Sunday, November 15, 2015

Back from Montrondo, Oli and the choir at Amazon, summer or autumn? Making pancakes, arthritis, massacre in Paris, more cooking and other stories.

Sunday 15th November, 2015

Making pancakes for dinner this week
We are all reeling from Friday’s atrocities in Paris.  Who does not love the most beautiful city in the world? Who will never forget what they were doing when the massacre happened?  I’ll come back to that later.

I left off in Montrondo on Monday 9th  which was a holiday in Madrid, “La Almudena”.  I made “cocido” that day for lunch using Primo’s potatoes.  
Eladio sitting down to enjoy the cocido I made for lunch on Monday
Later Ana sent me a photo of the potato salad she had made from his potatoes too. 
Ana's potato salad made with Primo's potatoes
There is something special about eating produce which has been locally grown.  So when Mari Carmen, Primo and Adela’s neighbour, offered me some carrots from her kitchen garden, I happily accepted. This is the bag she gave me which I shared with my sisters-in-law, Pili and Dolores.
Home grown carrots from Montrondo
Finally on Monday the electrician came to install the last item needed to be done in the house.  He came to connect the Ikea kitchen lights which the Swedish company had given us so much trouble with.  The whole room lit up, they were so bright.
The new lights in the kitchen in our house in Montrondo
In the afternoon, Eladio continued to chop wood after which he looked pretty exhausted as the saw he was using is manual.  Here he is in the picture below posing for me.  I do wish he wouldn’t work so hard in Montrondo but that seems to be the norm and the way he and his brothers and sisters were brought up by their strict Father.
Eladio chopping wood in Montrondo on Monday afternoon
Meanwhile I went on my last walk to Murias.  The autumn colours were still in evidence, although most of the leaves are now on the ground.
My favourite path in Montrondo, covered in autumn leaves
I went back for Dolores and when we reached Murias we bumped into Salo, Manolita and Pili and thus walked back with them.  The weather was amazing all day as it had been at the weekend. 

Dinner was more potatoes from Primo’s kitchen garden and eggs from Ulpiano’s hens; our favourite, fried eggs and chips.

Suzy was still in Bristol and later told us she loved the city.  Here she is with her friends near Suspension Bridge.
Suzy and her friends in Bristol
On Tuesday morning we left at around 10, sad to leave our cozy new home in Montrondo. Toño and Dolores left a little later and on our way the four of us stopped for coffee and a bite at about half way to Madrid.  We were home by 15.15 a little too late to have lunch with my Father unfortunately.

That morning Oli was busy. She was to do a story on how Amazon was starting their Christmas campaign and she did the filming from their huge warehouse on the outskirts of Madrid.  To mark the start they had hired a huge choir of 400 people.  Olivia was amazed to find that the choirmaster was Javier Blanco the girls’ music teacher at St. Michael’s school and in whose choir they had both sung successfully for many years.  He was a tough teacher but a very good conductor and when the girls were in his choir it won many prizes.  Here is a photo of Olivia doing a selfie with Javier and as you can see it’s part of what she edited.  It was quite a coincidence; after all she hadn’t seen him since she left school over 10 years ago.
Oli and her ex choir master on TV on Tuesday
Wednesday 11th November was officially Remembrance Day.  In Spain it was Saint Martin’s day.  On St. Martin’s there is supposed to be another summer spell (veranillo de San Martín) and you bet it felt like summer.  I have heard the term “veroño” too from the weather people on the TV which is a play on the words “verano” (summer) and “otoño” (autumn). 
Sunny weather in Madrid which has its downside
So, yes we have been enjoying sunny weather for weeks now.  However, there is a downside to no rain and it is pollution.  The levels have gone very high in the centre of the city and measures have been put in place.  From the end of this week the speed limits on the M30 ring road were reduced from 90 to 70km/h and on Friday no cars were allowed to park in the city, except for residents and of course public and commercial vehicles.  The next level, if it happens, would be to limit traffic alternately to odd and then even numbered registration plates.  This, of course, will depend on the weather.

Tuesday was spent quietly at home, catching up on my work.  Salud, our home help was off so I made the lunch.  When Eladio was loading the dishwasher, I just had to share this photo of the dogs, queueing up to lick the dirty plates in order of size.  I have to say it’s their favourite activity hahaha.
The dogs and the washing up machine!
Olivia was home relatively early at 7.20 and we decided to make pancakes for dinner.  The cupboards were a bit bare as I hadn’t done the shopping for a week and I had run out of ideas.  As I was making them and Eladio and Oli were watching, my daughter commented that she had done a TV report on wrong diets that day.  It wasn’t really the time to hear her story when we were about to gorge pancakes.  I was not surprised to hear from her that “The Fast Diet”, the one I try to follow on at least 2 days a week, is one of the “wrong diets” because one tends to binge on other days. Touché I thought as I binged on 3 pancakes with maple syrup. The photo illustrating this week’s post is of me happily making pancakes for my family.

On Thursday morning I was up at 06.30. I was up just a little earlier than usual as I had to be at the office for a management team meeting at 9 and I knew the traffic would be dense.  I got there by 9.15, leaving everyone asleep at home, including the dogs.
The dogs asleep in the kitchen on Thursday morning
Just before the meeting started I got a call from the head of communications from our mother company.  It was to do with an article I saw a little while later in Spain's main financial newspaper.  It was another rumour about Yoigo being sold. There have been rumours of our sale since the company started in 2006.  This time the story said a British venture capital group were interested in making an offer for Yoigo to our shareholder.  Needless to say I got umpteen calls from the media that day.
The news about Yoigo in Expansión on Thursday morning
After the management team meeting, I had another meeting, this time with my PR agency and the team that heads up social media from customer care.  We work closely together and very well too I have to say.

I fasted that day and so when I got home I made lunch just for the men as Salud was still away. In the afternoon I got a reminder from Amazon that I had looked at the Downton Abbey Season 6 DVD; so there and then I pre-ordered it.  It won’t be available until 16th November. I very much look forward to being reunited with the cast but am a little sad that it’s the last season. 
Can't wait to watch Downton Abbey Season 6 when it arrives
Meanwhile in Montrondo, our builders were doing their final, or at least I hope it’s the last, assignment.  Eladio had asked them to build a stone basin for the taps on the front of the house; one of them coming from the well we had discovered. This is what it looks like.
A basin for the taps at the entrance to our house in Montrondo
Friday was the 13th, always a day people who are superstitious are wary of.  Normally I’m not worried and posted on Facebook: “Today is Friday 13th, I hope it is a good day”.  Well it wasn’t was it as we would all find out later.

I had an appointment with a traumatologist at a local private hospital, “Monteprincipe”.  I have had a pain when I walk in the second toe, next to the big toe, on my left foot for some weeks now but could see no inflammation.  After seeing the doctor he sent me for an x-ray and quite a while later I was with him again whilst he examined it.  He diagnosed arthritis. Arthritis! Oh shit, aren’t I a bit young for that?  He even said it would get worse.  It’s also partly caused by the horrible bunion I have and he told me I should wear a toe spreader which I am now doing. He also prescribed a medicine to preserve the cartilage called “artilax plus” which I have since invested in and it’s not cheap.  Oh well, the diagnosis could have been a lot worse. Who am I to complain when my best friend is going to be operated on for breast cancer this Monday coming?  I am praying for her and meanwhile just put up with the pain in the toe from the arthritis.

I came home to find Eladio and Salud, who was back, had put the white Ikea chest of drawers and mirror in Suzy’s bedroom.  We had bought it some years ago for one of the rooms in Montrondo but it didn’t fit anywhere in our new house.  Now it looks lovely in Suzy’s bedroom.  Only she is missing and I can’t wait to see her when she comes home for Christmas on 20th December.
Suzy's beautiful room
That night Eladio, Oli and I went out to dinner to Zurito in Pozuelo.  We chose that place not just because we like it – the food is great – but because the reservation via The Fork gives you a 30% discount and because it accepts luncheon vouchers of which I have a lot.  So we were very disappointed when the bill came and the waiter told us they no longer accept Sodexho tickets.  For that reason, unfortunately we shall not be going back.

We had agreed in the car on the way to the restaurant that we would not look at our phones until we got home.  Thus we didn’t find out about the terrorist attacks that had started in the French capital whilst we were at dinner and only found out when we got home.  Immediately we turned on the TV aghast at what we saw.
The times and places of the terrible attacks in Paris on Friday night
At just after 9pm, 8 gunmen caused carnage in 6 areas in Paris, including the St. Denis football stadium where a friendly match between France and Germany was taking place.  The worst attack was at the Bataclan theatre were more than 80 people were killed.  It was Friday, a holy day for muslims - how ironice - and of course Friday 13th.  But it was no joke. That night in Paris for the people on the streets it must have been like being in hell.  The death toll is now 127 people with over 200 wounded and nearly a 100 fighting for their lives.  7 of the gunmen detonated bombs on their bodies, whilst one was shot down by the police.  Others may still be at large, as well as their accomplices.  And who did this we all asked ourselves on Friday night?  We knew it could only be the Islamic State, that most frightening of all terrorist groups ever to walk the face of the earth.  One of their members, the famous Jihadist John, who appeared on the terrible beheading videos of journalists and aid workers was shot down and presumably killed just a few days before the Paris massacre. Was this an act of retaliation?  IS have made it clear the attacks, of which they threaten there will be more, is because of France’s military involvement against them in Iraq and Syria.  The President of France, François Holland, who had to be taken away to safety from the football match, said on a TV announcement that this was “an act of war”.  Indeed it was and the whole world is in shock. 

On Saturday morning I was up early and shocked to read how the death toll had increased over night.  Paris was virtually closed down, including the metro and even the Eiffel Tower and people were told to stay at home.  Thankfully the shootings had stopped and now it was the work of the police to find the perpetrators who were still alive and their accomplices.  Two of the dead gunmen were found with a Syrian and Egyptian passport in their pockets and we have since learned they came to Europe disguised as refugees.  The others most probably became radicalized in France and Belgium.  The war is now on to find them and France and the rest of the world wants retaliation.  We also want peace and the whole civilized world stands together with France.  There have been many beautiful memes on internet and a show of solidarity from people and cities around the world. Cities around the world have lit up their most symbolic buildings with the colours of the “tricolore”. We are all in mourning.
As seen all over internet
Of course life went on and at home we stuck to our routine, although we had the BBC world news on most of the day.  We went for our walk with the dogs and had lunch together.  I spent most of the day cooking and Oli helped me.  Most of the things I made were for freezing to consume at home and to take to Montrondo.  In one single day I made a lasagne, bitki, 50 odd perushki and pumpkin soup made with pumpkin, potatoes, carrots and leek.  I also prepared the ingredients to make a big potato salad and a huge batch of ham croquettes this morning.  Oli told me I was hoarding. Maybe I was but I was also being very organized and productive too as well as enjoying the activity.  Cooking is always very relaxing when I choose to do it.
About to make a batch of nearly 60 ham croquettes this morning
This morning I was up at just after 7 and did an amazing amount of tasks in just over 2.5 hours!  By 9.30 these were the tasks I performed:  fed the dogs and the cat, made the men's breakfast plus orange juice for everyone, had my own breakfast, read articles from The Times, The Telegraph and The Guardian on my iPad, finished making the potato salad as well as making 60 ham croquettes to be frozen. I wonder if I am just a very productive person or if I’m hyper active. 

And now I am writing my blog. When Oli and Eladio are ready we shall go for our walk.  Hopefully I will be free to do whatever I want this afternoon.  So either this Sunday afternoon will be spent reading more Jeffrey Archer (his books are riveting) or I will be watching a new TV series with Oli on Netflix.

Next week we shall be off to Montrondo again and at the weekend we will be joined by Oli and Miguel. I just hope the weather holds.

So I will leave you now, as you can see I am very busy.  Cheers to you all and have a great week.  Let’s hope peace reigns and I don’t have to report on another massacre or terrorist attack.  #PrayForParis #JeSuisParis.


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