Sunday, July 13, 2014

The best “grand depart” ever, Suzy in Tenerife, Hemingway’s grandson runs with the bulls, Brazil’s humiliation, Eladio’s invention for picking greengages from the tree in the garden, Sandra and Jeffer in Santa Pola, a presentation in Madrid, Olivia fencing and other stories.

Sunday 13th July 2014

At a presentation in Madrid on Wednesday
Hello again my friends,

It is Sunday again.  The day started well, quietly having my breakfast with the dogs and with my iPad in the kitchen.  I don’t know about you but my favourite meal of the day is breakfast.
Breakfast whilst reading the papers on my iPad
This time last week the Tour de France ended its journey in Yorkshire.  As I said to Paul Sherwen, the British TV commentator, ex cyclist and ex Motorola Cycling Team Comms Manager which is how I got to know him, I would have killed to be there especially in my beloved Haworth.  The Yorkshire people went all out to welcome the Tour and the Grand Depart as it was known was a huge success.
Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Yorkshire was a huge success

The Tour de France race director, Christian Prudhomme, described Yorkshire’s Grand Départ as the “greatest” in the 111 year history of the race.  I am so proud of my fellow Yorkshire men. Since the Tour left the British Isles I have lost interest which probably won’t be sparked again until the race reaches the high mountains.  With the great British hope Christian Froome now out as he crashed badly on the day the race incurred into the Paris Roubaix cobbled stage that leaves more hope for Spain’s Alberto Contador. But we shall see.

At the same time as the Tour de France was racing through the wonderful Yorkshire countryside a different sports battle was also taking place in England. Wimbledon is the number one British sporting event and last Sunday there was a classic final, Federer against Djokovic.  The match went to a thrilling 5 sets and the Serb had to give his all to beat the mighty Swiss.  I really wanted Roger Federer to win but it wasn’t to be so.

Meanwhile Miguel, Olivia’s boyfriend, was racing that day in an open sea swimming race between the island of Tabarca and Santa Pola.  The race started at 7 in the morning so as to take advantage of a calm sea.  Oli didn’t post any photos but I was very proud to hear from Miguel that he came 10th out of over 1000 competitors! Well done Miguel.

Our family was scattered all over the place that day as Suzy too was away.  As I told you last week she had flown to the island of Tenerife with her boyfriend Gabor who is from there and was to meet part of his family for the first time.  As I write it is their last day on the island before returning to greyer London.
Suzy and Gabor with his family in Tenerife this week
They have been travelling all over the island and yesterday went up to the Teide Mountain, the highest in Spain. For the record it is 3.718 metres high(12,198 ft).  You might be interested to know that the highest mountain in the Spanish mainland is not much smaller; the Mulhacen in the Sierra Nevada (near Granada) which measures 3.482m.  Mount Teide is also the third highest volcano in the world. 
Mount Teide as seen by Suzy yesterday in Tenerife
It must have been cold up there as Suzy was wearing a jumper. 

Suzy near Mount Teide in Tenerife yesterday
They also had some quality holiday time on the beaches.  Here is one picture of the two love birds enjoying the beach.  Suzy looks lovely.
Suzy and Gabor on the beach in Tenerife this week
Monday was a very full day.  It was also the day the Argentinian football legend, Alfredo Di Stefano, who made Real Madrid the team it is today, chose to die aged 88.  In Madrid and everywhere in the football world his death was mourned.  At the World Cup the players wore black on their sleeves in respect.  He is supposedly one of the world’s greatest football players ever; at least judging by the mind boggling number of articles and obituaries that were written this week.  RIP Alfredo Di Stefano, here you were known as “el maestro”.

For me it was a fasting day.  But it was also the start of the running of the bulls in Pamplona, known here as “Los San Fermines”.  This ghastly annual ritual became famous when Ernest Hemingway witnessed it and his novel “Fiesta” made it world famous.  I hate this “fiesta” and the only thing I found interesting about it was when I read that Hemingway’s grandson John ran with the bulls for the first time this year. He later commented that his grandfather never did owing to the shrapnel in his leg from the First World War. 
Running with the bulls in Pamplona
That evening Olivia was on television as she is every evening during the week.  This time she did a report on the new “silent” carriages on the Spanish Ave’s, the high speed trains which you can see here.

Tuesday was a quiet day.  Thinking of Olivia’s packed lunches I made tons of ham and spinach croquettes, her favourite food, at least the ham ones.  I made the spinach ones for Fátima, our Moroccan maid who cannot eat pork. 

Tuesday was also the day Brazil was humiliated by Germany who beat them 7-1 in the semi-final of the World Cup.  Brazil is known for being the best at football and not much else so when they were suddenly bad at the only thing they are supposed to do well, it became a national tragedy, the irony of it being that they were also hosting the event.  I can only imagine now they wished they never had. 

On Wednesday I was up early.  I had to be in Madrid by 10 am for a press event, the presentation of the September Santander telecoms conference, the biggest of its kind in Spain and organized by Ametic.  It was held at the Club Financiero in Madrid near Colon and there was time for coffee before it started.  So I wandered out onto the balcony which commands wonderful views of Madrid from high up. The photo illustrating this week's post is of me on the balcony. 

My great friend Fátima who works for Nokia was there too and later we had a coffee together and she agreed to come back with me to work from home.  We shared my desk and it was like old times; so easy to work together and great company at the same time. 

When we returned Ernestina, my mother-in-law, had just left with Toño and Miguel (welcome back from Cuba by the way) to go to Montrondo.  It was nice having her but I can only imagine she was delighted to be going to stay at the village where she was born which is so much more familiar to her than our house. Whilst she was here she knitted woolen socks for all of us, her main pastime.

Whilst I was away, Eladio had devised a way to pick the greengages from the heavy tree of fruit. We thought they wouldn’t be mature until at least August, but this week many of them were.  I loved Eladio’s invention, a long stick with a sawn off tin at the end designed to cut off each piece of fruit individually.  We have so many we have to give them away and Fátima took some with her too. The good thing is they are not all turning ripe at the same time, so they will not all go to waste or to the birds.  Olivia thought it was so funny she took a video which explains how his invention works and which you can see here.
Eladio and his invention for picking the greengages
It was on Wednesday too that our friends, Sandra, Jeffer and his daughter Isaline and her friend, arrived from Brussels to stay in our flat in Santa Pola.  I was rather worried they wouldn’t find it or know how things worked but they are bright people and rang that afternoon to tell me they had settled in fine. That evening they went to Alicante to have dinner with friends at one of our haunts by the Port, El Porteño which according to Sandra has now changed names although it still belongs to the same family.
Our friends in Alicante

Next week I will start my holidays on Thursday and we will be joining our friends in Santa Pola for a few days.  I can’t wait.

I cooked on Wednesday again and once more thinking about Olivia’s packed lunches I made a huge batch of “perushki” (little Russian pies).  Fátima watched me making them and I gave her some to take home, along with the greengages.  She will be coming again next week to work from home with me and I am sure she will be getting more of the lovely green fruit.

It was on Wednesday too that Chris Froome sadly abandoned the Tour of France.  In the evening, late, because it was televised from Brazil, Eladio and I watched the other World Cup semi-final, Holland against Argentina.  The latter beat the Dutch in a penalty shootout which I didn’t see because I had already fallen asleep. 

Thursday, my second fasting day of the week, was very quiet.  I worked from home and managed my two walks but felt pretty exhausted that night thanks to the combination of heat, not eating and exercise.  That combination also gave me one of my headaches. 

I love Fridays as they are the day after fasting and give me three whole days of eating more or less what I want.  After sending in my weekly bullet points to the company headquarters (that is a tiresome weekly task which just has to be done), off I went to fetch my mamograph results which I will have to take to the hospital when I have my annual gynecologist appointment at the end of August.  I was happy to read I had the all clear and even felt like celebrating.  Celebrating was going and buying a new coffee machine for Santa Pola (the same one Dolores and José Antonio have in Montrondo) a good and inexpensive machine called Senseo by Philips.  My treat would have been some new clothes from Zara whilst I was at the shopping centre, but funnily enough I was probably not very inspired as nothing took my fancy.

That afternoon we missed Olivia again on the television as this week she has failed to tell me when she is going to be on.  However we later saw her report, via streaming, of her interviewing a Spanish actress who was being trained how to fence, something she needed for a film she was in. 

Olivia doing a report on fencing on Friday
Miguel went along and sent me this photo of Olivia trying out fencing with the trainer too.   I think she had a great time.
Olivia (in jeans) trying out fencing for the report
That night Eladio and I went out to dinner to La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas, one of our familiar haunts.  I had made the reservation via The Fork (El Tenedor) which offers 30 or 40% discount.  In the end we gleefully left the restaurant after having had a totally free dinner, owing to the discount plus the 48 euros in points I had on the restaurant’s loyalty card.  I had the feeling the staff weren’t very pleased, but we were.

Yesterday, Saturday, was quiet too.  It was the only day of the week we were to have lunch with Olivia and Miguel.  I made another of Olivia’s favourite dishes, “salmorejo” a sort of thick gazpacho from the Córdoba region which is made basically of tomato, bread, garlic, olive oil, salt and vinegar. 
I made salmorejo yesterday

The rest of the day was taken up by my two walks, a swim in the pool and a lot of reading too. Yesterday I started on gigantic book called “A suitable boy”, recommended to me by Dolores.  I am bit put off by the size of it; a paperback with over 1500 pages but I think I shall enjoy this famous novel by the Indian writer Vikran Seth although the print is rather too small for my eyesight. 
And today is Sunday, the last day of the week.  Again we shall have lunch with Miguel and Olivia. I have already done my two walks, one at 9 in the morning on my own and one at 10 with Eladio and the dogs.  I prefer to go on my walks early in the morning as afterwards it is far too warm. 

Of course tonight we shall be watching the World Cup final which thankfully starts just slightly earlier, at 9pm, so my Father can watch it too.  The finalists are Germany and Argentina, in case you didn’t know.  Not being a fan of German domination, I prefer Messi’s team to win, but I’m afraid the former are the favourites right now.  I just hope it won’t be another penalty shootout.  Who do you want to win I wonder and why?

This week coming promises to be good.  Tomorrow Monday I have the good fortune of going to Santander, one of my favourite towns in Spain.  I shall be hunting for a good location for the Yoigo party in September during the telecoms conference and shall be accompanied by Cristina and Bea, always a treat.  And then on Thursday my holidays begin and Eladio and I will be off to Santa Pola to join Jeffer, Isaline and Sandra for a few days.  The only obstacle on the horizon is that on Friday the day after my holidays begin I shall have to be up early for the Quarter 2 results to be published by Yoigo’s mother company, TeliaSonera that day.  But after that I shall be feeling quite free to enjoy my time in Santa Pola.  And then the following week I shall be off to London to spend a whole week with my darling daughter Suzy.  In fact this summer promises to be very exciting as far as trips go; first Santander, then Santa Pola, then London, then Montrondo, then Santander again and finally in September I have a trip to my beloved Helsinki.  But meanwhile I shall enjoy the present knowing I have lots to look forward to
Wishing you all a great week ahead, cheers till next Sunday,


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