Saturday, June 11, 2016

10 years in this house, Oli in Formentera, alone at home, dinners with Fátima, oh so hot, Hillary Clinton clinched it, retail therapy, the Queen’s official birthday and other stories.

Saturday 11th June 2016
Oli on the beach on the island of Formentera this week
Hi everyone,

I am writing one day early this week.  That’s because Oli is back tonight and I want to spend time with her tomorrow.  I’ve missed her and Eladio too but more about that later. Now let me get you up to speed with what happened this week.

Monday was 6th June and it was the 10th anniversary of our moving into what we still call our new house. 
We moved into our "new house" 10 years ago this week
Imagine 10 years have already gone past.  We moved out of our smaller but lovely house in Rio Tajo where we lived from 1988 to 2006 on 6th June 10 years ago and I remember it as if it were yesterday.
Our "old house" in Río Tajo in Boadilla where we lived for 18 years
It took 2 days and 2 lorries to move and almost a week to settle into our new house.  There was a heat wave at the time and we didn’t leave the premises for at least a week whilst moving in.
Moving in 10 years ago - a nightmare!
It was a herculean task and I hardly bare to think what it will be like if and when we have to move again as we have so much furniture and stuff that we have accumulated in our nearly 33 years of marriage, not to mention all the things we brought from our house in England when my Father came to live with us in 2005. 

We have been very happy here since the day we moved in. I would like to make some changes; paint it, remove the curtains, change the kitchen, etc but all that will have to wait for a while if it ever happens at all as we don’t really know how much longer we will live here.  It’s an enormous house, far too big for so few of us with 7 bedrooms, 9 bathrooms, 4 lounges, etc, etc.  The most practical way to find each other here is to call on our mobiles. Maybe we should have walkie talkies hahaha.  Anyway we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Meanwhile we can dream of what our perfect retirement plans could bring; maybe stints in Montrondo and England and a smaller place in a nice suburb of Madrid.

On Monday Oli was in Formentera. She and Miguel had travelled there on the Sunday to spend a week in that beautiful island of famous white beaches and turquoise coloured water.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Oli on one of the beaches there. They had rented an apartment right by the sea and seem to have had a great time. Oli doesn’t want to come back.  From the photos I have seen it looks like they hired a jet ski, had great meals out and spent a lot of time on the beach. I have only been there twice on day trips from Ibiza but I too loved the island and one day hope to go there with Eladio for longer.  It is Oli and Miguel’s second visit and I suspect it won’t be their last.
Oli and Miguel in Formentera this week
On Tuesday morning I went on my early morning walk and it was warmer than usual.  It was to be a scorching week.  It would have been my Mother’s 96th birthday as my Father pointed out at lunch that day.  I knew that of course as 7th June is a date ingrained in my mind and on that day I remember her more especially.
My Russian born Mother - in Cambridge in the 50's.
We miss her every day and my Father more so I am sure.  The girls miss her too and Oli once said that if she could bring one person back to earth it would be her.  I miss her so much at times that it aches.  She would have loved this house, would have loved to see her beloved granddaughters grow up, as I am sure she would have loved to live here with us too.  Ay Mummy, how we miss you.

Life continued of course as it does.  Eladio has been having problems in the garden with the irrigation system.  Water was leaking out of an electricity cable in the garden believe it or not which meant there was not enough pressure for the irrigation to work. Here he is bending down over the leak.
Eladio the gardener
I have to admit I have married not just a philosopher, teacher and ex priest but also a gardener, a plumber, an electrician, a painter, a semi doctor, a chauffeur and general dog’s body who is the rock of my life and the secret of my success.  On top of all that he just never seems to grow old despite being 72.  He still has more black hair than grey and I have to admit I still find him “drop dead gorgeous” haha.  But he was to leave me on Tuesday, alone at home, to go to Montrondo with his brother José Antonio to see to the garden there or rather to create a lawn after the recent building of our house and his sister Pili’s. With Oli gone and then Eladio I really did feel quite alone at home.  Thankfully I had my Father for company at lunch and of course Salud our home help, not to mention the dogs, especially little Pippa.
Pippa kept me company this week
I decided whilst both Oli and Eladio were away that I am not good at being alone.  I don’t mind a few hours or a day or two but definitely do not like getting into bed at night alone.  Pippa saved my day though by sleeping on Eladio’s side of the bed hahaha.

As I said it was a hot day and it was very frustrating sitting by the empty pool that evening.  The painter had just given it the first lick of paint and it looked lovely but rather strange to see it empty. If on Tuesday it reached 32c by Thursday the temperature had soared to 35 and I had to put the air conditioning on in my room. Funnily enough there were floods in France and Germany and freak rainstorms in the UK. Not here thank goodness.  Probably the best thing about living in Madrid is the climate.  I wouldn’t change it for anything.  But oh when it’s hot you do need a pool nearby; having one is no luxury here, it’s a necessity.
It was very hot in Spain this week
Thankfully since then it has dropped to an average maximum of 30 which is bearable and quite pleasant.
The freshly painted but empty pool - very frustrating with all the heat this week
As I am not good at being alone, I called my best friend and neighbour, Fátima, to join me for dinner that night.  She is celiac and cannot eat cow’s milk or beef so I had to think hard about what to serve her. In the end I offered her a tuna fish salad, humus and a plate of our delicious Rueda ham.  We ate on the kitchen patio surrounded by our 3 dogs and our tongues were wagging (excuse the pun) until nearly midnight.  Thanks Fátima for keeping me company that night.
Fátima at dinner on Tuesday night
On Wednesday morning it was funny to wake up without Eladio.  Meanwhile in Montrondo work had started on the garden and he sent me photos of the progress. The land had to be flattened and covered in soil after which the two brothers would sew it with grass seeds, quite a hard task.
The making of a lawn in Montrondo this week
It was on Wednesday that my new order from H+M arrived including 2 pairs of super comfortable espadrilles. I’m in love with them. Yeah, they’re flat and that’s how I like them; flat, pretty and comfortable.  Ah and they only cost 10 euros each which is quite a bonus.

The espadrilles I ordered from H+M and which arrived this week
I was busy working all of this week. There has been so much speculation in the media about the sale of Yoigo to either Masmovil or Zegona but nothing concrete has happened.  It gets very tiring answering journalists’ calls when all you can say is “no comment”.  One thing I can conclude this week is; just don’t believe all you read in the papers as most of it is plain speculation; not truth based.  Funny thing is people always believe the “written word” but when you work in communications like I do, you know otherwise. 

On the international front, history was made that day.  Hillary Clinton, it seems, will be the democratic candidate to run for US presidency in the November elections against that joke of a man, Donald Trump of the Republican Party who wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out.  He is so racist and bigoted it seems incredible he has got to run for the top job in the US.  All the media were hailing Wednesday as a day in the history of US politics in that Hillary Clinton is the first woman to run for US presidency, the first party woman nominee for the challenge.
Hillary Clinton happy to be making history
However that is actually not true as in 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for the job.  She was an American leader of the women’s suffrage movement and she herself did not have the right to vote at the time.
It was Victoria Woodhull who was actually the first woman to run for the US Presidency in 1872
Be that as it may, it is still a first in recent history. Hillary, mire deep in the email scandal, should, in my mind, win over as many women’s votes as possible.  Of the 2 candidates, I would like her to win; not because I admire her but because she is a woman, she can do politics, she is intelligent and above all because I don’t want that joke of a man Trump to win.

Thursday I did a women’s thing and went and had my nails painted.  I think the method in English is called “gel”.  Here it is called semi-permanent, a much better name as it is true.  The enamel painted on my own natural nails lasts, in my case, just under a month. Whilst at Centro Oeste, I took the time to have a look in at Zara and H+M.  It was not my lucky day at Zara but oh boy I seemed to like nearly everything I saw at H+M.  Talk about retail therapy.  I came home feeling on a high. This is what I bought.
The result of my retail therapy on Thursday
The only person to see me in the news clothes since has been Eladio when he got back yesterday and, typical him, he didn’t even notice they were new.  Oli will though and she will probably borrow some of the stuff.  You are welcome darling. I find it flattering you like the clothes I buy.

Fátima came for dinner again that night; my last night alone.  This time I made a Swedish prawn and avocado salad with sliced oiled egg and served a small plate of Ikea salmon, freshly sliced tomatoes and of course some more of our delicious ham.  Dessert was thick black and juicy cherries, my favourite fruit and Fátima’s too. Here is the table before we sat down to eat.
The table laid for dinner with Fátima on Thursday night
Friday 10th June was my dear friend Sandra’s birthday.  It was also the beginning of the celebrations of the Queen’s official 90th birthday which is today Saturday. Funnily enough it was actually her husband, Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh’s 95th birthday on Friday, although hers has completely overshadowed his.  For the occasion Buckingham Palace released this lovely photo of the two of them as they are now today; looking just like an ordinary couple. It was taken by Annie Leibovitz who is perhaps the most famous photographer in the world.
The Queen and Prince Phillip - photo by Annie Leibovitz released by Buckingham Palace on the occasion of the Queen's official 90th birthday this weekend.
They have been married for nearly 69 years, the longest marriage in royal history. Aged just 21 the then Princess Elizabeth married her handsome Greek Prince on 20th November 1947 at Westminster Abbey. 
The Queen and Prince Phillip on the day of their wedding on 20th November 1947
She first set eyes on him when she was 13 and those eyes have never ventured on another man since. I am not quite sure about his.  However they have kept together through thick and thin and seem to be happy and content in each other’s company.  He is an extraordinary man; well you would have to be to marry the Queen and has kept her laughing and sane for nearly 70 years. Both of them were handsome people and still look good today.
It’s funny but the Queen’s real birthday is on 21st April but her official birthday is held on a Saturday in June – a tradition going back some 250 years – to ensure better weather for the celebrations.  Yesterday she attended a national service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Here she is dressed in yellow and looking as lovely as ever, despite her 90 years.
The Queen in yellow yesterday at the Thanksgiving Service at St. Paul's Cathedral
Today, the annual Trooping the Colour will be held on Horse Guards’ Parade. This is a ceremony with lots of pageantry to officially celebrate the Queen’s birthday. She always used to ride one of her horses on this occasion but not anymore of course. I tried to find out when the last time was but failed in the attempt.  In any case, here is a photo of her on her horse Burmese, a gift from the Canadian Mounted Police, in the 1979 Trooping the Colour.  On one occasion she was shot at during the event but got away unscathed.

The Queen who is horse mad, riding her horse, Burmese, at the Trooping of the Colour in 1979
After the event the Royal family will make their annual appearance on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and tomorrow, Sunday, the Queen will host a street party for more than 10.000 people in the centre of London.  I would love to be there, if only to sample the 150 pounds worth M+S basket made for the occasion hahaha. Love M+S food as you probably know.

While the Queen was at St. Paul’s Cathedral, I was at home at my desk and at midday had a skype conversation with a Spanish student, Marina, who is on an Erasmus in Helsinki.  She had contacted me via twitter as she wanted to interview me for an essay she had to write on corporate communication based on company values.  Well that was easy peasy for me hahaha.

Just as we were finishing, Eladio and Toño arrived back from Montrondo.  It was great to get my husband back. He curtailed his stay there and rushed back yesterday morning because of the irrigation problems in the garden which still weren’t sorted. Well he worked on them all day yesterday and looked a complete mess afterwards, but he did the job thank goodness.  He also installed the new swimming pool steps he had bought on Amazon and here he is just after doing the job.
Eladio standing by the swimming pool steps he installed yesterday
I’m dying to use them but will have to wait until next Tuesday, a week after the painting, which is when we can fill the pool again. 

Being Friday we went out to dinner and chose Ginos this time.  Here over a dish of pasta, in my case and a dish of “scalopini” in Eladio’s, we talked about the 10 years we had spent in this house and what we want to do in the future.  I think Eladio would quite like to stay in this house till the end of our time.  But as I said above, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
Dinner at Ginos last night - my favourite dish there
Today is Saturday and it’s another sunny day, but not too hot.  Whilst Eladio was in the garden, off I went for my morning walk.  But first I had left the “fabada” (bean stew) bubbling which will be our lunch today.
The "Fabada" (bean and chorizo stew) I made for lunch today
It will be a quiet afternoon. Oli and Miguel will be back tonight and I look forward to quality time with my younger daughter tomorrow.

So my friends, this is it for this week.  Wishing you all the best, cheers till next time,


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