Saturday, December 27, 2014

“El Gordo” the biggest lottery in the world, a tragedy in Glasgow, Olivia interviews the family, our Christmas, Gael is born and other stories.

Saturday 27th December 2014
The four of us on Christmas Day
Hi everyone,

Here I am writing this week’s post on Saturday instead of Sunday.  That’s because tomorrow is Suzy’s last day with us and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.  Both girls will be out for lunch today with the “manada” with whom they will be spending the day. Thus now is the perfect time to write.

I left off last Sunday.  The sports news that day was that Real Madrid was the club world champion for those of you interested in football.  The girls had a long lunch with the manada and the kitchen was invaded from about midday to midnight.  Here is a photo of the whole group of them around our dining room table.
The "manada" at our house last Sunday
Sunday of course was the start of the winter and it was the longest night of the year, the winter solstice.  Thankfully now the days will start to get longer.  In any case we have been blessed with sunshine since Suzy came and I’m sure she appreciates it, as she surely has enjoyed the extra two hours of sun each evening.  Dusk in London is just before 4 in the afternoon whereas the sun sets here at about 6pm.

On Monday I fasted and went for my two walks as usual.  Suzy has been joining me on many of them.  I was also busy with the issue of a joint press release with Ericsson to announce our renewed contract for managed services of our network.  I spent some of my time making food for Christmas Eve and would continue doing so the next day too.  Oli was ill with a nasty cold which she still has.  However she was well enough to give me a helping hand with the croquettes and perushki (little Russian meat pies). 

Monday 22nd December is a very important date in Spain. It’s when the Christmas lottery “el gordo” is drawn.  It is the biggest lottery in the world and it is typical to buy tickets for your friends and family.  Unlike other lotteries there is not just one jack pot but several prizes and the winnings are distributed amongst thousands of people.  A “décimo” (a tenth of a ticket) which is what most people buy costs 20 euros and if your number coincides with the first prize you win 400.000 euros. For the first time ever I know someone who won this year.  Well done Javi, I’m very pleased for you. Eladio won a modest 180 euros which he immediately went to spend on the next biggest lottery in Spain, “El niño” (the child) which is drawn on 5th January.  Many people in all parts of Spain were celebrating winning El Gordo on Monday.  We have never won a significant amount but as I heard one winner say on the television; “if you don’t buy a ticket you don’t win”.  So we shall try our luck again next year as we do every year.
People queuing up to buy a lottery ticket for El Gordo
In Scotland on Monday no one was celebrating; instead they were mourning their dead after a dustbin lorry lost control and crashed into pedestrians in George Square killing 6 people.  3 of them came from the same family.  From what I have read it seems the lorry driver had a heart attack.
The Glasgow bin lorry crash
On Tuesday I spent some quality time with Suzy.  We went to do the Christmas food shopping and Tuesday was the first time the five of us had lunch alone together for a very long time.  It was lovely to see all of my immediate family around the table.

Wednesday was Christmas Eve which in Spain is as important as Christmas day or more.  Their main Christmas meal is on the evening of the 24th.  In our house we respect both the Spanish and English traditions.  Olivia was back to work that day, although she was still suffering from a bad cold.  She was doing a report on the use of credit cards at a shopping centre not far from where we live, Gran Plaza 2 in Las Rozas.  We decided to go and see her there which we did only to find out that she wanted to use all three of us for her report. We were not to be interviewed by her as  her family but as "spontaneous shoppers". In a way we would be helping her as it is always difficult to persuade passersby to volunteer and talk to a TV camera.  I was very eager to be interviewed by my daughter and was the perfect candidate as my purse is bursting to the seams with credit cards and shop receipts.  Suzy and Eladio were more reluctant but enjoyed the experience in the end. In these three photos you can see Olivia interviewing us.  The report came out yesterday and you can see it on this link at the beginning if you go to where it says 19.33h on the screen.
Olivia interviewing Suzy
Olivia interviewing her father
Olivia interviewing me
On the topic of interviews, there is a huge issue in the news around a film made by Sony Pictures called “The Interview” which is a parody of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.  About 10 days ago Sony’s computers were hacked which led to the Hollywood studio cancelling the release of the film.  The US blamed North Korea for the cyberattack.  Then the latter suffered an internet outage (although that wouldn’t have affected much of the population as internet is the privilege of very few in that cruel country) for which North Korea blamed the US.  Perhaps the original cyberattack was not a good idea as it gave the film much more publicity than it would ever have and now the whole world can see it for free as Sony has decided to release it on internet in a stand to defend freedom of speech.  I am certainly going to watch it to see what all the fuss is about.  You can too if you go to this link.
The film by Sony which was cyberattacked
I spent most of the afternoon finishing preparations for our Christmas Eve meal which was to consist of what we call in our family “a bits and bobs meal”: potato salad, lobster salad, bacon rolls, “perushki” (little Russian meat pies), croquettes and foie.  There was to be no proper dessert as we would be eating “turrón” (Spanish nougat eaten only at Christmas) and chocolates.  Suzy made her own vegan variety of food and this is what the table looked like.
Our table on Christmas Eve
The best moment was the cracker moment and here is a fun selfie we took of the five of us.  It was difficult to take it as we were laughing so much and had glasses of champagne in our hands, including Olivia’s who was the photographer of the moment.
The cracker moment selfie
We all read out the jokes which were better than the presents inside the crackers.  Here is Grandpa reading out his with his magnifying glass which we thought was hilarious.
My 95 year old Father reading his cracker joke with a magnifying glass on Christmas Eve
One of the best was: “why did the doughnut worker leave his job?  Because he was fed up with the “hole” business.

Later we played trivial, the girls against the parents.  When Miguel joined us they were leading but it was late so we decided to go to bed.  The next item on the Christmas agenda was to fill the girls’ stockings and put them outside their bedrooms. This has been a tradition for me since I was a child and I always threaten to put an end to it but the girls always insist.  So once again there were stockings for the girls.

On Christmas day I was woken up by Olivia at 7 in the morning.  She had gone into Suzy’s room to open the presents in the stockings and I joined them.  I think it is the first time I have ever seen them opening them.  I was not allowed to take a photo though as the girls were in their pyjamas.

Next came breakfast which I prepared with loving care in the dining room with our best china.  I had bought some croissants the day before and this is what the table looked like. 
Breakfast on Christmas morning
After breakfast it was time to open our presents. There seemed to be so many this year and it is always the moment we all look forward to most at Christmas.  As Miguel was with us I asked him to take the traditional photo of Eladio and I just before starting.  This is the result:
Eladio and I on Christmas Day just before opening the presents
Later he took one of me with my girls to remember the occasion. I love it.
With my girls on Christmas Day whilst opening our presents
I think we were all very pleased with our presents.  Amongst many other things I got a lovely white handbag by Michael Kors.  One of my presents to Eladio was a traditional duffel coat which looks great on him.
My lovely new handbag from my Father and Eladio

Both Suzy and I coincided by giving selfie sticks which we had both bought on Amazon.  It turned out mine worked better on our phones and I felt sorry for Suzy.  I think the selfie stick has probably been one of the most popular Christmas gifts this year.  However I am not very impressed with mine. It’s a bit heavy so the phone moves and you end up with slightly blurred photos. 

I spent the rest of the morning making the Christmas lunch which would be a traditional English Christmas day meal, except that I substitute turkey for a special chicken which I think is called “pullet” in English.  The trimmings were: cranberry sauce, sage and onion stuffing, sprouts, peas and carrots, roast potatoes and gravy. The girls’ friend Juli joined us as he does most years and the photo illustrating this week’s blog is of the four of us around the table at lunch on Christmas Day.

Of course we went for a walk in the afternoon to work off some of the excess.  Later we watched a film with the girls in the lounge with the fire on.  Unfortunately the film was not very good but it was nice to be together.

And yesterday was Boxing Day which is not celebrated here. However Olivia had the day off for once.  We decided to go to the shops to return or exchange some of the gifts the girls got and were joined by Miguel.  It was a lovely morning together.  Once again in the evening Eladio and I enjoyed the fire in the lounge together with the dogs and watched a film, another disappointing one.

For the records yesterday was also the 10th anniversary of the 2004 Tsunami which hit 13 countries and killed 280.000 people.  Who does not remember seeing the news on Boxing Day in 2004 of this terrible natural disaster?

And today is Saturday, Suzy’s last day with us.  As I said the girls have gone off to have lunch with the “manada”.  The news of the day though is that Gael was born early this morning.  Gale is the first son of Juan, Eladio’s godson and son of José Antonio and Dolores. His wife Cristina gave birth to their first grandchild early this morning after being admitted to hospital yesterday.  So we have a new Christmas baby in the family.  If Cristina is recovered by tomorrow we plan to go and see the new baby on our way to taking Suzy to the airport.  I do hope Suzy gets to see her cousin’s baby before she returns to London.  Welcome Gael to the Freijo family and to the world. No pictures I’m afraid as I have seen one but wouldn’t dare to publish it here without permission.

It has been a lovely family Christmas which is not over yet of course. There is still New Year’s Eve to come.  We shall be going to Montrondo on Monday to join José Antonio and, hopefully Dolores too.  Eladio is keen to see the progress on the new house.  On Wednesday we shall travel by car to León to have dinner with the family at Amancio a restaurant in the city which is where we usually celebrate the New Year.  But of course I shall be telling you all about that next week.

Meanwhile my friends I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season and I wish you all a great new year.

Cheers till next week


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