Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Yorkshire Airbnb guests, Oli and Miguel in Thailand, Spanish state visit to the UK, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Spain, Garbiñe Muguruza wins women’s singles at Wimbledon and other stories.

Sunday 16th July 2017
In red and white with my new t-shirt and red bracelet, about to go on our walk this morning
Good morning all.

It's another sizzling Sunday in Spain. I like the warm weather but the temperatures we have been getting this week are just too hot and we do everything we can to escape the sun and heat but it's not easy. Suzy said I shouldn't complain as it was raining in London. Well actually, for once, I would prefer the rain hahaha.

On Sunday last our Yorkshire Airbnb guests arrived. Cathy and John, a couple from Leeds and their daughters Emily aged 21 and Izzy aged 17 and their friends, Hanna and another Emily were to brighten up our week. They were here from Sunday to Friday and we enjoyed every minute of their stay and now miss them. It made me realise just how lovely Yorkshire people are. There is definitely a North South divide in the UK in many ways and it's not just economical.  I have to say the people from Yorkshire, and I know as I was brought up there, are probably the warmest, kindest and most fun people from England. I also have to say they have been our best guests so far. But more about them later.

Lucy, our housekeeper, said so too so which is high praise from her as she has to clean the rooms hahaha. Poor Lucy is working a 7 day week while our weekend carer Zena is in the Ukraine on holiday with her family. So it has been my mission to make her week more bearable by going for walks with her in the afternoon or taking her out shopping or for a drink. We have done more of the latter this week due to the extreme heat.  So on Sunday, I took her to the El Corte Inglés department store. I had to change some GAP trousers. She got some GAP shorts in the sale she was very pleased with. If I am a size 10 (38) she is a an unbelievable size 6 (34) and makes me feel tubby compared. For the record I didn't buy anything that day. Lucy enjoyed her outing and here is a photo of her in the cosmetics department. I must say too that it is a pleasure taking her out and she is great company.
Lucy in the El Corte Inglés last Sunday
That night, I had wine again for dinner after the positive experience in Santa Pola. This time it went to my head and I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. I do wish I could drink just a couple of glasses of wine and not suffer either a headache or sleepiness. 

Nearly every morning last week and this week, there has been news from Oli on her trip to Cambodia and Thailand on the family whatsapp group. I love seeing her photos whilst having my first cup of coffee in the morning. That day they went on a Thai  cooking course. It seems they even had to pick some of the produce. They did look funny in their Thai hats and pink aprons. I'm not sure what they cooked but they must have had a ball.

Oli and Miguel during their Thai  cooking course on Monday
I cooked too that morning and made a cocido stew, not very apt for the summer but delicious. Meanwhile our Yorkshire guests went into Madrid to join a walking tour. Whilst out they wrote to us to ask if we would like to join them for a barbecue at our house that night. Of course we accepted. It turned out to be a superb surprise evening. We blended so well, they loved our dogs and we spent the whole evening laughing and, yes, drinking wine. No other airbnb guests have ever done that and it felt like the beginning of a friendship. We had so much in common: they are from Yorkshire, they are a married couple like us with 2 daughters and there was lots to talk about. 
The barbecue dinner with our lovely airbnb Yorkshire guests
The food was great too as was the dessert, "viennetta" ice cream and strawberries. No wonder a few days later the scales showed I had put on 1.5kg since going to Santa Pola. I soon put a stop to that and went down 1kg within a couple of days. I am happy to be under 9 stone right now and maintaining my final weight loss since March:-)  The barbecue and food were great but what I enjoyed most was the banter of the preparations in our large kitchen beforehand.
Preparing the barbecue with my Yorkshire guests. 
Cathy and John's daughters and their friends were delightful girls, which at 17 and 21, is a little unusual. I complimented them on the girls' near perfect behaviour. It's obvious they have been brought up really well. I just wish our girls had been there to meet them and enjoy their company too. 

On Tuesday morning I got very different photos from Olivia. They were in the North of Thailand in the Chaing Mai area and went rafting that day. Apart from rafting, which looked extremely dangerous, even more dangerous was Olivia going down a steep natural slide in the river. No way would I ever have done that or perhaps at her age (32) I may have done. Who knows? In any case they had great fun.
Oli and Miguel rafting in Thailand. 

Olivia going down a natural slide in a river where they went rafting. Looks a bit dangerous to me. 


That morning as usual we went for our early morning walk. Early morning is 8.30 and even at that time it is already hot. Here I am with our 3 delightful dogs half way through our walk.
With our 3 dogs on our walk this week
Our Yorkshire guests, meanwhile, had gone off to the Aquopolis, a water park about 7km from here in Villanueva de la Cañada. We used to take the girls there when they were young and have many memories of lovely days with them there. No doubt my English guests needed to cool off in the  high temperatures. I pointed out to them that in Leeds this week the average temperature was just 11ºc hahaha. But there was no  keeping them out of the sun, they seemed to want to take it all home with them. It worried me their sitting in the direct sunlight with such high temperatures but there was no stopping them. I suppose they wanted to go home with a tan. I can't blame them but these days am far more aware of the dangers of sunbathing. 

Whilst they were enjoying the water park, Eladio and I had the chore of the weekly shopping. It is not my favourite task but it has to be done. 

In the afternoon I spent time by the pool like I have every afternoon this week. I always hide under the trees, sitting on the benches at the far end of the garden, in the shade and away from the sun. This is what the pool looks like from there and I especially love the mirror effect with Eladio's prized marigold flowers which are blooming this year.
The pool with the mirror effect of Eladio's marigold flowers
I was always joined by Pippa and Eladio and here they are together that afternoon with me.
Eladio with Pippa in the shade one afternoon this week by the pool
My English guests were back in the late afternoon and I had promised to take the girls to Zara to shop in the sales. Lucy came too and were were 6 in my Mini (naughty). Funnily enough I didn't find anything I liked at Zara although the girls did. I don't particularly like it in the sales; it's one big mess. I always prefer to see the new collection but that afternoon I didn't have much time and preferred to buy big thick juicy cherries at Carrefour which are not available at Mercadona our usual supermarket. 

We went out to dinner with our Yorkshire guests that night at their suggestion. The girls wore some of their new clothes. I wore my pink H+M  frilly blouse and my new GAP strawberry coloured chinos. Our guests wanted to taste "real Spanish" food and suggested "paella". We had to tell them that paella is not from Madrid - it's from Valencia and Alicante - and took them to a Basque restaurant, to La Txitxarrería, one of our favourites and where we take all our "foreign" guests. And here we are at dinner.
Dinner with our Yorkshire guests at La Txitxarrería this week
We had our dinner with Basque cider. I'm not sure what our guests thought of it as it's very different to English cider. In any case it was a great evening and great food, at least for those of us who chose the amazing steak they serve there. 
The steak at La Txitxarrería which is to die for.
All in all it was a great night out although not very good for my figure haha.

On Wednesday I was up early as always. I had more photos from Olivia, this time at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. She loves animals as we all do in this family so we all appreciated her experience, especially when she went in the water with the elephants.
Oli was in her element at the Thai elephant sanctuary this week.
We heard from her that an elephant's trump can lift 700 kilos and that it has 100.000 muscles!! We also heard that their backs are not so strong and that they get damaged when tourists ride them. Oli did not ride one, preferring to swim with them, feed them and stroke them, as well as sit with them as she did here with Miguel. You may notice from their clothing that they have gone native on this trip:-)
Oli and Miguel with the elephants which she told us were very tame. 
Sadly we also learned that there are now only 2000 at wild when there were 200.000 at the beginning of this century. The problem being too many tourists of course. 

Meanwhile at home, Eladio was picking some of the greengages from our very bountiful fruit tree. It would be more bountiful if it wasn't for the damned birds. They are not yet really ripe but those that are taste delicious. The dogs are enjoying eating those that fall on the ground and I hope they don't fall sick. It's a lovely feeling to pick fruit from your own garden. We also have a small peach tree but the fruit is also being ravaged by the birds, so maybe we won't even get to try one but doesn't it sound exotic to say you have a peach tree in your garden. 
The first of the greengages from our garden.
Much more importantly that morning the King of Spain was making a speech in Parliament during the state visit to the UK. It's probably the first time I have heard him speak in English as when he does so here it is nearly always dubbed and I must say he is very eloquent in the language of Shakespeare. But then again he always spoke to his Greek mother in English and also studied at Georgetown University in the US. So maybe that explains it. What was more important was what he said and his two main topics were Gibraltar and Brexit. He called for dialogue on the subject of the ownership of the Rock in Spain and for smooth negotiations for Brexit affecting so many Brits here and many, but fewer, Spaniards in the UK. You can listen to him here

The King and Queen of Spain were hosted by the one and only Queen Elizabeth II, a distant third cousin, as both the King of Spain and HM descend from the Grandmother of Europe, Queen Victoria. And here are the two of them going down the Mall in one of the royal horse carriages.
The Queen of England and the King of Spain during the state visit to the UK this week
I never got a chance to hear the Spanish Queen Letizia speak English and I can only imagine  she doesn't speak it so well. What the world heard about her of course, was what clothes she was wearing. That's rather sad but so true of the reporting on female royalty. There were silly comparisons of the elegance of both Queen Letizia and Kate Middleton. In any case, I have to admit the former looked stunning in red at the banquet held at Buckingham Palace that night. 
Queen Letiza in red looking stunning although in my mind she is far too thin. 

What the royal Spanish couple didn't have to suffer in London of course was the extreme heat in their home country. On Wednesday, we suffered extremely high temperatures as mercury climbed to over 45ºc in Córdoba and 39ºc here in Madrid. On Thursday Spain experienced the highest temperatures ever since the beginnings of recording temperatures where it registered 47.3ºc in the town of Montoro (province of Córdoba).   That is an incredible 11.7 degrees fahrenheit as I pointed out to my Father and that's global warming for you too my friends and for us it is unbearable. Many other cities too broke their own highest temperatures and the only way to survive was to drink lots of water (or tea in my case), keep out of the sun and stay in the shade and of course, if possible, sleep with the air conditioning on. This is what the map of temperatures in Spain looked like this week. We would have gone like a shot to Montrondo where it is cooler but haven't been able to get away because of our Airbnb hosting responsibilities which seems to be my new job these days.
Spain was sizzling this week, more so than ever. 
We had afternoon tea Spanish style that afternoon or rather Anglo Spanish style with the fruit. The china of course is very British, Emma Bridgewater which as you know is my favourite. 
Afternoon tea this week
As you probably know I am a bit of an addict and small collector of Emma Bridgewater pottery.  I love nearly all the patterns, and have a bit of many of them. I posted this picture recently on Instagram asking myself which mug I would use for my next cup of tea or coffee and was delighted to get a comment from EB itself asking to use it for their website!!!
Just some of my Emma Bridgewater mugs
I had a long chat with Suzy that night. She is not too keen on Ipswich which she told me was the third most depressing town in the UK. Poor Suzy. The good thing is she will be coming back to Spain in September for a well deserved break.

Thursday was not a good day. As I said it was the hottest day on record. In Madrid it reached 40ºc. The only saving grace here is the relatively low humidity. 
It was the hottest day on record on Thursday this week

I felt sorry for my Yorkshire guests who had chosen to visit Toledo that day as I knew they would be sweltering.   

Where it wasn't sweltering was in Wimbledon where the Hispano Venezuelan Garbiñe Muguruza who has both nationalities, won her semi final against Magdalena  Rybarikova from Slovakia to get through to the final which would be either against the British Johanna Konta who is actually originally from Australia or Venus Williams. At the end of the day it was the American 37 year old Wimbledon pentachampion who would be her rival and of course the bookmakers were all betting on the latter. Garbiñe whose name and surname are unusual here but unpronounceable even for Wimbledon commentators had played and lost
in the final against Venus' sister Serena in 2015 and had played erratically ever since, except for an amazing victory over Serena at the French Open in 2016. If Garbiñe won, she would be the second woman to do so from Spain, after Conchita Martinez who garnered the much coveted rosewater dish in 1994. I noticed that not one commentator, umpire, journalist or anyone else in the tennis world who is not Spanish could say her name  correctly. For general information it is pronounced like this: "GahrBEENyeh MoogooROOtha,  although most people just call her Garbi. I think people can't get around the "ñ" nor the last "e" of her name and usually say "garbinya". I must sympathise though as even I found it difficult when she first stormed into the tennis world.  For the record both her name and surname are of Basque origin and Garbiñe is the equivalent of "Immaculada" in Spanish, meaning The Immaculate Conception!

Friday was 14th July which means as my Father reminded me, Bastille Day or Fête Nationale Française as it is more commonly called there. It was also the anniversary of the terrible lorry attack on the Promenade des Anglais where 86 people were killed last year. If the UK had the Spanish royals this week, the new French President, the more and more popular Emmanuel Macron was hosting the more and more unpopular Donald Trump. The main news out of that visit was the length of time the latter held Macron's hand in the final handshake. One particular comment by the US President had me feeling sick when he commented to the French First Lady that she was in good shape and then went on to say to the two first ladies, something like, now "go off  and have a good time". 

On Friday our lovely Yorkshire guests were leaving. They would be replaced by a group of 5 Chinese who made a last minute booking and spent last night here. They were nice people but we hardly got to know them. 

On Saturday I got photos from Olivia from somewhere exotic called "Phi Phi" island in Thailand. She said they had hit the Monsoon period where it rained every afternoon to which I replied we could do with a bit of rain haha.
Oli and Miguel on Phi Phi Island in Thailand on Saturday
In less exotic Spain, life continued and yesterday morning I went to the Majadahonda flea market which is one of the best in the country. I went in search of new covers for our three piece suite in Santa Pola. My friends Sandra and Jacky had suggested I upholster it in blue and I wanted "Majorelle blue". I had to make do with a sort of royal blue and waited patiently at the very hot textile stall at the market to make my order. Whilst there I also visited other stalls  and came home very happy with my purchases, mostly clothing. I got a lovely white dress, a white top, a t-shirt with red poppies and some linen floral trousers, all for a song. I also got a white dress for Lucy and a pair of summer blue shoes for Eladio. Here are my purchases.
My new clothes from the Majadahonda flea market. 
The white dresses were going for just 5 euros each believe it or not. I wondered whether they had been stolen as I don't get the money chain here. I mean how much do they cost to make? Ah and I also got a ribbon white hair band to keep the  hair off my neck in this extreme heat. It makes me look like  a school girl but with a 60 year old's face hahaha. These hair bands are by the way very much in fashion here. That I learned from my younger daughter Olivia who has a complete collection of them. 

At 3 pm yesterday Garbiñe Muguruza began playing the ladies single's final against Venus Williams who was hoping to become the oldest winner of Wimbledon. The first match was tight but the Spaniard managed to win it 7-5. After that it was plain sailing as she thrashed the American 6-0. In Garbiñe's acceptance speech she said that when she lost against Serena Williams in 2015 the latter had said that "maybe, one day, she could win there". Well, she did and the whole of Spain is celebrating.  At the beginning of this year's Championship we were all routing for Rafa Nadal but now we have two champions to cheer for in the future. Well done "Garbi!!! 
At just 23, Garbiñe Muguruza has won at Wimbledon. 

I'm sure my Chinese guests who arrived later yesterday were not at all interested in the Wimbledon Ladies' Single's final. They had driven from Portugal and today are driving to Barcelona. They were a nice group of people but very quiet and by the way, much better behaved than our first Chinese group I wrote about recently. 

After they arrived I took Lucy out for a cup of tea. We went to the Alverán coffee shop in Boadilla and sat inside because of the much needed air conditioning. We actually had some sort of detox fruit ice tea which was very refreshing. It was there that I got a call from my accountant with bad news.  I have to pay over 3000 euros in taxes for the period of April to June. Well that was a huge damper and the downside of being self employed. That is on top of the 1100 euros I have to pay towards my pension monthly!

And today is Sunday and the end of the week. It's another hot day, although I should point out the temperatures are dropping very gradually by 1ºc per day, so for the time being you don't notice the difference. We went on our walk with the dogs and for the occasion I wore my new red poppy t-shirt which I love. I have chosen it to illustrate this week's post:-) And here is a photo of Eladio getting our 3 adorable dogs ready to go.
Eladio getting our dogs ready for their walk this morning. 
The rest of the morning has been spent writing this blog and seeing off our Chinese guests. Ah and I should mention that 2 of Lucy's sisters and one nephew came to visit her. This afternoon I will be taking Lucy to Ikea as I need to get new towels because some of our guests have stained them with hair dye. That's the downside of being an airbnb guest:-(

So, my friends and readers, I shall leave you now as it's time for lunch after which I shall post this post and of course make a printed version for my Father who is my most loyal reader.

All the best to you all for the coming week. You will hear about my week in next Sunday's post.

Cheers for now, as always,
Masha

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Wmbledon, a short week in Santa Pola, our place by the beach, Oli and Miguel in Thailand and Cambodia, Leopoldo López released from prison and other stories.

Sunday 9th July 2017

A selfie on the cliffs by the Cape of Santa Pola with Eladio
Good morning all,

It's Sunday again and here I am writing from the kitchen at home whilst the dogs sleep under my feet after their breakfast.

Today we are expecting Airbnb guests from the UK, from Yorkshire would you believe. Last Sunday we had Canadians and an Australian.  They would be leaving on Monday morning at midday for Oporto where no doubt they would enjoy tasting the port wine.  I did my 2 walks that day, one with Eladio and the dogs and another in the afternoon with Lucy. In the early evening we had a visit from my bosom friend Fátima who brought her daughter of the same name who has just come back from her second year in the US. She is now 17 and so tall and beautiful it was a delight to see her. I robbed a recent photo of the two "Fátimas" from Facebook where they are visiting Toledo together recently, as we were too busy talking to remember to take a photo.
The two Fátimas, Mother and daughter who came to see us last Sunday
Oli was home for dinner after having returned from Ibiza that day. For the occasion I made 2 Spanish omelets which we enjoyed on our patio which I dub our summer dining room. Meanwhile Suzy and Chati were trying to return to London but their plane was much delayed. I felt sorry for my elder daughter when I saw she didn't get home till 5 in the morning. Luckily she wasn't working on Monday. 

Monday saw the start of Wimbledon, the top grand slam in tennis and a tournament most of England watches from beginning to end. I know that because when I lived in England I used to watch nearly every tournament along with my family. My main interest is how well Spain's Rafa Nadal will do. If I had still been living in England my main interest would be how well Scotland's Andy Murray would do. My friend Sandra in Brussels and her Mother are watching most of the tournament so I know through them that both top seeds have got through to round 16. 

While the first matches were being played, Eladio and I set off for Santa Pola in our old Volvo car. I always want to use the new Mini but Eladio insists on the old Nokia Volvo which he says is far more comfortable. Oh how we miss my Yoigo BMW X6. But we are not complaining. We said goodbye to my Father and to Lucy who we knew would look after him well as she would look after the dogs. For once we weren't taking Pippa as dogs are no longer allowed on our beach and she hates staying alone in the apartment. I left her with a heavy heart as she is such an integral part of us. As I often say, we are not 2 but 3. But it was the 2 of us who had lunch that day on the way at a place we always like, El Mesón Los Rosales
Mesón Los Rosales on the way to Alicante.
It's one of the better road side cafés in Spain. It's about 170km from Madrid on the A3, the road to Valencia and Alicante. Apart from a good restaurant and cafeteria, it has a huge shop selling all sorts of gourmet products. I like the building too. Here is Eladio sitting down to lunch. It's by no means cheap but you pay for the quality. 
Eladio sitting down to lunch on our way to Alicante at El Mesón los Rosales
At about 17h we got to Santa Pola or rather Gran Alacant, the "urbanization" where our little flat is, some 8km from Santa Pola  and very near to the Alicante airport ,although thankfully far enough away not to be bothered by the noise. The apartment was cool, despite the heat outside. That's because it's built on a cliff top overlooking the sea. 
Our flat is built on top of the cliffs overlooking the beach
I never tire of the view of the bay of Alicante from the entrance to our flat.
Alicante bay as seen from our flat
Before going down to the beach though we had to settle in and get on with the usual cleaning rituals, unpack and put the food we had brought in the fridge. We got to the Arenales beach at 7.15. There were a lot of people but it wasn't crowded. After our first bathe we walked along the beach to the end and back and then came home. I went to the swimming pool first as I always do and love the view from there too. Dinner was leftovers I had brought with me from Madrid, after which we read on our little terrace until we felt sleepy. It was a cool night (21ºc) and we even had to sleep with a sheet over us. It was a relief from the heat of Madrid. 

Tuesday was Independence Day in the US, not that I have ever celebrated it but I know just how important it is for Americans. Well that day, I had my own independence and was up at 6.30. After my first coffee (note I an incapable of starting the day without one), I set off for what would be my daily morning walk, to the Santa Pola Cape cliffs and lighthouse with amazing views of the sea and especially the little island of Tabarca. 
The view of the little island of Tabarca as seen from the cliffs of the Cape of Santa Pola
I had the whole place to myself and couldn't stop taking photos as the views are breathtaking and there was great visibility that day.
On my cliff top walk on Tuesday morning
The cliffs are very steep and for someone like me who doesn't like heights I don't like to get to close to the edge in case I tumble down hahaha.
The edge of the cliffs
I was back for breakfast with Eladio which we had on our little terrace. It has sea views which is one of the reasons we chose the apartment but these days the trees in the garden are so high they obstruct the view. Later I read the news on my tablet as did Eladio. We both use our mobile phone hot spot to connect our tablets to internet which is really a very neat little invention.


We bought the apartment at Gran Alacant in May 1999, the year my Mother died. The funding came from my severance pay when I left Motorola. It's our little place by the sea but we don't go very often, especially since we built the house in Montrondo. In fact we hadn't been there since last August. We had a daunting task ahead of us as we had decided to do some serious spring cleaning (shouldn't that be summer instead of spring?) mainly in the kitchen and pantry. There was so much junk and old food I wanted to get rid of, not to mention the need to clean all the cupboards and shelves. Eladio concentrated on cleaning the windows and I got down to jobs that I should have done years ago. I'm ashamed to say there were even packets of pasta which had dried up and had maybe been there for 18 years hahaha. It took us nearly 4 hours to do the complete kitchen, the whole of the bookcase in the lounge, windows, floors and surfaces and we would leave the pantry until the next day. In the end I filled more than 4 bin liners and was very satisfied with the work done. I hate cleaning but I do like the satisfaction it gives you of a job well done. We even threw out the old rugs and removed the oilcloth from the dining room table and now I want to upholster the three piece suite. I'm not quite sure what colour to choose. I would like  it in off white but that's easily stained. What would you suggest for the colour of the material?
The lounge of our apartment. We got rid of the mat and oilcloth and now I want to change the sofa cover. What colour do you suggest?
I can't remember what we had for lunch but I know our routine afterwards. We had a siesta, read on the terrace, I had a cup of tea and then we went down to the beach. The sea was a bit rough and as I didn't want to spoil my hair I didn't go in but Eladio did and enjoyed it.
Eladio coming out of the sea on the beach at Santa Pola
After a long walk to the end of the beach and back, about 3.5km, it was time to go home as it was already 8 pm and we had a restaurant booking that night. I do love the long days in the summer when it is light until 10 at night. After a swim in the pool which again I had to myself, I headed back to our apartment to get ready to go out for dinner with Eladio to a new place I had found on internet.
The view from the swimming pool at Gran Alacant.
That night we went to a place called Vintage which is actually the Santa Pola Sailing Club which we had never been to and we loved the location.
Sitting down to dinner on Tuesday night at the Santa Pola Sailing Club (Vintage)
The food was excellent and we ordered too much. The piece de resistance was the monk fish and shrimp paella. We could only eat about half of it and took the rest home for lunch the next day.
Delicious monk fish and shrimp paella at Vintage on Tuesday night
I had wine that night as I also did the night we arrived and amazingly it did not give me a headache the next day. Once I realised I wasn't getting headaches I drank wine each night. Maybe it's the area that agrees with me better than Madrid. In any case it was great to be able to indulge a little and enjoy my meals with delicious red wine; something I always miss.

I was up at 6.30 the next day and already was receiving messages from Olivia. On Wednesday morning she and Miguel were embarking on an adventure holiday to Thailand and Cambodia. They seem to have a penchant for the Far East. Before she left, my Father reminded her that Cambodia used to be a part of "French Indochina". France once owned Vietnam, Cambodia (later called Kampuchea) and Laos. But that was a long time ago. I'm not sure Oli knew that or remembered the Pol Pot regime with his awful Khmer Rouge army who nearly killed all the inhabitants of the beautiful country. One film portrayed that dreadful civil war and is etched in my memory. It is called "Killing Fields". Remember? Thankfully today Cambodia is at peace but no doubt what's left of its older generation remember. And here they are at Barajas airport waiting for their plane to Doha in Qatar. They flew on Qatar airways which worried me a bit as Qatar is much in the international news these days for the animosity of neighbouring countries because of its support of terrorism.
Oli and Miguel about to fly to Doha on route to Bangkok

I wished them well and prayed they would be safe.

Again I was alone on my walk that morning to the cliffs. There were flowers everywhere, especially bougainvillea which unfortunately never survives the winter in Madrid. Here is a collage of the flowers I saw and love, including hibiscus. 
There are beautiful flowers at this time of year in the Alicante region.
They smelled beautiful too. What didn't smell nice were the huge dustbin containers along the pavement. Spaniards are not good about dealing with rubbish and many people just leave odd bits of furniture next to the containers and the whole scene could be something you would  more normally view in Morocco or India. It drives me mad. 

I came back to find Eladio making our breakfast. We love our breakfasts in the apartment, both making it and eating it. Here he is in the middle of the preparations with a big smile on his face.
Eladio making breakfast at our apartment.
After our first meal of the day and reading the news on internet, we got down to the herculean task of cleaning and tidying the kitchen pantry; something we hadn't done for years. Another few bin bags were filled that morning too and taken to the nasty rubbish containers on the street outside. We both felt very pleased with ourselves. Now our apartment was looking a lot better. It's funny how important cleanliness and tidiness are to me. I remember my Father saying when I was a child "cleanliness is next to godliness". I'm not sure about that but it certainly is pleasing to me. 

In the early evening we went down to the beach. By then Miguel and Oli had arrived in Doha. Oli told me they were in Dubai but I knew they were in Doha as they were flying on Qatar Airways hahaha. They were happy to land there and stretch their legs although I'm not sure how much Miguel stretched his as he had a small sprain on his ankle after falling during an open swimming competition recently. In any case here they are smiling at Doha airport before taking their next flight which would take them to Bangkok.
Miguel and Oli at Doha airport on Wednesday on their way to Thailand.
Little did they know their flight to Bangkok would be delayed by 3 hours. Thus they were shattered when they arrived in the Thai capital. 

Our day continued and we read and bathed on the beach as well as going for a walk to the end and back. That night we had another dinner date. We were going to our overall favourite restaurant in the area Maria Picola. It had been closed for nearly 3 years and I rang on the off chance to see if it had reopened and was very pleasantly surprised to hear it had on 1st June last. We've been going there for at least 17 years and know the owner and waiters and just love the romantic terrace and setting, not to mention the food. It was great to be back. We had missed it. The owner  told me he had closed because he had been ill. Thankfully he is better now. But the waiters had changed as had the chef.The food was lovely as always but I could tell the chef wasn't as good as the previous one although I was too polite to say that to the owner. 
María Picola restaurant on the road to Elche from Santa Pola
We reveled in being back and I took lots of photos of the beautiful terrace with its miniature water fall. We were practically the only diners as I suppose word hasn't got out that it's open again. I have done my bit by correcting the information on Tripadvisor and writing a review on Google Places. 
The terrace at María Picola
As always we ordered the bread and ali oli and home made tomato sauce for our pre starters. We ordered so much I was only able to eat one piece:-(
The typical bread or toast with ali oli and tomato dip so typical of the region. 
It's very typical of restaurants in the area to serve it before a meal, but none does it as well as María Picola. We had lobster salad for our real starters and I had suckling lamb chops for my main dish whilst Eladio went for fish as he always does. All in all it was a wonderful dinner and a trip down memory lane. What a romantic restaurant Maria Picola is. I do hope it remains open for years to come and that we can go back time and time again. 

On Thursday Oli and Miguel finally arrived in Bangkok, exhausted I should add. It's a very long journey and it was very hot when they got there as it would be throughout, both hot and humid as is typical of the area.
Oli in Bangkok on Thursday
It should have been hot and humid in Santa Pola too but it wasn't as the temperatures went down for a short cold spell and rain threatened. On my walk it was overcast and there were spots of rain but the real rain wouldn't come until Friday. That morning we went to the Thursday open market practically opposite our block of apartments. Most of the stuff on sale was pretty cheapo and nothing took my fancy. It was the fruit and veg we were interested in. And here I had a field day choosing which summer fruit and juicy cherries to buy.
At the market on Thursday morning choosing fruit and vegetables. 
These were the remarkable cherries I got and I now wish I had bought more as we finished them far too soon. I just love thick juicy black cherries. They are my favourite fruit.
The thick black juicy cherries I bought at the Gran Alacant market on Thursday.
I also got flat peaches, red peaches, apricots, a disappointing cantaloupe melon, as well as some fresh runner beans which we would have for lunch. Before returning home with our provisions we stopped for a naughty but nice ice cream at the ice cream parlour opposite our apartment. Here I indulged in my favourite flavours; pistachio and coconut. 

Instead of going to the beach in the afternoon, we went on my walk to the Santa Pola Cape cliffs as it was too overcast for a swim. The photo illustrating this week's post is of the selfie we took there. In the afternoons there seem to be lots of visitors to the Cape cliffs but I far prefer it at 7 in the morning when I am practically the only one there. My fitbit was happy with me that day when it recorded a total of 14km in steps during the day. Maybe it was alright to have the ice cream then hahaha.

On Friday morning Oli was whatsapping us from 6 a.m.. It is of course 7 hours ahead there. We were surprised to hear they were already in Phnom Penh and enjoying their hotel room there. It had a marvelous swimming pool. Here's a photo of them in their room with the pool just by it.
Oli and Miguel in their hotel room in Phnom Penh on Friday
It was very overcast on Friday morning and I escaped the rain by a few minutes. It would rain on and off all day. In other parts of Spain the rain was torrential, especially in Madrid where it is unheard of at this time of year. So you see the rain in Spain doesn't only fall on the plain hahaha.

It was better weather in London than in Madrid that day. There was a piece of news from London that day that tickled me pink. Suzy would have laughed and I did when I heard that Rafa Nadal went shopping to Tesco. Imagine. He of course had to battle with the frustrating self service checkout which practically does not exist in Spain. He was helped out by a British fan who couldn't believe what he was seeing and went straight to the rescue. Later Nadal would thank the fan, Nick Roberts,  on Twitter and of course the news went viral. I'm sure Nick will never ever forget this funny episode and I shall always remember it too when I enter a Tesco where usually Suzy comes to my rescue at the self service checkout hahaha. I'm hoping there will be news of his winning Wimbledon for a 3rd time and that going viral too but in the meantime I enjoyed this little tit bit of news from the Tournament.
Rafa Nadal being helped by a fan at a Tesco self-service checkout somewhere in London this week
Friday was a stormy day in other ways too. The G20 summit started in Hamburg among riots from anti Donald Trump demonstrators. Trump was to meet Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel and I couldn't help but notice the thick lines on her face.  It can't be an easy job and I often wonder how she can go on and on and on, like Margaret Thatcher once did. I do hope, on the other hand, that Trump does not do so and something happens soon for him to be ousted from the White House.  The wife of the President of Poland, Agata Kornhauser must have thought exactly the same when she bypassed him without shaking his hand, instead reaching out to his wife, the First Lady who is so much in his shadow. That man has to be stopped and soon. The picture became viral too and I much admire the Polish First Lady for the gesture. 
The Polish First Lady shakes the hand of the US First Lady totally bypassing the latter's unpresentable husband, Donald Trump. 

We stayed inside most of the morning only venturing out when the rain halted to go to the new Carrefour in Santa Pola for a few provisions. It was a disappointing branch with very little variety. We then drove to the town centre and as usual had difficulty parking. We walked up the main street to the castle square and I thought what a boring little town it is. I looked inside some of the clothes shops but found nothing inspiring.  Once home we stayed inside all day as it rained non stop. 

Saturday came and the rain went. So I enjoyed a relatively sunny walk to the cliffs and back before coming back for breakfast. We were leaving that morning which always entails a lot of chores such as washing the sheets and towels and hanging them out to dry until we return. Before leaving I went to the English supermarket across the road, Quicksave, to get some confectionary for my Father. I did not indulge myself on any bounties or turkish delights after all the dinners and ice creams hahaha. 

We left at around 11.45 and as soon as we were on the road we got messages from Olivia who was visiting the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia with Miguel. It is the largest religious monument in the world and was runner up the new 7 wonders of the world. It was originally a Hindu temple but has been a Buddhist one since the 12th century. I would love to visit it one day.
Oli and Miguel at the amazing Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia on Friday
She sent us lots of photos and one I particularly liked is of her kissing a stone face which is part of one of the walls of the enormous temple. It's great isn't it? She told me their guide had suggested it.
Oli kissing a stone face at the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
Just as we were approaching our place for lunch, yes once again the Mesón de Rosales, I read with joy that the Venezuelan leader of the opposition, Leopoldo López had been released from prison in Caracas. He is Venezuela's most important political prisoner and had served 7 years of his unfair 14 year sentence. He is now under house arrest but at least he is out of prison and with his family. 
Leopoldo López just as he was released from prison yesterday in Venezuela

It coincided with the trip to Venezuela of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the ex socialist Prime Minister of Spain who has been in diplomatic talks for years now with the Chaves regime, now under Nicolás Maduro. I would like to think he was instrumental in the release of Leopoldo López. The free and democratic world rejoiced with the news yesterday as I did. 

Leopoldo López must have been given a wonderful meal for lunch or dinner when he arrived home yesterday. We certainly had a wonderful lunch that day at the Mesón Los Rosales when we chose suckling roast goat for our meal. 
Delicious roast suckling leg of goat for lunch yesterday
It was delicious even though I know my vegan daughter Suzy would not approve. It was also rather large and I couldn't finish it, nor did I have any room left for a dessert. In fact it would keep me going until the evening when neither of us had much appetite for dinner. 

We were in Madrid by just after 5 pm and there was no sign or rain although the temperature was lower than usual at just 21ºc. It was great to see my Father and Lucy and the dogs and to be reunited with little Pippa.  In order to keep my fitbit happy, I joined Lucy on the afternoon walk although I didn't really fancy the exercise. 

And today is Sunday, the last day of the tales of this week. I was up early as usual and glad to have slept in our own bed or at least in our bed of our main home. That does sound pretentious but it wasn't meant to be so. It was also great to wake up with Pippa and give the dogs their breakfast. 

Eladio spent the morning mowing the lawn and cleaning the pool for the arrival of our Airbnb guests. I was much looking forward to hosting people from God's own country (aka Yorkshire) They are from Morley near Leeds so we will have much in common. I, for my part, inspected their rooms for any stains on the linen or stray hairs (hahaha) in the baths and also cut fresh flowers from the garden for their rooms. 
Fresh flowers from the garden for my Airbnb guests from Yorkshire
Oli and Miguel, meanwhile, had made their way back to Bangkok and were flying to the north of Thailand to an area called Chiang Mai in the north which I have never heard of. I look forward to more photos and to following their trip vicariously. 

The week coming will be quiet and we have no particular plans. But of course you will hear about it in next Sunday's post.

Meanwhile, all the best to you all,

Masha.