Sunday, March 23, 2014

Father’s Day in Spain, a lost sheep, international happiness day, Adolfo Suárez at death’s door, the singing nun, Suzy’s move, shopping with Olivia, dinner in Madrid and other stories

Suzy with all her worldly goods arriving at their new home in Canada Water
Hello again

Another week has passed and it is Sunday again and the time to write the news of our week.  Since I last wrote, the Malaysian airplane’s disappearance is still baffling the world, although there have been sightings of debris in one of the remotest areas of the world, some 1.500 miles west of Australia in the Indian Ocean.  Time is running out as the battery of the black box only lasts for 30 days. 

The referendum in Crimea took place last Sunday and 96% voted for annexation to Russia. Amid international protest, Russia’s “new Tzar”, Putin went ahead and annexed the region to Russia.  Will this mean another Crimean War? Possibly.  I can only imagine the Lady of the Lamp, Florence Nightingale turning in her grave.

Meanwhile at home, Olivia came back on Sunday from Soria.  Very sweetly she brought us back some local almond cake, delicious butter and honey for her Father.  That day Suzy had been for a picnic to Victoria Park, that lovely park by Buckingham Palace with her new Czech friend Jane and Argentinian boyfriend Sebastian.  Later she biked her way back to Whitechapel to meet her friends from the flat there.   Suzy was enamoured with Jane’s black lab and sent me this lovely picture.  It is very clear that my eldest daughter is having a ball in London.  Oh to be young again and be with her there.  I would also have loved to spend the first few years of my career in the capital of the UK but that was not to be. 
Jane's black labrador.  I would have preferred a photo of Suzy but that's what I got.
There’s not much to tell you about Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday, St. Patrick’s Day, I fasted as always and on both days worked from home as usual and went for two walks.

Wednesday was Father’s Day in Spain.  It was also José Antonio’s birthday (happy birthday dearest brother-in-law).  The girls duly greeted their father as all children across Spain would have done.  I particularly liked a photo my youngest niece Alicia posted on Facebook where she is playing beach ball with her Father Isidro, Eladio’s youngest brother.  So that is the image I have chosen to illustrate this topic. 
Alicia playing beach ball with her Father Isidro - my choice of photo to illustrate Father's Day in Spain.
That day on our walk we made an unusual sighting when we came across a lost sheep.
The lost sheep on our walk this week
If you live in England, seeing a sheep on a walk is nothing unusual.  In fact Eladio chastised me for bothering to take a photo.  But for me it was unusual as we never see sheep on our walk.  We do however sometimes spot wild boar, often see rabbits, even grass snakes and big birds flying in the blue sky such as hawks.  The day before, we had seen a herd of sheep in the distance so when we saw the lone lost sheep it was pretty obvious that it had been separated from its brethren.  I wonder what happened to it as we haven’t seen it since.

Thursday 20th March was the first official day of spring.  Until that day we have had very warm weather but on that day, ironically, the temperatures began to plummet.  Thursday was also the UN’s International Happiness day.  To mark the occasion the Eurostat, the EU data agency, published a report on the quality of life in the 28 EU nations.  In the photo below you can see the statistics.  In short Spain has the highest life expectancy whilst Bulgaria has the lowest.  Spain is also one of the “happier” nations when it comes to satisfaction with life, despite not being one of the richer ones which goes to show that money doesn’t always bring happiness.  Spain also has one of the lowest suicide rates in opposition to the more satisfied countries like Finland or Sweden where suicide rates are much higher – now that is a paradox.  Basically I think the study just goes to show how diverse we all are. You can make your own conclusions if you want to read the study which you can download here.
The Eurostat report on the quality of life in the 28 countries in the EU
On Thursday Miguel, Olivia’s boyfriend, came from Valencia to stay with her which I am sure made her very happy that day!

There is lots to tell you about Friday.  At midday we learned which teams would be meeting which in the Champions League last16.  It’s interesting to note that only 4 countries represent the 8 teams, 3 are from Spain, 2 from Germany, 2 from England and one from France. Quite clearly Spain dominates football.  So if you don’t know who is playing who, let me tell.  Barcelona will meet Atlético de Madrid in the only one country meet, Madrid will play Borussia Dortmund who beat them last year in the same fixture, Man United will play Bayern Munich, perhaps the most challenging match of the last 16 and Mourinho’s Chelsea will play the French, PSG. The first leg ties will be played on 1st and 2nd April and the second legs one week later.  May the best team win I should say but what I really mean is that I want Madrid to win.
The draw for the Champions League Last 16 took place this week
But at around the same time the draw was taking place, a very sad story was developing in Spain.  Adolfo Suárez, Spain’s first democratic prime minister after the Franco regime, was fighting his last hours in hospital. His son, also called Adolfo Suarez, gathered the press to inform them his Father had probably only 48 hours left to live.  As I write those words the hairs on my arms stand on end.  I admire this man as do most Spaniards.  Spain has a lot to thank this elegant and charismatic politician whose “role in the transition to democracy was second only to that of the King”.  This was said by the historian Javier Tusell but it is something those of us who witnessed him in government already know.  I will never forget the image of him in parliament on 23rd February 1982 when it was stormed by the military.  Whilst nearly everyone around him ducked down in their benches he remained sitting, in danger of being shot.  Like many politicians he was more revered by the public after his time in office than during it.  Sadly before he was even 70 he was diagnosed with alzheimer’s and his son said that in 2004 he didn’t even remember he had been the Prime Minister of Spain.  I well remember his rise to power when I lived in Madrid for my year abroad during my University studies.  I remember him too in government when I first lived in Spain and he is one of these charismatic politicians who will go down in history being revered by people from all sides of the political spectrum; even the far left as in 1977 he very bravely legalized the communist party. 
Adolfo Suárez
On a lighter note I always found him physically attractive in the swarthy Spanish way and see a likeness to my good looking husband, something many people have told Eladio too.

And now on to a totally different story, about the singing nun, 25 year old Cristina Scuccia from Sicily who became a sensation this week after performing on the Italian version of The Voice.  18 million people have viewed her on You Tube.  So if you haven’t seen or heard her, this is the link to her performance this week.  Not quite Julie Andrews, she is charming and has a great voice, although I didn’t like the song she chose.  She has become an instant success story.  It is unusual for nuns to become stars but I think she will.  To quote the sweet young nun, “if you have a gift you have to share it”.  I think it’s her way of evangelizing.  Well good for her.  By the way, I think she is waiting for a phone call from the Pope.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he rang her.  It’s a lovely story isn’t it?
The singing nun Cristina Scuccia
That night Eladio and I had dinner at our latest favourite restaurant, La Terraza La Escondida in Pozuelo.  Olivia and Miguel meanwhile were celebrating Elena’s birthday with the so-called “herd” – their group “la manada” in Spanish.  Here is a lovely photo of some of them which Oli posted on Facebook and I love.
Olivia and her "herd"
Elena is Suzy’s best friend and I know she would have loved to be there but of course she is in London.  Friday night for her would have been a night of restlessness as the next day she and Gabor would finally be moving out of Whitechapel where Suzy has lived with 12 other people in cramped and shabby conditions since she went to live in London 10 months ago. 

On Saturday morning, we followed her move via whatsapp, as she sent us photos of their leaving Whitechapel in a taxi full of all their worldly goods in London – a few suitcases and bags.
Leaving Whitechapel
Just a little while later they had arrived at their destination in Canada Water.  Here they will be living in much better conditions in a house shared with a maximum of 6 people.  The house is in a very nice area and seems bright and clean and new.  They have a big double room with private access to the garden and yesterday they spent all day settling in.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of the arrival at their new house.

Later in the evening we got more photos, one of Gabor stretched out on the bed exhausted after the move and another one of champagne and two glasses which they had to celebrate the move.  I am so glad they have finally gone up in life, as far as property goes and wish them lots of happiness.  

While they were in the throes of their removal, we had the pleasure of the company of Olivia and Miguel for lunch.  In the afternoon I went out with them shopping to Gran Plaza 2.  They wanted to buy covers for their phones, but it was really just an excuse to go to Zara and other stores.  I had a successful purchasing period at my favourite Spanish clothes store.  I bought a lovely pink long jumper, a blueand white striped long top/dress (Oli said, what another blue and white striped garment? To which I replied I could never have enough haha) and a pretty light pink blouse.  These are the lovely garments which I made into a photo collage for you to see.
My new clothes from Zara this weekend
And whilst we were shopping in Las Rozas, a big demonstration was taking place in Madrid.  I followed its development from photos that José Antonio uploaded on the family whatsapp group as he and his wife Dolores joined the demonstrators.
A photo of yesterday's demonstrations in Madrid taken by José Antonio
Baptised 22M (for 22nd March) and also “marches for dignity” some 50,000 people demonstrated in the streets of Madrid in the early evening.  Thousands of them had been marching from many cities in Spain for days.  The protests were against the cuts and the extreme conditions provoked by the financial crisis and the protestors criticized both banks and the government. 

We had dinner with José Antonio and Dolores last night in Madrid, after the demonstrations.  As we drove to the restaurant, Don Ulpiano, in San Bernardo, we came via a tunnel from the Princesa Street towards the Alberto Aguilera street and on the pavements of the tunnel I counted up to 10 homeless people wrapped in blankets sleeping there as cars passed them like ours.  The image was in stark contrast to our night out in Madrid with Eladio’s brother and wife.  We again mentioned the scene when we got ready to go to bed in our ample bedroom and commented that we live in a luxury bubble compared to so many people.  Of course we have worked hard to reach our standard of living but we had all the right circumstances as children for that to happen, unlike so many unluckier people in life. 

Dinner was lovely and it was nice to catch up with each other’s news, talk about our children and of course about Montrondo.  We shall be going there together next weekend and hope that the rest of the family will join us.  I think they will.  As usual I booked our table via The Fork and we got a 40% discount on the wonderful food Don Ulpiano served.  I’m sure we’ll be going again.
Dinner last night with photogenic Dolores and Eladio's brother José Antonio
And today is Sunday, the sun is shining although it is cold outside.  Soon we will be going on my first walk of the day and then I will be making lunch.  I do hope we will be joined by Miguel and Oli again.  Tonight Madrid will be playing Barcelona at the Bernabeu stadium in a “clásico” of the Spanish Liga but we won’t be watching it as these days these sort of matches are only available on pay per view tv. 

So I will love you and leave you and get on with Sunday.  I hope you have a great day and wish you all a good week coming too.

Cheers till next time


No comments: