Sunday, October 05, 2014

Our Indian summer, "North Korea Undercover", cooking, 1st October anniversaries, lunch with Javier, Víctor and Vicente, Islamic State did it again, a family dinner and other stories.

Sunday 5th October 2014

Ready to go out for lunch on Friday
Hello again this sunny Sunday morning.  It is now October and amazingly it is still short sleeves and shorts weather. We are having a delightful Indian summer (in Spanish the little summer of St. Michael! – “veranillo de san miguel”).  Most days are sunny with maximum temperatures in the mid 20’s.  Thus Eladio and I enjoy reading our books (in his case Bertrand Russel on his new kindle) by the pool most evenings.
Still walking in shorts and short sleeves thanks to our Indian summer

The most interesting book I read this week – for the record I read 3! – was certainly John Sweeney’s “North Korea Undercover”.  This BBC journalist visited Korea undercover as a “teacher” from The London School of Economics to make a secret documentary for Panorama.  He subsequently wrote this book.  Not only did he give us an eye witness account of everything he saw and it was dismal, but he also interviewed countless defectors who can tell the real story of the world’s worst country which is probably best described as worse than the Big Brother world George Orwell created in “1984”.  And there is not a thing the western world can do about it as its people continue to be brainwashed, starved or shipped off in their hundreds of thousands to frightening gulags where most of them perish. On the other hand the western world probably doesn’t bother as North Korea has no natural resources they may find attractive.  I bought the book at Frankfurt airport last week rather than the ebook as I had run out of battery at the time.  My Father is now enjoying it too.
My book of the week

Monday was a quiet day spent fasting, walking, working and reading.  The highlight of the day was dinner with Olivia.

Tuesday was busy.  I spent the morning listening to TeliaSonera’s webcast covering their capital market’s day on the lookout for what they might say about Yoigo.  Tuesday was also a heavy cooking day.  I made Spanish lentil soup, potato salad (my Mother’s and my grandfather’s recipe handed to me) as well as broccoli soup and ham croquettes.  This was all because Fátima, our home help, would be taking a two week holiday starting the next day and there had to be food to feed everyone.  Olivia was particularly pleased with the croquettes which we had with her that night for dinner.
Some of my ham croquettes frying for Oli and Eladio's dinner
Wednesday was of course 1st October, the beginning of a new month but for me a date ingrained in my memory because it was the day my beloved Mother died.  This year was the 15th anniversary of her passing away as I remarked to my Father.  It seems so long ago that she left us, but our memory of her never fades.  She was such a colourful, bohemian, lively and amusing person that would be impossible.  I am sorry she is not here to be with my Father in his old age or to see the girls have grown into two wonderful young women and to see how happy we all are in our now not so new home which I know she would have loved. She lives on in my heart and I don’t think a day goes past without my thinking about her.  God bless you Mummy.  You were so special. We shall always miss you.
My very special Mother in a photo I love of her watering the plants in the porch at 6 Heaton Grove 
1st October is also the day I started work at Yoigo and on Wednesday it was my 8th anniversary.  How time flies. 

On Wednesday life continued of course.  That morning I had an appointment with the dermatologist to remove an unsightly mark on my right eyelid which had grown and changed colour recently.  I was worried it might be malignant, always remembering that my dear brother George died of melanoma, that deadly skin cancer.  Thankfully the doctor told me when I first went to see her that she was convinced it was benign and I heaved a sigh of relief.  When I came home, after the small surgery, my dear husband Eladio was waiting for me in the street with a red rose from our garden in his hands.  That was certainly a sight for sore eyes.  Here he is waiting for me.  I love him so.
Elado waiting for me with a red rose from the garden on Wednesday
Thursday was another quiet warm day.  It was my fasting day so I couldn’t indulge in any of the food I had cooked.  That’s why I love Fridays as I can eat more or less what I want until Monday my next fasting day. On Friday I had a lunch appointment with my friends and ex colleagues, Víctor who heads up a personal branding consultancy, amongst a hundred other things, Vicente who is a journalist and book writer and Javier an ex communications manager with a big mobile phone operator who is looking to explore new territory.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of me all ready to go to the lunch at Herón City in Las Rozas.  We chose Clérico for the occasion.
Lunch on Friday with my friends and ex colleagues, from left to right: Vicente, Javier and Víctor
Our lunch, in true Spanish fashion, started at about 2 and went on until nearly 5pm.  We have so much in common, having worked together in many different categories over the years in the telecoms sector and having travelled sometimes on press trips, that I think most of the lunch was spent remembering some of the funnier anecdotes, the bad times and the good.  It was great to get together and I think we shall be repeating the experience on a regular basis, or at least that is our intention.

I had to rush back home as time was against me as usual.  I am such a busy person I have to measure my activities to fit them all in.  This time I was rushing back to do the food shopping with Eladio, Fátima being on holiday, then rushing home to put it all away, go for our walk, come back, shower, make my Father’s frugal dinner and then guess what?  Yeah, we went out to dinner, my second meal out of the day.  We chose Ginos, a quasi Italian restaurant we often go to. 

Just before we left for dinner, Oli was home and we talked for a few brief minutes.  She had come back from perhaps her most harrowing journalistic experience.  Just recently the Spanish police finally caught up with a serial child sex offender in Madrid.  In the wake of the news her programme, like many others, explored the issue and on Friday Olivia found herself interviewing 6 Mothers whose husbands had all sexually abused their own daughters, some of them as young as 3, without the mother knowing.  One of the girls who was abused when she was 6 (she is now 12) was present and told Olivia she wanted to commit suicide.  Olivia came home shocked and disturbed. I too was stunned.  I mean how could those Mothers and their children ever get over something like that?  These predators continue to exist.  According to the psychologist Olivia also interviewed who is treating these Mothers and their children and who herself was abused as a child; 1 in 5 of every child in the world at some time will be sexually abused.  That is disgusting.  But why I ask myself? Is it a common thing for adults to crave for sex with children?  How can that be?  The psychologist told Olivia that is an abnormality inherent only to men. 

Coming home from Ginos, I looked at a news alert on my phone and was upset to read a 4th western hostage had been beheaded by the Islamic State.  It was Alan Henning, the 47 year old father of two and taxi driver from Salford in Lancashire (UK) who was helping deliver aid to Syria when he was kidnapped in December. I was also astounded to read today in The Times online that only yesterday David Cameron had ordered the British secret services to find the jihadist, aka Jihadi John, who had beheaded him before sending out the SAS to capture or kill him.  I mean aren’t they already looking for him? What are they waiting for I wonder?
Alan Henning the 4th western hostage to be beheaded by the Islamic State 
And Saturday came and it was a wonderful day.  I did more cooking, making chicken tikka masala and our Russian “perushki” (meat pies).  For the latter I had help from Olivia who had learned to make them with Susana, taught by my Mother when they were very small.  Once the cooking was done, I accompanied Olivia to the Centro Oeste shopping centre as she wanted to buy a present for her ex colleague Natalia from TVE and her 2 month old baby boy, “Henry” who she was going to see in the afternoon. For once in my life I didn’t buy any clothes, although Olivia did buy one blouse.  We then enjoyed a nice cup of coffee together. What my Mother would have called “moments with Mama”.

Later Olivia posted a photo with Natalia’s lovely baby.  Oli adores babies and was in her element holding little “Henry” here.  Even I must admit he is very sweet as, unlike my daughter, babies just do not attract me. Those of you who know me, know that I far prefer puppies.  Is that some sort of aberration I wonder?
Olivia with baby "Henry" yesterday
It turned out that we went out to dinner again on Saturday.  Eladio’s youngest brother Isidro and his wife Yoli and their older daughter Laura had come to Madrid to visit their youngest daughter Alicia (my god daughter by the way) who is studying nursing in the capital.  So an impromptu dinner was arranged to take place at Eladio’s second brother, José Antonio and his wife Dolores’ house in Madrid.  We all chipped in taking food as we would be 10 round the table.  Unfortunately Olivia couldn’t join the family as it was too late to change her plans.  In any case it was great to get together. Here is a photo of all of us, except Eladio who was the man behind the making of the picture.
The impromptu family dinner on Saturday night in Madrid
It was a late night out and we weren’t in bed till past 1 in the morning – frightfully late for me who usually turns the sheets down at about 9.30pm hahaha.  Even so I was up at my usual hour at 7.30 this morning and was first in the kitchen to feed the dogs and cat and to prepare everyone’s breakfasts.  I had time to load the washing machine, make the lunch (Spanish fabada), start on my blog before going on my walk which was later than usual as Olivia was joining me this morning.  For my second walk this evening I will have the pleasure of the company of Eladio and the dogs of course. It was beautifully warm and the photo of me in my pink shorts above was taken by Olivia as I needed a photo for this post to illustrate the lovely Indian summer we are still having.

Next week promises another week of the same weather.  It also promises to be another quiet week at home, working and reading and walking with no important events on the horizon to look forward to.  Well we’ll see how it pans out and you will read about it in next week’s post.  Meanwhile I wish you all the very best,

Till next Sunday

Cheers Masha.

No comments: