Sunday, May 31, 2015

The best rose in the garden, voting with the family, Suzy’s last day, furniture for Montrondo, chocolates from India, to the Swedish Embassy, discovering the “e-cloth”, Oli’s debut as a TV presenter, dinner at De María, Oli’s second birthday party and other stories.

Sunday 31st May 2015

The family, all 5 of us, about to vote last Sunday
Hello again,

Another week has passed and it has been a good one.  The wonderful weather helps of course and our garden is looking beautiful.  What I most love about it at this time of year are the roses, or my roses, as the family calls them.  Last Saturday when I last wrote, I picked what I think must be the most beautiful rose in our garden.  It is called a “black rose” but is actually a very deep red. 
The best rose from our garden
I think it would probably win a competition.  Our black roses do not have a scent but the dark pink and orange ones do and it is a delight to smell them when I walk down our drive to the gate.  I just adore them and fill the house with them when they are in bloom. To do so I use the rose pruners which come from our old house in Bradford as Eladio pointed out to me the other day. Here is a selection of just some of the roses we have.  My favourites are the red and yellow ones.
Beautiful roses from our garden
When I wrote last week Olivia’s 30th birthday party was in full swing and Susana was here.  That night was the Eurovision Contest.  We only watched a little of it and fell asleep during the voting.  There are so many countries these days, it goes on for far too long.  Sweden won in the end with a song called Heroes.  What I was most impressed with was the amazing stage put up by the host country Austria and by the special effects many of the contestants used.

Sunday was Suzy’s last day with us and it was also the day of the Spanish regional and local elections.  We packed a lot into that day.  After breakfast the whole family, including my Father went to vote.  The picture illustrating this week’s post is of the five of us about to go and do our electoral duty.

We took my Father in his wheel chair and he was wearing his elegant panama hat.  I think he may well have been the oldest voter. 
My Father about to vote
We are a very democratic family and between the five of us we voted for Ciudadanos, the new centre party, UPD, a new centre party and Podemos, the new and now famous anti- corruption party born from the “indignados” movement and who some say are communist.  I don’t think they are. Not one of us voted for the two main parties, PSOE (left wing) or PP (right wing and governing party); fed up with their corruption and austerity measures.  After voting, we decided to celebrate this democratic and, in a way, festive activity by going for a coffee together to a cafeteria a stone’s throw from the polling station.  Some of us had “churros” with chocolate and most of all we enjoyed being together.  For my Father the outing was a huge success as he hasn’t left the house for a long time. We shall have to take him out again for churros or a glass of wine as he seemed to enjoy himself so much.  Good for him!
At a cafeteria all together after voting last Sunday
To work off breakfast and the churros, afterwards, the four of us then went for a walk together with all three dogs.  It was a very warm day as you can see from the clothes we were wearing.  It was so warm that a halo formed around the sun; something I have never seen before.  It was quite a unique phenomenon to quote Eladio.  Here are my lovely girls and Eladio and the dogs on our walk that day.
The girls and their Father and the dogs on our walk after voting last Sunday
The family walk was followed by the last family lunch with Suzy as she was leaving that afternoon.  This is a selfie of Olivia and I with her just before she left.
Last moments with Suzy last Sunday afternoon
I’m not sure when we will see her next as she is starting a new job with Planet Organic and will not have much holiday as she is going away to Thailand with the “manada” in September for two weeks which will leave only a few days of any entitled holiday she may have from then till the end of the year. Oli and I took her to the airport and when we came home the house felt so empty.  We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging around, reading and playing trivial on our phones.  It is so addictive I had to uninstall the app.

On Monday we woke up to the results of the elections.  They surprised us all.  The PP lost many votes as did the PSOE most of them going to Podemos and Ciudadanos.  In both Madrid and Barcelona we shall shortly see two women Mayors from parties associated with Podemos.  Meanwhile as not one party has a majority there will be all sorts of coalitions; the most likely ones being with Podemos and PSOE to oust out the increasingly unpopular PP. 
Election results
Whilst the two dominating parties were licking their wounds, life went on. That morning I had many errands to do as well as an appointment with the dentist.  In the evening we had an appointment with our decorator at Ikea and we spent a good two or three hours there going over the lists of furniture we have ordered for the house in Montrondo.  The most exciting part will of course be the kitchen.
The kitchen we have chosen for our house in Montrondo
Also for the first time in my life I will be choosing and buying bathroom furniture, rather than inheriting it.  This is the bathroom furniture we have chosen for our own bathroom which I think will go beautifully with the black and white checkered floor.
The furniture we have chosen for our own bathroom in Montrondo
On our way out we spied the new collection of garden furniture. There and then we bought four small tables which can be used singly or together and 10 chairs for our two terraces in Montrondo. They are very Scandinavian, don’t you think?
The terrace furniture we have bought for Montrondo

Our car was full to the brim and it was then that we got a call from Olivia to come and pick her up from a place called Colmenar Viejo, some 20km further north where she had been reporting on a story for her TV programme. She only just fitted in the back; it was such a squeeze.  When she got home my daughter was delighted to receive a parcel from her beloved Indian friends Sumit and Sandeep for her 30th birthday.  It was a box of Belgian chocolates sent, or rather ordered, all the way from India.  Sumit and Sandeep are her friends from their Erasmus year in Falmouth in Cornwall and I know they will be life-long friends.  I’m still hoping one of them might marry one of my daughters but it seems not.  They are more like brothers and sisters, God bless them.
Oli with Sumit and Sandeep's chocolates
Monday was also Suzy’s first day as a nutritionist with Planet Organic.  I had asked for a photo but never got one.  We haven’t heard from her since she left apart from the odd whatsapp message to say everything is going fine.  I really hope it is.  Love you Suzy.

On Tuesday I had to go to an event at the Swedish Embassy where Yoigo was taking part in a debate on the European Digital Single Market.  It was my first time there which is quite strange really as our Mother Company, TeliaSonera is Swedish.  I only realized when I was dressed to leave that I was actually wearing the colours of the Swedish flag; blue and yellow.  Here I am, by my roses, dressed for the occasion.
Off to the Swedish Embassy in the right colours
The Ambassador’s residence is in a very smart street in the centre of Madrid and is really a beautiful old palace.  It has a small patio and garden which when I arrived was full of men, mostly tall Swedes. It made me think that whilst the Swedes residing in Madrid often go to their Embassy events, I have not once been to the British Embassy for anything other than a new passport which you can’t even do anymore as it’s all online.  Maybe I have to register with them to get invited to their glamorous events or maybe they wouldn’t invite me.  However all the Swedes I know in Madrid seem to be invited to all sorts of events at their Embassy and the Press attaché promised to send me an invitation to a Swedish gastro event as well as to their Midsummer party.  I look forward to them.

The event was quite political as the Secretaries of State for telecommunications from both Sweden and Spain were present, as was a Swedish representative from the European Commission for Economy. Below is a collection of photos I took that day.  Take a look at the one of the speakers; there is only one woman.  She, of course, is Swedish and is actually the Ambassador who speaks perfect Spanish. 
At the Swedish Embassy on Tuesday
At the cocktail party later I found myself talking to the Ambassador, the Commercial Attaché and the EU representative, all of them women and we spoke about how few women are in high positions in Spain, about maternity leave in Sweden vs Spain and even about Ikea meat balls.  I must say that this conversation was the best part of the whole event.  I should add that the presentation of the Single Digital Market by Ann W, the EU representative was another  highlight of  as she made understandable and did not resort to what I call “Brussels Speak”. 

I rushed home afterwards to have lunch with my men but go there afterwards.  On my kitchen “island” waiting for me were two small parcels from Amazon. They were my “e-cloths”, one sent by Suzy and the other that I had ordered. It was my friend Lorraine who stayed with us recently who recommended them.  I am a bit obsessed with keeping the “island” clean and clear of wipe marks.  Salu, our home-help is especially “good” at creating wipe marks.  Unbelievably I read on the instructions that the e-cloth is to be used with just water and that it doesn’t leave a mark.  I tried it out immediately and it’s true; it cleans and leaves no mark. The packet also included a polishing cloth for glass and similar surfaces.  Again you use only water with it and to clean glass you spray water and wipe it with the dry polishing cloth.  Our windows are now looking spotless.  I just wonder how I had never heard of the e-cloth before and if it is available in Spain.  At about 5 pounds per pack of two cloths – the dry and the wet one, they are well worth investing in.  I shall be getting more for Montrondo and Santa Pola and for my sister-in-law Dolores.
E-Cloths, the miracle cloths I discovered this week
On Wednesday I fasted as I did on Monday.  After our morning walk  - these days we go early in the morning or late at night to avoid the heat – I had appointments with two doctors.  The first was with the surgeon who had operated my fractured ankle.  It was to see the scar which doesn’t seem to heal. When he first saw it he thought the screws in the bone might be affecting it; i.e. my body was rejecting them and even suggested taking them out via another operation after which I would have to walk on crutches again. But he’s not sure so has asked me to go back next week to see how it is.  Do cross your fingers I don’t have to have the screws out.  I shall spare you the photo here of the scar which is rather ugly haha.

What cheered me up after the appointment was one of the press clippings about Yoigo that day.  It was a result of our press release from last week which I issued after the Ministry of Industry had published its study on the level of customer care of the Spanish operators.  Yoigo was top of the league with least complaints.  Here is the clipping from the Spanish financial daily newspaper, El Economista.
A clipping that made me happy this week
The next day Thursday, I was to issue another press release.  This time we were announcing a new prepaid tariff.  I’m hoping for good coverage about this too like this article in English, surprisingly.
Our new prepaid tariff which we announced this week
It was also on Thursday that my boss and I had lunch with El Mundo, the Spanish newspaper or rather with their telecoms reporter, Ana and her boss their editor of economy, Vicente.  We went to El Quënco de Pepa near Alberto Alcocer where they serve fruit and vegetables from their own orchard.  Just look as these cherries.  Cherries are my favourite fruit and the season is now starting much to my joy.
Giant cherries at El Quënco de Pepa
We talked shop of course, but even more interesting for me was to talk about the newspaper itself. El Mundo, traditionally right wing, was headed up by a very famous Spanish journalist, Pedro J. Ramirez and some of the journalists are very well known.  For example Ana Romero their ex royal correspondent who has just published a book about the abdication of the King of Spain – the supposed real story which I have read; or Javier Espinosa and the photographer Ricardo García who were kidnapped by ISIS.  In the lunch on Thursday my suspicions that the Spanish government paid for their release were confirmed.  They were held in captivity together with other Western journalists who were later beheaded probably because their Governments would not pay for their release. 

After the lunch I rushed home to catch up with lots of work.  I have a lot on my plate these days with two big events coming up and lots of other things.  I didn’t stop until dinner which I prepared with great haste just before Oli was back from work.  On Thursdays in our house there is never much choice for food as the weekly shopping happens on a Friday afternoon and the cupboards are rather bare by then.  But I managed to rustle up a lovely meal of Swedish open prawn sandwiches and Spanish ham which we had “al fresco” that evening.  I love eating outside at night these days as it is light until past 10 at night.
Dinner al fresco on Thursday night
On Friday I was up at 7 as I nearly always am.  The earlier I get up the more I can pack into a day.  I worked most of the morning but was pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of another parcel from my online shopping. This time it was a pair of Clarks white summer shoes with a low heel, ideal for wearing with jeans or a dress and very comfortable.  Clarks seem to make shoes just for me; they are not only practical and comfortable – with the option of extra width, but quite chic too.  They are not the Clarks we wore as kids at school in the 60’s and 70’s.  They have come a long way since then but perhaps have kept that image as a bit frumpy or old fashioned.
My new Clarks shoes
Salu made us lunch that day as she usually does.  This time she made Spanish “cocido” or rather “cocido madrileño” which is really a winter dish.  But it’s a dish we love so much we eat it all year round.  This is what it looked like and, believe me it tasted delicious.
Salu's "cocido madrileño" for lunch on Friday
Whilst Salu and I were doing the weekly shopping that afternoon, Olivia was making her debut as a TV presenter.  Up till now she has always worked as a TV reporter, although she is the official substitute presenter for her programme “Aquí en Madrid” but has never presented.  So Friday was a big day for her when she had her own set in the Retiro Park where she was to present the Madrid Book Fair, a big event in the literary world. 

Oli made her debut as a TV presenter on Friday
I watched it online the next day and was very impressed with her ability to present, especially as she has never done it before. You can see her too on this link but will have to fiddle around to find the exact moments. Well done Oli. 

That night we celebrated her debut by going out to dinner.  I had chosen De María in Majadahonda, a great favourite with the Atlético de Madrid football players as their practice grounds are right next door.  Here is a selfie of the three of us at dinner.
A selfie at dinner on Friday night
And yesterday, Saturday, Olivia invited 7 of her colleagues from her programme to lunch to celebrate her 30th birthday. It was to be her second birthday party.  I was very proud of her culinary efforts as I watched her make a superb carrot cake and 6 home-made pizzas.
Oli cooking for her friends on Saturday.  Notice Elsa got in the pic!
I helped by making the first course, Salmorejo (from Córdoba) and being the general skivvy haha.

They had a very civilized lunch by the pool after which they swam in the water, listened to music and drank mojitos.  I tried one which was delicious.  Here they are together relaxing by our pool.
Oli and her colleagues yesterday at her second birthday party
After the party, Oli left for another party, this time in Majadahonda to celebrate Rocio’s 31st birthday.  Meanwhile we stayed at home, going to bed early to watch the Sinking of the Laconia, a real story that happened in the Second World War.  After Pippa’s evening sponge bath, she settled down in our bed too, but to sleep rather than watch the TV hahaha.  Here is a collage of photos of the sequence of her settling down to sleep.  Pippa will be 6 months old next week and has reached the weight of 4 kilos!  She looks bigger than when she first came but is still the size of a large new born baby. And oh, how we love her.
Pippa who is nearly 6 months old - settling down for the night.
Today is Sunday and it is quiet.  We shall be having fish and chips for lunch, after I have written this post.  I imagine the afternoon will be spent by the pool reading.  Next week promises to be busy.  Thursday is a national holiday – Corpus Christi – and we shall be going to Montrondo again and taking the chairs and tables with us, as well as not so little Pippa.

I do hope you all have a great week.  I look forward to telling you about mine next Sunday.

Meanwhile cheers everyone and all the best till next time


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