Sunday, November 17, 2013

In Flanders fields, typhoon Haiyan devastates the Philippines, Oli and Miguel continue in paradise (Indonesia), clothes shopping again, the first dog to climb Everest, a trip to Barcelona and back, addicted to Homeland, Suzy receives a surprise visit in London.

Sunday 17th November 2013
Suzy and Chati (right) delighted with the surprise visit of Rocío and Pulgui (left) this weekend
Good morning everyone,

It’s Sunday again and the Indian Summer is over.  It is cold and raining and believe it or not the first snow has appeared in Spain.  Whilst England braces itself for the coldest winter in years, yesterday Montrondo, our beloved village, received the first snow fall.  It was a bit unfortunate for my sisters-in-law Pili and Adela who are both building houses and are at the moment just finishing the roofs but the snow beat them to it. In any case the village looks picturesque as you can see in this photo.
Snow in Montrondo, the first this year
But let me start from last Sunday when I forgot to record that it was Remembrance Sunday, more commonly known as Poppy Day in England.  Remembrance Sunday is held on the second Sunday in November, which is the Sunday nearest to 11th November, Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War.  It was originally celebrated to honour the dead soldiers in that war but today it honours all the military who have died in conflict for their country.  I miss wearing a poppy here in Spain and was interested in its origin – I did know it’s because of the poppies that grow on the battle fields in France and Belgium but not much else.
Poppies to commemorate the First World War
Well, the use of the poppy was inspired by World War 1 poem “In Flanders Fields” which all English school children read at school.  Written by the Canadian doctor, Lt. Colonel John McCrae in 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, a fellow soldier, its opening lines refer to the poppies.  I always loved the poem and share it with you here: 

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

On Remembrance Day people far away in the Philippines were mourning their own dead, over 2.000 who were killed by the vicious Typhoon Hiyan, locally known as Yolanda.  Up to two million people were affected in the worst natural disaster of its type in many years. 
Disaster in the Philippines
Our Sunday continued normally as you will have read in my blog last week.  I forgot to tell you that that afternoon our walks were increased with one member – Nubah, Dolores and José Antonio’s mongrel terrier who is staying with us whilst they are at a spa in Murcia with friends and family.  It’s not easy taking three dogs on a walk as you can imagine. I recorded the event here in this great photo of Eladio with all three dogs.
Eladio on our walk with the three dogs. 
Meanwhile, Olivia and Miguel continued their stay in Indonesia, a sort of paradise on earth from the photos I have seen.  However on Monday Olivia complained of the heat which seems to have produced flakey palms from Ubud a town located in the rice paddies. Here they were staying at a hotel with a very funny name: Frangipani Bungalows! It was 37ºc but Oli said because of the humidity it felt like 46ºc.  Suzy said not to complain and how she could not afford such a trip now.  You will be happy to hear Suzy was finally paid her first salary in her new job! Oli and Miguel would be staying later in the south of Bali at a place called Balangan at a wonderful bungalow hotel called La Cabane.  To me it looked like heaven. I have been enjoying their trip vicariously and loving their wonderful photos.  It is hard to choose which ones to post here as they are all so good.  But here is one of Olivia relaxing in the water with views of the Indian Ocean which I think was taken in Balangan.
Olivia in paradise
As I told you last week they have gone quite native buying local clothes.  The picture below was taken in Java I think where they will have been staying until yesterday.
Miguel and Olivia wearing local clothes in Java at a budist temple
What they seem to like best is meeting the delightful Indonesian children who are eager to have their photos taken. Here is just one of them. Today they are off to the remote Gili Islands for the last leg of their three weeks in Paradise.
Olivia with local children at the budist temple in Java.  She loves photos with kids.
Tuesday was a busy day for me.  I went into Madrid to meet Gloria and Julia from my events agency.  Madrid was a huge dustbin ground owing to the street cleaners’ strike which may be coming to an end now. We were to scout possible locations for the Yoigo Christmas activities. Naughtily on my way back at lunchtime I made a dash for Zara and HM and Cortefiel in search of a blue coat.  Well I got the dark blue coat at Zara for just 29 euros (amazing eh?).  This is it.  I wear a lot of blue so the coat will come in handy.
My new navy blue coat from Zara
Whilst at Zara I also found a great little black dress with transparent lacy sleeves.  I didn’t find anything at H+M but in Cortefiel I bought this beautiful dress which looks like a blouse and skirt.  Isn’t it original?
The skirt dress I bought at Cortefiel
I had also tried on a red tartan dress at Zara but they didn’t have my size.  Later I bought it online via my mobile and amazingly it arrived the very next morning.  Oh Zara you are a very efficient company. 
The red tartan dress I bought on my phone from Zara and which arrived in less than 24 hours.
So yes I bought a dress on my phone and later we watched a TV series using my hdmi cable attached to the TV and my PC.  Isn’t technology wonderful?  It was Isabel the series on RTVE about the Catholic King and Queen Isabel and Fernando.  I say technology is wonderful but it can be very frustrating too.  That day, the third using my new PC, a so-called browser “kidnapper” invaded my PC.  It was the horrible dosearches one which I just could not get rid of and my PC started behaving strangely so I took it into the office on Wednesday for the IT department to take care of.  It took the very efficient Esther the best part of the morning to finally erase it forever.  Thankfully it has now gone and I shall never ever again click on a box letting a navigator use my home page.  Since then I have found the box to click on not letting that every happen again as the experience was a technological nightmare.

On Wednesday I read a delightful piece of news.  If you know I love dogs you will understand why.  The story was about, Ruppee, a puppy which was rescued starving in a dump in India by Joanne Lefson.  She helped nurse him back to health until he was strong, healthy and capable of climbing mountains.  He has become the first canine on record to climb Mount Everest.  And this is him at the top.  Wonderful story eh?
Meet Ruppee, the first dog to climb to the top of Everest.
On Thursday I was up early to catch the 10.30 high speed train to Barcelona where I was to meet Gloria and Miguel to search for more locations; this time for our events at the Mobile World Congress in February.  I enjoyed the trip and was entertained part of the way, thanks again to technology, watching Jobs, the story of Apple’s Steve Jobs, a film my nephew Juan had downloaded for me.  I still had time after that to begin on Homeland and by the time we chugged into Barcelona Sants railway station I was hooked.  The series is marvelous and is about the CIA working on catching Al Qaeda terrorists.  The heroine, Carrie Mathieson, a bipolar Intelligence officer is convinced returning prisoner of war Nicholas Brody is a soldier turned terrorist by Al Qaeda whilst the whole of the US receive him home as a national hero.  If you haven’t watched it, just go for it, it’s one of the best TV series I’ve ever seen and will have you on tenterhooks throughout.
I am obsessed with Homeland
Our time in Barcelona was very productive as we found the perfect locations that very afternoon.  Thus we wouldn’t have to see any more venues the next day and would be able to come home earlier than planned.  Barcelona was at its best and the sun shined as it nearly always does in the Catalonian capital.  I stayed near the Paseo de Gracia, one of my favourite streets.  This was the view from my hotel room.
The Paseo de Gracia in Barcelona this week, so sunny and beautiful.
I was free in the evening to visit Grainne and Marcel, something I do every time I go to Barcelona.  You probably know I went to school with Grainne (an Irish name pronounced Graniya) and she is the closest I have to a sister and we are sort of kindred spirits.  I love being at their cozy home in Badalona and we spent a great evening together.  I had brought some food but Grainne had already made a marvelous minestrone soup and steak with béarnaise potatoes followed by strawberries.  I also got to meet Tommy, her puppy birthday present and the house was full of its toys, food and mats, as well as newspaper as it still is not properly house trained.

The next day we caught the 11 am AVE train where I spent the whole journey watching Homeland.  I was home by 14.30, on time for lunch with Eladio and my Father.  Fátima had made a delicious homemade pizza for my homecoming.  It tasted as good as it looks here.
Fátima's homemade pizza which we had on Friday for lunch, uuummmm.
In the afternoon whilst I watched more of Homeland, it rained and robbed us of our walk.  I did the weekly food shopping with Fátima and when we got home at about 6 it was already dark.  The days are getting shorter and shorter as we approach the winter solstice on 21st December.  Later Eladio and I went out to dinner, this time to De Brasa y el puchero where we enjoyed our favourite dish there: “patatas revolconas”.  That is impossible to translate, so here is a photo for you to see what the dish looks like:
Patatas revolconas at De Brasa y Puchero on Friday night
And Yesterday was Saturday.  It was cold and rainy and I am embarrassed to tell you I spent most of the day hooked on Homeland.  I began to feel like bipolar Carrie, the intelligence officer convinced Brody is a terrorist.  I am too.  But I had to get up from the armchair to get ready to go out to dinner with Eladio.  We had a date with Roberto and Marícarmen, amicably divorced, and Juanjo and Justi at Zanadu a gigantic, overwhelming and noisy leisure and shopping centre on the road to Badajoz.  I wore my new skirt dress but don’t think anyone saw it as it was so cold I wore my coat most of the night.

We were home late and got up “late” for me, at least, at about 08.30 this morning.  I was determined not to watch any more of Homeland until I had written today’s blog post which I am doing now.  Hopefully we will get a walk in between the rain this afternoon and I will be able to watch it after that.

The news yesterday for us at least was that Rocío and Pulgui (Elena) had paid a surprise visit to Suzy and Chati in London.  I didn’t know anything about it until they posted photos.  I heard later that Olivia did.  Suzy was over the moon to see her “manada” (the name of the group of friends of the girls) friends and they will have been partying all weekend. The photo illustrating ths week's blogpost is of the four girls reunited in Whitechapel.

Rocio and Pulgui, lovely girls, are pictured here enjoying a British pint at The George, an old English pub opposite the Courts of Justice in Temple and where one of Suzy’s numerous flat mates, Mónica, works. They will be staying until Tuesday and I hope Suzy isn’t too busy with her events to host them until then.  
Pulgui (left with red lips) and Rocío (right) with a pint of beer at The George Pub in London
And that my friends, is all the news for this week.  I will sign off now, upload this and then go upstairs to make “pelmeni” (Russian ravioli) for lunch which my Father and I adore.

Next week will be hectic as I am responsible for the programme of the visit of the TeliaSonera new CEO to Yoigo.  For me the programme is final but you never know what last minute changes there may be.  But more about that next week.

Cheers till then,


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