Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hooliganism at the Uefa Euro Cup, planning a family reunion in France, gun attack in Orlando, filling the pool, summer fruit and canine siestas, a new look for our bedroom, Nokia girls lunch, Jo Cox British Labour MP shot and stabbed to death, off to Montrondo with Julio and Fátima and other stories.

Sunday 19th June, 2016

At Palacio de Bornos in Rueda on our way to Montrondo on Friday
Hello again,

Another week has gone by and even though it has been pretty quiet there is quite a lot to tell you.  I left off last Saturday.  I spent the afternoon reading outside followed by our walk and dinner together.  Then Eladio drove to the airport to pick up Oli and Miguel who were returning from their week’s holiday in the beautiful Balearic island of Formentera.  

Meanwhile I watched the Russian film, The Admiral (2008) and was riveted.  It felt as if it were made by Hollywood but with no mistakes like in Dr. Zhivago. I just loved it.
The 2008 Russian film, The Admiral, was right up my street.
If you haven’t seen it this is the synopsis I found on Wikipedia: “The Admiral: The Admiral (Russian: Адмиралъ Admiral) is a 2008 biopic about Alexander Kolchak, a Vice-Admiral in the Imperial Russian Navy and leader of the anti-communist White Movement during the Russian Civil War. The film also depicts the love triangle between the Admiral, his wife, and the poet Anna Timiryova”. 

That day England drew with Russia 1-1 in the UEFA Euro Cup in France and there was disgusting behavior on both sides from their fanatical and violent hooligans.  It has continued during the week and has marred the spirit of football. Much worse it has deviated the police work that is really needed, that of security against terrorism incidents like the murder on Monday of a French policeman and his partner who were stabbed to death in front of their baby boy. These thugs give England such a bad name and it embarrasses me.  The UEFA governing body has threatened to expel both the Russian and English teams and it would serve them right. I think they should already have been expelled and then I wonder what the fans would think. 
Disgusting British hooligans at the UEFA Euro Cup
Sunday was another nice day. The house was full again and for the occasion I made a Sunday roast chicken with all the trimmings including sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce.  Here is the table laid with my Father and Eladio ready to tuck in.
Lunch last Sunday - a Sunday roast with all the trimmings
I also pruned the roses, cutting off the dead heads and picking new ones to grace our house.  Eladio caught me on camera as you can see in the photo below.
Pruning the roses last Sunday.  Spot Pippa!
It was on Sunday that I spoke to my cousin Zuka (Sophie) who lives near Poitiers in France.  She is the daughter of my Mother’s brother Nicholas (Kolya).  Her daughter, Katty and children, Luc, Sam and Ruby will be coming soon from New Zealand and she is planning a cousin reunion of the Lieven (my grandfather’s side of the family) and Stachovich (my grandmother’s side of the family) family. The last time I saw Katty and her children was when they visited us in 2011 before moving to New Zealand and they captured our hearts.  This is what they looked like then, five years ago. 

Luc, Sam and Ruby on their visit to our house in November 2011.  I can't wait to see them again but oh how they will have grown.
Coming too will be our second cousin Mashenka (yes Masha like me, there are so many in our family!) and it will be the first time Zuka, Mashenka and I will be together since Zuka’s wedding in 1968 where we were her bridesmaids aged about 13 and 11.  Wow that will be some reunion. I don’t have much family so this will be very important for me. 

It was on Sunday that the world heard of the terrible mass shooting in a gay night club in Orlando, Florida in the USA, the worse attack since 9/11 and deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in US history.   29 year old Omar Mateen of Afghan origin entered the Pulse nightclub and began shooting at random with an AR-15 machine gun.  He killed 49 people and injured 53.  Not long after he began shooting he called a newsroom to say he had done if for ISIS.

The Pulse nightclub in Orlando where the tragic shooting took place
The world wondered why he had attacked a gay club. Was it because he was a gay hater?  Later it has transpired that he himself was a customer there but was a person who could not face his own sexual orientation.  At only 29 and born in the USA, his mind must have been filled with loathing of all kinds.  If guns were banned this tragedy may never have happened.  When will the USA ban the purchase of weapons?  How many more tragedies like this will it take? 

Monday was my fasting day.  It was also the day Eladio and I went out to buy a new headboard and duvet and pillow cases for our bedroom. I was sick and tired of the old ones which we have had for nearly 10 years now and were in dire need of a new look. But we would have to wait until Wednesday when El Corte Inglés would deliver the furniture and see the result. 
The elements of the new look for our bedroom
On Monday the Spanish national team played their first match in the Euro Cup which was against the Czech Republic. Thankfully they won by 1-0 with a goal at the last minute from Gerard Piqué. That gave them 3 points.  They faced Turkey on Friday and then Croatia will be next; no push over.  They are the reigning champions having won in the last two championships.  Winning a third time seems like mission impossible although of course I do hope they will.  The Spanish fans, unlike their Russian or English counterparts, are generally very well behaved and there was no bad behavior from them or the Czech fans on Monday, or on Friday with the Turkish fans and I do not envisage any trouble in their match against CroatiaSpaniards are generally far too civilized a nation for hooliganism.

"La Roja", the Spanish national team won their opening match against the Czech Republic in the Uefa Euro Cup 

On Monday Oli was back from work on time to join us on our walk.  It was warm and balmy and we all dressed in shorts.
Oli with Pippa on our Monday evening walk - it was so warm
Later we had dinner together on kitchen terrace and watched the 4 party candidate debate for the upcoming repeat general elections at the end of this month.  It wasn’t really a debate; more like 3 journalists reading out the questions each one to be answered one by one by the candidates.  I found it extremely boring.  Plus I had a dreadful headache and couldn’t carry on watching. In any case I know the outcome of the elections in which I cannot vote as I am not a Spanish citizen – I can’t vote in the British elections either as I have lived outside the country for more than 15 years (unfair!) – It will be a hung parliament again and as the parties showed they were unable to make coalition pacts since the last elections in December I very much doubt they will be able to do so again. Only time will tell.

The nicest thing that happened on Monday was that we got an invitation to Miguel and Claudia’s wedding in July.  Miguel is my nephew, the son of Toño and Dolores and I have known him since he was a baby.  I’m really looking forward to it.  Unfortunately Oli can’t come as her news programme won’t give her the day off and Suzy can’t either as she lives in London.  Hopefully they will be able to make it on 9th August when there will be a family celebration in Montrondo but I’m not sure about that either.  I wish Miguel and Claudia, his Cuban born bride, a successful and happy marriage.  Miguel is my favorite nephew.  As a Mother it is impossible to have a favourite offspring but as an Aunt you can and Miguel knows he’s my favourite and always has been. It’s the chemistry plus he’s such a nice chap. 

On Tuesday I was not happy to hear at breakfast from Oli that Suzy had gone to A+E at the Royal Free the night before with pains in her ovaries.  She was to have a scan that morning and God was I worried after the operation she had had last year on her ovaries. Thankfully the scan proved negative but they still have to find out the cause of the pain which they think is intestinal. 

On Tuesday we finally began to fill the pool as 7 days had gone by since it had been painted.  What a moment!  The moment we had waited for. 
The pool beginning to be filled on Tuesday morning.  It would take 70.000 litres to fill and we dread the water bill
However by the time it was full, the next day, the temperatures had plummeted and we shall have to wait for our first plunge of the season.

We did the shopping on Tuesday and I bought mountains of fruit. I just love the Spanish fruit in the summer; black cherries, figs, apricots, nectarines, flat peaches, etc.  They are very tasty, sweet and also decorative too on the island in our kitchen as you can see in the photo below.  Cherries are my favourite by the way with figs coming a close second.
Spanish summer fruit - I love it

On Tuesday it was still hot. The dogs sleep in the afternoons anywhere they can get away from the heat.  Below you have Elsa taking her siesta in the kitchen and below that Norah our beagle in the shade by the pool. No it’s not just people who have siestas here (when they can – it is not the norm) but dogs do too, like ours.

Elsa our Lab and Norah our beagle having their siesta on Tuesday afternoon
On Wednesday poor Oli was up at 5 a.m. She had to do a report on the metro strike.  Neither she nor I saw the point of getting to one of the stations at 6 in the morning when the rush hour is so much later.  On the plus side she was home early that day and could have lunch at home.

It was on Wednesday that the furniture arrived that would give our bedroom the change it needed.  Here is a collage of photos of the “new look”.  The furniture has the model name of “Hampstead” so is rather British inspired.  You will notice the 2 British flag cushions on our sofa too hahaha.
Our bedroom got revamped this week
On Thursday I had a lunch appointment with my ex colleagues from Nokia – we call our group the “Nokia girls”.  We were to have lunch at De María in Majadahonda and it was a good one.  The group has grown to include María Jesús and Marta.  On Thursday we were 7.  The other 2 members Fátima and Ana were the only ones missing.  We talk shop of course as we are all in the industry, except for Marta, but of course we talk about “girly” or “mother” things as we are all women and mothers.  It’s thanks to Juana that we meet on a regular basis and no doubt our next lunch will be after the summer.  Great to see you girls.
Nokia Girls lunch on Thursday this week.  From left to right: María Jesús, Susana, Zenaida, me, Juana, Jill and Marta
On my way to the lunch I had to pick up some more bed linen from Zara Home and guess what?  Yeah I did some clothes shopping too. I just nipped into Oysho and wow I seemed to like everything.  I was in need of short sleeved t-shirts, and voila this is what I bought.
My Oysho shopping - I seemed to love everything I saw hahaha
I came home to a quiet house. Eladio was giving a private lesson so I sat down with a book by the pool but first I checked my phone. First I found out England had beaten Wales in the Euro Cup. It was then that I read with shock that Jo Cox, the British Labour MP for Batley and Spen, mother of 3 children, aged 41 from West Yorkshire (where I was brought up) had been shot and stabbed to death in the street in Birstall where she has her regular constituency surgery.  The man who killed her was arrested shortly after and has been named as 51 year old Tommy Mair, someone with mental health problems and a bit of a loner.  Witnesses said that as he savagely attacked the MP he shouted “Britain First”, either a reference to the Ultra-Right political party or to his allegiance to Brexit.  It has been suggested she was a target as Jo Cox was a campaigner for Britain to stay in Europe. 
Jo Cox outside her boat house on the Thames.  So sorry for her, her family and friends and for British politics. 
The attack stunned the country and people around the world like me.  It must have stunned her husband most and I dread to think what he will have told their children.  From everything I have read Jo Cox was a true Yorkshire lass who made it to Cambridge, worked hard for Oxfam, Save the Children and NSPCC and wanted a better world via politics.  It seems she was very popular at Westminster with all parties.  She was a rising star and her death is crazy.  Since the killing the Brexit campaign has been cancelled and so it should.  No one should die because of a referendum. All I can say is I am extremely shocked, cross and sad.  RIP courageous Jo Cox; your family, friends and Britain will miss you.

Friday came and we left for Montrondo early.  We were in Rueda by 11 am, just the time for a glass of wine and plate of ham.  That is the photo illustrating this week’s post; me happy at Palacio de Bornos.

We arrived in Montrondo at 14 and had plenty of time to settle in before I made a cursory lunch out of some frozen pelmeni.  Unfortunately it was raining.  But I was tired so slept a couple of hours after lunch before going for a walk with Pippa and Eladio.  The rain had diminished when we set off but it was very wet, as was the old path to Murias but we needed the exercise.  The countryside looked beautiful.
Montrondo couldn't be greener at this time of year
Fátima and Julio were arriving Friday night and I had a lovely dinner waiting for them. Both of them are ex Nokia colleagues and of course Fátima is an ex Motorola colleague too. I consider them my best friends in Spain.  Julio has never been to Montrondo and Fátima had only been once many many years ago and both of them were keen to see and stay at our newly restored house. 

Whilst we waited for them, we watched the Spain Turkey match enjoying a glass of "tinto de verano".  La Roja (The Spanish national team) thrashed Turkey 3-0 to go through to the next round at the top of their group.  Let's hope they do as well then as they will have much more difficult teams to beat.  In any case congratulations Spain, you did us proud.
Eladio watching Spain thrash Turkey in the Uefa Euro Cup on Friday night in Montrondo (bit blurred sorry).
Julio and Fátima didn't arrive until 11 at night.  They must have driven very slowly as they left Madrid at 5.30!  In any case it was great to see them and welcome them into our mountain house.  They loved it as we do of course.  I had made them a lovely dinner of salad, consome, ham, croquettes followed by oranges, cherries and walnuts.
The table laid for dinner on Friday night for Julio and Fátima's arrival
We introduced them to Netflix later on our smart TV and I think they will be subscribing shortly.

I slept badly that night as I have a lingering cough from the cold I caught at Lucía's wedding.  As usual I was up early, this time at 07.15 and Pippa and I got up together. We woke up to rain unfortunately. 

Yesterday morning after breakfast it was time to show our friends the village but first we had to leave the bread bag outside the gate for when the van came later.
The bread bag outside our gate
My friends were quite impressed with the system, as we are too.  I must add the local bread from either Senra or Montrondo really does have a special taste.

Our first stop was to buy eggs from Ulpiano at his home farm where his wife Serafina went to collect them from where their hens had just laid them.  We always take our visitors there because it's such a special place; like time has not passed and a symbol of how Montrondo used to be.
Buying eggs at Ulpiano's place yesterday
We then showed them the church built in the early 18th century and where Eladio was ordained.  
In the church in Montrondo
Then it was time for a proper walk and we took our friends in the drizzle to Murias de Paredes where we had an "aperitivo" at the charming bar called "La Palloza".

We needed the walk as lunch yesterday was "cocido madrileño" made especially for Julio who loves this dish as do we all.
"Cocido" for lunch yesterday
After lunch the obvious thing was to have a siesta.  We didn't wake up until 6pm!!! The good thing is that we woke up to glorious sunshine and that it would be light until 10.30pm.  The obvious thing to do then was go on another walk but this time a more strenuous one up the mountains via the route called "Los cuatro valles". Just before we set off, I was distracted by the noise of a cow in a shed and Fátima and I went to look.  What we found was a precious moment.  Manolo was hand feeding a 3 day old calf who had been born Thursday.  It couldn't get the hang of feeding from its Mother because it was  very big animal and needed hand feeding to gain strength.  I wish I could have had a photo but unfortunately it was very dark in the shed.  Manolo told me it needed hand feeding  6 or seven times a day. 

We had the walk to ourselves and nature was at its most exuberant.  

The view of the village on our way up the mountains
Julio, Fátima and Eladio walking up the mountain yesterday

My fitbit told me later that yesterday we walked over 18km.  For the records we got as far as "la fuente de la canalina" quite far up. I think we rather tired our friends who looked exhausted when we returned to the village at around 8.30 p.m.  It was still light of course. 
Eladio drinking the delicious mountain water at the "fuente de la canalina" the way he did when he was a little boy on his trips up the mountain as a shepherd leading the goats or cows.  None of us could imitate him.
We were amazed when we got home to find Eladio's sister Adela and her husband Primo had arrived as we were not expecting any of the family to come.  I'm looking forward to coffee at their place today and a walk to Murias and back with Adela.

I had promised my friends after the long and hard walk up the steep path in the mountains that their effort would be compensated with the most typical dinner in Montrondo: egg and chips.  The latter would be from Ulpiano's produce of course.

Frying chips is easy but making 8 perfect fried eggs is always tricky.  Luckily they turned out right.  I have to admit last week I had watched Masterchef where they gave a master class on how to make the perfect fried egg and I had picked up some of the tips.  This is what the dish looked like and it tasted even better.  There is something about the mountain air here that enhances your appetite and also makes everything taste better.
Egg and chips last night for dinner; one of the best meals in the world.

Our "sobremesa" (the time spent around a table after a meal and a Spanish word that has no translation) went on until 12.30 and the conversation was more like a debate about religion between my husband who is both a theologian and philosopher and my friend Julio, an engineer who has two other degrees.  The debate became rather tense and I was tired. We didn't get to bed until 1 in the morning.  I had a bad night coughing again non stop. Eladio brought me a mug of boiling water with lemon and honey at about 2 in the morning which did the trick and this morning I am feeling full of beans once again.  My energy seems boundless even though I am the age I am (59 ;.().

Today our friends will be leaving at midday but we intend to stay until the afternoon and enjoy what looks like is going to be a glorious sunny day.  I wish we could stay until tomorrow at least but work calls as on Monday morning I have an early morning meeting at the office.

Now I have come to the end of my tales of this week and it is time to make breakfast for us all as my husband and friends are still asleep.  Next week promises to be warm in Madrid and no doubt we shall be taking the first plunge of the season.  I will tell you what else the new week will bring in next Sunday's post.

Meanwhile I wish you all the best.  Happy Sunday everyone and cheers until next time,


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