Sunday, March 14, 2010

A new work room, biscuits, great women and women’s day, a trip to Valencia, remembering the 11th March, goodbye Miguel Delibes and the girls in Lisbon

Our new work room after the change this weekend.
Good morning all,

Here I am another Sunday writing to you from my laptop at home. The difference from other Sundays is that today the sun is finally shining and Mother Nature seems to have left us in peace this week and we are even seeing the first signs of Spring although one month later than usual. Also I am writing to you from a new desk and sitting on a new chair. Yes, our new furniture came and our work room/study or IT room as my Father calls it looks so much better as you can see from the photo illustrating this post. Below is a photo of how it looked before. The improvement is very visible, the only hitch being that the Ikea men only brought one table and one chair. Now that is sloppy isn’t it? That’s the downside of Ikea I’m afraid. Hopefully they will be delivered this week.
What our work area looked like before the change.
I’m sure you’re wondering why “biscuits” is the next item in my headline this week. I’m not a great biscuit eater but my Father is. However I do like a gourmet biscuit. McVities digestives or Maria biscuits are not for me. I thought I ought to include an item on them as on Sunday when we had dinner with our travelling and restaurant going friends Roberto and MariCarmen, we gave them a delightful box of delicious Belgian biscuits we had brought back from Brussels. Yes the Belgian certainly know how to make them better than the British, or so I thought until my friend Belén from work gave me the most beautiful box as a present when I went into to the office on Tuesday. Belén who I think is beginning to know me and my tastes gave me the most original biscuits I have ever seen. She bought them in John Lewis in London and the tin box contains biscuits in the shape of London’s most famous symbols such as a double decker bus, the London Eye, Big Ben, etc. I don’t think I will ever eat them but will certainly copy the idea at work and maybe make some Yoigo cartoon doll shaped ones for one of my next occasions. Thank you Belén.
The superb London symbol shaped biscuits Belén brought me from John Lewis. How could I possibly eat them?
My next topic is women. A pretty big one eh? But this week has been important for women. On Monday a woman director was the first woman to get the prize for best director at the Oscars. And it went to Kathryn Bigelow for her film The Hurt Locker about the war in Iraq which also got the prize for best picture. She was in direct competition with her ex husband James Cameron whose film the highly acclaimed Avatar was expected to win. Avatar was a first for Hollywood in that it was entirely computer made, something the Jury were probably not happy with. I cannot judge as I haven’t seen either but I am happy a woman won the prize.
The Hurt Locker which won best picture and best director at this year's Academy Awards.
Kathryn Bigelow won the prize the night before International Women’s Day which was on Monday. We have much to thank the suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters who, at least in England, fought for women’s votes, emancipation and a more visible role in society. The fight is still going on today as equality is not what it should be nearly 100 years later.
Emmeline Pankhurst, the first suffragette to whom we owe many thanks for the emancipation of women.
Recently my friend Sandie from Brussels sent me an extract from a school girls’ text book on sex education in the early 60’s in the UK and which was in the hands of my generation. It made quite an impact on me when I read it and to quote my dear friend Anne (another great woman and who was 40 this week – happy birthday darling!!!) “we should be grateful to all those women who burned their bras in the 60’s”. If you haven’t seen it enjoy the read here:
An extract from a sex education text book for school girls in the early 60's in the UK. Astonishing!
Another great woman and I think I mentioned her before is Sandie’s mother Magda. She is now my friend on Facebook and at 84 is the oldest Facebook friend I have. A Hungarian Jew, she survived the war and the Nazis by being hidden by a gentile family in Budapest, something not all her family had the luxury of as many of them perished in Auschwitz. After the war Magda made her way to India, to Bombay where she had family and there she met Sandra’s father, an Italian who set up a textile company. They retired to England and Magda lives today in Badger’s Croft and lives life to the full as only someone can who once nearly lost it. I admire you Magda.

From women I move on to my trip this week to Valencia. Most people going this week will be going to see the Fallas, an annual festival to celebrate St. Joseph in the most original way possible. They build enormous “fallas” or sculptures made of paper mache and wood which they subsequently burn only keeping the best each year.
The fallas are works of art and each year there is a theme, often satirical on which they are based.
An example of a "falla" from Valencia. They will be burning them in this week's festival.
I went for work reasons with my boss for a media encounter and to show our face at a course for Yoigo shop owners or workers. We are doing a regional tour and next week will be going to Palma de Mallorca and to Seville. The media lunch at Ximo Saez was very staid compared to the course which took place at the Hotel NH Las Artes (NH hotels in Spain are very good quality). We stood in front of some 80 people firing questions at us. For them it was the first time they were in contact with anyone from the company and they needed to get some things off their chest. For me it was exhilarating and only wish we could have spent more time with them. Here is a photo of our encounter.
The group photo at the course in Valencia for Yoigo point of sale people. Great fun!
Valencia is the region, as I told the course attendants, where I learned Spanish many years ago in order to be able to communicate with my first boyfriend, José Francisco, a young medical student from a small village called Tarbena. The story of that relationship will one day be told in the book I mean to write about the women in my mother’s family. The story itself, with hindrance from José Francisco’s valium taking village mother clad in black could well take up 2 chapters. She was so against our relationship she did everything in her means to stop it including intervening my letters with the help of the local postman. On Tuesday I landed at a very modern and sleek airport but I well remember the small aerodrome it was in the 70’s and taking a taxi over 100km from Valencia which cost around 1000 pesetas at the time, a mere 6 euros today. Times have changed in Valencia, I wonder whether they have in Tarbena. Maybe one day I will go back ...

The evening I returned from Valencia my globetrotting daughter Olivia was returning from Sicily. That same evening Real Madrid lost to Olympic de Lyon and thus failed to survive the first knockout round of the Champions League for the sixth season in a row. Lyon will have another opportunity to progress beyond the quarter-finals for the first time while Madrid will be spectators for the final at their home ground on 22 May which was why Wednesday’s match was so important for them.

The next day, 11th March was no ordinary day. It was the anniversary of the Madrid train bombs in 2004, the terrorist act with the biggest death toll in Spain's history. The same as 11th September everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing when that happened as I do of course. I was with my wonderful friend Anne and other Nokia team colleagues in Segovia having breakfast. We found out when her Mother in Finland who had seen the news on television, rang to see if she was alright. A shiver goes down my spine as I write that and remember the events that day which had us glued to the television. That week I went to one of the only political demonstrations I have ever been to and it left a mark on me. There were activities in remembrance and many people left flowers at the stations where the bombs blew up the trains and killed innocent people.
In memory of the Madrid train bombs on 11th March 2004. People left flowers at the stations where the bombs killed innocent people.
Life goes on of course and on the same day my girls went off to Lisbon with some of Susana’s school friends; to note: Rocío (the girls they went to India with), Pilar, Estefania, Carolina and Copi. They were going to see one of Rocio’s cousins who is there on an Erasmus scholarship. I haven’t heard much but gather they are having a grand time. Lisbon is a fantastic old European city by the Atlantic sea and has a lot going for it. When I was learning Portuguese at University I went various times as I did when I worked for Motorola and was in charge of media relations in Portugal. I love the old cobbled squares like Rossio with their old fashioned cafés selling the famous Belem cakes and the narrow and incredibly steep streets leading to the Castelo Sâo Jorge or the Torre de Belem by the sea and of course the 25th April suspension bridge named after the Carnation Revolution in 1974, places I’m sure my daughters will equally love today.
The famous Rossio square in Lisbon
Whilst they were away, a giant of Spanish modern literature, Miguel Delibes, passed away aged 89 in his beloved home town of Valladolid, where the best Castilian is supposed to be spoken in Spain. I read some of his works at University such as Cinco Horas con Mario which at the time I found a bit heavy going. I remember him most for being the author of Los Santos Inocentes brought to the cinema by Mario Camus and a film I could watch over and over again. Set in the early 70’s it is a portrayal of the difference between the landed gentry and the peasants who serve them who behave and are treated like sub humans. It is well worth watching.
Miguel Delibes, a giant of modern Spanish literature who passed away this week aged 89 in his beloved home town of Valladolid. R.I.P.
Another book by him, in fact his first and which won the literary prize Nadal in 1947, “La sombre del ciprés es alargada”, was also made into a film and it was played on television the day he died and of course we watched it. It is a tender story about a young boy, Pedro, who is orphaned and goes to live with a humane but pessimistic teacher and this family and how he is influenced in life both by the teacher and another orphan boy who dies in his arms but leaves him the legacy of his love of the sea. Yes Miguel Delibes was a great author. In his acceptance speech in 1994 of Spain’s greatest literature prize, Cervantes, he told the audience how his literary characters lived inside him and how he felt an autobiographical part of them. He was a very humane man like Pedro and well loved in Valladolid and all over Spain but is lesser known abroad.

The weekend has been quiet without the girls as one day it will be always like that because soon they will be flying the nest. Not yet though. Eladio has just gone to get them from the airport and today we will be having Sunday lunch together. So what did we do this weekend? Apart from clearing out our desks and the room in general to accommodate the new furniture, we went for our usual walks and last night we went to a new restaurant for dinner. We went to Micue in Majadahonda nearby. I read good reviews, especially of the owner and chef, Miguel Angel Oliveira García, an up and coming chef who has worked with the likes of Juan Mari Arzak, considered to be one of the masters of the new Basque cuisine. So what did we think? It was good and the food was above excellent. There is a “but” though which I have to mention. I made the reservation in the morning and when we were on our walk I received a highly unusual phone call from the restaurant to confirm the reservation and to insist we arrived on time as the restaurant was going to be full. So we arrived on time and then discovered that 5 of the 11 tables were still empty when we left. Also they tried to sell us the special “degustación” menu which I would have chosen but was told that it was only on offer if both of us chose it which we didn’t. So I’m not sure we will be going again.

And so my friends I have come to the end of this week’s blog entry which I hope you enjoy. I must mention just one more thing before I finish. This week Yoigo is competing on a web site called Silicon News in a survey to find the best place to work and we are up against the likes of Google and Tuenti. If you have the time you can vote here and help us to win, although you will see we are doing very well so far. I can assure you and I’m sure you know that Yoigo is certainly the best place to work, mainly in my case, because you can work from home and there are not many places in Spain where you can do that with yet.

And on that note I wish you all a great week. Mine will be busy as I’ll be continuing our regional trip to Palma and to Seville and the following week we will be going to New York. How exciting!

Cheers my friends

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