Sunday, August 09, 2015

Suzy’s last day at home, goodbye Cilla Black, to Montrondo with Pippa, habemus internet, some progress on the house, walks and more walks, shopping in the village as well as other stories.

Sunday 9th August 2105

My "office" in Montrondo.  Habemus internet finally
Good morning all.

Here I am writing from my new “office” in Montrondo on the last day of our visit here.  I am officially on holiday now, although I am, as always, on duty and still working as my job entails being available and working whether I am on holiday or not.  This week I have been making preparations for our summer party in El Rocío in September; mostly getting on board all our suppliers who will be sponsoring the event.

But let me start from last Sunday.  It was Suzy’s last day at home and we all wanted to make the most of it.  She was returning to London that night to go back to work until she will be coming again in the middle of August for her operation.  She has been a lot on my mind this week as you can imagine.  The worst part of course is the waiting.

Suzy spent the day relaxed and enjoying her home surrounded by family, dogs and friends. Here is a photo of her in the pool with Elsa who now finally likes the water.
Suzy enjoying the pool with Elsa last Sunday
We were joined by the girls’ friends Juli and later Copi who came for lunch with her boyfriend Miguel.  I made home-made pizzas for all; making sure Suzy’s was suitably vegan.  Suzy and Oli have been Copi’s friend since they met at St. Michael’s school when they were 4 and 3 respectively.  We moved into our old house in Rio Tajo in 1988 and the girls joined the school in November.  On their first day there just after they had been registered, Suzy saw Copi in the distance and said “who is that little black girl over there?  I want to be her friend”. And so they became friends and have remained so ever since.  Copi is part of our extended family and she is always there when we need her and vice versa.  Here are the two girls together last Sunday afternoon which we all spent by the pool before Suzy had to pack and leave.
Copi and Suzy friends forever
Eladio and I took Suzy to the airport.  Her plane was leaving at 9.45pm but was delayed.  Poor tired Suzy did not get home to her flat in South Bermondsey until past 2 in the morning.  Here she is in the security queue as I waved goodbye.
Suzy at Barajas airport last Sunday night
It was on Sunday evening that I read that Cilla Black, the English celebrity singer and comedian of my youth, died aged 72 in her home in Estepona near Málaga.  What a young age to die.  I must say that I remember her very fondly.  R.I.P. Cilla Black you will be remembered by all my generation in England.
Goodbye Cilla Black
On Monday, loaded with food, we left at 09.30 with Pippa for Montrondo where we would meet up with most of Eladio’s family who had missed us for the annual gathering on Saturday. We were to make up for that by spending 6 whole days with them in the village.  As usual we made a pit stop at Rueda for the traditional plate of ham and lomo accompanied by the best white wine in the world.  Here is a collage of the two of us enjoying the moment.
Pit stop at Rueda on Monday morning.
The family house we are rebuilding was supposed to be ready by August 1st but that didn’t happen.  The builders started on it in May 2014 and there is still quite a lot to be done.  Part of the floor boarding had been laid and it had been painted.  The window shutters were in place but the staircase and doors were still missing as were a lot of other smaller details.  I reckon we won’t be moving in until the autumn.  In any case it is looking good especially from the outside.  The outside is practically ready and looks great.  I am especially happy with the front porch and terrace and the terrace at the back.
The house from the front.
The house from the back
We were welcomed by everyone and enjoyed a delicious plate of lentils at Pili’s house next door to ours.  In the afternoon Eladio and José Antonio assembled the rest of the Ikea tables and chairs we had bought for the terraces.  Here is a photo of both of them at work.
Eladio and Primo assembling the chairs and tables.
The claw foot bath tub is in place too but I don’t know when I will have the luxury of using it.  It does look good doesn’t it on the black and white tiles?
The bathtub in our bedroom in the new house in Montrondo. 
What didn’t look good was the internet and land line installation.  It had been installed a week or so ago and I was looking forward to using it as soon as we arrived but that didn’t happen.  As hard as Eladio, Juan and I tried there just seemed to be no signal.  We then had to call Telefónica and as usual only got to talk to a machine.  I was very disappointed as I need internet for my job and have to be connected always.  That is one of the reasons I can never stay in Montrondo for more than a couple of days.

Walks were very much part of our stay this week.  Soon we entered into the recent habit of some of the family members.  They all went for a walk to Murias and back in the evening after dinner when it was getting dark and in the morning at 8 am sharp I would join Toño, Dolores, Primo and Adela for the same walk.  We were always accompanied by Pippa and Nuba.
Dolores, Toño and Adela on our morning walk to Murias and back
Little Pippa on one of my walks
On Tuesday we spent a lazy day together or at least I did as I had no internet to be able to work.  That day I made chicken korma curry for lunch at Pili’s house which we all polished off with gusto.  It was this week that I enjoyed time with my great nieces Diana aged 4 and Lidia aged 2.  They are a delight and a lot of fun, especially Lidia.  The hardest part is understanding what she says.  One of my favourite expressions of hers is “hasta huevo” which she says instead of “hasta luego”. 

Chilling out - my mother-in-law, Pili and my grand nieces.  Trebol Pili's dalmation is also in the pic
As if we hadn’t eaten enough for lunch that night we made egg and chips for dinner, Eladio’s overall favourite meal in the evenings in Montrondo.  When I posted this picture on Facebook I got a lot of comments from English friends who seem to think this is just a typical English dish.  Well, actually, it’s also a typical Spanish dish; the only difference being that it is fried in olive oil here which in my mind is much healthier.  Here is my plate haha.
Egg and chips in Montrondo
It was on Tuesday that Miguel, Oli’s boyfriend, sent me a photo of Olivia reporting live on TV for Telemadrid.  On Monday a block of flats fell down in Carabanchel, a working class area outside the city.  It collapsed after cracks appeared.  Thankfully no one was hurt but of course they all lost their homes. Here is the photo of Olivia reporting on this awful incident. 
Oli reporting in Madrid this week on the broken block of flats in Carabanchel
On Wednesday after our early morning walk and hearty breakfast the Telefonica man came and believe it or not within a few minutes the line was working.  The fault, according to him, lay with our electrician.  I didn’t care whose fault it was I was just happy to be connected to the world.  Here is the moment internet finally came to our house in Montrondo and I immediately posted on Facebook “habemus internet in Montrondo” quite a milestone for us.
The moment we finally got internet in Montrondo
I immediately set up my “office” on the terrace outside what will be the kitchen one day.  The photo illustrating this week’s post above is of me sitting at my desk.  I didn’t realise I had an apron on when the photo was taken but I didn’t mind at all as it sums me up as the multi task woman I am.  In fact at that very moment the fabada I was making was bubbling on the hob in Pili’s kitchen. Fabada is an Asturian bean soup, delicious food for country air.  I was finally able to catch up with my work and felt a lot less guilty afterwards.

That afternoon as I was spending time with Adela, Pili, my mother-in-law and my grand nieces, the carpenters were continuing to lay the floors.  They also laid most of the staircase but unfortunately haven’t been back since.  On the bright side I must say it looks good.  Most of the family came to see it afterwards and I captured them all on camera.
The family posing by our new but partially laid staircase.  Notice the omnipresent Trebol, Pili's dalmation
Thanks to internet that very day I got a whatsapp text from Suzy to let us know she had booked her flight on 17th August.  The next day I got a phone call from the hospital to confirm she would be admitted on 18th August at 7 am.  Waiting for the operation is the worst part of it so far. 

On Thursday after the walk and breakfast I went to Adela and Primo’s house to ask for potatoes and a courgette from their kitchen garden. This is the basket I carried home from “Los Palacios” where they live to “El Campo” where we live.  Pili later made a vegetable cream soup out of them.
A courgette and potatoes from Primo's kitchen garden
It was on Thursday thanks to internet that Eladio and I were able to make the hefty bank transfer to Ikea for all the furniture we have ordered there including the kitchen.  Hopefully within a month it will all be here and assembled by Ikea too.

I worked that day again from my “new office”, most of the time spent on the logos of all our different sponsors for the summer party. Here they are.
The suppliers who are sponsoring this year's summer party in El Rocío
That afternoon I did some shopping in Montrondo.  You will probably wonder how as there is no shop or bar here.  Well it’s done on wheels.  It was from the fish van that I bought delicious fresh fish (merluza – hake) in the street.  Here is a photo of some of the women queueing up to buy more fish.  The local women asked how I was going to cook it, presuming I was going to bake it in the oven.  It was rather difficult for them to understand I would be making traditional British fish and chips the next day for lunch.  I did, by the way, and it was delicious.
Buying fresh fish in Montrondo this week
Later that evening the grocery van arrived and I asked all the people in the queue to pose for this photo. It’s rather a quaint way of shopping isn’t it.  But that’s how it’s done in Montrondo.
Shopping for groceries in Montrondo
Friday morning was another glorious morning and again Pippa, Nuba, Adela, Primo, Toño, Dolores and I enjoyed our walk to Murias and back. Roberto, Adela’s son and the eldest of the cousins, was much more ambitious than us and that morning he left the village to go running up the mountains all the way to the top of the highest peak, “El Tambarón” which is 2.099 metres high.  It was amazing that he ran the 17km there and back, half of it uphill in just under 3 hours. As he was telling us about it I took a photo of him and Eladio together.  They are very similar in looks aren’t they even though there is a 30 year age gap?
Uncle Eladio with his look alike nephew Roberto - there is a 30 year age difference
Eladio exercised too that day but he didn’t do it running up the mountains.  He preferred to stay here and that day and yesterday too he chopped wood all day; wood from the remains of the old house.  Here he is enjoying the exercise.
Eladio happily chopping wood in Montrondo
Friday was by far the coolest day of the week.  It has been lovely weather with nice temperatures which is a great escape from the extreme heat of Madrid. To give you an idea in the mornings and evenings here it got as low as 6ºc.  The highest temperature on Friday was probably about 21ºc.

That afternoon Eladio and I went to visit Lourdes and Agustin.  Agustin is about a year younger than my husband and they went to school here in Montrondo together.  His school friend is a very positive man despite his kidney disease which means he has to have dialysis every day at home.  Lourdes looks after him lovingly.  Whilst we were there they showed us the room where he connects to the kidney machine and on the wall there was a photo of their wedding day.  Lourdes explained that she was only 15 when she married Agustin who was 32 at the time.  She told me that both their families thought she was too young to get married but that she knew then as she knows now that the only man she ever wanted in her life was him and that he thought the same about her. I thought that was a beautiful love story. They are such a happy couple and their house is always full of people who come to visit them as Agustin is pretty much home bound. She plies all her guests with amazing home-made fare such as her delicious strawberry ice cream or strawberry liquor made from her home grown strawberries.

It was on Saturday morning that I saw a photo of Mario on Facebook, Pili’s son, who has just left Spain for Nice on an Erasmus.  He will also be playing in the Nice handball team as a semi-professional.  I think he couldn’t have chosen a better place in France to go to.  The Cote d’Azur is a magical place.  I wish him lots of luck.  So far he is having a grand time.
Mario at the end on the right with his handball team mates in Nice this week
Pippa is enjoying her time in Montrondo but I do wish she would stop barking at everything and everyone.  She has too much character. She is also a bit of a magpie and prefers Nuba’s or Trebol’s bed and their food to hers. Here she is yesterday taking a nap in Nuba’s bed.  She is so cheeky.
Pippa the magpie on Nuba's bed in Montrondo
Yesterday was the annual village lunch which we attended for the first time.  It was for 170 people and the party got going when the music started and people began to dance.  I don’t dance as I have no rhythm at all unfortunately.  In Montrondo everyone loves to dance; mostly to old fashioned music. It’s also curious to see here how it’s very natural for women to dance together as some of them do in this picture including my two sisters-in-law.
Women dancing together in Montrondo yesterday
There was a marquee for the lunch which unfortunately for the organizers turned out to be a bit of a flop which was the fault of the caterers and not the organizers. Here you can see most of the people sitting down to lunch which wasn’t served until nearly 4 in the afternoon.
The village lunch yesterday
Meanwhile in London, Suzy was also sitting down to a meal.  But it was a barbecue with some of her friends including Chati.  I was glad to see her enjoying herself before coming home for the operation on 18t August.
Suzy at the bbq yesterday in London with Chati and friends
The party in Montrondo continued on into the evening but Eladio, Toño, Dolores and I preferred to go on what would be my second walk to Murias that day.  Later Eladio and I enjoyed a dish of “pelmeni” before retiring to bed at the early hour of 10pm.  We are not the party people you may think we are which is a bit of a contradiction as part of my job is Director of Events.   

And today is Sunday. As we had gone to bed so early I was awake at 06.50.  Instead of waiting until 8 a.m. to go on the walk with my in-laws, I decided to hit the road alone with Pippa and Nuba.  We went my favourite way, on the old path to Murias which I far prefer. 
A selfie on this morning's walk
When we got to the half way point which is called “La Peña de Dios” (God’s rock), both dogs amazingly posed for me by the rock. It’s a great photo isn’t it?
Pippa on God's rock and Nuba below
It is our last day here but we shall stay for lunch.  After publishing this post I shall be going to nearby Senra with Dolores for a cup of coffee. 

Tomorrow will be Monday and it will be nice to be at home again and to see the dogs, Elsa and Norah who will have missed us.  It will be nice too to see Olivia and my Father.  Salud, our home-help will be glad we are back which will mean she can take her two days off.  I’m not sure what we will be up to once we are home. We may stay a couple of days and then hit the road again, this time to our apartment in Santa Pola for a few days on the beach.  If we do, we must meet up with Jacky my friend who lives nearby and who has promised to take me to the British cash and carry in Torrevieja where I will be able to stock up on crumpets and other English fare I cannot buy in the shops in Spain.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week.

Cheers till next time


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