Sunday, May 27, 2018

Suzy left London, Oli’s birthday and all the family together again, Suzy on TV, we are the champions and other stories.

Sunday 27th May 2018
The family all together for Oli's birthday on Tuesday - the birthday lunch.
Good morning everyone.

How are you all feeling? I hope well. Here I am once again writing my blog on a Sunday morning. It's early in the morning and everyone is sleeping including my 6 Airbnb guests. Gosh the house was full last night.

The house has been full since Suzy came on Tuesday when she finally left London after 5 years there. We will have the pleasure of her company until she leaves yet again. 7th June is the beginning of a new chapter in her life when she will be off to Bali for her next adventure. Meanwhile we are enjoying every minute of having her here. It's wonderful to have the family all together again.

Last Sunday, it was just us, my Father, Eladio, Zena and myself. I made lamb curry for lunch, one of our favourite meals. I do so enjoy cooking when I have time on my hands. It's so creative and relaxing.
My lamb curry 
While we were having lunch and for part of the afternoon, Spain's tennis champion, Rafa Nadal was playing the final of the Rome Masters. He won the first set, lost the second but came back to win the third beating Alexander Zverev 6-1 1-6 6-3. Both of them are clay-court players but Nadal is the king of  clay, there is no doubt. It was his 8th Italian Open title and with that win he regains the number spot in the world rankings. As I always say, Spain could have no better ambassador than Rafa Nadal. 
Nadal won the Italian Open last Sunday
Oli who was travelling back from Croatia on Sunday would have been happy to hear of his victory. She had been away for 9 days and returned to her flat into the arms of her adored partner, Miguel to rest after intensive filming in that exotic country. We wouldn't see her until the next day for dinner, the night before her birthday.

Monday saw me busy with preparations for her birthday. I made "salmorejo" (thick gazpacho from Córdoba), potato salad and of course her cake, a victoria sponge cake. The sponge came out a treat.
The sponge for Oli's birthday cake
While cooking I was happy to hear of another Spanish sport victory. Real Madrid are great at football but they are also great at basketball, perhaps Spain's number two sport. That day they won the European Cup known as the Final Four against the Turkish team Fenerbahçe. It was their 10th Cup. Real Madrid is my team so I was happy for their basketball squad. Quite an achievement.
Real Madrid basketball team celebrating their 10th European cup this week
In between cooking I picked beautiful flowers from the garden to place around the house. We have lovely roses and my favourites are our "black roses". This just has to be the most beautiful rose in the garden don't you think?
The most beautiful rose in our garden, this black velvety rose. 
Monday was a very warm day and on our walk it was more than balmy. We came home to find Oli and Miguel had arrived. It was great to see them and we enjoyed a magnificent dinner together on the terrace that night. I ate chocolates and drank wine, the perfect combination to give me a headache but for once it only gave me a small one. It was worth it then. 

Tuesday came and it wasn't any ordinary Tuesday. It was Oli's birthday and Suzy was arriving at midday. 33 years ago that day I had given birth to my second daughter. God knows how I was looking physically but in my mind I was feeling ecstatic. We had just formed our family and the 2 sisters met for the first time. Here we are the 4 of us together just after Oli was born. It was such an amazing moment, one I will never forget, the moment we became a family of four, a family that is so united and blessed by love.  I was 28 years old when my second daughter was born and I just wonder how time has fliown. But what a wonderful time it has been. 
33 years ago the moment the two sisters met and our family of 4 was created.
There is nothing I like better than the 4 of us being together and that doesn't happen often so when it does I treasure every moment. 

At breakfast the family was not complete as Suzy was flying the skies. However, we continued the family tradition and had a special breakfast all together. As I'm sure you know, the birthdays in our house are not complete without 3 special meals, including breakfast, the presents, a birthday card and a cake. These were Oli's presents. She got more from Miguel and was a lucky girl to get so many. 
Some of Oli's birthday presents
Churros are always Oli's choice for breakfast birthdays and here she is tucking in, sitting next to Miguel and of course Elsa just had to get in the picture didn't she hahaha?
Oli's birthday breakfast - chocolate con churros
Soon we had to leave to go and pick up Suzy from the airport. She hadn't slept much as the night before she held her final leaving party with her closest friends and had to get up at 4 in the morning to start her long journey home.  I think she is a little sad to leave her life in London behind and maybe after Bali she will return there. I wish she would return here but the job opportunities are just not the same. There she was standing in the sun with her 2 suitcases, having given away most of her stuff to friends in London, waiting for us when we arrived. We melted into hugs and smiles and soon we whisked her away in the car to go home, her family home to continue Oli's birthday celebrations. 

She was there with us finally and we all had a beautiful family lunch together; my salmorejo, then fish fried in beer batter accompanied by potato salad. The photo illustrating this week's blog is of the four of us with my Father, courtesy of our in house photographer Miguel. Ah and here is a selfie to immortalise the moment.
Oli's birthday lunch on Tuesday
Then came what Suzy and I call  "the cake moment", the part of the lunch both of us love best. This is the cake before we tucked in hahaha. It was filled with bilberry jam and whipped cream. I put icing on the top and then decorated it with fresh fruit. It was just yummy.
The birthday cake I made for Oli
Oli's birthday was all about food as birthdays generally are in this house hahaha. Instead of going for a walk in the afternoon, I accompanied the girls and Miguel to the new gourmet supermarket Carrefour Market to buy more provisions, this time for a special birthday dinner. That night Miguel was the chef so I was relieved of my culinary duties which was great for me. He made an amazing asparagus dish on a bed of soft and creamy potato pure and covered in chopped almonds. We washed it all down with a superb Rioja, Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva. 
Oli's birthday dinner
Apart from Oli's birthday, that night we all had something very special to look forward to. Suzy would be appearing in Oli's programme, "Madrileños por el Mundo", as a "madrileña" in London in a special programme about the Royal Wedding. It was great that it was to be broadcast on the night of her sister's birthday and a wonderful way to end the day. 

Suzy was just sublime in the programme, just her, authentic and spontaneous. 
Suzy in a shot from the TV programme she starred in and which was broadcast on Tuesday night
If you haven't already seen it, here is the link to the programme. After the introduction, Suzy comes on first so you don't have to watch it all haha. She starts off in Hyde Park introducing herself and very surprisingly for Eladio and I, telling the reporter about our love story! 

It would have been a great end to a great day if my Father hadn't fallen out of bed that night and bumped his head. We found him bleeding on the floor. It was a very shocking sight. Eladio, ever the calm and collected person he is, took control of the situation and cleaned and bandaged him. Thankfully there was no concussion or breaking of bones but his head looked awful. He fell out of bed trying to get into his wheel chair to go to the bathroom. From that night onward, to avoid any more falling out of bed, he has strict instructions to use the alarm and call us. Also, for further precaution, we put a table against the side of the bed that isn't facing the wall so that now he is thoroughly protected. Poor Daddy I felt so sorry for him. It was not a nice end to the day.  

Wednesday came and it would be another lovely day together.  I was up early of course as the girls slept but soon Oli joined me. We went to wake up Suzy who we found sleeping in her lovely bedroom  - the one I use for Airbng  hahaha. She looked so beautiful in the big double bed with thick cotton sheets. I couldn't resist taking a photo of her which I dubbed "sleeping beauty". That's exactly what she was. Thankfully she liked the photo and I even got permission to post it on Instagram:-)
Suzy, my very own sleeping beauty.
I had lots of work to do that morning. The girls spent time together and Olivia even took the opportunity to thoroughly spring clean her bathroom and bedroom. I could hardly believe my eyes hahaha. We all took a break mid morning for a coffee together outside. Suzy sat next to Norah, her favourite of our three dogs. We all have our favourites. Mine, of course, is Pippa and Oli's is Elsa. I wonder which is Eladio's favourite, although we all love the three of them of course.
Coffee time, Suzy and Norah
Thankfully I didn't have to cook that day as there were plenty of leftovers. While Eladio had his siesta I lay in bed unable to sleep so I turned on the TV and watched a film on Netflix. I chose one I have always loved, "Regarding Henry" with Harrison Ford. As I watched it on my own, for once I was able to see a film in English and not dubbed into Spanish. 

In the afternoon, the girls went off to Oli's flat to prepare dinner for a friend, leaving us alone. We read by the pool, went for our walk where rain threatened. We were home just before it poured it down. Thus dinner was inside that night.  

It was funny to have no girls in the house on Thursday morning. I had lots of work to do that day but I also had to prepare lunch for 6 as the girls would be coming back. Thursday was the day Donald Trump cancelled the upcoming summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. That was huge news. However, as the days have gone by since the announcement, it seems the summit may still take place. That was perhaps the biggest international news this week, apart from the Irish referendum on abortion. In Spain the news was about a former PP (right wing party in government) Minister, Zaplana, being detained for huge embezzlement during his time in power. And then the outcome of one of the biggest corruption cases of the PP party, called "el caso gurtel", happened this week with long prison sentences and a fine for the party. There has been an outcry against Mariano Rajoy's party as well as a call for  a vote of no confidence. Let's see what happens next. 

Life continued as normal for us. The girls came back for lunch but were gone again in the afternoon. A new Airbnb guest arrived later that day, Pedro, a feelance photographer from Murcia. He was to stay two nights and was the perfect guest. When he signed my visitors book he wrote that of all the airbnb houses he had stayed at, ours was the best. That was so nice of him. I think he will be coming back. It rained that night and would continue to rain the whole of the next day.

I woke up to a huge thunderstorm and the electricity went off.  Eladio, of course, came to the rescue. I came to the rescue of poor Pippa who was petrified of the lightening and thunder. She was shaking and I had to hold her in my arms. 

Again I had a lot of work to do that morning. I also had a conference call with my new potential customer to go over the PR plan I had prepared for them. They liked it and will be taking on my services. Isn't that just great? It's for a new mobile operator and I'm so pleased. I'm mostly pleased because I will be working with one of my favourite colleagues from Yoigo. It was a great start to the day. Afterwards I went to do the weekly shopping in the rain and on my own as Eladio stayed behind to help Suzy go through all her stuff which was in huge boxes in the garage. 

It was full house for lunch. The rain didn't stop until late but we managed a walk. The girls spent the afternoon busy cooking for Oli's birhday party which she was organising for her friends as home. I kept out of the way as too many cooks spoil the broth. They had the odd break though and during one of them, Miguel sent me this lovely picture of my two daughters hugging. That is something I have missed in life; having a sister. I love that my two girls love each other. 
My beautiful daughters hugging. 
While the girls were receiving their guests, Eladio and I decided to get out of the way completely so we went out to dinner. We headed to La Txitxarrería where we enjoyed a bottle of cider. I had steak and Eladio had some sort of bean dish. The dessert was wonderful; mandarin sorbet. Wow!

The girls dessert was magnificent. Oli's University friend and Suzy's ex flat mate in London, Ana or Anita, who is an amazing cake maker, made this cake for Oli. Just look. It is a carrot cake covered in fondant icing and made into the shape of a TV with Oli's photo on it. Apparently you can print photos onto sugar paper! It's just wow isn't it?
Oli's amazing birthday cake made by Anita

On Saturday the rain left us and we had a super sunny day. I was busy in the morning preparing for the arrival of 6 guests from Cartagena. They were journalists and technicians from Radio Marca coming to cover a football match in Majadahonda this morning. It was all hands on deck that morning preparing for their arrival. I changed the flowers and made lunch, Eladio mowed the lawn and cleared all the paths and Lucy got the rooms ready. Poor Suzy had to be ousted out of her room and would be spending last night at Oli's place. She never complains. Miguel and Oli disappeared to their flat for lunch to escape my guests. They can't get used to our house being full of them but that's how it is these days as Airbnb is an essential part of our income now. But Suzy joined us for lunch. With no bedroom to go to afterwards as the guys had arrived, we decided to sit or lie in the garden and enjoy quiet time together and to be out of their way. The dogs joined us. It's probably the first time in our 12 years here that I have ever sat in the garden to read. Suzy lay on a towel reading a book about massages - she wants to learn to be  masseur or is it massager (?) during her time in Bali. I sat and read an engrossing book on my kindle, "Nightingale", about two extraordinary women working for the French Resistance during WW2. Soon Eladio joined us and then even Zena, our weekend carer, who brought my dear Father out to the garden in his wheel chair looking a bit battered after his fall. We took lots of pictures to capture the moment. And this was the best one I think.
Yesterday in the garden
 It was an afternoon I shall probably remember always. What a pity Oli wasn't there but if the weather holds we can do it again this afternoon with her. I look forward to that. 

Soon it was time for our walk and this time we didn't get wet. As always I enjoyed the wild flowers and was surprised to see what I thought were white poppies.

We came home to find our guests already in the TV lounge in anticipation of the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool which wasn't starting until 8.45. They were all set with lots of bottles of alcohol in view. We were going to watch it too but on our own on the big screen in our bedroom. We had a very quick dinner and I sent Eladio up to watch the match at 8.45 sharp. 

And what a match it was too. Liverpool were hungry to win but of course Real Madrid had the experience having won 12 cups. I was disappointed to see Gareth Bale on the bench but his time would come later. Early on, Liverpool played better until their Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah, football's new Messi or Ronaldo, went off in tears after injury and a tackle with Sergio Ramos. Twitter fans blamed Ramos but if you see the video Salah touched him first. Shortly afterwards, Carvajal also left in tears from injury too and it will be touch or go as to whether either of them will be able to play in the World Cup. Without Salah, Liverspool was weak and unlike Madrid who have many strikers, their substitute fowards was not in the same league. Then the Reds' keeper made a huge mistake by literally throwing the ball to Benzama who gently shoved it into the post. That was a 1-0 lead. Soon Liverpool scored an equaliser but then on came Bale in place of Isco and a few minutes later her performed magic with an amazing bicycle kick that will go down in history. And then he did it again with a long shot goal which the Liverpool keeper should easily have been able to catch but he didn't and Real Madrid were leading 3-1 with just 20 minutes until the end. Liverpool was out of the match and at 10.30 last night or a few minutes afterwards Real Madrid were crowned Champions of Europe. Spain is truly the king country of football at least in Europe with Barça winning La Liga and Atlético de Madrid winning the Europa Cup. I was happy for Real Madrid who not only have 13 cups but have won the last 3 in a row. All I can say is "Hala Madrid". I'm sorry of course for Liverpool but they had their chance and, who knows, maybe they will win next year. 
Madrid's 13 Champions League Cups
I could hear the cheering from the lounge downstairs and there were even fireworks to be heard in the neighbourhood. Many people would have gone into the city to the famous Cibeles fountain to celebrate and many more today when the team comes home to show off their latest trophy.

Today is Sunday and my Cartagena guests have left. 2 French girls are coming today for a night so the house will be full again. 

I am running late with today's blog post and must go upstairs to put the beans on to make a "fabada" (asturian bean stew) for lunch. I look forward to another family day together. 

God bless you all. I must say I feel blessed.

Cheers till next time

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