Saturday, April 22, 2017

Easter in Montrondo, home again, snap elections announced in the UK, the girls have new jobs, spring flowers and other stories.

Sunday 23rd April 2017.

At peace in Montrondo 
Hi again everyone,

How is your day so far? It's St. George's Day today and also today the French voters will be going to the polls for what looks like being a very tense general election, amidst very high security.

Last Sunday for us was not at all tense. It was Easter Day and I had quite a lazy morning, something I needed in order to deal with my now improving but not quite gone, Bell's Palsy. Its sudden oncoming really rang a bell (excuse the pun) for me to slow down.  I slowed down in Montrondo but it has not been so easy to do so once home. 

I spent the  morning clearing up just a bit, washing the sheets, making the lunch for the two of us and spending  quality time with my sister-in-law Adela.  Her son Roberto, his wife, Ana and their delightful little girls had come to spend the day. We were lucky with the weather all through our Easter break in our beloved village. That morning, Dolores accompanied me on what would be my first walk of the day; to Murias and back. As ever we were joined by our dogs, Nuba and Pippa. Pippa is very much at home in the area, knowing every nook and cranny. Here she is posing for a photo. Well, I like to think that.
Pippa in Montrondo
I ate more Easter egg for lunch on Sunday as I did on Saturday after lunch and dinner. I really thought I would have put on weight. However once home, I returned to my maintenance diet and when I weighed myself on Wednesday I was down to 55.2kg. I quickly dealt with the loss by eating much more on Thursday and on Friday morning weighed 56.3. Tomorrow I shall return to the maintenance diet hahahaha. I must say the chocolate eggs, Lindt and Terry's chocolate orange, were delicious and melted in my mouth. I hadn't tasted chocolate for a long long time. 

Thanks to the chocolate and a small glass of wine, I slept a long and needed siesta. Then Eladio joined me for what would be our last walk in Montrondo before leaving the next day. We went on our "new walk", through the woods above the stream that leads to Murias. The photo illustrating this week's post is of me and Pippa on that walk. I also caught Eladio on camera, joined by Nuba and with Pippa rushing ahead towards me. It's lovely isn't it. It's funny to see her ears flapping in the wind as she runs on her small four paws hahaha.
Pippa running towards me with Eladio and Nuba coming up behind her on our walk on Sunday afternoon in Montrondo.
Early on Monday morning I woke up to see a new Airbnb booking on the app on my phone. This time it was for a Dutch family coming for 4 nights in July. I am thoroughly enjoying managing my rental business and have become quite addicted to the app, answering people as soon as the requests come through. While we were in Montrondo, we had 3 Russian Airbnb guests and more to come this weekend. 

Sadly we had to leave Montrondo after breakfast. We had decided to leave on Monday to avoid the traffic on Easter Day. It was sad to leave and I don't know when we will next be back but I hope it's soon.
With a heavy heart we said goodbye to beautiful Montrondo on Monday morning
We stopped in León on our way home to visit my brother-in-law in hospital. Soon we were on the road again. We stopped for lunch and were home by 5. Eladio went off to his afternoon classes. I went off to Ikea to buy lots of bedding and "stuff" for the rooms I rent on Airbnb. You see, I have to invest in my business hahaha. Whilst there I dropped into the food store and got lots of the things we like such as salmon, prawns, biscuits and jams for my Father as well as their lovely pear cider. Oli was home that night and guess what we had for dinner? Well of course, Ikea prawn and salmon salad. The nice thing was having it alfresco, as the weather was lovely.  I also love the fact that at this time of year it gets dark at 9.30 p.m. 

On Tuesday it was back to my maintenance diet. I had to go to the Labour Exchange again that morning, this time to submit documents to prove I was self employed. I have to go back again as they also need to see another document which hasn't arrived yet. Oh, how I hate this bureaucracy. On the way home, I stopped off at Zara Home and Carrefour for a few more things for my "hotel business" which is what Eladio calls it hahaha. 

It was on Tuesday that Theresa May called a surprise "snap" General Election on 8th June. That really was a surprise as she had previously said she wouldn't. But it's obvious she is looking for extra support for her Brexit plans to go through and is having difficulty. 
Theresa May announces the "snap" General Election this week
Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not." In my opinion, neither is coming together. 

On Wednesday I really got down to work on new and old projects. This week I mainly concentrated on the PR plan for my Valencian customer, The Berklee School of Music there which belongs to the most famous school in the world for contemporary music and performing arts of the same name, in Boston, USA. They are holding TEDx talks on 29th April with a host of influential speakers and it is my job to get them some international coverage. It's no mean task as the participation in TEDx talks is, to quote the ex CNN correspondent in Madrid, "one big yawn". I know it is and told the organisers so, but am soldiering on. 

The cupboards had become bare during our absence and on Wednesday I had to go and do the food shopping of the week. That meant there was lots for dinner. I made a lovely tuna fish salad which we would enjoy with Oli that night, but this time not alfresco as the days have become a little cooler. Here is my culinary creation. 
A staple dinner salad which we all like in this house; tuna fish salad. 
If Wednesday was a busy day work wise, Thursday was even busier. I spent all day, scouring the web for international contacts for the Valencian press release from different sectors, music, education, telecoms, general, etc. I was so busy I had to skip one of my walks which was a bit of a sacrifice. 

It was while we were having dinner and watching the news on my iPad Plus (thank you Yoigo for your past generosity) that we learned of another terrorist attack in Paris, just a few days before the elections. We watched nearly real time.  Terrorists shot Gendarmes in the Champs Elysee, the very heart of France.  One was killed and others injured. It was not a good omen for the elections and yet another stab in the back to Paris, the most beautiful city in the world.

On Friday, the Queen turned 91. When I say "the Queen" you have to know I refer to the Queen of England, Elizabeth II.  I'm a bit of royalist at heart. 

The Queen turned 91 yesterday. 
She celebrated her birthday doing what she likes best, watching horses race. Here she is at Newbury yesterday. One of her horses was in the race but didn't give her a birthday present as it came 5th. Even so she looks very happy.

Whilst the Queen was enjoying the horse race, I was working hard, this time on a free PR project for my American friend and ex Nokia colleague, Jill. She has set up a school for a new kind of sport for women called Wanna Wanz. It's all about walking and dancing and seems a great idea. I wrote a press release for her for an upcoming event in May in the lovely Retiro park in Madrid. It's a fun project but when I started I had no idea what I was doing as it was not a familiar subject. I am far more familiar with telco PR. 

On Friday I met my telco customer, Miquel who heads up Genaker which makes critical commuinications (professional mobile radio to you). We met at Atocha train station that afternoon to discuss the activities for their participation in a Fair taking place in Hong Kong in May. Whoopee I shall be going there with them and I can't wait. 

It was when I left Miquel and his colleague David, who would be catching the AVE (high speed train) back to Barcelona that I got news from Suzy. She called to say she had accepted a job as a Band 6 dietitian with the NHS at their hospital in Ipswich.Wow she will be living and working in Ipswich, the county town of Suffolk and supposedly the oldest town in England. She will start on 3rd May, the day Oli and I will be returning from our visit to her.

But Oli has news too. She also is changing jobs. When we were in Montrondo she accepted the job as reporter for Telemadrid's star programme, "Madrileños por el Mundo". It's a programme that goes out to see and shoot the stories of people from Madrid who live in cities around the world. It means she will be travelling somewhere one week every month. 

I'm so happy and proud for my darling daughters and wish them the best of luck in their new jobs, a step up for both of them in their careers. 

I came home to get everything ready for the first set of Airbnb guests this weekend. Two French students of Moroccan origin were coming to stay for the night. They were to take an entrance exam at the nearby Universidad Europea de Madrid, where Oli studied. It was to study medicine. They were lovely girls and we hardly saw them. In fact neither Eladio nor Oli did. 

On Friday night we went out to dinner to Ginos, the 3 of us. It was my weekly break in my diet and I enjoyed a plate of pasta as I always do there, followed by pistachio ice cream. 

On Saturday morning I drove the French Moroccan girls to the University as their entrance exam was at 8.15 and they had to rush. I came home to get everything ready for our next Airbnb guests, a family of 8 from Valladolid coming for a wedding. The group included the grandmother, a dog and a small boy!!!  Every time guests come, I pick fresh flowers to put in their rooms. I also put a plate of fruit to make everything look welcoming. 

Well yesterday morning I had lots of flowers to choose from as Spring has made many of them blossom in our garden. I chose the beautiful yellow roses which are probably my favourite.  They say yellow roses mean jealousy but they also mean welcome, gladness and a new beginning. I prefer to think of them as part of my new beginning and of course the beginning of spring and summer.
Our beautiful yellow roses
I also chose a beautiful spring blossom from a bush which flowers at this time of year. I couldn't remember the name though. Eladio says it's called "celindo" but that is in Spanish. I found out later that in English the name is "mock orange" or "English dogwood". The botanical name is actually Philadelphus Coronarius. Coincidentally yesterday was "Earth Day" and it seemed fitting to pick flowers from our Mediterranean garden.
Our beautiful mock orange blossom
The rooms looked lovely with the flowers. You can see 2 of them here. The Green room and Suzy's "pink room". 

Two of our Airbnb rooms ready yesterday for new guests
 If you ever want to stay with us, here is the advert.

We also got the swimming pool terrace in ship shape, although the pool itself won't be open until May. Here is Eladio with Pippa trying out the new sofa we added recently.
Eladio with Pippa yeterday on the swimming pool terrace

When everything was ready, I started making yesterday's lunch, lasagna, another family favourite. My guests arrived just as I was finishing .After settling into their rooms, they all got ready for the wedding and soon left. We wouldn't see them again until late last night. 

I worked all afternoon, sending out the press release on the TED talks, this time to media in Puerto Rico as the main speaker is from there, the musician and producer called Eduardo Cabra from Calle 13 and aka as El Visitante. I had to tailor each email and press release to fit the type of media I was writing to. Later I would send it to international media for music, higher education and telecoms. So far I have not seen any interest whatsoever which is a bit frustrating. What I have achieved however is the interest of TVE in some of the speakers. 

And today is Sunday, St George's Day and also the day of the French Elections. People will be voting amid high security and I really hope nothing untoward happens. I wonder who will win. 
The 4 main candidates in the French General Elections today

The four main candidates are the conservative François Fillon, the far-right leader Marine Le Pen, liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and the far-left's Jean-Luc Mélenchon. I haven't followed the campaign much but do hope that Marine Le Pen will not win for the sake of democracy.  We will not know the outcome soon as the elections in France go through to second rounds so it may be some time until an out and out winner is proclaimed.

Today the family from Vallodolid will be leaving and I am expecting another Aribnb guest, from France, by the way. I wonder whether she will have had time to vote before coming. Her name is Astrid and she is a 30 year old professional golf player. She is here to play in a tournament and will stay for 4 nights. I look forward to meeting her.

So my friends, I have come to the end of the tales of this week. All that remains is to say, have a great day and week and cheers till next time.

All the best

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