Monday, June 18, 2012

Olivia reporting from Galicia, The Coupe des Mousquetaires is Spanish, the Motorola press conference, a reunion in Orléans and home again.

Monday June 18th 2012

Olivia reporting from Galicia, The Coupe des Mousquetaires is Spanish, the Motorola press conference, a reunion in Orléans and home again.

Me enjoying our visit to the Cheverny chataeu in the Loire Valley near Orléans this weekend.

Hello everyone

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday, Sunday, but it was the day we got back from our trip to Orléans and I was too tired to write so have left it until today.

Last week was a great week in many ways.  On Sunday Olivia left for Galicia where she would be reporting live most of the week.  

Oli worked from TVE Galicia this week

I actually only saw her on Monday which found her in the province of Lugo reporting on a derelict convent which was endangering the buildings around it.  You can see the report here at minute 12.12h

Olivia reporting live from Lugo on Monday

Monday was when Spain took the Coupe des Mousquetaires, the men’s trophy of the French Open, commonly known as Roland Garros.  On Monday the best Spanish tennis player of all times, the 26 year old Rafa Nadal, garnered his 7th win in Paris, after the match was delayed by rain twice on Sunday.  His rival was the number one seed, the icy Novak Djokovic and for the records the Spaniard beat him 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5. on the famous Court Philippe Chatrier.

This seventh win made tennis history as he beat Bjorn Borg’s record of 6 wins.  Djokovic was hoping to win his first French Open, in order to have the record of winning all four grand slams, but it was not to be.  He will now have to wait until next year. Rafa Nadal’s win was a great antidote on Monday to the news of Spain’s bail out.

Rafa Nadal and his 7th Coupe des Mousquetaires

Monday ended happily too when Phoebe, our cat made an appearance after several week’s absence.  She is, of course, put off, just like Joe, our other cat, by Elsa and Norah.  Joe, unfortunately has been missing for even longer.

It was lovely to see Phoebe again

Needless to say we fed her as we have done now for several days.  She was thin but not scrawny and we suspect she has another home where is probably fed too.

Tuesday was a special day for me.  I was to attend my first Motorola press conference since I left the company as their PR Manager in 1999.  It was to be a joint press lunch with Yoigo on the launch of their latest smartphone, the Motorola Razr Maxx, which boasts the longest battery life of any smartphone on the market and will only be available with Yoigo, for the moment at least.  Some of the press, who were the same as when I worked for Motorola, were there too and the occasion was rather historic.  Lunch was held at a nice little place in town called El Qüenco de Pepa.

With my journalist friend Ana at the Motorola press conference on Tuesday

Wednesday was a quiet day. I worked from home most of the day, only stopping to read by the pool with Eladio in the early evening and going for a walk after dinner, which seems to be our routine this month.  You may be wondering what I was reading and here I hesitate to tell you.  Recently I read an article about the English woman write E.L. James and her very popular trilogy called Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed.  I was astonished to learn that millions of women around the world were enjoying or rather devouring this new genre, which in short is erotic literature but with a wonderful romantic story as the backdrop. I must say   I devoured the first book in less than two days and am now on the last book riveted with the story of ex student Anastasia Steele and the man who fascinates her, CEO Christian Grey with his mysterious and disturbing past.  It’s not my usual genre, but I must say I am smitten with the story.  When my friend Sandra told me she was reading it and asked whether our friend Adele in France would like it, my answer was “any woman would”.  So if you are a woman and my friend, I highly recommend it.  Please men steer away as it’s not your scene.
Women all over the world are reading the Fifty Shades trilogy and I wasn't to be left out. It's steam stuff.

Finally Thursday 14th came, the day we had been looking forward to for months, the day we were going to France for another reunion with Sandra and Adele and their partners Jeffer and Bernard.  The last time we had all been together was in June 2011 when we stayed with Sandie in Brussels.  This time we were going to Orléans, the home town of Joan of Arc, some 1.5h south west of Paris, to stay with Adele and Bernard.  We flew to Paris Orly where Adele met us and where Sandie was arriving by train from Brussles via Paris.  We were all together at about midday and excited to see each other again.  Adele and Sandra, as you may remember, were my great friends from Nottingham University and I lived with them both before we left in 1980. 

With my two great friends Adele (left) and Sandie (right) in Orléans this weekend

The great thing about our renewed friendship is that our husbands and partners get along just as well.  So there you have English Adele who is now very French, Italian and Hungarian but Indian born and English bred Sandra (a real mixture), myself, with my Russian and English blood and Spanish habits and our husbands, each from a different corner of the world.  Eladio my husband is a Spanish philosopher, Bernard, Adele’s husband is a French psychiatrist and Jeffer, Sandra’s partner, is an American marketer, amongst many other things.

Our three men, the Spaniard, the American and the Frenchman

Adele drove us to her delightful home in the centre of Orléans, an old town house with three floors, wooden stairs and beams and lots of nooks and crannies.  The house is full of all sorts of objets d’art, some modern, some old and oozes character. 

Adele and Bernard's house in Orléans

The nicest part of the whole house is the little patio they call “le jardin”, full of flowers and plants.

Adele and Bernard's delightful little garden

We commented the house looked like something out of a house and garden glossy magazine and I’m sure you will agree from the picture below.
The front room of Adele and Bernard's house

As soon as we had settled in, Adele took us out on a walking tour of the pretty town on the Loire and here we were to see lots of medieval tudor style houses, cobbled streets, and pretty squares, as well as take a walk by the majestic river Loire of chateau fame. 

By the statue of Joan of Arc in Orléans
We must have walked for over two hours and were rewarded at the end of the afternoon with a nice glass of local white wine at a typical French bar in the centre of the town.

At a lovely little bar in Orléans
On our way home, we bumped into Bernard who was returning from work.  I might add that the lucky man’s consultancy is 1.5 minutes walk from his home.  So we were now only missing Jeffer who was not joining us until Friday evening when he would drive from a project he was doing in Luxembourg to join us.  Once home, we sat down to a lovely meal prepared by Adele at their beautiful dining room table.  

Adele is a great cook and always has been.  I well remember her preparing dinner parties when we were students at Nottingham.  In those days her most famous meals mainly consisted of homemade pizza and cheese cake. 
Adele cooking in her little kitchen

The whole weekend was to be about food, laughter and some culture and shopping.  Thus Friday morning started off with a great breakfast before we set off for a day in the Loire Valley.  It was to be just the three “girls”· and Eladio again as Bernard had to work in the morning and wouldn’t be free until the late afternoon.  Adele was to take us to two lovely chateaux in the Loire Valley, on a drive through the impeccable and pretty French countryside.
Our first stop was the magnificent Chambord Chateau, a feast for our eyes.  I’m sure Adele has seen it many times but we were bowled over.

The four of us at Chambord Chateau
Here apart from strolling round the chateau and enjoying the parkland, we stopped for a wonderful café au lait and of course for a bit of tourist shopping of local biscuits and other fare.

Café au lait with Adele at Chambord
From Chambord we drove to nearby Cheverny, another beautiful castle and apparently the most beautifully furnished of all the Loire castles as we were to find out when we visited it.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of me outside the Cheverny Castle.

The Chateau at Cheverny
It is apparently famous for being the castle that inspired the Tintin story, Le Moulinsart, but I was much more interested in the huge pack of fox hounds kept there for hunting purposes.  Feeding time was quite disgusting though as was the smell.  But I forgave these beautiful animals as they are the just like big beagles, like Norah at home.

The fox hounds at Cheverny
I also loved the kitchen garden where vegetables like Jerusalem artichokes grew next to the finest roses which were used to decorate the chateau.

The kitchen garden at Cheverny
Lunch at the beautiful Orangery was a disappointment but the surroundings made up for that, as did the visit to the chateau afterwards.

The nursery at the Chateau de Cheverny
After so much beauty, we were quite tired out and ready to go home and we were looking forward to being joined by Bernard and Jeffer so that our sixsome would be complete.  That night we were happy too to see both France and England win their respective matches of the opening rounds of the Euro Cup. I should add that Spain beat Ireland 4-0 the previous night and we are now all waiting to see the outcome of the final match which will be against Croatia tonight. If they do well, then Spain may well meet England in the Quarter finals. 
Dinner, once again prepared by Adele, was cooked to perfection. The piece de resistance was her Delia Smith pavlova, which I know I will try and make at the next opportunity I get. 

Adele's amazing pavlova
Saturday was the most important day of our visit and the one when we would be all together.  The day started off with this splendid breakfast.  Just feast your eyes on these delicious French croissants.

A true French breakfast
On Saturday it rained most of the day, but it didn’t dampen our spirits.  In any case we stayed at home, as there was to be a family party for lunch. We were to be joined by Bernard’s 86 year old mother, Michelle, by his 25 year old daughter Diane and her friend Sara, as well as by Adele’s second son Ben who lives in Orléans and her third son Nicholas and his beautiful policewoman girlfriend Carole who live in Paris.  That day was Adele’s granddaughter Emma’s first birthday and we all joined in on the skype session with her Father Johathan, Adele’s oldest son and his Moroccan wife to be Salma.  I think the whole session lasted more than an hour.  Here is a group photo all everyone around the computer wishing Emma a happy birthday.

Skyping with the family
We had a great buffet lunch together where three languages were spoken in the loud and delightful party.  Both Eladio and I had to “take our French out of the cupboard” so to speak and I was quite happy to see how my French was coming back, talking to Madame Louette and Bernard’s daughter.

The buffet lunch on Saturday
The party didn’t end until past five, after which the six of us hit the town for a bit of shopping and sightseeing.

Shopping in Orléans
Exhausted from so much excitement we went back home for a quick cup of tea before going out again. We were to have dinner out but first visit Ben’s lovely flat near the cathedral.  Dinner was at Orléans’ finest restaurant, La Parenthese. The meal was delicious, specially the crab meat salad.

La Parenthese restaurant in Orléans
Afterwards we walked down to the river to digest the dinner a bit, as we were all so full from so many wonderful meals.  And then we went home and it was time to pack and say goodbye, at least to Sandra and Jeffer.  They were staying on another day but we had to be up at the crack of dawn to take the shuttle taxi which was coming for us at 07.45.  It got us to Paris Orly at about 10 and our plane wasn’t leaving until midday.  So we twiddled our thumbs for a while and I continued to enjoy Fifty Shades Darker.

We landed just after 13.30 and were home at about 15h, when everyone had had lunch.  We unpacked and Eladio had a well deserved siesta, whilst I read by the pool, devouring my book.  Later we went out for dinner to De Brasa y Puchero and were joined by Olivia.  It was my last food foray before returning to the Dukan diet today Monday.  Suzy was on her way back from Montrondo and was too late to join us for the dinner unfortunately.  She had gone for the Corpus Christi fiestas and had a great time with the family and of course with her childhood friends from the village, such as JM.

Suzy with her friends and cousins in Montrondo this weekend.
And today is Monday and it’s back to work and back to the Dukan diet and back to routine and everyday life at home.  The reunion trip to Orléans was great and I look forward to our next meeting.  We are not sure yet whether it will be in Brittany in the north of France or it may even be here in Madrid when it will be my turn to host the reunion with my dear long lost friends.  

And now it is Monday night and nearly time to watch Spain play Croatia.  So fingers crossed my friends.

All the best till next week

PS You can see the full set of photos of our trip to Orléans here.

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