Sunday, January 06, 2013

Happy New Year, our trip to León, a special dinner party, Christmas cracker jokes, Kings’ day and other stories.

Sunday 6th January 2013

New Year's Even in the afternoon in León last week
Hi everyone.

Today is 6th January, Kings’ day (Epiphany) and the last day of Christmas. It has been good, as always but I think we are all in great need of a rest from the festivities and general over eating.

Let me start from last week. On Sunday last, 30th December, we took my Father and Eladio’s Mother to have tea and Christmas cake at Suzy’s flat in Villanueva de la Cañada, some 10km away.  Ernestina, my Mother in Law, who is not used to travelling in a car, thought she lived very far away but for me it feels like round the corner.  It was to be a special treat for both of them but mainly for my Father who is very home bound.  Juli, the girls’ friend, was there and once again served as our official photographer. We were joined later by Olivia, but a bit too late for her to be in the photo.

Tea and Christmas cake at Suzy's last Sunday

Monday was New Year’s Eve and Eladio and I left for León to celebrate the New Year with his family.  The girls always prefer to stay in Madrid with their friends. Ernestina, my Mother in Law came with us and we stopped, as always at Palacio de Bornos for a glass of wonderful Rueda wine and a plate of ham.

Plate of ham and wine at Rueda on our way to León for New Year's Eve

We arrived in sunny but cold León just in time for lunch at Eladio’s sister, Pili’s house where we were staying.  Later we would all meet up at his other sister, Adela’s house to be together and of course celebrate her son, Roberto’s 41st birthday.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of us all, or nearly all of us, that happy afternoon last Monday.

Eladio with some of his brothers and sister, from left to right: Isidro, Toño, Eladio and Pili

Dinner this year was to be at Eladio’s brother, Isidro’s home in the downstairs party room they have created.

Dinner with the family on New Year's Eve in León

We were 24 around the long table, with the older generation at one side and the younger generation at the other.  As usual there was far too much food, but it was all delicious, especially Yoli’s tiramisu for dessert.  Just before midnight we unwrapped all the mystery presents I had brought as we waited for the magical moment of midnight to arrive when we would eat one grape per chime of the clock and then drink champagne and hug each and every one of the family.  It was at that moment I missed my daughters most and had to make do with a whatsapp message in lieu of a hug.  I sat next to my beautiful sisters in law, Pili and Yoli and the three of us reflected that we had been celebrating New Year’s Eve together for more than 30 years.

With my lovely sisters in law on New Year's Eve, Yoli on the left in red and Pili on the right

2012 has been a great year, absolutely nothing to complain about and all I can wish is for 2013 to be just as good.  The photo below is a collage I created on facebook of some of the photos that represent this year.

My year in photos

I wish you all a happy New Year and thank you so much for reading this blog; so many of you from all the corners of the earth.  It always amazes me to know how many people read this blog and find my life interesting.  Thanks for following me.  I hope this year will be good for you and me.

Happy 2013 to you all

New Year’s Eve ended late, as always, after lots of dancing by some of the members of Eladio’s family but I was glad to get away just after 2 in the morning in dire need of some sleep.
Ist January is always a bit of a down day for me.  It takes some time to get used to the New Year.  Before leaving, we took a walk with Pili and Andrés towards San Marcos, that beautiful building and Parador which is a landmark in León.

Eladio, Pili and Andrés outside the historic and landmark building of San Marcos in León on 1st January

We left León at around 13h and on our way home stopped at the Parador in Benavente for lunch.  Here we enjoyed a delicious plate of the local chickpeas (garbanzos) which we had been looking forward to all morning.

The chickpeas from Fuentesauco at the Parador in Benavente.

You can see the rest of the photos of our trip to León here.
It was good to be home again after an exhausting but enjoyable New Year family celebration.
On Wednesday we enjoyed watching Olivia reporting live on the television on TVE1.  The story was about a mega New Year’s Party which had been cancelled at the last moment because of counterfeit ticketing.  You can see her here if you fast forward to 11.30 and 12.45.

Oli on the television on Wednesday

Of note on Wednesday too, our walk which was a bit later than usual was rather a highlight that day because of the incredible red sky which always makes me remember walks with my Father when I was a child.  I learned from him that wonderful saying: “red sky at night, shepherds’ delight, red sky in the morning, shepherds’ warning” and which I have passed on to my own children.

The red sky at night we encountered on our walk on Wednesday this week

Thursday was a quiet and enjoyable day.  I took Eladio shopping in the morning for Kings’ day presents.  At home we give all our presents on Christmas day but we also celebrate Kings’ Day with token presents.  Spaniards, however, do it the other way around and today is the most important day for them.  While we were out we also bought new beds for the dogs, as theirs were ready to be binned after so much use and washing.  Right now they are still getting used to them as you can see in this photo below.

The dogs got new beds this week but they are not too keen yet

We were home just on time to watch Olivia live on the television again reporting on TVE1.  This time the story was about illegal car racing. You can see her here if you fast forward to 13.45h.

Olivia interviewing a policeman about illegal car racing on Thursday this week

Friday was the day we were having a special dinner party at home.  Our friends, Mar, Mariano and their 10 year old Chinese adopted son, San, were coming for dinner.  Mar and Mariano are journalist friends go way back and Susana gives homework lessons to San and when she can’t make it Olivia takes her place.  

For the occasion I made a typical English fruit and jelly trifle, a favourite with most members of the family.  It was the first time in many years as I had stopped making it because the jelly wouldn’t set.  I read on internet that that is because certain fruits interfere with the setting process and for the record the main culprit is fresh pineapple.  I put strawberries in the trifle I made on Friday and violà it turned out to be perfect.

The fruit and jelly trifle I made for the dinner party this week

It was to be a wonderful evening.  They always arrive late and bring loads of presents and this year was not going to be different.  This is the only dinner party at home the girls like to be a part of and as I always want them to be with us, Friday’s event was extra special for me. 

The special dinner party on Friday for Mar, Mariano and San

For San I think the highlight was the crackers. And that comment brings me on to the subject which is included in this week’s headline.  Crackers are not a tradition in Spain but of course they are in England where they are an essential item at Christmas.  I buy mine online and the best ones I have found are from Robin Reed.  I’m sure San is more interested in the bang and the gift inside, but what I like best are the jokes.  As they are always puns and in English they are impossible to translate for Spanish guests.  Apparently the best cracker jokes should bring laughs from children but groans from the adults.  Some of my favourites this year were: “What did the dentist say to his wife when she was making an apple pie? Want me to do the filling?”, “My friend drowned in a bowl of muesli.  He was pulled in by a strong currant”, “Why did the scarecrow win so many awards? Because he was outstanding in his field” or this one: “Why are graveyards so noisy? Because of all the coffin”. Fun eh?  The man in the photo below is apparently the author of these jokes we found in this year’s Robin Reed crackers. 

The man who creates the jokes for Robin Reed crackers

You can see more photos of that very special dinner party here.

Yesterday Saturday was a quiet day with nothing much to report.  In the evening, following Mar and Mariano’s recommendation, we went to see the film The Life of Pi.  I had my doubts but had seen the trailer and as it was about an Indian boy and animals I was interested. The story, which turned out to be too fantastic for me, is about a 16-year old boy named Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, who suffers a shipwreck in which his family dies, and is stranded in the Pacific Ocean on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  The bit in the boat with the tiger is far too long and I found myself looking at my watch towards the end hoping the film was going to finish soon.  Afterwards we had a meal at Foster Hollywoods where it was far too loud to enjoy.

The Life of Pi, not a good choice I'm afraid

For the records yesterday was the King of Spain’s birthday of which there has been much news in all the media.  TVE (Spanish national television) broadcast an interview with the 75 year old monarch which we missed on Friday as it coincided with our dinner party.  When I have a moment I will watch it here later. I used to be a fan of Don Juan Carlos, but since the episode with his elephant hunting in Botswana and the financial scandals of his son in law, Iñaki Urdangarin, I’m afraid I have lost a lot of the respect I once had for him.

Today, is his day, I suppose, Kings’ Day. On Kings’ day in Spain it is a tradition to buy or make a roscón and there are all sorts of varieties.  My favourite is the one without a filling which you can cut and toast, but others prefer the one with whipped cream in the middle.  We always have it for breakfast on this day.

The roscón we had for breakfast this morning

Right now as I write this week’s report, lunch is cooking in the kitchen.  I will leave off now and write about it later, as I do want to record our family Kings’ Day, the last day of Christmas this week and not leave it until next Sunday.

I have resumed writing now; sitting at my desk with a cup of tea after our walk with the dogs and with Suzy who joined us today.  Olivia is on the point of leaving with her boyfriend Miguel for Valencia.  She will be working with him there this week where he will be her cameraman. They are going to have a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing their live reports.  

Being an Anglo Spanish family, we always mix traditions so for our Kings’ Day lunch today I made a very British meal, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings: gravy, brussel sprouts and roast potatoes.  This is probably my favourite English dish as it is my Father’s. 

Kings' Day lunch today
This was followed by my trifle which I am a bit tired of by now and by the Robin Reed crackers, the last until next Christmas.  Then of course we gave our presents.  Each person had bought a present for the other member of the family, picking a concealed name for what is called “mystery friend” present giving here; except that we all ended up knowing who had bought them.  I got an iPad case from Olivia for the tablet and keyboard which will come in handy especially on short trips. Eladio got a red jumper from me that I really hope he wears but suspect he might not as he said it was very bright.  You can see all the photos of our family Kings' Day here too.

Then the rest is history, clearing things away as today was Oufa’s day off, a long siesta to digest the big meal and then finally our walk and here I am now rounding off this week’s blog post on this last day of Christmas.  Tomorrow we will be taking all the Christmas decorations down and life will go back to normal.  

As I leave you my friends, I wish you a great week ahead and as I wrote earlier a very happy New Year.

Cheers and here’s to 2013!

No comments: