Sunday, November 02, 2008

A week of good news and bad

José Antonio, me and Miguel on the walk in the snow in Montrondo on Saturday morning..
Hello again

I have just written the post on Sanya’s story, this week’s really bad news and which deserved a post in its own right. I could hardly tell poor dear Sanya’s story as just something else that happened this week. I won’t go in to that as you can read it below. But will move on to the other things that happened this week.

Tuesday was sort of Black Tuesday because of Sanya’s news. But that day also the majority shareholder of my company announced it might be selling our company off. I had to deal with that with the press and will continue to do so as the story will not go away which is certainly not my favourite sort of PR. That one sentence felt like a jug of cold water over my work of the past 2 years.

But Tuesday was not all black as that day I spoke and heard the voice of one of my favourite colleagues of all times, Joao MD. Joao was the country manager in Portugal at Motorola and we worked very closely together in the mid 90’s. He later left to work for the American owned operator, Telecel which later became Vodafone. We kept in touch for a while but the years went by and I stopped going to Lisbon with my new jobs and so “lost” Joao. I tried to find him on Facebook and LinkedIn but, surprisingly, he wasn’t there. I found him through Fátima on Tuesday who was at the Penha Longa Hotel for some company gathering and Joao was there. It was from there that they rang me and I heard Joao’s voice. It was quite emotional to hear him and also to think he was calling from the very place where we had launched the StarTac some years ago together. I will never forget bringing a puma (real live animal) from Spain in a van for that event and what an adventure that was in itself. Remember Joao??? (I'm editing this this Monday morning as I remembered later that Joao had actually left Motorola when that event took place but he came as our star guest so he will remember everything, including the puma!

Other things that happened this week, was lunch with Santi at La Albufera and lunch with Juan and Susana at Aspen. Santi was fine, happy to have to have moved into his new flat and working on Christmas stuff for me which looks very promising. Juan and Susana were looking good. They worked on my account at the previous PR agency and are two of the best account executives I have ever come across. I still miss them which is why we make the effort to meet regularly.

Wednesday was a special day as it was Marguerite’s 100th birthday. Marguerite was our neighbour in England, at 5 Heaton Grove. When my parents moved to 6 Heaton Grove in the mid 60’s, the Wrights had been there already for many years. Mr. Wright died when I was quite young, during the miners’ strike in the 70’s and after that Susan, the daughter, and Marguerite carried on living there and still do today. They were very good neighbours, specially when my Father became a widower. Daddy and I sent Marguerite some flowers and we rang her on Wednesday. It seemed she had a big family party going and sounded very happy. I asked her what it felt like to be 100 and she said “just the same my dear”.
Mrs. Wright as she was in May when I went to see her during the St. Joseph's College reunion.
Wednesday was also my sister-in-law, Yoli’s birthday. We were able to celebrate it all together this Saturday in Montrondo when the family gathered together for All Saints’ day in the family village. Yoli, by the way, is Isidro’s wife, Isidro being Eladio’s youngest brother.

Friday was Halloween. The girls plan their Halloween celebration with great care and detail and I am sure you will agree when you see how they looked this year.

We did not celebrate Halloween as such, but did celebrate All Saints’ day and All Souls’ day by going to Montrondo to be with the family and take flowers to the “abuelo’s” grave. We were not able to take my Father as he is still recovering from the operation from his foot. Fortunately as I write upon our return today on Sunday he seems to have taken a turn for the better.

The trip to Montrondo for me was a tonic to get over the recent bad news and it certainly did me some good. Eladio and I drove out on Friday to join José Antonio, his beloved brother, and Miguel, my beloved nephew, at their new house next to the main family house. It rained all the way and the journey was broken with a stop for lunch at the Parador in Tordesillas.

We arrived in Montrondo late on Friday afternoon to a temperature of 0ºC. That did not stop us venturing out and walking to Murias and back in the cold and dark. We needed to work up an appetite for dinner and move our legs after the car trip. I enjoyed cooking for those 3 lovely men and we had a great meal of tortilla, jamón and salad washed down by one of the bottles of wine from my new collection.

The next morning we woke up to snow. The village was covered in white and I sincerely hoped we would be snow bound and imagined being rescued by a helicopter and coming out on the news. But that was not to be as the snow soon melted. The rest of the family were coming for lunch so there was just time to cook lentils on the Aga and go for a 2 hour walk up the mountains to the “Abedular” plain and back before the family arrived.

Waking up to snow in Montrondo on Saturday was pure joy!
Miguel, Eladio and José Antonio having breakfast on Saturday morning.

It was during lunch that the good news of the week was announced. It was unexpected too. There we were, Eladio and his 2 sisters and 3 brothers, their partners, his Mother and a sprinkling of the older generation of nieces and nephews (Roberto, Ana, Marta, Fernando and Miguel) when suddenly we heard that Ana was pregnant (Ana is the wife of Roberto who is the son of Adela who is the sister of Eladio). Adela was sitting in front of me and saying “this is first time I am hearing this” which I found quite amazing. Suddenly she was going to be a Grand Mother!!! The whole moment was quite emotional and extremely happy too. Congratulations Roberto and Ana and Adela and Primo, long live the Freijo family.
The happy couple, Roberto and Ana
So from thinking about a future member of the family, we went on to thinking about a past one, of Antonio, Eladio’s Father who died in 2005. It is Antonio who always reunites us and reunite us he did once again on Saturday as we all walked together after lunch to the cemetery in Montrondo to place 6 red roses, one from each son and daughter, on his grave.
Some of the family on our way to the cemetery on Saturday
We found other people tending graves there as we knew to be happening all over graves in Spain that day. If you have seen that marvellous film, Volver, by Almodóvar, you will know what I mean.
The cemetery on Saturday in Montrondo.
Antonio's grave with the 6 red roses
Soon the family left as it was dark and beginning to snow. Despite the weather, once again, the 3 men and I ventured out and walked to Murias and back to stretch our legs and work up an appetite for a cosy dinner round the table in Toño’s kitchen.

You can see the full collection of the photos of our trip this weekend to Montrondo here on Facebook.

And all too soon the weekend was over and we were packing and leaving for Madrid again. The tonic worked its trick and we have come back in a more refreshed state of mind.

This week will be tough because of the funeral but now, perhaps, I am more ready to cope with it. I will be staying with Sarita (guapa), my niece and Miguel’s sister, at her place in Marble Arch. I look forward to time with her and of course, time at Marks and Spencers. But that story will have to wait till next week as it hasn’t been written yet.


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