Saturday, May 14, 2016

Spanish journalists released in Syria, Suzy in Pontevedra, rain and more rain, Pope Francis opens the door to women in the church, to Montrondo and more stories.

Sunday 15th May
Suzy hugging a tree for energy during her training course with Hifas da Terra in Galicia this week.
Good morning all from Montrondo.

Yes we are here again, this time for the San Isidro bank holiday and will be staying until tomorrow.  

This week it has been raining every day in most of Spain, so it’s not true that “the rain in Spain falls mostly on the plain”.  Last Sunday it rained all day.  Rain in May can be quite normal here but not the quantity we are getting which reminds me more of England.  There is a plus side though and that is the effect on nature.  Everything looks green and beautiful with so many wild flowers and blossom to enjoy.  I particularly love the blossom on the horse chestnut trees in our garden.
Our horse chestnut trees in full bloom 
Sunday was the day 3 Spanish journalists kidnapped reportedly by al-Nusra Front in Syria, a group linked to al-Qaeda, were released after nearly a year.  It was great to see that the Spanish freelance journalists Angel Sastre, Antonio Pampliega and Jose Manuel Lopez made it home safe and sound after what must have been a very traumatic time even for seasoned war journalists like them.  Unlike their American or British counterparts it is widely rumoured the Spanish government paid a handsome ransom to free them.  I can understand why the former refuse to pay terrorists a ransom but if it they were my sons or daughters I would be very relieved that my government did so.  So welcome back guys and please don’t return to Syria, the worst country in the world for a journalist to go to.
The three Spanish journalists who returned safely to Spain this week after being kidnapped in Syria
Their story could be straight out of Homeland.  I started Season 5 on Sunday and it’s all about jihadist threats in Europe which is pretty eerie after what we have lived through with the Paris and Brussels attacks.  

Arguably this last season is the best of all after season 1.    Even though Brody is no longer there, it is Saul, Quinn and Carrie who “give the show its reason”.  I just love the 3 of them together and was gutted at this season’s ending (no spoilers).  I now cannot wait to see Season 6 and meanwhile will be watching Season 4 again as I am so missing  Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson, Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn, and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison.  I binge watched the whole series in just one week as I got completely hooked, although I have to admit the season gets off to a slow start and only really gets exciting in episode 3.
Saul, Quinn and Carrie from Homeland.
On Sunday I read an article in The Guardian entitled “The day we discovered our parents were Russian spies” that drew my attention; after all, my Mother was Russian and I lived through the Cold War.  I read that for years Donald Heathfield, Tracey Foley and their two children lived the American dream; the latter not knowing their parents were spies.  Then an FBI raid revealed the truth that they were agents of Putin’s Russia.  I then heard that a TV series had been made based on the story called The Americans which I have since ordered and can’t wait to watch. 
The Americans, a series which will be right up my street
Monday came and brought more rain which reminded me of The Carpenters’ song: “Rainy days and Mondays always get me down”.  Well it didn’t get Suzy down who was travelling to Pontevedra from London with her colleague Romina (Indian born in Morocco and lived in in Morocco, Spain and London - a wonderful combination).  They were to be on a training course with Suzy’s new company Hifas da Terra, specialists in “mycology” (study of mushrooms) for health and beauty products.  The company which was founded by the daughter of a multicultural family in the small town of Bora has its headquarters there and Suzy was to be most impressed with everything she saw.

It was too wet to go out for our walk with the dogs that afternoon which must have frustrated them; especially Pippa. She resorted to chewing at some of our rugs for which she got into trouble and I had to shut lots of doors.  She also played with her toys which she is enamored with.
Pippa and her toys.  She is obsessed with the duck which has to be rationed hahaha.
There is one in particular, the duck, I have to ration as otherwise it would be destroyed by now hahaha.

Finally some sun came out on Tuesday morning, but only for a while as we had torrential rain in the afternoon. This was in sharp contrast to a year ago that day when we had opened our swimming pool.  Not this year I am afraid. It was raining too in Bora where Suzy was enjoying the training course with 15 other colleagues.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Suzy hugging a tree as part of the training – meditation in this case.  She told us the tree was giving her energy.  I just love the happy expression on her face. Here in Bora the Hifa da Terra Company from Galicia in the north west of Spain has its mushroom farms and installations where doctors, biologists and nutritionists work, make the products and do a lot of research, innovating with mushrooms. 
Suzy's training course
The area is beautiful, so green and a little like England in a way.  Here she is with Romina posing for a photo in the village.
Suzy with her new colleague Romina on the training course this week
Back home, I did the cooking that day and made a batch of “perushki” (Russian meat pies) and pumpkin soup which we would have for dinner.
Pumpkin soup and perushki
That day Season 2 of Grantchester arrived, the series about a vicar who helps out the local detective in Cambridge solving crimes  and which is set in the late 50’s, around the time my parents met and married and where I was born which is why it appeals to me so much.  We watched the first episode that night and were to finish it by Thursday night.  Thankfully it had a happy ending.
Loved Grantchester Season 2
Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday, weather wise, with sun in the morning and torrential rain in the afternoon.  Olivia was sent out to the Pinilla reservoir to cover the story of how the Madrid reservoirs are overflowing.  Here she is with her colleagues on their arrival.
Oli and her TV crew at the Pinilla reservoir this week
On Thursday I fasted as I did on Monday.  Thursday was perhaps the best day of the week.  It was the only day I went out.  I went to Centro Oeste at midday to have my nails done and whilst waiting for the appointment ventured into H+M where in just 10 minutes I bought a pair of trousers, a t-shirt and a long sleeved blouse, the latter with blue and white stripes, as if I didn’t have enough striped clothes, hahaha. There was time for two walks that day and the fields were looking beautiful after so much rain. I couldn't believe the colour of the fields with all the wild flowers; breathtaking.  We had to stop and take a photo for this week's post. And here it is.

The fields are so pretty at this time of year, even more so now because of all the rain. Here is Eladio on our walk this week
There was good news that day for a Spanish couple lost 10 days before in the sea in Borneo, Malaysia.  Marta and David who worked at a tourist complex in the area went out on a small boat with two other people on 2nd May and since went missing.  Olivia covered the story and met the father of Marta who cried his eyes in front of her.  She admitted that she did too.  We all imagined them dead but amazingly they were found on Friday by a Vietnamese fisherman.  Their boat had capsized and the engine broke down.  They tried to replace it with another one which sunk and they then went adrift.  They were found some 230 miles west of their point of departure and had survived by filtering sea water with a plastic bag (not sure how that works).  Their family was ecstatic with joy at their survival as was most of Spain.  I’m so glad their story had a happy ending as it must have been traumatic for them and for their families.  Olivia was especially relieved as of course she had met some of the family and witnessed their suffering in person.

It was a happy ending for the Spanish couple, Marta and David lost at sea in the islands of Borneo.
We got the news just as we were accompanying Oli to see a flat in an area called Las Tablas.  We didn’t like the area and we didn’t like the flat.  On Friday we heard that they had accepted one in the lovely area of Mirasierra.  So soon Oli will fly the nest and of course I have mixed feelings about that.  I shall miss her sorely but on the other hand think that becoming independent will be good for her.  An exciting time now begins for her and Miguel, her boyfriend, whilst they make the preparations to move in.  The flat, surrounded by green, is unfurnished and I can imagine them making umpteen trips to Ikea to find the items they need.  I hope they will be very happy there.

There was more good news on Thursday of a very different kind. Pope Francis announced the Catholic Church would study the incorporation of women as deacons; not priests.  That means they would be able to perform most sacraments apart from last rights I think.  Nor are they able to hear confession.  From what I understand a deacon does not represent Christ as a priest does but he or she does represent the Church. This astonishing announcement opens a door to women in the Catholic Church and I for one, am very happy to hear it.  The next step would of course be to allow women to be fully fledged clergywomen.  One day that may come true, just as it did in the Anglican Church.  I really admire this forward looking Argentinian Pope who is brave enough to challenge some of the taboo issues of the R.C. Church. He will have lots of support but also many detractors.  I only wish he would also challenge the issue of celibacy for priests.  Eladio, my husband, who was a priest, commented when he heard the news, that the Pope may well want to take this step because there are fewer and fewer men wanting to join the priesthood.  I think there are fewer of them precisely because of celibacy.  I am the granddaughter of 2 priests, one Anglican and one Russian Orthodox who obviously allow their priests to marry, as the do the Jews in the case of Rabbis and the Muslims in the case of Imams.  Hopefully one day the Roman Catholic Church will follow suit.

The Pope's announcement this week could mean the beginning of the end of discrimination of women in the R.C. Church.
Friday came and at 10 a.m. we left for Montrondo with José Antonio, Eladio’s brother, his dog, Nuba and of course Pippa. 

Toño with Nuba and Pippa vying for his lap in the car on the way to Montrondo on Friday
We stopped as usual at Rueda for the traditional glass of white wine and plate of ham which is nothing short of a real “bocatto di cardinal”.  No doubt Pope Francis would agree if he ever tried it hahaha.
Ham and wine at the Palacio de Bornos in Rueda on our way here on Friday
We continued on our journey and on the way stopped at an interesting site we had never realized was there; a memorial to the shooting of 60 republicans by Franco’s troops in the Spanish Civil War.  This is it.
The Civil War memorial we saw on Friday on our way to Montrondo
There are very few memorials of this kind in Spain as it is a sore subject.  I wish there were more; after all it forms a huge part of this country’s history yet still divides opinion. I could imagine the awful scene of the shooting in my mind as I took photos of the memorial.  Those 59 men and 1 woman who were shot were from the area and obviously would have been the grandparents of people who live in the area today, to judge by the flowers in place.  It was quite an experience to see it.
The list of the 60 people executed by a firing squad at the memorial. There was just one woman.
From the memorial we drove on to Pandorado where we had lunch although none of us were hungry after the ham and wine in Rueda.  We got to Montrondo at around 4.15 where we were not surprised to see it raining on and off.  I hate the arrival part where we have to open the house, all the doors and shutters, put away everything we have brought – mostly food.  The whole rigmarole takes at least an hour and it usually puts me in a bad mood as Eladio pointed out. 

Meanwhile Oli was on her way to Valencia to spend the weekend with Miguel and Suzy was back in London.  She was to meet the founder of Hifas da Terra and would be working hard at the weekend at the company’s stand at the Anti-Ageing fair at Olympia.  I wished her lots of luck.

After most of the day in the car we were in need of exercise and I was in a much better mood when we returned from our walk to Murias.  I must say the village looked beautifully green.
It was lovely to be back in Montrondo which was looking oh so green.
Dinner that night was a very frugal affair, just a bowl of soup and an orange.  We then fell asleep in front of the TV.

Yesterday, Saturday, I was up early at 6.50 and was surprised to see it was already light.  I made fabada for lunch with some excellent looking big dry beans (fabes) I had bought at the shop in Rueda.
The fabada I made yesterday

More members of the family were coming that day.  I was especially happy to meet Marly, Yoli and Isidro’s new 4 month old puppy.  It was scared stiff of Pippa to start with but thankfully the initial terror wore off and they became friends. As the day progressed so did their friendship and they played endlessly together.  It's such fun to watch them.

Pippa with her new playmate Marly
After lunch, Yoli, Adela, the dogs and I went for a walk to Murias and back whilst the rest of the family took a siesta.  I really needed it after the "fabada" which is quite a heavy stew.
Yoli and Adela with Marly and Pippa on our walk after lunch yesterday
Later the family gathered at our house for coffee, tea, biscuits and a delicious cake Adela brought.
Tea and coffee with the family at our house yesterday afternoon
The rain disappeared so off I went for another walk, this time with Adela and Alicia my god daughter and of course we were joined by the dogs.  Here we are by the church.
A selfie with Adela and Alicia yesterday 
Later I joined Toño and Eladio on another walk to Murias. On the way we went past a field with a white horse in it and I had to drag Pippa away.  She is so daring and would have gone right up to it and who knows what how the horse would have reacted.
The field with the horse where I had the episode with Nuba and Pippa
I made tortilla for dinner last night for Eladio, Toño and I.  The guys had already dug into one of them by the time I took the photo below hahaha.  
Last night's tortilla
Last night was the Eurovision Song Contest which we scarcely watched.  It's not what it used to be.  This morning I read that The Ukraine won beating Russia which is sort of tit-for-tat for nasty Mr. Putin after his invasion. As usual Spain did badly as did the UK.  I personally did not like the Spanish performance and am indignant the song was in English.

And today is Sunday.  It is 15th May and the sun is shining.  15 years ago today my golden brother George died and as I write that my hairs stand on end.  How I wish he was still alive.  I'm sure my Father is thinking the same. As I commented to my sister-in-law Adele yesterday, he was so handsome and talented but life did not deal him a good hand of cards and I always feel guilty I had so much luck and he had none.  Dear George, I will always remember you.  I have our photo above my bed at home and look at it everyday.  Even in that photo your smile is just a glimmer.  There was always something sad about you.  I will remember you today and always.
George and I when we were young.  That's the photo that hangs on the wall above my bed
On a brighter note it is Eladio's youngest brother Isidro's birthday today and we will be celebrating together here in Montrondo.  I look forward to that.

I will leave you now to get on with the day which promises to be a good one here in Montrondo with the family and finally with a bit of sun.

Cheers till next week

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