Saturday, December 30, 2017

Family Christmas, bronchitis, Suzy back in London, a look back at 2017 and a Happy 2018 to all my readers.

Sunday 31st December 2017
Happy New Year everyone.
Hi everyone,

Well today is the last day of the year and what a year it has been.  But first for this week, the last week of 2017. 

Last Sunday was Christmas Eve and I was in the throes of my cold. The morning felt like a master chef cooking time trial. I am the Christmas organiser in this house but I seem to do it all alone and this year I really felt tired. I was up at 6 and was soon preparing the Christmas Eve dinner. I finished making the trifle, our favourite dessert which I only usually make once a year. My Father prefers the top part with the cream and Eladio the bottom part with the jelly hahahaha which makes for difficult serving.
The trifle I made for Christmas Eve dinner
I then started on the "salpicón de marisco" (seafood salad) which was definitely the best dish on the table that night. I made quite a lot but it all disappeared. I might be making more for tonight's dinner too as it was such a success.
My "salpicón de marisco" seafood salad.
I also made more bread which the girls devour. I can't make enough of it as they finish it off as soon as it is made hahahahaha. Potato salad made with my Russian grandfather's recipe would be another main dish on the table that night and that was ready by mid morning too. I had done all the food shopping but, as is typical, had forgotten a few ingredients, so off I went to the supermarket again for last minute purchases. Then we went to pick up our Christmas morning breakfast fare - croissants, pain au chocolat, donuts, "ensaimadas", etc.  I couldn't believe the queue at the bakery. Christmas is all about food and we all seem to get very greedy about it. Once home, I placed the big parcel of croissants on top of the freezer lid on the ground floor. Later when we weren't looking, Norah got at it. She must have kicked it on to the floor with her paw but it got locked down the side between the deep freeze and fridge, thus she was only able to eat a quarter of it. Norah had done it again and we never learn our lesson. 

Lunch was leftovers and a light affair. I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking too, making bacon rolls and more salads. When all the food was ready, it was time for our walk which we would need desperately if we were to eat so much that night hahahahah. As tradition dictates, later Eladio lit the fire in the TV lounge and the girls joined us. It felt very festive indeed.

The four of us by the fire on Christmas Eve
Normally my Father would have joined us. We brought him up from his room in his wheelchair but he must have got cold on the way and started shivering. He decided he wouldn't join us for dinner which was rather sad as it would be the first Christmas Eve dinner without him. I suppose when you are nearly 99, you just prefer to go to bed quietly at Christmas.

The girls and I got dressed up for the dinner and I even put makeup on but I didn't feel well. Even so I made the effort. Zena, my Father's weekend carer who is from the Ukraine, joined us. This is what the table looked like. To take the picture Oli stood on her chair which always makes me laugh.

Our Christmas Eve dinner table.
We had to have a selfie too and this is the 4 of us with our cracker hats on to remember the moment. Suzy is wearing my new patchwork Zara dress which looked so good on her, I gave it to her.
Our Christmas Eve dinner selfie. The 4 of us with our cracker hats on
I had ordered lots of crackers online again this year and the contents never fail to disappoint I'm afraid. Whey can't they make more imaginative or better content? I wish they would. 

I tried not to eat too much but the trifle finished me off hahaha. Later Miguel joined us after having had dinner with his parents. We sat by the fire laughing and taking pictures until it was time for bed, past 11 pm.  

Christmas day dawned, the loveliest day of the year in my mind. I was up early, especially to put the girls' stockings by their bedroom doors. They are now 32 and 33 and the tradition continues hahahahahah.  My mother knitted them years ago and they are a little fragile now but the girls wouldn't have Christmas without them. The stocking fillers came mostly from Primark and Tiger.

The girls' Christmas morning stockings
Being the Christmas organiser, it was up to me to prepare the Christmas morning breakfast table too and I wasn't feeling at all well. Everyone else was asleep. Thankfully there were lots of croissants even after Norah had had a go at them!!!! As soon as the table was laid and ready for breakfast I went to wake up the girls. Normally they always open their stockings on their own together but this year I witnessed them being opened. And here is Suzy, in her room - yes one of the ones I usually rent out on Airbnb  - enjoying the moment with me.
Suzy opening her Christmas stocking and bag full of more stocking fillers which wouldn't fit in the stocking!
When I looked at the tree that morning, I realised that we must all have been awfully good this year as Santa Claus had filled all the space under and around it. Amazing!!!!
The presents under the tree on Christmas morning
But before we started on the present opening ceremony which would take at least 1.5 h, it was time for breakfast all together. This time my Father joined us.

There was more quantity than quality in the presents "Santa" brought but we loved them. In recent years I have had a photo taken of Eladio and I just before we open the presents and this year would be no exception. The exception though was that I wasn't well and didn't look very good. I prefer the one of us taken on Christmas Eve, the one illustrating this week's post. Eladio always wears a bow tie for the occasion which makes him look very dapper I think. 
Eladio and I on Christmas morning - our yearly photo together
Everyone enjoyed the session and here is Eladio with Pippa opening a parcel with some tartan Primark pyjamas to match mine hahahahahaha.
Eladio opening a Christmas present
Who did look good together in a photo were Oli and Miguel. Pippa seems to get in all the pictures hahahahaha. And here they are enjoying themselves too.
Miguel, Oli and Pippa on Christmas morning
My main present was my new Kenwood, to replace the one my Mother had bought me when we got married in 1983. While making the lunch, Eladio and I did the unboxing and it is slightly more complicated than my old model. It's also a lot less robust and I wonder if it will last as many years as my old Kenwood. Somehow I doubt it. 

After the present opening, it was once again  time for more cooking and again up to me to make the lunch, a typical British Christmas Day meal. It felt like a time trial again too but I managed it without much help from anyone.  I  made a big roast chicken, called a "pularda" here - I'm not too keen on turkey - with the trimmings we like best; sprouts, gravy, roast potatoes, sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce. I ate so much for lunch that I had to skip on dinner hahahahaha. And here is the family around the table about to start. I had to stop them from digging in, to take the photo and to make a toast hahahahaha.

Christmas lunch

We all had a very lazy time after lunch. It was awful weather so we didn't get a walk that day. In fact I didn't go for a walk since Christmas Eve  until yesterday, owing mostly to my cold. I had bought the DVD of the film My Fair Lady for Suzy who had shown an interest in it. It's funny but the girls never watched it when they were little. However, it was me who enjoyed it most. Later they went out with their group of friends and we went to bed early after no dinner, in my case at least. 

Boxing day dawned and I felt worse. Elsa had her operation that day to remove two bad teeth and Eladio took her. As soon as the local clinic opened I went to see the doctor. It didn't take much time to diagnose me with bronchitis and she prescribed a shock treatment of antibiotics. I went home and straight to bed sitting up with 4 pillows as I could hardly breathe if I was lying down. It was to be Suzy's last day at home and there I was in bed. I did join the family for our leftovers lunch though.  This time we got a selfie with my Father, something of a tradition at Christmas in the last few years.

Our Boxing Day selfie. 
The rest of the day was spent in bed. Eladio and I started watching a really good Spanish series on Netflix called "La Embajada" (The Embassy) about corruption at the Spanish Embassy in Bangkok. We have been binge watching it ever since.  

Wednesday 27th December dawned and even though I was feeling dreadful I had to work. I had to send out a press release to the media on new appointments in Adamo (the Swedish optical fiber operator) including my own which was rather funny and a bit embarrassing. If you can read Spanish, this is the press release.  I rather liked the headline I had written myself: "Adamo hires ex directors of HTC, Yoigo and Nokia. I of course am an ex director of both Yoigo and Nokia.  My other colleagues who had just been appointed were Pedro who I coincided with at Nokia and Antonio who I coincided with at Yoigo. 

New appointments at Adamo 
Very soon the press coverage began and many of the journalists I had sent the release to published the news which pleased me a lot. After all, that is why Adamo have taken me on, to get them lots of media coverage. By the next morning I had garnered 27 articles!!!!! I think Adamo was pleased too. I certainly was. 

Meanwhile Suzy was getting ready to leave. We had a last meal together, more Christmas leftovers, until Oli and Miguel would drive her to the airport. She would have a nightmare of a journey owing to the snow and bad weather in the UK. She flew with Ryan Air and her 6 pm plane was delayed. However the biggest delay was at Stansted airport where she had to wait 3 hours for her luggage. She didn't get home till 2 in the morning. However, she was lucky that she got home at all, as nearly all the Ryan Air flights to and from Stansted the next day were cancelled because of the snow.  She had been with us for just one week and it seemed to pass in a jiffy. We do miss her. Hopefully she will be back in April after which, very sadly for me, but very excitingly for her, she plans to move to Indonesia to Bali !!! Oh how far away that is. 

If Suzy had a nightmare journey to Stansted, I had a nightmare of a night, with dreadful coughing fits. The next morning, Thursday, I sent Eladio to the doctor to get a prescription for the only medicine I know that stops coughing fits, called "codeisan" which is obviously made of codeine and completely dries you up inside but it works.

Oli was back at work and would be staying at her flat this week with Miguel so the house felt rather empty and it was a bit of an anti climax after Christmas without the girls. She worked on editing the programme she had filmed for in Montpelier in France. It seems her next destination is Manchester, of all places, and also possibly Leeds. The programme producers are now looking for suitable candidates from Madrid who live there, among them the Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea. I can't believe she will be going to Lancashire and hopefully Yorkshire. I'd love to go with her. Who will probably join her for part of her trip will be Suzy of course who will drive up from London. Lucky girls!

I slept much better that night, thanks to the codeine and was feeling, if not a lot better, at least on the mend. It was on Friday that we were expecting 6 guests from Home Away (similar platform to Airbnb) and I was dreading them. I hadn't expected to coincide with them but of course we had cancelled our NY trip to Montrondo. To judge by all the communication since their reservation, they sounded like the sort to give you lots of trouble. One of them is allergic to dogs or rather has a huge phobia and it would be our task to make sure she never bumped into them. The logistics were difficult.

Meanwhile I got a new Airbnb reservation that day. A young girl called Enya from Guadeloupe would be coming on 4th Jan for 2 weeks. I had to look the place up and it is a a French island in the Antilles. Obviously she will be my first guest and probably my last from such a faraway island. She is coming to Spain on an Erasmus programme and will be attending the nearby UEM University and will be using our house as a base to find accommodation for the year.

I felt well enough to do the food shopping with Eladio on Friday morning, but not well enough yet for a walk. I also managed to make more bread. Our Home Away guests arrived just before lunch. They actually live in the centre of Madrid and were coming as a group of friends to spend NYE together. I though they were three married couples, but no they were just friends and family. They brought so much food we couldn't believe it. They totally filled the empty fridge on the ground floor mostly with booze and cooked prawns - Spaniards eat them on nearly all festive occasions. In order not to coincide with them at dinner, Eladio and I had ours early.  While we binge watched La Embajada we could hear them having dinner in our dining room. Thankfully they are very clean and tidy and the kitchen was in a perfect state the next day. 

On Saturday morning I woke up feeling a whole lot better. Mostly my energy was returning. I am such an energetic person usually and when I am ill that is what I most miss, my energy. After hosting our guests who were making their own breakfasts in our kitchen, I set about making "perushki" (Russian meat pies) for New Year's Eve. We usually have them on Christmas Eve. I had made the filling for that dinner and had asked Zena, our Ukranian weekend carer, to make the pastry and the pies. However she used yeast and her pastry turned out to be bread. We politely ate one or two that night and later I threw the rest away!!  I also prepared lunch while Lucy cleaned the house. Oli and Miguel were coming for our midday meal and I made good old fish and chips, except that I did the fish in breadcrumbs rather than in batter.

 Later Eladio and I finished watching "La Embajada". The end was breathtaking and had me sitting up tight in bed aghast at what I thought the end would be. We are now gutted it is over and that there is no second season. What a good TV series and what a great script. I also love the actors, Abel Folk the Ambassador, Luis Salinas and Belén Rueda his wife Claudia. 

Great Spanish TV series we watched on Netflix this wee
There was to be more cooking that afternoon. I made chicken noodle soup or rather the broth for it, as well as cream of vegetable soup and then more vegetables, fresh artichokes. This is what our dinner looked like on Saturday night. Again we had it early to avoid coinciding with our group of guests. Dinner together in the evening is always one of the best moments of the day.
Our healthy dinner on Saturday night
It was only when we were nearly asleep that our guests returned to make their dinner. 

And today is 31st December 2017, the last day of the year. It will be the first time we have spent New Year's Eve in our own home as we nearly always go to León to be with Eladio's family. Oli will join us as will Lucy and we will have a quiet evening. New Year's Eve is funnily enough not my favourite celebration and it never has been. I don't really know why. Somehow I think it's because I have or had great expectations that were never fulfilled and then I always get a sort of forlorn type feeling the next day, 1st January. 

It has been a topsy turvy year in many ways. This time last year we were in Cuba for Claudia and Miguel's wedding. We had a great time of course but there was a dark cloud on our horizon as I knew I was to lose my job with Yoigo. And I lost it and life was rather uphill afterwards. But somehow I landed on my feet again. 2017 was the year I started on Airbnb hosting which has been an interesting experience and of course quite lucrative. I had to find a new source of income and partly I found it with Airbnb. We have had more than 70 sets of guests from all around the world. This year too I became self employed forfeiting the dole as slowly I acquired customers for PR projects. I never looked for them. They looked for me and I am forever grateful. One of them, Adamo, has now contracted me on a full time basis. It's great to work for a Swedish company again and as it is an internet operator the sector is very familiar. If someone had told me this time last year that I would be self employed and have a new source or sources of income, perhaps I would not have worried so much about losing my job. 2017 was also the year I turned 60, not a good time to be fired, but amazing to be hired too; that's a feather in the cap of a Swedish company for you. I had a great party and many friends came from around the world too. I went to Cuba, to England with Oli to be with Suzy and I also went to Hong Kong with another customer, Genaker, my first customer and to whom I shall always be grateful for setting me on my new path. Miquel thanks!! I spent time with my cousins in France in the summer and attended Marie and Anas' wedding in Switzerland and of course I spent time with my family both at our little pad in Santa Pola and at our house in Montrondo. My family has been there for me through thick and thin and I would not be the happy woman I am without them. Eladio is my rock, my wonderful and very good looking husband and I appreciate every minute I spend with him. I have spent a lot of time too with Olivia, my youngest daughter who, thankfully, lives in Madrid. I am so proud of her in many ways. This year she started working with "Madrileños por el Mundo" and is enjoying her job enormously. We see her a lot. She keeps me young and makes up for Suzy not being here. Suzy, our darling older daughter has her ups and downs in London, never an easy place to work and be single. She spent a month with us in the autumn which was a luxury. She now has plans to move to Bali. So who knows, we may well go out to see her hahahaha. I wish all the very best for my adored family, my Father who I hope continues to be as well looked after as possible, my husband Eladio who I hope stays by my side for as long as life lets him and I wish the best for my darling daughters. Secretly and above all, I would be very grateful for a wedding and a grandchild. Maybe 2018 will bring me them if I am as good as I was this year. 

All that remains for me now is to wish you all a great 2018. You will hear from me next year, next Sunday hahahaha.

Cheers till then, Masha

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sunday morning in the centre of Madrid, Oli continuing her adventures in France, Suzy home for Christmas, annual seasonal dinner, Catalan elections and other stories.

Sunday 24th December 2017
With Fátima and Julio my best friends in Spain here for our traditional annual Christmas dinner this week
My goodness it's Christmas Eve and what a wonderful day it is too as our family is now complete with both girls at home.  

Just one week ago, Oli was still in France and Suzy in London. That day, Sunday 17th, our Airbnb guest, Borja, the student from Navarra left. Zena was going to make our lunch  - gloupsy again (Russian dish - stuffed cabbage rolls) so after publishing my blog and with time on my hands I suggested to Eladio that we go into Madrid and visit the traditional Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor in the centre of Madrid after the disappointment  of the one we went to in Boadilla the day before.  This is something we used to do nearly every year and where we used to buy our Christmas tree when we lived in town and where we took the girls when they were small. Secretly I was hoping to buy a Christmas hat with a battery operated moving bobble on it. I once had one but it disappeared at a family party one year.

It was a freezing cold morning and later I was to develop a cold (sniff sniff) . We decided to drive to the nearest metro station and leave the car there rather than face the traffic and difficulties of parking in the centre of the city. We got off the metro at Plaza de España and walked up the Gran Via to Calloa and then down the most commercial street in Spain, "Calle Preciados". It was teeming and many people were queuing up to buy Christmas lottery tickets at the most famous establishment in Spain, "Doña Manolita". I think Eladio was tempted but put off by the queues. Calle Preciados leads onto the Puerta del Sol, the most famous square in Madrid and the one from where all roads are measured in the country. We were very careful with our possessions as  pickpockets thrive in these areas. 

Huge queues outside the Doña Manolita lottery establishment, the most famous in Spain
The Christmas market in the Plaza Mayor is nothing special and not at all like the Christmas markets which I so love in the northern countries of Europe. Here all you can find are cheapo Christmas decorations, funny hats and jokes made in China as well as Nativity scene figures. It seems all the stalls sell the same rubbish. However the atmosphere is very festive and we soaked it up. Here I am in my warmest coat posing for a photo in the beautiful square.
In the Plaza Mayor
It was really great to break with routine and spend Sunday morning in the centre of Madrid, something we should do more often. 

We visited every stall until I finally found the hat I wanted. I should have put it on for a photo but it was far too cold. However, as soon as we got home, I made Eladio wear it for this photo hahahaa.
Eladio and the bobbly Christmas hat
I knew it was going to be a great success at all our Christmas meals as it produces a laugh a minute as soon as someone puts it on.

From the Plaza Mayor we walked the short distance to the Mercado San Miguel, an old food market turned into an amazing gastro centre where just everything is enticing and of the highest quality. The idea there is buy what you want to eat from any of the stalls and then find a table to sit down and enjoy whatever you have chosen. The most difficult thing is to choose. I went for sweet and Eladio for savoury. It was full of people but not the fullest I have seen. It's become very touristy but really it is a first class place to try out many of the  tapas Spain has to offer.
Outside the Mercado San Miguel last Sunday morning
We walked back to the Plaza de España the same way we had come and it was to be our walk of the day. We came home to a laid table and delicious gloupsy, my Father's favourite Russian meal. In the afternoon I finished watching Victoria Season 2 and then together with Eladio watched the last episode of Season 2 of The Crown. I am sorely missing both now and don't have anything half as interesting to watch. 

Monday was a quiet day. I was going to spend the morning at Primark with my sister-in-law but she cancelled. Instead, Eladio and I went out shopping again, this time for the main ingredients for the most festive meals, tonight's Christmas Eve Dinner and tomorrow's Christmas Day lunch. And guess what? Eladio bought more lottery tickets. At one of the shops I had a problem with my debit card so rang my bank. For a reason unknown to me, Bankia, the bank I have been with ever since I came to live in Spain, had blocked my account!!  I couldn't believe it. I must have wasted an hour at our branch with a rather inefficient employee who was not able to explain why the account was blocked and my cards wouldn't work. Horror of horrors I wouldn't be able to do any more shopping! Actually it didn't really matter as everything was bought. The next day the bank called me to say the account was now unblocked and later in the week I went to pick up my new cards. Bankia seems very old fashioned to me when nowadays all these types of issues should be resolved online. 

After lunch Eladio and I were on the move again. We had to take Elsa to the vet for a scan which would reveal what the lump on her face was caused by. It meant she had to be sedated and it was a very worried Elsa we left behind at the clinic. She would have been sorry to know that while she was being sedated and given the scan, we went for our walk with Norah and Pippa. Later in the evening we picked her up and brought her home from the most crowded clinic I have ever seen. I don't know why we still keep going there, probably because it is the nearest one from home. It was such chaos there that the next day we realised Elsa still had the IV line attached to her paw. I made a formal complaint but all I got was a verbal apology. The good news is that the results of the scan show that she has 2 infected molars (or is it the roots?). I was relieved it wasn't a tumour. She will have them out on Boxing Day. Poor Elsa. 

I came home to make a delicious dinner of smoked salmon with fresh steamed asparagus - a very healthy choice I think. Just as we were having dinner, I became a Great Aunt as one of our nieces gave birth to a baby girl. She is called Sara and is now the youngest member of the family. Welcome to the world Sara.  I am very happy for the parents but especially for her grandparents, Eladio's youngest brother and his wife. I want to be a grandmother too one day. Soon please hahaha. 

Tuesday dawned, the day Suzy would be coming home for Christmas from London. But it would be a very long day until we saw her. She was arriving on Ryanair from Standsted late that night at 23.35 but the plane was delayed. 

I was looking forward to our annual Nokia girls Christmas lunch on Tuesday but it was to ne another cancelled engagement, the second of the week. We were to be 6 but everyone cancelled at the last moment except for Juana and myself. Determined to see each other, she invited me for a twosome lunch at her house near Pozuelo and of course I accepted. In any case I had to give her back all the elements I had at home with which she made the sweet table for my 60th birthday and which I used for the one I made for the Yoigo reunion party the week before.  Even though we were only two, Juana had made a delicious lunch served beautifully in their immaculate and festive dining room. My contribution was freshly made multi cereal bread which I had made that morning both for Juana and Suzy. I also took along a box of crackers. 
Table for 2 at Juana's house for lunch on Tuesday
It was good to catch up on each other's lives. And it's thanks to Juana that I shall be adding a new dish to our menu for tonight's dinner. Juana is from Galicia, one of the best places for food in Spain. Her star dish for Christmas Eve is to be "salpicón de marisco" a sort of seafood salad and I asked her how she made it and what the ingredients are; although I knew the main ones; small scallops, giant prawns and lobster with thinly chopped spring onion and peppers which I adore. She had bought them at the Corte Inglés supermarket so I stopped there on my way home and bought the same seafood. I unfroze them last night and shall follow her recipe and I know everyone is going to love it. 

Once home, I went for a walk with Eladio and the dogs and then prepared part of the dinner for the following night when Fátima and Julio would be coming for our annual Christmas dinner. 

We couldn't go to bed early on Tuesday as we had to pick Suzy up from the airport. As I said earlier, her plane was delayed and she wouldn't be arriving until past midnight. Instead of going to bed to watch the news, we watched the TV in the lounge. I was keen to seen Oli's programme, "Madrileños por El Mundo" although Oli wasn't the reporter that night. It was on Finland and focused on Spaniards from Madrid who lived there but not in Helsinki.  Of course I was interested as Finland has a special place in my heart after having worked for Nokia for 6 years and after so many visits there. I had helped her find candidates for the programme and one of them was Araceli who lives in Espoo and works for Nokia. She was a colleague of mine when I worked at Nokia.  The programme started with people living in Rovaniemi, the heart of Lapland and where Father Christmas "lives". I had been there during one of my trips to Nokia and had also met the man himself.  It was interesting to see Araceli interviewed, to see her home and her office, the Nokia HQ of course. And here she is in one of the scenes, after ice skating, with her son and partner.
Araceli, my ex Nokia colleague who appeared in Oli's programme "Madrileños por el Mundo" this week
You can see the full programme here

After it finished it was soon time to leave the house and drive to the airport to pick Suzy up. She landed at around 12.05 but wasn't out until 12.30. But what a wonderful moment when I saw her and we hugged. When she hugged her Father I just had to snap the moment on my camera. And here they are Father and daughter, reunited for Christmas.
Suzy home for Christmas. Father and daughter reunited
She came home to find what I now call our Christmas wonderland as I have gone all out to decorate the house. It gets more and more kitsch as the years progress hahaha.

Just some of the decorations of our own personal "Christmas wonderland" 
I'm not sure what my family think but they go along with it hahahaa. 

We didn't get to bed until extremely late but thankfully I woke up just a bit later than usual on Wednesday morning, at 6.50. Suzy slept in her own room as we had no Airbnb guests when she came, unlike when she was here in September. I have blocked the calendar for Christmas which I'm sure Suzy appreciates. 

Oli of course was still in France and enjoying it immensely. On Tuesday, the day Suzy was coming home, she was filming some Spaniards who pick truffles using beagles to sniff out the prized culinary ingredient. God knows how they got the beagle in the photo to sniff out the truffle without actually eating it. I could never imagine, Norah, our beagle doing that hahahaa. What I didn't know is that it costs 1400 euros per kilo!!
Oli filming in France. Here with a beagle who sniffs out truffles
So, when I asked her to bring us some back  she answered that the truffle was "tres tres chere" which of course I knew. She did bring us nougat back though which both Suzy and I adore. Everyone eats the equivalent here at Christmas called "turrón" but I don't really like it, far preferring the softer nougat.  

On Wednesday it was great to have Suzy with us. Her cheer and demeanour and general charisma seem to fill the house with joy and energy. Unfortunately I couldn't have lunch with the family as I had a meeting with Adamo in Madrid. I was meeting my two Madrid colleagues, Antonio and Pedro, both of whom had been my colleagues at Yoigo and Nokia respectively. It's a small world. We had the meeting and lunch at Whitby, the bar where I had organised Yoigo's 6th birthday for the press. I went by metro and with time on my hands when I got out at Alonso Martínez I decided to drop into the only English shop I know in Madrid which is just around the corner; "Living in London". Here I bought more crackers, some mince pies and a a pavlova meringue case. 

I was home quite early, by about 4 pm and had tea with Suzy. We then went for our walk. She had engagements that night so got ready to go out. Meanwhile, Eladio and I prepared everything for the cold supper I was offering Julio and Fátima for our annual Christmas dinner chez nous so to say. I put on a huge spread and served them: salad of giant prawns, pineapple, avocado and lettuce, tuna fish spread with hard boiled eggs, ibérico ham, "raf" tomatoes and giant asparagus. I also made the mayonnaise and thousand island sauce to go with the prawns and asparagus.

This is what the table looked like heaving with delicious and mostly healthy food.
The dinner table on Wednesday evening  - dinner with Julio and Fátima
They were with us by about 8.30 and we gave them a tour of  "winter wonderland" playing all the mechanical Christmas figures. The lounge looked lovely with soft lighting and candles. I'm something of a candle freak hahahaha. Before we tucked in I had to have a photo of my dear friends Julio, who I got to know at Nokia, and Fátima, who I got to know at Motorola and who went on to work for Julio at Nokia when I worked there too. So, we have a lot in common. And here they are:
My dearest friends at dinner on Wednesday night
None of us are the drinks after dinner type people. Instead, we drank water. I offered them chocolates from my very tempting sweet table and we were all very good only eating one each hahahaha.  We were all a little tired, especially Fátima who had had a chemotherapy session the day before and was still wearing the "bag", so they left just before midnight, a very civilised time in my view.  

Thursday was the Winter solstice, the shortest day of the year but in Spain everyone was focused on the Catalan elections. It was to be the separatists against the unionists and the polls already predicted a majority of the former as they have two parties, Puigdemont's Together for Catalonia and Oriol Junquera's ERC. 

But I had lots to do that morning after making everyone's lunch. Suzy accompanied me on lots of little errands. We had to go to the vet for more antibiotics for Elsa and the chemist. We were then going to have a coffee at our favourite cafe Alverán in Boadilla but oh my God the display on the dashboard of my mini told us we were quickly running out of petrol with just enough for 2 km to go. So we rushed to the petrol station not sure we would make it. Thankfully we did but it was touch and go hahaha. Then we did go to Alverán where, not only did we have a coffee but, we ordered all the croissants and delicious pastries we like  for our Christmas Day breakfast and which we shall be picking up today. From the cafe, Suzy and I walked to a health food store she likes to buy a few things. I was not tempted hahahaha. Our final errands were a visit to my bank to pick up the new visa card and to the post office. We were home just on time for lunch with Eladio and my Father. We eat in the dining room and normally the dogs are not allowed in except for when Suzy is here. I had to have this photo of Norah's head popping up in between her arms in hope of a morsel of food, in this case raspberries hahahahaha.
Suzy and Norah have a special relationship 
Feeling a bit off because of my cold which would get worse as the day progressed, I slept a little. We watched the news to see how the elections were going but it wasn't until Friday morning that we would get the final results. At around 4 pm, in brilliant sunshine, on the shortest day of the year, we set off on our walk. Suzy commented on the sunshine comparing it to dark London where at this time of the day the sun would have already set. I certainly appreciate the extra light living in Spain.

I came home to spend a couple of hours drafting a press release which I sent off just as Suzy called us for dinner. My darling daughter had made our dinner and I was so grateful as I was feeling lousy because of my cold. I sort of got the shivers and wasn't at all hungry.  In fact, all I wanted to do was go to bed and nurse my cold. 

On Friday morning after a pretty bad night, I woke up to see the results of the elections in Catalonia and they did not paint a pretty picture.   Here they are.

The Catalan election results.
The unionist party, Ciudadanos,  led by Inés Arrimadas, the only woman of the 7 or so main candidates, won but she won’t govern as the 2 main separatist parties led by the fugitive Puigdemont and jailed Oriol Junqueras  have the majority of seats. between them.  There is rather an unfair counting system in Catalonia which gives more seats for votes from  the provinces rather than the cities.  One way of looking at it is that the majority of Catalans voted against independence but the separatists got more seats and get to govern. So now we are back to square one and in the same mess we were in before the Spanish government invoked Article 155. Who knows what will happen now. 

On the bright side on Friday, for some at least, "El Gordo", the Spanish Christmas lottery was drawn and who knows, we could have been rich.  But it was not to be. None of us won anything, except for Lucy who won 100 euros.

On Friday too, Oli was on her way home by train from Montpeliier which would mean that finally the family would be complete and I couldn't wait. 

Suzy and Eladio have their breakfast later than me. While they do, the dogs sit hoping for the odd crumb that may come their way. It's always a lovely scene and I was lucky to get them all on camera that morning. I just love the photo.
Suzy, Eladio and the 3 dogs - just love this pic. 
Suzy would accompany me food shopping to Mercadona after breakfast and then we would be off again, this time to Madrid for her to pick up a certificate she needed from Aramark, a previous employer. While in the car I was feeling lousy. My cold was getting worse. We came home to find Lucy had burnt the lentils so I had to quickly rustle up an alternative lunch and made fresh hake, pumpkin and potato purée with broccoli. 

Oli was home by 5 carrying her heavy luggage as well as lots of nice French produce for us all; wine, nougat, honey, biscuits, etc. It was great to have her back. I was feeling too ill for a walk and eventually when I began to shiver, I decided all I could do was go to bed and nurse my cold. I was dreading being ill for Christmas.  

I woke up on Saturday morning feeling just slightly better. At least the shivers had gone.  However, I had little energy yesterday. I joined the girls on what is usually one of the happiest days of the year, going Christmas shopping with them. We went to Gran Plaza 2 and walking around tired me. Thank goodness I had done all my Christmas shopping. We came home to have lentils and coq au vin I had made early that morning. After lunch, all I wanted to do was go to bed. I slept till 5 and woke up feeling groggy but better. Suzy and I did lots of cooking in preparation for tonight's dinner. In Spain the most important festive dinner is on Christmas Eve as in England it is on Christmas Day. Thus, being an Anglo Spanish family we do both which of course involves one hell of a lot of cooking.  The girls and Miguel stayed for dinner before going off to Oli's flat for the night and we had a healthy and light dinner as there would be so much eating over Christmas. It was early to bed again for me and today I was up at 6 and feeling better but certainly not yet over the hill.

I have lots to do today and shall start by making bread for everyone and then  the "salpicón de marisco". We must get a walk in today before dinner as, owing to my cold, I haven't been on one for a couple of days. Let's see if I'm up to it.

So now my friends, I shall sign off and get on with the day. All that remains  is to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. I'm not saying "happy holidays" which seems to be the politically correct thing to say these days. That is because, first I'm not usually very politically correct and secondly I am a traditionalist and if Christmas is about the birth of Christ then the correct thing to say is Merry or Happy Christmas. You will hear all about ours in next Sunday's post which I will be publishing from Montrondo where we plan to spend New Year's Eve. 

All the best till next week.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Home from Montrondo, team lunch with Ketchum, a sweet table, the Yoigo family Christmas party, Oli in Montpellier, more preparations for Christmas and other tales of the week.

Sunday 17th December 2017
Wearing my new dark green velvet Zara trouser suit, ready for the Yoigo Christmas party
Hello everyone.

Another week has passed and the countdown to Christmas is decreasing fast. It's now just over a week until the big day and I can't wait. I have nearly everything ready as you will read below. But let me start from last Sunday.

It was raining cats and dogs in Montrondo, the day we left, as it had been since the previous Friday. It was torrential rain and we wanted out hahaha. So at about 10 am, after closing the house, we left. With just one stop we were home by 2.30,  on time for a makeshift lunch of leftovers I had brought with me. We had avoided most of the Bank holiday traffic and even more the beginning of what was dubbed Storm Ana with snow falls in many parts of Spain. There was also snow in many parts of Europe, including London, to Suzy's surprise. 

Oli and Miguel left after lunch and we wouldn't see her all week. In fact we won't see her until 22nd December when she is back from filming in Montpelier  in the south of France for her next programme. It was raining too in Madrid so we missed our walk. In fact we hadn't been on a walk since Thursday and my body was craving for one. I spent most of the afternoon binge watching Season 2 of The Crown and am just adoring it. As I commented to Eladio this week, there is no country like Britain which makes period dramas as well as the Brits and The Crown is up in the league of series like Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey. It really is superb. The only thing I don't like much is the actor who plays Prince Philip. He is not like the real Duke of Edinburgh. 

Monday was a busy day. I was up at 6 and as soon as I had finished breakfast, set about making bread for Eladio as we had totally run out. And these were the multi cereal loaves I made that day.
The bread I made on Monday
I had lots to do apart from making bread, most of it connected to the organisation of the Yoigo Christmas party 5 of us were organising. My part was the speech and the sweet table. That morning I finally got down to writing it and wasn't happy with it until Wednesday as I kept making changes. I wanted it to be emotional, evocative but also funny.  I think I succeeded. To prepare the sweet table I went out to get the sweets and chocolates but also Christmas fare. For the base I would use the things my friend Juana had brought to make the sweet table she prepared for my 60th birthday. I had just 60 euros to spend and did my shopping at sweet shops, Mercadona (local supermarket) and a cheapo Chinese shop. 

I had a Christmas lunch date on Monday with  various ex members of my team at Ketchum, the PR agency I used when I worked for Yoigo. But first I had to cross the city to meet up with Dragutin, one of the party organisers, to hand him an external disc with lots of old Yoigo photos as he was in charge of making a special video for the party.  I seemed to walk all day and was rather cross I had left my fitbit in Montrondo. I feel lost without it. 

Lunch was at a place called Whitby but nothing to do with the Yorkshire seaside town although they did have a sort of fish and chips on the menu. It was freezing outside as Storm Ana raged in Spain. By 2.30 I was at the table I had booked and my team arrived in fits and starts. Finally at about 3pm we were all there, Carlos, Ludi, Isabel, Aida and Blanca. The only person missing was my first account manager, my beloved Gustavo who now works for Volkswagen in their PR team but is always travelling. It was just great to see all my ex team but it was a short lunch although very sweet. We must meet more often. I miss them. These days I have to do all my PR work myself whereas I used to be able to delegate nearly everything to them. And here we are around the table together.
The Ketchum lunch on Monday
I was home on time for a walk with Eladio and the dogs and it was even slightly sunny. When I came home I continued watching The Crown to which I am addicted and don't want to end yet.

On Tuesday I was equally busy, mostly with last minute preparations for the Yoigo party. I also spent some time wrapping up more presents, mostly those which I had ordered online. The parcels under the tree were growing in number and still are hahaha. We go for quantity here with lots of little presents:-)
More and more parcels are appearing under our tree for Christmas
I also had to do work for Adamo which proved difficult when the light went off. There was a breakdown in the area and the electricity was off for nearly 4 hours. Again we got our walk in and again I watched more of The Crown. But what Eladio and I both really wanted to watch that night was our daughter Olivia's programme for Madrileños por el Mundo about The Maldives. You can see it here on You Tube if you have a moment or haven't already seen it. She was very brave in the programme when she dived into the sea to swim next to a huge tiger shark. She later told me she had been pushed in by the monitor hahaha.
Oli ready to dive in the programme she did on The Maldives. 
On Wednesday I was up early and, as I often do after breakfast and reading the news, I prepared lunch so as to be free to do other things in the morning. That day I made a recent favourite, my version of "coq au vin". Eladio loves it particularly. I served it with rice which I have learned to perfect recently. I fry garlic in a saucepan, add a glass full of rice and then slowly add 2 glasses of vegetable water and boil it until all the water has been absorbed. I learned the method from one of our Moroccan home helps, Fátima. This is the coq au vin which we demolished on Wednesday.
My coq au vin
I still had more work and errands to do that morning, finish a press release template for Adamo and go and buy pink silk paper for my sweet table. On our walk before lunch I was delighted to get a sudden new Airbnb reservation for 3 nights from Thursday to Sunday. A young student boy called Andrea from Italy was coming for a physiotherapy course this weekend at the nearby UEM University. I was a little confused as to whether he was male or female as in Spanish Andrea (ending with an a) is a Spanish girl's name but apparently in Italian it is male. He hails from Bergamo in the north of Italy. He wouldn't be our only guest this weekend as Borja from Navarra, a PE student, was also coming. It would be his third stay. 

After lunch I had a siesta and had to kill time until I had to leave the house for the Yoigo Christmas party at around 6.30. It wasn't starting until 8 pm but I had to be there early in order to set up my now famous sweet table. Instead of sleeping a siesta, I watched more of The Crown, Episode 6 about the betrayal of the Duke of Windsor in his connections with Hitler. I found it so interesting I watched it again on Friday as I had partly slept through the most important parts. What a story. 

As I had lots of time on my hands, my preparations for getting ready included a jacuzzi. We have one in our bathroom which I hardly ever use but I decided upon this little luxury on Wednesday evening and enjoyed it immensely. I had decided to wear the new dark green velvet trouser suit I had bought from Zara (from my Father hahahaha) for Christmas. The photo illustrating this week's blog is of me in the outfit and ready to go out. I also wore my trusty glittering necklace which actually belongs to Olivia. 

In the end I was a little late but got to the venue, the Santamania gin distillery by 7.15 By 7.45 the sweet table was ready. I had help from 2 of the staff there and this is what my sweet table looked like when it was finished. It's thanks to my friend Juana of course as most of the material was hers to which I added a Christmas touch. I now know how to make sweet tables; something I absolutely adore. In the past at my Yoigo parties I had my events agency, QuintaEsencia to do all the decoration and animation but for this party we all had to do everything ourselves. It was a good lesson actually.
The sweet table I did for the Yoigo Christmas party on Wednesday
As I said, we had to do everything ourselves, even my speech. If you are interested and can read Spanish this is it:
Discurso Fiesta Navidad ex y no ex Yoigos
Miércoles 13 de diciembre 2017. Santamanía Las Rozas
La gran familia Yoigo. Pasión, ilusión y amor.
Buenas noches y gracias por estar aquí.
Me llena de satisfacción vernos todos reunidos esta noche para celebrar la Navidad juntos, como hacíamos cada año en la época dorada y en los buenos tiempos. Aquí estamos algunos miembros de la familia Yoigo porque, si Yoigo es un operador, es un operador que hemos hecho entre todos y creo que todos estáis de acuerdo en que formamos una gran familia. Como la película “La gran familia española” pero mucho más.
Algunos ya no estamos en Yoigo y echamos de menos las fiestas que organizábamos. Por esta razón, Marta, Sonia, Dragutin, Laura y yo nos propusimos reunirnos hoy para esta fiesta de Navidad “a lo Yoigo.  Lo importante era vernos porque nos queremos y nos echamos de menos. Citando el famoso anuncio de un turrón, “volvemos a casa por Navidad”.
Somos la familia que fundamos Yoigo y, mientras duró, fue un viaje maravilloso. Estoy convencida de que estáis de acuerdo. 
¿Quién no se acuerda de nuestras grandes aventuras y altibajos; del lanzamiento con tanta ilusión y tantos problemas, de los primeros 100.000 clientes, de los 250.000 y de cuando empapelamos el edificio en Alcobendas cuando alcanzamos un millón, del lanzamiento de todas nuestras tarifas, la de 0 con sus problemas, la del 8, la del 6 y qué decir de la Sinfín? Y fuimos de fiesta en fiesta porque tocaba, porque lo merecíamos y también porque nos las pagaban nuestros proveedores claro.  ¿Con qué fiesta de verano os quedáis,  con Salamanca, San Sebastián, La Rioja, Valencia, Ibiza o El Rocío? En nuestro ADN están los entrañables muñecos y las Verdades Verdaderas que nos dieron tanto recorrido y algún que otro contratiempo al departamento legal.
Y tuvimos que vivir con los constantes rumores de nuestra venta por parte de TeliaSonera. Pero capeamos las noticias y seguíamos con nuestro día a día. También llevamos en el recuerdo las fiestas de Navidad y las fiestas de los niños. Yo me quedo con aquella con los animales de Faunia que me causaron una buena bronca por parte de Compras. Sólo había pedido permiso para un burro y vino el burro pero también un reno, una vaca, un buey, un camello y para el deleite de los niños un montón de animales más. También nos quedan en el recuerdo las Yoigo Mornings donde nos poníamos morados. Y, me imagino,  que los técnicos se acordarán para siempre del encendido del acuerdo de roaming nacional con Telefónica que hicieron en tiempo record. Si por algo se nos conocía era por nuestra rapidez en poner en marcha nuestros proyectos y planes o nuestras ideas de última hora.
Siempre rompíamos las reglas del mercado, marcábamos la diferencia y disfrutábamos haciéndolo. Todas estas aventuras y altibajos permanecerán en nuestros recuerdos, pase lo que pase. Pero por fin llegó la venta y se acabó todo. Pero, que no nos quiten  “lo bailao”. Nadie nos lo puede quitar porque fueron hechos que vivimos intensamente.
En esta noche de recuerdos, falta el Padre de Yoigo, Johan. Pero está aquí presente el otro Johan, su mano derecha, su alma gemela, y tan querido por todos nosotros y que no dudó en venir de tan lejos para estar aquí esta noche. Thank you Johan. También quiero dar las gracias a Robert, Viktoria  y Karin por venir también de lejos. Ellos, lo sé, se sienten también parte de nuestra gran familia. Y bueno, me atrevo decir que yo me siento un poco como vuestra Madre. Desde luego por edad, sí podría serlo. Yo os llevo en mi corazón y eso es lo que hacen las madres.
De alguna forma u otra, el proyecto nos tocó el corazón a todos porque todo lo que hicimos, lo hicimos con pasión, ilusión y con amor. Estos son los ingredientes imprescindibles para que una compañía tenga éxito.
Y con pasión, ilusión y con amor las grandes familias celebran la Navidad. Así que sigamos disfrutando de esta fiesta pero, antes de terminar, vamos a hacer un brindis para agradecer y recordar los maravillosos años que pasamos todos juntos. No lo olvidaremos nunca.
Y por último, gracias a Santamanía por cedernos su fantástica destilaría para esta noche. ¡Gracias Sonia!
Alzad las copas. Brindemos.
¡Viva Yoigo! ¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Happy Christmas! 

50 people had reserved but 58 came. It was  a good turnout for the Christmas period. Seeing everyone again was so emotional, especially people who had left years ago and who had been great colleagues, such as Fernando, head of customer care, or the expats who came, Johan, Karin and Viktoria from Sweden and Robert from Denmark. Robert, Tony and I were the only ever Brits at Yoigo and were as thick as thieves so it was very special to be together again.
With my fellow ex British colleagues at Yoigo, Tony left and Robert right
Seeing each other again was the best part of the party. We are like a family as I said in my speech, a family that founded an operator and did so with passion, enthusiasm and love. So, on Wednesday, like any great family, we celebrated Christmas with those same ingredients, ingredients that are essential for success in any organisation or family. Luckily I remembered to do a group photo. Many were taken and the light wasn't very good but the result was not too bad. Here we are all together.
The Yoigo family reunited for Christmas
The Yoigo spirit lives on I can tell you. Every year I used to put on spectacular Christmas parties which of course are now a thing of the past. So on Wednesday we recreated, at least, the spirit of those parties. What a night, what wonderful memories. 

I left late for me, at nearly 1 in the morning but happy with the evening. Eladio and Pippa were waiting for me in bed when I got home and I didn't get to sleep till after 2 in the morning. My bloody body clock woke me up at 5.50 which meant I had slept under 4 hours. I had a headache too after drinking wine. I should have known better.  

I woke up to see photos of the party various people had sent me.  I have included all the ones I have in an album on Facebook which you can see here. I felt pretty tired throughout the day. When Eladio and I went out to do the food shopping, he bought more lottery tickets (my goodness) and I just had to have a cup of coffee at my favourite cafeteria in Boadilla, "Alverán". I'm afraid I couldn't resist a croissant to go with it. 

On the topic of croissants which hail from France,  that morning, Oli was on her way there, to the city or town of Montpelier in the south where she would be enjoying croissants for breakfast at the hotel she was staying at, the "Grand Hôtel du Midi" which looked lovely. She travelled by train, the quickest way; a 6 hour non stop journey. She got there in the evening and was happy with her room which was small but cozy. 

When we finished our weekly food shopping at Mercadona, we picked up Andrea, our Italian Airbnb guest, who had arrived by bus. Once home I showed him the house and his room and he seemed pleased. 

I was delighted that morning also to receive the "Ramo Leonés" which I had ordered online from Montrondo, the typical Christmas "tree" from Leon and nearby provinces. This is the final result which I am very happy with.
My new "ramo leonés" which arrived on Thursday
That afternoon I had a conference call with Adamo and technology failed me. The hangout session for a video conference call didn't work and my phone was behaving badly. I had to switch it off and then on again until I was finally able to connect via a whatsapp call. There was lots to discuss. 

Later we went on our walk and at 7 pm had an appointment with the vet for Elsa who has developed a lump above her snout and by her eye. She has had it for a while and we should have taken her before. The vet thought it was a tooth problem and prescribed antibiotics and anti inflammatory tablets. She will have a scan on Monday and will no doubt need surgery. Let's hope it's just a tooth problem and not a tumour.  

On Friday I was up at 5.30. One of the advantages of getting up at the crack of the dawn is that you tend to get a very productive day. And productive I was too that morning. As soon as I had had breakfast and read the news, I began making lunch, cream of vegetable soup to be followed by baked hake (merluza) with garlic. I then drove to Las Rozas to the venue of the Yoigo Christmas party to collect the remains of the sweet table. Once home I made my own sweet table which is now looking very enticing in our lounge.
Our Christmas sweet table
While I had been away, my British Corner Shop online Christmas order had arrived which made both my Father and I very happy.  I now have all the essentials for our Christmas day lunch.  These were the contents:
My British Corner Shop online order arrived this week
Just as we were about to have lunch, Borja, our Airbnb student from Navarra who was coming for the third time, arrived. He had brought with him a wonderful bottle of locally made "pacharán" liqueur which I'm sure we shall open at Christmas.  So we now had 2 Airbnb guests in the house but they hardly met and in fact we hardly saw them.

Meanwhile Oli was in Montpelier on her first day of working there on her new programme. She would be busy as she had to film 5 "madrileños" living there. Being the south of France she was lucky with the weather. She sent us the occasional photo and here is one with her first interviewee. 
Oli working in Montpelier
We heard from Suzy too. She was pretty excited on Friday as that night she was going out to a Christmas dinner and party at no less than the beautiful 5 star Landmark hotel in London. Lucky her!  So that night, Oli would have dinner in France, we would have dinner in Spain and Suzy would have her Christmas dinner in London. Soon, though, we shall be all together here and I can't wait.
The Landmark hotel where Suzy went to a Christmas dinner and party on Friday night.
I'm afraid I didn't get any pics of Suzy at the dinner, just photos of the food which is not what I wanted hahahaha.  

After our late morning walk, a delicious lunch of baked hake and a short siesta, I watched episode 6 of The Crown again as I had slept through some of it the night before. Eladio joined me and is now also a fan of the series although he does need me to explain who is who all the time which is a little frustrating hahahaha. Episode 6 concentrates on the stories of the Duke of Windsor, the Queen's uncle who, as King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson.  The stories were of his exile in France where he got bored and wanted to return to the UK to take on some meaningful job. However the Queen is told of his relations and encounter with Hitler during the war and of his disloyalty to England. Thus she sends him packing. I had always known there was sympathy from her Uncle to the Reich regime and was curious to know how factual the episode was. It turns out it's pretty true. Most interesting are the real letters from the Duke to the Duchess and how he calls the Queen, his niece, "Shirley Temple" and the Queen Mother "cookie" after a cook that Wallis Simpson knew. 

That night Eladio and I went out to dinner too, but nowhere as fancy as The Landmark Hotel. We chose La Txitxarerría which, owing to the Christmas bookings, was so full we were lucky to get the last table. We ate early and were home by 10.30 which is very early for Spain hahahaha.  

Saturday dawned and yes I was up before dawn hahaha, at 5.30!! I had time for everything and made more bread for Eladio which was ready by 10 am. I must say the house smelled gorgeous. Maybe one day we will be able to share smells online, not only photos and videos. Who knows?
I made more bread on Friday morning
It was a cold but sunny day and we enjoyed our walk enormously. We were home by 12.30 with plenty of time to spare before lunch and decided to visit the Boadilla del Monte Christmas market we had seen advertised.  We parked by the "Infante Don Luis" palace built in 1765 by the architect Ventura Rodríguez for Luis Antonio de Borbón y Farnesio, the younger son of King Philip V and brother of King Carlos III.  And here I am in Boadilla with the palace in the background.
In Boadilla on Saturday morning to visit the Christmas market - the Palacio Infante Don Luis in the background
Unlike Christmas markets in the northern countries in Europe, this one was held in an ugly marquee by the palace. It would have been much nicer had it been an open market next to the palace. Food trucks were advertised but they didn't look very attractive. There was not much inside either, a few boring looking stalls and also very loud music. We left very soon rather disappointed. We then wondered into the palace where we had only been once. It's not really been restored as there is a lack of funding. Here the town had housed the Christmas crib which also was nothing special. We soon walked out into the gardens and out onto the street again where we headed to the Lonja de Boadilla bar for a coffee outside. Well, they didn't serve coffee, despite having a machine, so we opted for a glass of white Albariño wine and a plate of Spanish tortilla. I suppose I am not used to having wine before lunch and it completely knocked me out and I felt as if I had been drugged. I slept in the car to Majadahonda to pick up Eladio's glasses and all the way home. I was groggy through lunch and slept a long siesta until 5.40!  Still feeling wheezy, I stayed in bed and watched 2 more episodes of The Crown, the first about Jacky Kennedy's visit making the Queen look a little drab hahahha and the second about the marriage of Princess Margaret to the renowned and already unfaithful photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones. I fact checked both episodes afterwards and they were pretty true to what really happened. 

In between episodes I got a sudden Airbnb reservation from a family of 5 from Taiwan for February. Wow! Our guests are so international. They will be our first guests from Taiwan. We also heard from Oli who is loving France, speaking French, adoring the town of Montpelier and added in her whatsapp "J'adore la France". We were happy for her. We also got this photo.
Oli happy in Montpelier
After the two episodes of The Crown it was time for dinner. I rustled up a tuna fish salad and soon we were in bed again, this time to watch the news. I was happy to hear Real Madrid had won the Club World Cup. It was their 6th time and also their 5th title this season. I only wish they were doing a bit better in La Liga.  I must have fallen asleep very soon after that as I don't remember anything else we watched. I was probably still under the influence of that damned glass of white wine which affected me so much.  

Today is Sunday and I was awake at 5.20 only wishing I could sleep a little more but no I couldn't. So here you have me writing my blog at the crack of dawn in the kitchen with the dogs asleep in their baskets at my feet. I'm not sure how the day will pan out but no doubt you will hear all about it in next week's post.

Meanwhile my friends, have a good Sunday.

Cheers till next time,