Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mid week post

Celebrating Julio's birthday
Hi there
Just a quickie to recap on the week so far and what’s up for the weekend as a lot seems to be happening lately. Well it is nearly July and the Summer has started. And so have the family visits too.

First the good news: Susi has passed 2 of the 3 exams she has taken so far and they are Biochemistry and Microbiology (parasites you know?), She is working flat out this month until the 4th July apart from the odd social break once in a while. Congratulations Susi and keep up the good work as my Father used to say when I was a student!

This week, Fátima, Julio and I finally celebrated Julio’s birthday of last month together at our favourite restaurant, El Buey. He got the proverbial Lacoste polo shirt, this time in yellow. We don’t beat about the bush with what presents to buy each other but tell each other what we need or want! Together over lunch we planned quite a few Summer activities together as well as a possible trip to New York in December!! Hope that works out.

Tuesday night I was at a big party I had organised for the press at Fortuny, a lovely little mansion in down town Madrid with its own gardens. It was the perfect place to celebrate Midsummer in Madrid. It was a great evening but had me pull the sheets to well after 2 in the morning which, of course, I ended up “paying for” the next day.

Yesterday Eladio and I went to pick up the newly weds, Roberto and Ana on their return from their honeymoon in Greece. They had had a splendid time except for the soaring temperatures of up to 50ºc – a bit much for a couple from coolish León in the north of Spain. Theirs was a flying visit as they were here for a late last minute rustled up Spanish tortilla for dinner and were off early this morning.

This Friday is Oli’s graduation ceremony at the UEM. As she is doing a triple degree she really “graduates” next year but she wanted to do the ceremony this year with her classmates. Fair enough. The occasion will probably be quite pompous for a Spanish university as only the private ones do it the “American way”. More news about that on Sunday.

And on Saturday, we are having another family visit. Pili, Eladio’s youngest sister, her husband Andrés and their kids, Paula and Mario will be bringing Eladio’s Mother to stay with us for a couple of weeks. That should make a pretty full house, so rest assured there will be barbecues and candle lit dinners together as well as shopping escapades, sun bathing and the lovely feeling of the family being together.

That’s all for now folks.

All the best

Monday, June 25, 2007

Midsummer in Salamanca, catching up with friends again, Isidro and Yoli came to lunch, the first swim of the Summer and peaches in the garden.

The two brothers, Isidro and Eladio relaxing before lunch
Hi again

Summer is officially here and last week I was in Salamanca with all my colleagues from work for a Midsummer team building event and party. We learned how the Swedes celebrate Midsummer and a lot of it has to do with alcohol which I’m sure does not surprise you. In most Nordic celebrations there is a Toast Master and there are speeches and I was asked at the last minute to make a speech about men, as one of the men was asked to make one about women. I used as much creativity as I could muster and had people in stitches when I told them I had been married for 24 years; to the same man and that my husband was my best friend, my partner, my coach, my adviser, my gardener, my plumber, my electrician as well as my lover!!

Thursday brought a dinner engagement with Pedro (of cycling fame) and Ludy, their friend Enrique and my best friend Fátima. A table was booked at for 10 at Piu di Prima, a very chic and famous Italian place in Madrid. And on this occasion the tables turned because we were nearly an hour late trying to find a place to park and Pedro and Ludy had arrived on time which is not their trait as they are usually very unpunctual. So we ended up starting dinner well past 11 and got home at around 2 in the morning which had me completely knocked out the next day. It was good to catch up on each other’s news and to see our friends looking in good shape.

Friday had me attend a press conference at the Madrid town hall with the Mayor, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, the Spanish singer, Nacho Cano and the head of the Anti Drug Association, my old boss, Ignacio Calderón from my Defex days. It was quite uplifting to hear Nacho Cano talk about how he used to take drugs and what they did to people. It brought back many negative memories of my dear brother George and his experience with drugs which caused so much damage to him as any one who knew us as teenagers will remember.

The weekend brought with it good weather and a visit from Isidro, Eladio’s youngest brother and his wife Yoli.

On Saturday after a late walk with Roberto and Mari Carmen we hired a film called Las Vidas de Celia – totally unrecommendable and bought some great Chinese food from our local take-away which the girls recommended.

Sunday morning brought a semi unexpected visit from Isidro and Yoli. They had come from León the night before to take Alicia, my God daughter, to the airport on her way to Paris to stay with Sophie, the daughter of my second cousin, another Masha. And on their way back to León they stopped by for lunch.

Lunch was a family affair with 8 of us round the table by the pool terrace and it being a Sunday we had roast chicken and all the English trimmings such as sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce.

When they left, the girls and I decided it was time for our first official swim and that was where I spent the rest of the afternoon, also enjoying Diana the Intimate Portrait recently bought on

Poor Suzy was upstairs swotting away as today she had her last but one exam of the Summer. She was not going to sleep the night again and do her Red Bull trick. She looked so wide eyed this morning.

The reference to peaches growing in the garden comes from the picture I took of one of the lovely peach bushes in the rock garden which seems to be producing an abundance of peaches. It’s such a beautiful and luxurious plant, I could not help but take a picture of it to illustrate this week’s blog.

That’s all for now folks.

Have a great week

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The newly weds visit Madrid


On Monday, we had the honour of hosting the newly weds on their way to their honeymoon in Greece. Unexpectedly they stopped by for lunch today to leave their car with us while they are away.

Take a close look at Roberto because Eladio was the spitting image of him the day we got married now nearly 24 years ago.

Congratulations Roberto and Ana and have a great time in Greece. Until your return.


Monday, June 18, 2007

The Wedding. Roberto and Ana joined together in matrimony in León on Saturday 16th June, 2007.

Roberto and Ana at the Banquet

Saturday 16th June was the date set for the wedding of Roberto and Ana. Roberto is our oldest nephew and is the son of Adela and Primo. Adela is Eladio’s oldest sister.

This was to be the second wedding of the nieces and nephews in Eladio’s family of which there are 13. First to wed was Roberto’s sister Marta some 3 years ago to Ministro.

And now it was Roberto’s turn. Roberto, at the good old age of 35 is the oldest cousin and has been in no hurry to get married, although he and his beautiful partner Ana have been together for some years now.

Our family life is scattered with church events which unite the family now so often. First it was our own weddings, then our children’s christenings, then their communions, then some of our parents’ and grandparents’ funerals, and so the wheel goes round and on Saturday it was the turn of a wedding.

From Eladio’s immediate family alone there were at least 30 odd guests of the155 in total. It was the biggest wedding my Father had ever been to, so he said. And, oh, does my Father enjoy a wedding. It’s something to do with white tablecloths and Mercedes cars that get him.

From our house, we were 7, including both boyfriends, José Luis and Gaby. For Gaby, Susi’s boyfriend, it was his trip to León and, of course, he must have been nervous.

The Freijo Lloyd family at the wedding
Eladio had the honour of being asked to be the driver of the groom and his Mother to the church and the car was duly decorated with ribbons which I thought were lovely and wanted to keep on for a few days but Eladio wouldn’t let me.

The groom and his Mother, Adela (La Madrina) on their arrival at the church
The ceremony was to take place at a lovely little church in León called San Juan y San Pedro de Renueva where the bride’s parents had been married before her. The weather was very unsettled with lots of rain threatening but the bride was lucky that at the important moments it DID NOT rain.

The ceremony was the loveliest one I have experienced in Spain. Also I was lucky to have a front row view and actually sat next to the groom’s Father, one of my favourite brothers-in-law, Primo, a jolly chap who was not one bit nervous. The priest who was a family friend, did a great sermon and we all learned that love is like the moon; if it doesn’t grow it shrinks, that marriage is like the ring the bride and groom will wear: solid, round and hard (that had a lot of people laughing). The music was superb as a friend of Adela’s who is a professional soprano sang pieces like Ave María and Canti Corum which were absolutely spine tinkling.

At the altar
Spanish weddings are much more informal than English weddings and the rituals a lot less strict. When the ceremony was over, instead of sitting quietly waiting for the bride and groom to come down the aisle in silence and to music, that’s the moment the Spaniards relax, go up to the couple to congratulate them and that’s when all the photography starts.

Confetti these days is very sophisticated and comes out of a rocket like tube which pops automatically and sends off an enormous amount of confetti. The bride and groom were quite blinded by it.

The confetti
The banquet took place at a lovely hotel called Hotel Infantas de León. Here we wined and dined from about 9 in the evening till past 3 in the morning. The menu was at least a 6 course dinner which when it came to the baby goat had most of us too full for words. Spanish wedding banquets are very very loud, with the friends of the bride and groom shouting “Viva los novios” or “Qué se besen” continuously. There are no speeches which I actually think is a pity.

The main table

Roberto and Marta, brother and sister looking radiant
After the dinner the dancing and drinking and that is the moment Eladio and I usually do our escape trick as we are not the greatest dancers in the world.

Yesterday we were all very tired as weddings do tend to take their toll on one and then of course we had to drive back to Madrid again.

Susi and Oli with Gaby and José Luis having breakfast the day after the wedding at Alejandro and Marisa's "hotel" - Thanks to them both for putting us up for the wedding.
But Sunday ended well, as Madrid beat Mallorca to become the champion of La Liga.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Catching up with colleagues from the past. Lunch with Santi and Cristina


If last week I was catching up with old Nokia colleagues, this week it was with agency colleagues: Santi and Cristina. They both used to work for Comunica which was my events agency when I was at Motorola and Nokia. Cristina and I go back a long way and have had many experiences together, such as an incentive trip to Amsterdam for customers to the Final of the Champions League against the Juventus. But there were many others. Cris is now the Advertising Manager for the Banco Santander and Santi is part owner of a new events agency, called “Mi Querido Watson” or My Dear Watson.

I hadn’t seen Cris since the N-Gage 2 launch in Pedraza, Comunica’s last event with me which was probably 3 or 4 years ago. But we both agreed time hadn’t passed for us looks wise.

I have seen Santi more often. He’s always looking for a house or going skiing except his news this time is he has bought a new motor bike which, of course, as he knows, does not interest me in the least.

And here is the picture of them both to “frame” the moment over a wonderful “arroz a banda” in Pozuelo.

Great to see you 2 guys again and thanks for the wonderful lunch.

Cheers till the weekend.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Summer dinner party, a sporty weekend and I can see again

Hi again

This week has been busy for us all but mostly for poor Susi who had her first exam on Friday at 10 – biochemistry of all awful subjects. She was awake all Thursday night revising , thanks to Red Bull. Oli has her weeks full now as she is working as a trainee journalist at Mia, the Spanish equivalent of Woman or Woman’s Own. She is in the fashion department and although she doesn’t tell us very much, it seems she is always off to photo shoots or else going to buy sandwiches for the rest of her department! But then, if you are the trainee you tend to get given those sort of tasks.

Shopping of note this week was when I acquired a beautiful red chiffon trouser suit from Cortefiel for Roberto and Ana’s wedding next week. I was a bit worried it might be too much red but Oli said that wearing just one colour is supposedly very elegant and she should know now, I suppose.

Eladio has been sprucing up the garden most of the week after all the rain we have had. He was also getting it into ship shape for our guests on Friday, his old boss, Juanjo and his wife Justi, as well as our friends, Roberto and Mari Carmen. Friday afternoon had me preparing food all afternoon and laying and decorating the table for dinner on the pool terrace. I made “vichysoisse” – a French sounding but actually cold Spanish Summer soup made of potatoes and leeks laced with cream and parsley. The rest was cold cuts, canapés and salads, all very summery food.

The dinner party
Unfortunately the topic at dinner was politics – not my favourite subject but certainly Eladio’s and our guests. They all tend to favour one particular party whereas I am a bit in-between so I enjoyed putting the cat amongst the pigeons once or twice during dinner.

Saturday was a bit of a hang over day where we were a little tired from the effort of putting on the dinner party but also from going to bed so late with too much wine in our bodies. So there was no going out yesterday. Instead we stayed in and watched the “telly”. I watched some of the Real Madrid – Zaragoza match which was supposed to decide the Liga but in the end there was a draw, as there was with Barça and El Español. So the Liga will now be decided next week. Before that we saw some of the the Formula 1 trials in Canada where Hamilton got the pole position and our favourite and Hamilton’s “team” mate, Alonso came second.

After that we watched a bit of Gozilla which gave me nightmares including nasty dinosaurs which I have always hated.

Sunday morning was a lazy one where we spent most of the morning reading the newspapers. Then the whole family got into motion to make a barbecue. Eladio is becoming quite a master at it.

This afternoon I started watching the Roland Garros Tennis Tournament final between Federer and Nadal but stopped watching after the second set which Federer won. I can’t stand the tension and can only enjoy it if Nadal is winning. I sort of decided that if I went away it might help Nadal to win!!!! Maybe while I’m writing this Nadal’s advantage will increase.

The score when I stopped watching the match
You are probably wondering what I meant by "and I can see again" in the title of this post. Well I changed my glasses this week after having worn the same multivision ones for two years. I thought my sight had worsened alarmingly as frankly my vision was getting worse and worse. It turned out my sight was the same but my glasses were appallingly scratched. So when I tried on the new glasses on Saturday morning I suddenly had my "sight" back. The worst thing was seeing the wrinkles on my face which with the old glasses I didn't think I had!!! It is great to "see" properly again.

This week coming is full of press meetings work but then of course, we have the wedding to look forward to next Saturday in León where Eladio will have the honour of being the groom’s chauffeur.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mummy's Birthday

Hiya again

Just a little note to remember that today, 7th June, would have been my beloved Mother's birthday. She was a wonderful, bohemian, intellectual, charismatic and fun loving Gemini and will never be forgotten.

Love you Mummy forever.


A year ago yesterday

Hiya midweek everyone.

I just had to publish a small post today to comment that a year ago yesterday we moved into our new house. I just read my post dated 9th June last year where I described our moving in and it seems unbelievable that one year has already passed. Wow, so this time last year we were unloading boxes, unpacking clothes and generally trying to get organised in our new home. Then it didn't seem like home but today it does.

And tomorrow we are having an umpteenth dinner party for friends, this time Juanjo and Justi and Roberto and Mari Carmen. It will be a good excuse to celebrate our wonderful year here.

And here is a reminder of what our landing looked like on 6th June 2006!!


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Roses Galore

Hello once more

I love roses. They are my overall favourite flower and every night when we return from our walk, I pick the loveliest ones from the rose lined hedge on the path leading up to the house. And here are the latest ones I have picked.

Just glorious and, of course, the smell, which you can’t yet appreciate (work on it Bill Gates!) is the best.

Cheers till next week.

Catching up with old friends. Lunch with "Pelo Pincho", dinner with Marta.

Dinner at Marta's
Hi again

This week has been quite busy workwise with lots of meetings and projects going on. On Wednesday I gave a presentation at a PR conference and felt quite a veteran sitting at the head table instead of being in the audience. It was funny to see how some of the audience was falling asleep during the speech before me. So I made damned sure my audience did not sleep but had them laughing or agog at some of my experiences in PR in my latest job!

On Thursday afternoon I had a date with “Pelo Pincho” whose real name is Javier. I baptised him the former when we first met because of his hedgehog type hair cut. I am really really sorry I didn’t take my camera to the lunch to show you just how good looking Pelo Pincho is.

Javi is an ex colleague from my Nokia Network days and one of those people who have the sort of chemistry which matches mine. We did not work at all directly together but always used to seek each other’s company in the social events. He is from Murcia and is a great swimmer but best of all he is a great listener. Javi do send me a photo please and I will publish it to illustrate this post.

I ought to add that just before Javi came I bumped into Mónica, my old assistant at Nokia. It was such a pity she couldn't join us for lunch. Móni: it was GREAT to see you.

This week was definitely a week for catching up with old friends as I also had a date with dearest Marta (there is a link to her blog on the left hand side of mine) another ex colleague from my Nokia Network days. Marta and I didn’t work together either but we worked near each other and she was my morning coffee mate throughout the time I knew her there until she left. Marta is now married to Fran and they live in a lovely flat in the north of Madrid. The flat, to quote Fran, could be an Ikea showroom - very Scandinavian with lots of wood and white furniture. Eladio and I had dinner there with them last night and over a bottle of wine and some wonderful food they had cooked we got up to date on each other’s lives.

This time, though, I did take my camera with me. In the photo above do please notice their very modern cooking contraption – a nitrogen siffon used by Ferrán Adriá, the famous Spanish chef. She quite impressed me when she used it to make whipped cream with yoghourt to go with the strawberries. That is some very sophisticated way of cooking!

Marta and Fran, thanks for the lovely dinner and for your great hospitality. We had a super evening.