Sunday, 29 June 2014

Celebration Week

When I was younger, I always used to sunbathe, and, despite my pale skin, by summer's end I had quite a nice tan. I remember those of us who got Tuesday and Thursday afternoons off from work during the summer months (a real luxury) went directly to the swimming pool. This was a sports centre that had 3 separate swimming pools that we went to - one for women, one for men and one for families. We, of course, went to the women's as it was quieter. At this swimming pool, you weren't permitted to untie your bikini top or let down your straps so as not to get a mark. Women guards with truncheons would smack you on the back if they saw you with your halter undone. I avoided getting hit by wearing a one-piece that I could tie around my neck or in a bow in the front, which is what I did. Now nobody in Spain thinks twice about topless bathers, and I try to keep my skin white.

Tuesday of this past week I awoke to helicopters flying around. The police had arrested a group of suspected Islamic terrorists in the neighbourhood just crossing the bridge from where I live and in the neighbourhood where my friend Cathy still lives. It's a typical workman's neighbourhood where it's easy to blend in. Years ago some ETA terrorists were discovered there. Then on Friday afternoon there was a neighbourhood meeting with the local police in the park where my friend takes her dog. A paedophile (pedophile, in American English) has kidnapped two young girls by drugging them and washing them after he's finished with them and releasing them in a different neighbourhood. The police think he's possibly using an uninhabited apartment in the area. I pray that the police catch this beast before anyone else is hurt. His last victim, a little Chinese girl, is still in hospital.The police had better catch him first and soon!

Moving on to happier news, I'm excited because on Tuesday my flat will be officially 100% mine and 0% of the bank's. It's the day that I'll no longer owe a mortgage. I don't have any special plans except the normal ones for the week - as per usual the Chinese on Thursday. On Saturday, however, we're going to have lunch at one of our favourite Spanish restaurants in the centre.

Touch wood our summer hasn't been too hot so far, and it's lovely to sleep with the windows open unless it's noisy in the street, which unfortunately is a problem in the summer. Today a couple stopped right in front of my living room windows to argue. Funny how the TV puts me to sleep, but voices in the street keep me awake.

Anyway, some of you are lucky to have a nice long weekend. Hope you enjoy it. 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Palmy Sunday

Although the climate of Madrid isn't ideal for palm trees, look how many there were in 1927! There are still a few that I know of near the Palace Hotel, one of our 5-star hotels. There may be more in other parts of Madrid that I'm not familiar with.

Today I'm going to be brief as I really haven't done anything worth talking about and nothing exciting has happened in my life. We didn't even go out for our weekly Chinese dinner. One, because it was tipping down with rain, and two, we were quite comfortable at home. Thursday, which is our usual day to go out, was a holiday in Madrid and the day Prince Philip became King Philip VI. I chose that as permission to laze around. The only things I did in the flat were I washed a summer quilt and cleaned the bathroom.

I've finally got a new mobile phone. I had a strange experience on Amazon and have no idea how it happened. I was  looking at some offers (not that I was thinking about buying a phone from Amazon) when somehow I 'purchased' a nearly 400 euro phone. Actually it was the phone I'd planned on getting from my carrier, and I did, for 69 euros. It drove me crazy the first couple of days with updates. At least now I don't have to worry about not having enough space.

Have a good first week of summer and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Let Them Eat Cake

This is the cake that I make every summer for our family reunion for which I usually make an oblong one, so as not to have to take it out of the pan since it's rather fragile. I was happy with the way this round version turned out with no craters or breaks. Letting it cool before I took it out of the pan helped save it I'm sure.

So what kind of cake is it you wonder. The cake part is dark chocolate and the icing is also chocolate. For the family reunion, I put caramel icing on it, because this is my brother Roger's favourite. I wasn't sure if I was going to make this cake or just brownies. I'm trying to use my oven as little as possible to keep my flat as cool as possible for as long as possible. We've had a couple of mini storms this week because the atmosphere was too muggy or 'bochornoso' as we say. Of course, for both storms I was outside. Thankfully I don't think the lightning was too close, although there were quite a few strikes in the province of Madrid. I've always hated storms! 

Anyway, back to the cake. Yesterday in the afternoon, we got a nice wind from the North (no storm) and things started cooling down, so I decided yes I could turn on the oven for more than 10 minutes. My friend Chris has a meeting for lunch tomorrow and wanted a dessert. The title of my post says I'm not eating any of the cake.  I've got some leftover frosting though!

That north wind howled all night long obliging me to close the windows that look onto the street - that and a couple who were under my windows talking until the wee hours. Noise is one of the annoying things about living in a city. But when I'm in the country crickets and frogs keep me awake, and it's usually darker there too.

One of my great-nieces graduated on the 7th. Here are a couple of photos she shared on facebook. Kathy, if you're reading this, these are the ones who lost their father a few months ago in what I assume was an accident at work.
And here she is with her younger sister and mother, my niece.
I think we're going to have another cool night. Praise be! Tropical nights are no fun. Hope everyone has a good week. I suppose this will be an interesting week in Spain.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Rose-Coloured Weekend

I'm usually bad about remembering to take my camera with me, especially if I'm just going to be going out round my neighbourhood. However, I made a special effort to photograph this lovely rose before it's gone for good. It's the only one on this rose bush, and it's gigantic in comparison to the plant. 

The other day I could have kicked myself for forgetting to take even my phone when I went out to get a few necessities. As you know, there are still bullfights going on. On my way to the shop I saw a little one-seater car, which is made by Renault and goes by the name of Twizy. It was the first time I'd seen one up close. One of my great-nieces has a battery-operated car that is almost as big as the Twizy, and most motorcycles would be bigger than it!
This is one of the two aprons I got yesterday. Three of us met up for lunch again (meatballs on the menu), because Chris and I were going to a crafts show at the house of some of my students afterwards . The mother and a friend of hers have really worked hard to produce some lovely and original things. I bought another apron too, which is fancier to this one's classical look and Chris also bought two. Chris has another fair on Tuesday, so she's going to take aprons and some other small items with her to sell. I need to send Inma a WhatsApp to say she doesn't have to rush to put prices on things as Chris won't pick the things up from my place until Tuesday morning. Here's their page on facebook.
I think the two beez might be hyphenated like this: two-beez (if the link doesn't work).

Fortunately for us, yesterday was a fantastic day - not too hot. That's going to change rapidly though. I always think about these lyrics ' Hot town, Summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.' Hope everyone is able to stay cool and at the same time have a good week.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Peas, Please

Although yesterday wasn't the first of the month, my friends and I got together for a later than usual lunch. As a matter of fact, I think Chris and Penny didn't arrive until after 4 p.m., by which time I was famished and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. My photo shows some peas and ham (serrano) that I'd made, but this was one of the items on the menu and which everybody asked for except June; she had gazpacho. Then most of us asked for pork shoulder, which is sliced thin and sprinkled with sweet paprika, the kind that's not hot, and then fried. I think maybe I left a chip or two, but ate everything else on my plate!

It was great to meet our friend Judy's only sister. She loves the food here as does everyone who visits. Poor Anne has had her share of tragedy. First she loses her husband to cancer, and last January, while Judy and her husband were there visiting, there was a fire on her floor of the condo where she lives. Until the damage is repaired no one can live in the building, so she's been staying with her son, daughter-in-law, two grandchilren, 4 cats and a dog. No wonder she finds it peaceful and relaxing here! Next week they'll be going to Rome.

As you know, I love old black and white photos. This particular one is of the Plaza Mayor that some translate as the old square and is from 1930. It wasn't always called the Plaza Mayor. At one time it was called the Royal Square, among others. Not only has the name changed but its appearance. I use the modern version as my cover on facebook.

I'm going out in a few minutes to throw away some paper and to distribute some propaganda for my friend's language school. I hope everybody has a good week.