Sunday, August 02, 2015

Chris Froome wins this year’s Tour de France, Spain the healthiest country in Europe, Suzy home, an improvement on the new look, Oli and Gustavo coincide again on TV, more progress on the house in Montrondo, a weekend with the girls and their friends from “la manada” and other stories.

Monday 2nd August 2015.
My beautiful daughter Suzy
Good morning everyone this first Sunday in August. 

It’s early in the morning.  From my desk I can hear my Father shaving. Soon Eladio will bring him up the path in his wheelchair to the dining room for his breakfast.  No doubt he will be thinking that today is “blog day” which indeed it is.  Afterwards we will go for our walk with the dogs whilst the girls sleep.  Oh that word “girls”!  It makes me so happy to have both my daughters with us at home.  We miss Suzy so much.  She has been here as I told you for tests but more about that later.

Last Sunday when I left off I made a roast for lunch, chicken with all the trimmings including sage and onion stuffing to the delight of Miguel and Oli, my Father and Eladio. We spent the afternoon by the pool – the only place to be in such heat.  Whilst Elsa enjoyed playing fetch in the water, Pippa only looked on without wanting to get wet. I caught her here on camera watching Elsa.  Isn’t she lovely?  No doubt you have guessed that she is very spoiled.  Well that’s what general happens with the last of the litter or pack be that a puppy or a child haha.
Pippa looking at the water
Later we played cards – sevens, that game that Sandra, Jeffer and Isiline taught me last year in Santa Pola and which is very addictive.  As usual Miguel beat us.  He is a person with not just a winning streak but is also highly competitive; in a nice way I should add. Whilst we were playing, one British man, one Colombian and one Spaniard were celebrating their performance in the Tour of France on the end day in Paris on the  podium.  It’s funny how the Brits seem to dominate this race these days when it always used to Spaniards or Italians.  In any case congratulations go to Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.  I love cycling and was very close to the sport for many years but after all the doping business I have lost a lot of the admiration I had for this most difficult of sports.  I was sad to read that many sports critics were accusing Froome of “not playing the game” and going as far as saying that he had a hidden engine in his bike.  I can hardly believe the latter.
This year's TDF Podium
At dinner that night with Eladio and Olivia I told them I had read a report that day from The Lancet (take that publication seriously as it is the most important medical journal in the world) which puts Spain in the top position for healthy living and life expectancy in Europe.  This is the report.  The picture says it all.
Spain the healthiest country in Europe
That didn’t come as a surprise to me.  We might not have the best economy but we certainly eat the healthiest and most delicious food, have the best climate and the best health system – more about that later.

On Monday I fasted and after two meetings at Yoigo off I went to Barajas airport to pick up my darling daughter Suzy. She was here for medical tests as she has been having lots of strange pains which are unusual for her.  The NHS in the UK was not doing a good job and was very slow with the tests there.  Later we would learn they were barking up the wrong tree.  Suzy had told me she didn’t like going to the local health centre as many of the GPs there are Muslims and won’t examine her; i.e. because she is a woman they won’t touch her. My school friend Brenda who is a nurse commented to me later that they shouldn’t be practicing and I totally agree.  It’s unbelievable. 

As the tests were to be the next morning, we had Suzy all to ourselves that afternoon which was lovely. She was shocked at the heat that hit her when she walked out of the airport as of course she is used to London weather.  It was very hot so we spent the afternoon by the pool.  Here is a lovely photo of her with our beagle Norah.
Suzy with Norah
Later we went to pick up Olivia who was doing a live report from a village far away called Valdemorillo.  It was about a house there where the owners had a huge marijuana plantation which is totally illegal.  I often watch Olivia live on TV but very rarely get to see her report on the street.  Here she is reporting whilst we looked on.
Olivia reporting live
We had a lovely dinner that night together, the four of us which is a totally luxury for us. 

On Tuesday morning we were at the Hospital Fundación Alcorcón at 08.30 sharp where the girls’ friend Rocio’s father is the head of Anesthesia.  Every time we have a biggish medical problem we abuse this friendship preferring to go this public hospital where he works and opens all the doors for us rather than go privately. We could go privately as I have a private company health insurance for all of us, but it’s so much more comforting to go to a hospital where you know people.  Juan spent the best part of the morning with us. We started with the head doctor of the digestive system who came in half an hour earlier than usual just to see Suzy.  From there we went to do an ultrasound scan and it was then we found out she had a complex cyst on both ovaries, one of which measured 4cm (an ovary measures 5cm).  We then did a blood test and as the problem was now obviously gynecological Juan made an appointment the next morning for us with the head of gynecology, his friend Manolo.  We felt in such good hands. The only problem looming was that if Suzy needed an operation she was hoping it wouldn’t interfere with the trip to Thailand she had long planned with Rocío and other friends from 22nd August to 6th September.  She was really looking forward to it and had been saving up all year.  In fact for her birthday all her friends put money together for her as a present to finance part of the trip.  Remember the flower money treasure hunt they organized on the day of her birthday here at home in April? 

In any case we went home hoping she would still be able to travel and enjoyed the rest of the day together.  I had to get on with my work.  I have been very busy this week working on the financing of our summer party in El Rocío in September, getting our suppliers to sponsor as well as getting all the lists together and sending out the save the date and a long etcetera.  It is a very big project I can tell you.

Olivia was home unusually early that evening at 06.45pm and she joined us by the pool.  Here is a photo of her with her sister Suzy. I caught them unawares I think.
My two daughters together
On Wednesday morning Suzy and I were at the hospital again and Juan came to meet us at 9am in the lobby.  He took us straight to the head of gynecology to a wonderful man called Manolo who at first sight made us feel comfortable and in the best of hands.  He immediately did a scan and then a 4D scan and was able to make an on the spot diagnosis. Suzy had something called endometriosis; a word I am still trying to get my tongue around.  It had caused the cysts and the big one has to be removed.  There was a debate about when to operate and unfortunately in the end it will be on the 18th August which means Suzy won’t be able to go to Thailand.  Of course health comes first.  She will be going back to London tonight and returning here for the operation.  Meanwhile we decided to stay here with her for the rest of her stay rather than going to Montrondo for the annual family gathering.  We shall now be going on Monday morning.

I have to add here that in just 2 days the Spanish health system was able to make a spot on diagnosis whereas the NHS completely “f***** up” I’m afraid.  They should have done a scan when she first went to Guy’s and St. Thomas hospital but they didn’t.  Manolo told us that endometriosis is very common in women of her age and that any doctor seeing a young woman with sharp pelvic pain and other symptoms she described should know immediately what it was.  Well they didn’t did they and I am disappointed in the NHS and extremely proud of the Spanish health system.  It’s true we went through the “old boys’ system” but I know that even if we hadn’t it would only have taken a couple of days more for the Spanish doctors to diagnose her correctly. We are so relieved we know what it is now.

In the evening fed up with my new look (the dark hair I had done by mistake last week) that I decided to go and have some highlights put in to make me feel a bit more like me.  It sort of worked although the colour overall is still too dark but at least I am beginning to feel me again.  The hairdresser assured me that over the next few weeks with each wash my hair should get lighter.  I hope she is right. 
The highlights which I think improved the new look
Thursday was busy.  I worked most of the day by the pool with Suzy nearby who was sending out her CV to various agencies for a job as a dietitian now that she has the coveted HCPC card.  Suzy had been told by both doctors that she should abandon her vegan diet and begin to eat animal protein in time for the operation as her iron level was very low.  Thankfully she listened and I was glad to see her eat salmon that day for lunch. 

That afternoon my Father had a visit.  Olga, our ex Paraguayan home-help came to see him.  Olga is very vivacious and a big extrovert.  Of all the women who have come to live with us, she is the one who probably looked after my Father best in that she gave him a lot of love.  Here is a photo of the two of them together.  It’s quite amazing but whilst she lived with us, my Father used to teach her rudimentary English most evenings while he was having his dinner and she picked it up quite well.  Thanks Olga for coming, my Father was delighted to see you.
Olga with my Father
Friday was the last day of July.  Nearly everyone in Spain would be going on holiday and most of the roads leading out of Madrid would be packed with cars.  Whilst Suzy and I were doing the food shopping Oli was doing a TV report on how Spaniards pack for their holidays.  It happened to be based on a study done by Volkswagen Spain.  I was so surprised when she posted a photo of her with Gustavo next to a car.  Gustavo used to be head of my PR team at Ketchum.  He then went to work for a PR agency where he was to lead the PR team for Ford Spain.  At that time by total coincidence, Olivia did a TV report with him about how car makers adapt cars to be easy to use by old people.  She did this for her previous programme for TVE, La Mañana de la 1.  Since then Gustavo changed jobs and is now the chief press officer of Volkswagen Spain.  Neither of them knew on Friday morning that they would meet again to do another TV report together.  I would have loved to be there.  Isn’t the world a small place?
Oli and Gustavo meet again on TV!
After lunch Suzy’s friend Rocío and her black Labrador Inda came to commiserate with her on having to cancel the trip to Thailand.  Here is Rocío playing with the dogs.  I don’t think she knew I took this picture and hope she doesn’t mind.  The girls have known her since they were tiny and first went to school together.  Rocío was in Suzy’s class and the friendship continued and today all three girls are part of an extended group of friends they call “la manada” or “the herd”. 
Rocio with the dogs on Friday afternoon
Meanwhile in Montrondo progress was being made on our house.  Pili, Eladio’s sister, who has been there all week, kept sending us photos.  During this week the railings were put in on the terraces and on Friday the workers began on the shutters on the windows.  They were also laying the wooden floors.  It’s going to be quite a shock to see so much progress on the house when we arrive on Monday. 

Progress on the house this week in Montrondo
Meanwhile on Friday afternoon the kitchen/dining room tables and chairs arrived. Thankfully Pili was there to receive them. This is what they look like.  They are a combination of wood and white which will match the kitchen furniture we are putting in as well as the beams, floors and paintwork. 
The chairs and table for the kitchen/dining room in Montrondo
That night Eladio and I went out to dinner to Gino’s, one of favourites as it offers great comfort food.  The girls went out that night too with a lot of their friends from “la manada”.  I asked for a photo and this is the one I got. 
The manada on Friday night
Yesterday, Saturday, was a day to be with the girls and at home, the same as today.  Some of the “manada” came and I helped by making a big Spanish tortilla.  This was mainly aimed at Suzy who was finally going to eat eggs – I went out to buy some corn fed ones but was told by Suzy that they are not ecological.  Even so she ate my delicious tortilla. The girls had cut far too many potatoes and onion, so I made another one in the evening for our own dinner.  This is what it looked like – I captioned the photo “Mediterranean diet” as it was accompanied by salad and water melon – a great dinner for a summer night.
Mediterranean diet - my Spanish tortilla
I spent the afternoon by the pool too with Suzy, Oli and their friends. Elsa had the time of her life playing with Juli and going in and out of the pool to play fetch.  I especially love this photo Juli took of her swimming.
A great picture of Elsa swimming yesterday
Pippa, as you know, doesn’t like swimming but is happy to be held by me with her head out of water.  Juli took this photo too. Thanks Juli.
With Pippa in the pool
This morning I was up at 06.40 and happy to see that all remains of the party had been cleared away.  Juli stayed the night and when I came back from our walk I snapped him with the girls on camera.  He is like a semi brother or son to us and is always welcome here.
The girls with Juli this morning (and Pippa)
And now when I finish writing this, I shall start preparations for lunch.  Salud, our home-help is off for the weekend so I shall be cook.  There will be more “manada” friends coming so I am thinking of making 2 big pizzas.  You will see pictures of today’s lunch in next week’s post.

So there you have it, the story of this week with its ups and downs.

I will be writing from Montrondo next Monday.  Meanwhile have a great week wherever you are.

Cheers for the moment/Masha

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