Saturday, September 23, 2006

Eladio’s birthday and the broken cake!

Hi folks

So today was Eladio’s birthday. I don’t think he would like me publishing his age on my blog so I will refrain from doing so. Suffice it to say he looks as young and gorgeous as ever. My Ukranian cleaning lady, Zena, agrees!

Here’s the birthday boy opening his presents and here is the birthday boy sitting down to a groaning breakfast table, laid for best in our new dining room.

Susi and I went all out in our preparations as there is nothing we like better than organizing parties and special menus, as you will all have gathered from many of my posts. Lunch was itsy bitsy and included home made “humus” and pitta bread, gambas al ajillo (prawns cooked in garlic and olive oil) and many other delicacies.

The piece de la resistance was the home made chocolate, cream and m+ms cake which we had difficulty making yesterday. It’s a standard house recipe but yesterday it refused to come out as it should. Midway, the cream turned to butter twice while being whipped so Susi and I had to go out and get some more. When we got back she had to go and Eladio took her place, helping me. He promptly helped me by putting the top layer on without adding the cream. To remedy that he took it off again and, of course it broke into various parts!!! It then had to be reconstructed with more chocolate. We finally placed m+ms to hide the cracks but instead of hiding them, they sunk into the cake making the cracks even bigger.

Despite all the difficulties and mishaps, it tasted delicious, to judge by the long siesta we had afterwards.

Oh, yes and the presents. My Father bought him a lovely adidas track suit (for our daily walks), Susi bought him a practical gardening book – well he is the in-house gardner – and I bought him an indoor tropical plant, basically because I realized we might have a huge garden but we don’t have any vegetation in the house.

Olivia was dearly missed today. Love you darling.

Until next time/Masha

Seeing Oli off

Hi all,

It seemed the day would never come, but it did. On Tuesday 19th September, Eladio, Susi and I saw beautiful Olivia off at Madrid Airport on her way to spend an Erasmus year in the UK in Cornwall at the University College of Falmouth which belongs to the University of Exeter. She will be there for the academic year but will be coming home both for the Christmas and Easter breaks.

Here you can see the 4 of us, plus the trolley full of her huge suitcase (Samsonite’s biggest), laptop and rucksack. Along with the laptop, Oli also took a webcam and Skype phones to keep in touch with us all while she is away. She will be downloading films to see on the laptop and music for her mp3, so she couldn’t be more technologically up to date for her year away or more in touch thanks to the internet connection provided in her room at the student residence. It’s a far cry from when I went to University where we had to keep in touch using the local phone box and sending and receiving letters via Royal Mail. What a difference!!

She hasn’t taken too long to settle in and has spent the first few days on an initiation course with the other international students – from India, Norway, Japan, France, Germany, Indonesia and Spain. Last night she prepared dinner for a Japanese girl called Shiro in her flat – apparently spag bol. I wonder whether Shiro liked it or what she would prepare in return?

Tomorrow the English students will all be arriving and Oli and Rafa, her Spanish fellow student, will no longer be alone in their flat for 7.

We are not actually missing her yet (apart from today, Eladio’s birthday where her empty place at the table was very obvious) as we talk to her more than once a day. In any case, we shall probably be going to see her in the middle of November so her absence will be much more bearable.

Cheers for now/Masha

Monday, September 18, 2006

Life is beautiful! And I have some news … Read on.

Hiya again.

This weeks’ post was going to start off with other news but just as I began to write I got a message with some very good news from my best friend Amanda. Amanda and I go way back as we met when we were 11 and had just started at Grammar School in Bradford, dear old St. Joseph’s college. And we have kept up ever since and are there for each other in the good times and the bad.

It was her birthday last week and I rang to say Happy Birthday – the funny thing is I hardly ever ring her or send a card and this was the first time in years, but then again the birthday was a change of decade. So when she replied that she had had a nasty birthday present, in that she had a bad mamograph result with suspected breast cancer, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – cancer is no stranger to either of us; her Father died early of cancer, her husband Andy lost his first wife to the same disease, my Mother died of lung cancer and not so long ago, my Brother too of skin cancer. So the news was serious. Amanda told me she would have the results today, Monday and meanwhile would postpone her birthday celebrations. Well, she probably had a horrible weekend but this morning she got the result and it was BENIGN!! And, as she says, “will live”. And,. So I say, “Life is indeed beautiful”. Congrats Amanda darling. Now, there is no excuse to come out and see us one weekend!!

Life is beautiful, and, as you will agree from the picture, my dear daughters are beautiful too (Susi on the left and Oli on the right). Oli is finally going to the UK tomorrow and is spending most of the day packing and unpacking until she gets the suitcase to the right weight of 25kgs. We will miss her but I just know she is going to get so much out of this.

And now for some news from me. Most of you know that after a year at home, or rather selling our old house, finding a new one and moving in, I was itching to get back to work. Well, I have been very busy with interviews in August and September. I was actually in 3 job processes. And now I have a very enticing job offer from a French telecoms company and will be starting work on Monday 25th next. Because I haven’t signed the contract yet, I won’t tell you the name until I begin. The job itself is, of course, the position of Communications Manager which, I’m sure is no surprise to any of you.

So, there you have it, Life is Beautiful.

Cheers Masha

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Storks busy and romance in the air

Hiya all,

This post is dedicated to some of my girlfriends: Anne, Zenaida, Juana, Fernanda and Mónica. Obviously there is some romance in the air and storks have been busy or soon will be.

Anne has found someone special in her life and I am so happy for her. Zenaida is 6 months pregnant and looks radiant. Mónica will be getting married on the 14th October (but very unfairly the wedding will be in Germany in one years time). Juana is pregnant again – if you follow her blog you can see daily how far gone she is and also how old or big Santi is getting - and Fernanda has just given birth to Jerónimo in June in Mexico City. So, as you can see, a lot of good news all around.

Congratulations girls!

The picture is of beautiful Fernanda with her new born baby.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Gardner and a Full House

Hello again

Here I am writing again this Sunday morning. Last night Eladio and I watched the Constant Gardner. The plot doesn’t have much to do with gardening but the title fits Eladio quite well. Here is a great picture of him spraying pesticide on some of our plants.

The constant gardner!

One of the plants is the lovely Hibiscus which Ana Valdivieso brought us for our housewarming party at the beginning of July. Ever since it has produced a new flower nearly every day; quite incredible.

Ana's plant

I also wanted to show you this lovely single pear on the small pear tree we inherited from the previous owners. It has been growing for months now, getting bigger every day. I wonder who is going to eat it?

The pear tree

And today we have a full house as last night all the bedrooms were full. The girls had a dinner party and some of the guests slept overnight. They have all been waking up at different times this morning and they will all be staying for lunch. So it’s like a non stop party for them. And as I am writing, at least 20 chicken legs are roasting in the oven.

I’ll leave you now to attend them.

Enjoy the photos.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The lazy Summer days are coming to an end.

Hi again

Well, we are now well into September and the lazy Summer days are coming to an end. Soon the girls will be going back to University. Oli will be off to the UK for her Erasmus (exchange) year in Falmouth on the 19th September and Susi has been accepted at the Complutense University here in Madrid to finish her degree in Food Science. Olivia is doing a triple degree in Audiovisual Communication, Media Studies and PR + Advertising but will be concentrating on Film Studies in her year in the UK, lucky her! We are going to miss her so much this year.

September also looks like a very good month for finding a job and right now I have quite a few prospects open but more about that when there is some real news.

Meanwhile the weather has changed a bit and we have had quite a few thunderstorms this week where we all rush out to bring in the garden furniture, run round closing hundreds of windows and generally prepare the house for heavy rain. In his rush down some steps the other day poor Eladio fell and bruised his back quite badly but he refused to go the doctor and as is very typical of him suffered, “like a good beast”, in silence.

Eladio is forever outside in the garden and today he finally put up the swings we had brought from our old house. They were bought when the girls were 3 and 4 but are part of our family heritage so we brought them with us.

And, today, we had some old friends round for lunch, Benito and Loli. They were our neighbours when I first came to live in Spain and Eladio and I lived “in sin”. We have kept up over the years on and off, so it was lovely to welcome them to our new house today. The menu – very typical of me – was a Spanish first course of Gazpacho, a Russian second course of Boeuf Strogonof and a choice between an English or Italian dessert of home made Apple Crumble or Tiramisu made by Susana. Susi discovered how to make Tiramisu this week and has repeated the experience now nearly 5 times!!!

Benito and Loli at lunch today.

And, that, as I usually finish off, is all for the moment folks.


Monday, September 04, 2006

A quiet and very hot week. Spain won the Basket Ball World Championship!

Hi again

This week has been very quiet, not much to report really. We’ve just been doing our usual things and enjoying the peace of the last week of August.

It has been the hottest summer in 45 years apparently. We had a break in the middle of August when we came back from Santa Pola but now the hot weather has returned with a vengeance. The forecast for today is 39º, just a bit too much. Thank God for the swimming pool I say. It might seem like a luxury to anyone living outside Spain, but here it is almost a necessity.

As a lot of you know, I am quite a keen sports follower (not a player which is different but a couch spectator) and yesterday it was great to see Spain beat Greece in the Basket Ball world championship final. The final was actually a bit of a walk over whereas the semi finals where much more exciting. Greece eliminated the US team quite amazingly and Spain beat Argentina, the reigning champions by one point only.

Here is part of the the family watching the final (Left to right: Gaby, Susi, José Luis and my Father).

That’s all for the moment folks!
Love Masha