Saturday, May 05, 2018

The end of Suzy’s stay, my Father turned 99, encounter with a wild boar, Madrid capital of European football, the end of ETA, Nokia girl lunch, a barbecue made by our Argentinian guests and other stories.

Sunday 6th May 2018
With my ex Nokia colleague girlfriends at lunch on Friday. From left to right: Fátima, María Jesús and Juana. 
Good  morning everyone.

This time last Sunday Suzy was still with us. Oh how we miss her. It has been an up and down week, mostly because my eyes have been giving me a lot of trouble. They are still not right and on Monday I shall ring the hospital again. I must say I have very mixed feelings now about the operations. Danm it. 

Anyway, back to last Sunday when Suzy was still with us, except that she wasn't for breakfast hahaha. She had partied till the wee hours on Saturday night and went to stay with a friend and ex Whitechapel flat mate, Mónica who lives in Getafe miles away. Kindly Monica brought her back on time for lunch with the family. Meanwhile after breakfast, I went back to bed because my eyes were so irritated the only thing I could do was lie down with my eyes closed and sun glasses on.  I couldn't deal with lunch so we had leftovers. Thankfully there were plenty.

While we were having lunch that day, Rafa Nadal was playing a young Greek tennis player in the Barcelona Tennis Open (Conde de Godo) final, the 19 year Stefanos Tsitsipas who was a Junior World Champion. Rafa beat him 6-2 6-0 but no doubt  the young Greek will progress as he is considered the new tennis wonder.  It was, for the record, the Spaniard's 11th win in Barcelona. 

Spain did well in sport this week. Believe it or not, we have a badminton champion in this country, a sport practically unknown here. Young Carolina Marin, a world champion, was playing the European final on Sunday and won it again for the 3rd consecutive time. 
Carolina Marin, the Spanish badminton champion.
She beat the Russian player Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-15 and 21-17 in just 35 minutes.  To her advantage she was playing in her home town of Huelva with lots of her fans at the championship. Badminton was an unheard of sport in Spain until Carolina Marin made it famous. Here she can walk the streets unknown whereas in countries such as China where the sport is very popular she is considered a legend. Fancy that. Well done Carolina.  

My eyes felt better in the afternoon and I was able to go for our walk. Suzy had friends round, the two sisters, Elena and Chati. I went into her room to say hello and was greeted with the image of a very untidy room hahah, with Suzy's things all over the place as well as the remains of food and drink and Pippa placidly finishing off the almonds from a plate on the floor.  Thankfully it would be cleared and made clean and tidy again for our upcoming Airbnb guests after Suzy left hahaha.  However, if you ask me which I prefer, it's hands up to an untidy room with Suzy occupying it hahaha. 

We had dinner together, just the four of us and retired to bed early.

Monday came and it was a sad day. The days Suzy leaves are always sad. My bad eyes didn't help my spirits either that day. Lucy had to make the lunch after which we had the last quiet moments with Suzy until it was time for Oli and I to take her to the airport. Thankfully we will be seeing her again soon when she leaves London for good. She will come to Spain again on 22nd May for Oli's birthday and then on 7th June will begin her new adventure in life when she moves to Bali. I am saving up to go and see her. That would be nice wouldn't it?

On our way back, Oli and I stopped at the Corte Inglés (big department store) to buy my Father's birthday presents. I wanted to buy him a new men's nightgown but they no longer sell them. We finally decided on a summer hat and cardigan and a box of Lindt chocolates, his favourite. Sunday last week was a freezing cold day and we experienced a freak hailstorm on our drive home. Unbelievable for this time of year I can tell you.  After dinner with Oli - she is so loyal to us - it was time for bed and more of our new series on Netflix; "La Casa de Papel" which had us riveted until past midnight. Thankfully my eyes can take the TV in the evenings. 

Tuesday 1st May came and it was my Father's 99th birthday. Fancy that. He was born on 1st May 1919 in the town of Tamworth although he didn't live there long. His father was an Anglican clergyman and the family changed homes a few times. He remembers a happy childhood at the Vicarage in Sledmere which used to be in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He also remembers a happy adolescence at the Vicarage in Henbury just outside Bristol. He had been counting the days as birthdays in our family are taken very seriously. The day started with a special breakfast together after which followed the giving of a card signed by us all. This is read out to everyone and then the presents are given. And here is my Father surrounded by his presents and wearing his new hat as happy as a sandboy.
My Father on his birthday this week. He turned 99 on May 1st.
1st May is of course Labour Day and a national holiday both here and all over the world. Oli and I went out to buy some food and found everything closed. Thankfully our cupboards were not bare and we were able to make a special birthday lunch; homemade pizza to be eaten with cauliflower, my Father's overall favourite vegetable hahaha. I had asked Oli's friend Anita to make him a special cake, similar to the one she made for Suzy. Really she made two as it was two nines. I added some blueberries and the candles of course and this is what it looked like. 
My Father's special birthday cake or cakes
It was basically made of biscuit and butter cream and covered with sweets which Eladio and Oli found far too sweet. I actually loved it. I asked my Father, "do you like the cake" and he answered "very much so". Well, you see, he has a very sweet tooth. So much for sugar not being good for you. Well he is 99 and has been eating sugar, sweets, chocolates, cakes and biscuits all his life and is still going strong. 

For the birthday breakfast and lunch table I put flowers in the dining room from the garden. The ones that were most abundant this week were a white snowball looking flower which I love. It comes from a bush and after a bit of research I now know they are called Guelder roses and are from the Vibernum family. They are also known as "snowball" flowers, "Chinese snowball" flowers or bushes. Funnily enough the petals are very similar to a hydrangea but they come from a different floral family.

Flowers from the garden - the Guelder rose or snowball flower, love it. 
Very importantly for Real Madrid, that night they played Bayern Munich in the second leg of the Champions League semifinal on their home turf, having beaten the Germans 2-1 in Munich. It was an electric match. There was luck, bad luck, mistakes, from both sides, you name it but it was a most exciting match which the "merengues" were to come out victors, Towards the end it was touch and go and I couldn't watch any more I had to leave the room about 15 minutes before it finished. In the end it was a draw 2-2 but Real Madrid won on aggregate of course and will now play the final which will be against Liverpool on 19th May in Kiev. Liverpool just beat Rome the next day in their second leg of the other semifinals. So in a way it will be a bit like Spain against England. Rooms in Kiev are going for 3000 euros a night hahah. If Real win it will be their 13th trophy in the Champions League. No other team is anywhere near that. L'Equipe summed it up well the next day when their headline was something like "Real walk on water" (Jesus miracle) and win whether they play well or badly.  Spain really dominates European football. In Spain the only real league is between Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid. 

My Airbnb guest, the Argentinian racing driver, Esteban Guerrieri who is a football fan would have loved to watch the match with us that night. He arrived very late for his 3rd stay with us. He is doing the world championship in Touring car racing - not sure what that is - maybe you can enlighten me - and is moving around Europe from city to city for different races. He came from Germany that night where he told me he came 2nd. Good for him. I think he rides for Honda. He is so sweet, he even invited Eladio and me to a race, "not too far from here". He referred to Porto (Oporto) in Portugal. We'd love to go but it's not exactly around the corner haha. 

Esteban Guerreiri, the Argentinian racing driver who is our current Airbnb guest. 
The next day, "el dos de mayo" (2nd of May) was a holiday in Madrid. It commemorates the 1808 rebellion in Madrid against the occupation of Napoleon's forces in the city and actually had a part in triggering the Peninsular war. It was another day with the shops closed, except for Carrefour Market the upmarket brand of the French supermarket chain. Eladio and I went there that morning to get some essentials until we could do the proper weekly shopping at Mercadona the next day. 

My eyes were better on Wednesday although the relief would be short. Oli went to work that day as she had to finish editing the programme she had shot in Bavaria. However, she was home on time for our early evening walk in the sun. Thankfully the sun returned this week after a freezing Sunday and Monday. Our walk was lovely as usual but we had a nasty surprise just as we were nearing home. At the beginning of our road which is a cul de sac, we always let the dogs off their leads and they run home. Well on Wednesday we did the same and just as Olivia and the dogs reached our gate, out from the bushes came a rather large wild boar and stood right on the pavement opposite our house by the wheelie bin and next to Oli.  The dogs, especially Pippa, went mad and barked non stop. The boar returned to the bushes and the dogs followed. I shouted and screamed at them to come back, petrified the wild animal would kill little Pippa. Oli screamed too as she saw the boar toss and and thrash at them. Eladio looked on astonished and tried to stop us screaming and shouting telling us that was the last  thing we should have done when encountering a wild animal. Thankfully, the boar ambled away and finally the dogs came to their senses and came back to us, amazingly unscathed. We pushed them inside the gates incredibly shocked and relieved at the same time. You may find it strange that we have wild boar near our house but there are many because they have been forced out of their natural habitat due to so much new housing construction and now they are a menace. From now on, our dogs will never be let off the lead on our road again. What an encounter. Never to be forgotten. Of course I have no photo of the occasion and have had to resort to Google images haha. But this is what the beast looked like.
We had an encounter with a wild boar this week. 
Later both Oli and I got into trouble for our reactions. I shall remember not to shout or scream if I ever encounter a wild boar again which I hope I never will hahaha. At least I had a good story for this week's blog post! 

On Thursday morning, Esteban's girlfriend, Mariela, arrived from Buenos Aires to stay with him. It was to be her first time in Spain, in fact her first time in Europe. I told her she would feel at home here in Spain and I think she does. She loves our dogs and drank "mate" with Lucy, our carer and housekeeper who is from Paraguay. 

My eyes were slightly better on Thursday. Thus Eladio and I went to do the enormous food shopping. It's always a problem fitting everything into our fridge when we come home, even though it is quite big.  I was back on time to make lunch; chicken casserole and I think everyone appreciated it as I hadn't been cooking for a while. 

That night we watched season 2 of Doctor Foster. Meanwhile, Atlético de Madrid was playing Arsenal in the second leg of the Europa League semifinals. They beat them 1-0 in their new stadium and will now play Marseille in Lyon (France) in the final on 16th May. Together with Real Madrid playing the Champions League final on 19th May, their wins certainly make Madrid the capital of European footballI must say it's quite a feat to have 2 teams from the capital playing these two important European football finals.

Real Madrid and Atlético de Madrid converted Madrid into the European football capital this week. 
But far more importantly, on Thursday the Spanish terrorist group ETA finally announced they were disbanding. Their last mortal attack was in 2011 after which they called a ceasefire. It's high time too. In existence for some 50 years, they killed over 800 people and injured thousands. In their announcement, however, they did not say they were sorry. They may have disbanded and most probably so because most of their members are behind bars and their infrastructure at a minimum but they will not be pardoned by society. We shall never forget. Furthermore, they still have to cooperate with justice to clarify the killings of over 300 of their victims. 

For me ETA was much like the IRA as I lived through both terrorist regimes when I was younger in England and from the early 80's in Spain. The nearest I got to their terror was when we lived in the centre of Madrid in the Barrio Salamanca area in a street called Francisco Silvela. On the morning of June 12th 1985, the day Spain formerly entered the EU, in the street across the road from our house, Calle General Oraa,  literally a stone's throw from our flat, they shot and killed a neighbour of ours, Colonel Vicente Romero and his chauffeur who had just arrived to pick him up. 
The entrance to the house where the Colonel killed by ETA in 1985, lived. 
We had seen the Colonel leave his house countless times to be picked up by his driver when we ourselves were leaving for work. That morning, I left the house to go to the tobacconist and found the street cordoned off and could see the dead body of the Colonel lying on the pavement. I could not believe my eyes, Eta had killed one of our neighbours. RIP.  
The scene of terror in the street across the road from where we lived. I shall never forget it. 
So, yes, I was happy at the news. At least there will be no more killings but they will never ever be forgiven. 

Friday came and it was another sunny day, although there was a nip in the air. I had a lunch appointment with my ex Nokia girlfriends, Juana, María Jesús and Fátima. It was nice to go out for a change and I got dressed up for the occasion but of course could not put on any makeup because of my eyes. Just as I was leaving, I inspected our new roses and was happy with to see some of them blooming.

Some of the roses that blooming in our garden.
For lunch out that day, I chose to wear a dress belonging to Olivia. It was striped and it had caught my eye. I was delighted to find it fitted me perfectly. And here I am in it and wearing a light Zara summer coat in red.
Going out to lunch on Friday
Juana had booked us a table at a restaurant called La Sabina in nearby and very upmarket Aravaca. I had been there before and loved it.  
My ex Nokia collagues and friends at lunch on Friday. Left to right. Fatima, María Jesús and Juana
We had a great time chatting over a superb lunch. We first met working at Nokia and have remained friends ever since. Actually I met Fátima at Motorola and she went on to join me shortly afterwards at Nokia where she worked until a year ago.

María Jesús had brought us a pink coloured plant each. I thought they were hydrangeas but they turned out to be African violets which are an indoor plant. It is now taking pride of place in the main lounge of our house. Oh I do love flowers and plants don't I?
African violet plant, like the ones María Jesús brought for us on Friday
I love our girly lunches so I have chosen the photo of our reunion to illustrate this week's blog post. Afterwards, Fátima and I stayed for a while sitting and talking on a bench in the sun. My dearest friend, as you probably know, is fighting cancer and all I can do is look on, admire and encourage her. She is such a fighter and I love her. 

I came home late and had to go out again shortly afterwards for a doctor's appointment, basically to get a prescription for my sleeping tablets. I sleep so badly I need them, although I know they are not good for me. But what is the alternative I wonder? 

So there was no walk on Friday or rather no time for one. But I would be going out again, this time to dinner with Oli and Eladio. Olivia was to treat us to dinner to celebrate Mother's Day in Spain. How sweet of her. We went to a new place, an Italian restaurant called La Via, very near us. An authentic Italian place run by Carlo who makes his own pasta and ice cream on the premises, it is ranked number one in Boadilla by Trip Advisor. It's funny we had never been before. Did we like it? Well yes and no. The place is not very inspiring, I didn't like the first courses as they all included cheese which I hate and the ice cream was not available. I did, however, adore the home made pasta -  the one in the photo below.
Real homemade Italian pasta for dinner on Friday
The nicest thing really was being together for dinner. Only Suzy was missing of course but Oli and I spoke to her that day which made up for her absence a bit.  

Yesterday I woke up to two more bookings on Airbnb. Esteban and Mariela left yesterday morning and last night a German girl, Jennifer, from Hamburg, who is touring the world , came to stay with us for 4 nights. May, finally is picking up, and I have lots of bookings now. 

Saturday was a wonderful day. Our Argentinian guests had insisted on making a barbecue for us or what they call an "asado argentino". This meant I didn't have to cook in the morning and was free to go shopping with Olivia which is something we both love. She only wanted to return a blouse from Zara but of course we did more, including buying wild salmon and ham from the big Carrefour in Majadahonda at the Centro Oeste shopping centre. Here we are in the queue taking a selfie to send to Suzy.
Shopping with Oli on Saturday morning
We also went to Gran Plaza Norte where we bought more things. Or rather Oli bought me a new scarf and treated me to coffee. We also went to Primark where I bought some white summer shorts for 10 euros, a bathing suit for 6 euros and some summer sneakers for just 4 euros. They were all for Eladio who could not protest at the prices hahaha.

We came home to find the barbecue in full swing or rather Esteban grilling the vegetables and the meat and Mariela making salads in the kitchen. It was so funny for our paying Airbnb guetsts to be cooking for us. But they were not the first to do so. I must say they are lovely guests, probably in my top 5. 
Esteban making the barbecue
They served us grilled beef of different cuts, grilled pork and lots of vegetables, including half red peppers with eggs inside. And here we are around the table enjoying the first barbecue of the season in great weather.
A selfie during yesterday's Argentinian barbecue.
We provided the dessert, ice cream and fresh fruit and we sat around enjoying what Spaniards call "la sobremesa" which has no translation in English but which means talking around the table for ages after a meal. We loved yesterday's barbecue and "sobremesa". We didn't leave the table until about 4.15. Eladio went to have his siesta and our guests retired to the sunbeds by the pool. I joined them but sat at a table in the shade to start writing this post  until Eladio called me for our walk.

Oli went out last night and our guests were not around so Eladio and I had a quiet dinner together on the terrace. I made a very healthy option, one which we love, smoked salmon and fresh asparagus. All in all it was a great day.

And today is Sunday 6th May and Mother's Day here which we don't celebrate much but no doubt my darling daughters will give me their greetings. It promises to be another sunny day and I look forward to relaxing around the pool and going for our walk.

So my friends, I have reached the end of the tales of this week and all that remains is to say cheers to you all and sign off until next Sunday.

Have a great week,

Cheers Masha. 

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