Sunday, December 29, 2013

Suzy came home for Christmas, a special dinner party, Oli reporting on TVE, the story of this year’s Christmas and other things.

Shopping with Olivia and Suzy, it was great to be with both girls.
Hi again,

It’s Sunday, Suzy has gone and Christmas is over, at least the main part of it.  So let me tell you how it has been.

Last Sunday night Eladio and I drove to the airport to pick Suzy up.  She hadn’t been home since August and was coming to spend Christmas with us and would be at home for one full week.  Whilst Eladio was in the car outside I waited for her inside the terminal but there were so many people we missed each other and finally I found her outside.  The reunion was sweet and tearful; tears of joy.  We drove home where Olivia was waiting and the four of us would be reunited.  Oh how wonderful that feeling was.

Monday was a full day and I spent most of it with Suzy as I would all week, when she wasn’t out meeting her friends.  First we went to the hairdresser where Suzy would get a new hair cut to go with the new colour of her hair – darker and no longer red!  Then we went to the dentist for her dental appointment after which we made our way to Centro Oeste (shopping centre) where Olivia was waiting for us.  The picture illustrating this week’s post is of that moment.  It was lovely to be out shopping with both my girls.

I spent the afternoon cooking as that evening we were hosting a very special dinner.  It was for Mar and Mariano, a journalist couple we are very close to and their adopted eleven year old Chinese son San.  We have dinner with them every year at Christmas and it was our turn to host them again. San is very close to the girls as Suzy, and Olivia, sporadically, was his private teacher for many years.  Since Suzy left for London, Copi (a great friend of the girls since about the age of 3) has taken over as his private teacher.  So Copi came to dinner too.  Dave, another friend and spare teacher when Copi can’t make it came too, as did Juli a great friend of the girls.  There were 10 of us around the packed dinner table which looked like this before our guests who always arrive late, came.
The table laid for dinner on Monday night.
And this is a photo of all us at dinner. Sorry about the quality.  
Mar and Mariano and all our guests around the table at home on Monday night.

For the record I made chicken Waldorf salad for starters.  The main dish was baked hake with béarnaise potatoes and asparagus.  Pudding was simple: strawberries and cream.  Afterwards we gathered around the fireplace (lit for the first time this year) and caught up on how our year had been since we saw them last year.  The “kids” meanwhile “played” with San.  I just love this photo Juli took of them with him. 
The "kids" playing with San, from left to right: Copi, Suzy, Dave and Olivia
The next day of course was Christmas Eve which in Spain is even more important than Christmas Day.  Again I spent all day cooking, this time with the help of Fátima, although I had cooked and frozen part of the menu beforehand. 

I was so engrossed cooking that I missed a whatsapp from Olivia telling us she would be live on the TV at 12.15h reporting from Madrid Barajas airport on Spaniards, like Suzy, coming home for Christmas.  Thankfully I could watch the report later.  You can too if you click here and fast forward to 02.00.
Olivia reporting for TVE on Christmas Eve
It turned out that, as usual, I made far too much food. My family was very impressed with the table.  This is the picture Olivia took before we sat down and tucked in.
Our Christmas Eve table
The photo of all of us around the table was taken by Fátima who joined us for our Christmas Eve dinner, but I’m afraid it didn’t come out very well. 
The family on Christmas Eve
Christmas Day, the most important day for the English, finally came and we spent it as we always do.  We were up early for a formal family breakfast.  Whilst I was preparing the table the girls would have been opening their stockings. But the day only starts when we are sitting around the dining room table for breakfast – notice the girls always wear their pyjamas!
Breakfast on Christmas morning
The most awaited moment of the year; the opening of our presents, takes place right after breakfast where we all gather in the lounge around the Christmas tree for the most pleasant time of the year.  The dogs join us for the occasion and Christmas carols play in the background.  Before we started I asked the girls to take the customary photo of Eladio and I which has now become a tradition.  Norah got in the picture as you can see below!
Eladio and I on Christmas Day, just before opening the presents
We go for quantity more than quality, although this year I was told Father Christmas had been more generous than usual.  I certainly couldn’t complain and was as pleased as punch with the presents I bought for myself “from my Father and Eladio”: Marc Jacobs Daisy fragrance, a pair of gold earrings and the finest present of all a camel trench coat. 

After the wonderful present sharing, whilst everyone went off to enjoy their gifts, I of course had to start on the Christmas Day lunch.  The menu never varies and is always: a big roast capon with all the trimmings: sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and gravy.  I got some help from Olivia who kindly pealed the carrots for me – well she did a bit more hahahaha.  Eladio caught us on camera and I love this photo of the two of us in harmony in the kitchen together on Christmas Day.
Cooking with Olivia on Christmas Day
Lunch was splendid.  I don’t have a photo of all of us around the table, but here is one of my Father waiting for us.  I think he enjoys Christmas as much as any of us and it’s amazing to think he has celebrated 94 in his life.  I look forward to many more with him.
My Father on Christmas Day just before lunch
We were lucky to have Fátima at home with us at Christmas this year, thus she did all the clearing away whilst the girls, Eladio and I retired to the lounge with the fire on and switched on the TV.  There wasn’t much on so finally we opted for hiring a film on cable TV which was not a good choice – it was about the fall of the Lehman Brothers Bank and we all fell asleep.  A walk was in order afterwards if we were to burn at least some of the enormous amount of calories we had consumed on Christmas Day.

Meanwhile in Montrondo, where Eladio’s brother José Antonio, his wife Dolores and their “children” Miguel, Sara and Juan were spending Christmas, it snowed.  This is a photo they sent us telling us that they were enjoying a real snowy day.  How great for them!
Snow in Montrondo on Christmas Day

The next day was Boxing Day.  It is not a holiday in Spain so Olivia had to work but as she doesn’t start until 1pm, there was time for shopping again with both girls.  It was more about returning goods than actual shopping.  But I must say I picked up a nice jumper at H+M and a great polka dot dress from Zara.
My new polka dot dress from Zara
Lunch was with Suzy at home and my Father and Eladio and of course, it being Boxing Day we had left overs.  We have been having left overs until yesterday actually after which I threw the rest away!  Suzy suggested watching The Sound of Music together in the afternoon and I couldn’t think of anything better to do with her on a Boxing Day afternoon, even if it meant sacrificing my walk!  We loved every minute of it and were joined by the dogs which lay on the sofas us by the fire and seemed to be just as happy as us.  The Sound of Music was part of my childhood as it was a part of my girls’ childhood and it is definitely my favourite film of all times. Suzy it was great watching it again with you on Boxing Day!

Friday was another very full day.  I had breakfast with Olivia after which I went into the office on several errands.  That evening an important event was happening at our house. The girls, or rather Suzy, had organized a sleep over pyjama party for their friends from the “manada” (herd).  There would be 11 for dinner and I think 9 of them stayed the night.  This is a photo of them having dinner that night.
The "manada" who came to the sleep over pyjama party on Friday night.
A big mention should be made here to Anita’s cake. Ana or Anita, who studied at University with Olivia at the UEM (Universidad Europea de Madrid) is turning into a professional cake maker in her spare time.  She brought two cakes to the “manada” dinner and here is a photo of her with Suzy holding both cakes.  The green one is a work of art I’m sure you agree.
Anita (right) who makes marvelous cakes.
Olivia had to miss the dinner, although she would join them all later, as the class from her school, St. Michael’s had organized a Christmas reunion in Madrid, funnily enough at Macadamia, where Yoigo had its Christmas party.  Here is a photo of all of them that I bagged from Facebook.  It was great to see them all together, Paula, Zeus, Tamara, Sonia, Virginia, etc and it took me back a few years remembering them when they were little children at school!
Oli's school reunion Christmas dinner on Friday night.
As the house was so full, Eladio and I decided to go out to dinner. After all it was Friday, the night we usually go out.  We decided on La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo where we happily chatted about this year’s Christmas so far, over a wonderful piece of steak (me) and fish stew (Eladio).
As the “manada” was still at home on Saturday morning, Eladio and I went out shopping to Gran Plaza 2 (shopping centre).  We were home at 2, just as the girls were leaving.  They promised they would be home by 3. Thus a late family lunch was in order.  I was very conscious that Suzy was leaving the next day and wanted to savour as much time with her together with the family before she left.  Thus I spent the afternoon lounging with the girls in the rooms before they got ready to go out again.

This morning, Sunday morning, I spent all my time with them again; watching Suzy pack and helping Olivia sort out her bathroom (hurray!).  We were to have the last lunch all together before taking Suzy to the airport.  Just before lunch I caught both girls on camera again, putting make up on. This is the result.
Suzy and Oli this  morning.
We had an early lunch and I made Russian pelmeni (sort of ravioli) at Suzy’s request.  Straight afterwards she had to say goodbye to Grandpa before we drove her to the airport.  There we met up with Chati, her friend and flat mate with whom she would be travelling back, her sister and Mother, both called Elena.  We saw the girls off until they finally disappeared behind security.  I’m not sure when we will next see Suzy, although I’m hoping she’ll be back in February for my birthday.  That remains to be seen, if not, London’s not that far and a trip can be organized any time really.

And that is the story of our Christmas so far. Of course we have New Year’s Eve to look forward to.  We will be travelling to León on Tuesday to spend that night with Eladio’s family and will be back the next day. But more about that next week, ok.

All that remains now is to wish you all a splendid 2014.  I only ask that 2014 be as good as 2013.  So, hoping for that, cheers till next week,

PS You can see all our Christmas photos here.

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