Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Oscars and my film of the week, death in London, Oli in Mexico, living without central heating and hot water, international women’s day and other stories.

Sunday 11th March, 2018

Olivia, our TV reporter and  younger daughter in her element in Mexico this week. Here at the Chipinque Ecological Park near Monterrey with "coatis" a local  type of raccoon which seem very friendly.
Good morning everyone.

It has been a very frustrating week due to the lack of hot water and central heating from Monday to Thursday because of the difficulty of  installing the new boiler we bought about 2 months ago. Eladio commented he could well live without central heating. Well, I can't. But one thing I have learned this week is to sympathise with those who cannot afford heating and have to live without it. I'll come to that story later. 

Last Sunday was the only day of the week it was sunny. The rest of the time the rain and bad weather continued and I'm rather fed up with it. This is so unusual in Spain. Now we hear it is about to get worse as we brace for a new storm dubbed "Felix". So we made the most of the sun that day and enjoyed our walk although it was wet and muddy on the path.

I came back to make homemade pizza which we all wolfed down. After our siesta we watched a film on Amazon Prime called Lion. It's based on the true story of a 5 year old Indian boy who gets lost and ends up being adopted in Australia and how 25 years later he makes the journey back to find his birth family. Coincidentally it was the Oscar awards that night and Lion was nominated for awards in 2016 so I was 2 years late in watching it. But wow was it worth it. It certainly has been my film of the week.  
My film of the week
The little boy who plays the missing Saroo, Sunny Pawar, was an instant hit at the awards. The film also starred Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire as the older Saroo Brierley. The only bad thing about the film is that it was produced by Weinstein, now associated with sexual abuse of actresses.  If you haven't seen the film, I highly recommend it. Here is the trailer by the way. I cried throughout but was relieved to know there would be a happy ending. 

The film is based on the book, A Long Way Home by Saroo which, after watching the film and drying my eyes, I immediately downloaded on my kindle. 
The amazing story of the lost Indian boy who 25 years later eventually finds his way home. 
Oli is a great film fan too and this week in Mexico she went to see quite a few that were up for Oscars in the evenings after filming. That was because her hotel was directly connected to a cinema. But what a cinema. It was a deluxe one, nothing like the ones we see here in Spain or even in Europe I guess. In the photo below she is about to watch Lady Bird. Oli was happy too that, unlike in Spain, foreign films in Mexico are not dubbed. I totally agree with her as I hate watching English language films dubbed into Spanish but I do not have much choice as my husband has to watch them dubbed. Thus I miss out on the original actors' voices which are an essential element of any film 
Oli at a deluxe cinema near her hotel in San Pablo (Monterrey)
She has been really enjoying filming herself in Mexico and that day saw her in a town called Santiago with one of her "madrileños". With them are a band of "norteños" which, she pointed out, are not to be confused with "mariachis". Well they look very similar. I well remember seeing, talking and listening to mariachis on my first visit to Mexico. It was with my Mother in about 1978 to visit my brother George who was spending his University year there and living in Jalapa near Veracruz. 

They played for me who, aged just 20 or so must have seemed very attractive to them with my long blonde hair. We kept asking them to sing "la malagueña" a song we loved. I also remember some of them boasting about how many children they had. One of them told us he had more than 20 but didn't know all their names.  In those days the more children you had the more "macho" you were. However, many of these children could not be fed and ended up on the streets. I also remember my Mother inviting a little boy from the beach who was drugged up on sniffing glue, to have breakfast at our hotel. I do hope things have changed now in that wonderful country which is so beleaguered by violence. I suspect that the #MeToo campaign will take a while to arrive there. 
Oli in Santaigo with one of her madrileños, his family and a local "banda norteña" last Sunday
In the evening we watched an interview with Alberto Núñez Feijoo, the President of the Galicia in the north west of Spain and who may well be Mariano Rajoy's successor. The interview was conducted by Jordi Evolé, one of the few journalists in Spain capable of cornering politicians on screen, much like in the UK. For me it felt like Feijoo was walking in a minefield avoiding the mines. He didn't do a bad job of it but must have sweated afterwards hahaha. What followed was a debate with top women politicians about the first feminist strike ever in Spain to take place on 8th March, International Women's Day. I felt solidarity and don't understand why the strike and demonstrations were not backed by the ruling PP party or Ciudadanos. I think they made a mistake and their attitude won't help them get votes in any future elections. This week too was the week the pensioners in Spain held demonstrations all over the country and well they should do as most earn a pittance, some 600 euros a month. Their pension had been increased by 0.25% which is an insult. It's a big issue in Spain and if Mariano Rajoy continues to say their pensions cannot be increased while there is high unemployment, he will lose votes too. If the money can't come from workers' taxes I can think of all sorts of places it can come from starting with life salaries for ex Prime Ministers and ministers. Yes, they continue to receive a full salary of more than 4 or 5000 euros per month after leaving their posts.  I always wonder how they would survive on 600 euros like the pensioners. They should try it and then surely they would change their tune. 

I woke up on Monday to the results of this year's Oscars. I was happy to see that yet another Mexican director, Guillermo del Toro, had won best Director and best Film awards for "The shape of Water".  I'm sure Trump wasn't happy to know that Mexican directors have won four out of the past five years at the Oscars. The full list of winners is here for the record.  I won't be watching The shape of water as I am not into fantasy in any film or TV series. I think the film I most want to watch from those that won awards is "Darkest Hour" for which Gary Oldman won best actor portraying my great idol, Winston Churchill. WW2 has a great hold on me as you probably well know.  

But the news of the day for me on Monday was the arrival of the plumbers who were to install the new boiler. Eladio had been searching for plumbers for more than a month. They switched off the heating at midday and we would be without it and without hot water until Thursday. That was not nice. We had hoped all would be working on Monday but it took them 2 days to install the boiler and when they had finished on Tuesday evening, they were not able to put it in motion. Thus we had to wait for the official technician from "Junkers" who wouldn't come until Thursday morning. It was a long wait and the house got colder and colder. 

I had to carry on with life though and decided to make bread that morning. At least that would warm up the kitchen hahaha. And here are the loaves I made, once again with multi cereal flours and lots of nuts and seeds.
The bread loaves I made on Monday
It rained again all day but I managed a walk with Pippa around the neighbourhood rather than in the muddy fields. It was on Monday that we heard the news of a Spaniard, Marcos Cervera, a young man who died in his hotel in London, the Mayflower in Kensington from carbon monoxide in his room. His friend, Esteban García, survived but is fighting for his life at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital. What a terrible story we thought but then when Oli told us she knew him the story hit us harder. It's amazing but they were colleagues at RTVE (Spanish state TV) where she began her career. 
Marcos Cervera, Oli's ex RTVE colleague who died in a hotel in London on Monday from carbon monoxide. So sad
In fact her very first TV report in her reporter career was with Marcos. They are the same age and probably both started their careers at the same time. Olivia was deeply shocked. But how can something like this happen in a London hotel I ask myself? This, by the way, was her first report when Marcos was her first cameraman. RIP Marcos.  

We got through our first night without central heating ok as the temperature only dropped 2 degrees or so from the standard 21.5 to 19. From then on it went down slowly until we reached 16ºc which for me was COLD. 

The plumbers were back on Tuesday morning. As I couldn't have a shower I washed myself the best I could using our kettle hahaha. It was another cold and wet day and that morning I did the food shopping alone which is a huge task. However I wasn't having lunch at home as I had a date with my friend Fátima who wasn't able to make it the week before when she had forgotten to come to the birthday lunch with Julio and I. Thankfully she remembered on Tuesday and came to pick me up. We went somewhere new, Pasiones Argentinas which probably doesn't need a translation into English. Fátima gave me the belated birthday present from Julio and her and here I am happy to receive it. Thanks guys, loved the scarf especially.
Lunch on Tuesday with Fátima receiving my belated birthday presents
We shared a first course of grilled vegetables which was delicious if too large to finish and a bit too smothered in olive oil. Here is my dearest Spanish friend showing it to the camera.
Fátima at Pasiones Argentinas on Tuesday
She took me home to a cold house. That evening Oli's programme on Manchester was to be broadcast on Telemadrid. 
Oli presenting the programme in Manchester
It meant more to us than her other destinations because we had been with her in Manchester. We also had a walk on part, Suzy and I that is, hahaha, at the end. We had to watch it in the TV lounge, one of the coldest rooms in the house and even colder that night of course. For the occasion I wore my thick tartan 10 euro Primark pyjamas and then I wore a dressing gown and on top of that a blanket!!  Here I am in the blessed pyjamas.
In my warm pyjamas
Eladio was torn between Oli's programme which you can watch here by the way, and the Champions match between Real Madrid and PSG. It was the second leg of the last 16. I was pleased to hear they won but was not torn at all. I far preferred to watch Oli in Manchester. Both Suzy and I were tickled pink to see ourselves in the programme at the end clapping at a Spaniard playing a song in the street. Here we are hahaha. 
Suzy and I during our walk on part in Oli's programme
Wednesday came and fed up of not being able to have a hot shower, I drove to Fátima's house - she lives in the neighbourhood - to use one of hers. She came to the rescue more than once this week. 

I came home to find the electricity had gone. There's not much you can do with no electricity. It seemed like everything was breaking down. Even so I soldiered on and that morning worked on a press release for Adamo to announce better mobile tariffs. At least it kept me busy and it was nice news as most operators increase prices and never decrease them. 

It was on Wednesday that Oli sent us the photo of her with the raccoons, the one illustrating this week's post. She was staying in San Pedro and filming there that day and told us it is the richest town and hopefully the safest too, in Latin America. She even met the mayor and told us he was a drug lord and that his house was more like a museum with all the incredibly expensive objects he had. He even has the original sword King Carlos V gave to Hernán Cortés as well as a skeleton dinosaur, a tyrannosaurus rex, one of the only two that exist in the world! Rich is stinking rich in Mexico, like nothing she had seen before. When I spoke to her yesterday just before she left, she told me that she had not felt in danger although she took all the necessary precautions. I'm happy she is coming home unscathed and has had a great time in Mexico. 

Thursday dawned. 8th March was international women's day and there were women's strikes all over Spain that day, the first ever, as well as many demonstrations in all the big towns. They were fighting for equality, equal pay and of course the end of domestic violence which is such a issue in today's world. It is everywhere even in Scandinavia where women have more rights than anywhere else.  The main motto was if women stop working half the world stops and they are right. I meant to go to the demonstration but it was in the evening and would be dark and raining. My heart was there but not my body. My main argument is that I hate crowds and I do. So no I didn't go but I totally supported my fellow women's protests that day. 
Women's demonstration in Madrid on Wednesday
So why do I support them? What are my feelings on inequality? To tell the truth, as a woman I have been mainly lucky in life. In my personal life I have always felt equal but at work not so much. As I once told you, I have been harassed at work by men on many occasions and often felt the odd one out in the corporate world. Many times I was the only woman in a room or meeting and I know for certain I was paid less and given worse benefits then meale colleagues. Also I am absolutely sure I never got higher on the career ladder precisely because I am a woman. I had to ask to become a member of the management team at Yoigo when I was the only person reporting to the CEO who was not on it. I won the battle but it was very unfair. At my first management team I was welcomed because I was "good looking"!  But compared to many other women I have had it quite easy.  Perhaps what I find most difficult to accept is that women are in constant danger from men when doing something so simple as walking in the street. That happens to us all . Sadly I think that will always be so. However, if I want to be positive, I have to say that the 8th March in Spain was hopefully the beginning of a new chapter for women in this country as the issue of inequality and domestic violence and equal pay are now subjects politicians will have to face and resolve seriously. Time will tell. 

While women were striking in Spain, I wasn't. As I am self employed I couldn't and actually didn't want to, so that day I sent out the press release I had written and prepared the day before. New tariffs or tweaks in tariffs don't usually get much coverage so I was happy with the 12 or so articles that were published. 

The plumber and technical service arrived later than they said and just as they came the electricity went again. It seemed like Murphy's law. Our lovely neighbour, Julio, came to the rescue meanwhile. When the electricity went I decided to go out in my car to have a coffee somewhere but believe it or  not I couldn't as the gate wouldn't open. I felt trapped and cross. That was when my friend Fátima came to the rescue and came for me in her car and we went for a coffee together. Thanks dear friend. She took me home at about 13h ish and my oh my was I glad to see that the light had come back but above all the central heating was working and we would have warm radiators and hot water again. It was back to civilisation. Hurray. What a nightmare it has been but now it is over. This by the way is the machine in question, the boiler which is apparently quite some boiler hahaha. 
The new boiler is up and working
Friday came and the big news was that Kim Jong Un has invited Donald Trump for talks and that during the talks he will stop his nuclear testing. When I posted the news on social media, a friend commented it would be a clash of hairstyles.  Yes it will hahaha that is if the talks really happen. I wonder where they will take place. 
Clash of hair cuts!
It was great to have a hot shower on Friday morning. You only appreciate heating, electricity, water etc when you are without them. After the shower I had a long chat with Suzy on the phone. I was happy to hear she was in good spirits. I can't wait for her to come for her birthday at the end of April. Love you darling.

That morning Eladio and I went on errands in Boadilla. That is not the town we live in but we live near it and it is where our old house was so we feel much at home there. After going to the bank I wandered into the old food market where we used to do our shopping many years ago when there were no hypermarkets nearby. I thought it had closed down but it hadn't. It's still going quite strong although there are far fewer stalls than before.
The food market in Boadilla
I came across a great butcher stall as well as a fishmonger and bought meat and fish at both. It felt like old times and I shall be going back again for sure. We then went to have a coffee at Alverán, my favourite cafeteria in the area before it was time to head home. Being the busy bee I am, I had made lunch  -  bean stew - early in the morning so all I had to do was to heat it up. It's a delicious soup for cold weather.
Homemade bean, meat and vegetable stew for lunch on Friday
I had a chat with both girls that day. This is news my friends as we hardly ever talk on the phone. Oli called me from Mexico 6 hours before leaving Monterrey for Mexico City. She was in good spirits too but had a hell of a journey ahead of her. We would not see her until after she landed yesterday, Saturday, at midday. 

It rained all day on Friday so we didn't go for  a walk. Instead, in the evening, we went to the cinema. That is news too as we hardly ever go. However, I have felt rather cooped up at home and needed to get out.  We went to see a new Spanish film called "Loving Pablo" (Escobar) produced by and starring the Spanish actors who are a married couple, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. I wondered how it would compare to Narcos which we had seen on Netflix and actually it was even more violent. There were three scenes when I had to hide my head on Eladio's shoulders and even cover my ears. 
The film we went to see on Friday night
The film is based on a book (a true story) written by Escobar's ex mistress, Virginia Vallejo, a beautiful Colombian TV news presenter who fell in love with the Colombian drug lord.  You can see the trailer here.  I have to say that Javier Bardem does a great portrayal of Escobar. He had to put on weight to play the part and also put on a Colombian accent. Penelope Cruz, apparently, hated him in the part and has no doubt put him on a diet afterwards.

We didn't diet afterwards hahaha. Rather we went to have dinner at Ginos to celebrate the week and our marriage as we often do on Friday nights. 

Saturday came and as usual I was up shortly after 6. While drinking my first cup of coffee of the day I watched and listened to the official video clip of the song "Tu canción", Spain's entry into this year's Eurovision Song Contest. Yes it's cheesy, probably won't win but I love it. The singers are two love birds who met at the talent show Operación Triunfo, Amaia and Alfred and they are so sweet, talented and positive the whole of Spain loves them. I actually think I preferred the first version when they both played the piano but apparently they aren't allowed to at the contest. 
Amaia and Alfred singing "Tu canción".
While Olivia was flying back from Mexico City, I spent the morning preparing lunch and at Ikea and Carrefour with Eladio. It was raining cats and dogs yesterday which has been the norm for the last 2 or 3 weeks and I have had enough. So yesterday we decided to go to our flat by the beach near Alicante today as the Costa Blanca seems to be one of the only sunny places in Spain at the moment. We went to Ikea to get some stuff we need for the flat and to Carrefour to buy a portable radiator for the nights. We have a gas stove there but prefer not to use it at night. 

We were home just before lunch and as I was making the final touches to our meal, my darling daughter Oli arrived together with her boyfriend who I consider my son-in-law, Miguel.  She was super tired but delighted to be home. Lunch was full house and I made fish and chips for the occasion, always a favourite with Oli. 

It rained so much in the afternoon we couldn't go for our walk again. Hopefully we will get lots of walks in Santa Pola. Thus, while Oli slept part of her jetlag off, we watched more of our new series, the spy story by John Le Carré called The Night Manager. Later I made more bread, mostly to take to our flat by the beach and Eladio started the mammoth job of clearing out the garage and garage annexes which is mostly full of Oli's stuff. She is a real magpie and hates to throw things away. Well Saturday saw both my daughter and husband throwing many things away. Oli was rather remorseful afterwards when she told me she had thrown away her whole "university career", i.e. all her notes from when she studied. I know the feeling from when I did the same job. Well, you can't keep stuff forever.

 At about 8 pm I got a sudden Airbnb reservation, an Argentinian car racer who described himself as a "sportsman" had made an instant booking and would be with us in 20 minutes. Thank goodness the rooms were ready. So much for my telling Oli there would be no guests this weekend hahaha. Estéban is a lovely boy and very good looking too I should add. When I showed him into his room and gave him the basics, he said he had read my reviews and that I was as kind and accommodating as they said. That was so nice. 

Oli and Miguel went out to celebrate Copi's birthday, the girls' friend from childhood while Eladio and I had a simple dinner before retiring to bed. We watched more of The Night Manager until we fell asleep at about midnight.

Today is Sunday and I was up at 5.45 when I heard my Father's alarm go off. I couldn't sleep after that so got up to get on with the day. I have much to do before we leave for Santa Pola and I just can't wait to get to the sun. There is no rain forecast there and it seems the sun will be shining every day and the maximum temperature will be in the low 20's. That's fine for me.

So my friends, as I often say, I will love you and leave you now. Until next Sunday, have a great week,

Cheers Masha

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