Sunday, August 24, 2014

What the ice bucket challenge is all about, a “British” Islamic State militant beheads American photo journalist James Foley, 31 years together, Juana and Oscar came to dinner, Spain’s best swimmer ever and other stories.

Sunday 24th August 2014
Eladio and I celebrating our 31st wedding anniversary on Thursday 21st August
Hi everyone,

It’s Sunday again and the time to write my blog. Today is a quiet warm Sunday in August and the summer is still with us.  I have been on my two daily consecutive walks on my own and then with Eladio and the dogs, and after a quick bathe in the pool, here I am ready to tell you all about this week which had its highlights both at home and on the news front.

One item of news I thought was rather silly is the ongoing story of celebrities pouring ice cold water over themselves apparently to raise funds and awareness for some sort of Sclerosis.  In fact I got rather tired of what I thought was a silly stunt.  There were more and more high profile cases which I just couldn’t relate to, until a friend of mine on Facebook, Marianne opened my eyes to what it is all about.  She posted a video of a 26 year old American boy diagnosed with ALS which I learned is a terrible neurodegenerative disease that makes you weaker and weaker until most of the sufferers die. The most famous person afflicted with ALS is Stephen Hawking.  In this video the devastated youth describes just how happy the ice bucket challenge is making him and fellow sufferers by raising awareness and more importantly funds to find a cure for an illness which is just not profitable enough for pharmaceutical companies to bother with. My only worry here is whether the people taking up the ice bucket challenge are really donating funds to the cause.  So here is my part in the awareness story; this is the website where you can make your donation. 
The 26 year old American boy diagnosed with ALS and whose video made me understand the ice bucket challenge
On Monday as usual I fasted, did my two walks and enjoyed a quick bathe in the cool pool afterwards, it was such a warm day.  That day and all of the week really Olivia was busy reporting for her afternoon TV programme, Aquí En Madrid.  I missed her most days but watched her via streaming later whenever I could.  On Monday she reported on a crime of passion in a suburb of Madrid, Hortaleza.  She also reported on a very big story in Spain, about two Spanish couples who have adopted a child each in Ethiopia, a process which took up to 6 years, only to have the children taken away from them for political reasons; forces in the north of the country are against international adoption. 
Olivia adores children and this was clear in her report on an adoption problem case in Ethiopia this week
Susana meanwhile was causing a stir on Facebook when she published a lovely portrait of herself which Gabor had taken.  I can only imagine it is for her CV.  Nice isn’t it?
A new portrait of my darling daughter Suzy
Tuesday will go down in history as the day the world learned of the fate of an American freelance photo journalist called James Foley who had been kidnapped by IS (Islamic State) “jihadists” in Syria.  In a gruesome video sent to the media and later thankfully removed from internet, he is beheaded by an IS militant with a British accent, called John in retaliation for American forces striking their targets in Iraq.  This is a new kind of terrorism or indeed a sophistication of what we have previously seen from Al Qaeda. The press says the killer is British.  He may well have a British passport but he is of Asian origin. Governments around the world are very worried about the IS a new Islamic terrorist group which frighteningly aspires to governing the whole Muslim world. I very much fear that James Foley will not be the only western victim of this very extremist western hating group of jihadists. In the video there is promise of a second beheading of another American journalist.
James Foley the ex American photo journalist sadly became very famous this week
In any case life goes on and on Tuesday Eladio and I went into the quiet and empty streets of Madrid to look at some vintage bathroom suites for the house we are building in Montrondo.  They are empty as August is the holiday season in Spain and most people living here want to get away from the oppressive heat. Meanwhile Olivia was reporting on the atmosphere outside the Real Madrid Bernabeu stadium ahead of the first leg of the Spanish super cup against their city rivals Atlético de Madrid.  Her English came in handy during the report as she spoke to foreigners who had come especially from places like Miami, Brazil or Newcastle to see the match.  We didn’t watch it as it started really late at 11 pm.  The result was a draw 1-1 which would favour Atlético on aggregate in the second leg two days later.
Oli reporting from the Real Madrid stadium on Tuesday ahead of the first leg of the super cup trophy against rival city club Atético de Madrid.
That night I made a special dinner for Olivia and Miguel her boyfriend who had come to stay for the week.  Evening meals outside are so nice at this time of year and when I can I love to make family meals.

Nothing much happened on Wednesday which was a repeat of Monday and Tuesday for me.  Olivia that day reported on yet another summer fire, this time in Aranjuez in the south of Madrid.
Thursday was our big day, our 31st wedding anniversary.  31 is not a significant number; it’s not 25 or 50 but in my mind, you never know what life is going to bring, so it is better to celebrate every year.  We have done so right from the start and always go out for dinner somewhere nice.  It’s amazing to think that we have been married for such a long time. When I posted on FB that it was our 31st anniversary some joker friend wished us another 31 years together.  That is not going to happen unless Eladio lives till he is 100.  Someone else told me that in Spain at least there were now more divorces than marriages in one year.  So yeah, 31 years together is definitely something to celebrate.  You may want to know what the secrets of our successful relationship are, so let me tell you.  Basically it is mutual admiration, physical attraction and above all respect.  Eladio and I rarely argue (we both hate conflict) and one thing we never do is insult each other.  Then again maybe I am lucky as it is nearly impossible to argue with my tranquil husband.  It sounds simple to me but maybe it’s not so simple. 

Feeling very happy I went off to a meeting with my events agency to finalize details for our big party at the beginning of September in Santander.  Later in the evening Olivia sent us a photo of her reporting on Madrid’s number one attraction for tourists, the modern art museum, Reina Sofia.  Here tourists queue up mainly to see Picasso’s most famous masterpiece, “La Guernica”.  Once again Olivia’s English came in handy when interviewing foreign tourists queueing to enter the museum.  The news was related to the record number of foreign tourists to Spain and Madrid, Spain now being the number three hotspot in the world. I would have thought the main attraction in the capital city was the Real Madrid football stadium or the Prado, but no it is the Reina Sofia. 
Olivia reporting on Thursday from the Reina Sofia modern art museum in Madrid, the city's top tourist attraction.
That night both Olivia and Miguel joined us at dinner to celebrate our anniversary.  We went to La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo where we had an amazing dinner.  We started off with a plate of spectacular Spanish ham accompanied by grilled tiny green peppers (actually chilis only one of which was hot and which landed on Oli’s plate!).  Then Miguel, Oli and I devoured a plate of the most wonderful fillet steak you can eat in Madrid.  Miguel took the photo of us which illustrates this week’s post.  Today as I was choosing the photos for my blog, I decided to do a collage and add it to one of our wedding photos and this is the result.  Yes we have aged of course and quite a lot but I think we look fine for our age, don’t you think?  I still find Eladio just “drop dead gorgeous” even after all these years. 
31 very happy years separate these two pictures. Above 21.8.83, below 21.8.14
Meanwhile that night in London Gabor had taken Suzy out for a romantic dinner to celebrate their first anniversary as a couple. It’s funny it coincided with our day.  They went to The Attic Bar which has some great views of the city.  So congratulations go to Suzy and Gabor too this week.
Suzy and Gabor celebrating one year together this week, on the same day as our anniversary!
On Friday morning I was up early as usual and coincided with Olivia when I was about to go on my first walk.  She was just about to go for an early morning run with Miguel.  So we took a selfie of the moment and here it is.
A selfie of Oli and I on Friday morning about to run (Olivia) and walk (me.
Friday was a busy day for me.  Juana and Oscar, my ex Nokia colleagues, were coming for dinner that night.  They had just been to Israel on holiday and we were keen to exchange impressions as we also went there just a few years ago.  Whenever we have guests the house has to look its best which means a lot of preparations; Eladio had to cut the grass, Fátima had to do extra cleaning to include the swimming and kitchen terraces and I had to arrange the flowers and the meal.  Being summer and very warm I decided to make a light dinner and to prepare cold dishes which could be made in advance and sit chilling in the fridge.  The first course was to be homemade gazpacho which I wanted to serve in attractive individual little bottles as once seen at a wonderful restaurant called Gecko Beach Club in Formentera.  I found these at a Chinese “pound shop”.  The main course was to be my chicken Waldorf salad which includes mango instead of apple and the dessert was to be raspberry syllabub.  This is what the latter looked like.
The new dessert (syllabub) I made for dinner on Friday when we had guests
Whilst I was whipping the cream which turned into butter as Fátima had stored it outside the fridge and then sent Eladio out to get some more, Olivia was busy at work reporting once again on the pre match atmosphere but the second leg of the Madrid teams’ super cup match.  She did so riding a sort of “tuc tuc” type vehicle and sent us this photo.  Like me Olivia loves sport and so of course she enjoys reporting on it too.
Oli on a tuc tuc in Madrid on Friday reporting on the pre match atmosphere in the city that afternoon
We didn’t watch the second leg either as we were having guests but I was disappointed to learn later that Atlético, supposedly the underdog, had won the cup.  I sort of wondered whether there was some sort of pact between the two teams for the latter to win after Real Madrid had won the European Super Cup recently in Lisbon.  We will never know.

Meanwhile at home everything was ready for the arrival of our guests.  For once we were well ahead of time and spent the half or so before they came putting finishing touches to the evening, preparing a drinks tray, setting up the Spotify music on Eladio’s phone via our wonderful blue tooth Sony portable speaker, lighting candles etc.  This is what the table looked like.
The table I laid for our guests on Friday evening
And then our guests arrived and we welcomed them warmly. 
With my dear friend Juana at home on Friday night
The whole evening was quite magical.  We had a great time discussing our visits to Israel which of course then focused on the Israeli Arab issue.  Another topic of conversation was the crisis and how today’s generation are the lost generation, in that there are few jobs and those that exist are meagerly paid and how that leads to them neither getting married nor ever being able to buy a house.  Yes the future is difficult for them.  I just hope they rise to the challenge.  Other topics of conversation were light hearted, especially when Eladio spoke about how we used to sell beagle puppies and with the money actually managed to build our first swimming pool.  All in all it was a lovely evening and great to see my ex colleagues from Nokia.  Those of us who worked at Nokia in its heyday used to add an inside slogan to the more famous one: Nokia connecting people “and reuniting colleagues”. 
Aselfie with our friends Juana and Oscar on Friday at home, a bit grainy but you get the idea.
We didn’t get to bed until nearly two in the morning and I was up again the next day at my usual 7.30 which meant I only slept five and a half hours.  But Saturday after my walks was to be quite a lazy day.  It was spent with Eladio, mostly by the pool where we were joined by Olivia and Miguel.  It was yesterday on Saturday that I sort of first woke up to the fact that a young Spanish girl called Mireia Belmonte is making history for Spanish swimming, a sport that this country has not usually excelled at, excepting synchronized swimming of course.  So we watched with great awe as she took the gold medal in the 1.500m freestyle race at the Berlin European Swimming Championship.  As I am writing today she has just won another gold medal, coming first in the 200m butterfly race.  Her fellow countrywoman Judit Ignacio won the silver medal.  This is certainly great news for Spanish sport, excelling at swimming; which can be added to football, basketball, formula 1, motorcycling, cycling, tennis at which Spaniards already excel.  Mireia Belmonte aged only 23 must be the woman star of the championships, having also won silver and bronze medals in other races.  According to Miguel, Olivia’s boyfriend who is a keen swimmer, she is Spain’s equivalent to Michael Phelps. 
Spain's best professional swimmer ever, 23 year old Mireia Belmonte
Later we made a lovely dinner all together after which Miguel, Oli and I played sevens, the card game I learned from Sandra and Jeffer this summer.

And today is Sunday and it has been quiet too.  There is really nothing particularly relevant to report.  In a way no news is good news, it’s just another lovely Sunday in August spent at home.
This week coming will bring with it my Father’s operation on Tuesday afternoon, the most important item in the week.  I have lots of faith in Spanish doctors and I’m sure it will all go well as we have been told it’s a very simple keyhole type intervention.  In any case I shall be telling you how it went in next week’s post.

Meanwhile, I wish you all a good week,

Cheers till next time,


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