Sunday, August 30, 2015

A cow in the garden, home from Montrondo, R.I.P. Geoffrey Brindley, a girly week, a new toy for Pippa, TV journalists shot dead during a live report in Virginia, this week’s new books, dinner with the cousins, a migrant tragedy in Austria, missing Eladio, and other tales.

Sunday 30th August 2015
A selfie with the girls and the dogs on our walk this week
Hello again

I am writing from home this morning from the table on the terrace by the pool watching the girls in the water with Elsa and Pippa.  It’s great to be with both girlies although I am missing Eladio but more about that later.

I left off last Sunday in Montrondo where it rained all day.  Whilst I wrote my blog there, Eladio and his beloved brother José Antonio spent their time trying to install the beds in our miniscule bedrooms as well as other fixtures around the house.  Both of them are good with their hands and they got congratulations from all of us when they got the TV working - no mean feat in Montrondo where the signal is weak – with no need for the  the antenna man whose service the next day was cancelled when they finished the job successfully.

On Monday morning I woke up to rain again.  This is what beautiful Montrondo looked like on the walk that morning.
Montrondo in the rain on Monday morning this week
I went with Adela, José Antonio, Dolores but left Pippa behind as it was cold and raining.  I made note to buy her a dog raincoat for successive trips to our village.
Adela, Dolores and Toño on the wet Monday morning walk in Montrondo
Just as I was having my last breakfast in Montrondo that morning after our walk I was surprised to spy a cow in our garden.  Pippa was ambling around and didn’t even notice it!  I suppose it’s a normal thing to happen in the village but to me it looked like a Milka advert and I just had to take a photo to share with you.  I love the countryside and it’s not every morning you find a cow in your garden is it?
The cow in our garden
Suzy and I had decided to leave for better weather in Madrid and to be here for her post-operation doctor appointment on Wednesday. Eladio had to stay behind as the carpenters, electrician and other contractors were coming to put the final touches on the house.  He would be getting a lift home with José Antonio and Dolores the following week.

We left just after 11 and stopped at Senra to buy bread to take home; a special request from Olivia.
Suzy buying bread for Olivia at the old fashioned bakery in Senra as we left Montrondo
We also had to stop at a chemist shop in Riello to buy car sick tablets for little Pippa who seemed uncomfortable the whole way.  I bought children’s tablets and gave her half a tablet which I coaxed her to eat with a bit of cheese from Suzy’s sandwich.  It helped although she remained awake the whole journey.  Next time I shall give her the tablet an hour before we leave.

We stopped at Rueda for lunch where I indulged in a half platter of ham with a glass of delicious verdejo Rueda wine.  We ate outside so that Pippa could be with us and I fed her tiny bits of ham and bread which she polished down in a jiffy.  She is generally not a good eater; or rather she is not fond of her dry dog food and is a very slow eater.  Later in the week I went to a pet shop in Majadahonda to find pet food she might like better and came away with Royal Canin especially for dachshunds.  She loves it!  They didn’t stock rain coats for dogs unfortunately as it’s still the summer here.
Lunch in Rueda, outside this time
As we were driving home I spied photos of Suzy’s friends from “la manada” who had gone to Thailand unfortunately without her.  Rocío, Anita, Elena, Chati and Carolina are missing her and they send her messages every day.  I feel so sorry for Suzy missing the trip and losing all the money for the ticket and hotels but she is taking it very well.  Her attitude is laudable.
4 of Suzy's friends in Thailand, from left to right: Carolina, Ana, Elena and Rocio (pink shorts)
We were home at about 4.30 in the afternoon and Oli was here waiting for us, as were my Father, Salud, our home-help and our dogs Elsa and Norah.  Leaving Eladio in Montrondo was strange for me but on the bright side I had a real girly week ahead to look forward to.  As I said to them; whilst the cat’s away the mice will play.  Eladio is the one who runs the safety of this house and he always checks the doors and windows before going to bed and when we have all taken to our bedrooms he puts the alarm on.  I realized just as I was going to bed that perhaps we had to do this job and asked Suzy to check the doors and windows and to make sure Phoebe our cat was outside (otherwise the alarm goes off at night).  She remarked that whilst Eladio was away I was the captain.  I laughingly agreed and went off to do the job as I have done every night during his absence.

Monday was a quiet day spent catching up with my work whilst accompanied by Suzy who was applying for jobs online.  That day Geoffrey Brindley died in hospital on Monday, 11 days after suffering a stroke at home in Baildon. He was the Bradford Jesus man I wrote about last week had.  He was aged 88 and the whole of Bradford is in mourning for his death.  RIP the robe and sandal Jesus man I will never forget.  I hope you get the sendoff you deserve in Bradford and I wish I could be there.  Thanks for all those times you waved to me and smiled at me as you walked along Manningham Lane.
The Bradford Jesus Man.  R.I.P.
On Tuesday, I accompanied Suzy to the dentist, determined to spend as much time as possible with her whilst she is recovering from the operation.  She went to a new clinic run by two boys (men I suppose is the right word now) she went to school with who are now experienced dentists: Alex and Santiago.  I think her first kiss was to Alex but only she would know.  It was amazing to see him after all these years.  He is so tall and of course a grown man.  Before setting up the clinic with his brother he studied and worked in New York where he met his wife a girl from Taiwan.  He refused to charge Suzy for his services!  Afterwards we went to have a cup of coffee at a place called Atuel in Majadahonda and here I indulged in a superb fresh fruit covered pastry which you can see in the photo below.  Thankfully Suzy shared it with me otherwise I would not have had any appetite for lunch that day.
Coffee and cake with Suzy at Atuel in Majadahonda this week
We did some food shopping that day too as our cupboards were pretty bare and then went home for lunch with my Father.  Suzy had some of the sushi she bought at Carrefour.  I am glad to see her heeding the doctors’ advice to skip her vegan diet and get stronger by eating animal protein.  She was very weak a month ago with low red blood cells and iron which are a consequence of the vegan diet. 

It was that morning that we went to the pet shop, Petuluku, too where I bought the pet food for Pippa.  I also bought her a new toy.  She loved it as you can see in the photo below.  However I later regretted it as it was full of nylon threads which she got out with her teeth and ended up being strewn all over the carpets and floors.
Pippa and the new toy
On Wednesday I went with Suzy to the hospital for her appointment.  Once again thanks to Juan, Rocío’s father, who has been a brick opening all the doors for us and treating us like his family.  We were so glad to hear that in the biopsy there was nothing malignant.  They were a bit worried about the inflammation and are still looking for the cause.  Suzy was also warned about her red blood count which is very low (3 million vs a normal 5m) and which could have affected her immune system.  The doctor told her to stick to a proper diet, including animal protein – until at least December when he will be seeing her again. 

I went home to catch up on lots of work; mostly to do with my current big project, the Yoigo summer party for 250 people in El Rocío in South West Spain in September.  In the afternoon Suzy and I did a girly thing and went to have a pedicure and manicure respectively.  Meanwhile in Montrondo, Eladio was supervising the installation of the wooden staircase which he had insisted was to be made of chestnut, quite an expensive wood.  I would have been happy enough with pinewood but not so Eladio.  Here is the photo he sent me.  
The staircase was put in the house in Montrondo this week
Now all that remains to be done is to put in the interior doors and install the kitchen which hopefully should happen towards the middle of September. 

The three dogs are very happy that all three “girls” are at home, i.e, Suzy, Oli and I.  I observed them that day playing together with one of their blankets and the new toy, a plastic orange grenade.  Later I posted a photo of Pippa who had won it over for herself.  She is a bit bossy and a friend of mine said on Facebook that she was beginning to feel sorry for Norah and Elsa.  She is right, I must pay more attention to them and a little less to Pippa, at least in front of them.
The three dogs playing together
It was on Wednesday when the world went into shock after seeing live footage of two American TV journalists in Virginia being shot dead whilst doing a live TV report. A disgruntled former employee, Flanagan, who had felt he had been a victim of racism, shot 17 rounds from a glock pistol at reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward during a live interview.  They died immediately.  Flanagan ran off to his car, uploaded the video of the killing which he had filmed himself on to You Tube and subsequently took his own life. The woman being interviewed was the only survivor of the shooting.  Once again the argument for and against the possession of weapons in the US is being questioned the world around.  It’s a pretty mad world isn’t it?  My daughter Olivia who is a TV reporter was especially shocked as you can imagine.
The live TV interview in Virginia this week when the TV reporter and cameraman were shot and killed
That night Suzy and I had dinner at a new fish restaurant in Majadahonda called Panorama.  Oli who came home late was too tired to join us.  We loved the décor but the service was rather slow and I was not that keen with the items on the menu.  However other people must have been as the place was packed.

On Thursday whilst I had breakfast my preordered kindle edition of Ingrid Seward’s new book, The Queen’s Speech, arrived.  I love reading royal biographies probably because I was brought up in England when the Royal Family was so popular – not so much these days. I am no longer a royalist but am still fascinated with books about the behind the doors stories of the Queen and her family.
One of this week's new books
That morning too, after recommendations from my friend Sandra, I bought another kindle book, The Girl on the Train, a very different genre indeed but one I like too.  It is apparently one of this year’s bestsellers and is being compared to Gone Girl. It is a psychological thriller by the British author Paula Hawkins and I am looking forward to reading it.  Being a British thriller and not an American one I expect a lot more from it and look forward to reading it after The Queen’s Speech.
The other book I bought for my kindle this week
That morning I was busy working on the last minute details of the programme and invitation, as well as the registration website for the Yoigo summer party in El Rocío.  The worst part, the guest list, always falls to me and it’s a job I hate.  But finally the list was ready and I sent the invitation and programme with the link to the website that morning.  I heaved a sigh of relief as soon as I had finished.

When I had finished I set upon making potato salad for lunch and to take to the dinner with the girls’ cousins that night. The recipe comes from my grandfather and was passed on to me.  He was Russian and potato salad in Spanish is called Russian salad funnily enough.  If you are interested it is made of chopped up boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, spring onion, boiled eggs and tuna fish.  The mayonnaise is also home made and the final result is always delicious.  I didn’t decorate it this time but it does look better if it is.
The potato salad I made this week from my Grandfather's recipe.
It went down very well at the dinner with the cousins that night.  The girls’ cousins who live in Madrid, Sara, Juan, his partner Cris and their baby Gael, Paula, her  boyfriend Pedro who are to be married next year and Alicia, my goddaughter were meeting together to see Suzy and celebrate the success of her operation.  We were also celebrating the future birth of another baby in the family. Needless to say I invited myself along and was the only “Aunt” there.  We had dinner at José Antonio and Dolores’ house in the block of flats in Madrid where we used to live many years ago.  Whenever I go there it is a like a trip down memory lane.  The girls probably won’t remember much as we moved out when they were 3 and 4.  It was a lovely reunion dinner and a chance for the cousins to see each other which doesn’t happen too often, especially as this year both Suzy and Oli missed the annual family gathering in Montrondo.  Here is a photo of all of us taken by Ali and for which I have permission from them to publish in my blog post this week hahaha.
Dinner with the cousins on Thursday night in Madrid
Whilst we were having a lovely time at the flat a dreadful tragedy was unfolding in Austria when a lorry was found with 71 dead migrants inside who had suffocated inside the unventilated and cramped vehicle.  Rather than migrants these poor people who are mostly from Syria or Afghanistan should be seen as refugees fleeing warzones or conflict of some sort rather than illegal immigrants.   They don't want to leave their countries but circumstances force them.  They somehow get to Greece and from there human traffickers bring them illegally in appalling conditions to Western Europe where their main destination is either Germany or the UK – we have seen similar scenes in Calais and of course the island of Lampedusa in Italy or Melilla in Spanish Africa.  The rich world shuts their frontiers to them or sends them back but they keep coming and risk their lives to do so.  What the rich world often forgets is that their countries were often made up of immigrants (take the US as the big example) who now turn their backs on these people.  I always relate to the plight of refugees as my Mother’s whole family fled Russia during the Russian revolution and became refugees themselves.  When the Second World War finished my own Mother could not return to her host country Bulgaria which had become communist, thus never seeing her Father again.  She took a train to London and arrived as a refugee despite her aristocratic background.  She was penniless and in order to become a legal resident had to work cleaning people’s houses or cleaning in hospitals for 2 years before she was able to take a job with the BBC as a radio commentator for the BBC World Service for its Bulgarian programme.  Her brothers and sisters were scattered around the world living and starting a life in Canada, New York, Paris and Munich.  The difference is that then the frontiers were open to them and they didn’t have to get to these places illegally like the poor refugees who died last week in a cramped lorry in Austria.
The lorry where the 7 1 dead refugees were found in Austria this week
On Friday both girls joined me on my walk in the morning and we took all three dogs. It was Suzy’s first walk since her operation and I could see she has recovered very well.  I suppose her age is in her favour.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is a selfie of us and the dogs.

I had a conference call that morning and a lot of issues of guests for our summer party to deal with.  In the afternoon Suzy and I went to do the proper weekly food shopping and she was amazed at the amount I buy and spend.  The explanation is that there are five of us living here permanently plus 3 dogs and a cat.  We get through a lot of fruit and I think I must be the green grocer’s best customer or so he tells me. We bought a bit more than usual as the girls were having guests for dinner that night.  Nacho who had worked for Suzy in London and Juli who is a sort of surrogate son or brother were both coming.  We had a lovely meal which included my now very popular open Swedish prawn sandwich, humus and meat and tuna pies.  We had such a great time we all forgot to take photos.

I was having a truly girly week enjoying the girls’ company but by Saturday I was missing Eladio.  He is never away from home.  If anyone is away it is me and the feeling is a bit strange.  I asked him for a photo outside the new house in Montrondo for this week’s post and here it is. He is very happy there working with his brother José Antonio but now he is ready to come home which won’t be until next Tuesday I am afraid.
Eladio outside our house in Montrondo yesterday
On Saturday morning I went for a walk with Olivia.  She took this great shot of me with the three dogs together just before we left.
With all 3 dogs about to go on our walk with Olivia yesterday
Suzy preferred to stay behind with Juli who doesn’t like walks and of all the things they could have chosen to do they decided upon table tennis.  They were still playing when we got back. Here is a photo of the two of them.
Suzy with Juli yesterday playing table tennis.
After a lovely lunch together, I spent the afternoon reading by the pool.  Suzy had another guest, this time a girl called Monica who had lived with her at their awful digs in Whitechapel.  I was waiting for my great friend Fátima to come too but she was late as always.  We were going out to dinner on our own.  We chose De María, an Argentinian restaurant in Majadahonda.  We were there until way past midnight.  It was great catching up with my oldest Spanish friend who worked with me both at Motorola and Nokia where she still works.  She is also my neighbour but we don’t see much of each other as we are both so busy.  Her daughter has just left to spend a year in the US, so I do hope she will have more time on her hands for more girly dinners or time together. 

When I got home I suddenly remembered that last night there would be a super moon.  It’s the first of three happening this year. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy last night and I didn’t get a good shot on my camera.
Yesterday's super moon somewhere in the world
And today is Sunday and I am back to the beginning of this post which I started this morning by the pool with the girls.  I left off writing till they went and I am now sitting under the covered terrace whilst a thunderstorm is in the making.  Today the temperature reached 36ºc, so I hope the rain brings the temperatures down over the next few days.

Today is 30th August, the end of the Spanish August holiday as most people here take their holiday this month.  It will be back to work for most people tomorrow.  I am already back to work but taking it in my stride and working peacefully from home.  I am going to be very busy for the next three weeks working on our big summer party. Wish me luck that all goes well.  It usually does but all events have their hitches.

So I will leave you now, publish this, print off a copy for my father and then read a bit until it is time for diner, alone this time. 

I wish you all a good week ahead,

Cheers till next time


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