Sunday, September 27, 2015

“Call me Dave”, the Yoigo family in El Rocío, Eladio’s birthday, the end of the summer and a hoodie for Pippa, the weekend in Montrondo, the new kitchen and other stories.

Sunday 27th September 2015
Happy in Montrondo to see a donkey and a pony on a walk to Murias
Hi again,

It’s blog day and I am writing from José Antonio and Dolores’s kitchen in Montrondo whilst the lentil stew I am making for lunch is bubbling on the hob.

Last Sunday was a quiet day. I was on my own until the evening when I went to pick up Olivia and Miguel from the airport when they came back from their week’s holiday in Ibiza and Formentera.  Later that night the Undercover Boss episode I was in was broadcast again on TV and once again my twitter began to go up in smoke with all the comments; this time much more positive than before.  Eladio didn’t come home until very late that night.  He had spent the weekend with José Antonio in Montrondo and I was asleep when he arrived. 

It was on Sunday that the Spanish national basketball team won the European Championship, beating Lithuania in the final to go on to win for the fourth time in recent years.  I did not find any news about the victory in the British papers who never write about this sport.  But then again I suppose the Spanish newspapers never write about cricket or rugby.  There was of course news and much praise for Spain’s captain Pau Gasol who is a star in the NBA in the US media.
Spain Eurobasket champions again 
On Monday I fasted and worked from home, catching up on a lot of work after the El Rocío summer party the week before; the same week I “starred” in the Spanish edition of Undercover Boss.  That morning Miguel’s friends and colleagues from Valencia were coming to pick him up in a big caravan which they would take to Galicia for a week’s holiday.  They would be going surfing amongst other things and it would be Miguel’s first attempt. Not surprisingly he took to it like a duck to water.
With Miguel (orange t-shirt) and the friends he went with to Galicia this week for a caravan holiday
On Tuesday a scandal involving the British conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, erupted after an extract of a non-authorized biography was published in The Daily Mail. It was written by his ex-friend and crony Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott and entitled “Call me Dave”.  It was a vendetta by Michael Ashcroft who had funded Cameron’s party and campaigns but never got what he wanted in exchange, probably a ministerial post.  The allegations in the book about Cameron’s behavior as a student at Oxford could not have been more damaging and the story went on to become known as “Piggate”.  According to the book, David Cameron “put a private part of his anatomy into a dead pig’s mouth as part of the antics of the very exclusive Oxford Piers Gaveston Society of which he was a member.   There were many other allegations, but this particular story was by far the most newsworthy.  The Prime Minister has not made any statement and is trying to ignore the news but it could well be his downfall.  The society in question is a sort of exclusive old boy’s network where all the members know the secrets of the other members which gives them all a power whereby they go on in life to be part of the ruling establishment and help each other up the ladder whilst the antics are supposed to be kept secret.  But this week Lord Ashcroft’s vendetta broke the rules and all hell was let loose in British politics.  I have pre ordered the kindle edition which I shall read with gusto when it is released in November.
The book that gave rise to the "piggate scandal"
Tuesday was a busy day.  I had to all sorts of errands to do; mostly organizing Eladio’s birthday which was the next day.  I also had an important lunch with a journalist and my CFO and CEO and I didn’t get home till after 5.  Everything is late in Spain; especially meal times but that’s something I cannot change.

On Wednesday too I finally got to see the photos of the Yoigo party in El Rocío.  And here is this year’s picture of the Yoigo family outside the “Eermita” (church) in that magical village just before we went inside to listen to the wonderful “Salve” the Rociero choir would sing especially for us.
The Yoigo family in El Rocío
You can see all the photos here by the way. One I especially liked was of me with the participants from the Undercover Boss programme (El Jefe Infiltrado);  Miguel Angel, Sergio, Javier, Patricia and Ana. 
With the Undercover participants in El Rocío last week
Little did I know that that evening in one of Spain’s most popular after news evening programmes, El Intermedio, I would be featured again on TV.  It was in a manipulated video where I am seen telling off a very famous Spanish politician; Pablo Casado.  You can see it here.  I must say even I found it very funny watching myself telling the guy off and asking him if he was happy whilst he just nodded his head hahaha.

Wednesday was the highlight of the week.  It was Eladio’s birthday.  I can hardly believe he turned 71 whilst he looks 20 years younger and that’s not just me being subjective.  I had lovingly prepared a wonderful day for him which started off with a family breakfast for which I went out to buy “chocolate con churros”.  This is what the table looked like.
Olivia at Eladio's birthday breakfast table on Wednesday morning
And here is Olivia with her Father that morning when he was about to read his birthday card and open his presents.  My Father and I bought him a tablet and Oli got him the case.  Later in the day Suzy’s card and presents arrived and he was delighted with them – she got him special vitamins from Planet Organic which he is now taking religiously.
Olivia with her Father on his birthday
I didn’t go all out to make a special lunch as Salud was away and I was busy working but I did get Eladio a lovely cake.  I think it’s one of our favourites.  This is the cake which my Father especially enjoyed owing to the raspberries and cream in it.
Eladio's birthday cake
In the evening we had dinner at home with Olivia and I made Swedish open prawn sandwiches.  All in all it was a very special day for Eladio.

Wednesday 23rd was also the beginning of autumn.  So of course it marked the end of the summer but it didn’t feel like it as the weather has been great.  It’s always so in the last week of September.  It is Spain’s Indian summer.  However the forecast for Montrondo was rain so that morning on my way to the meeting I stopped off at El Corte Inglés (Spain’s most famous department store) in search of a coat with a hood for Pippa in case of rain and cold in the village.  I bought what I thought was a small one but actually it turned out to be too big.  As it can’t be returned we shall have to find a way of making it smaller around her middle.  This is what she looked like.  Suzy exclaimed “you got her a hoodie”.  Well yes I did so as to protect her little head.  You probably think that a coat for Pippa is just spoiling her but actually as she is so thin and has such short fur she trembles from cold when the temperature goes down.  This is what she looked like.
Pippa in her new hoodie coat
Thursday morning was taken up by a meeting with one of the finalist PR agencies in a pitch I am doing.  It started at 11 and went on till past 1.30.  That meant I got home rather late for lunch; thankfully made by Salud.  I then had to rush to get everything ready for our trip to Montrondo.  In fact that morning I got up at about 6.30 to start on the packing and preparations.  José Antonio was coming with us and the car was full to the brim with bedding, kitchen stuff, lamps and heaven knows what else for the house.  I sat in the back with Pippa whilst Eladio drove rather too fast to get to the village and sometimes I had to hold my arm up to stop packages falling on top of Pippa and I.  We were going to Montrondo because the next day the Ikea kitchen fitter was coming to finally install the kitchen in our refurbished house.  All that is needed now for us to be able to move in is for the inside doors to be put in.  There is one more very necessary thing too and that is the task of cleaning as there is dust and dirt everywhere.  Eladio thinks we can tackle it ourselves but I feel very daunted at the thought of it, not really knowing where to start. I have suggested we find a professional cleaning firm to do the job but first we have to find one.
Photo taken on our arrival in Montrondo on Thursday evening
We arrived just before 8.30 and guess what it was warm.  The forecast was wrong and we have had wonderful weather throughout the weekend.  Pippa only had to wear her hoodie one evening and not because of the rain, just the evening chill.

As soon as we had unloaded and taken a look at the house, it was time for dinner.  I made everyone’s favourite here; egg and chips.  Very yummy.

On Friday the man from Ikea came.  A guy called Nico who had driven all the way from Madrid.  We were astonished that only one person had come as the job required would really have needed three people at least.  At the same time he was also supposed to assemble a sofa, the washing machine and a bathroom cupboard which he was very reluctant to do.  He was in a bad mood all day and we tried to butter him up by offering him lunch but he refused.  I was a bit hurt that he didn’t want to try my “cocido madrileño”.  We also had to be on hand the whole time as there were many minor details he would have preferred to forget and which I kept pointing out to him. Thankfully I had support on the phone from Paula, the Ikea outsourced decorating company, and in the end he installed everything apart from the kitchen lights.  There were some incidents, such as broken kitchen drawers which will have to be replaced.  Also he couldn’t install the extractor which will now have to be done by an electrician or a plumber.  However we were very happy with how the kitchen looked like after all his efforts. As my friend Lorraine commented it looked very “Scandi”.  Yes the idea was to have a Nordic inspired country style for our house whilst respecting the local architecture; such as the stone walls.  Here is a photo of the kitchen when Nico had finished.
The kitchen front after it was just installed
Below is a view of the kitchen area taken from the end of the big room which is the centre of the house and encompasses not only the kitchen but also the dining area and lounge.
The new kitchen
That same morning the central heating expert came and got it to work.  It was a pleasure to see the smoke coming out of one of the chimneys as you can see in the photo below.
Smoke coming out of the chimney!
Meanwhile in London, Suzy had news about a possible new job as a dietitian in a hospital.  I was amazed to hear that it would be working for the children’s wing of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.  I mean it could have been in any other town in England but it had to be Norwich; a town that means so much to my family in England from so many stays there when my parents taught Russian at the summer courses organized by the East Anglia University when I was a teenager.  My Aunty Masha went on to be a lecturer there and lived in Norwhich for many years.  Even the girls know the town; not from when they were babies and we used to spend summers there, but from an English summer course they went on when they were in their late teens and which was organized by my sister-in-law Dolores.  I do hope she gets the job.  Cross your fingers please.

On Saturday I was up early as usual.  After breakfast Toño and Eladio made a fire to burn all the cardboard waste from fitting the kitchen.  Meanwhile I went for a walk to Murias de Paredes and back with Pippa.  It was a glorious morning and I took photos all the way and back which you can see if you click here on the album of photos I have uploaded on Facebook. 
Pippa on our walk yesterday
Beautiful Montrondo as seen on our walk yesterday
 In the afternoon whilst the men installed lamps all around the house, Pippa and I went on another walk, this time nearly all the way to Senra (the village further on from Murias) and back.  We accompanied some of our neighbours who go on a walk every day together: Salo, Pili, Luis and another lady whose name I cannot remember. On our way we came across flocks of sheep and herds of cows; very usual scenes in Montrondo.  But this time I saw a lovely grey donkey and a small brown pony in one of the fields on the way to Murias.  I just had to stop and stroke them.  They were friendly and came right up to the wall and I only wished I had some sugar cubes to give them.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of me with the donkey and pony.  The one below is of the herd of young oxen.  They look so lovely I felt sad that one day they will be slaughtered for what I am sure will be amazing meat because of their quiet lives happily grazing in the fields of Montrondo and Murias. 
Oxen in the fields yesterday
And today is Sunday and our last day here.  But we plan to make it is long as possible and enjoy the sunshine and great country air.  After I finish this post, I shall go on my last walk to Murias and back with little Pippa.  The men meanwhile are waiting for their order of firewood which should be arriving shortly.  Eladio can’t wait to use it in our fireplace in our new home in Montrondo.  I can’t either but we shall have to wait still until the doors are fitted and the whole place is properly cleaned until we can move in.  The time never seems to come but now it is much nearer.  We will love our new home when it is finished and look forward to bringing many of our friends here.

So I shall leave you now.  The lentils are ready and all I have to do now is upload the photos and publish this post before I can enjoy the rest of the day.

This evening there is supposed to be yet another super moon; or a lunar eclipse which with a bit of luck I shall be able to witness tonight at home in Madrid, clouds permitting.

Wishing you all a great week ahead,

Cheers till next time


No comments: