Sunday, July 28, 2013

Suzy and the ice cream van, “the great Kate wait”, by George a future King is born, Olivia reporting in Galicia, a terrible train accident in Santiago and everything else seems irrelevant since then.

Olivia's face said it all as she was about to go live to report on the train accident in Santiago
Hi everyone,

Everything was normal this week until the terrible train accident in Santiago de Compostela in North West Spain on Wednesday night, the worst in Spain in 40 years and the worst in Europe in 25 years.  But let me start by telling you what happened before that.

On Sunday, we had the pleasure of the company of Olivia and Miguel for lunch. As usual Suzy was missing, as she is now living in London.  She seems to be living a sort of renewed student life and enjoying herself enormously.  Last Sunday saw her at Richmond Park. She has had fantastic weather ever since she left Spain in May and she and her friends are enjoying discovering London’s wonderful parks.
Suzy by the ice cream van in Richmond Park last Sunday

In the photo she is queueing up for an ice cream.  The picture brought back memories of my childhood in England when the ice cream van would visit our neighbourhood.  You would know it was there when it jingled a tune in the street and we children would come out shouting excitedly: “the ice cream man is here” whereby our parents would fork out for us to indulge.  Ice cream is my overall favourite dessert, pudding or sweet, whatever you want to call it.  The main offering the ice cream man had to make was of the soft type with a chocolate flake inside which was called a “99”. Ice cream vans were very much a fixture of my childhood in England and I am glad to see that they still are a feature of British life.  I wonder whether Suzy had a “99” and if she experienced the same thrill as I did when I was a child.
This is what a 99 ice cream looks like
Later that day, Olivia was off again. This time she was being sent to Galicia to report on the news there for her programme, La mañana de la 1.  Little did she know what was awaiting her.  She was accompanied by her friend Dave and off they went in his car in the middle of the afternoon for a very long drive.  Their journey was not incident free as it turned out that they punctured some 150km from their destination, Santiago, the capital of Galicia and the seat of the holy shrine of St. James which so many pilgrims walk to on the Way of St. James (the “camino”). Unable to change the tire they had to call a toll truck. The driver and mechanic said they had another tire about to puncture and that he would have to tow the car into Santiago.  Meanwhile they had to take a taxi to their hotel which must have cost a bomb.

On Monday they would have woken up in the hotel Olivia always stays at when in Santiago, the 5 star Obradoiro.  The story she covered that morning was in far away Lugo.  Here she interviewed a woman whose house had been damaged by the town council.  I missed the live report but was able to watch it later via streaming.
Olivia reporting from Lugo on Monday
That morning saw me at Yoigo for various routine errands I had to attend to at the office.  Always loving wearing my new clothes, that morning I chose to wear a yellow outfit I had bought at Zara, a very unusual colour for me.  However I am quite tanned at the moment and yellow looks better on me than it would if I was the usual white.
Me in yellow on Monday
I had quite a few comments when I posted the picture on Facebook.  I was most surprised at one from my childhood school friend Brenda who said: “you look so like your Mum it’s untrue”.  It was sort of nice to read although I never thought of my Mother as good looking or that I even looked like her.

I had bought the yellow outfit to match a beautiful yellow handbag Olivia’s boyfriend Miguel had bought for me, also from Zara.  This is it and I love it.
The yellow leather handbag Miguel bought for me at Zara
Monday of course was the day Kate Middleton was admitted to St. Mary’s hospital to give birth to her baby. The whole world was looking forward to the end of what has become known in the British press as “the great Kate wait”.  It wasn’t until the early evening that we knew she had given birth to a baby boy.  The baby boy born at 4.24pm who weighed 8lbs 6oz. (3.7 kg) will one day be King, after his Grandfather Prince Charles and his Father Prince William.  I think though he will probably have to wait until he is about 80 for that to happen.  The fact that he is a boy will make things easier for Royal legislation and there will be no need to revoke the Salic Law which would have happened if the Great Kate Wait had turned out to produce a baby girl.

England went crazy with joy and British pomp was at its best that day, although the important baby’s name was not to be announced until the next day.  As tradition dictates, staffers posted a bulletin on a wooden easel in the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.
The easel announcing the royal baby's birth at Buckingham Palace
American press reported on an official royal crier announcing the birth, except that he turned out to be an unofficial one. 
The fake royal crier announcing the baby's birth
The British press had a field day with the announcement, vying, as usual for the best tongue in cheek headlines.  My favourite is the one from The Sun which needs no further explanation.
British press at its best announcing the royal birth
Part of the Great Kate Wait was waiting for a first glimpse of the baby. That happened quite quickly as Kate Middleton spent only one night in the exclusive Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital.  She appeared together with Prince William wearing a beautiful blue and white spotted dress which was much commented on as being similar to the dress Lady Diana wore when she first appeared in public to show baby Prince William.  What was also very apparent in the appearance was the baby bump which has also been in the news.  I think she was brave to show it off. After all why hide a perfectly natural physical state?  I mean it’s not as if it can disappear overnight.
Happy Kate and her bump with Prince William showing the baby as they leave the hospital
The next day, Tuesday, I had a lunch appointment with Marta, an ex colleague from Nokia who now heads up the communications department at a big insurance company.  Marta is an avid anglophile and also happens to be pregnant, so of course we talked about the royal baby.  Marta has already chosen the name of her baby girl which will be born at the beginning of October.  It is to be called Alejandra.  

That was not the case of William and Kate whose baby was nameless when it was shown to the world that morning. The big question of course was what they would call it.  I hoped it would be called George like my brother.  If so, the new baby could become King George VII.  My brother was named George after the patron saint of England but also after the current Queen’s Father, King George VI.  My Mother always told me how she joined the crowds in London to mourn his death in 1952.  There were bets on all the possible names of past English Kings: Charles, Henry, James, Edward, etc.  I was thus delighted when I heard that the new royal baby was to be called George; George Alexander Louis.  He will be known as His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.  That’s rather nice too as my dear brother George was actually born in Cambridge where my parents met and married and where we were born.

Again the English press had a field day with the announcement of the name which happened on Wednesday evening at 6.20pm.  Quite a few of them used the well known English expression: “by George” that I thought most fitting for the occasion. I now look forward to buying a royal mug to commemorate the occasion when I go to London in August. This mug will be the continuation of a collection of royal mugs started by my Grandmother and continued by my Mother and myself. 
My royal mug collection
Earlier on Wednesday Olivia told a typical story for her TV programme.  This one was about a chef in La Coruña who was teaching a group of mentally handicapped young people how to cook.  Similarly to Master Chef, the best person in the group will get a job in his restaurant.  You can see the clip here if you go to 13.25h
Oli and the budding chefs in La Coruña on Wednesday
 That night when we were on our daily walk, I checked my mobile phone and saw the terrible news.  A semi high speed train, known as Alvia, had derailed and crashed 4km outside Santiago on its way from Madrid to Ferrol on a deadly curve.  It apparently approached the curve at full speed, some 190kmph rather than the obligatory 80. The death toll in the first few minutes was rising rapidly from 10, to 20 to 30 and upwards. I immediately thought of Olivia who was in Santiago and sent her a whatsapp.  Being the journalist she is, by then she was on her way to the scene of the tragedy.  That night Eladio and I skipped our usual bathe and rushed to watch the live coverage of this terrible accident.  By then the death toll was at 50 and we were watching how the courageous neighbours of the small village of Androis were rescuing survivors even before the ambulances arrived.  I had only eyes and ears that day and the following for news of the accident. 
A scene from the train crash in Santiago on Wednesday night
We woke up the next day to the news that over 70 people had been killed and that some 40 were critically injured.  That was 25th July, the day of the Patron Saint St. James, Santiago and would normally have been a day of huge festivities in the Galician capital.  However, festivities were cancelled and I can only imagine that this date will always be tinged by the sad memory of the terrible train accident in which 79 people lost their lives.  It remains to be seen how well the critically injured fare. 

Olivia’s journalistic skills were to be put to the test on Thursday and Friday mornings as La Mañana de La 1 dedicated the entire programme to the accident.  This was, after all, the biggest news she had ever reported on and the most traumatic.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog was taken by Dave and the expression on her face sums up the enormous tragedy of this terrible accident and the toll it has taken on Olivia. 
Olivia working from the scene of the accident
She was on the TV live every few minutes and even though she later told me she felt like crying the whole time, she managed to keep a professional face for the camera.  She reported on the rescue work going on at the scene of the accident, interviewed village helpers, as well as a fire fighter and also reported on the reestablishment of the train line amongst many other stories that emerged from the traged.
Olivia with a very serious face reporting on the accident
At about midday on Thursday a video taken by the track side camera, leaked probably by employees, showed the world how the accident happened.  The footage of the train hurtling around the bend before flipping on its side is hair raising.  It was removed from You Tube but can be found elsewhere on internet.  If you haven’t seen it, take a deep breath before you click here.

On Friday morning Olivia interviewed the prestigious and well known BBC presenter Tim Willcox onsite for the BBC who told her that the news of the train crash was the biggest news item that day.  Tim Willcox, who studied Spanish at Durham University, spoke in quite passable Spanish during the interview here which you can see if you fast forward to 13.36.
Olivia interviewing the BBC news presenter Tim Willcox on Friday
Later, Olivia had a moment of glory as the world watched her interviewed by Tim Willcox for the BBC.  My Father, Eladio and I watched her on our satellite BBC World News as Susana watched her on the BBC UK news from London.  One of Tim’s questions to Olivia was whether she would be taking a train soon to which she replied that she had been on that same train a while ago but she would not want to take it now. Unfortunately I cannot find the clip of the interview so a photo of her on TV will have to do.
Olivia being interviewed on the BBC on Friday
Our conversation at dinner that night at La Vaca Argentina, was mostly about Olivia’s ordeal and the terrible accident.  I was hoping she would be returning to Madrid on Friday but she rang to say that she would be staying as she had to be in Santiago the whole of next week to report on the aftermath of the train tragedy.  

Everything after the train accident seems to be irrelevant and banal.  However life goes on as it always does.  Hopefully Olivia will have rested now and be ready to report again next week.  Meanwhile our lives continue normally.  It has been a very quiet weekend with no girls and no visitors. 

Yesterday Saturday I went to do some local shopping.  And that’s about all I have to report for Saturday.  However something important did happen in the family yesterday.  It was my brother-in-law, Andrés’ birthday and he spent it in Montrondo.  This is a photo of him working there with the usual big smile on his face.
It was Andrés' birthday on Saturday which he celebrated in Montrondo
I look forward to celebrating his birthday with the family next weekend during the big annual family get together in Montrondo.  It will be the first time Susana will be missing but to make up for that Olivia will be taking her boyfriend Miguel along for the first time.  

Last night on our walk I asked Susana for another photo for this week's blog.  This is what she sent me: a photo of herself with her head covered with a plastic bag, accompanied by Chati whose head is clad with a scarf, to protect themselves from  the rain.  They were on their way to a barbecue which I hope was going to be undercover.  It is quite obvious from the two photos of Susana in this week's post, just what fun she is having in London.  Hum, I hope she is having similar fun job seeking too, not just partying (sorry for the Motherly comment dear if you read this). 

Suzy and Chati, protecting themselves from the rain on their way to a barbecue in London yesterday
Today is Sunday and the house is even quieter than yesterday as Fátima our home help has left today for her weekly rest.  She will be back on Tuesday morning.  She really is making a difference in this household and in a way is company for me as the girls are not here.  When she came she hardly knew any Spanish and in just over a month her knowledge of the language has improved enormously.  We also enjoy her Moroccan cooking.  Yesterday she made a delicious chicken and potato dish accompanied by an extraordinary carrot salad.  I asked her to prepare today’s lunch so that I wouldn’t have to cook.  So we look forward to one of the dishes she excels at: lamb tagin with caramelized prunes and fried almonds, all accompanied by her yellow coloured spicy rice.  After that I think we will be having a very long siesta.  There will be no bathing in the pool afterwards as the weather has cooled down by about 10c in the last two days.  

Next week will be very busy for me work wise until Wednesday.  Yes, great, on Wednesday I start my summer holiday and Eladio and I will be going off to Santander for a few nights.  Then on Saturday we will drive to Montrondo to join the family for the annual get together – the big lunch on Saturday when nearly all the family is present – some 25 people.  It is funny to think that by this time next week it will be over.  So my friends, there will probably be no update from me next Sunday as I will be chilling out in the family village for a few days.

Meanwhile I wish you all the best,

Cheers till my next post

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