Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another holiday, Morocco in the news, a hand written letter, the Alfa Romeo died, dinner at El Viejo Almacén de Buenos Aires, friends in Bombay and the world rejoices at the release of San-Suu-Kyi

Dinner at El Viejo Almacén de Buenos Aires this week with Gerardo, Irene and Tomas.

Hi again my friends.

From this week’s title of news, you probably think we have been on holiday again. But that’s not the case. I was actually referring to the Bank Holiday this Tuesday celebrated in Madrid in honour of the city’s patron saint, La Almudena. Many people took Monday off also to make what Spaniards call a “Puente” or bridge - a sort of long bank holiday.

I didn’t though and went off site inspecting in Madrid with the girls from my events agency, QuintaEsencia. We were looking for a venue for the Yoigo Christmas party. They took me to see a few discotheques but truth to say I hate them and so challenged them to look for places with a view or at least some windows, not an easy task as most places are already fully booked for Christmas events. Finally we came up with the Real Café Bernabeu which overlooks the  impressive Real Madrid stadium and thus will do a football themed  party for Christmas.  We had lunch there to try out the food and it was good.

The Real Madrid stadium as seen from the Real Café Bernabeu

But Tuesday was of course a holiday for me. The highlights of my day were taking more clothes to be made smaller (that makes me so happy) and picking up my M+S parcel  from the post office with the stocking fillers for the girls that I had ordered. Tuesday’s main news on the international front had to do with deadly clashes caused by Moroccan forces as they tried to break up a Western Sahara protest camp against Moroccan rule near Laayoune; a disputed region in the area. Laayoune is a city in Western Sahara founded by the Spanish in 1928. It has been administered by Morocco since 1976 and is claimed by both the Polisario who call it the “Occupied Territories” as well as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic party as their capital.

Laayoune in Western Sahara, scene of great violence this week.

At least 5 people were killed and probably more as well as dozens injured. Little news has been able to come through because the Moroccan Government will not let the press in and are making it especially difficult for the Spanish journalists. Of course it is big news here in Spain because of the heritage of the area. Furthermore there is huge criticism of the Government for not denouncing the violence. Most probably this is because it prefers to keep the already tense relations with this neighbouring country from worsening.

The Western Sahara clashes this week between the extremely violent Moroccan forces and the Saharawi protesters

In my lunch with Marta on Wednesday, our conversation did not focus on this issue, but rather on catching up on our own news. Marta and I coincided at Nokia in the early part of this decade but have never lost touch completely. This lunch was a real reunion though as we hadn’t seen each other for nearly 2 years. Marta wanted to ask my advice on communications and events, topics she now heads up at Aegon, the insurance company she works for. My new figure caught her attention and when I explained how the Dukan diet worked, she obviously got inspired as she later went to buy the book and has already started the diet. Suzy, my daughter, also started it on Wednesday and lost 2 kilos in 3 days! Now I have an ally at home to follow the diet and compare notes. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked well for me this week, despite a huge effort and the scales today told the same story as last Sunday. Oh well, all I can do is persevere.

Wednesday was what you could also call a “red letter day”, in that I received a beautifully handwritten letter and post cards from my ex school friend Kathy. Her handwriting is so clear and neat, she could win a prize in this category. My Father who is an ex school teacher remarked it was the best handwriting he had ever seen. I don’t receive hand written letters often, a sign, of course of our times, so it was a lovely surprise when Kathy’s parcel arrived enclosing some Rioja brochures we had lent them in the summer. The post cards were from Kettlewell, a delightful village in the Dales, and Norwich, that town in England which means so much to me because of our stays there summer after summer when I was a teenager and accompanied my parents and Aunty Masha to the Norwich Russian courses. Thanks Kathy, it was lovely to receive your parcel and beautiful letter.

It was lovely to receive a beautifully hand written letter and post cards from Kathy and Phil this week
Thursday and Friday were not good days in many respects and mostly because of cars. Eladio had taken my old Alfa Romeo for its MOT, the one I inherited from my job with Motorola and the car that Olivia uses these days. It is 14 years old and didn’t pass so Eladio took it to the garage to mend. On Thursday we got the bad news that it was not worth repairing anymore. Thus we heaved our shoulders knowing this meant we would have to buy another car; probably a second hand one. We now have 3 cars for 4 drivers which may seem a luxury but isn’t if you know where we live, far from the city and tucked away in the suburbs. and we all need our full mobility independence. Olivia therefore had to use Eladio’s Volvo S60, my old Nokia car that Eladio loves so much and had the misfortune of crashing it on Friday whilst trying to park in our garage. As the Volvo is only insured for third parties, that will probably mean a hefty 1000 euros to repair the damage, which of course is more bad news for us. This happened just as we were getting ready to go out to dinner last night. To top all the bad news I then went and dropped the nail polish I was using and it splashed all over the bathroom floor. It was probably the nerves of the moment but that sort of finished me off for the day.

Luckily I had to put on a good face for the dinner and we were able to make light of our misfortunes over the table at the Argentinian restaurant, El Viejo Almacén de Buenos Aires, with our friends Gerardo, Irene and Tomas. There we had a great dinner together, including live singing and tango dancing. I have to confess I broke my diet and drank a glass of wine. All would have been well but misfortune struck again as I woke up with a huge migraine at 4 in the morning and was sick over and over again until there was nothing left inside. me. I have had a few of these episodes in the last few years but never learn that wine can have that effect on me. The next morning I made a vow not to drink wine for a long time. I consulted “Dr. Google” later about the migraines being caused by red wine and it seems it’s because of the additives, such as sulphite. Friends on Facebook have recommended organic wine. I will certainly try it.

Dinner at El Viejo Almacén de Buenos Aires with Gerardo, Irene and Tomas this week was a treat

On Saturday while we were at home, our dear Indian friend Sumit was hosting my colleague, Belén and her partner Rodrigo in Mumbai. I hesitate there as I was brought up to call it Bombay. Belén and Rodrigo are touring India and probably loving it. One stop was in Mumbai and I arranged for them to meet Sumit who I knew would be the perfect host. They went out to dinner together and judging by the pictures posted by them on Facebook they had lovely Indian food. Here is a picture of the three of them together. Thanks Sumit for looking after my friends in India.  I would have loved to have been with you.

I would have loved to have dinner with Belén and Rodrigo who were hosted by our delightful Indian friend Sumit in Bombay this weekend.

The biggest news yesterday came from an area not so far from where they were. It was the release of the Nobel Peace Laureate San-Suu-Kyi, after 7 years of house arrest in Myanmar, Burma. As she stepped out, she greeted thousands of supporters and promised to continue to fight for human rights and democracy in the military ruled country. Previously she had been imprisoned for many years and it is thanks to continued international pressure that she has finally been released. Many people rejoiced yesterday at the release of San-Suu-Kyi, sometimes called the Burmese Mandela and I was one of them.

The famous Burmese activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate San-Suu-Kyi who was finally released from house arrest

Today is Sunday. The girls have had their own agenda as usual. The weather has been awful but we bared it to join Eladio’s ex colleague Marivi in San Lorenzo de El Escorial where she has recently bought a second home. We were accompanied by her friends Isabel, a fellow teacher and Teresa, a physiotherapist. Lunch was at a lovely old inn called La Fonda de Genara where the food was delicious, quite cheap and served very quickly. The weather wasn’t good enough to enjoy the surrounding countryside so we walked quickly in the rain to visit Marivi’s new residence and of course enjoy after lunch coffee together. It is located right in the centre of the old town and even has a view of the very imposing monastery built by Philip II. It’s a treasure of a place and no doubt we shall be returning often, but probably when the weather gets better.

Lunch in San Lorenzo de El Escorial today with Marivi, Isabel and Teresa at La Fonda de Genara

It was not a good day for Fernando Alonso, the Spanish F1 driver. He was leading the general classification but had to drive his very best at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi today to win it. Unfortunately he came in 7th and lost the overall classification and came second to Sebastian Wettel of Germany who has now become the youngest driver ever to win the Formula One. Red Bull’s Marc Webber will be equally disappointed as he lost all his chances too when he had to withdraw during the race. You can see the full results here.

And now I’m at the end of this week’s blog post. Before I sign off I must wish a very happy 40th birthday to Juana today. I hope you all have a great week ahead of you. I will be going to Roa in Burgos to a winery which is very ironic if you have read my latest experiences with wine above. And on Thursday or Friday we will be having some very important visitors. My second cousin, Katty (Zuka’s daughter – Zuka being the daughter of my Mother’s brother Nicholas (or Kolya) will be coming to stay with all her family: husband Tony and small children Luc, Sam and Ruby. They are travelling all round Europe in their camper van before finally returning in December to Tony’s native land and Spain’s antipodes; New Zealand. We very much look forward to having them and of course you will read all about their visit in next week’s post.

This week we look forward to hosting my cousin Katty, her husband Tony and children Luc, Sam and Ruby

Meanwhile, all the best


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