Sunday, September 25, 2011

A weekend at the seaside, a birthday and other stories.

At the seaside in El Campello with Julio and Fátima

Hello again, after a week’s break.

Here I am this quiet Sunday afternoon writing from the whicker sofa on the swimming pool terrace whilst Eladio and my Father sleep the siesta.  Autumn officially started this last Friday, but we haven´t noticed its arrival here as the weather is still warm and sunny.  The girls have been to stay in a village called Gavilanes in the nearby mountainous province of Avila. They rented a house for the weekend with their friends Rocío, Estefanía, Elena, another Elena, Juli and Dave.  The house, called Las Islillas, looks very attractive on the website.  I requested a photo of the whole group for this week’s blog but will have to suffice with one of Suzy, Oli and Dave at the entrance of the village.  I’ve just had a whatsapp from Suzy to say they are on their way back.  So the house will be alive again soon.

Suzy and Oli were in Avila with their friends this weekend.

As it’s been two weeks since I last wrote, I’d better start from the beginning.  The week before last was quiet.  I would go for early morning walks with Suzy and the dogs and for late evening walks with Eladio and the dogs too.  It was a sort of exercise in seeing if I could shed the kilo and a half or so which don’t seem to want to go away after the summer.  It actually didn’t work, so I think I will stop making the effort and only go in the evenings.

I was in and out of the office for meetings and interviews and quite busy really.  The highlight for me that week was the launch of  Amazon finally came to Spain, Amazon, the site where I do so much online shopping, mostly for books, is now on my doorstep.  For a minimal cost of 13 or 14 euros, you can subscribe to Amazon Premium and that covers the cost of all your deliveries for a year.  So far I have ordered a shaver and two books and both orders were with me within 3 days.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to order my English books on the Spanish site but I can, so I am doubly happy now.  

The other highlight of that week was another live appearance by Olivia on TVE1.  I missed it because I was at a meeting but thankfully could see it later here (Minutes 02:05:39 onwards and specifically from 02:06.22.  It was about the shooting of two Spanish policemen by a Nigerian immigrant; not a nice story.  This week Olivia is on holiday.  She has a great job but the conditions are very precarious.  The contract runs out at the end of this month and she will only hear the day before 1st October whether she can continue for a further 3 months.  It is the same case for 19 of her colleagues, not a nice situation to be in.  I keep my fingers crossed all will go well and she will be able to further her curriculum at TVE, the most important media house in the country. 

The week was also spent looking forward to our weekend away with Julio and Fátima in El Capello, near Alicante where Julio has bought a new flat.  We were to leave on Friday and drive in our car and at the last moment Fátima let us down by coming on the train instead and not arriving until Saturday lunchtime.  Fátima is supposedly my best friend and I suppose it’s a good job she doesn’t read my blog (a sore point) but she nearly always lets me down at the last minute when we are about to go to an engagement.  I won’t go into the details, suffice it to say, I get very annoyed and find it hard to understand her reasons which in my mind are often to do with unorganized single motherhood.

We were lucky with the weather and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend because for once we spent our whole time on the beach.  When we go to Santa Pola, Eladio only wants to go in the evenings and I end up getting bored in the flat.  Not so this weekend, where we were up early and on the beach before 10, enjoying the sun beds, the papers and uncrowded beach which is just a 10 minute walk from Julio’s flat.  We enjoyed great meals, either at the flat or at Arrocería Cava where we indulged in “arroz abanda” and “fideua”. 

Julio and Eladio coming out of the sea on the uncrowded beach  in El Campello

We left on Sunday afternoon, feeling relaxed tanned by the September sun and only wishing we could have one more day together on the beach.  You can see the rest of the photos of our trip here.

Monday was back to normal but my mind must still have been in ElCampello as I nearly forgot I had a lunch appointment that day.  It was with Jorge L and luckily I remembered just on time.  Jorge was my account manager at the Perception and Image PR agency when I worked for Nokia.  He since went on to be the GM of the UK Spanish based agency Lewis PR and now he is the VP for Spain and the south of Europe.  Jorge wanted me to see his new offices and I did too, not least because my nephew Juan works there.  He must have been a little embarrassed to greet me there I imagine.  Jorge, a fellow Dukanian, and I had lunch at a nearby Basque place and spent most of it talking shop; ie. talking about our profession and how social media affects us all these days.  It was great to see you again Jorge, not just on Facebook but in real life!

On Tuesday Olivia went off on a mysterious trip, invited by her “beau”.  All she knew was that she was going north and that the location was more than 300km away from Madrid.  She was supposed to be away for just a night or two.  It sounded very exciting and I was dying to know where she was going.  However, we rang her the next day, texted her, whatsapped her to absolutely no avail.  Finally on Thursday we got hold of her beau’s number and reached her.  She was having a good time in Oviedo and had apparently left her mobile phone in the car!!  That is very typical of Olivia, but I must say she had us worried.  She was home on Friday, on time for Eladio’s birthday, full of praise for the wonderful spa (Las Caldas Villa Termal) she had stayed at.  I had a look at the web and I must say it looks great although I’m not sure I would be interested in having a chocolate massage which is what she did when she was there.  Anyway it was nice to have her back, if not for long.

Friday was the big day, Eladio’s birthday, yes his 67th, why not admit it?  Amanda wrote on FB (on mine, not his because he doesn’t have one jajajaja), “happy birthday Eladio, you still look 25”. I had to be in the office early so we had to skip on the birthday breakfast but I was back at midday and we went for a walk, that is, with Eladio, Suzy and the dogs.  Meanwhile, Olga was preparing a sumptuous paella for Eladio’s birthday lunch.  Eladio and I were to celebrate later on in the evening too, by way of a romantic dinner at La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas.

Olga made a great paella for Eladio's birthday lunch on Friday

The cake was not home made this time, but a good enough Sacher torte from the nearby “pastelería”.  Here is the moment before blowing out the candles after lunch.

Eladio and his beautiful girls Oli and Suzy (in their pyjamas hahaha) on his birthday.

I was a little worried to see that Grandpa hardly ate any of the cake when he has always had a very sweet tooth and it was at Eladio’s birthday lunch that I noticed he was looking frail and rather down or depressed.  It can’t be easy to lose your mobility suddenly, be in pain and depend on those around you for everything.  No wonder he is feeling down.  He has been eating less and less and of course losing a lot of strength. He fell some 23 days ago and the pain from the sprained ankle should have decreased by now but it obviously hasn’t.  So we called the doctor, a young pregnant one, who visited him in the evening.  She didn’t know any English and called him “Lloyd” which is his surname!  We showed her the x-ray and she said we should have another one done but higher up in the leg just to make sure there is no fracture anywhere.  So we are going to get an appointment with a highly recommended traumatologist at the Clínica 2001 in Majadahonda on Monday.  The pregnant doctor also told my Father to eat what he liked but to eat.  Since then I have done his cooking personally, making the things I know he likes and I think he has perked up since then.  He will be reading this blog, before any of you, probably, so I hope he agrees.  In short we are trying to look after him as best as we can.  Olga is just great and we wanted to get someone for the weekends too and interviewed a lady from Ecuador in her mid fifties recommended by Olga.  We actually agreed for her to start yesterday but at the last moment decided that no, we didn’t want her to come as we didn’t want to subject my Father to someone new who somehow didn’t feel right.  She didn’t like walking, didn’t like cooking, didn’t like our dogs and was just a little sinister.  So no, Lourdes is not coming, we shall look after my Father on our own and as I told him, it is a pleasure to do so, as he is so appreciative and easy to please.  I just hope his leg gets better soon.  

So the weekend was spent looking after my Father, cooking and being with the dogs.  We enjoy the afternoons by the swimming pool terrace reading our books.  The dogs like to be with us often too as you can see in this lovely shot of Eladio with Norah.

Eladio (my Antonio Banderas) with Norah on the swimming pool terrace on his birthday

I have just finished reading a great novel called The Island by Victoria Hislop, highly recommendable and I am now reading Restless by William Boyd which Sandie was keen for me to read.  So far I much prefer the former.

One of the things I cooked this weekend was more croquettes which I know my Father loves.  Well in fact everyone loves them in this house.  The recipe I use comes from the Simone Ortega cookery book called 1080 recipes.  They are very tricky and sticky to make.  I made the mixture yesterday morning, triple the amount in the recipe, and made up the croquettes today which took me most of the morning.  I was the proud maker of more than 60, some of which we had for lunch today.

I did a lot of cooking this weekend, including making over 60 ham croquettes

Whilst I was writing this afternoon I heard that there had been an English victory in my favourite sport, cycling.  Mark Cavendish had won the Men’s World Road Cycling race held in Denmark today and many thanks go for this win to the British team taking part.  It’s not often that the British win in cycling, so I thought this victory was worth a mention.

Before I finish this week’s post, I must also mention the news item that made the biggest impact on me today.  Believe it or not the antideluvian Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally decided that women can be in politics and vote.  To think that women in England have been allowed to do so since 1918, makes you think how awful the restrictions must be for Saudi women in this day and age.  Hopefully they will be allowed to drive soon too and do other normal things without a man’s permission, things that women in the west don’t even think about. It must be ghastly to be a woman in that country.  For me the worst thing to adhere to would be the strict black outer clothing that covers all of their bodies except their eyes.  

Saudi women are finally allowed to vote.  When will they be allowed to drive?

Luckily I am a free woman living in the west.

And that my friends, is it for this week. 

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