Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blue Monday, the sinking of the Costa Concordia, double mashed potatoes, Norah’s adventure and other things.

The patatas revolconas we ate at De Brasa y Puchero restaurant this week

Hello again,

Well this week has been full of events, both at home and abroad.  On the international scene, the newspapers have been full of news of the terrible sinking of the Italian cruise liner, the Costa Concordia by the shores of the Island of Giglio.    Some 10 people have died and another 20 or more are missing in an accident, similar to the legendary Titanic.  We have all become familiar with the name of the captain, Francesco Schettino and his extraordinary behaviour.  He has been accused by the media of endangering the lives of 4.200 people by coming too near to the island to salute a former colleague and by apparently abandoning the ship before helping to evacuate the passengers. Just how can a captain abandon his ship?  I always remember the image of the captain of the Titanic, who did just the opposite, staying at the helm until it sank, not even trying to save his life.  Cruise holidays are very popular.  I have never been on one and am not very attracted but even if I ever wanted to go on one I couldn’t as Eladio is a very bad sea traveller, feeling sick just at the sniff of a ship’s engine. 

This week will be remembered for the aftermath of the sinking of the Costa Concordia

Monday started off as being pretty bleak with ghastly weather.  Snow was forecast for that day, which I would have loved for our walk but all we got were  fog and rain here in Madrid which impeded us from going on our daily walk.  That night we watched a programme on the TV about Spaniards living in Terranova, Newfoundland in Canada and learned that in this isolated part of the world, its population has to endure nearly 300 days a year of fog.  So I can hardly complain as the rest of the week was sunny and dry.  As I observed people having lunch outside one day this week, I remembered my Father saying that his favourite month in Spain is January, it being sunny but not hot. Funnily enough I later read that Monday 16th January is known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.  It also reminded me of the famous Carpenters' song: "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down"

So it was fitting perhaps that it was on Blue Monday that the founder of Spain’s conservative PP party, died.  The news of the passing away of Manuel Fraga, a larger than life political leader from Galicia, described in the international press, as the last of the Spanish dictator Franco’s ministers, took over as the top news in Spain after the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

Manuel Fraga died this week

On Tuesday I went into the office for a meeting and then had a lunch appointment with a friend, Ramón who had been, until recently,  a well known TV news presenter.  He is now out of a job and my mission during our lunch was to pass him on my experience of picking up your life after losing a job, something that I am very familiar with.  My main advice was to think positive and for him to believe in himself and never give in and that his main job right now was his own marketing plan to find that job which I know he will if he doesn’t give up.  I wish him a lot of luck because it won’t be easy in these times of high unemployment in Spain, not to mention that jobs as TV news presenters do not precisely grow on trees!

If Monday was blue Monday, Tuesday was a red letter day for us because it was the day my Father walked again with his stick.  If you will remember, until recently he couldn’t walk because of the bedsore on his heel and latterly he had been able to do so with a zimmer frame.  So walking with a stick and practically unaided was huge progress.  Soon he will be joining us on our weekly shopping expedition, where I know that what he most looks forward to is a glass of Rueda white wine with a nice Spanish tapa at the Rio Café in El Bosque.

Just for the heck of it I invited Eladio later that night to dinner at the nearby De Brasa y Puchero restaurant where we are very fond of a dish called “patatas revolconas”, This is a Spanish country dish made of potatoes and a sprinkling of paprika and cooked with pork crackling that end up as a sort of mashed potato.  The verb “revolcón” can translate as “a roll in the hay” which of course has a sexual connotation meaning quick and dirty.  However there is nothing quick and dirty about this dish which is absolutely mouth watering.  I looked up the translation on google and came up with “double mashed potatoes”, not quite what it really is but in this link here you have the recipe.  The photo illustrating this week’s blogpost is of the potato dish we had at De Brasa y Puchero on Tuesday night.

The days went past pretty normally, with no trips this week.  On Thursday I was delighted to see Olivia on the television.  She was reporting on the 75th anniversary of Spain’s national radio station, RNE and on the visit of the Crown Prince of Spain, Don Felipe and his wife, the ex TVE presenter.  Olivia tried to ask her a question but just as the Princess was about to reply, a body guard lifted Olivia literally into the air and out of her sight.  That must have been an unusual experience for Olivia.  I managed to take a photo of Olivia on the TV and in the same screen shot you can see the Prince and Princess.  Funny to think that if she hadn’t married the Prince they may have ended up as colleagues working for the same TV station.  You can see Oli’s live report here at minute 13.50h.

Olivia reporting on the 75th anniversary of RNE and the visit of Prince Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia

It was on Thursday when I finally got on the dreaded scales, weeks after Christmas had begun.  I was a little worried they would tell me a sorry story but got away with murder actually, only having put on just under one kilo over the whole Christmas period.  To get rid of the extra weight I immediately did two days of the strict pure protein intake, from the Dukan diet but actually they didn’t budge. 

Friday was the highlight of the week.  Eladio’s brother, José Antonio and his wife Dolores came to see us in the afternoon, bringing Nuba their sweet mongrel dog with them.  I suspect they come more often these days so that Nuba can enjoy the outdoors.  Whatever the reason, it makes us happy to see them now more often than before.  So off we went for the walk with the three dogs.  Norah is always on a lead as we suspect she would run off after rabbits or motorbikes and never come back.  However, it was such a lovely sunny afternoon and at José Antonio’s suggestion of letting her loose, we did so. We were surprised at how well she behaved, coming back each time we called her, and were delighted that she could go free.

I had booked tickets later for the new Millennium film by David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the Equinoccio leisure centre in Majadahonda.  I am a great fan of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy and had my doubts that the American version of the film would be as good or better than the Swedish version.  So what did I think?  Actually, that it was just as good; equally entertaining. 

We went to see the new version of The Girl with the dragon tatoo

Afterwards I had planned for us to have dinner at our all time favourite restaurant at Equinoccio, La Alpargatería, so was very upset to hear earlier that it had shut down.  How could they shut down the restaurant we go to most? The last time we went was in December and here for the records is the photo of us there. Little did we know it would be the last time.  Goodbye La Alpargatería we shall dearly miss going there and eating at table number 7.

We were upset to hear that the restaurant we go to most, La Alpargatería has shut down.  This photo was taken on our last visit there in December.

As La Alpargatería had closed down, we opted to take José Antonio and Dolores to De Brasa y Puchero, mostly for them to try the “patatas revolconas”. However I think having that dish twice in a week, is more than enough for a while now.  

Yesterday, Saturday, was a nice quiet sunny day and the girls had guests for lunch.  Juli and Rocío, in fact, spent most of the weekend here.  Olga had made a delicious lasaña and whilst it was cooking the girls and their friends were actually sunbathing outside by the pool.  See what I mean by good weather?

The girls and their friends with Norah enjoying the sun on Saturday. 

Later that day was to be Norah’s biggest adventure ever and a huge scare for us as we nearly lost her.  As she had behaved so well loose on the walk with José Antonio and Dolores the day before, we decided to let her loose again.  Everything was going fine until a cyclist crept up behind us, too late to put the dogs back on their leads.  They immediately ran after the cyclist who I tried to warn in advance.  The dogs disappeared into the distance, only Elsa returning.  We carried on down the path which leads on to a road right by a motorway and Norah was nowhere in sight.  Eladio stayed on the road to look for her and I went back the way we had come taking Elsa with me.  I rang the girls for them to pick us and help us look for Norah.  Both of them were busy either dyeing their hair or showering so dear Juli and Rocío came to our rescue.  To add to the adventure Juli’s car was not fit for off road driving, he was running out of petrol and Rocío didn’t have time to change out of her pyjamas!  Just as they picked me and Elsa up I had a phone call.  Thanks to the tag on Norah's collar, an honest man called me to say he had found her on the M50 motorway at the Boadilla exit and that she had got into the car with him and that he had driven her to his home in Leganés, miles away. She had nearly been run over by the car in front of him!! We went to fetch her in Juli's car and the family, who had already fallen in love with her, gave her back. You can't begin to believe just how happy and relieved we are.  Needless to say Norah will never be let off her lead again when she leaves the house. As my friend Adele said on my Facebook wall: “all’s well that ends well”.  Indeed that is true.

Today has been a quiet family day with both girls at home.  The week coming up will be busy for me and them of course.  That’s it then my friends for this week.  I hope you all have a good one.

Cheers till next time.


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