Monday, May 30, 2016

Family birthday with the girls, Oli’s new flat, roses from our garden, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Queen’s 90th birthdays, Obama visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Lucía’s wedding, Hala Madrid and other stories.

Monday 30th May 2016

Eladio and I ready to go to the wedding on Saturday
Hi everyone. 

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday.  I meant to but Sunday turned out to be completely KO for me after Lucía’s wedding on Saturday.  I woke up with a cold which both Eladio and Olivia thought was a massive hangover but it wasn’t. I swear I only drank 2 glasses of wine – well maybe 3 – although going to bed at past 3 in the morning only exacerbated how I felt, so I had a terrible day with the cold, my body aching all over the place and absolutely no energy.  I spent the whole day in bed.  It’s so funny for someone like me who is usually hyperactive to have no energy and very frustrating.  One day is one day and thankfully this morning I am better although not yet 100%.   I have to get better this week as we have visitors from the USA and Finland to host on Thursday, Friday and the weekend.  That’s going to be fun. You will hear all about it in next week’s chronicle, but let me tell you about last week first.

Sunday 22nd May was Oli’s 31st birthday and Suzy had come to celebrate it with her, their friends and the family.  I left off last week just after the birthday breakfast. The next item on the birthday agenda was shopping with the girls, just the three of us. We went to Plaza Norte where I took a photo of the girls buying and exchanging shoes from a shop there.
The girls shopping last Sunday morning
The family lunch was to be fish and chips at Oli’s request which we made together.  Then of course came the birthday cake ritual; the third of the cakes I had made last weekend and which turned out to be a huge success.  It was also time for a selfie to immortalize the moment and here we are the 5 of us toasting Oli:
The birthday cake moment selfie on Oli's birthday last Sunday
The girls then went to spend some time with their friends “la manada” whilst Eladio and I got on with our Sunday afternoon routine which is usually a siesta after lunch, a cup of tea, some reading and then a walk with the dogs, in that order.  The day would end with a family dinner and I couldn’t believe that Oli wanted egg and chips for dinner.  I mean chips twice in a day, but her wish was my command.  It was to be Suzy’s last night with us.

On Monday I was up at 5.45 to take Suzy to the airport.  My heart always sinks when she goes.  We do miss her so much. I had been to the airport to pick her up and there I was suddenly taking her back; the two and a half days seemed very short.  We had time to talk and she told me about her new job.  It’s so funny that she is the manager not only for training at Hifas da Terra (The Spanish Company from Galicia which specializes in mycology and makes amazing health and beauty products from mushrooms!) but also for social media, press and events.  I never thought Suzy would end up doing a similar job to me.  She is getting lots of mentoring, coaching and help from me at a distance and I am happy to pass on lots of my experience in PR and events to her.  I love to be there for her just as I love to be there for Olivia. 

Meanwhile at home we had the people from the swimming pool company cleaning and scraping the paint which attracted dust to most of the house.  Other people came to give us estimates on mending the leak which seems pretty complicated.  Oh I do hope it will be painted, repaired and ready for use soon; although the weather has not been really warm enough to take the plunge yet.
The pool as it looks now after the cleaning and scraping.  I can't wait for it to be ready
The highlight of Monday was going to see Oli and Miguel’s new flat, the one they will be renting from 1st July.  It’s in the nice leafy area of Mirasierra, some 28km from home and just 5 stops on the metro to Oli’s place of work in Plaza Castilla.  We liked the flat as soon as we saw it.  It is clean, recently refurbished and very light. 
The lounge in Oli and Miguel's new flat we went to see this week
They would be signing the contract on Wednesday and their main priority from now on is to find everything they need to furnish it.  I can’t really believe Oli will be flying the nest but it has to happen.

Tuesday was another working day.  I went into the office for a management team meeting where we all got up to date on the different areas of the business. I also left my car to be taken for servicing and lucky me I was given a substitute one; a very modern medium sized Merc which needed quite a few instructions before I could drive it hahaha.

One of my jobs at this time of year is keeping the roses looking neat.  I cut them with the rose pruners from our house in Bradford. They must have been my Father’s and are still going strong. As soon I cut them, just a few hours later, more are blooming.  These are the ones I cut on Wednesday morning to adorn the house.  I always give my Father a vase in the dining room and another one for his bedroom.
Roses from our garden
Another daily job of mine is making dinner; or nearly always.  Usually we are 4 for dinner when Miguel is here.  When they go in July, it’ll just be Eladio and me (heave).  That night I made them a tuna fish salad as you can see in the photo below.  It’s one of our favourites for dinners.  Usually it’s made with tuna mayonnaise (with spring onion), peppers, asparagus and tomatoes.  On Wednesday I didn’t have the latter two so substituted them for avocado which was nearly as nice.
My tuna fish salad
That night Eladio and I finished watching Homeland Season 4 for the second time in my case.  There was time to start a new series and we began on The Americans based on the true story of 2 Russian KGB spies living in America as a married couple with 2 children who have no idea who their parents really are.  I mentioned the story not so long ago in my blog which, being the daughter of a Russian mother and parents who taught the language and part of the Cold War generation was right up my street.  We are now half way through.  It’s not as good as Homeland (what is?) but we are enjoying it.
The TV series we are currently watching
Thursday was a special day.  It was Winnie-the-Pooh’s 90th birthday which of course coincided with the Queen’s 90th.  And “he”, Pooh, via Disney who owns all the rights wrote a story called Winne-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday.  Pooh leaves the Hundred Acre Wood for Buckingham Palace with Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eyeore to deliver his special gift to the Queen – a poem or “hum” written for the occasion. I am sure both AA Milne the writer and E.H. Shepherd the illustrator would have been happy with the outcome. 
The Queen and Winnie-the-Pooh  - a celebration of their mutual 90th birthday

This is the “hum”. 

“The Queen lived in her palace, as Queens often do.
Doing all those busy things that busy Queens do.
But the Queen could never know, as you and I do,
That doing nothing much can be the BEST thing to do.
So from a forest far away, for your special day,
We’re sending you some quiet and a little time to play.”

I was interested in this piece of news because I was brought up on the tales of Christopher Robin and Winnie-The-Pooh and always loved the stories and the poems.  It was my Mother who introduced me to them and I had all the books and used to know some of the poems off by heart.  I know the Queen loved them too when she was a child.  I think it was a very befitting gift and I particularly loved that piece of news on Thursday.

I did some shopping on Thursday, yes again.  I must curb my shopaholic instinct which Suzy reprimanded me for that day when I posted on Facebook the photos of the colourful and incredibly comfortable Skecher walking shoes I had bought that morning.  I threw my other walking shoes away as they had so many holes hahaha.

My new skechers, quite a discovery

 On Friday I spent some time with Eladio measuring Oli’s study, the room next to her bedroom which she never really uses and which we want to turn into a new spare bedroom.  That had me browsing Ikea and the Maison du Monde websites.  As I was making the lunch that day – fabada (bean stew) – I came across more red roses in our garden, the one near the kitchen, which I hadn’t spied before.  They were the result of the roses Miguel gave to Olivia for Valentine’s Day quite a few years ago.  They have grown enormously since then as I imagine their love has too.   So I cut them too and since then more have bloomed. They are perfect scented red roses.  You must know by now that roses are my absolute favourite flowers.  If you didn’t, you do now hahaha.
Miguel's scented red roses in the front garden
 That night Eladio and I went out to dinner as we nearly always do on Friday nights. I made a reservation via The Fork.  I wanted to try somewhere new but regretted it later that night.  We went to “Entre Capotes” in Majadahonda which was a disappointment.  The food was nothing special, the service unacceptable and the place lacking in atmosphere.  We will not be going back.

It was on Friday that Barack Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial; the first American President in office to do so.  He laid a wreath at the memorial and embraced a survivor of the US atomic bombing that killed 140.000 people. That was a very emotional moment.
President Obama embracing the survivor of the atom bombs, Shigeaki Mori who was 8 at the time.

As expected he spoke against the use and building of nuclear weapons but did not apologize or justify the terrible attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But his very presence and gesture suggest his condemnation of what happened, the most terrible war attack ever.  Of course he didn’t apologise, as it was the Japs who began with their attack on Pearl Harbour which I am sure they have regretted ever since.  Thankfully there has been no nuclear attack ever since and I hope there will never be one. Bravo Barack Obama for your gesture.

On Saturday I was upset to read that Rafa Nadal had pulled out of Roland Garros after reaching the 3rd round, due to a wrist injury.  Rafa who has won it 9 times out of 11 attempts and was hoping to become the first tennis player to win a grand slam 10 times, was in tears when he announced the news.  I was very sorry for him. 
It was bad news for Nadal on Saturday when he had to pull out of the French Open
That morning I slaved in the kitchen and at times it felt like I was running a restaurant hahaha.  I was making “salmorejo” (a thick type of gazpacho that hails from Córdoba), artichoke hearts and yet another bilberry birthday cake for Olivia who was having another party that day, this time for her work colleagues.  To make the salmorejo I used the Kenwood my Mother bought me for my wedding, nearly 33 years ago.  I am amazed it is still going strong and wonder why kitchen appliances today are not made to last.  It’s called “programmed obsolescence”.  Thankfully when my Kenwood was manufactured that didn’t exist. 
Making "salmorejo" with my 33 year old Kenwood
Then I made the 4th and last of Oli’s birthday cakes for this year – another bilberry and cream one.
Oli's 4th birthday cake!

Eladio and I helped Oli with the preparations.  The most important part was the barbecue which of course my husband was in charge of.  Unfortunately it rained whilst he was cooking the meat.  Here is the photo of this rather strange moment where he is cooking and holding an umbrella at the same time.
Eladio cooking the meat for Oli's bbq in the rain using an umbrella!
Whilst Olivia continued her party, Eladio and I got ready to go to a wedding. It was to be a very special one.  Lucía, the youngest daughter of the González Gálvez family was to marry Juan Carlos that evening in the chapel at La Moraleja.  I consider this family to be my Spanish family.  I lived with them when I spent my 3rd year at University in Spain (1978-1979) in Madrid.  Pili and Gerardo, the parents, took me into the bosom of their well-to-do, family.  I was to be an au pair to their children: Gerardo, Irene, Julieta and Toti and teacher of English to Gerardo and Irene. I was 21 and they were in the early teens and we hit it off immediately.  I loved them then and always.  I am eternally grateful to how they accepted Eladio when I first brought him to their summer house in Galapagar.  He was of course a priest and our relationship was a total secret except for my parents and Eladio’s brother and sister-in-law, José Antonio and Dolores.  I wasn’t sure how Pili and Gerardo would react as they were a well off, Catholic and right wing family and having a boyfriend as a priest in the early 80s in Spain would have been a scandal.  But they were wonderful; never criticized and accepted our relationship from the start. 

They were to play a big part in my wedding 33 years ago.  Gerardo would be our chauffeur and Irene and Julieta our bridesmaids.  This morning I dug out a photo of them at our wedding and here it is.
The González Gálvez family, my Spanish family, at our wedding in August 1983
One year later I was pregnant with Susana and Pili was pregnant too with Lucía, late in life and they were born in April and August 1984 respectively. It was to Lucia`s wedding that we were going on Saturday.  I don’t normally like weddings, but if they are for people very close to me, like the González Gálvez family, then of course I do. We dressed up the best we could and just before we left Oli took some photos of us ready to go. She is such a good photographer. The photo illustrating this blog is the one I like best.  Eladio looks great in a suit and bow tie doesn’t he?
Dressed up to go to Lucía's wedding
Spanish weddings are very different to English ones.  They are a lot less formal. At church people hang around talking and when the bride comes in they remain standing gawking at the procession.  Then when the wedding is over, instead of sitting quietly for the bridal procession to leave, they all go out ahead of her. Children run around and people even go outside to chat or to smoke.
The bridal procession arriving
It was a lovely ceremony and thankfully the weather held.  Once the bride and groom were outside everyone threw rice at them.  A quirk of luck had it that Eladio and I would have the honour of taking the bride and groom in our car to the wedding party at the Club de Golf in La Moraleja.  Sadly their driver had to leave in haste as his pregnant wife had been taken into hospital. I hope everything is ok.
The bride and groom in our car
The venue was spectacular and the views from the terrace of the luxury Moraleja complex with the golf course in front view was the best place to take photos.  I took this one of Eladio which got some favourable comments on Facebook.
Eladio looking like James Bond (hahaha) at Lucía's wedding
The best photo I have seen so far is the one of the González Gálvez family all together.
The González Gálvez family at the wedding on Saturday.
My, how they have grown since the photo of them taken at our wedding in 1983!  Gerardo is now the proud father of 5 (Vicky, Lucía, Ana, Gerardo and Irene), Irene the proud mother of 4 (Tomy, Paula, Celia and Nacho) and Toti (Alberto) the father of a brood who I only met on Saturday.  His youngest son, Miguel, aged 3 is the spitting image of him when I first met him aged 5 when I joined the family in 1978.  He is adorable.

Whilst the wedding reception started, believe it or not, many people were glued to the television. Lucía had the bad luck that the all Madrid Champions League final in Milan coincided with her wedding.
Football at the wedding!
At the end of the match the two teams had drawn 1-1 which meant there would be over time and dinner wouldn’t start until 11.  Wisely, however, the family had decided to start the dinner even if there was over time.  Here is the lovely moment when the bride and groom arrive at their table.
The bride and groom arriving at their table
Again I was grateful to the family who could have put us on any old table.  But no, we were placed on table 2 with Gerardo and his wife, Vicky, Irene and her husband Tomas, Julieta and their close friends and cousins.
Our table with Eladio and Gerardo at the forefront clapping at the bride and groom as they arrive at their table
The food was out of this world; strawberry gazpacho, lobster salad, fillet steak and a divine chocolate dessert.  Our table was abuzz with happy conversation.  We talked about the past and the present, including the issue of Brexit.  More importantly we fixed a time for Irene, Tomas, Gerardo and Vicky to visit us in Montrondo in September.

It was during the dinner that Real Madrid played Atlético de Madrid for another agonizing 30 minutes.  Atlético could have won if they had scored the penalty awarded to them.  In the end the final was resolved with a very unfair penalty shootout which Gerardo and I rushed from our table to watch.  As most of the more than 17 million spectators around the world predicted, Real Madrid won the match, albeit with a  penalty shootout, Ronaldo scoring the final goal. I was happy that my team had won the 11th Cup (“la undécima”) and sorry at the same time for Atlético de Madrid who after 3 attempts in the history of the club have yet to win the most coveted football club championship in the world.
Hala Madrid! They did it again for the 11th time.
Most of the Real Madrid fans were chanting Hala Madrid to which I join my voice.  They really know how to win this championship.  I do wish though that they could win La Liga or La Copa del Rey more often, both of which went to their eternal rival, Barcelona this year. 
After dinner the dancing started. Here the Spaniards are traditional and the first dance was a waltz by the bride and groom, followed by Pili and her son Toti.  Even Eladio and I danced although we are dreadful dancers.  We left at about 2 in the morning, very late for us.  It was in the car on the way home I realised I was getting a cold as I could feel it in my throat.  It took a lot of effort to get ready and finally collapse into bed.

As I told you, yesterday, I woke up feeling k.o. and the day was a wash out.  Thankfully today I am feeling a lot better. 

I wonder how the bride and groom were feeling yesterday.  I always remember feeling exhausted the day after our wedding.  They left for New York and Punta Cana this morning and I was happy to hear that they used the suitcases we had bought for them as a wedding present.  Here is Lucía smiling at the airport this morning with one of the cases.
The happy bride with one of our wedding present suitcases at the airport this morning, destination honeymoon in NY and Cancun.  
Now that I have told you all about last week, I shall get on with publishing this post as I am sure my Father is anxious to read it.  I shall have a rest now and hopefully my cold will fizzle out over the next few days and I shall be fine to host our visitors this week.

Cheers all till next time


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