Monday, May 30, 2016

Family birthday with the girls, Oli’s new flat, roses from our garden, Winnie-the-Pooh and the Queen’s 90th birthdays, Obama visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, Lucía’s wedding, Hala Madrid and other stories.

Monday 30th May 2016

Eladio and I ready to go to the wedding on Saturday
Hi everyone. 

Sorry I didn’t write yesterday.  I meant to but Sunday turned out to be completely KO for me after Lucía’s wedding on Saturday.  I woke up with a cold which both Eladio and Olivia thought was a massive hangover but it wasn’t. I swear I only drank 2 glasses of wine – well maybe 3 – although going to bed at past 3 in the morning only exacerbated how I felt, so I had a terrible day with the cold, my body aching all over the place and absolutely no energy.  I spent the whole day in bed.  It’s so funny for someone like me who is usually hyperactive to have no energy and very frustrating.  One day is one day and thankfully this morning I am better although not yet 100%.   I have to get better this week as we have visitors from the USA and Finland to host on Thursday, Friday and the weekend.  That’s going to be fun. You will hear all about it in next week’s chronicle, but let me tell you about last week first.

Sunday 22nd May was Oli’s 31st birthday and Suzy had come to celebrate it with her, their friends and the family.  I left off last week just after the birthday breakfast. The next item on the birthday agenda was shopping with the girls, just the three of us. We went to Plaza Norte where I took a photo of the girls buying and exchanging shoes from a shop there.
The girls shopping last Sunday morning
The family lunch was to be fish and chips at Oli’s request which we made together.  Then of course came the birthday cake ritual; the third of the cakes I had made last weekend and which turned out to be a huge success.  It was also time for a selfie to immortalize the moment and here we are the 5 of us toasting Oli:
The birthday cake moment selfie on Oli's birthday last Sunday
The girls then went to spend some time with their friends “la manada” whilst Eladio and I got on with our Sunday afternoon routine which is usually a siesta after lunch, a cup of tea, some reading and then a walk with the dogs, in that order.  The day would end with a family dinner and I couldn’t believe that Oli wanted egg and chips for dinner.  I mean chips twice in a day, but her wish was my command.  It was to be Suzy’s last night with us.

On Monday I was up at 5.45 to take Suzy to the airport.  My heart always sinks when she goes.  We do miss her so much. I had been to the airport to pick her up and there I was suddenly taking her back; the two and a half days seemed very short.  We had time to talk and she told me about her new job.  It’s so funny that she is the manager not only for training at Hifas da Terra (The Spanish Company from Galicia which specializes in mycology and makes amazing health and beauty products from mushrooms!) but also for social media, press and events.  I never thought Suzy would end up doing a similar job to me.  She is getting lots of mentoring, coaching and help from me at a distance and I am happy to pass on lots of my experience in PR and events to her.  I love to be there for her just as I love to be there for Olivia. 

Meanwhile at home we had the people from the swimming pool company cleaning and scraping the paint which attracted dust to most of the house.  Other people came to give us estimates on mending the leak which seems pretty complicated.  Oh I do hope it will be painted, repaired and ready for use soon; although the weather has not been really warm enough to take the plunge yet.
The pool as it looks now after the cleaning and scraping.  I can't wait for it to be ready
The highlight of Monday was going to see Oli and Miguel’s new flat, the one they will be renting from 1st July.  It’s in the nice leafy area of Mirasierra, some 28km from home and just 5 stops on the metro to Oli’s place of work in Plaza Castilla.  We liked the flat as soon as we saw it.  It is clean, recently refurbished and very light. 
The lounge in Oli and Miguel's new flat we went to see this week
They would be signing the contract on Wednesday and their main priority from now on is to find everything they need to furnish it.  I can’t really believe Oli will be flying the nest but it has to happen.

Tuesday was another working day.  I went into the office for a management team meeting where we all got up to date on the different areas of the business. I also left my car to be taken for servicing and lucky me I was given a substitute one; a very modern medium sized Merc which needed quite a few instructions before I could drive it hahaha.

One of my jobs at this time of year is keeping the roses looking neat.  I cut them with the rose pruners from our house in Bradford. They must have been my Father’s and are still going strong. As soon I cut them, just a few hours later, more are blooming.  These are the ones I cut on Wednesday morning to adorn the house.  I always give my Father a vase in the dining room and another one for his bedroom.
Roses from our garden
Another daily job of mine is making dinner; or nearly always.  Usually we are 4 for dinner when Miguel is here.  When they go in July, it’ll just be Eladio and me (heave).  That night I made them a tuna fish salad as you can see in the photo below.  It’s one of our favourites for dinners.  Usually it’s made with tuna mayonnaise (with spring onion), peppers, asparagus and tomatoes.  On Wednesday I didn’t have the latter two so substituted them for avocado which was nearly as nice.
My tuna fish salad
That night Eladio and I finished watching Homeland Season 4 for the second time in my case.  There was time to start a new series and we began on The Americans based on the true story of 2 Russian KGB spies living in America as a married couple with 2 children who have no idea who their parents really are.  I mentioned the story not so long ago in my blog which, being the daughter of a Russian mother and parents who taught the language and part of the Cold War generation was right up my street.  We are now half way through.  It’s not as good as Homeland (what is?) but we are enjoying it.
The TV series we are currently watching
Thursday was a special day.  It was Winnie-the-Pooh’s 90th birthday which of course coincided with the Queen’s 90th.  And “he”, Pooh, via Disney who owns all the rights wrote a story called Winne-the-Pooh and the Royal Birthday.  Pooh leaves the Hundred Acre Wood for Buckingham Palace with Christopher Robin, Piglet and Eyeore to deliver his special gift to the Queen – a poem or “hum” written for the occasion. I am sure both AA Milne the writer and E.H. Shepherd the illustrator would have been happy with the outcome. 
The Queen and Winnie-the-Pooh  - a celebration of their mutual 90th birthday

This is the “hum”. 

“The Queen lived in her palace, as Queens often do.
Doing all those busy things that busy Queens do.
But the Queen could never know, as you and I do,
That doing nothing much can be the BEST thing to do.
So from a forest far away, for your special day,
We’re sending you some quiet and a little time to play.”

I was interested in this piece of news because I was brought up on the tales of Christopher Robin and Winnie-The-Pooh and always loved the stories and the poems.  It was my Mother who introduced me to them and I had all the books and used to know some of the poems off by heart.  I know the Queen loved them too when she was a child.  I think it was a very befitting gift and I particularly loved that piece of news on Thursday.

I did some shopping on Thursday, yes again.  I must curb my shopaholic instinct which Suzy reprimanded me for that day when I posted on Facebook the photos of the colourful and incredibly comfortable Skecher walking shoes I had bought that morning.  I threw my other walking shoes away as they had so many holes hahaha.

My new skechers, quite a discovery

 On Friday I spent some time with Eladio measuring Oli’s study, the room next to her bedroom which she never really uses and which we want to turn into a new spare bedroom.  That had me browsing Ikea and the Maison du Monde websites.  As I was making the lunch that day – fabada (bean stew) – I came across more red roses in our garden, the one near the kitchen, which I hadn’t spied before.  They were the result of the roses Miguel gave to Olivia for Valentine’s Day quite a few years ago.  They have grown enormously since then as I imagine their love has too.   So I cut them too and since then more have bloomed. They are perfect scented red roses.  You must know by now that roses are my absolute favourite flowers.  If you didn’t, you do now hahaha.
Miguel's scented red roses in the front garden
 That night Eladio and I went out to dinner as we nearly always do on Friday nights. I made a reservation via The Fork.  I wanted to try somewhere new but regretted it later that night.  We went to “Entre Capotes” in Majadahonda which was a disappointment.  The food was nothing special, the service unacceptable and the place lacking in atmosphere.  We will not be going back.

It was on Friday that Barack Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial; the first American President in office to do so.  He laid a wreath at the memorial and embraced a survivor of the US atomic bombing that killed 140.000 people. That was a very emotional moment.
President Obama embracing the survivor of the atom bombs, Shigeaki Mori who was 8 at the time.

As expected he spoke against the use and building of nuclear weapons but did not apologize or justify the terrible attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But his very presence and gesture suggest his condemnation of what happened, the most terrible war attack ever.  Of course he didn’t apologise, as it was the Japs who began with their attack on Pearl Harbour which I am sure they have regretted ever since.  Thankfully there has been no nuclear attack ever since and I hope there will never be one. Bravo Barack Obama for your gesture.

On Saturday I was upset to read that Rafa Nadal had pulled out of Roland Garros after reaching the 3rd round, due to a wrist injury.  Rafa who has won it 9 times out of 11 attempts and was hoping to become the first tennis player to win a grand slam 10 times, was in tears when he announced the news.  I was very sorry for him. 
It was bad news for Nadal on Saturday when he had to pull out of the French Open
That morning I slaved in the kitchen and at times it felt like I was running a restaurant hahaha.  I was making “salmorejo” (a thick type of gazpacho that hails from Córdoba), artichoke hearts and yet another bilberry birthday cake for Olivia who was having another party that day, this time for her work colleagues.  To make the salmorejo I used the Kenwood my Mother bought me for my wedding, nearly 33 years ago.  I am amazed it is still going strong and wonder why kitchen appliances today are not made to last.  It’s called “programmed obsolescence”.  Thankfully when my Kenwood was manufactured that didn’t exist. 
Making "salmorejo" with my 33 year old Kenwood
Then I made the 4th and last of Oli’s birthday cakes for this year – another bilberry and cream one.
Oli's 4th birthday cake!

Eladio and I helped Oli with the preparations.  The most important part was the barbecue which of course my husband was in charge of.  Unfortunately it rained whilst he was cooking the meat.  Here is the photo of this rather strange moment where he is cooking and holding an umbrella at the same time.
Eladio cooking the meat for Oli's bbq in the rain using an umbrella!
Whilst Olivia continued her party, Eladio and I got ready to go to a wedding. It was to be a very special one.  Lucía, the youngest daughter of the González Gálvez family was to marry Juan Carlos that evening in the chapel at La Moraleja.  I consider this family to be my Spanish family.  I lived with them when I spent my 3rd year at University in Spain (1978-1979) in Madrid.  Pili and Gerardo, the parents, took me into the bosom of their well-to-do, family.  I was to be an au pair to their children: Gerardo, Irene, Julieta and Toti and teacher of English to Gerardo and Irene. I was 21 and they were in the early teens and we hit it off immediately.  I loved them then and always.  I am eternally grateful to how they accepted Eladio when I first brought him to their summer house in Galapagar.  He was of course a priest and our relationship was a total secret except for my parents and Eladio’s brother and sister-in-law, José Antonio and Dolores.  I wasn’t sure how Pili and Gerardo would react as they were a well off, Catholic and right wing family and having a boyfriend as a priest in the early 80s in Spain would have been a scandal.  But they were wonderful; never criticized and accepted our relationship from the start. 

They were to play a big part in my wedding 33 years ago.  Gerardo would be our chauffeur and Irene and Julieta our bridesmaids.  This morning I dug out a photo of them at our wedding and here it is.
The González Gálvez family, my Spanish family, at our wedding in August 1983
One year later I was pregnant with Susana and Pili was pregnant too with Lucía, late in life and they were born in April and August 1984 respectively. It was to Lucia`s wedding that we were going on Saturday.  I don’t normally like weddings, but if they are for people very close to me, like the González Gálvez family, then of course I do. We dressed up the best we could and just before we left Oli took some photos of us ready to go. She is such a good photographer. The photo illustrating this blog is the one I like best.  Eladio looks great in a suit and bow tie doesn’t he?
Dressed up to go to Lucía's wedding
Spanish weddings are very different to English ones.  They are a lot less formal. At church people hang around talking and when the bride comes in they remain standing gawking at the procession.  Then when the wedding is over, instead of sitting quietly for the bridal procession to leave, they all go out ahead of her. Children run around and people even go outside to chat or to smoke.
The bridal procession arriving
It was a lovely ceremony and thankfully the weather held.  Once the bride and groom were outside everyone threw rice at them.  A quirk of luck had it that Eladio and I would have the honour of taking the bride and groom in our car to the wedding party at the Club de Golf in La Moraleja.  Sadly their driver had to leave in haste as his pregnant wife had been taken into hospital. I hope everything is ok.
The bride and groom in our car
The venue was spectacular and the views from the terrace of the luxury Moraleja complex with the golf course in front view was the best place to take photos.  I took this one of Eladio which got some favourable comments on Facebook.
Eladio looking like James Bond (hahaha) at Lucía's wedding
The best photo I have seen so far is the one of the González Gálvez family all together.
The González Gálvez family at the wedding on Saturday.
My, how they have grown since the photo of them taken at our wedding in 1983!  Gerardo is now the proud father of 5 (Vicky, Lucía, Ana, Gerardo and Irene), Irene the proud mother of 4 (Tomy, Paula, Celia and Nacho) and Toti (Alberto) the father of a brood who I only met on Saturday.  His youngest son, Miguel, aged 3 is the spitting image of him when I first met him aged 5 when I joined the family in 1978.  He is adorable.

Whilst the wedding reception started, believe it or not, many people were glued to the television. Lucía had the bad luck that the all Madrid Champions League final in Milan coincided with her wedding.
Football at the wedding!
At the end of the match the two teams had drawn 1-1 which meant there would be over time and dinner wouldn’t start until 11.  Wisely, however, the family had decided to start the dinner even if there was over time.  Here is the lovely moment when the bride and groom arrive at their table.
The bride and groom arriving at their table
Again I was grateful to the family who could have put us on any old table.  But no, we were placed on table 2 with Gerardo and his wife, Vicky, Irene and her husband Tomas, Julieta and their close friends and cousins.
Our table with Eladio and Gerardo at the forefront clapping at the bride and groom as they arrive at their table
The food was out of this world; strawberry gazpacho, lobster salad, fillet steak and a divine chocolate dessert.  Our table was abuzz with happy conversation.  We talked about the past and the present, including the issue of Brexit.  More importantly we fixed a time for Irene, Tomas, Gerardo and Vicky to visit us in Montrondo in September.

It was during the dinner that Real Madrid played Atlético de Madrid for another agonizing 30 minutes.  Atlético could have won if they had scored the penalty awarded to them.  In the end the final was resolved with a very unfair penalty shootout which Gerardo and I rushed from our table to watch.  As most of the more than 17 million spectators around the world predicted, Real Madrid won the match, albeit with a  penalty shootout, Ronaldo scoring the final goal. I was happy that my team had won the 11th Cup (“la undécima”) and sorry at the same time for Atlético de Madrid who after 3 attempts in the history of the club have yet to win the most coveted football club championship in the world.
Hala Madrid! They did it again for the 11th time.
Most of the Real Madrid fans were chanting Hala Madrid to which I join my voice.  They really know how to win this championship.  I do wish though that they could win La Liga or La Copa del Rey more often, both of which went to their eternal rival, Barcelona this year. 
After dinner the dancing started. Here the Spaniards are traditional and the first dance was a waltz by the bride and groom, followed by Pili and her son Toti.  Even Eladio and I danced although we are dreadful dancers.  We left at about 2 in the morning, very late for us.  It was in the car on the way home I realised I was getting a cold as I could feel it in my throat.  It took a lot of effort to get ready and finally collapse into bed.

As I told you, yesterday, I woke up feeling k.o. and the day was a wash out.  Thankfully today I am feeling a lot better. 

I wonder how the bride and groom were feeling yesterday.  I always remember feeling exhausted the day after our wedding.  They left for New York and Punta Cana this morning and I was happy to hear that they used the suitcases we had bought for them as a wedding present.  Here is Lucía smiling at the airport this morning with one of the cases.
The happy bride with one of our wedding present suitcases at the airport this morning, destination honeymoon in NY and Cancun.  
Now that I have told you all about last week, I shall get on with publishing this post as I am sure my Father is anxious to read it.  I shall have a rest now and hopefully my cold will fizzle out over the next few days and I shall be fine to host our visitors this week.

Cheers all till next time


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Back from Montrondo, Pippa’s bath time, the Queen’s speech, Air Egypt plane crash, Suzy here for the weekend, Oli’s birthday and other stories.

Sunday 22nd May 2016

The four of us on Olivia's birthday, a very happy family.  Lovely for the 4 of us to be together.
Hi again another Sunday.  Actually it’s not just another Sunday, it’s Oli’s birthday and she has turned 31.  It seems like yesterday when I gave birth to her.  How time flies.

Time flies indeed and this time last Sunday we were in Montrondo.  It was the anniversary of my brother George’s passing away but also Eladio’s brother Isidro’s 55th birthday.  It was the first really sunny day in many weeks and we made the most of it together with members of my husband’s family.

In the morning Eladio, Toño and I went to buy eggs at Ulpiano’s place.  Both brothers were wearing the traditional Montrondo clogs called “madreñas” and I had to have this photo of them on the village green called “el campo” (literally the field).
Eladio and his brother Toño (José Antonio) with their clogs (madreñas) on in Montrondo last Sunday
Buying eggs from Ulpiano and his wife Serafina is quite an experience.  Their premises have probably not changed much in over 40 years and the yard is full of hens and two cockerels which do not get along and 7 cats. They seem to live in harmony.  They also have a dog which sadly is tied up as there would be chaos if it were let loose.
Ulpiano's place where hens, cockerels and cats live alongside
We got back to find some of the family raking grass.  With all the rain it had grown very long and was in need of cutting and raking.  Even my youngest niece and god daughter Alicia joined in. Here she is in action.

Alicia raking the grass in Montrondo last Sunday
I spent a lot of the morning enjoying watching Pippa and Alicia’s 4 month old puppy a “bodeguero andaluz” called Marly playing together.  They hit it off from the start and was hilarious to watch.  The “bodeguero andaluz” is a Spanish breed of dog used in the Andalusian wineries to hunt mice and rats.  It’s a bit like a Jack Russel. The breed today is the result of a cross between fox terriers brought over by British wine merchants and local dogs way back.  Later in 1900 a toy terrier was crossed into the breed. The result is a very beautiful dog of medium size, long legs, white body and white brown and black head and lovely temperament.  Here is Alicia with both of them.
Alicia with Marly and Pippa in Montrondo in the sun last Sunday
After lunch we all celebrated Isidro’s birthday.  His wife Yoli and daughters had made a strawberry covered sponge cake.  Here is the birthday boy blowing out his candles.
Isidro blowing the candles on his birthday cake
Later whilst everyone slept the siesta, I went for a walk to Murias and back with Adela.  We were joined by Manolita and on our way out of the village we stopped at Jenaro’s house to see his lovely garden.  I call it the secret garden as it can only really be seen once you are inside the courtyard of his family house. He has flowers everywhere and the garden thrives and gets more beautiful every year. 

Genaro's secret garden in Montrondo
We came home from the walk to find Eladio and Toño cutting more grass.  They are the only ones of the 6 brothers and sisters, I think, who know how to use their fathers’ scythes and how to sharpen them with a piece of stone.  I’m always worried they will cut themselves. It’s quite a tough job and it’s very bucolic to see them do it wearing their “madreñas”.  Here is Eladio with one of the original scythes stopping for a moment for a picture at the back of our house.
Eladio with his Father's scythe cutting the grass behind the house with his clogs (madreñas) on.
At around 6 or 7 everyone set off for León and Toño, Eladio, Pippa and I were left alone.  Before we had dinner it was Pippa’s bath time.  I usually bathe her every day when we are in Montrondo because she gets so dirty running through the fields and vegetable plots.  You probably know we have a claw foot bathtub in our bedroom which was a whim of mine more for decorative purposes than anything else as I have only used it once.  It is mostly used for little Pippa and is the perfect receptacle to bathe her in as she can’t get out whilst I wash her.  I popped her in the bath before turning the water on and just had to take a photo of her to show you.  Doesn’t she look adorable?
Pippa's bath time in Montrondo. 
Monday 16th was a bank holiday in Madrid as San Isidro the patron saint of the city and province (comunidad) on the 15th May fell on a Sunday.  I was up at 6.45 more or less as usual and the day was mine for taking, or at least the morning as we would be leaving in the afternoon.  It was another glorious and sunny day.  Whilst the brothers cut the last of the grass, off I went for a walk to Murias and back with Pippa and Nuba, José Antonio’s mongrel.  I couldn’t help marveling at the wild flowers on the old path between Montrondo and Murias.  I kept taking pictures and in the end made this collage to show you.
Some of the wild flowers I saw on the old path from Montrondo to Murias.
I was back for elevenses on the terrace with Toño and Eladio.  We shall be in need of a sun shade when the weather gets warmer. 
Elevenses in Montrondo on Monday morning
The brothers were in luck for lunch as I was making fish and chips with a beer batter recipe and of course mushy peas. They loved it as did I.
Home made fish and chips and mushy peas for lunch on Monday in Montrondo
If I hate the arrival and settling in I don’t like the shutting up the house ritual either although it takes a bit less time.  We left at 17.15 and with one stop only were home by 21.15.  It was a bit late for dinner with Oli but there was time for opening the new ham we had bought at the Palacio de Bornos winery in Rueda on our way to Montrondo.  The dogs were equally interested in the event as we were.  As usual the ham was first class.  I wonder how long it will last us?
Opening the new ham at home on Monday night to the great interest of our 3 dogs hahaha
On Tuesday I went shopping for Oli’s birthday present (big secret until Sunday hahaha). I came home to find Eladio cutting our grass this time; not with the scythe but with the lawn mower as you can see in the photo below.
Eladio mowing the lawn this week
It had grown so much because of the endless rain and then the sun.  It was to be sunny and warm all week and it felt like summer.  About time I thought.  Normally on a day like Tuesday in  the middle of May and warm weather we would have opened the swimming pool but that was not to be.  A leak has to be repaired and it is in dire need of painting.  This is what it looks like now; not a pretty sight.
The pool is not ready for the summer yet:-(
The company that was coming to do it let us down at the last moment and now we have to find another one willing to do the job for a reasonable price and as quickly as possible. That is no easy task as just as the fine weather has started there is an excess of jobs for these companies. Thankfully we have found one that, fingers crossed, can do the job next week.  I can’t wait for the pool to be open for summer.

I had a birthday lunch that day. It was at El Buey in Boadilla with my friends Fátima and Julio to celebrate his 48th birthday.  He treated us to a lovely meal and we had such a good time catching up that we forgot to take a photoL  We also agreed on a date in June for them to come with us to Montrondo and see our new house.  That will be something to look forward to.  I hope they like both the village and the house.

That night we had dinner outside with Oli.  It was a bit like the inauguration of summer as it seems the good weather has come to stay, at least for a while.  For the occasion I got out my last bottle of Christmas wine, a vintage Marqués de Vargas which was delicious.  Eladio and I remarked we should have wine as good as that for dinner every night.  Olivia commented we could when she leaves the house hahaha.  Maybe we should, maybe we will.
Dinner al fresco with Oli and Eladio this week
On Wednesday more swimming pool companies came to see our sorry state of a swimming pool as I worked and read outside.  It was on that day that the Queen read a speech at Parliament. “Written by ministers and civil servants, it sets out the government’s legislative programme for the year ahead” and coincides with the state opening of parliament.  The pomp and ceremony are ages old and have not changed in centuries.  The Huffington Post wrote a very eye opening article on this year’s speech entitled: “Woman in £1,000,000 Hat Tells Britain To ‘Live Within Its Means”.  They are probably right except that as my cousin André who lives in Canada pointed out, “it’s not like she can sell the million pound hat and pocket the cash”.  Both the Huffington Post and my cousin André have a point and I was taking it.  I love Queen Elizabeth 1 but it does seem very incongruous for her to sit in such luxury and make a speech about austerity in these times of crisis.  I’ve just put that in your pipe to smoke it.  I wonder what you think.
The Queen's speech this week
I thought about it quite a lot as I have just read her governess’ Marion Crawford’s biography, “The Little Princesses”,  of her times teaching and bringing up the Queen and her sister Margaret from when they were 6 and 2 respectively. It is very revealing and when it was published in 1950, the Royal family were so upset with her giving away behind the scenes stories of their life that they banished her from their lives. She never meant any harm as the biography is a very tender, touching and respectful story and she never got over the treatment handed out to her by the people she loved and who never forgave her. 

The young princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and their governess Marion Crawford in the mid 30s
I wonder if “Crawfie” as the princesses called her, would agree with The Huffington Post’s article, if she were still alive.  Something tells me she wouldn’t as she was a normal girl brought up in quite austere times in Scotland and was very sensible and matter of fact.  Her greatest feat was giving the royal princesses a glimpse of real life like the time she took them on the Underground in London, took them to a local swimming pool to learn to swim or formed a group of Girl Guides at the Palace or when she organised games for them with East End children who had been exiled to Windsor and Scotland during the 2nd World War.  I for one feel divided.

That night I was very upset to hear that the youngest daughter of my ex colleague, Rosa B. from Motorola, had died during the night of an epileptic fit.  I could hardly imagine her grief.  Even though I hadn’t seen Rosa for years I just had to reach out to her and I did.  It was difficult to find the right words to express my condolences (hate that word).  Rosa wrote back which couldn’t have been easy as she must have been receiving so many messages during her first hours of the most terrible grief any mother can experience; the loss of her child. It doesn’t bear thinking about.  I’m so sorry for her and all her family.  God bless your child Rosa, God bless you.

On Tuesday morning we woke up to hear that an Egypt Air plane that had left Paris for Cairo with 56 passengers and 10 crew on board had gone off the radar just as it had entered Egyptian air space when it suddenly vanished.  Later in the day we heard that it had crashed into the Mediterranean Sea from 25.000ft after making two sharp turns. 

An Egypt Air plane on route from Paris to Cairo like the one that crashed into the sea this week
Some remains have since been found and the search is on for the famous black box.  The search for reasons is on to and they point more towards a terrorist attack than to an accident  I mean it is not normal for a plane to suddenly drop from that high in the sky and fall into the sea.  I hate the fact that this could be the work of terrorists as it adds more fear to flying than ever before.  If it is the work of terrorists then something went wrong with security at Charles De Gaulle airport.  Hopefully we will soon find out.  Meanwhile my heart goes out to the friends and families of those poor innocent victims.   This piece of news doesn’t bear thinking about either.

But this week’s post is not all bad news.  I have some good news too and that is the happy ending of the story of the Spanish couple, David and Marta, who were stranded for 10 days on a boat in the sea in Malaysia after it had capsized.  I think I told you the story last week when they had been found.  Well this week, to their families’ great relief they were to be flown home. They arrived on Thursday afternoon to be greeted by a crowd of family, friends and press.  Amongst the press was my daughter Olivia.  It was a great story to cover and she got to interview the couple and talk to the parents and family as she had the week before when they were still missing.  If they were suffering then, yesterday they were over the moon with joy at recovering David and Marta.  It was quite an emotional event.

Oli with the two Spanish heroes, David and Marta, who survived 10 days in a boat in the sea in Malaysia
Friday was emotional for me too when I went to pick up Suzy from the airport.  She was arriving at noon.  I hadn’t seen her since my visit to London in March, two months ago. For Eladio and my Father it had been longer as they hadn’t seen her since Christmas.  Suzy arrived in brilliant sunshine and she loved it, coming from gloomier London. Soon we were home and it was hellos all around and a delight to see her hugging her Father.  I just had to take a photo of the two of them to cherish the moment.
Father and daughter reunited
Pippa was also delighted to see Suzy and greeted her like there was no tomorrow and didn’t bark at all as she usually does to strangers.  It’s funny how she treats Suzy like another member of the family yet she hardly ever sees her.  It’s as if she knew Suzy is part of the family.  Pippa herself is too!
Suzy and Pippa reunited too
Later we had lunch together outside with my Father, vegetarian lentils followed by a delicious fruit salad.  Suzy was determined to pack as much as possible into the 2 and half days she would be with us, so straight after lunch she and I went to the Plaza Norte shopping centre to get some sneakers and her birthday present for Oli. It was lovely to have some mother and daughter time together. We came home early, had a cup of tea and then she got ready to go out and meet friends after which she would be picking up Oli and Miguel and they would all be going out to dinner.  Meanwhile we kept to our routine at home and Eladio and I went  out for dinner to Ginos for a change, where, over a delicious dish of pasta and osso bucco we talked about the girls and counted our blessings.

Saturday came and brought more wonderful sunshine.  The day was going to be perfect, the family together and a party in store for Oli's birthday with the girls' friends from "La Manada" (the herd hahahaha).  I was up early, had breakfast, went on my walk, came home and had a shower and washed my hair and only then did the girls and Miguel and Juli (their surrogate brother) get up.  I even had time to cut more roses to put in vases around the house before I set to making 2 birthday cakes for Olivia.  I cheated and had bought the sponge cakes but did the fillings and icing myself.  Juli and Suzy helped me whilst Oli and Miguel went off to Mercadona our local supermarket to do the food shopping for the party.  

Putting the finishing touches to Oli's birthday cakes with Juli and Suzy
I think they turned out perfectly.  I filled one with bilberry jam and cream and covered it with white icing sugar and then added real bilberries for decoration (Suzy's suggestion). The other one had nutella and cream and was covered with chocolate icing and topped with the nearest I could find to maltesers. Here they are in all their glory.
Oli's semi home made birthday cakes
Miguel was the cook yesterday and made a super boletus risotto.  He had to cook for 20 but overestimated; although it was all eaten up by the end of the day.   We all enjoyed it thoroughly.  Below is the photo of The Manada having their lunch. We had ours quietly with my Father in the dining room.
The birthday party lunch for Oli
It was lovely to see the girls and their friends together, The Manada reunited so to speak. It's not often Suzy gets to be with them and it being Oli's birthday party made it even more special.

The family birthday celebrations are today Sunday, officially Oli's 31st birthday.  She has grown into such a beautiful and talented woman and is soon to fly the nest.  I was up early to prepare breakfast for everyone.  I even went out to buy churros and chocolate.  I had a bit of a problem when I realised I had no cash and they wouldn't accept payment by card.  The hole in the wall didn't work either so of course Eladio came to the rescue.  In the end this is what the table looked like before we demolished all the yummy breakfast things.
The table laid for Olivia's birthday breakfast this morning.
The two cakes I had made on Saturday were polished off by La Manada so I made another one this morning.  Oli chose the bilberry variety and Suzy helped me make it whilst the former tried on all the clothes that Miguel had bought her for her birthday hahaha.
The third birthday cake!
Finally I got her to look at the cake and that was when we took the photo of the four of us which illustrates this week's blog post.  Thanks Miguel for the photo, love it.

Now I will get on with enjoying the day with the family; Suzy's last day and Oli's birthday.  I feel very blessed today.

So I will leave you now, hoping you enjoyed the tales of this week.

Till next time,
Cheers all/Masha