Sunday, April 08, 2018

Back from Santa Pola, Queen Sofia and Queen Letizia a controversial video, goodbye to glasses, elephants on the loose in Spain, event in Toledo and other stories.

Sunday 8th April 2018
Happy without glasses and in yellow
Good morning everyone.

We are well into April and spring is here although the rain continues off and on in Spain and I really can't wait for the warmer weather to come. 

We had to leave the warm weather of the south east coast (Costa Blanca) last Sunday to return home as on Monday I was due for my next eye operation.  Last Sunday was Easter Day but being on 1st April it was also All Fools' Day. It was a strange coincidence and I don't remember it happening before. Luckily no joke was pulled on us although it would not be a good day for the current Queen of Spain Letizia and her mother-in-law Queen Sofia the ex Queen of Spain as we would see later. 

After packing and cleaning up, we were ready to leave at around 12.  We had had a lovely time in Santa Pola and if the weather continues to be bad here and good there, no doubt we shall return and soon. We were worried about the Easter traffic and it was a bit thick for the first 100 km or so but after lunch it improved as the police opened another lane. We had lunch as nearly always at Mesón Los Rosales which was as full as I have ever seen it. 

While we were driving, the Spanish royal family were in Palma de Mallorca for the traditional Easter Mass. Both the reigning King and Queen and their daughters were there as were their parents and parents-in-law. In Spain, we all know the King loves his parents but that Letizia and the ex King Juan Carlos, both with strong personalities, have never hit it off. As to her Mother-in-law, Queen Sofia, who now lives in London and separate from her unfaithful husband and who only comes here for important royal engagements, well apparently they don't get on either. Queen Letizia is well known for being a sort of tiger mother and makes access to her children difficult for her in-laws, not so her own family. So that day just after the mass and in the cathedral, their grandmother Queen Sofia was obviously delighted to see her granddaughters the "infantas" Sofia and wanted a photo with them. But Letizia was hell bent on stopping it happening as you can see in the video below. While trying to stop the photo being taken, the young King comes up to try and calm down the situation while the older King Juan Carlos looks on in aghast as you can read here. Apparently the older King whispered to his daughter-in-law that if she didn't want photos taken of her daughters she shouldn't have married the prince! 
A very tense moment for the Spanish royal family and all of it caught on camara
Later they all went outside and once again the infantas' grandmother tried to have another photo taken and once again Queen Letizia spoiled the occasion. The whole event was later reported on worldwide. So what we all knew, the bad relations between the current Queen and her in-laws is now out in the open. The ex Queen's niece, Princess Marie Chantal, took to twitter to complain of the bad behaviour of Letizia and to defend her Aunt, saying that no grandmother should be treated like that. In Spain it is an ongoing saga and no doubt the ex TV reporter Queen is not liking what she sees in the media. If she doesn't like it, then she should have known better and been more careful in front of the cameras. Meanwhile, I feel rather sorry for the King who adores his mother and is caught in the middle. 

Meanwhile we continued our journey. On the road back, somewhere in Albacete, when we stopped to fill the tank I spotted one of the famous "Osborne" bulls dotted around the country. They were put there years ago to advertise Osborne brandy. There was a move to get rid of them but somehow they had become quite iconic so they were allowed to stay as long as they were unbranded. I love seeing them.  In a way, the bull is a symbol of Spain whether you like it or not. I am against bull fighting but I must say I like this magnificent animal. This is the one I spotted on our journey back from Alicante last Sunday.
One of the many "Osborne" bulls to be seen around Spain
Little did I know that the next day there would be real live elephants on that same road. 

Sunday being Easter day, I had bought a Cadbury's cream egg for the drive back which I enjoyed immensely after lunch in the car. Eladio doesn't like them so I gave him some dark chocolate which he adores. During the drive back I decided it was time to go back to a strict diet to work off any extra weight I had put on after eating whatever I wanted during our stay in Santa Pola. And I have been good all week and now some of my trousers are feeling looser hahaha. 

We were home by mid afternoon and it was then that I was able to give my Father his Easter egg which was actually a large chocolate hen. He was delighted as he is a chocolate freak. I must have inherited my love of chocolate from him. 

Monday came and I was to have my second eye operation at 10.15. They would be removing the beginnings of cataracts and implanting another trifocal intraocular lens. My right eye seemed nearly recovered and vision was getting great but I was still wearing glasses for my left eye. They looked funny with one lens missing. Soon, I would be saying goodbye to them forever.  While Eladio waited my operation began. I loved the sedation part, the whoozy and calm feeling and I wish someone would come and sedate me every  night so as to sleep better hahaha. I came out with my left eye closed and would have to keep it so for the first 3 hours. Once home and when it was time to open them, of course the vision was blurred. I was to be putting all sorts of drops in it and in the the right eye for about a month. There and then with my newly operated eye, I said goodbye to my glasses forever. It was a funny feeling. This is the new me without glasses. I can now see all the defects and wrinkles but I can see so much better which is what the operations were all about. And here I am without them.
First photo of me without glasses
I had been wearing glasses since I was 39 so nearly 20 years wearing them. I still lift my hand to adjust them and then realise they are not there haha.

That day I had to rest at home and I slept a bit but I did go out for a walk with Eladio and the dogs, wearing his sun glasses. I realised then that I had to get some new ones as mine are prescription and no longer of any use. How lovely to be able to choose any sunglasses I fancy.

While I was having my operation, the most incredible thing happened on a road near Albacete, near where we had passed the day before coming home from Santa Pola.  Yes, Monday was the day elephants became loose after the circus lorry carrying them had an accident. It was the most extraordinary sight and very sad too. I think there were 3 elephants. Well one died and the other 2 were injured but have since recovered. 
The injured elephants on the loose after a road accident on Monday near Albacete
The story was so extraordinary and bizarre it went quite viral. I personally felt very sorry for the large and lovely animals and think they should not be used at circuses or  carried in lorries. They should be free and in the wild and not loose on a road in Spain for all to see. They must have felt so bewildered and alarmed not to mention injured and in pain.

Tuesday dawned and I had to go the hospital again for a check up on my eyes after Monday's operation. I was ecstatic to hear that my right eye now had full sight. Of course I couldn't see much with my left eye but it's improving daily. Recovering my sight, albeit artificially, makes a huge improvement in my life. 

On Wednesday, Eladio and I did the weekly shopping after I had done some work. By Wednesday I cold use my PC without glasses (whoopee). I was putting the final touches to the organisation of an event for Adamo on Friday in Toledo and everything had to go perfectly.

It was on Wednesday that we received our first Airbn guests from Kazakhstan, Violetta and Constantin, who live in the south of Spain and were coming to this area to find a school for their children.  They arrived in the evening and we ended up having dinner with them. They spoke Russian to each other and told us they had left Kazakhstan because it was becoming more and more radically Muslim and they wanted a less confined culture for their offspring. They were thinking of going to live in Barcelona, their first choice, but have changed to Madrid to live near here, after all the political troubles in Catalunya which you all know about. There I was listening to a first hand experience of people from abroad not wanting to live in Barcelona. I was a little sad. 

While we were chatting to our lovely guests, an important football match was being played, Real Madrid were playing Juventus in Turin in the first leg of the Champions League quarter final. RM beat the Italians 3-0 but the big story coming out of the match was Cristiano Ronaldo's amazing goal. The BBC called it a bicycle kick. All I know is that to score it he turned himself into an acrobat. In Spain they are calling it "la chilena" but I don't know why. In any case it is good to see RM on form. Later in the week Barcelona thrashed the other Italian team remaining in the championship, Rome and I can now well imagine an all Spanish final except that it will be Madrid against Barcelona with all that that means politically and emotionally in Spain. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's amazing goal. 
Later Ronaldo, the 33 year old Portuguese striker,  would admit it was the best goal of his career. 

Thursday was a quiet day. I did some work, went for a walk in the sun with Eladio's sunglasses in the afternoon and later that night received our next set of Airbnb guests. Celine and her fellow French students who would be coming for their 4th stay. They are attending a course or master of some sort in believe it or not, hearing aids. They left today and asked to come again in May. It's always a delight to host them. 

And Friday came and it was my big day, the day of the event I was putting on in Toledo for Adamo, my main customer.  The event was a launch meeting with mayors (alcaldes) from the province of Toledo where Adamo is rolling out their  fast optic fiber network to reach rural areas and above all villages where they only have ADSL (slow broadband). Adamo's strategy is to roll out in rural areas where there is no fiber and thus bring fast internet to people who need it for everything in life these days. We chose to hold the event at the Hotel Cigarral Bosque which commands beautiful views of Toledo, that most lovely of cities in Spain, a medieval city where the 3 cultures meet, judaism, muslim and christianity and which was once the capital of Spain. I have always loved Toledo.
The view of Toledo from the hotel
I was there early by about 9.30 and it wasn't starting until 12. However, Gloria and Raquel from my events agency soon arrived and started setting everything up. We had chosen orange balloons to decorate the room and soon it was looking lovely. 
Guests at the event on Friday
And here I am by the reception desk with our lovely event kit which we would give out afterwards. I was wearing make up for the first time since my operation but had been advised by my doctor not to put on mascara or eye liner. I must say I felt great with makeup and no glasses. It was a good feeling. 
At the event on Friday
Once everyone was there, I took them outside for a group photo with the backdrop of Toledo. When they left we would give them a printed copy of the photo to remember the event. And here we are, all together.
Group photo in Toledo
As usual I was the MC and had written and rehearsed my introductory speech over a cup of coffee in the bar before. Thankfully I didn't make a mistake with any of the names or job titles this time.
Welcoming everyone.
For the occasion I was wearing a Massimo Dutti outfit but you can only see the cream coloured coat, not the dress underneath, as it was quite a cool day. After the presentations we had a networking cocktail all together and by about 2 pm everything was over. I went back by car with Gloria and Raquel and this time we really hit the traffic and it took us about 2 hours to drive back to Madrid when it had only taken half an hour to get to Toledo in the morning.

I was home by 5 pm or so and it was raining so hard we had to skip on our walk. Instead we watched the final episode of El Principe which left me crying my eyes out. I hate bad endings. We are now missing the characters in the series enormously and have yet to find a good replacement.  

If last week I wrote that Puigdemont had been imprisoned in Germany, this week I have to tell you that on Friday he was released on bale. The German judge who has to decide on his extradition to Spain thinks that the crime of "rebellion" has no counterpart in German law. This makes no sense for me. If we are in the EU, I think that each country should trust the judicial system of all the others and return criminals for trial in their own country. So now he is out and about again and the soap opera continues.  

Saturday came and it was Oli's boyfriend, Miguel's birthday. He feels more like a son than a son-in-law as we are very fond of him. We had breakfast together and here is the birthday boy with Pippa in his arms. She loves him as does Elsa our lab.
Miguel, the birthday boy, with Pippa at breakfast yesterday
I went shopping with Oli and Miguel after breakfast. He had to change some of the clothes Oli had bought him for his birthday. My mission was to buy new non prescription sun glasses and I needed them to advise me. And here I am trying on the ones I finally bought, Raybans by the way.
Trying on new sunglasses
With the Raybans, came 2 free pairs of non branded glasses to choose from and here Miguel and Oli helped me again. And here you have me with all three pairs. The pink ones are a little outrageous but apparently much in fashion hahaha.
With my new sunglasses
While at Gran Plaza shopping centre in Majadahonda, I couldn't resist some clothes I saw at H&M. Sometimes I got into H&M and don't see anything I like and other times I like lots of things. Well yesterday I fell in love with this yellow hoodie, the one I am wearing in the main photo above.
My new yellow hoodie from H&M
I can see myself wearing it on my walks and at Santa Pola or Montrondo. I also fell in love with this striped woman's rugby shirt. I am such a sucker for stripes. This is it and I shall be wearing it today.
My new rugby shirt from H&M
Oli and Miguel had lunch with his parents yesterday to celebrate his birthday and I had lunch at home with Eladio. It rained most of the day but at about 5.30 pm it stopped and we were able to go on our walk.

And today is Sunday, Easter Day for the Russian Orthodox. I can imagine how full the lovely Russian church we saw in Altea last week will be today. So Xhristov Vaskresi (Christ has risen) to all you Orthodox believers. 

Today is a sunny day, one of few, and Oli and Miguel will be here for lunch. I love family lunches. I shall be making "cocido madrileño" and as I am running late, I should leave you now, publish this and print a copy for my Father.

Hoping you all have a good week ahead, cheers till next time,

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