Sunday, May 01, 2016

Back from Alicante, justice for the victims at the Hillsborough stadium, goodbye Bare Biology, hello Hifas da Terra, Suzy’s birthday, a family lunch, my Father turns 97 and other stories.

Sunday 1st May 2016
On my walk with the dogs on Friday afternoon in a field covered in flowers.
Hi everyone,

Today is 1st May, Labour Day, a bank holiday on a Sunday, Vappu in Finland (Walpurgis night), Mothers' Day in Spain but more importantly for us it is my Father’s birthday. He was born on 1st May 1919 and today turns 97, wow!  I told him in his birthday card that soon he will be 100 and I shall try to arrange a telegram from the Queen if she still sends them.  It is also Russian Easter so Christos Vaskresi to any Russian Orthodox people reading this.  We have been invited by our Russian neighbuor Ekatarina to join them in the celebrations at lunch today which is something to look forward to for my Father and I.

Let me start from the beginning, from last Sunday.  This time last week we were in Santa Pola.  I spent the morning reading on our sunny terrace.  
The view of Alicante Bay from our flat 
We decided to leave at midday and have lunch on our way which is just what we did.  This time we stopped at possibly the best motorway “café” on the A3 road between Valencia and Madrid, at Los Rosales.
Los Rosales, spot Pippa!
Here they offer a stupendous set lunch menu for just 15 euros each.  Below is Eladio at our table in the lovely dining rom.  Los Rosales also has an incredible wine cellar and shop which offers all sorts of local culinary delicacies.  I can highly recommend stopping there on the way to or back from Valencia or Alicante.
Eladio at our table in the restaurant dining room at Los Rosales on the way back from Alicante
If it was our last day at our flat in Santa Pola, it was the girls’ last day in London together.  Here is a photo of my two darlings, Suzy and Oli at some tube station.  I wasn’t to see Oli until the next day.
The girls in London
Monday was a quiet fasting day mostly spent on work, reports and such. 

Tuesday saw me in the office.  I don’t go very often so when I do I am always happy to have a coffee in Yoigo’s great cafeteria and catch up with colleagues.

Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of the Chernoby nuclear plant accident in the Ukraine which in 1986 of course was part of Russia.  At the time the Russians tried to cover up the disaster and consequences but they failed as it was just too big.  It was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history in terms of cost and casualties; not just the immediate ones but those who have died since because of the radiation. Today the city of Pripyat is abandoned, the residents having to move out beyond the 30km exclusion zone after the disaster and no one will ever live there again at least in their lifetimes.
Deserted Chernobyl today
Who doesn’t remember that day?  I certainly do. And who doesn’t remember the day of the Hillsborough football stadium disaster on 15th April 1989?  That was 3 years later but this Tuesday justice was finally done for the 96 people who died crushed against the crash barriers.  At the time the police and authorities blamed the Liverpool football fans, whose team were playing Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-final at Sheffield Wednesday’s now famous stadium, Hillsborough.

The Hillsborough disaster
The fans were crushed in their stands with no way out and it was the worst disaster in a football match possibly ever.  They were blamed unfairly in newspapers like The Sun, especially, but also The Times, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, who supported this theory.  But on Tuesday the verdict that the victims’ families campaigned for in 3 decades brought justice to the 96 dead as an inquest jury ruled the victims had been unlawfully killed in a tragedy caused by police blunders.

Ironically Tuesday was a big day for football.  It was the first leg of the Champions League semi-final at an English Stadium where Real Madrid was playing Manchester City.  Real Madrid fans were gutted to see Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench because of a hamstring and to see Benzema walk off in the first half for a similar complaint.  The match was boring with a disappointing 0-0 draw at the end.  Let’s hope the gods smile on the Spanish team when they play the second leg next week at the Bernabeu stadium and they win to get through to the final.  The final may well be against their Atlético de Madrid rivals who beat Bayern de Munich the next day 1-0 with a superb goal from 21 year old Saul Niguez.  It would be a repeat of the final 2 years ago in Lisbon where Real Madrid garnered their 10th cup.  I think it would be only fair for Atlético to garner their first so if there is an all Madrid final I shall be cheering for the underdogs.

21 year old Saul Niguez of Atlético de Madrid happy with his winning goal against Bayern Munich
But there was far more important news in Spain that day; political of course – most news here is about politics.  The news was that there will be new general elections on 26th June after the hung parliament result on 20th December.  Since then no political party has had enough support to form a government.  Most people are worried that new elections will only bring a similar result and wonder how and when a new government will be formed. 

On Wednesday I woke up to the news that Apples revenues were down for the first time with not enough sales of their iPhone 6 or whatever. I think it is because they don’t have any middle or low end phones to keep their competitive edge against Samsung and Huawei.  When I worked for Nokia and they were the top mobile phone manufacturer I well remember the day when their revenues went down for the first time. From then on they spiralled down more and more until they were finally out of the game.  Perhaps this could be a lesson to the guys at Cupertino.
Apple revenues for their iPhone sales were down for the first time in the history of the company this week
On Wednesday Suzy had an important meeting with the new company she will be working for.  A Spanish mushroom company from Galicia that produces organic mushrooms for medicinal and beauty purposes, called Hifas da Terra which is a huge success in Spain. It is making a break into the UK market where their products are even sold at Harrods!  So it will be goodbye to Bare Biology where honestly I think the owners didn’t tap into Suzy’s great personality and experience enough and hello Hifas da Terra.  Suzy will be a nutritionist there with responsibilities for training, fairs and exhibitions and even social media.  The latter will be totally new to her but she has all my help if she needs it. If you have got as far as here I would ask you a favour and that is to follow Hifas da Terra on their facebook ( and their twitter page (@HifasdaTerraUK)
The new company Suzy is working for

Meanwhile at home, my latest DVD purchase from Amazon arrived; Series 5 of Homeland.
Homeland Series 5 arrived this week. I can't wait to watch it.
I can’t wait to watch it. I didn’t start watching it on Wednesday as Eladio and I were immersed in Julian Fellowe’s adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s novel Dr. Thorne.
Watched Julian Fellowe's TV adaptation of Anthony Trollope's Doctor Thorne this week
It’s his first TV series after Downton Abbey and is not a patch on it.  The story is good but the characters a little over the top.

We watch TV from bed where Pippa sleeps with us.  Here she is inside the sheets looking so cute.
Pippa sleeping in our bed. Isn't she cute?
Thursday was Suzy’s birthday and she was not to be with us this year which was rather frustrating.  Wow that day 32 years ago I had given birth to my first daughter, tiny little Suzy.  She has grown up into a beautiful, kind, charismatic woman with all the right values and I hope I have had something to do with that.  She wasn’t to be alone though to celebrate as her flat mates, Vicky, Julieta and Anita, together with Chati, organised a birthday dinner with all the trimmings.  Here they are together.  Today she will be hosting a big party at their new house in Camden. I have certainly brought up both girls to make a very special day of their birthdays.
Suzy celebrating her birthday this week with Vicky, Chati, Julieta and Anita
That morning I went for my walk in the rain.  My new sou’wester which I bought in London at Urban Outfitters recently came in handy as you can see in the picture below.
Wearing my new sou'wester on a wet walk one morning this week
Thankfully the rain has been quite scarce this week with more sun than cloud. It was a quiet day.  I fasted, worked and in the afternoon went for another walk this time with Eladio and the dogs.  It was sunny and it was amazing to see how much the grass had grown and how the wild flowers had suddenly made their appearance on a massive scale.

That night we finished watching Dr. Thorne.  We immediately started on my next TV series called Granchester
One of the TV series we have been watching this week 
Set near Cambridge in the 50s it stars the most handsome British actor I have seen for a long time. James Norton is Sydney Chambers, a young clergymen who gets involved with solving crimes, helping a local detective.  It was written by James Runcie who says the role of the young vicar was loosely based on his Father, the late Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Friday was a great day. I went for my walk then worked most of the morning before going food shopping with Eladio.  We had fish and chips for lunch made by Salu who didn’t make them like I do: the chips were soggy and the fish too.  But we still liked it. Later I went to the hairdresser for a cut and came out with curly hair which Suzy said made me look like the Queen hahaha.  On our afternoon walk the sun was out again and there were even more flowers in the fields.  I just had to have the view on camera with Norah and Pippa on a carpet of wild flowers, mostly giant daisies. I have chosen it as the photo to illustrate this week’s post.

Friday ended with dinner out at La Vaca Argentina with Eladio and Olivia where Oli and I drank half a bottle of wine between us and ended up feeling just slightly tipsy hahaha.  It was a lovely relaxed meal.  As Oli was there I was able to get a photo of Eladio and I out for dinner on Friday something we do most weeks.
At the Vaca Argentina with Eladio for dinner on Friday night
If Friday was a great day, Saturday was too.  José Antonio and Dolores were coming for lunch. I did the cooking yesterday and made oxtail using Simone Ortega’s recipe from her famous Spanish cook book; 1080 recipes.
Oxtail for lunch yesterday when José Antonio and Dolores came
For dessert I tried out Jamie Oliver’s recipe for raspberry syllabub and it was delicious and looked just right. I got the desired “ripple effect”.
Jamie Oliver's raspberry syllabub for lunch yesterday.  I'm proud of how it turned out!
And here we are at lunch yesterday.  Thanks for the photo Oli.
The family lunch yesterday
It was a sunny afternoon  so we sat aside on the terrace after lunch.
Toño, Eladio and Dolores on the terrace yesterday after lunch
At about 5 we had afternoon tea and the dogs joined us as you can see in the photo below.
Eladio feeding the dogs crumbs from our afternoon tea yesterday. You can just spot little Pippa.
Then it was time for our constitutional.  We were keen to show José Antonio and Dolores just how lovely the fields looked with long grass and covered in flowers.
Toño, Dolores, Eladio and Norah on our glorious walk yesterday afternoon
The day ended with dinner at home which was really a combination of tapas.  Once in bed there was time for one more episode of Granchester before we fell asleep.

And today is Sunday, my Father’s 97th birthday.  For some reason I have been telling everyone he was 97 but he only turned it today.  Whilst I am writing I have been up to lay the dining room table, the croissants are in the oven and soon we will be having the first of his birthday celebrations, a family breakfast.

And here is the "birthday boy" at the grand old age of 97 surrounded by flowers, his presents (Milk tray chocolates and history books on Norway and the Second World War) and cards from Suzy and us.

A special breakfast this morning to celebrate my Father's birthday, his 97th!
I want to enjoy the day, so will get on with publishing this and therefore will tell you all about today's events and how we celebrated Russian Easter with our neighbours in next week’s post.

Meanwhile, cheers to you all and I wish you a great week ahead,


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