Sunday, June 15, 2014

Tales from the Tour of France, what is “Uber”, a family announcement, a bad start for Spain in the World Cup, a family lunch, work in progresson our house in Montrondo, and other stories.

Lunch at home with José Antonio and Dolores on Saturday
Good morning my friends,

It’s Sunday again and time to write this week’s post.  It has been very hot but a quiet week, at least on the home front. 

On Monday I fasted as usual, enjoying a meagre bowl of porridge mostly made with water for breakfast with Olivia who, once again was going to be very busy with her new programme “Aquí en Madrid”. That day she was to report on the visit of the President of Mexico to Spain which seemed to be the main news in Spain that day.  She was home earlier than last week, at 9.30p.m rather than 10.30p.m which meant we were able to have dinner together.

On Tuesday I had a date I couldn’t miss.  My friend Sergi López-Egea, a sports journalist for the Catalán daily paper El Periodico de Cataluña, had just published his memoirs of the Tour of France called “Cuentos del Tour de Francia” (Tales of the Tour of France) and our mutual friend, the Spanish cycling legend Pedro Delgado, was to be presenting it at a bookshop in the centre of town called “La Central”. My friendship with both men goes back a long way, to the days when Motorola had a cycling team and we have been friends since, even though I have become much more distanced to the sport.  I saw lots of familiar faces and thoroughly enjoyed the event.  Well done Sergi; a great book you have just written.
Sergi and Pedro at the former's presentation of his book about his memoirs of the Tour of France
In the evening we watched Olivia again on TV, this time reporting on a criminal called “Rafita” who had killed a young girl, Sandra Palo, some time ago.  Not a nice story I can tell you.  Once again Oli was back “early” and I made pancakes for dinner, something we haven’t had for years. 

Wednesday last week will be remembered for massive taxi strikes in Madrid and other cities in Europe.  They were protesting against “Uber” an American company that has designed an application which connects passengers with private drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services.  If people didn’t know what Uber was that day, they certainly do now.  It’s ironic but the taxi protest only served to create free publicity for the car sharing app. 

It was the main news that day and Olivia was sent to Madrid airport to report on the story. 
Olivia reporting on the taxi strike on Wednesday
That afternoon a huge thunderstorm gathered in the skies of Madrid serving to cool the atmosphere.  It was amazing how within less than an hour the temperature plummeted from about 30ºc to 18ºc.
The thunderstorm on Wednesday
While it rained we sheltered under the awning by the terrace in the swimming pool.  The dogs joined us and I just had to take this photo of Elsa showing her love to Eladio.  Isn’t it a great photo?
True love Elsa and Eladio
Whilst it rained I hoped the water would do some good to our plum tree.  This year’s harvest looks like being a record, that is, if the birds don’t manage to eat all the kilos and kilos of greengages on its branches. 
Our plum tree with kilos and kilos of greengages on its branches
Thursday was my second and last fasting day of the week. That day Olivia reported on the most important Spanish sommelier contest called the “Golden Nose competition” (Nariz de Oro 2014).  For someone who knows practically nothing about wine, I think she did quite well, hahaha.

Thursday was also the start of the World Cup which is taking place in Brazil amongst much scandal about infrastructure not being ready and protests about the expense it has caused. The host country team played Croatia in the inaugural match that night and won which wasn’t surprising.  However it really did seem that the referee was on Brazil’s side who were awarded a controversial penalty just towards the end of the game.  Reading the stories in the press later it really made me think that sometimes the outcome of teams is political and depends more on the referee than on actual play. 

Friday was Friday 13th, a supposedly unlucky day at least in England.  The equivalent in Spain is actually Tuesday 13th.  It was a very hot day again but I still managed to get in my two walks during the day, thanking the lord for our swimming pool at home to be able to cool off afterwards.  It was on our early morning walk that we learned the good family news announced to us by Juan our nephew, Eladio’s godson and youngest son to José Antonio (Eladio’s next brother down) and his wife Dolores.  And here it is:  Juan and his partner Cristina will be parents at Christmas bringing a new member into the Freijo family.  Yeah, José Antonio and Dolores are going to be grandparents. I am so pleased for them all.  Congratulations all round dear family.  I know what it is like to be a parent of course, but have no idea about being a grandparent and can only imagine it is nearly as exciting.  I wonder when or if I will ever be a grandmother. I sincerely hope so although there are no signs indicating it will be anytime soon. Both girls are busy with their careers at the moment.

That afternoon Olivia’s main job was to describe to the spectators the route the new King and Queen of Spain will take in their open top vintage car after their proclamation here next week in Parliament.  You may be interested to know that Spanish Kings and Queens are not crowned.  Olivia did her job on the top of an open double decker city tour bus through the streets of Madrid with her hair blowing in the wind.  Oli, who is not very familiar with the streets of the centre, had to learn their names and the route off by heart!  Here she is on top of the bus with her microphone and reporting live on the royal route.
Olivia reporting live on Friday from the top of a city tour bus on the royal route after the new King and Queen's proclamation to the Spanish throne.
That night Eladio, my Father and I gathered in the lounge where we had dinner watching Spain’s first world cup match against Holland.  I can only imagine nearly all Spaniards doing the same all over the country, happy to support “La Roja” as the team is called here.  It was ironic that their first opponent should be the team they beat in the final in South Africa 4 years ago.  The whole country was more or less certain the Spanish squad would win again, but oh my God that didn’t happen.  The Dutch thrashed us 5-1 in the most crushing way possible.  It was sweet revenge for them but absolute humiliation for Spain.  When the score was 2-1 to Holland I just decided to go to bed. I could hardly believe on Saturday morning that the final score was 5 goals to 1 against Spain. 

Saturday was another scorcher. I went on my first walk relatively early but even so came home sweating and longing for the pool.  The water from the thunderstorm combined with the hot sun probably caused our hydrangeas to grow much higher than usual.  I love these flowers which we have at the entrance to the kitchen and can see when we are having our meals outdoors.
Our beautiful hydrangeas
José Antonio and Dolores were coming for lunch and would be spending the rest of the day with us.  So we were able to congratulate them on their up and coming grand- parent status.  They are delighted of course and surprised too, just as we were.  We had a family lunch together and Olivia joined us too.  Fátima took this photo of us all around the table enjoying her Moroccan chicken together.  Olivia left us before we had finished lunch as she was off to Madrid to meet the BBC correspondent here and then she was going to her first “baby shower” for her ex colleague Natalia who will be giving birth to Enrique at the end of next month.  Baby showers (parties where women friends take presents for the Mother and baby) are not common here and have been imported from the US I think but it sounds like a lovely idea.  I wish there had been baby showers in my day.

When she left we commented that the rest of our children were far away.  Their eldest son Miguel was travelling from Cuba to Lima from where he would be going to Bolivia and their daughter Sara had just arrived in Vancouver for a two week holiday in Canada.  Suzy of course is in London as you know.  She doesn’t post many photos of herself but I grabbed this one of her from Facebook with her Italian flat mate Stefania having lunch somewhere in the city yesterday.  It’s a happy photo and I’m glad I have at least one of Suzy for this week’s post.
Suzy (right with sunglasses) and Stefania in London on Saturday
The four of us spent the afternoon in the coolest place in the garden, under the leafy chestnut trees by the pool.  Whilst there we kept receiving photos from Eladio and José Antonio’s sister Pili.  They were of the building of our house in Montrondo.  It’s amazing, the builders only started on 20th May and in under one month they have taken down nearly all the walls from the inside, made the ground floor waterproof (a huge task), laid cement on the ground floor, uncovered the original stone wall on the front of the house and finally yesterday removed the roof where they will be adding a third floor to the house. This is what it looks like now.
Work in progress on our house in Montrondo
We all had a swim, except for Dolores and even Elsa tried to join in when she saw Eladio in the pool.  She’s a Labrador and normally they take to water like ducks, but Elsa is slightly afraid of the water.  Thus she will only go in if practically forced or if you throw her play rope in which I’m afraid I couldn’t find yesterday.  In any case here is a lovely photo of her and Eladio in the pool.
Eladio coaxing Elsa into the pool yesterday
At about 7pm we went for our walk.  It was still very hot but thankfully there was a bit of a breeze which made it quite enjoyable.  We came home to dinner made by Fátima; Moroccan meat and vegetable pies which we thought were delicious.

This morning is Sunday and I was up early as usual.  I was eager to find out how England had done against Italy in their inaugural match.  We weren’t able to watch it as it didn’t start until midnight our time last night.  It was a bad start for the Brits too who lost 1-2 to Italy.  So now I have no team to bet on for the rest of the World Cup.  I can only hope that Spain will win the rest of the matches and be beaten only in the first match which is what happened in 2010 when they were surprisingly beaten by Switzerland.  Cross your fingers, although I think any success will need much more than that.

It will be another scorcher today and I look forward to swimming this afternoon and sitting by the pool with Eladio and the dogs and enjoying my new book Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd.

This next week will be busy with preparations for our summer party.  There are only 3 weeks to go or less and I now have the obstacle of a change of location.  I always feel this event will catch up on me but in the end it always works out.  So let’s hope it will be the same this year.
Meanwhile I wish you all a great week. See you next Sunday,

Cheers Masha

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