Sunday, February 07, 2010

TVs and fires, interviews, social engagements, recipes, birthday celebrations and Oli back from Israel.

The finished birthday cake with far too much cherry jam and whipped cream in the middle.

Hi again

Here I am on the first Sunday in February and tomorrow is my birthday. The celebrations will be mostly today as Monday is a not a very suitable day for birthdays and also tomorrow is one of our down days. But more about the preparations and celebrations later on.

This week has been all about getting our TV signal to work better at home, as well as the fireplaces and there are lots of social engagements to mention as well as other things, but let me start at the beginning.

I actually went into the office 4 times this week which is quite a record for me and that even included Friday, something I never do. I am getting busier as the Mobile World Congress approaches in Barcelona and I will in fact be travelling there this time next week with my daughters Suzy and Oli. On Monday I went in for a meeting with my PR agency to prepare our PR plan for this year (a bit late I know, but better late than never). On Tuesday I went in for a weekly general meeting which took me 1.5h to get to and then lasted 5 minutes. To say that was a waste of time is an understatement. On Wednesday I think I also wasted my time going in. You would think not if you hear that it was for an interview with Time magazine. However I get the feeling that when we said no to the advertising the interview may well not get published. I have seen this happen before with other big international publications such as Der Spiegel, The Economist or Fortune 500. Very unprofessional and a bit sad for the trade is how I see it. I refuse, however to resort to advertising to get editorial published. Maybe I am old fashioned but I don’t think so.

On Thursday I had an interview myself which sort of tickled me pink. I mean you are supposed to be out of the job market when you are past 35 or 40 in Spain and we are in a recession with few jobs about, yet the headhunters continue to call me occasionally. That’s probably a good sign for my profession. It was for a global PR position with a top Nordic renewable energy company based in Madrid and sounded quite challenging. I turned it down though of course as right now I have it as good it gets and the headhunter actually agreed with me. I did however pass on the contact to my friend Elena the one I have coffee with once a month and whom I am trying to help find a job. I hope they give it to her.

On the home front the TV and fireplaces have been this week’s issues. We have 6 televisions in this house (far too many I know) but the signal is pretty bad and always has been despite all the aerial technicians who have been coming and going since we moved in, in 2006 and of course charging us a fortune. The bottom line is we can’t see some of the national channels and we have to do something about it before the end of analogue TV which is set for 1st March this year or so they say.

We have had an aerial man (David) in and out of the house all week trying to improve the signal. He has been up and down the roof, changed the aerial and made other technical adjustments but it seems we are back at square one. It’s very frustrating and I don’t know if there will be a solution. We are also putting in (when David gets round to it) a satellite dish for my Father to be able to enjoy British news programmes.

Talking about TV, I discovered I can watch it on my iPhone (which I am extremely happy with by the way) and was absolutely bowled over. Who then doesn’t want TV on their mobile phone? I think I might. In the car the other day whilst Eladio was filling the tank I downloaded the RTVE application and low and behold I could watch their 24 hour news programme TV 24 horas. It cannot, however, replace home TV for obvious reasons so we shall continue to battle at home until the signal works on time for 1st March.
Mobile TV (streaming) in my iPhone, very impressive.
The other headache has been our fireplace. In my blog post last week I said that Eladio had confirmed both fireplaces worked ok because the smoke went up the chimneys correctly. So on Monday he bought a range of new fireplace accessories and this week he lit one of the fires. So there we were, my Father, Eladio and I enjoying our books by the fire in the lounge and very happy with ourselves. Suddenly though there was an explosion in the chimney and very soon the whole house was filled with smoke. The house still permeates with the smell and we are now considering installing a fireplace insert. We would love to have the simulated gas fires you get in England (so cheap and so clean) and in fact brought one over only to find they are impossible to install in Spain because of the stringent gas laws here.
The lounge fireplace which we lit for the first time this week. Unfortunately it produces too much smoke in the house.
That brings me to the social engagements of the week and there have been many. On Friday I had lunch with my Nokia girlfriends, Jill, Zenaida, Susana and Ana at Clericó, an Argentinian place in Herón City. As usual I got lost going there. Unfortunately Fátima couldn’t join us (as usual should I say?). It was a great girly get together and nice prelude to the weekend. They are all doing fine. Ana is immersed in being a Mother and juggling her life work balance which is pretty difficult when you are a legal counsel for a big company like HP and have 2 small children. We all vowed to see each other more often. I hope we do. Girlfriends are important in my life as they are most of us.

On Friday I had 2 social engagements as in the evening Eladio and I also had a date with Gerardo and Irene and their spouses. They were the kids I lived with and taught English to back in 1979, imagine. It’s lovely to have reconnected again after so many years. We went to a great Portuguese restaurant called Transmontano where the speciality is “bacalhau” (cod) in all its different varieties. The next date will be at our house in April. I look forward to that.
The Portuguese restaurant Transmontano has the best bacalhau (cod) in town.
The weekend has been great so far. Yesterday we woke up to a hot air balloon going past our house. It was a lovely sunny day and I got some great pictures.
The hot air balloon that flew past our house on Saturday morning, a sight for sore eyes.
Afterwards Eladio took me out shopping for my birthday. He’s a great husband but no specialist in presents so we went to choose together. We started in Cortefiel where I bought some clothes in the sales and then went to Spain’s top and only department store, El Corte Inglés. Here we or he bought me charms for my Monet and Pandora (now complete) bracelets as well as a lovely lumberjack type shirt by Lloyd’s (ha ha ha that’s my surname).
But we also got the ingredients for my cake. Or rather mine and Juan’s as tomorrow is also our nephew and Eladio’s god son, Juan’s birthday and today we are going to have lunch at their house for the first time in years I would say. It’s going to be lovely because all of them will be there, Miguel, Sara and Juan and of course the parents, Dolores and Eladio’s brother José Antonio. Unfortunately Oli will be missing as she only gets back tonight from Israel. We will however be going out with her tonight for dinner at Mood to celebrate my birthday too.
The birthday cake ingredients.
And that brings me on the making of the cake, hence the reference to recipes in my headline. The birthday cake I made yesterday is our speciality and one both Suzy and I often make for birthdays. It’s very simple. You make or buy the sponge. The cake has 2 layers and in the middle you put jam (I like cherry but you can put what you want) and thick whipped cream (the more the merrier for my Father). The top layer gets covered with thick white icing (tate and lyle of course) and then decorated with M+Ms).

Whilst the sponge was baking I made the weekly soup. I thought I ought to record this, one because it’s delicious but two because it’s become an intrinsic part of our diet and is what my Father has for dinner every night. It’s very simple. You cook the vegetables (in this case, pumpkin, carrot, potato, leek and onion). Then you liquidise them with a splash of milk, olive oil, pepper, salt and parsley. And here is the result.
My pumpkin and vegetable soup, delicious, even if I say so myself.
That brings me to this morning when we had a lovely birthday breakfast as you can see in the picture of Gaby and Suzy. You might also notice the Emma Bridgewater pottery we ate off, lovely stuff. Our birthday breakfasts always consist of using the best tablecloth and serving hot croissants, Danish pastrys, fresh orange juice and cappuccino coffee.
Gaby and Suzy at the birthday breakfast this morning.
You can see the rest of the photos of the making of the cake and this morning’s breakfast here.

And that brings me to the end of this week’s blog post. I should also mention that Suzy’s exam went fine on Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for the next one which is on 11th February. Also Diana continues to grow and delight her parents and on 4th February she was one month old. Isn’t she lovely?
Our grand niece Diana was 1 month old on 4th February.
Oli will be back tonight from her 10 day trip to the Holy Land which has been a great experience for her. I asked her what made most impact and she said definitely Petra in Jordan as well as swimming in the Dead Sea and also visiting the RTVE correspondent’s office in Jerusalem. I’m sure they would be my highlights too. We are dying to see her and specially see her photos taken with reflex digital camera her friend Ana lent her for the trip.

And so my friends I leave you till next week and hope you all have a great one.


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