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,

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