Thursday, September 02, 2010

September is here, the first step of our trip to the Holy Land, Santander again, a little black dress and a disaster in a Chilean mine.

Me in my little black dress which I wore to the Yoigo party in Santander.
Hi again

Today is the first day of September and as I write we are experiencing a well needed respite in the hot weather as it is raining, or rather pouring.  It may well stop us from going on our walk but I hope not.

September is more important than usual this year as I will be taking my summer holiday this month, for the first time ever I think.  On Saturday Eladio and I will be travelling to Israel and then to Jordan and will be back on the 19th.   You are probably wondering why I have chosen September.  The answer is Santander.  Hum? You will probably say. The reason is that every year I have to work on our activities at the big Spanish telecoms conference there at the end of August which always impedes me from fully enjoying my holidays.  Therefore this year I decided to wait till the conference was over.  I hope I made the right decision.  If not I can always go back to taking my annual summer holiday before.

I’m a bit late with my blog this week and that’s Santander’s fault again.  Before I get to that let me go back in time and tell you what we have been up to since I last wrote.
The week after our trip to Salamanca was very busy and I was frantic with preparations for the telecoms conference.  But it wasn’t all work.  On Monday the four of us watched a film together, something we should really do more often.  We watched the 3rd episode of Millennium, the Girl who kicked the Hornets’ nest.  It was great to reencounter my beloved Liz Salander, the heroine.  The film was good, very good, but of course not as good as the book.
Dear Liz Salander, it was nice to encounter her again when we watched the 3rd episode of Millennium recently.  No way are the Americans going to find anyone as good as her for their totally unnecessary version.
Last week we also had some preparations to complete for our up and coming trip to the Holy Land and one of them was going to the Jordanian Embassy in Madrid to get our visas.  In a way it was our first haul of the trip, stepping into Jordanian territory.  There was not one woman in the consulate, many dark faced men, a gloomy atmosphere with old furniture and most of all a lot of bureaucracy.  Luckily after persuading them to process the visas that same morning, we were able to collect the stamped passports after a 2 hour wait rather than returning the next day.  The feeling was one of triumph, like passing an exam, so I just had to pose for this photo of myself with our passports and visas.

Just come out of the Jordanian Embassy in Madrid with the visas stamped in our passports; the first step of our trip.
There was also time for socialising as we had invited our friends Oscar, Juana and Julio for dinner at home last Thursday.  I spent the better part of Wednesday preparing the food with the help of Olga which made a huge difference.  I chose a cold menu so’s not to bother with last minute cooking just as my guests arrived.  The first course was salmorejo (sort of thicker gazpacho) followed by meat loaf and potato salad both made according to my own recipes.  The dessert was my pièce de résistance; a truly unique made up recipe of things I love.  In small glasses I put a layer of crushed biscuit followed by creamy Greek yoghurt mixed with fresh raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.  On the top I put home-made meringue. You can see the result here.

The meringue fruit and yoghurt dessert I made for the dinner at home with Oscar, Julio and Juana.
It was great to have them and to talk not only about old times but also to forge our friendships even further.  We have now decided on a round of dinners and the next time will be at Julio’s place when we will be joined by Fátima who couldn’t come last week as she was on holiday.

Dinner at home with Oscar, Juana and Julio.  It was lovely to be joined by the girls.
And very soon the week was up and it was time to hit the road again, this time to Santander.  Eladio came with me as he nearly always does these days and we went by car.  We took the Burgos route just so’s we could stop for a quick bite at the Landa Cafeteria which is also a hotel and restaurant and a must to stop at if you are going north in Spain.  It took just over 4 hours to reach the Sardinero beach area which is where our hotel, the Silken Río, is and within walking distance of the conference which takes place at the UIMP (Palacio de la Magdalena).
A photo of the beautiful Sardinero beach in Santander taken from our hotel bedroom window.  Now that's a sea view!
This year was to be the 9th time I was to attend the conference and my 4th time with Yoigo.  I have grown to love the town, or more precisely the Sardinero beach area, the Magdalena peninsula and the Puerto Chico part of the town which is a 30 minute walk along the coast with some breathtaking views of the sea and spectacular houses on the way.  The pavement is lined with lush trees and flowers and you would think you were possibly somewhere like Cornwall in England rather than in Spain.  In fact there is a definite British influence on the place, in the landscape and architecture of Santander which is probably what attracts me to it and apparently has to do with the fact that it was once patronised by British Royalty.  This style lives alongside the local architecture which is so typical of the province of Santander and I’m not sure which I like best.  Mr. Emilio Botín, the owner of the Banco Santander has made his town famous the world over with the name of the bank but I wonder how many of his clients have ever been there.  He probably has one of the most emblematic houses, or should I say palaces, in Santander.  It is one of the houses I always admire on my walk into town from the Sardinero beach area.  When you see the picture I’m sure you will agree
Emilio Botin's "house" in Santander (the owner of the Santander Bank).  Nice place eh?
Santander is pretty famous for its excellent food.  On Sunday I took my colleagues and agency people to Zacarías, one of my favourite restaurants in town and on Monday we had a team dinner at La Posada del Mar where the owner Tomás made us feel very welcome.  In the province which is called Cantabria, you don’t only get great fish but also excellent meat because cows are bred here too in a perfect climate for the dairy industry.
The beaches are beautiful too, well kept and very picturesque with the Cantabrian Mountains in the background.  They make for some superb walks and swims, weather permitting of course.  We both love this area of Spain but could never contemplate living here unfortunately because of the colder weather.  The weather was good though during our stay and there was time on Sunday to go on the Sardinero beach, possibly the best town beach I know, with the exception maybe of the Concha beach in San Sebastián in the Basque country.
I was able to rest on Sunday with all our work done both for the presentation at the conference and for the party for all the attendants to take place on Monday.  On Monday I was bag of nerves as I always am before events because they are not a science and despite all the planning in the world something can go wrong because often the implementation doesn’t depend on you.  For the presentation we had devised a really original idea based on a simulated Facebook News Feed in flash with videos.  It was a very daring idea which took us all summer to complete but the effort was well worth it.  We were applauded and once again shown to be different and fresher than our more traditional competitors.  You can see the pdf version here which should give you an idea at least.  Ah and just when the presentation had started, our 4 “muñecos” (dolls) came in to cheer Yoigo on.  We used them later in the party of course.

The Yoigo "muñecos" (dolls) at our party in Santander.
The Yoigo party was in the evening, our 4th party in Santander where everyone attending is welcome and the only one of its kind.  Apart from the “muñecos” we must have had over 200 guests who all enjoyed the music, the activities (massages, basketball, fortune roulette, photo cabin, etc).  The theme was the number 4 and referred to our 4th year in the market, our being the 4th mobile phone operator and also to the new 4G technology.  I think you all know by now that my trademark is organising parties but that I don’t really like my own however good they are.  So as soon as I could I made my escape and went back to our hotel room to find poor Eladio with a very upset stomach.  The guests I am sure hardly noticed I wasn’t there.  I should mention that that night I wore, possibly for the first time in my life, what could be deemed as a “little black dress”.  Since I have lost my famous 10 kilos I have taken to wearing dresses this summer rather than trousers.  Recently I bought the little black dress at Cortefiel and I wore it for the first time at the Yoigo party in Santander.  Eladio was very impressed which I suppose was the intention.  So much so that he took a whole load of shots before I left and one of them illustrates this blog. I will be certainly taking it on our trip and imagine wearing it for dinner maybe in Petra.  Look out for that photo!
We delayed our return a bit on Tuesday for Eladio to recover which thankfully he did and soon hit the road again, destination the best place in the world: our home.  Nobody seemed to have missed us very much and we were soon back to our routines.  I have had to go into the office a couple of times and am spending this week tying up my affairs before we leave for Israel on Saturday.
Meanwhile Suzy is looking for a job in London in the food industry.  I can’t quite believe the time for her to leave home is getting nearer.  Oli’s contract with finishes in October so she too is looking for a job.  She is also considering going with Suzy to London to seek her fortune with her beloved sister.  I would love them to live and work in London as it would mean lots of trips there to see them and of course enjoy one of the greatest cities in the world.
Not everyone is as privileged as them.  There are always people suffering in this world but my heart goes out most to the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped for 28 days now 700m below ground.  The authorities are doing their best to help them but they may well have to stay there until Christmas.  I imagine their plight and realise just how lucky we all our.
Two of the poor Chilean miners trapped 700 metres underground.  When will they see the light of day?
On that note I end this week’s blog post.  I’m not sure whether I will have time to write from Israel and Jordan but will try. 
Cheers for the moment

No comments: