Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our first bad Airbnb guests,the Spanish skateboard hero, Pippa gave us a scare, a hung parliament in the UK and other stories.

Sunday 11th June 2017
Cooling off in the pool this week with Oli
Hi again everyone.

It's Sunday again and blog time and what a hot Sunday it is. We've been having a heat wave here this week and the forecast is for the hot weather to continue.  It will reach 37ºc (over 98 Fahrenheit!) today and the only way to cool off is either shut inside with the air conditioning on,  in the pool or under the trees in the garden. That is where I have spent most afternoons.

Last Sunday I continued to chill out after the exhausting week working for for my most recent customer. That night Eladio and I went out for dinner instead of on Friday when I was just too tired. We went to Ginos where we have been very often recently.

On Monday I had more work to do for my new customer. I had to compile the final media coverage report. It took me quite a while but I was over the moon with the results which were pretty amazing for a relatively unknown company or brand. In all we got 10 offline clippings, 8 of them from nationwide media, 118 online clippings, 3 TV and 4 radio. The tone was both neutral and positive and it all added up to an equivalent advertising spend of approximately 308.000 euros! 

Oli and Miguel were here for dinner that night. I hadn't seen Oli since her birthday so we it was great to be together again. What spoiled the night a bit were the awful Airbnb guests, the only bad eggs we've had so far. Since the end of February we have had more than 26 sets of guests from all over the world and I am sad to say that the only bad ones were  this group from England. Actually one of them was from South Africa and he was by far the best behaved of the group. They had organised a barbecue and with my reluctant permission had invited 4 girls to come - will never allow that again - The only thing I asked them was to leave everything as they had found it.  My words fell on deaf ears. They didn't trash anything but the next morning it took us a good half hour to clear up. They had left at 5 in the morning without saying goodbye, all the lights on and without paying for breakfast. They were not unpleasant people, just very untidy, messy and  rather cheeky I should add.  There was no respect for us or the house and they treated the place like their own. I sincerely think they are more suited to staying at a hotel. I mused about writing a negative opinion on their stay and in the end decided not to write one at all, rather than getting into a possible online verbal fight. It was their attitude I didn't like. I really think they have no idea that they behaved badly but that's probably because of their arrogance and lack of manners; something obviously inborn in them.  I was happy to see them go.  Thankfully our next guests who arrived on Friday from France, were a delightful group of people. 

After clearing up the mess they left, I had another unpleasant task to perform. I had an appointment at the job centre for the umpteenth time. I had to take along some corrected Social Security tax receipts; part of the process of becoming unemployed. It's a long story and I hope I have now come to the end of the tunnel. This time I didn't get lost coming home from their offices in Alcorcón; an area I always get lost in, despite my sat nav hahaha. That was because Eladio took me, bless him.  

That afternoon Lucy joined me on my walk as she often does. She loves to get out and is a country girl a bit like me. She was brought up on a farm and is always outside, either clearing the leaves, sweeping the terraces or even planting roses, jasmine or potatoes. Her company is always pleasant. She may have been brought up in a modest Paraguayan farmstead, but her attitude and manners are impeccable. She's a great addition to this household. 

Lucy with my Father who she looks after so well. 

On Wednesday Spain mourned the death of one of its citizens, Ignacio Echaverría from Las Rozas in Madrid. He had died on London Bridge last Sunday trying to help a woman being stabbed by the terrorists. He had only his skate board to help him. But it wasn't until Wednesday that his death was official, although his family and friends had informed the British authorities of his actions and his being missing since that dreadful night.
Ignacio Echaverría, the Spanish skateboarder who died trying to help a woman being stabbed by the terrorists last Sunday night. 
He was in the news all week and the British press dubbed him the "skateboard hero". Of course he was a hero. What he did was very courageous but this 39 year old Spaniard who worked for the HSBC trailing down terrorist funding around the world, didn't think twice before defending the woman only to be killed himself. I kept thinking all week that he could have been Suzy or any of her friends. So when she told me this morning that she and her friends Chati and Anita had actually been on London Bridge 2 hours before the attack a shudder went down my spine. They had been to Brighton for the day and took the train back to London Bridge station where they picked up bicycles, just like Ignacio and his friends at the Tate Gallery. But instead of Suzy it was Ignacio. Life is a question of chance and these days there is a lot more chance, at least in London, of dying from terrorism than there ever was before. My heart goes out to Ignacio's family and friends. If I had a hat which I don't, I would take it off to him, this brave and decided Spaniard who will now go down in history as a hero. Chapeau is all I can say and I say it sadly as his was a horrible way to die. 

Wednesday 7th May did not go unnoticed by my Father, nor by me. It was of course the date of my beloved Mother's birthday. She would have turned 97, one year younger than my Father but, sadly she passed away on 1st October 1999, aged 79, after fighting cancer. She would have enjoyed the sunshine on Wednesday. Oh that she were still here to enjoy our family life, the girls and our dogs and of course be company to my Father who has missed her sorely ever since she took her last breath. Her last words I was told,  were "siof paratki" (everything is ok) in her native Russian. I wish I had been there but I wasn't and that's something I have to live with. So throughout the day, she was on my mind as she often is. My beloved, bohemian, life embracing, rebellious, aristocratic, witty and also clever linguist of a Mother was missed on Wednesday, her birthday, as we miss her always. Thinking of you Mummy. Can never ever forget you. 
My amazing Mother whose birthday it would have been this week
She would have been worried about Norah our beagle who has leishmaniasis, an illness caused by the deadly mosquito of the same name. There are many of them in this area. Eladio took Norah to the vet a while ago after we had noticed she looked a little down and wasn't eating as hurriedly as before, or barking at motorbikes and bicycles on our walk. A little test showed she had been infected by the dreaded mosquito whose bite is life threatening. We had an appointment that day to get her treated after receiving the results. We also took along Elsa our lab and little Pippa, our adored chocolate coloured miniature dachshund to takes tests on them too and also protect the three of them from the mosquito by way of a special collar and pipette. The tests proved Elsa was possibly infected but would need more tests and thankfully little Pippa was free of it. So there and then the vet spread liquid from a pipette along their backs and placed a special white anti tic collar around their necks. We felt pretty bad we hadn't done that before. We had, but not often enough. 

We came home and life continued as normal or so we thought that morning. Eladio and I read on the wicker sofas on our swimming pool terrace and little Pippa, with her new collar, joined us.
Eladio and Pippa sitting peacefully on the sofa on the swimming pool terrace on Wednesday
That night she wasn't so peaceful and just couldn't seem to relax and fall asleep. She kept having funny spasms although she didn't look in pain but her behaviour was very strange. On Thursday morning, the day of the British General Elections, I rang the vet to tell her about Pippa. We were sure it was a consequence of either the collar or the anti tic pipette. At the clinic they took it very seriously saying she could be intoxicated by either of them. I felt like asking why they hadn't pointed out the possible side effects before giving her the protective treatment which could potentially kill her. They insisted in keeping her in "hospital" for 24h for observation. I protested, saying we could observe her at home to which the vet said she should stay as she was in mortal danger. Mortal danger! Oh those words made me cry.  Maybe I was being over dramatic in my response but I love her so much I just can't envisage her dying. What an awful word. 
Darling Pippa, a photo of her on our walk this week.
It seemed so ironic as we had tried to protect her but had in fact harmed her. They took her from my arms to remove the collar and bathe her to get rid of the poison from the pipette and I left her with a very heavy heart, feeling like a criminal. Poor little thing, she depends on us and we had let her down. How could she understand? I cringed knowing she would be in a cage for 24 hours not understanding why I wasn't there. I offered to stay with her but they wouldn't let me. In order to see her that afternoon I even had to have an appointment. I immediately made one for 19.30 that evening.

The day seemed so long afterwards with Pippa at the hospital. I had a lunch date that day with an English colleague, Corinne. It was Corinne who passed on her Valencian customer to me recently for which I was very grateful. We had lunch at La Txitxarrería and got up to speed on each other's lives in the past few years. It was great to see her and I hope we will do lunch again if only to chat in English to a friend here in Madrid. I don't have many English friends here and those I do I cherish, like my ex colleague at Yoigo, Tony. 

I couldn't wait for the day to pass by quickly enough for it to be 19.30, the time to visit Pippa. Oli and MIguel would join me when the time finally came. The moment came and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that she was visibly better. We had a huge cuddle and then it was Oli's turn and mine again until we all calmed down. We had to wait a while to see the vet who gave us the great news that we could take her home as she was better, although we had to look out for any further symptoms. I don't know who was happier, Pippa or I as we drove home and she trotted into the house to greet her canine friends, Norah and Elsa. It's now over thank goodness but what a scare she gave us. We shall now have to see how to protect her from the dreaded mosquito as she is allergic to or can't tolerate the collar or pipette. 

Meanwhile in England, it was the General Elections in which I cannot vote as I have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years. But of course it affects me because of Brexit. We wouldn't get the full results until Friday. I had actually predicted a hung parliament and that is what we got. Theresa May's strategy of calling the elections to increase her majority in order to have more clout in her own party when negotiating Brexit, backfired. Instead of increasing it, it decreased, much to her amazement. Her party, the Tories, lost 13 seats, down from 331 to 318, not enough to govern alone. For that they would have needed 326. Labour did well but not enough to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats and the latter won't go down that road again with the Tories. By the by, Nick Clegg of the coalition with Cameron fame, lost his seat. So did many others. 
The results of the General Elections in the UK this week
I could hardly believe Theresa May who the Sun called "Theresa Dismay", kept on her talk of unity and strength as if denying the obvious and is now going to govern with the help of the DUP (Northern Ireland Unionist Party) who got 10 valuable seats. She should resign instead of clinging onto power via a pact with the radical Irish party founded by the infamous Ian Paisley.  The DUP is anti gay marriage, anti abortion, even for rape victims and even denies the climate change. I mean who would want to cohort with them? Well yes, obviously Theresa May as it seems all she is interested is in keeping power. But I wonder for how long. I also wonder if the alternative in for example Boris Johnson may be even worse. Whatever the case it is interesting times ahead for Blighty. My only hope now is for a soft Brexit and not a hard Brexit as proposed by this now very unpopular PM. Only time will tell although it is not exactly as if the PM has lots of it. Quite the contrary in fact. 

Life continued of course and on Friday I decided it was time to concentrate efforts on my upcoming 60th birthday party. The caterers came this week and I really had to know exactly how many we would be. 

Talking about guests, I also had to prepare for the arrival of a group of 6 French people coming by car from Bordeaux. They said they would arrive at 20.30 and at 20.35 they arrived, unlike the English group who got lost and arrived at 2 in the morning! I was amused they were coming to take part in a Chinese martial arts tournament in nearby Villaviciosa this weekend. They brought with them a huge Chinese guy who only spoke Chinese. I only know one word in Chinese so I said it: "nihau" to which he smiled. They told me he was a Kung Fu champion. They certainly added to the unique list of guests I have had so far who have come for lots of different reasons, such as drone racing or drone piloting. 

We left them at home making their dinner in the kitchen whilst we popped out again to Ginos for our own dinner. 

Yesterday was another scorcher. I was up at 6.30 as usual, enjoying a quiet breakfast with The Times online on my own with all 3 dogs. 

We took the time on Saturday morning to go and do some party shopping for next week and went off to a shop called Fiesta Party. Here we bought helium gas and balloons, garlands for the swings and bunting to hang on the trees, as well as lots of candles to put on the steps and even paper flowers with t lights to float on the pool. 

Talking about parties, Oli had one yesterday at home, another birthday party, this time for her colleagues from the programme she used to work for; Aquí en Madrid. She invited 17 people. What with all her guests and my French guests we felt a little invaded and perhaps should have gone out to dinner on Saturday instead of Friday. Of note it was my dear friend Sandra's birthday yesterday. We shall celebrate that too when she comes next week. 

As if I didn't have enough guests already, yesterday afternoon I got a firm booking from 6 Mexican students who are coming for 2 weeks at the beginning of September to attend a course in sports physiotherapy at the nearby University (UEM) where Oli studied. Our house is certainly popular with Airbnb travellers:-) 

And today is Sunday and as I write Rafa Nadal is playing in the Roland Garros French tennis open final. With both Djokovic and Andy Murray out, his opponent is Swiss, not Federer, but 32 year old Stan Warwinka. If the Spaniard wins it will be the 10th time he picks up the coveted Coupe des Mousquetaires, quite a feat.  As you can imagine I am on the Spaniard's side. 

I was up early again today and spent the first hour of the day clearing up after yesterday's party, so that the French guests wouldn't wake up to see any mess. I was worried as they had told me one of the reasons they had chosen our house was because it was quiet and peaceful - well it wasn't yesterday I am afraid. 

As soon as we could, Eladio and I took the dogs for our walk and before 10 am it was already boiling hot. When we got home, Eladio's pupil, Luciano was waiting for him to receive a lesson on Nietzsche!!!

I did more mundane things like organise lunch - bitki (Russian hamburgers) and chips which we had outside where it was far to hot. I think from now on we shall be having lunch in the dining room with the air con on. 

And that my friends is the end of the tales of this week. So let me leave you to publish this post and print it out for my Father and also check to see how Rafa is doing.

So, from here, cheers to you all until next week.

Have a good one/Masha 

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