Saturday, July 07, 2018

The World Cup heats up, an insight into Saudi Arabia from my Airbnb guests, off to France, our annual cousin reunion and other stories.

Sunday 8th July 2018

The group photo of this year's "cousinade".
Good morning all.

I am writing today from La Teilée, a small village in France, not far from Poitiers, where my cousin Zuka and her Mother my Aunt Valya live. Zuka is the daughter of my Mother's youngest brother Nicky and one of my very few cousins. I only have 3 on my Mother's side and none on my Father's side. However, I have many second and third cousins on my Mother's side and my visit to France this week was to attend this year's "cousinade" (cousin reunion), the third in a row. Nearly all of them live in France and are of Russian descent. It was great to see them again and there are even some more members this year. We were to be 22 all in all, quite a challenge for Zuka to accommodate and feed  everyone I am sure.

But let me start at the beginning, from last Sunday, 1st July. That day our Airbnb group of youngsters from Madrid were leaving. They were lovely guests if a bit untidy and noisy but generally very well brought up. They didn't get up until way past our return from our morning walk. I helped them prepare a picnic as, after leaving, they were going to spend the day at the San Juan reservoir, a popular summer destination for "madrileños". But before they left I took a photo of them to remember their stay. Very sweetly, they left a glowing and beautifully handwritten review in my guest book, bless them.
Last weekend's guests
They left me in the throes of cooking. Oli and Miguel were coming for lunch that day and I had lots to do. I made bread for the first time in weeks or months which left the kitchen smelling delicious.
The multicereal bread I made last Sunday
I also made chicken casserole and in case there wasn't enough to eat I decided to make risotto from the last of the rice I had bought in Italy. Meanwhile, Lucy was busy cleaning the rooms and changing the sheets to get them ready for our next guests, the 6 member Saudi family arriving that night. 

On the other side of the world, Suzy was making her way to the "Gily Islands" which one day I should love to visit. 

After lunch we watched Spain play Russia the host country. My Father joined us and for the occasion I got out the Spanish flag. Even Pippa joined us.
My family watching the Spain Russia match on Sunday
Spain started off as the favourite; Russia has never got through a group stage but there again they are the hosts and that always improves a country's chances. Spain started well with an early goal which was later equalised by Russia. Spain played their usual way, passing the ball and possessing it most of the time but their tactics are now too well known and the weaker teams like Iran, Morocco and Russia faced their competitor by simply defending the whole time making it practically impossible for Spain to score. It was a terrible match to watch. Then came the prologue which ended with a draw and so to the penalty shoot out which I think is the most unfair way to settle the score of a match. I couldn't and didn't watch it and very soon after heard Spain had missed two penalties and that the Russian goalie had saved one. Really Degea, Spain's goalkeeper, who has not been on form this World Cup should have been replaced by a substitute goalkeeper and perhaps now we would be playing the Quarter Final. But that was not to be. So, like Germany, Spain was out and it was another national tragedy. However, luckily for me, I had 2 teams to support, and I my hopes turned to England. 

While the awful penalty shootout was taking place I turned to my book, "The Great Alone", set in Alaska. By Kristin Hanna, the author of "The Nightingale", it is my third book by her and she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. 

Oli and Miguel didn't see the penalty shootout either as they had to leave if Miguel was to catch his train back to Valencia for the week. I said goodbye to both of them and I won't see Oli until I am back from France. 

I made a delicious potato salad out of leftovers in the fridge for dinner which we ate watching the news on my iPad. We stayed up later than usual waiting for our Saudi guests who didn't arrive until way past 10 pm when my latest check in time is 9 pm. They are a family of 6, the father, Saleh, his wife Padria, eldest son, Mohammed (19), his 17 year old sister and 10 year old brother whose names I haven't learned yet and the youngest child, 8 year old Mishal an adorable little boy. We liked them immediately and after welcoming them and showing them their rooms we went to bed. Eladio later went down to inspect the lights, etc, only to find they had invaded all the lounges, had all the lights on and were trying to watch the Denmark Croatia match which had actually finished with a win to the Croatians. Their things were already all over the house and suitcases open everywhere. Only Mohammed speaks good English (he is at University in Canada!) and I tried to explain that they should unpack in their rooms. To no avail I am afraid. We gave up in the end, left them to it and went to bed feeling more than invaded. They would continue to invade during their whole stay. It's funny but they spent a lot of time indoors, lounging on all our sofas, something no other guest has ever done. They tell me they thought it was a bit cold here (around 30ºc) as they are used to 50º in Saudi Arabia at this time of year!!! One evening the little boys wanted to bathe when it was around 27ºc in the evening and the mother wouldn't let them saying it was too cold. Imagine!

I woke up early the next morning only to find their stuff all over the place. That makes me mad as we are zealously tidy in this house I'm afraid and hate to see belongings strewed everywhere. They left their used breakfast things on a tray on one of the tables in one of the lounges and later that evening I presented it to them asking them politely to clear up after themselves. I'm not sure they understood as they left the tray with crumbs in the kitchen aarrgghh. 

We came back from our walk happy to see their car wasn't their. Obviously they were out for the day. But no, they had only gone out shopping for junk food - you should see the stuff they eat: popcorn, coca cola, chocolate, ice cream, crisps and not much else - and would not be going out again that day. 

I escaped to the hairdresser to get my roots dyed as my hair was beginning to look white hahaha. On my way back to the car I spotted a sale at a small local boutique where I sometimes shop. Their I spied some lovely t-shirts as well as a pair of  "Bereber" style flowing white cotton trousers. I tried them on and fell in love with them. They are so comfortable and actually quite stylish. Here I am wearing them.
With my new summer "Bereber" trousers, love them.
After lunch, with the Saudis all over the house and garden, I looked for a quiet spot to read in the garden, far from the pool. Both house and pool were totally invaded by them; some of the kids were lying on the sofas and the others were playing with the dogs in the garden and kept appearing. There was no peace that day, so I was happy to leave for an appointment just before 6 pm to escape the chaos. 

I wore the new trousers for the appointment I had that evening. At 6 pm I was meeting an old boss from the radio side of Motorola Spain, Luis P.B. at his golf club which happens to be near where we live, the "Las Lomas Bosque Club de Golf". It's funny but in the 12 years we have lived here I have never been although I once saw it from the outside when we were house hunting.

I had no idea just how beautiful it was and started snapping on my camera as soon as I arrived. I particularly like the lake or lakes there. 
The golf club where I met my ex Motorola boss
I sat at a table on the terrace of the cafeteria with this view in front of me and had to take a selfie. This is it.
At the golf club on Monday
Luis soon arrived and we took off from where we left, many years ago. When I worked for the mobile phone division, he was head of the Radio division and we have many ex colleagues in common. I got to know all the people from the various divisions when I was in charge of the cycling team and champions league sponsorships - those were the days. Today Luis heads up a company called Radiotrans, the biggest Spanish walkie talkie company. He needed a contact at an operator which I was happy to help him with. We caught up quickly on our lives; he is soon to be a grandfather (lucky him) and of course turned to how some of our ex colleagues are doing. Many familiar names were mentioned; Jesus S, Paul, Manuel, Luis, Ignacio C, Jaime M, Eusebio B, and it was good to talk about old times. To think I was just 33 when I joined. I told him I remembered using the walkie talkies he gave me for family use, such as when we went shopping with the girls to "Pryca" (how Carrefour used to be called here) and all in all spent a great time reminiscing. 

I was home before dinner and joined Eladio on the pool terrace with my kindle. Shortly the Saudi family joined us one by one and soon we were having a discussion about Saudi Arabia. It was a very interesting one. Only Mohammed speaks good English so he spent his time translating as well as answering many of my questions.  He is a very quick minded boy and very mature for his age. He told us Saudi Arabia was a dictatorship and that the country was built for just one man; the king. I asked them about the reforms of the new Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salem. They told me his reforms were just a move to appease the people but dictatorship was not changing. I also asked about the previous Crown Prince who had been ousted and Mohammed told me he had just "vanished". So my Saudi family seemed quite liberal and they told me they were but when I quizzed the mother on arranged marriages and driving, she seemed a lot more conservative than her husband Saleh. I asked Saleh if he would allow  his son to marry a Canadian girl for example and he said "sure". I then asked him if he had changed his children's nappies. He said yes but then his wife, said no way, he had never done that. So could I believe his "sure" about his son marrying whom he wanted?  I'm not sure they were always telling the truth as when I also asked the wife whether all women wore black burkas in Saudi, she said, oh no but later I found 2 crumpled up black ones on the chest in the hall which she and her daughter must have worn when they left home and took off when they got to Madrid. Saleh's wife also mentioned her husband never enters the kitchen and doesn't even know where the door is. I also asked the 17 year old girl if she would prefer to marry someone of her choice rather than have an arranged marriage. She preferred the latter. I gave her a high five for that and she giggled. Both women giggle a lot. She also looks forward to being able to drive but her Mother will not, saying she is afraid of cars. Stupidly, I asked the family if women could vote to which they answered men could not vote and that no one could vote. Of course, it's an absolute monarchy. Mohammed said that with some of the social reforms on women's rights the new Crown Prince had said he was bringing Saudi Arabia into the 21st century but that in his opinion it was bringing it into the 20th century. I corrected him and said it was bringing it into the 19th century!  I also asked about men being allowed to marry up to 4 women and whether the practice continued. Mohammed said it was quite common but that it was not happening as much as before. I asked Saleh if he wanted a second wife and he smiled and said no. I suspect his wife would kill him if he did. When we first sat down, I told the wife, who, by the way is a teacher of Arabic, Pradia  is her name I think, to take off her veil in front of me. She did so but,  as soon as Eladio appeared, she quickly put it on again. As you can see we had a very interesting conversation. If this is a supposedly liberal family, who for me seem extremely conservative,  what must a non liberal Saudi family be like I wonder? I truly feel sorry for women who live there. My heart goes out to them. But many, like Pradia, have been brainwashed, don't even seem to question the subject and accept it as their lot. I hope things change with Mohammed's generation. 

We went to bed a bit wiser about life in Saudi Arabia and watched the Oliver Stone film, Heaven and Earth, also about an oppressed woman, a Vietnamese American bride from the Vietnam War. 

On Tuesday I was up early as always and the first thing I did was to pick up all the Saudi family belongings strewn all over the house and garden, including all their shoes and put them in a supermarket bag on the stairs. It was my way of telling them to pick their things up. No doubt back where they live they have an in house maid or maids who do all the picking up for them. It drives me mad. I can't stand untidinss; I really can't and it puts me in a bad mood. Lucy cant' stand it either and remarked that they were the worst guests we have ever had. I am undecided because, as people, they are really nice. 

We missed the football that day. Unsurprisingly Brazil beat Mexico and valiant Belgium went from 0-2 to Japan to win 3-2. It really is an interesting World Cup this year.

On Tuesday, there was more mess from my Saudis and once again I packed all their strewed belongings into a bag and this time left it outside the parent's room. When we came back from our walk, hallelujah, we saw them driving out of our gate. They were off to Madrid for the day. We were worried they would never leave the house. 

Eladio and I had to do the food shopping that morning which took up quite a lot of time. I especially hate the unpacking and putting away when we return with all the provisions. 

We had the pool terrace to ourselves in the afternoon and at about 6ish, I took Lucy to the boutique where I had bought my white trousers. She deserves the odd trip out as she is doing her own job and Zena's who will be away for 2 months in the Ukraine. That means she won't have any days off until 8th September. So off we went, the two of us to the boutique in Boadilla. Here she bought lots of clothes. I bought the same trousers in black as well as a t-shirt each for my cousin Zuka and her darling daughter Katty which I would take to France. 

I came home just as England and Colombia were about to start their Last 16 match. I put the TV on to hear the National Anthem - my favourite part of the World Cup matches hahaha and posted "God Save the Queen" on Facebook! Earlier in the day, Sweden had beaten Switzerland by 1-0 in St. Petersburg. An eccentric ex Swedish boss of mine had gone out specially to see it so I was pleased for him and all my Swedish friends from my Yoigo and Nokia years. If England got through they would play Sweden which is what you all know happened. 

While Eladio watched, I went to the kitchen to make our dinner - prawn cocktail. By then the Saudis had returned and all 4 kids were in the pool; the girl in a "burkini" (Oh my God). I'm sorry but I'm just not comfortable with women wearing veils, burkas or burkinis in my house. Maybe I should be more tolerant but for me they are a symbol of the oppression of women. 

Thankfully they left us alone and we were able to have dinner and watch the match in peace in the TV lounge together with Pippa. It was another nerve biting match. England were awarded a penalty at the beginning, shot by none other than England's captain, the amazing striker, Harry Kane. But in injury time the Colombians hit back and suddenly there was a draw and we would have to suffer a prologue. After the prologue the score was the same and once again a World Cup Last 16 match was to go to a penalty shoot out. How I hate them and how unfair they are. But I was able to watch this one.  Both teams missed one shot but the England goalkeeper saved one brilliantly taking the Three Lions through to the Quarter Finals which I would watch in France yesterday. I was so happy for England.

We went to bed to watch the episode 6 of the TV series "La Verdad". I was falling asleep towards the end but suddenly got a new Airbnb booking I had to respond to. That made me wake up completely after which I found it really difficult to fall asleep. I think I did so at about 2 in the morning. On Wednesday morning I woke up at 5.45 which meant I had only slept 3.45h, not enough I can tell you. 

On Wednesday, Eladio said I was already more in France than in Spain what with all my preparations hahaha. We came back from our walk and bumped into the Saudis. I asked them what they would be doing that day and they said they would be staying in the house. Oh no, I said, you can't waste your time here, there is nothing to see here, you must visit blabla and recommended they went to El Escorial or to Toledo. I was happy they heeded my words.

Wednesday was a quiet day with our guests away and we enjoyed a quiet lunch, me a needy siesta as well as some quiet time in the afternoon.  

After a light dinner our guests returned and it was time to tell them I was leaving for France the next day and would only come back after they had left. I was actually sorry to say goodbye because I really liked them, despite their untidiness. I had to have a photo of them of course and we spent quite a while on a photo shoot. Here they are saying goodbye to me. When they leave on Saturday they will be off to Barcelona and then to Italy. They travel every year. Maybe they should learn the phrase "when in Rome do as the Romans". 
My untidy but lovely Saudi family

When we were saying goodbye, they said sorry for having done anything "inconvenient" to which I replied that yes they had been untidy but I liked them. They then said they just didn't understand our "system". Isn't our system the same all over the world? I then asked them that maybe in their home they had lots of maids to pick up their belongings, etc and they nodded that they did. So, that was the reason for their untidiness; they are just not used to clearing up after themselves. So, of course, they wouldn't understand "our system" hahaha. What a culture shock for both them and us but also a great insight into the life of a family in Saudi Arabia.

Thursday came and I had to be up early but blow me, I woke up at 5 in the morning when I didn't actually have to leave for the airport until 7.45. Oh well, it meant I had a leisurely breakfast on my own with the dogs and reading the "papers" on my iPad. 

Eladio drove me to the airport, to Terminal 4 where I was to catch the 10.40 Vueling flight to Paris CDG, the same flight that left me grounded 2 years ago. This time it didn't. In fact everything went well and even the steward at check-in changed by 29A window seat for a 4D aisle seat as I hate window seats. The first few rows on Vueling have more space so I was very grateful. Normally you would have to pay extra to choose a seat but that day was my lucky day. 

I had to have a coffee and croissant at the Paul Boulangerie at Madrid airport in anticipation of my trip to France. There is nothing I love more in France than dunking a croissant in café au lait. I learned to do so on Inter rail at Gare du Nord in Paris many many years ago.

I arrived in Paris  Charles de Gaulle, well on time and walked out of Terminal 3 not quite knowing how to get to the TGV or SNCF station which was located in Terminal 2. My idea was to walk but when I asked 2 young pilots they said I had to take the shuttle train and to follow them. They were complete gentlemen and escorted me until I got to the train station. It  turned out they were Czech pilots. I told them that in 1968 after the Russian invasion of Prague, when many Czechs fled the country that my non communist Russian mother had taken in a Czech family to live with us for many months free of charge and that maybe today they were repaying the favour. Sadly one of them told me that his grandfather had been jailed in 1968 because of the uprising and had died in prison. What a story.

We parted at the train station and off I went to see if I could change my train ticket to an earlier train. I had arrived at 12.30 but my train wasn't until 16.17.  This time I was not in luck, there was no other train and I just had to wait to catch the TGV which would get me to Poitiers at 18.30 or so. I had a boring time at the station and wondered to myself why it was such a dreadful one, pretty dirty and with hardly anything to offer. There was the ubiquitous Starbucks and Paul and some other rotten bar with not much to offer as in lunch. In the end I went for a tuna sandwich and a cake from Paul. There was hardly anywhere to sit so I went up to the top floor to eat outside only to find myself at a horrible bus and taxi terminal which was even dirtier than the station and nowhere to sit. I ended up sitting on the dirty floor on my coat eating my lunch. You would think a TGV station in Paris would be much more swish. The Atocha Ave (highspeed) station in Madrid is luxury compared. I whiled away the time writing my blog from the dirty floor until it was time to catch the train.

The train was a bit late and I got a window seat (hate them) and started reading my new book, a history book on the demise of the Romanov family, quite in keeping with the upcoming "cousinade", all descendants of the Russian Revolution. By the historian Helen Rappaport it is called "The race to save the Romanovs" -  the Truth behind the secret plans to rescue Russia's Imperial family. It has only been recently published and seems a very seriously studied topic by Rappaport an expert on Queen Victoria and the Romanov family.  It kept me occupied during the just over 2h journey to Poitiers. I shall be ordering a physical copy for my Father who I know will be very interested in this new and enlightening book.

Just as I got out of the station with my huge suitcase - I never travel light - dear Katty and Tony my cousins from New Zealand had arrived to pick me. Katty is Zuka's daughter and my soul mate. She is like a sister to me and I adore her three kids, Luc aged 16, Sam aged 14 and little Ruby aged 9. I had seen Katty at last year's "cousinade" but not the kids since the year before and I hadn't seen Tony since the family visit to our house about 8 years ago just before they left England to move to New Zealand. You see, Tony is from New Zealand. We call them "our Kiwi family".  It was  great drive to La Teille catching up on our lives since last year. Soon we were at Zuka and her Mother's house, Aunty Valya who was the wife of my Mother's younger brother Nicky. Only Aunty Valya was at home when we arrived. Aged 93 she is in great shape and it was wonderful to see her again.  Soon Zuka arrived with the kids, Luc, Sam and Ruby and a friend of Luc's from school in Bolton England where they used to live, Luke; same name different spelling.

It was a wonderful moment hugging the kids from my kiwi family. This is one of the photos I took of them when they arrived.
Our Kiwi family, Tony, Sam, Katty and Ruby

Zuka and her Mother had extended their veranda and soon we were all sitting around having drinks. I was a bit hesitant about drinking wine but instantly gave in and ended up having at least 3 glasses. Thankfully I only had a bit of a headache the next day. Dinner was prepared for the 9 of us on the veranda; delicious French patés, salads and then barbecued king prawns. It was a lovely family meal. Having got up at 5 in the morning, by midnight I was exhausted and had to turn in. I am sharing a room with little Ruby which is a delight for us both as we adore each other.  The sleeping arrangements were all in place and had to be as on Saturday we would be 22 people. The kids would sleep in tents in the garden.

Friday dawned and I was up early although Tyotya (Aunt in Russian) Valya had beaten me to it. I enjoyed a quiet cup of coffee on the veranda enjoying being away and in the French countryside.
Zuka's sprawling farm house in La Teilee
We had a busy day ahead of us before the "cousinade" began on Saturday, except that, unknowingly, nearly everyone was to arrive on Friday and there would be 17 for dinner that night. 

An important task after breakfast was to put up the flag bunting outside the gates of the house; something Katty, Ruby and I did together. When our cousins began to arrive they weren't sure if they were to symbolise our multiple international origins or if it was because of the football. I'm not quite sure either but it made the place look festive. 
Ruby and Katty putting up the flag bunting on Friday morning.
Later the boys went off kayaking for the day with Tony, Katty's New Zealand husband, while we "girls", 9 year old Ruby, Katty, Zuka and I went off to the bank in nearby Couhé. From there Ruby, Katty and I drove to Poitiers to Lidl and Auchamp to do the main shopping for the food this weekend. Bread and croissants are not what they were in France, unless, maybe if you go to a posh boulangerie in Paris; we got ours at Lidl haha and had to get lots to cater for 22 people's breakfasts and all the meals. It was difficult to calculate how much to buy, so I just picked up about everything I could find: lots of croissants and pain au chocolat which I love hahah. Here are Ruby and I helping ourselves at the rather complicated bakery dispensary. 
Ruby and I getting bread and croissants at Lidl in Poitiers on Friday morning. 
From Lidl we went to Auchamp and my goodness it was gigantic and as we didn't know where anything was we took ages. Suddenly it was 13.30 and we had to drop off Ruby at the water park to join the boys after their kayaking. Meanwhile I was dropped off on a road at the entrance to the town of Vivonne with lots of restaurants to grab a table for lunch for Katty and I as if I didn't they would all shut at 2 pm which I think is very uncivilised for France but that's how it is.  I finally found one which looked French and open called "Le Jimmy's and which offered a fixed menu at 12 euros each which is quite cheap for here. Katty came soon bringing little Ruby with her as the boys were late at the water park. The 3 of us had a pretty lousy lunch actually, again disappointing for France, and then had to rush off to take Ruby to join her Father and brothers. 

On our way home we heard that nearly all the cousins were arriving that day rather than on Saturday so it was panic stations to get back, unload the food and begin lots of cooking. And that's what we did all afternoon; or rather Katty and Zuka cooked and I did the skivvying hahahah. I was exhausted by the early evening and had to take a break. Katty continued till around 10.30 pm and we all had a very late dinner.

The boys and men, including Sasha, Katty's brother and his son Myles, who had come from England, kept me updated on the France Uruguay Quarter Final match which the French won 2-0. I was rooting for France as I though when in France do as the French. Later Belgium, the "Red Devils" played their Quarter Final match against the grand and almighty 5 time winners of the World Cup, Brazil and believe it or not valiant Belgium won 2-1. Thus they will meet France in the semi finals. And here are all the men watching the match.
Some of the cousins watching the Belgium Brazil Quarter Final
lndeed the World Cup was continuing to surprise.  

By then all the cousins except 4 who were to come on Saturday, had arrived and 17 of us sat down to dinner on Zuka's veranda. The main dish was barbecued sausages accompanied by my elder cousin's quiches and lots of salads. Ice cream was for dessert as I had spied my favourite flavours at Auchamp; pistachio, coconut and raspberry. I also got chocolate as I thought that would be a favourite with the kids. Funnily enough the favourite was pistachio, practically impossible to find in Spain, and raspberry.

There was lots of clearing up to do as well as washing up and I don't think we were finished till way past midnight. We then sat around drinking (not me) and chatting till far too late for me as that night I went to bed at nearly 2 am. 

Saturday came, the official day of the "cousinade" and I had slept very little waking up during the night. I was downstairs at 6.30 to find my 93 year old Aunt unloading the washing machine and poor Myles sitting up on the sofa bed he had tried to sleep on awake as he had hardly slept a wink because of the flies. There are lots here as we are in the countryside with many farms in the area.

Saturday was to be England's turn to play their Quarter Final game against Sweden and the English section of the house were rooting for England, hoping for the Three Lions to go through to the semi finals for the first time since 1990

Katty and I finally managed to go on a morning walk as we did daily last year and this year her husband Tony joined us. We left at 8.30 and didn't get back until 10.30 by when the sun was very hot. 
Tony and Katty on our walk yesterday

It was to be scorcher of a day with little respite from the sun. The heat here is very humid here and we all looked for shade in the garden drinking litres of water throughout the day.

Back home Oli was following our time here vicariously through my photos. She then, very sweetly, sent us one of her with my Father who I know would have loved to be here as he and my Mother were very close to Zuka and her husband Bruce RIP.
Oli and my 99 year old Father on Saturday
We even got a photo from Suzy from far away Bali too or rather lots of them enjoying local life. I especially like this one of her having gone native and laughing her head off. It makes me so happy to see her happy. Oh how I wish both girls could have been here at the Cousinade. It would have made it complete for me but it was not to be so. Hopefully they may be able to come next year.
Suzy happy in Bali yesterday
I even got a photo from Eladio. It was of him with the Saudi family who left yesterday just before midday. Oli finally got to meet them and loved them too. It was a challenge to write a review about them what with their untidiness hahaha.
The Saudi family who left yesterday, with Eladio. We grew very fond of them despite their untidiness. 

Later yesterday a Scottish family arrived for a few days. I look forward to meeting them when I get back. 

The morning was spent leisurely yesterday. Katty did all the cooking once again and at about nearly 3 pm all 23 of us sat down for lunch. The cooking, preparations and clearing away here are a mammoth job. My contribution was lowly chief skivvy most of the time hahaha.

After lunch it was time for the Three Lions to play their Quarter Final match against Sweden. Here are the group from the house watching the match.
Watching England play yesterday
It was great to see England go through after beating Sweden 2-0. They would then play the winners of the Russia Croatia match played yesterday evening. England go through to the semi finals for the first time since 1990. They thus have their first chance in many years to win the World Cup. Can they do it? Well we shall know when the play on Tuesday. 

It was then time for fun and games. Katty had devised a guessing game for all us and put us into teams of 4. We each had to submit a secret about ourselves. Katty read out all the secrets one by one and we had to guess which secret belonged to which person. It was not easy. I am happy to say though that our team comprised of Ruby, Zuka, Anna and Tony won by a tiny margin.

Afterwards was the perfect time for the group photo which of course is the photo I have chosen to illustrate this week's blog.

Just as we had finished our fun and games, most of our group rushed off to watch the Russia Croatia match. My cousins who live in France, being of Russian origin were all rooting for Russia to beat Croatia and they far outnumbered the England fans here hahaha. Here they are watching it in on Zuka's enormous screen.
Cheering for Russia at our Cousinade yesterday
It was a long and tense match and another one that went through to penalties. In the end the best team won as Croatia were clearly stronger although Russia put an enormous fight. 

Some of my older women cousins were not at all interested in football, especially my 93 year old Aunty Valya, hahahah and the long match meant also that dinner wouldn't be served till nearly 11 pm. 

Katty's lamb was delicious as was my apple crumble served with ice cream.  Once again I went to bed very late, at past 1 in the morning. It had been a great day and a great cousinade and today promises to be fun too. We shall be playing molky and croquet and as I write Katty has already begun cooking tonight's diner. Hopefully I shall get my walk in and then I will help her in my role as chief skivvy hahaha.

So my friends, that's it for this week. I hope you have enjoyed this week's post. Till next Sunday I send you my greetings and warm wished from this lovely part of France.

Cheers Masha

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