Sunday, April 14, 2013

The aftermath of the death of Margaret Thatcher, goodbye Sara Montiel, Olivia in Galicia, quality time with Suzy, lots of cooking, Spain vs Germany, a family dinner, a girly day out shopping, more new clothes and finally some good weather

At Las Rozas village with my daughters, sisters-in-law and nieces on Saturday
Hello again my friends,

How was your week?  Good, I hope.  Mine was good too with lots of quality family time, cooking and shopping; three of my favourite things.  So let me tell you about it. 

I last wrote on Monday which for the record was Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel.  My loyal reader Jacqueline reminded me so on Facebook.  On Monday 8th April the Jews commemorated the 70 years or so since 6 million of their race was murdered under Nazi Torture.  The awful thought reminded me of our harrowing visit to Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum in Jeruslem, which you can read about here.  It made an enormous impression on me, especially the visit to the Hall of Names.
The Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jeruslem
Monday of course was the day Margaret Thatcher died and which I wrote about in last week’s blog.  I think since then the British population has been saturated with stories about her and the nation divided in their sentiment.  Whether you liked her or not there is no denying that the Iron Lady is now an icon of Britishness and someone who will go down in history as one of Britain’s most famous politicians.  She was both Great Britain’s and Europe’s first woman prime minister; something even she did not think would happen in her life time. She was a part of my growing up in England and I know I voted for her, under slight pressure from my conservative parents.  They were her staunch supporters until even my Father got tired of her when she said towards the end of her reign, “we will go on and on and on”. 
Margaret Thatcher as I remember her

The stories will continue for a while in the British press as her funeral will not take place until 17th April.  I read that she didn’t want a state funeral.  I wonder if when stating that she knew the difference between a state funeral and a ceremonial funeral which is what she will be getting. Apparently there is hardly any difference.  I won’t see much of it, apart from the highlights, but I know it will remind me of Winston Churchill’s funeral in 1965.  I was only 8 but I remember it was on television the whole day.  I even bought a souvenir booklet with my birthday money at the post office across the road from our house at 6 Heaton Grove.  I wish I had kept it.

Margaret Thatcher would not have been familiar with the sultry Spanish actress, aged 85, Sara Montiel who died the same day.  Sara Montiel is probably Spain’s most iconic actress and singer.  Born in a small village, Campo de Criptana, in rural Castilla la Mancha, she was Spain’s most beautiful actress, as beautiful as Ava Gardner in the minds of many.  She was illiterate until her early 20’s and had to learn her scripts by being read to.  Sara Montiel was the first Spanish actress to make it to Hollywood,  where learning the English scripts must have been even more difficult.  Here she starred in films with the likes of Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster but missing her native Spain returned soon to become the most popular actress ever.  I once saw her and it was at Susana’s school graduation where her adopted children Thais and Zeus studied with the girls.  Her death, like the death of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, dominated the Spanish press this week. 
Sara Montiel at the height of her career

Olivia, by the way, was in Galicia that day and all of this week.  Because of the death of Sara Montiel, most of her reports were cancelled that day and the next.  Olivia was away, but I was to see a lot of Suzy this week, unlike last week when she had theoretically “come home” before leaving for her London adventure in May.  That meant we had breakfast and dinner with her that day and on many days this week and it felt like being a proper family again.  I had some good quality time with her; something I needed a lot and hope she needed too. The dogs too were delighted to have her back as you can appreciate in the photo below.
It was great to have more of Suzy's company this week

Monday was important as it was the day we finally decided where we are going on our summer holiday.  And, no it’s not Ireland or Croatia which were both in the running.  In the end we decided to go to Cádiz, in the south of Spain and which is not too hot because it is on the Atlantic Coast.  We don’t know the area very well but there is lots to do there – not only sunbathe.  What decided us was the hotel recommended to me by a friend, Marta, who has been going there with her family for years.  When I saw a photo of the Flamenco Conil Hotel I immediately knew that we would like it too.  The hotel is not fancy or luxurious but a comfortable family run place with just the hotel values we like – perfect location, good food, good views, comfortable, quiet, very clean.  It sort of ticks all the boxes and, judging by the very good reviews, hopefully it will live up to our expectations.  Now we have something very special to look forward to and dream about. My dream is of the walks on the fantastic beach where the hotel is located, great meals, visits to Gibraltar or Jérez, good shopping in nearby Conil and lots of reading on the beach. 
The swimming pool at the Hotel Flamenco Conil overlooking the Fuente del Gallo beach where we will be staying in the summer

On Tuesday, the day of Sara Montiel’s funeral (always straight after death in Catholic Spain, unlike the UK when they can be long afterwards – Margaret Thatcher died on 8th April and her funeral won’t be until next week) and inspired by Suzy at breakfast, I made a huge batch of meringues.  Remember I bought boxes and boxes of Waitrose meringues on line a while ago?  Well, they are now running out as Suzy, Oli, my Father and I devour them daily with fruit and ice cream.  I tried to order some more but the website was down which is why I experimented.  From now on I shall make my own and skip on ordering them online all because the Brit Parcel website was down.
The successful meringues I made on Tuesday

If you are interested, this is how I made them: ingredients: 220gr sugar (castor or any) and 4 egg whites – whisked until as stiff as possible.  The oven must be on at 150c but turned down to 100 as soon as the meringues are in.  I then left them for about 2.5 hours.  The longer they are in the oven the drier they are and less gooey inside.  Mine turned out just as I like them, white, crispy and only slightly gooey inside.  Shaping them is the most difficult part and here Oufa helped me by spooning them into little lumps onto the oven tray covered with baking parchment paper but I think the best way is to use a pastry bag.  I don’t have one so we just used a spoon.  This is what they looked like.

That day I made the lunch and to Eladio’s delight it was “Cocido Madrileño”.  If you are familiar with this blog you will know by now that this is one of my specialities and a very typical Spanish dish – this one being the variety more popular in Madrid.  It is actually two dishes, the soup and the second course.  The main ingredients are chick peas, meats of various kinds and vegetables.  This is what our second course or main dish looked like.
The cocido I made this week

Of course I wouldn’t have made either the meringues or “cocido” on Monday or Thursday as they are my “fasting days”.  As you probably know, I follow this new way of eating: semi fasting two days a week where you have to stick to 500 calories (eaten how and when you want during the day) and eating normally or often a bit more (too much chocolate sometimes!) on the other days (the recommended intake on non fasting days is 2000 caloreis). If you want to know more about it, here is a good article which describes it quite well.  I have been following it since February and could probably have lost more than the 2 kilos I have lost if I ate less on the non fast days, but my objective now is not to lose more but to keep just under my ideal weight.  And so far it is working.  All I can say is that this diet rocks.

On Tuesday more cooking happened as this was the day Oufa made home made whole wheat bread for us.  She used the same recipe for the bread made at her home in Morocco, where in her family they make it every day.  We loved it and since then she has made more.  It’s lovely freshly cut with butter and for toast in the morning.
Oufa's home made whole wheat bread

You are probably wondering why I have included “Spain vs Germany” in this week’s headline.  Well, if you are interested in football you will know what I am referring to.  This week Spanish and German teams got through to the semi finals of the Champions League which means Real Madrid and Barcelona will be playing against Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.  What I also refer to here is the significance of the completion between the two countries, the mighty and richer country Germany which dominates the European economy and politics against Spain which is suffering most from the economic crisis.  Indeed if Spain comes out top it will be a compensation; albeit just a moral one.  On Tuesday Spain got through after losing to Galatasaray from Istanbul – on aggregate 5-3.  Malaga was defeated in a very disputed second leg with Borussia and the next day Barcelona drew with David Beckham’s Paris St. Germain. It wasn’t until Friday that the draw for who would play who in the semi finals took place.  I didn’t want Real Madrid to play Barcelona, preferring that to happen in the final which takes place in the iconic Wembley stadium on 25th May.  This was the result of the draw.
The result of the draw for the Champions League semi finals (in Spanish)

Wednesday and Thursday saw me in Madrid hunting for a suitable location for an up and coming press conference.  In the afternoons I went for our daily walk but on my own as Eladio had to go to his UNED University tutorials.  Each day the weather got better and there were more signs of spring.  I particularly love the yellow fields and just had to take a shot on my camera and post it on Facebook for my friends to see.
A shot of the yellow fields on my walk earlier this week - it got warmer as the week progressed

Yes, the flowers are coming out, the green leaves are sprouting in the garden and the sun is shining.  On Thursday Susana brought home a huge bunch of flowers from Mariano’s garden. As you know she teaches San, Mar and Mariano’s Chinese adopted boy and often Mariano gives Susana fruit or flowers from their garden.  They are now gracing our lounge.
Flowers from Mar and Mariano's garden

I think it was on Wednesday afternoon that I ordered a skirt from M+S online.  You will not be surprised to see that it is a black and white striped mini skirt.  Well it arrived on Friday.  It was too big but I am having it taken in.  That was just the first of shopping for new clothes as you will read later.
The black and white striped skirt I ordered from M+S this week

It wasn’t until Thursday that we saw Olivia on the TV – we had missed some of her reports.  Luckily this week there were no faux pas.  She didn’t know it but she reported from a village very near to where her Grandfather, my father-in-law, Antonio, was born – Guilfrey.  I think if she had told the villagers from Becerrea that her grandfather was from there, they would have been astonished.  The story she told was about a house that had to be demolished unfairly because of silly local laws and how the whole village stood up for the owner and prevented it happening.  You can see the clip here.
Olivia reporting from Becerrea (Lugo) on Thursday

On Friday she was on the television again.  I missed her in the morning but saw her reporting on the weather later at 13.10.  You can see the clip here. The programme did a report on the difference in weather in Valencia (24c) and in Santiago (7).  Funnily enough it was her boyfriend Miguel who was the cameraman in Valencia.
Friday - Olivia reporting (right) on the weather in Galicia and a colleague (left) reporting on the weather in Valencia

Oli loves working with her boyfriend Miguel and it was when she was sent to Valencia one week that she met him.  Unfortunately now she doesn’t get sent to Valencia any more as there is someone, a girl from Alicante, who does that job.  This week in Santiago, Oli’s cameraman was actually a camerawoman, a first for her as there don’t seem to be many women in that role at TVE.  In fact most of the team with her this week in Galicia were women, when usually she is the only woman in the team.
Oli's TV crew in Galicia this week - nearly all women, a first for her

She didn’t come back home until early evening.  We all had something to look forward to that night; a family dinner out, something we do far too seldom.  It was Olivia that made it happen, thank you darling.  We all agreed immediately about the venue; it just had to be La Vaca Argentina, where we always go for our family meals. 
With Eladio and Suzy at the family dinner on Friday night

A family dinner with the girls hardly ever happens without the two of them arguing to some extent.  I can’t remember what they argued about.  It was obviously something minor and now forgotten by them, but it lingers in my memory as I’m sure, if you are a Mother, you will understand.

On Friday too, the district nurse, Carmen, came to pay a routine visit to my Father.  She came just as Olivia was to be on the television and just after the Champions League Draw – a sort of moment of bedlam. This was just when Norah took advantage and was a “naughty pooch” and scuttled into the lounge unnoticed (the dogs are not allowed past the kitchen into the house and they know that).  I was just quick enough to remove Phoebe, our cat’s food, which was Norah’s intention on entering forbidden territory.
Norah, our beagle, who made her way into the lounge unnoticed on Friday morning

Carmen pronounced my Father to be in perfect health which was nice to hear.  She then went on to say that very often academic or intellectual people, if they have done some exercise in their life like my Father who was a great walker, live longer and of course do so in much better good cognitive health.  I only hope I have the same genes.  I do the exercise now with our walks, read quite a lot, so hopefully I will be in just as good condition as my Father in my 90s.

Yesterday, Saturday, was the highlight of the week.  My sisters-in-law, Adela, Pili and Yoli were coming to Madrid for the weekend and staying at Pili and Yoli’s daughters Paula and Alicia’s flat.  They had arranged a proper girly family day.  Dolores, my other sister-in-law, the girls Susana and Olivia and I were to join them.  The girly family day was a morning and afternoon of shopping, having lunch together and more shopping.  We decided to go to a lovely complex called Las Rozas Village – a copy of an Andalusian village where a lot of luxury brands sell their goods at discount prices.

It was a joy to be all together, aunts and daughters, sisters, sister-in-laws and nieces and a first in the history of our family.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of all of us at Las Rozas Village on Saturday, a sterling day for us all. We had coffee together and visited many of the shops.  I didn’t buy much there as the luxury brands discounts might have been high, but the overall prices were a bit too much for my budget. I spied a fabulous black and white party skirt at Carolina Herrera but it cost over 300 euros! My only purchase at Las Rozas village was a blue and white shirt for Eladio from Carolina Herrera.  Thanks to Alicia, who works for Purificación García on Madrid's poshest street, Calle Serrano, at the weekends, I got a 20% discount.  He tried it on this morning and luckily it is the perfect fit.

Later we had lunch at La Alpargatería at nearby Herón City.  Here over our pasta we vowed we would meet again all together in London.  I really hope we do.
Lunch on Saturday with my daughters, nieces and sisters-in-law

The girls, Suzy and Oli, had to leave us after lunch as yesterday they were flying to Tenerife.  They went with their school and University friends Rocío, Erika and Anita to visit Estefanía who recently went to live in the Canary Islands.  But more about their time there in next week’s blog post.

The girls left us at another discount shopping complex nearby called Factory, also in Las Rozas.
Suzy and Oli, my daughters, who had to curtail the family girly outing on Saturday

It was here that I did most of my clothes shopping.  I found a beautiful white summer coat and floral printed dress at Massimo Dutti (Zara’s up market brand) and could hardly believe I bought both in size 40 (that’s either a 10 or a 12, not sure in UK sizes).  I also bought two tiny pieces of clothing at Mango, a blue and red striped knitted dress and pretty red cardigan with white hearts. 
The white summer coat I bought at Massimo Dutti in Factory on the shopping expedition on Saturday - I wore it to the family lunch on Sunday.

Soon I had to take my sisters-in-law and nieces to the station in Las Rozas for them to head back to Madrid. I was home at about 6pm and on time for our daily walk.  The sun shined all day yesterday and it was relatively balmy on our walk, so much so I took off the blouse I was wearing.  Oufa couldn’t believe seeing me in my shirt sleeves when we came back.  Eladio took this lovely picture of me with the dogs – notice the yellow flowers in the field behind me.  
With on our dogs on the warm walk yesterday
 The weather has finally taken a turn for the better and we are enjoying great temperatures.  I must say I have had enough of rain and cold and wind for some time.
The good weather finally came this week

The sterling day didn’t end there.  We decided to go out to dinner – after all Eladio had been cooped up at home all day marking exams and uploading the results on the UNED portal.  This was my chance to wear some of my new clothes and I chose the blue and red striped dress, as you can see below.
Wearing some of the new clothes I bought at Factory when I went out to dinner with Eladio on Saturday

I should not have worn the red shoes in the photo as I can hardly walk in them. They killed my feet, so when we came back from La Vinoteca, I took them off in the garage and walked bear foot to our bedroom.

And now today is Sunday and I am nearly at the end of the tale of this week.  I am rushing to finish the story, as we are going to Madrid to have lunch with the family at José Antonio and Dolores’ house.  As it is Oufa’s day off, I have to make lunch for my Father. So I will stop now and go and finish making his lunch (soup with homemade “perushki” – little Russian meat pies) and of course doll myself up to impress my sister-in-law Pili who always tells me off if I’m not wearing makeup. Before I forget, here is the link to the photos of our girly family day together yesterday.

And also before I forget, it's important to record here that today the Spaniard Fernando Alonso won the F1 China GP.  I heard just now on the BBC that he is now the 4th most successful F1 driver in history.  Then I say, who remembers who is 4th? You only ever remember people who are 1st.  So good luck Fernando this season.

Well I never had time to publish my blog before lunch, so let me tell you that the meal in Madrid was a treat, especially all of us being together.  We were 11 around the table.  We tried to get a good shot and none of us really managed it.  Here at least is a photo to record the moment.
Family lunch on Sunday at José Antonio and Dolores' - we were 11 around the table.

And now my friends I will leave you until next week.  Soon we will go for another warm and balmy walk and then Sunday will be nearly over and a new week will begin.  I hope yours is good.  Cheers till next week,


No comments: