of the blue from Adele in France that she too will be visiting us around Easter next year with her husband Bernard. I went to University with Adele and haven't seen her since we had our first babies. I look forward to both visits immensely.

And now I have finished. Hope you all have a great week.


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