Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Santander and post Santander, Norah's first social outing and other news

The wonderful Sardinero beach as seen from our hotel room
Hi again,

It’s true, I haven’t written for some time. Mostly that’s because I’ve been busy in Santander with Yoigo’s participation in the annual telecoms conference but also because this weekend I’ve been engrossed in “The girl with the dragon tattoo” by the now arch famous and recently deceased Stieg Larsson or “Men who hate Women” as it is called in the original Swedish version. If you haven’t read it yet, you are one of the very few and I urge you to get going. I have now ordered the next 2 books from the trilogy, more commonly known as “Millenium”. When they arrive I already know I will say good bye to my friends, my family, my work and, of course, my blog for a week at least.

Meanwhile I must update my blog with my stay in Santander and what has happened since we got back. I say we, because, of course, Eladio went with me, as he does wherever I go. I can hardly imagine life without him. This year was my third with Yoigo but actually I have been going since 2000 with the odd exception.

I had a big party to put on for 200 people and an amazingly new and risky presentation at the conferences. Yoigo is different and so is its way of communicating. I have spent the better part of the last 2 months preparing for it and Santander was actually a dark cloud on my horizon that stopped me feeling completely free during my long holiday. What we did was an interactive video where we even gave out popcorn and t-shirts with the main message of our presentation, “Refarming now”.
Pop corn was certainly a first at the Santander telecoms conference.
We actually managed to wake up the “men in black” in the audience who even clapped. This was certainly a team effort and a lot of the credit goes to my PR agency, Ketchum and the fantastic production agency, Goodnews. Thanks guys, you know who you are.
The Ketchum, Goodnews and Yoigo team at Santander showing the t-shirts we gave out.
Needless to say the sailor theme party went really well too, thanks, once again, to my events team at Quinta Esencia. They went all out as usual and everyone had fun. People were kitted out with sailor hats and tattoos at the entrance, there was a tug of war, a punch ball machine which was forever in action, messages in bottles to be fished out of a pool, photos that could be taken with your friends in the Yoigo boat with a live parrot, arm wrestling with a strong man and strong women and of course lots to drink, all accompanied by a great DJ. The party went on till the early hours but I escaped, hopefully unnoticed, as I had to be up early and fresh and ready for our spectacular presentation the next morning.
The Yoigo sailor part was just great
Some of the journalists at our party, with me in the Yoigo boat.
I have been organising parties in the telecoms sector for nearly 20 years and have come to the conclusion that although they are great and my trade mark, I don’t actually enjoy them myself. Frankly I prefer smaller groups of people and would far rather be invited myself. I promise I would never criticise anything either!

Santander wasn’t all work though as one of my mottos is “all work and no play make Masha a dull girl”. So I combined both which is what I always try to do. Besides I love Santander, so going there just for work would have been a crime. Eladio and I, then, drove up the Saturday before and were joined by Andy and Amanda for their last weekend in Spain. They have had such a great time in Salamanca on their Spanish course they are seriously thinking of coming to live in Spain and most probably in El Bosque. That was a lovely piece of news.

We stayed where we always stay at the Silken Río Hotel just across the road from one of Spain’s best beaches, El Sardinero. That area is apparently Spain’s golden mile in expensive property so any plans of retiring there have now gone out of the window.
El Sardinero, as seen from our hotel room, one of the most expensive areas for property in Spain.
We were lucky with the weather as that part of Spain is touch and go, and spent as much time as possible on the beach, sunbathing, trying to swim in the waves and of course walking the beach from end to end many times. Santander boasts some of Spain’s best cuisine and so we introduced Andy and Amanda to the delights on offer at the Río Restaurant next to our hotel and to Zacarías, perhaps the best in town.
The four of us at Zacarías.
In a similar league, some say better, is La Bombi and La Posada del Mar. I love them all. However this year, we Eladio and I fell in love with a new place, Deluz, a British type mansion of the 50s, just up the road from our hotel where it feels like dining in the past. A most romantic place I must say.
Deluz restaurant in Santander, a spectacular house.
Andy and Amanda were very impressed by the Zacarias’ tomatoes, his trademark and grown exclusively for his restaurant. They cost the same as the best fillet steak but are so good Andy asked for some for his dessert!!
Very special tomatoes can be found at Zacarías
My dear friend Julio joined us on Sunday. We used to work together at Nokia and I first came to Santander with him in 2000. Every year we go we have photo taken and this is this year’s
This year's photo of Julio and I.
Now that we don’t work together we have to find moments during our stay to see each other. He came to the party, of course but my true celebration was on the last day with Julio and Eladio at La Bombi just before we drove home, exhausted but happy.
Eladio and I at the Bombi on the last day in Santander
On our way home which is now only a 4 hour drive thanks to the recently completed motorway, we stopped at Rueda for a drink but mostly to fill up on the excellent white wine at el Palacio de Bornos.

The first few days at home after Santander were a bit of an anti climax which is nearly always the case after a big event. It was nice though to be home again. We came home to big news from the girls. They are going to India in October on holiday! I’m delighted for them but worried about how much we are supposed to fork out for this jolly. We went for the first time this last Christmas and it was a big effort financially. I am excited for them though too.

Last Friday was quite a social day. I met my friend Elena for a coffee in the morning. She needed some cheering up. Looking for a new job at this stage in life is not easy. The important thing is to remain positive and that I know she is. In the evening we went out to dinner with Oscar and Juana who have just come back from 5 years in Mexico where they also formed their family. It was good to see them in person after reading about their lives virtually in Juana’s blog.

Saturday was a big day as we went to Colmenarejo for the long awaited barbecue reunion with Pili, Gerardo and their families. Unfortunately the girls couldn’t go (Suzy is busily studying for some of her final exams and Oli had gone to Barcelona to see Cold Play perform). Norah, our dog, was invited too and turned out, as expected, to be the star attraction with all the children. Norah had a bath before the visit as you can see here.
Norah getting ready for her first social outing. She didn't protest at all.
It was her first social outing and I was worried about her behaviour in the car and at their place. But she behaved perfectly. She was played with constantly all afternoon and never complained and she was also given a huge plate of left overs which she is never allowed and which made it a perfect party day for her too.
Norah enjoyed her day at Colmenarejo as much as we did but was utterly exhausted by the end of the day.
It was lovely to see these guys again and so good that we have found each other again. A good day was had by all and you CAN witness this by the photos I have posted in Facebook.

Sunday was a true family day as we had the pleasure of Olivia’s company. She took an early train from Barcelona and was home just as we were having breakfast. I am still getting used to the idea that she has left home but as it happened in the summer and was a gradual process it still doesn’t really feel as though she has gone.

And that’s about it for this post. It is now Tuesday 8th September and this week is looking good. But more about that in my next post.

Cheers till then

PS here are all the photos from Santander

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