Sunday, February 25, 2007

A quiet week in February


Looking back on this week and comparing it to the one before, this week has been very quiet and actually a bit boring. After recovering from the excesses of my birthday celebrations and Barcelona, I am ready for activity again. But this week was not to be and unfortunately next week doesn’t look very promising either.

Workwise the week has been mostly about planning with not much action and I have worked mostly from home as I didn’t have very many meetings to attend. The highlights of the week were lunch with my best friend Fátima where we spent most of our time talking about diets and lunch with two very close journalist friends from ABC, one of whom I have to thank for his help in finding my current job. Thanks Antonio!

The weekend has been pretty usual too with just one social event. That was Friday night when we went to the cinema and out to dinner with our friends Roberto and Mari Carmen. Guess which restaurant? Well the answer is easy; our usual, La Alapargatería. When I ring to make the reservation I don’t even need to say my name as they recognise my voice and depending on the number of people we are, they always know which table we want; 5 or 7.

The film we went to see was The King of Scotland which is about the rise of Idi Amin Dada, the famous dictator of Uganda in the 70’s but seen through the eyes of Nicholas Garrigan. He is a young semi-idealistic Scottish doctor who comes to Uganda to assist in a rural hospital. Once there, he soon meets up with the new President, Idi Amin, who promise a golden age for the African nation. Garrigan hits it off immediately with the rabid Scotland fan, who soon offers him a senior position in the national health department and becomes one of Amin's closest advisers. The story ends with the famous episode of the highjacking by the Palestinians of an aeroplane which is forced to land in Entebbe Uganda. Hopefully tonight both the film and the actor who plays Idi Amin will win an oscar as it is one of the best I have seen in a long time; that is if you can stomach some of Amin’s atrocities.

We have had some friends of Susana’s for the weekend, Merce and Josema from Yecla who were also here in September. As usual they brought us some lovely products from Murcia; wine, fairy cakes and funnily enough a delicious Tiramisu.

Yesterday Eladio and I went a bit mad buying pictures. We were out shopping for something completely different and came across a shop which had just the sort of pictures we were looking for. They are of zebras, African people, a huge flower and a view of Madrid from its most famous street, La Calle de Alcalá.

And as I love having something to look forward to, I have bought tickets and booked hotel rooms for a stay in Cornwall to see Oli at the end of April. Also, I have booked rooms for a weekend away with our friends Roberto and Mari Carmen at a wonderful country inn called La Senda de los Caracoles in Segovia which is also a spa. We shall be going at the end of March. Thanks Ana for the tip – just look at the place:

And now I must leave you to attend to the roast in the oven. Today we will be 7 for lunch and it wouldn’t do to serve up burnt roast chicken!

I think I might have bored you today with so little to tell in my blog but there is not much more to report from a quiet week in February. I hope you had a good one!

Until next week my friends.

Cheers Masha

Sunday, February 18, 2007

3GSM Barcelona 07

Susi in La Rambla

Me in La Rambla

Reuniting colleagues - Nokia Networks Spain team 2000

Susi and me posing for an mms postcard at the Nokia party

Emilio, me and Patricio - the Chilean connection
Hello again,

So what’s 3GSM you may ask? Well it’s actually the biggest telecoms congress in the world and it was held in Barcelona last week. Anyone who is anyone is telecoms goes, so it’s the best place in the world for networking.

Yes, of course it’s all about work and new products and services but for me it’s all about meeting colleagues old and new. In the company I worked for before we had a few sayings which were Connecting People, Disconnecting Families and Reuniting Colleagues and I like the last one best! It was great to see Marianne, Yolande, Tia, Suvi, Ben, Thomas, Xavier, Eva, Anna and a whole load of other ex colleagues again.

From what I could gather, the 3GSM congress this year was all about internet in your mobile phone, also about mobile TV and to some extent newish technologies such as Wimax. And of course, Windows mobile. But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about the congress but about what I did for fun.

And yes, there was quite a lot of fun. I took Susi my daughter with me as she had a few days off after her exams and was going to the UK on Thursday with her friend Merce from Alicante to see Oli in Falmouth. So there we were the 2 of us in a splendid hotel, the Eurostars Grand Marina in the port of Barcelona for 3 nights and when I wasn’t working we were playing.

We set aside some time for shopping and Susi did some tourism. The most I got in was a walk down the Rambla which was as beautiful as ever. We were lucky with the weather as it was around 20º C and upwards most of the week.

The nights were the best with quite a few parties, the best, of course, being the Nokia party and that’s the night we were out longest. It was held at the Museum of Catalán Art at the top of Montjuic with fabulous views of Barcelona at night. There must have been more than a 1000 people and tickets were like gold to get hold of. With my connections I managed to get 4 and took Susi and 2 Finnish friends, Viivi and Hanna. The dinner was great with buffets of Spanish, Mexican, Japanese and Italian food, not to mention the chocolate buffet and the drinks, champagne most of the night. The funniest bit was when a Greek chap, based in Teheran told me I was beautiful – in front of my daughter!! Having just celebrated my 50th birthday that came as quite a compliment.

As the night went along I bumped into many familiar faces which was such a pleasure. It was great to see you Pepe Comas, Pedro Molpeceres, Roberto Sanz, Miquel Teixidor, Luis Ríos, Tia Matthews, Michael Wittenberg, Emilio Brambilla (el chavalín), Patricio Valenzuela, Cristina Miranda, José Luis Pérez from Siemens and a friend from my Motorola days, Stephen Green from Satama, Ikka from the Ngage tour, …..I also met a host of great new people including a Dane dressed like a Mexican whose name I think was Johan. He was such fun.

From there a big group of us went to Luz de Gas for after party drinks. Luz de Gas is the place I always end up at in Barcelona. And there we danced the night through (yes I did Anne!) and drank lovely Mojitos. The night ended after 4 o’clock when Susi and I went exhausted to bed. The next day was the end of the fair which was actually a good thing as I had been on the go since the 8th February and my body needed a rest.

From Barcelona Susi went on to Alicante from where she was flying to Bristol with Merce and from Bristol they were hiring a car to drive to Falmouth. The poor kids ended up at Oli’s place at 4 in the morning. Well, they are young and can take it.

And I came home on Friday to home sweet home and in need of a good rest in order to build up energy again for work next week.

Cheers till next week.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My 50th birthday, otherwise known as the Indian Wedding

The belly dancer

Eladio and I at the Arab restaurant

Amanda and I in the kitchen when they arrived.

The food

Me and the magician Nelo

Walking in Boadilla on Sunday morning

Amanda and me at the tapas bar "El Bierzo" in Boadilla

The younger generation at the Txitxarrería where Andy and Amanda took us for dinner on the last night.

And the older generation at the same dinner.

Susi and Oli, my beautiful girls at La Txitxarreria.
Hi again

It was actually on the 8th February and I haven’t updated my blog since the 7th as I haven’t had a quiet moment to myself since then.

The 8th was the family celebration with a lunch at home and a Mallorca bought birthday cake. It was just the 5 of us, Eladio, Susi and Oli, my Father and me. They had bought me a hilarious singing birthday card with a lady showing her legs! I got some lovely presents from all the family.

In the evening Eladio and I went to the Medina Mayrit Arab Baths ( for a Turkish bath, massage, dinner and show – belly dancer. It was certainly an experience and a place I had wanted to go to for a long time.

On Friday my dear friends Andy and Amanda came to join us for the celebrations. They hadn’t seen our new house so that was something new for them. We spent the afternoon catching up on our news and then took them to dinner to our favourite place, La Alpargatería.

Saturday was a full day of preparations, cooking and getting ready for the party. My catch phrase all day long, was “there are 45 people coming, so do you think this is enough?”. Eladio took Andy and Amanda out in the morning to buy Andy a Spanish classical guitar and they came back with a beauty of an instrument.

People arrived from 21h onwards and we welcomed them all warmly. We ate and drank to our heart’s content and dear Copi (Susi’s bosom friend) was making Mojitos in the kitchen – yummy. We had a mixture of people, family and friends from my Motorola and Nokia times as well as the girls’ boyfriends and closest friends. We were quite a multicultural lot and my Father had a great time talking to the Finns, my friend Gustavo of Canadian origin and Monica’s husband who is German. So did Amanda I think. I got lots of great presents – thanks everyone – the most original of all being an original copy of the Times printed the day I was born, from Susana and Gustavo. Amazing!

The evening ended with a magician’s show which actually lasted nearly an hour and a half but had us mesmerized b y the most incredible tricks Nelo (that was his name) made.

When nearly everyone left, Andy, Amanda, Eladio, the kids, the boyfriends, Copi and Carolina sat around eating up the birthday cake and having a final drink. It was then that I got out my old school reports and started reading out some of the comments which were hilarious. You might not know but Amanda and I were at school together (St. Joseph’s College, a convent school in Bradford). There were some priceless remarks like: “she rarely swims”, “lacks PE equipment”, “would do better if she concentrated” and some even worse! It’s actually quite surprising to think that out of my whole class, I probably did better professionally than most in the end but I must admit, I was an awful school pupil!

Sunday was a quiet day when we took 3 walks to work off the food and alcohol of Saturday but then the walks were actually made so we could get in some tapas at Boadilla in the morning and go out to dinner to La Txitxarreria in Pozuelo in the evening.

It was great having Olivia, Andy and Amanda over for my birthday which was one of the best, despite it being my 50th.

On Monday we all woke up early because Andy, Amanda and Oli were returning to the UK and Susi and I were off to Barcelona. You can read all about our trip to Barcelona in my next post.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Birthday Surprise

Hiya again midweek,

I just had to update my blog today to tell you all my darling daughter Olivia came back from England for my 50th birthday. It was a huge surprise instigated by Susana and the conspirators were Oli’s boyfriend Jose Luis, Eladio and my Father.

I had suspected slightly that she might come back but quickly put it out of my head when there were no signs. And then, lo and behold, in the middle of a pretty domestic scene at home last night, in she walked, completely unannounced into our bedroom.

I sort of cried out with joy and hugged her and hugged her. It was so good to see her and now the birthday party and celebrations will be complete with her here too.

Darling, it was a wonderful surprise and thanks for the effort because I do know that coming here for just a few days means a 7 hour train journey from Falmouth to Gatwick and another 7 hours going back next Monday, not to mention the plane, etc. But, great, so great to have you here for all the celebrations and there will be many because my birthday this year is going to be a bit like an Indian wedding, lasting quite a few days. Did you expect anything less from me?

More news on Sunday.

Love to you all

Sunday, February 04, 2007

New bedclothes, lunch with friends, an hour long massage, Black Book and an anti terrorist demonstration in Madrid

Hello again

The title above is actually a pot pourri of what I have been up to this week, believe it or not. And now on to what actually happened:

I hesitated on including news about our new bedroom fabrics but actually the news is big, very big because Eladio and I haven’t changed them since nearly 20 years ago when we moved into our previous house in Parque Boadilla. And the picture to illustrate this post is the bed with its new finery – whether you like the fabric or not is immaterial because we were very practical here and chose it to match the curtains the previous owners had left behind. Thanks Anne for your help in finally getting us to make the change and here is the result.

I managed to slip in some lunches with friends and ex colleagues this week; so Monday I met up with Jorge López who now heads up an English owned PR Agency in Madrid, Lewis. He doesn’t work for me now but he has done in the past and we have great fun exchanging information and keeping up to date in the PR world. He took me to the Centro Riojano in Madrid and I did the terrible thing of ordering white wine (well I was having fish) and I’m afraid Rioja white is not the thing to ask for. Of course, we then changed to red and that was quite ok considering where we were. It’s definitely a good place to eat in Madrid.

Wednesday was lunch with Mónica, Paloma and Cristina at Ginos – one of our favourites. They were all doing fine and in any case I will be seeing them again as they will be coming to my birthday party next week.

I mustn’t forget to mention that it was Alicia’s birthday this week and she was sweet 15 on Friday. Alicia is my goddaughter and is the daughter of Eladio’s youngest brother, Isidro and his beautiful wife, Yoli.

Midweek and after work I had a little experience of how the rich live as I went to have a massage at the Caroli Health Club near where I work in La Moraleja. I have to point out that I only went as I had been given a free voucher by Nokia at their New Year press party. And how was the massage you may ask? Great, relaxing, sheer luxury which lasted a whole hour. They tried to get me interested in all sorts of treatments afterwards but I said I would ring later but of course I never will. So I walked out and will never go again. It’s the sort of place I’m sure Victoria Beckham frequented when she lived here. Lovely, lovely.

On Friday night Eladio and I went to see the latest Paul Verhoevn film called Black Book which is described as a tough yet strangely sexualised Second World War epic set in the Netherlands and made by that master of leering eroticism Paul Verhoeven (Basic Instinct, Showgirls). The leading actress is Carice van Houten, a native of Amsterdam who plays a Jewish hideaway during the second world war who ends up working for the Dutch resistance. Highly highly recommendable. Afterwards we went to dinner but this week we changed and went to La Vaca Argentina instead of La Alpargatería.

And in León yesterday Eladio’s sister Adela was operated for goitre (I think it’s called that) and had 2 big tumours removed – so a pretty long and nasty operation which took at least 3 hours. On the bright side of things the tumours are not expected to be malignant thank God. We wish her a quick and painless recovery.

On Saturday afternoon I accompanied Eladio to Madrid to a demonstration against ETA or negotiating with ETA. I am never a one for demonstrations but Eladio wanted to go so much and I didn’t want to let him go on his own. So we went and unfortunately it was very politicised against the present government. The experience was pretty interesting but the worst thing that happened is that we got trapped in one street and could not move forwards or backwards until it was over – so there I was in the cold trapped by hundreds of human bodies getting crosser and crosser until it was finally over and we could move away. Quite a few people couldn’t take it and we witnessed at least 4 people fainting and the ambulance personnel having to make their way through the dense crowd to get to them. Afterwards we walked all the way to Eladio’s brother’s flat for dinner – it took us well over an hour as it was impossible to get a taxi. My feet were killing after the experience which I know now will never be repeated again.

And next week at this time I will be reporting on my 50th birthday party which is taking place on Saturday. Andy and Amanda are coming for that and I cannot wait to see them.

Till then my friends

All the best