Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oli's make over in Mia

Hi again

I just wanted to tell you that next week brings something very exciting for Olivia who has just finished her Summer work practice at the Mia magazine. In next week’s edition which will be available in the newsagents on Thursday they will be publishing a make over they did of her back in August. And here are some advance photos of the shoot. She looks great. Congratulations darling.

Cheers Masha

Lots of men in the house, a diet of sorts, lunch with Julio and Fátima, the birth of "Público", the Doctor's prescription, Fergus came to stay.

Hi again

As I started to write this post, I thought that not much had happened this week. But actually that’s not true as it has been a very busy week.

We have had the builders in still working unsuccessfully on the guest room! We have had men in to put guttering up on the roof and we have also had men in to mend a burst pipe. And we have also had the painters in to renovate the façades of the balconies which were a bit crumbly. So, all in all, there have been a lot of men around!

This week saw the beginning of my diet. Susi, my daughter who is studying Food Science worked out a diet for me. She, along with Olivia, have been watching out the whole week to make sure I don’t stray. So life, food wise, has been a little unfair.

I had lunch with my “best buddies”, Fátima (or Pin) and Julio from my Nokia days. From this page here goes a big congratulations to Fátima for her new job in marketing. So, no more RFQs, eh darling? We went to Tony Romas and stuffed the greatest ribs in town but were careful on the desert.

On Tuesday evening I went to the opening party of the new daily newspaper, “Público” and took Olivia with me who is studying journalism. Público claims to be a radically left wing paper and really is. The launch advertising campaign included a man with a T-shirt saying “Fuck Bush” which has now been withdrawn as they did not have George Bush’s permission!!!! The party was big but rather boring I’m afraid but there were loads of people I knew so it was quite good from that aspect.

On Thursday I went to the Doctor about my back. The final verdict is that I have slight wear and tear on my neck (cervical chords), should lose some weight (I know, I know) and do more exercise. When I boasted about our hour long daily walk I was told that that was only good for the circulation and that maybe I should try “pilates”!!!

Friday we went out to dinner with our dinner buddies, Roberto and Mari Carmen and it was a late celebration dinner for Eladio’s birthday. We had postponed it because of my back. And here, I am afraid to say, the breaking of my diet began. Funnily enough their present to Eladio was a book by the famous Spanish heart specialist, Valentín Fuster on how to look after your health!!!

This weekend we have had Fergus to stay. Remember him from last week? Well I think he had a grand time with the girls and their friends. From what I heard 4 of them shared a whole bottle of vodka on their first night out. They were back after 5 each night so very obviously a good time was had by all. It’s good to note that Fergus has finally found a flat to live in. This week he will be beginning his classes at the school in Fuenlabrada. Good luck Ferg; just don’t talk so fast to those Spanish kids.

Eladio and I went to the cinema for the first time in ages yesterday. We went to see "Mighty Heart" with Angelina Jolie. It's about the death of Daniel Pearl, the American journalist from the WSJ who was kidnapped and killed in Karachi. The story and film are awesome; so much so I have just ordered the book on I'm afraid I broke my diet again as we went to the Alpargatería for dinner afterwards. It is, as you probably know, the restuarant we go to most but actually we hadn't been there for months and months.

And tomorrow brings a visit from my best friend from England, Amanda. We went to school together and have kept in touch ever since. So this week there will be a lot of catching up to do.

Till next week/Masha

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

PR and girlie lunches, Rudyard Kipling, a boyhood dream and another birthday

Hi again

Last week, in between being a put out a bit thanks to my back ache which is now receding, thank God, I managed to squeeze in a couple of PR and girlie lunches. The PR lunch was with Víctor, a friend and colleague from way back. He is one of the partners of the PR agency, Perception + Image with whom I have worked most over the years. They now do my press tracking and are the best at it in Spain. The reason for the meeting was to see their new offices in Las Rozas; quite impressive. But the best thing was lunch at Gobolem which turned out to be quite a PR encounter as both Víctor and I knew people on at least 3 of the other tables and there were only 5 with people on them! It was fun to greet Mamen from my Placement agency last year, looking as beaming as ever.

Lunch with Víctor also brought with it memories of a wonderful poem by Rudyard Kipling called If. Yes, we got quite philosophical about the sort of person you have to be to do PR and, of course, we both identified ourselves fully with the advice in that great poem. And here are the first few lines just to get you into the spirit. If you are English you will probably recall reading this poem in class at school many years ago.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

The girlie lunch was less philosophical, of course. It was with my dear friends Jill, Zenaida and mother-to-be Ana. As you can see from the photo, they are looking great.

Jill, Ana, Zenaida (from left to right)

And the boyhood dream, you will ask? Well, it’s very simple. Eladio has always dreamed of having a table tennis table and has surfed the web quite a lot recently in search of one. He was a bit hesitant because of the price but when I reminded him his birthday was coming up, he immediately decided to order one and then promptly instructed us NOT to buy him anything for his actual birthday. And did we take any notice? Of course not, because a birthday without unwrapping presents, a card and a cake is simply not a birthday.

His lovely table arrived on Friday but with a set of assembly instructions which looked like Chinese to me. Well, Eladio is persistent and never gives up and Saturday saw him spending the morning assembling his precious table which was up and ready for playing by lunch time.

The girls trying out the new table tennis table
Sunday was his birthday and he was 36 or so he told us. That doesn’t make much sense as we have been together for over 24 years, does it? Well, anyway, he is looking splendid. And to celebrate it with him we had José Antonio and Dolores for lunch that day. Fergus came with them and Fergus was to remind me most of the day of my start in life in Spain. Fergus who is English, aged 22 and studies Spanish at Sheffield University in the UK, has come to Spain as an assistant teacher of English in a school in Fuenlabrada as part of an exchange with the British Councill and part of his University degree. He is at a bit of a loose end at the moment because his job hasn’t started yet and he is looking for accommodation which is proving quite difficult. However, I know he is going to have a great time and that things will all work out in the end. If you are reading this Fergus, believe me, this year is going to one of your best.

Eladio and the birthday cake. Flanked by Fergus on the left and my Father on the right.
Next week brings with it the birth of a new newspaper in Spain, “Público” and, hopefully, I shall be going to the opening party. The following week will be great as my “bestest” friend Amanda will be coming to see us. Let’s just hope her “new” room will be finished on time. I don’t want to complain here about the length of the renovation which is now into its third week. No comment!!

Cheers again from here.
All the best/Masha

Monday, September 24, 2007

The boy in the striped pyjamas

Hi again

I have just read an amazing book, sent to me by my good friend, Cristina Miranda. It is so good I am writing about it in my blog, which is usually reserved for more domestic and mundane aspects of my daily life.

It is a book written by the Irish writer, John Boyne and is supposedly for children but really only adults will understand the full nuance of the book which is about a 9 year old boy struggling to understand what is happening around him in Auschwitz during the Second World War. He is uprooted from his comfortable home in Berlin to Poland where his Father, unknowingly to him, is made the Camp Commander by personal intervention from whom he calls “The Fury”. From his attic window in his new bedroom he can just glimpse some people in a field wondering around in “pyjamas” and cannot understand what they are doing there or why they are wearing pyjamas. When he dares to ask his Father, he is told “Oh, them; they are not people”.

I won’t tell you more and just hope I have wetted your appetite sufficiently to look out for this jewel of a book which can actually be read in one go.

I cannot recommend it more highly. It has left me with a haunting feeling and a sort of emptiness inside.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

After Stockholm, back home, renovation going on at home, lunch with Cristina and Paloma, a visit from Pili and family and a bad back.

Hi again

Well here I am writing my blog after a week’s absence. I have been a bit out of action due to a cervicobrachial disorder, more commonly known as back and arm ache caused by the inflammation of the cervical cords. This has given me endless pain and 2 or 3 sleepless nights. However I finally went to the Hospital yesterday and was prescribed some pretty strong drugs which seem to be working. This is the 4th time it has happened in my life and the pain is so strong that I forever remember each and every episode.

But back ache aside, the week up until it started to get really bad has been busy and there has also been lots going on in the personal and home front. On Tuesday we started on the renovation of one of the guest rooms on the ground floor where we are widening the window, putting in a wooden floor, painting the walls, putting lights in the ceiling and also adding ceiling plaster. Of course this brings with it many inconveniences, noise, dust and rubble. We just hope they will make a good job of it. Cross your fingers.

Renovation of the guest room
Midweek I had lunch with 2 lovely friends from Nokia, Cristina and Paloma. They are both faring very well and looking great. We had a good time gossiping about people we had worked with and generally catching up on each other’s news. It was good to see you both and happy birthday Palomita this week!

Paloma (left) and Cristina (right)
Also this week we had a surprise visit from Pili (Eladio’s youngest sister) and family; Andrés her husband and one of my favourite brother in law’s, Paula her beautiful daughter and Mario her noble and loving and extremely tall son. They had been staying at our flat in Santa Pola and stopped off for a night to see us on their way home to León in the north of Spain. Of course, this was a great opportunity for a big family dinner which Eladio and I put on in no time as soon as we knew they were coming. Well a trip to the Supercor supermarket for some gourmet goodies did the trick actually.

It was great having them and we were all up late talking and catching up on all our news and Summer activities. And here is a picture of the dinner we had on the terrace that evening. Family life is the best, really.

And that’s all for this week.

Cheers till later

Spirit of the Wild Exhibition in Stockholm

Hi again

I just had to add a piece in my blog about the Spirit of the Wild exhibition I saw recently as it made a big impression on me.

While in Stockholm we had the luck of seeing the Spirit of the Wild Exhibition. This was an outdoor photographic exhibition which happened to be located on the doorstep of our hotel in Nyrbokagen (I think that’s how you spell it).

It is an exhibition of photographs of the wild by a South African photographer called Steve Bloom. We were so struck and impressed by the photos that we kept going back to see them throughout our stay. Apart from buying the book I also took photos of the pictures that I liked best. They are just so beautiful, as you can see below.

I didn’t know who Steve Bloom was and have just now looked him up in internet and this is what it says:

“Over the past twelve years, Steve Bloom has emerged as one of the world's leading photographers of the living world. his expressive and evocative photographs of wild animals in their natural surroundings have earned him several international awards, and his books have been published around the world. Outdoor Photography Magazine described his book, Untamed, as "the best case yet for the defence of the Earth", and Lufthansa Magazine called Elephant a "declaration of love".

Hope you enjoy the photos too, even if it’s only through my blog.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Stockholm, a romantic and wet weekend


Here are the photos of our trip. Suffice it to say we had a great time, although we were pretty washed out by the rain on Saturday and Sunday.

Eladio thought it was the most beautiful city he has ever seen. Not for nothing is it called the Venice of the North.

Great monuments, great views, great food and rather nice people too. And many thanks to Lena Dworen for the private tour of Stockholm, Town Hall included. Also much fun was driving through the city in her little Ford Ka; quite an experience.

We loved the Vasa museum, the Skansen park and above all the old town.

Cheers Masha
Album in Facebook

Eladio and I on one of the many ferries between the islands.

Eladio showing the candle holder we bought at the Skansen park souvenir shop

Me showing the Swedish horse (sort of symbol of Sweden) we also bought at Skansen. We actually went into the museum shop to escape from the horrendous rain!

Eladio filming the replica of the Vasa ship

Eladio and I outside the Town Hall. This photo is courtesy of Lena Dworen and is the one I look best in; probably because I still had some makeup on from after the meeting.
Eladio in the blustering wind near the Royal Palace.PS. Here are the pictures I posted on Facebook. To see them pictures, click on the cross.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Back to Santander with a splash!

Hi again,

And wow wasn’t it great to be back in Santander; seeing familiar faces, enjoying the beautiful city, the beaches and the food. I had been away for 2 years and was really roaring to be back. It was a very full 2 days of pr and socialising and now I am back home at my desk pretty exhausted but happy.

Julio and then me on the walk in the morning from the hotel to the Conference centre at La Magdalena
My main mission was the organisation of a big party for all the attendees which took place last night and I am glad to say now that it was a complete success to judge by the attendance (over 170 people) and the great atmosphere.

The party venue with our logos.

The Motorola clan at the party. They certainly know how to have a good time. Thanks guys for your enthusiasm.
Sunday night I had dinner at Zacarías with Julio (my “bestest” friend), my ex boss, Félix, probably the best boss I have ever had and my dear friend and colleague José Luis Pérez who is now the Nokia Siemens Country Director, Monday lunch was with work colleagues at La Posada del Mar (highly recommendable) and last night we were invited by Sony Ericsson to dinner at La Bombi. La Bombi is a Santander must for me and something of a tradition. This was arranged by a ex colleague of Motorola and great sector friend, dear Gonzalo Eguiluz – note how good looking he is just past his 40th birthday and to think we first met when he was 28; a spring chicken who had just married and used to eat pop corn for dinner as he and his child wife, Alicia did not know how to cook!! Thanks Gonzi for the wonderful dinner and the fun at the party. Sorry I’m such a lousy dancer.

Gonzalo and I, 12 years on and looking good.
I was staying at the hotel I nearly always stay at, called Rhin Santander (now Río Silken) and it is right opposite the Sardinero Beach; probably the most beautiful and certainly the best kept beach in Spain. It is within walking distance of the Magdalena Peninsula which is where the telecoms conference takes place. And, yesterday, in between the end of the conference and the dinner I had time to swim and finally took the plunge so to say. I have been going to Santander for years but have never ever bathed. So this time and in order to revive for the dinner and party after a long day of pr, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity for a walk and bathe on the beautiful Sardinero beach.

The view from my hotel room of the Sardinero beach.
I enjoyed it so much that I repeated the experience again today just before having lunch with Julio and his friend Javier after which I was to grab a cab to the airport and make my way home.

Home is where I am now, back safe and sound, but not for long as tomorrow we are off to Stockholm.

So more of my news next week (and here is the complete photo album).

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Update of the week; catching up with friends, some happy birthdays, welcome back Miguel and off to Santander and Stockholm.

Hi again

This week has been quite busy workwise, getting ready for our participation in the annual telecomms event in Santander starting tomorrow. But there has been time for quite a lot of after Summer holiday get togethers too.

Last Sunday we had José Antonio, Eladio’s beloved brother, for lunch as his family were nearly all in London settling Sarita in who is now back from China. We didn’t get to see her in between trips which we all very much regret. Eladio and José Antonio spent most of their time talking about old times which is a very respectable thing to do, so I left them to it.

Pictures of the two "boys" chatting and relaxing, one with darling Phoebe
During the week I met up with a journalist friend of mine, Vicente Fernández de Bobadilla. We hadn’t seen each other for over 2 years and there was a lot to catch up. Vicente is much more a friend than a colleague.

And on Friday Eladio and I went out to dinner with Eduardo and Graciela, ex colleagues from Nokia. They live very near us actually so we had been planning this dinner for sometime. We finally went to a place I have been dying to try out in Majadahonda called Ars Vivendi. And here is a picture of them both which I had fun taking and am having fun posting here because, in a way, I am “formalising” their relationship which was actually a bit hush hush when we worked together. As anticipated we did, of course, talk about old times, the good ones and the bad ones of which there were quite a few. But that is all over now.

Graciela and Eduardo
And this week I have to say happy birthday to 3 people: Pili, one of my favourite sisters in law, Ana Valdivieso, my lovely pregnant lawyer friend and also to Lars Wallmark, a fun colleague of mine from Sweden.

And finally I have to welcome back Miguel, one of my favourite nephews. He is returning to Madrid after a 2 year stint in London and he is returning to work for a British firm who are setting up offices in Spain. Great to have you back Miguel.

And I will be travelling this afternoon to Santander to the annual telecoms conference. I will be returning after a 2 year absence and am really looking forward to it as anyone who is anyone from the sector will be there. Also Santander is probably one of my favourite cities in Spain and we will be staying at a hotel right on the Playa de Sardinero, a short walk away from El Palacio de la Magdalena where the conference takes place.

Palacio de la Magdalena, UIMP Santander.
The return will be short and sweet though as I have to curtail the trip to return on Tuesday evening as I will be travelling to Stockholm on Wednesday for meetings on Thursday and Friday. The good thing though is that I will be taking Eladio with me and we will be staying the weekend.

So I have a great week ahead of me.

Cheers to you all.

Changes to my blog, link to Facebook, language translator and the weather. 9000 visits.

Hi again

Hope you have noticed the link to my spot in Facebook. If you click on me you get sent to my profile where you can sign up to Facebook if you want. But if you click on the picture below that takes you to my latest photo album in Facebook. I can really recommend Facebook as I have found so many “lost” contacts through it and can now keep up with so many friends and also have loads of fun with some of the applications. Do try it out.

Also you will see I have added a translator at the left hand side of the blog. You just have to click on the flag of the language you want. It is automatic but the quality, I am afraid, is a bit poor. The funniest thing I saw was Santa Pola (Spanish town) translated into Spanish by “Papa Noel Pola” because “Santa” was understood as Father Christmas!!!! I have to thank Roberto Hortal for the translator as he told me where to get the link. Thanks Roberto, my distant IT advisor.

Finally I have added a weather forecast for Madrid which updates daily.

One thing I haven’t done yet and that is change the complete look of the blog. I would like to but am petrified I will lose some of the content!! So it will just have to stay the same.

By the way, I now have registered over 9000 visits. That’s not bad for a private and domestic blog. If you look at the country and continent counter at the end of the blog, it’s amazing to see I have readers from all the continents in the world. I just don’t understand how my life could possibly interest people who don’t know me. After all it’s not particularly exciting. Or is it?

Cheers again.