Saturday, December 30, 2017

Family Christmas, bronchitis, Suzy back in London, a look back at 2017 and a Happy 2018 to all my readers.

Sunday 31st December 2017
Happy New Year everyone.
Hi everyone,

Well today is the last day of the year and what a year it has been.  But first for this week, the last week of 2017. 

Last Sunday was Christmas Eve and I was in the throes of my cold. The morning felt like a master chef cooking time trial. I am the Christmas organiser in this house but I seem to do it all alone and this year I really felt tired. I was up at 6 and was soon preparing the Christmas Eve dinner. I finished making the trifle, our favourite dessert which I only usually make once a year. My Father prefers the top part with the cream and Eladio the bottom part with the jelly hahahaha which makes for difficult serving.
The trifle I made for Christmas Eve dinner
I then started on the "salpicón de marisco" (seafood salad) which was definitely the best dish on the table that night. I made quite a lot but it all disappeared. I might be making more for tonight's dinner too as it was such a success.
My "salpicón de marisco" seafood salad.
I also made more bread which the girls devour. I can't make enough of it as they finish it off as soon as it is made hahahahaha. Potato salad made with my Russian grandfather's recipe would be another main dish on the table that night and that was ready by mid morning too. I had done all the food shopping but, as is typical, had forgotten a few ingredients, so off I went to the supermarket again for last minute purchases. Then we went to pick up our Christmas morning breakfast fare - croissants, pain au chocolat, donuts, "ensaimadas", etc.  I couldn't believe the queue at the bakery. Christmas is all about food and we all seem to get very greedy about it. Once home, I placed the big parcel of croissants on top of the freezer lid on the ground floor. Later when we weren't looking, Norah got at it. She must have kicked it on to the floor with her paw but it got locked down the side between the deep freeze and fridge, thus she was only able to eat a quarter of it. Norah had done it again and we never learn our lesson. 

Lunch was leftovers and a light affair. I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking too, making bacon rolls and more salads. When all the food was ready, it was time for our walk which we would need desperately if we were to eat so much that night hahahahah. As tradition dictates, later Eladio lit the fire in the TV lounge and the girls joined us. It felt very festive indeed.

The four of us by the fire on Christmas Eve
Normally my Father would have joined us. We brought him up from his room in his wheelchair but he must have got cold on the way and started shivering. He decided he wouldn't join us for dinner which was rather sad as it would be the first Christmas Eve dinner without him. I suppose when you are nearly 99, you just prefer to go to bed quietly at Christmas.

The girls and I got dressed up for the dinner and I even put makeup on but I didn't feel well. Even so I made the effort. Zena, my Father's weekend carer who is from the Ukraine, joined us. This is what the table looked like. To take the picture Oli stood on her chair which always makes me laugh.

Our Christmas Eve dinner table.
We had to have a selfie too and this is the 4 of us with our cracker hats on to remember the moment. Suzy is wearing my new patchwork Zara dress which looked so good on her, I gave it to her.
Our Christmas Eve dinner selfie. The 4 of us with our cracker hats on
I had ordered lots of crackers online again this year and the contents never fail to disappoint I'm afraid. Whey can't they make more imaginative or better content? I wish they would. 

I tried not to eat too much but the trifle finished me off hahaha. Later Miguel joined us after having had dinner with his parents. We sat by the fire laughing and taking pictures until it was time for bed, past 11 pm.  

Christmas day dawned, the loveliest day of the year in my mind. I was up early, especially to put the girls' stockings by their bedroom doors. They are now 32 and 33 and the tradition continues hahahahahah.  My mother knitted them years ago and they are a little fragile now but the girls wouldn't have Christmas without them. The stocking fillers came mostly from Primark and Tiger.

The girls' Christmas morning stockings
Being the Christmas organiser, it was up to me to prepare the Christmas morning breakfast table too and I wasn't feeling at all well. Everyone else was asleep. Thankfully there were lots of croissants even after Norah had had a go at them!!!! As soon as the table was laid and ready for breakfast I went to wake up the girls. Normally they always open their stockings on their own together but this year I witnessed them being opened. And here is Suzy, in her room - yes one of the ones I usually rent out on Airbnb  - enjoying the moment with me.
Suzy opening her Christmas stocking and bag full of more stocking fillers which wouldn't fit in the stocking!
When I looked at the tree that morning, I realised that we must all have been awfully good this year as Santa Claus had filled all the space under and around it. Amazing!!!!
The presents under the tree on Christmas morning
But before we started on the present opening ceremony which would take at least 1.5 h, it was time for breakfast all together. This time my Father joined us.

There was more quantity than quality in the presents "Santa" brought but we loved them. In recent years I have had a photo taken of Eladio and I just before we open the presents and this year would be no exception. The exception though was that I wasn't well and didn't look very good. I prefer the one of us taken on Christmas Eve, the one illustrating this week's post. Eladio always wears a bow tie for the occasion which makes him look very dapper I think. 
Eladio and I on Christmas morning - our yearly photo together
Everyone enjoyed the session and here is Eladio with Pippa opening a parcel with some tartan Primark pyjamas to match mine hahahahahaha.
Eladio opening a Christmas present
Who did look good together in a photo were Oli and Miguel. Pippa seems to get in all the pictures hahahahaha. And here they are enjoying themselves too.
Miguel, Oli and Pippa on Christmas morning
My main present was my new Kenwood, to replace the one my Mother had bought me when we got married in 1983. While making the lunch, Eladio and I did the unboxing and it is slightly more complicated than my old model. It's also a lot less robust and I wonder if it will last as many years as my old Kenwood. Somehow I doubt it. 

After the present opening, it was once again  time for more cooking and again up to me to make the lunch, a typical British Christmas Day meal. It felt like a time trial again too but I managed it without much help from anyone.  I  made a big roast chicken, called a "pularda" here - I'm not too keen on turkey - with the trimmings we like best; sprouts, gravy, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce. I ate so much for lunch that I had to skip on dinner hahahahaha. And here is the family around the table about to start. I had to stop them from digging in, to take the photo and to make a toast hahahahaha.

Christmas lunch

We all had a very lazy time after lunch. It was awful weather so we didn't get a walk that day. In fact I didn't go for a walk since Christmas Eve  until yesterday, owing mostly to my cold. I had bought the DVD of the film My Fair Lady for Suzy who had shown an interest in it. It's funny but the girls never watched it when they were little. However, it was me who enjoyed it most. Later they went out with their group of friends and we went to bed early after no dinner, in my case at least. 

Boxing day dawned and I felt worse. Elsa had her operation that day to remove two bad teeth and Eladio took her. As soon as the local clinic opened I went to see the doctor. It didn't take much time to diagnose me with bronchitis and she prescribed a shock treatment of antibiotics. I went home and straight to bed sitting up with 4 pillows as I could hardly breathe if I was lying down. It was to be Suzy's last day at home and there I was in bed. I did join the family for our leftovers lunch though.  This time we got a selfie with my Father, something of a tradition at Christmas in the last few years.

Our Boxing Day selfie. 
The rest of the day was spent in bed. Eladio and I started watching a really good Spanish series on Netflix called "La Embajada" (The Embassy) about corruption at the Spanish Embassy in Bangkok. We have been binge watching it ever since.  

Wednesday 27th December dawned and even though I was feeling dreadful I had to work. I had to send out a press release to the media on new appointments in Adamo (the Swedish optical fiber operator) including my own which was rather funny and a bit embarrassing. If you can read Spanish, this is the press release.  I rather liked the headline I had written myself: "Adamo hires ex directors of HTC, Yoigo and Nokia. I of course am an ex director of both Yoigo and Nokia.  My other colleagues who had just been appointed were Pedro who I coincided with at Nokia and Antonio who I coincided with at Yoigo. 

New appointments at Adamo 
Very soon the press coverage began and many of the journalists I had sent the release to published the news which pleased me a lot. After all, that is why Adamo have taken me on, to get them lots of media coverage. By the next morning I had garnered 27 articles!!!!! I think Adamo was pleased too. I certainly was. 

Meanwhile Suzy was getting ready to leave. We had a last meal together, more Christmas leftovers, until Oli and Miguel would drive her to the airport. She would have a nightmare of a journey owing to the snow and bad weather in the UK. She flew with Ryan Air and her 6 pm plane was delayed. However the biggest delay was at Stansted airport where she had to wait 3 hours for her luggage. She didn't get home till 2 in the morning. However, she was lucky that she got home at all, as nearly all the Ryan Air flights to and from Stansted the next day were cancelled because of the snow.  She had been with us for just one week and it seemed to pass in a jiffy. We do miss her. Hopefully she will be back in April after which, very sadly for me, but very excitingly for her, she plans to move to Indonesia to Bali !!! Oh how far away that is. 

If Suzy had a nightmare journey to Stansted, I had a nightmare of a night, with dreadful coughing fits. The next morning, Thursday, I sent Eladio to the doctor to get a prescription for the only medicine I know that stops coughing fits, called "codeisan" which is obviously made of codeine and completely dries you up inside but it works.

Oli was back at work and would be staying at her flat this week with Miguel so the house felt rather empty and it was a bit of an anti climax after Christmas without the girls. She worked on editing the programme she had filmed for in Montpelier in France. It seems her next destination is Manchester, of all places, and also possibly Leeds. The programme producers are now looking for suitable candidates from Madrid who live there, among them the Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea. I can't believe she will be going to Lancashire and hopefully Yorkshire. I'd love to go with her. Who will probably join her for part of her trip will be Suzy of course who will drive up from London. Lucky girls!

I slept much better that night, thanks to the codeine and was feeling, if not a lot better, at least on the mend. It was on Friday that we were expecting 6 guests from Home Away (similar platform to Airbnb) and I was dreading them. I hadn't expected to coincide with them but of course we had cancelled our NY trip to Montrondo. To judge by all the communication since their reservation, they sounded like the sort to give you lots of trouble. One of them is allergic to dogs or rather has a huge phobia and it would be our task to make sure she never bumped into them. The logistics were difficult.

Meanwhile I got a new Airbnb reservation that day. A young girl called Enya from Guadeloupe would be coming on 4th Jan for 2 weeks. I had to look the place up and it is a a French island in the Antilles. Obviously she will be my first guest and probably my last from such a faraway island. She is coming to Spain on an Erasmus programme and will be attending the nearby UEM University and will be using our house as a base to find accommodation for the year.

I felt well enough to do the food shopping with Eladio on Friday morning, but not well enough yet for a walk. I also managed to make more bread. Our Home Away guests arrived just before lunch. They actually live in the centre of Madrid and were coming as a group of friends to spend NYE together. I though they were three married couples, but no they were just friends and family. They brought so much food we couldn't believe it. They totally filled the empty fridge on the ground floor mostly with booze and cooked prawns - Spaniards eat them on nearly all festive occasions. In order not to coincide with them at dinner, Eladio and I had ours early.  While we binge watched La Embajada we could hear them having dinner in our dining room. Thankfully they are very clean and tidy and the kitchen was in a perfect state the next day. 

On Saturday morning I woke up feeling a whole lot better. Mostly my energy was returning. I am such an energetic person usually and when I am ill that is what I most miss, my energy. After hosting our guests who were making their own breakfasts in our kitchen, I set about making "perushki" (Russian meat pies) for New Year's Eve. We usually have them on Christmas Eve. I had made the filling for that dinner and had asked Zena, our Ukranian weekend carer, to make the pastry and the pies. However she used yeast and her pastry turned out to be bread. We politely ate one or two that night and later I threw the rest away!!  I also prepared lunch while Lucy cleaned the house. Oli and Miguel were coming for our midday meal and I made good old fish and chips, except that I did the fish in breadcrumbs rather than in batter.

 Later Eladio and I finished watching "La Embajada". The end was breathtaking and had me sitting up tight in bed aghast at what I thought the end would be. We are now gutted it is over and that there is no second season. What a good TV series and what a great script. I also love the actors, Abel Folk the Ambassador, Luis Salinas and Belén Rueda his wife Claudia. 

Great Spanish TV series we watched on Netflix this wee
There was to be more cooking that afternoon. I made chicken noodle soup or rather the broth for it, as well as cream of vegetable soup and then more vegetables, fresh artichokes. This is what our dinner looked like on Saturday night. Again we had it early to avoid coinciding with our group of guests. Dinner together in the evening is always one of the best moments of the day.
Our healthy dinner on Saturday night
It was only when we were nearly asleep that our guests returned to make their dinner. 

And today is 31st December 2017, the last day of the year. It will be the first time we have spent New Year's Eve in our own home as we nearly always go to León to be with Eladio's family. Oli will join us as will Lucy and we will have a quiet evening. New Year's Eve is funnily enough not my favourite celebration and it never has been. I don't really know why. Somehow I think it's because I have or had great expectations that were never fulfilled and then I always get a sort of forlorn type feeling the next day, 1st January. 

It has been a topsy turvy year in many ways. This time last year we were in Cuba for Claudia and Miguel's wedding. We had a great time of course but there was a dark cloud on our horizon as I knew I was to lose my job with Yoigo. And I lost it and life was rather uphill afterwards. But somehow I landed on my feet again. 2017 was the year I started on Airbnb hosting which has been an interesting experience and of course quite lucrative. I had to find a new source of income and partly I found it with Airbnb. We have had more than 70 sets of guests from all around the world. This year too I became self employed forfeiting the dole as slowly I acquired customers for PR projects. I never looked for them. They looked for me and I am forever grateful. One of them, Adamo, has now contracted me on a full time basis. It's great to work for a Swedish company again and as it is an internet operator the sector is very familiar. If someone had told me this time last year that I would be self employed and have a new source or sources of income, perhaps I would not have worried so much about losing my job. 2017 was also the year I turned 60, not a good time to be fired, but amazing to be hired too; that's a feather in the cap of a Swedish company for you. I had a great party and many friends came from around the world too. I went to Cuba, to England with Oli to be with Suzy and I also went to Hong Kong with another customer, Genaker, my first customer and to whom I shall always be grateful for setting me on my new path. Miquel thanks!! I spent time with my cousins in France in the summer and attended Marie and Anas' wedding in Switzerland and of course I spent time with my family both at our little pad in Santa Pola and at our house in Montrondo. My family has been there for me through thick and thin and I would not be the happy woman I am without them. Eladio is my rock, my wonderful and very good looking husband and I appreciate every minute I spend with him. I have spent a lot of time too with Olivia, my youngest daughter who, thankfully, lives in Madrid. I am so proud of her in many ways. This year she started working with "Madrileños por el Mundo" and is enjoying her job enormously. We see her a lot. She keeps me young and makes up for Suzy not being here. Suzy, our darling older daughter has her ups and downs in London, never an easy place to work and be single. She spent a month with us in the autumn which was a luxury. She now has plans to move to Bali. So who knows, we may well go out to see her hahahaha. I wish all the very best for my adored family, my Father who I hope continues to be as well looked after as possible, my husband Eladio who I hope stays by my side for as long as life lets him and I wish the best for my darling daughters. Secretly and above all, I would be very grateful for a wedding and a grandchild. Maybe 2018 will bring me them if I am as good as I was this year. 

All that remains for me now is to wish you all a great 2018. You will hear from me next year, next Sunday hahahaha.

Cheers till then, Masha

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