Sunday, July 23, 2017

Wimbledon Champions Dinner, a Zara outfit fit for a Queen, snorkeling with a shark in Thailand, fire in our neighbourhood, to Montrondo and other stories.

Montrondo, Sunday 23rd July, 2017

Happy to be in cooler Montrondo. Here on our walk up the mountains on Friday evening.
Good morning all,

Here I am writing from our beloved village Montrondo where we have come for a holiday and to escape from the unbearable heat in Madrid. As I write early in the morning, it is just 11c here and mercury will rise to about 21ºc maximum today in sharp contrast to the high 30ºc or even 40ºc back home.

When I left off last Sunday, Roger Federer, aged 35, was playing the Wimbledon Men's single's final against the 28 year old Croatian Marin Cilic. The latter had problems with blisters on his feet so the final was somewhat disappointing. The Swiss tennis ace beat the Croatian in 3 straight sets 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to make tennis history. On Sunday he became the first man to win Wimbledon 8 times and he also reached his 19th gram slam win.  I would of course have preferred to see Rafa Nadal winning the final but if any other tennis player had to do it, then I was happy that it was Federer. 

Most people thought the final was disappointing. However, there was fun on another court as Kim Clijsters, the ex Belgian tennis player was in the throes of an invitation women's doubles match for veterans, including Spain's Conchita Martínez, the first  Spanish woman to win the Championship before her protege Garbiñe Muguruza won it last Saturday. Before serving a point, Kim asked her partner how she should serve and a man from the public, a portly Irishman called Chris Quinn, shouted from the crowd that it should be a "body serve". There and then, she invited the man to come and take the shot. But before playing, she made him dress in white, in a nod to Wimbledon rules. She made him wear her tiny white tennis skirt which he actually managed to get on. The moment was absolutely hilarious and had the Belgian player in stitches on the ground. You can watch the moment here. Needless to say, he wasn't a very good server. 
Kim Clijsters putting her small white tennis skirt on the portly Irishman. 
Meanwhile back home, Lucy had visitors. 2 of her sisters, Gloria and Lidia and a nephew came to visit. 
With Lucy, her sisters and her nephew last Sunday

She is working a 7 day week as she is filling in for our weekend carer, Zena, who is in the Ukraine on holiday. So it was nice for her to have visitors who brought food which they ate together and then they sat by the pool. Both Lidia and the nephew bathed in the pool and I heard they were joined by Elsa our labrador who is not allowed in hahaha. When they left and while Federer and Cilic were on Centre Court, I took Lucy to Ikea with me to get more towels for my Airbnb guests and many other things which were not on my list which is what happens when you visit Ikea.  

We had a very modest dinner compared to what the guests at the Wimbledon Champion's dinner at the Guildhall in London would have had that night.  The Spanish women's single winner, Garbiñe Muguruza had to go out and buy a dress for the occasion. No doubt she never brought one with her, not thinking she would get to the final. That night she glittered in a long Alexander McQueen white dress with gold embellishment which matched the Venus Rosewater dish and was white again maybe in a nod to Wimbledon playing rules. I had thought she would dance with Roger Federer and maybe she did too as she invited him to do so on Twitter. Disappointingly I read later that the tradition was scrapped in the 70's. In any case the two champions looked radiant that night and here is a photo to prove it.
Federer and Muguruza the two Wimbledon Singles winners at the Champions Dinner last Sunday

I don't know what they ate but I'm sure they were both delighted to be able to take a break from whatever food regime they need to follow to be tennis  champions. But I know what we ate. Inspired by my visit to Ikea, I made the Swedish skagen prawn toast dish which Eladio and I enjoyed that night. Whenever I am in Sweden I always order it. I embellish the dish by adding avocado which I am not sure is  orthodox or not but I think  adds a lot.
"Skagen", prawn on toasts basically, a delicious Swedish dish I made for Sunday's dinner. 
Although our dinner was not so glamorous, I was also wearing my "evening dress", aka my nightie hahaha.  

On Monday morning I got a photo from Olivia who is still in Thailand with Miguel. They were on the famous Maya beach where the film, The Beach, with Leonardo di Caprio was filmed. She said she still preferred the beaches on the small Spanish island of Formentera.

Olivia on the Maya Beach in Thailand last Monday
It was on Monday that I ordered a new outfit from Zara online. It was the same dress I had read the Queen of Spain, Letizia, had worn quite recently. I'm not normally a "royal copycat" but I did like the outfit. It's not my style but the frills are much in fashion. It is available in green, light pink and in black and the Queen wore it in pink, one of my favourite colours.
The Zara outfit fit for a Queen
It was apparently very much in demand and I had to wait a few days for my (new) size "S" to become available. 

As is the norm lately, it was hot again on Monday and there would only be a slight reprieve in the high temperatures at the end of the week. Thus our siesta was always with the air conditioning on and of course Pippa always joined us. 
Pippa enjoying her siesta with us with the air conditioning on.

Tuesday came and as I fed the dogs in the morning, I thought you might like to see part of the action; especially how Elsa wolves her food down in under a minute hahaa. This is the short video I took.  Labs are notorious for their bottomless appetite or rather the gene which lacks their ability to know when to stop eating. 

On Tuesday our next set of Airbnb guests arrived. This group were from French Canada. There were some issues as about 11 people arrived including loads of kids when only 5 people had been booked. They thought they had booked the whole place which of course wasn't the case. It was a very awkward moment and a difficult situation to deal with. Thankfully there was consensus and only 5 people stayed. I'm not sure what sort of review I will get from them but we shall see. I think the lady who had booked didn't realise that you have to book accommodation that says "entire house" rather than "private rooms" which is what we offer. Later she apologised. I am glad it happened when we were there as if the 11 had arrived when only our housekeeper Lucy was at home, who doesn't speak English, no doubt they would have invaded the house. Anyway, all's well that's end's well was the final outcome, thank goodness. 

In the morning before the Canadian's arrival, I had a coffee date with an ex colleague of Yoigo, another one of them who has been more or less forced to leave since Másmóvil bought the company just over a year ago. My ex colleague and I commented just how different things would be now if it had been the British venture capital company that had bought us instead. This week they got listed on the Madrid stock exchange and made a big buzz about it but my colleague told me their summer sales were not doing well in the absence of a good seasonal campaign. We were just 100 people one year ago and they were 400 but now there are 700 people working in the same offices, squeezed together like sardines. I can't understand why they are hiring new staff if they have excess personnel and are laying off the best of the original Yoigo workers . It beats me and it's sad to see the demise. I don't often think about it anymore but of course a coffee date with an ex colleague brought it all right back. 

On Wednesday over my early morning coffee I had heard from Olivia in Thailand that she and Miguel had just had a huge scare snorkeling on a beach. Miguel cut his finger on a rock and it bled and then a shark appeared, obviously attracted by the blood. Oli said she literally pounced on top of Miguel in sheer panic and that they had never swum as fast in their life as they swam away from the shark to the shore. What a scare. 
Snorkeling with a shark like this in Thailand. What a scare for Oli and Miguel.
On Wednesday my "Zara outfit for a Queen" had arrived. I had asked for it to be delivered to a store so that I could try it on. I was glad I did later, as after advice from my friend Jacky, I also tried it on in black and preferred it. I love pink but already have a pink dress and pink top with frills. I am thinking of wearing it to my cousin's wedding in France in August. I had my qualms about wearing black at a wedding but shall jazz it up with a shocking blue and pink Moroccan silk scarf and matching shoes and bag. Regarding wearing black at a wedding, in the past it was considered gloomy and funereal but no longer I think. This is what it looked like on me when I tried it on for Eladio. Hopefully it will look better on the big day when I have make up on. 

My black pant suit from Zara
Whilst there and for the lark of it, I tried on another royal outfit from Zara, a black and white polka-dot dress that Kate Middleton had worn too. According to the British press it has "flown off the shelves" of the high street store. Isn't Zara popular?  The wife of the ex Spanish premiere, Aznar, once said, "nearly every woman in Spain has at least one Zara item or more in her wardrobe". I must be above average then hahaha. This is the dress which did not look good on me as it was far too short.
Kate Middleton's polka-dot dress from Zara
I was back home on time to do the food shopping with Eladio. In the afternoon, believe it or not, as I looked out from the balcony in our bedroom, I saw smoke and heard police sirens and then saw at least 3 helicopters. Oh my goodness, I thought, there is a fire near our house. Indeed there was a fire and it was in my best friend Fátima's street which was cut off by the police and the fire brigade and I couldn't get her on the phone. So I rang her Mother to warn her. Thankfully I heard from the policeman that the fire was both under control and was on a patch of dry land and had not affected any houses. I can't begin to tell you just how worried I was. Thankfully the nightmare was soon over but it could have been worse. There are so many forest fires in Spain at this time of year precisely because of the heat and the dry land.  

Thursday came and we had decided to go to Montrondo for a few days as our next Airbnb guests were Spanish and Lucy could host them. The following guests who are Dutch would not be arriving until the following Thursday. However, little did I know, that in between time I would receive 2 more bookings, for a couple from Paraguay (that should make Lucy happy) arriving today and for a family from Finland (oh joys, love Finland) arriving tomorrow. Now we shall have to go home tomorrow to receive them. Then, hopefully, we can come back to Montrondo until our next guests (a French family) arrive on Monday 31st. We really have had a full house this month and Airbnb is, as I said earlier, my current job and business and I have to look after it.

So that morning, instead of going on my walk, I had to make all the preparations for leaving, including packing a whole load of food as there are no shops in the area. We drove in the Mini and of course stopped at the Palacio de Bornos in Rueda for the traditional glass of wine and plate of ham. Oh how I adore that place. Here I am offering the plate of ham to Eladio. Pippa got some too hahaha.
The obligatory stop at Rueda on Thursday
We got to Montrondo at around 2.15 and set about unpacking and making a light lunch (left over lentils) as we were not hungry after the stop in Rueda. It was much cooler in the village than in Madrid with a temperature of about 19 or 20ºc when we arrived which we much appreciated. 

We both had a siesta afterwards and mine was on a sun bed in the front patio (el corral). We had coffee at Eladio's brother's house and that day there was no walk for us. I was just too tired. My sister-in-law was making Spanish tortilla for their dinner so I copied her and made a delicious one for ours Here it is:
The Spanish tortilla I made for our dinner on Thursday night in Montrondo. 
Afterwards, as always, we watched the news. That day there was news that on Wednesday morning a famous banker, the corrupt ex chief of the Bankia savings bank (our bank), Miguel Blesa, had committed suicide at an estate in Córdoba. The 69 year old banker who was facing jail for embezzlement and other corrupt activities shot himself dead with his hunting rifle. Spain was in shock. 
Miguel Blesa the banker when he was head of Bankia
But the interesting news that day was that of the exhumation of the famous Spanish artist, Salvador Dali. A woman tarot card reader, María Pilar Abel Martínez who was born in 1956 says her mother had an affair with Dalí during the year before her birth and after a long court case a judge ordered the exhumation to settle her claim. Many say that the claim must be false as Dali always said he was impotent and had no  children. One curious fact came out of the exhumation and it was that the artist's famous moustache was still intact. The whole thing was surreal but then of course so was Dali. Let's see what comes of the paternity tests. If María Pilar is right, she will be able to claim a big part of his estate which at the moment belongs to the state. 
A paternity case - left Dali and right the woman who claims she is his daughter.
On Friday it was amazing to wake up to an unbelievable 7ºc in Montrondo. What a shock. That morning I went with my sister-in-law and her son Miguel and his Cuban wife, Claudia, to Villablino for more provisions and to visit the Friday market. There I bought a lovely bathing suit for just 12 euros. It was the stripes that attracted me. Well, you know my fondness for stripes. 
The bathing suit I bought at the market in Villablino on Friday.
At the market I also bought thick black juicy cherries (the last of the season), a home made meat and vegetable pie, local walnuts as well as home grown onions and garlic. 
A selfie shopping at the market in Villablino on Friday morning. 
After all our shopping we went to have a cup of coffee. For 2 people it cost just 2.10 euros and included two plates of free donuts and pastries. This is what we were served and I wondered how the cafeteria, Selene, could make any money out of us. Normally I don't eat fattening pastries and donuts but I was hungry and very tempted. Who wouldn't be?
Coffee and free donuts and pastries in Villablino on Friday
Once home, I set about preparing a quick and easy lunch of steak and salad. It was followed by a siesta after which I made a cake I had seen on Cookist. You can see both the recipe and how it is made here. It is basically a sponge cake with pineapple to which I added stoned cherries.  This is what it looked like. The next day I would slice it in half and add whipped cream and  fresh pineapple and cherries. 
My pineapple and cherry sponge

Later I went for a walk with Eladio and Pippa up the mountains to the "Abedular" (birch tree forest) which at a fast pace takes 30 minutes there and 30 minutes back. On our way up we encountered a herd of cows, some of them on the path and Eladio had to hold Pippa on a very tight leash. Two of them got separated from the herd, walking fast ahead of us, but thankfully they eventually went into a field and left the path clear. I felt very safe with my husband there, who, after all, was brought up in the village and knows how to deal with cows. 
Eladio and Pippa on the walk and the encounter with cows. 
The encounter with cows on our walk up the mountains on Friday evening
We came home, happy from our walk to eat a lovely dinner of gazpacho and pie, followed by cherries and walnuts. Afterwards we continued watching our current series on Netflix; Hostages. 

Yesterday, Saturday, I was up at 6.15. By 10.45 I had written some of this blog, made breakfast, turned the sponge cake into a full blown cake by adding whipped cream and fresh fruit, washed my hair, put the washing machine on, hung out the clothes and left the lunch; oxtail, simmering and then set off on my walk with Pippa to Senra and back (8km). 
My cake. I was a bit worried the sponge hadn't completely baked inside. 
What a productive morning I thought. It was a glorious sunny day with a nip in the air and I adore the scenery at this time of year. The highlights were seeing a group of donkeys (or were they a mixture of donkey and mule?) just before arriving at Senra and a well deserved cup of coffee at the Cumbres de Omaña bar where I shared a small biscuit with Pippa. I stopped to feed the donkeys the sugar from my coffee which I never take on our way back and funnily enough they weren't interested. I especially loved the small donkey/mule which is just a few days old.
The group of donkeys in a field approaching Senra. 
I just had to look up on internet what a group of donkeys is called as I don't recollect the name for it. Well for the record it is a "drove", "pace" or "herd".

I was back by 1 o'clock to find more of Eladio's family had arrived. After greeting them I had to attend to the simmering oxtail. The dish I was to make comes from the famous Spanish recipe book called 1080 recipes by Simone Ortega and is always a hit with Eladio. This is what it looked like when it was on my plate:-)
Oxtail, chips and carrot and onion sauce for lunch yesterday
After a short siesta, we joined Eladio's family for coffee and tea in the patio outside our houses which we call "el corral". I contributed the pineapple and cherry cake. The sponge was a little strange, tasting more like pastry but I must say it was quite delicious.

Another walk was due afterwards to work off the lunch and cake, so I persuaded Eladio to join me and Pippa again on another walk up the mountains to the birch tree forest, El Abedular. It was on this walk I received the confirmations on Airbnb of my new Paraguayan and Finnish guests. No doubt Lucy who is from Paraguay will be delighted and I was delighted to have my first Finnish guests as I love Finland and Finnish people from my time working for Nokia. 

Once again there was a herd of cows on our walk and this time we also had Nuba with us and Eladio had to use his walking stick as a leash hahaha. When we got to the birch tree forest we saw men cutting hay in the field opposite; one of them was a brother-in-law of mine. It was a beautiful and bucolic scene and I stood mesmorised watching them cutting the hay with the combine harvester which spat out beautifully packed stacks of hay.

Cutting of the hay in the fields in the mountains and the stacks of hay
No doubt Eladio was reminded of the summers when as a young boy and man, he had to help his Father when they spent days and days cutting the grass in their plots of land. 

We got home a bit later than usual having stopped so long to watch the villagers cutting the grass.  I  made a simpler dinner last night but equally delicious, salad and smoked salmon once again followed by black cherries and walnuts and all washed down by a glass or two of Ramón Bilbao Rioja wine. We finished another episode of Hostages on Netflix and went to be at about 11pm. 

Suzy, meanwhile, was enjoying the sun in London and went to Victoria Park, This weekend the girls had a visitor, Mónica, who used to live with them in Whitechapel. There was no news from Oli that day. I look forward to her return next week. 
Suzy having fun on the boats in Victoria park with her friends.
And today is Sunday and blog day of course. I have  finished recounting the stories of this week, so will leave you now to publish this and then get on with the day which will start with another walk and back to Senra. Yesterday my fitbit was very happy with me as I had walked all of 17km in one day!


I wish you all a great week ahead and you will hear more from me next Sunday.

In the meantime, cheers from me from Montrondo,
Masha. 


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