Sunday, November 28, 2010

A cold week in November, lunch with Alex, an invitation, a mistake, North Korea attacks South Korea, and other things

The AVE, the Spanish high speed train.  I have an  invitation for a premiere ride on the new Madrid Valencia route

Hi again

Another week has passed and it is now just a month till Christmas. I have felt a bit flat since the lovely Kiwi family left. I have a nasty cold and the temperatures are pretty low at the moment, although we are not expecting the snow falls that have hit the British Isles. I continue on my drastic diet and have had good news and bad news on the scales. However I now look much betterand feel happy with my new shape and receive compliments wherever I go which motivate me to continue. And continue I will although I must admit I’m a bit fed up of only eating oat flakes, skimmed milk, eggs, ham, chicken, steak and yoghurts with vegetables only every other day. As a fellow Dukanian Marta said, “this diet makes a tomato feel like haute cuisine. Today I can eat vegetables, hurray!

The week has been normal with very few highlights. One was lunch with my dear ex colleague Alex Good at El Buey on Wednesday and whom I hadn’t seen for maybe 4 years. We go back a long way, to the Motorola days in the early 90’s and both learned our trade and profession there with a host of other wonderful, and some not so wonderful, colleagues. We talked about them all of course, who is doing what, who has just lost a job or who has got a new one. We reminisced too about some of the memorable events we experienced together, like getting blind drunk in Almeria during a cycling race or staying up all night in Milan after a Champions League match, touting extra tickets at another Champions League match in Dortmund and many etceteras. Alex was definitely one of my favourite colleagues. Next week I’m going to the ex Motorola Christmas dinner and look forward to seeing many more of my old colleagues although unfortunately Alex can’t make it.

The other highlight was a lovely invitation from Dircom (Spanish association of Communications Directors). I get lots of boring invitations from this association but this one was different and I accepted immediately. None less than the Chairman of Renfe (Spanish railways) had invited us to a premiere ride on the new high speed train route from Madrid to Valencia and back which officially opens on 18th December. We leave on 10th December at 12.05 and arrive at Valencia at 13.40. From there we will be going for a “Valencian lunch” (oh dear probably paella which goes against my diet rules) to that great hotel, Arenas Spa resort, where I stayed with Eladio in the summer. With the opening of this new route, Spain apparently is the country with the most kilometres of high velocity track, or so the Spanish Minister claims. For a nearly 400 km distance, 1.5h is very fast. The only downside about the AVE (the name for the high speed train) is the cost which in many cases is higher than travelling by plane.


The invitation I received from the President of Renfe to take a premiere ride on the Madrid Valencia high speed route

Apart from these highlights the week has been busy with preparations for the Yoigo Christmas activities and other things. I went into the office 3 times, quite a record for me. At home we continue to go on our lovely walks but more often in the mornings if we can because it gets dark so early in the evenings. I must share with you this amazing photo I took last night from my balcony. It was just after dusk and the sky was remarkably red. You probably know the expression, “red sky at night shepherds’ delight, red sky in the morning shepherds’ warning” which I learned from my Father when I was a child and have never forgotten. True to the adage, this morning the sky was sunny and we enjoyed a wonderful crisp and cold autumn walk. I must add, though, that we had to change our route a bit as there were hunters shooting for rabbits on our usual path and we did not want to get shot.


The beautiful red sky as seen from my balcony yesterday

Norah adores our walk but gets very excited if a vehicle, be that a bike or a car, comes past, especially a motor bike. She even barked at an extremely old lady as we walked up the hill this morning. Norah is a very excitable beagle dog. She has turned two this month. Finally she has come to relative peace with our frightened cats, Joe and Phoebe. I couldn’t resist taking this picture of all three of them the other day on the terrace outside the lounge in which the cats are begging to come in to have their food whilst Norah looks on. If I leave them outside too long, they both begin to jump up and down. Phoebe’s acrobatics especially amaze us and I think she could win a competition for the heights she reaches against the glass French doors, desperate to get in.


Our 3 pets finally tolerate each other, Norah our dog and Joe (black) and Phoebe (white) our cats

On the personal side I think I made a mistake this week. I had an appointment with the hairdresser to dye my roots and cut my hair. The girls advised me very strongly to change the colour of my hair from very light blonde to a couple of shades darker, to my own colour. I have had it light blonde for many years so thought it wouldn’t hurt to take their advice. However, when I saw the result I was most alarmed and really didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. I was told the more I washed it the lighter it would get so I have washed it now nearly every day and it has got a bit lighter but only a bit. I can’t get used to the colour. Some people say it makes me look older and some say it makes me look younger. The former is probably true, therefore next time I go I think I will return to the previous colour. So yes, I made a big mistake this week which I rather regret.

On the news front, the most important happening of the week was when North Korea attacked the South Korean island of Yeonpueong. Both countries who were at war in the 50’s have never signed a peace treaty so Monday’s attack was quite worrying to the international community. communist North Korea which has one of the strictest regimes in the world, claimed its neighbour had provoked them by carrying out military manoeuvres near or in their territory. The world will be watching closely and will be further worried in the knowledge that communist North Korea is now a nuclear threat.


The attack by North Korea on the South Korean island of Yeonpueong was big news this week.

The weekend has been quiet too but has also had its highlights. Yesterday, Saturday, the girls and their friend Juli had a cultural morning visiting Madrid’s museum of modern art, the Reina Sofia which had an open doors event over the weekend to celebrate its 20th anniversary. Here is a picture of Oli enjoying one of the exhibits.


Oli yesterday at the Reina Sofia Museum of Modern Art in Madrid
Both girls at the Reina Sofia, Suzy on the left in grey and Oli on the right in brown.

Whilst they were returning I was driving to the Kinépolis Cinema centre in Pozuelo to go The Phone House annual convention where Yoigo would be presenting a really great fun video for the 400 or so shop managers attending. We took along our Yoigo giant “muñecos” (dolls) which caused an absolute sensation with people taking lots of photos. I must admit they are very impressive. At the convention I was happy to meet up with two more ex Motorola colleagues, Carlos Grima and Carlos Cortés both of whom work for The Phone House, and see other familiar faces. Both of them will be at the dinner coming up next week.


With the Yoigo "muñecos" (dolls) at The Phone House convention yesterday.  They caused a sensation.

I had another social event afterwards in the evening, dinner at José Antonio and Dolores’ flat in Madrid, where we used to live of course. For clarification sake, although I’m sure you know, José Antonio is Eladio’s next brother down. Sara was there as were Juan and his girlfriend Cristina. The only person missing from the family was Miguel who was alone in Montrondo with their dog Nuba. We hadn’t been to their house for a meal since February, far too long ago if you consider how close we are. It was great to be together again. We must do it more often. But then that’s easier said than done I’m afraid.

Who will be finishing a very exciting weekend is the world's number one tennis player, Spain’s Rafa Nadal. He is playing at the ATP Masters’ finals in London and has won all the matches so far.   Today he meets his eternal rival, Roger Federer, always a tough challenge, at 18h in the final of the "finals". I hope he wins of course.


Nadal at the Masters' finals in London this weekend.  Today he meets Federer in the final.  I hope he wins of course.

Spanish sport will be in the headlines tomorrow and the next day too but this time because of the Barcelona vs.Madrid league match, often called “el clásico” here. Their encounters generate enormous interest not only here but in many parts of the world and I heard the other day that the match had even been publicized in the United States. It is being held tomorrow Monday instead of today because of the Catalán local elections taking place now. If I’m frank, and I think I’m not alone in saying this, I’m more interested in the results of the match than in the elections but then I never really was a fan of politics as you probably can guess.

Next week is going to be busy. I look forward to an ex Nokia girly lunch on Tuesday and the ex Motorola dinner on Thursday. We shall also be expecting the visit of my brother-in-law Andrés who is coming to Madrid in search of a good second hand BMW X3. It will be fun to see him as it always is.

And that, my friends, is it for this week.

Hope you have a great week. All the best

Masha

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