Monday, May 17, 2010

Britain’s accidental revolution, remembering George, a trip to Valencia and good news for Spanish sport.

Arroz Señoret, a great rice dish from Valencia and one we tried in El Palmar.  Spain is the second biggest rice producer in the world after China.
Hi again

When I last wrote England had a hung parliament as none of the candidates in the very recent general elections had a clear majority. What has happened since is what the Economist termed this week as “Britain’s accidental revolution”. The conservatives lead by David Cameron had the most votes but needed support from the minority parties in order to govern. After many negotiations, a coalition government between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats lead by Nick Clegg, the most popular leader of this party in recent years, was finally announced last week. David Cameron was to be Prime Minister (they youngest by the way in two centuries!”) and Nick Clegg Deputy Prime Minister. To quote the latter, “before we were rivals and now we are colleagues”. This is the first coalition government in 65 years and something very unusual in British politics. The new government, according to its new leaders, is to be based on freedom, fairness and responsibility. Let’s hope that’s true.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg shaking hands outside 10 Downing Street to seal the pact of the first Coalition Government in 65 years.
This duo is now being dubbed “Cleggeron, as the media, and I am sure the public at large, me for one, think both men are very alike. They are both the same age: 43, and come from similar privileged backgrounds, look alike, sound alike, have look alike brunette wives and of course wear similar suits. I have a similar feeling to one of the readers in today’s Daily Mail: “I don’t think they really want to work together, they just both want to be in power”. Let’s see how they get on and how this dual leadership deals with what Cameron termed the most terrible economic inheritance any government has ever had to face in clear reference to the legacy left by the outgoing Labour PM Gordon Brown.
Can you tell who is who?  The duo at the helm of the British Government is now known as "Cleggeron"
The news of course has had my Father glued to the BBC. In my childhood I remember my parents watching the TV coverage after voting in the general elections and we would have tea (as in dinner) in front of the “telly” as it was quite an occasion. My mother, an anti communist through and through, would be happy to hear the Conservatives have won after 13 years of Labour. Much to her chagrin, my brother George was a Labour supporter but was often too lazy to vote and I remember her letting him sleep on in the hope that it would be too late for him to get to the polling station!

We always laughed about that at home. Now neither of them is with us anymore and we miss them dearly. On Saturday 15th May, whilst Eladio was sending birthday greetings to his brother Isidro, I shed a few tears for George who passed away on that same day in 2001, nine years ago. It’s a date I can never forget. As I say every year on his birthday and the anniversary of his death, how can you ever forget your only brother, the golden and talented boy I grew up with, who, through mental illness, threw away all his talent but never lost his charm? I wonder what you would have said about this coalition George as you always used to be so interested in politics.
My Mother and George with me in the 70's in Norwich, now no longer with us. 
Saturday was not a good day for my Father and not just because he will have been remembering and mourning George but because he fell again. Unfortunately he wasn’t wearing his alarm and Suzy found him lying on the floor in the kitchen when she came up for breakfast. Thankfully he didn’t hurt himself but it is quite worrying. He fell again later going down the steps but fortunately Oli was nearby to help him together with their friend Juli. Now he has the alarm round his neck the whole time but we shall have to be more on the look-out. Also we will be taking his blood pressure to see if that is the reason.

Meanwhile Eladio and I were in Valencia. I had to go on a site inspection trip as that is where the Yoigo summer party will be this year. The weather could have been better but the trip was highly successful, much more so than last year in La Rioja, as it turns out there were more venues to choose from for the gala dinner and activities. We went on Thursday and then decided to stay for the weekend. The hotel where we will be staying is the Sidi Saler which is on the Saler beach right in the middle of the Albufera national park which I had never really been to.

Me on the Saler beach in Valencia
The Albufera fresh water lagoon (one of Spain’s biggest lakes) is the area where most of Spain’s rice is grown and I was to learn that Spain is actually the second biggest producer of rice in the world after China. The Albufera is also home to what is known as the orchard of Valencia (la huerta valenciana) and you can see orange trees everywhere.
Me on the boat ride on the Albufera Lagoon
Not surprisingly the famous rice dishes, commonly known as paella, come from this region and boy are they good. We tried a dish called “arroz señoret” at a lovely little restaurant called L’Establiment in the small village of El Palmar in the heart of the Albufera. The picture is the one illustrating this post. We liked it so much we had it again at the hotel the next day.

All I knew about La Albufera is what I learned many years ago in a book by the famous Valencian author, Vicente Blasco Ibañez, called La Barraca. I was to see the famous thatched room Barracas (village huts) for the first time at the shores of the Albufera waterways this weekend where we took the boat trip you can see in the photo above, driven by our very authentic helmsman, another Vicente, who spoke mostly valenciano (a dialect similar to catalán). It was a great experience. You can see the rest of the photos of our trip to Valencia here on Facebook.

A Barraca, the typical village construction of the Albufera region in Valencia.
Vicente, our 80 year old local helmsman on the boat ride in La Albufera lagoon.
Meanwhile this week and weekend were good ones for Spanish sport, once again. On Wednesday the Atlético de Madrid beat Fulham in Hamburg and won the UEFA Europe League. Also yesterday Barcelona garnered yet another Spanish league much to the disappointment of Real Madrid who has won neither. But my favourite sport result was learning that Rafa Nadal beat Roger Federer in the final of the Madrid master’s tennis tournament this weekend. He has now retaken the world number two ranking and who knows, if he wins the upcoming grand slam at Roland Garros, he may become number one again. I certainly hope so.
The Atlético de Madrid holding the cup after winning the UEFA Europe League last week in Hamburg.
And on that happy note, I have reached the end of this week’s shorter blog post. I hope you all have a great week. We hope to as well and the good weather we are finally experiencing now will surely help. I mean when the sun is shining and you can wear Summer clothes, life seems so much more enjoyable.

Cheers then till next week


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