Sunday, May 20, 2018

The end of our stay in Montrondo, Oli continues her travels in Croatia, a puppet chief for Catalonia, US Embassy move to Jerusalem provokes massacre, RIP George, the royal wedding and other stories.

Sunday 20th May, 2018
Happy and relaxed this week during our stay in Montrondo
Hi everyone,

This time last Sunday we were still in Montrondo. It was cold and raining but the sun came out for a short while in the morning and we were able to go on our walk. We chose what we now call our secret walk as no one else is ever on it although we did once bump into a forest guard in his 4wd. He confirmed our suspicions that there are bears in the area. We had specifically asked him if there really were, after being told there was less home grown honey to be bought in the area because bears were eating the honey combs!!  So, yes, that morning we continued our walk but returned via the village, Murias, to go and have a pre-lunch drink and hopefully the famous tapas at La Palloza, the only bar in town. It opens at 13h and we were the first to arrive. However, the appetizing tapas only appeared at about 14h, just as we were leaving .The owner or barman is rather surly so there was no getting the good tapas from him although I specifically asked. Here is Eladio enjoying his coffee out that morning.
Eladio at La Palloza last Sunday
And here am I, with all my wrinkles I should add, as i can now see them more clearly after my eye surgery. You may be wondering how my eyes are after all the side affects I have suffered. Thankfully the scratchy feeling has lessened although I still can't see well out of my left eye. I shall be seeing my doctor at the end of this month. Let's see what he says. Oh, yes, here comes me with the wrinkles hahaha.
At La Palloza last Sunday morning
In contrast to the rain in Montrondo, Oli was in sunny Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic. She sent us photos, one of her by the sea and another with people in local costumes. Here they are.
Oli in sunny Dubrovnik last Sunday

Oli meeting the locals in Dubrovnik last Sunday
While Oli was probably filming, Suzy was in bed after a late night out in London. She had celebrated her goodbye party with lots of friends and was up until 8 in the morning out on the tiles. That my Suzy hahaha. 
A photo from Suzy's goodbye party in London last Sunday
This week would be her last week in London after 5 years there. Next week she will be with us until she leaves for her next adventure on 7th June to Bali.

It was such bad weather in Montrondo that we stayed inside for the rest of the day. We binge watched a TV series on Netflix called Safe. Set in the north of England,and a bit like Broadchurch, it involves a missing person and everyone seems to be the suspect until the real culprit is a big surprise at the end. We only stopped for dinner and the news. 

The news was all about the imminent appointment of a new Chief for Catalonia, a man called "Quim (Joaquín) Torra" who is even more radical than the local government before.  He was appointed by his fanatical  secessionist predecessor, Carlos Puigdemont, as his puppet, who we all know fled the country to escape prison. He is now awaiting a judicial decision in German as to his extradition. It's funny how a German judge will decide whether he is guilty or not under German, not Spanish, law. It's also funny how in Germany secessionist parties are not even allowed and there is Puigdemont telling the whole of Europe that Spain is not democratic when Spain allows them.  Puigdemont intends to govern via Torra and the new leader won't even be using Puigdemont's office as he considers himself just a caretaker.   That for me, confirms his puppet status. Torra was duly appointed and sworn in this week and turns out to be not only more radical than Puigdemont but racist and xenophobic to judge from  his twitter feed and many books he has published. He considers all Spaniards "vipers"  and despises Catalans who feel and talk Spanish.  
Quim Torra the new chief of Catalonia. 
He intends to honour the October referendum vote, has called for dialogue with Rajoy but at the same time this week he appointed 4 of his government members who are in prison. It is obvious he wants to continue the conflict, chaos and provocation. Thankfully the Spanish constitutionalist parties will not accept this and home rule shall continue to be withdrawn. The whole Catalan independence issue is a huge problem for the government, not to mention Catalans who feel Spanish and they are the majority. I, personally, am fed up with the issue which only looks to break up Spain, my adopted country, into pieces and I am not having that. 

The news was so depressing we soon switched to our TV series again. 

I woke up on Monday at 7 am, late for me - hurray. The first thing I read on my phone was a glowing review from my German Airbnb guest, Jennifer which I was very thankful for. I woke up to cold and rain again but thankfully it would clear away and the sun would shine in the afternoon. We spent the morning spring cleaning and after about 2 hours, between the two us the house had become immaculately clean again. Oh how I love our new and clean house in the mountains. It is our love nest and refuge in a way and we are always happy there. I did the washing and ironing too as well as the lunch; quite the little housewife I was that morning. It's very relaxing but I wouldn't want to have to spend my whole life on household chores, no not me. 

Meanwhile, Oli continued her travels in Croatia. That morning she travelled from Dubrovnik to Split. I know nothing about it and it only rings a bell from the Balkan war. Here she is in Split. It must have been sunny as she is wearing dark glasses and a cap. 
Oli in Split on Monday
After spring cleaning we had a lazy day which included a siesta. I don't know why but I dreamed I had a baby and wanted to call it either Tatiana or Masha. 

We went on our long and secret walk that afternoon when the sun came out. The path, "el camino valle", was flooded so we decided we would walk back via the village. Eladio took a picture of me with Pippa just as we were about to enter the birch tree forest.
On the secret walk on Monday afternoon
At the end of the path we walked down into Murias stopping at the bridge which must be ancient. It is very pretty.
Eladio by the bridge at the entrance to Murias from our secret walk
Pippa found a friend there, a dog called Jacky which I thought was a girl (sorry can't write the word beginning with "b"). It was actually called "ya que" the owner told me. For once Pippa didn't bark at another dog, just played with the little terrier.
Pippa found a friend in Murias
Entering the main part of Murias, we came across a man planting spring onions, strawberries and lettuces as well as tomatoes and peppers, the latter in a green house. It was Emliio, the brother of Lourdes and originally from Montrondo like Eladio. His wife showed me their hens, some of which lay blue eggs. I have never seen blue eggs but she told me they are smaller and have less cholesterol. What a lovely quiet life they have I thought. 

We went back to our quiet life too, returning to Montrondo in the sun to go home for dinner and to watch the last 3 episodes of our TV series Safe.

While we were enjoying our quiet life, in Jerusalem there was bloodshed. That day, the US relocated their Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to reaffirm that the ancient city is the capital of Israel even though it belongs to Muslims, Christians and Jews. While Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband opened the Embassy, Palestinians protested on the Gaza border. The response from Israel was a massacre of the protesters with 58 killed and thousands injured. The bloodshed took place on the 70th anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel. 
Massacre on the Gaza border
Donald Trump's decision to move the Embassy has only served to provoke more tension between Israel and Palestine. The rest of the western world is not happy with the decision and I am not either.  I have an Israeli friend from my Nokia days who disputes the "bad boy" status of Israel in the eyes of the world, telling me the massacre was the fault of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. She may be right in that they provoked the protests but they wouldn't have happened if the Embassy hadn't been moved and she has to agree that the reaction of Israel was totally disproportionate. Kelly told me to read the Times of Israel to get the real picture and not the CNN or the BBC.  Well I prefer to get my news from unbiased sources not The Times of Israel. 

Tuesday 15th May was "San Isidro" (patron saint of Madrid) and a holiday in the Spanish capital. It was also Eladio's youngest brother's birthday. For me, however, 15th May will always be the day my dear, talented, handsome and troubled brother, George died. He died on 15th May 2001 aged 46. A few years later, in 2008, his dear troubled Serbian wife, Sanya, also died aged 46. They are buried together in a cemetery near Finchley in North London. George went to his grave after melanoma that deadly skin cancer which has no cure. Life is so cruel. Life gave everything to me and very little to George who deserved so much more. He is often in my thoughts but especially so on 15th May. I like to remember him playing the piano in our dining room at home in Bradford at 6 Heaton Grove and me singing to his music. There were some good times. RIP George and Sanya too. You will never be forgotten. 

Tuesday was our last full day in Montrondo and it promised to be sunny. Oli had travelled again in Croatia and was in Zadar that day having flown to Pula, the biggest city of the Peninsula of Istra. Here she is in Zadar in a lovely colourful jumper. I wonder where she got that from.
Oli in Zadar
That night the programme on her last trip which was to Bavaria was to be broadcast but being outside Madrid we couldn't see it. Thankfully I would be able to see it online. Here is the link if you are interested.

We went on yet another walk that morning, this time to Senra and back. It was sunny but with a nip in the air and Montrondo was looking beautiful.
Montrondo, our village
We had a halfway reward for our walking by stopping for a coffee at the only bar in Senra, Cumbres de Omaña, where drinks are also served by a surly bartender. However, we were there for the coffee and a rest sitting on the chairs outside in the sun. 

We would be sitting in the sun again in the afternoon, or rather lying down on a blanket in the grass behind the house, reading. Pippa joined us of course and we enjoyed the quiet time together.
Eladio lying on a blanket in the sun with Pippa behind him 
The back of our village house
Our last day ended with a light dinner and more of the Apaches TV series on Netflix. 

On Wednesday we were up early as were leaving that morning. We had to be back in Madrid mostly because there wouldn't be much food in the house for my Father and Lucy and also because we had a birthday party to go to that night. We left at around 10 am. It was a beautiful sunny day. We stopped just once for a coffee on our 4 hour drive home. At home it was 10 degrees higher than in Montrondo and we felt the warmth. We had lunch with my Father, lentils hurriedly made by dear Lucy, and then spent time settling in. I unpacked and worked a bit and Eladio spent time cleaning the swimming pool and attending to the garden. 

After some quiet time reading on the swimming pool terrace, it was time to get ready to go out to the birthday party with my friend Fátima. It was our common ex Nokia colleague and friend, Julio's birthday and he turned 50 on Tuesday. He had organised a small and private do for his closest friends at a terrace bar in the centre of Madrid at the top of a famous market, "Barceló".  It took place from 8.30 to 10.30pm and was very civilised. The food at the cocktail party was great .The only thing missing was the birthday cake as I reminded my friend Julio hahaha but I don't think he had thought about it. And here we are all together celebrating his 50th.
At Julio's 50th birthday party on Wednesday night in Madrid
I first met Julio at Nokia when I started there in the year 2000. He was so young then, just 31 or 32 and I was in my late 40's. We became friends from the very beginning. He became my main spokesperson at Nokia Networks and we worked very closely together. I consider him my best (male) friend and love him to bits. I am very proud that he has just been appointed Professor at the UNED University. He is so talented and has 3 degrees, one in telecommunications engineering, one in Economics and another in History of Art. He and Eladio respect each other a lot culturally and academically. Eladio, too has 3 degrees, one in Theology, one in Educational Studies and of course in Philosophy. 

We left at just before 11 and on our way home I learned that the Madrid football team, El Atlético de Madrid (Real Madrid's city rival) had beaten Marseille 3-0 in the final of the Europa Cup.  
Atlético de Madrid won the Europa Cup this week
2 of the goals came from the Spanish team's French forward, Antoine Greizmann. He must have had mixed feelings being French and winning for a Spanish team in France, in Lyon. It is rumoured he will be moving to Barça, a pity for the Atléticos I think. It was a high risk match with much more talk about the security leading up to the match, than about football. Apparently the Marseille fans are among the most violent in Europe. I hate the violence football causes. But I was pleased the "colchoneros" - another name for Atlético de Madrid, (colchón means mattress in Spanish and refers to their white and red striped colours) had won. Well done Madrid, the European capital of football. Let's hope Real Madrid do well against Liverpool in the final of the European Champions League on 26th May  in Kiev and that there is no violence. 

Thursday came and much as we love our house in Montrondo, it was super to be home again. That day we would be receiving our French Airbnb guests, 2 girls who are studying a masters degree  in hearing aids at the local University. It was to be at least their 5th stay with us and everything had to look great for their visit. Lucy cleaned the swimming pool terrace without my asking her to. Thankfully she has quit threatening to leave for the moment. Cross your fingers. I picked flowers from the garden including my lovely roses which are beginning to bloom. I was happy to see that while we had been away the mock orange blossom had flowered too. It looks and smells divine.
The mock orange blossom is in flower in the garden now
The horse chestnut trees overlooking the swimming pool are also in flower and I love them. They give us shade by the pool in the hot weather. In Spanish they are called "castaños de la india" and apparently in the US "buckeye tree" but I have always known them as horse chestnut trees. One of them has a pink flower and the other a white flower. The downside is that the dead petals fall into the pool Eladio keeps trying to stay clean.
The horse chestnut trees overlooking the pool.
In between gardening, Eladio joined me to do the much needed food shopping. 

In the afternoon, a lovely Iranian girl, Mela came to see me to return the house keys. She had booked via Airbnb a room for her Father and brother visiting from Iran while we were away. Mela studies dentistry at the local University and told me she refers to herself as Persian and her country as Persia rather than Iran. I asked her why and she replied that she could not accept her country being called an "Islamic state" and that she was proud to be Persian. Iranians or Persians speak Farsi not Arabic and consider themselves different and they are. Mela told me her parents had sent her and her brother to Europe to live and to study to get away from the restrictive life in Iran. Oh I loved this beautiful young girl and was interested to hear her story. I must say Airbnb is bringing people from countries all around the world to our house and many of them are fascinating. 

When she left, Eladio, the dogs and I had a lovely warm walk and were home late at about 8.30. Thus we watched the news on my iPad while having dinner on the terrace. My super iPad plus is a vestige of the good days at Yoigo when I had so many perks, the tablet being just one of them. We were up late again that night glued to the TV watching the final episodes of Apaches on Netflix. We only finished it last night and I must say I got hooked to it and will miss the characters, Miguel, Sastre, Alfredo and Carol. 

On Friday I was as busy as a bee. I went to the hairdresser really early to get rid of my roots and cut my hair a bit. I then drove to the gourmet Carrefour Market to get stuff I can't get at Mercadona. I came home to spend the rest of the morning cooking. I made bread again, as we had run out of mine. 
The bread I made on Friday
I also made pumpkin soup or rather cream of vegetable soup with pumpkin, carrots, courgette and leeks. My Father and Eladio love it. For the main course I made chicken casserole and thoroughly enjoyed cooking in peace that morning.

We had lunch outside but it would rain later. Thankfully it stopped on time for our walk and out came the sun again. That seems to be the norm for the weather this week and pretty typical of spring. Last year was different, it was already hot and dry by now. 

I spent time on the terrace in the afternoon reading quietly. In contrast at that same time, yet another fatal school shooting was happening in the US.  10 were killed and 10 injured by another disturbed young pupil whose problems went unnoticed until Friday. 17 year old Dimitrios Pagourtzis from the Santa Fe High school was arrested and charged with murder after the massacre. Will they ever learn in the US that they need complete gun control despite guns being allowed in their famous Constitution which for me is completely out of date?

While I was reading it rained but not for long. Thus we were able to go for our walk. It's so lovely at this time of year, all green with lots of wild flowers. I particularly like these bright violet ones. Who knows what they are called. Even the thistles and poppies are in flower too.  In spring nature is at its best. 
wild flowers on our walk
Being Friday night I invited Eladio out to dinner. Just as we were leaving we heard there had been a fatal air crash in Cuba. 100 people died with just 3 surviving as a plane left Havana airport on an internal flight. Upon take off it crashed minutes later near the airport.  
The remains of the fatal air crash in Cuba on Friday
That was dreadful news. Cuba is close to our heart and I was very sorry for the victims, their families and friends. Cuba is officially in mourning. RIP .

Saturday of course was 19th May and the much awaited day of THE royal wedding was to take place in Windsor. Prince Harry, Lady Diana's second son and 6th in line to the throne was marrying Meghan Markle of Suits fame (TV series), an American actress and human rights activist who is also bi racial. There has been so much hype about it and I don't even live in England so can only imagine what the hype there has been like. I had mixed feelings about watching it as I am royalist and then I am not a royalist. In any case it would have been on at 12 midday an awkward time for me so I only saw snippets on the news. I think the  most famous photo to come out of all those taken yesterday was that of the kiss, dubbed by The Times "sealed with a kiss". 
A royal wedding sealed with a kiss
I'm sure many of you who are reading this blog know all the details so I shall spare you them; her Father not being able to come, her being walked up the aisle partially by Prince Charles, her ring, her dress, their wedding cake and all the rich and famous who were there. Now they are married and will be known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I wish them a happy life and hope it won't end in divorce. Yesterday was a rather modern Royal Wedding turned into a Hollywood film. Let's hope it has a happy ending. 

Instead of watching it I went out to buy Olivia's birthday presents. It's her 33rd birthday on Tuesday 22nd and Suzy will be home for it. 

I had lunch with my men and then a short siesta after which I spent time reading on the swimming pool terrace, my favourite part of the house these days.
The sofas on the swimming pool terrace with roses from our garden on the glass table. 
The day ended with another walk, dinner on the terrace, news on the TV and even a short documentary on the royal wedding but in Spanish of course. 

Today is Sunday and as you will have noticed I am late with my blog. Sorry about that. Today promises to be a similar day weather wise but I'm not complaining.

I have next week to look forward to with the arrival of Suzy from London and Oli's birthday. 

Cheers till next Sunday then my friends. Must rush now,


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