Monday, March 14, 2011

Women’s Day, Pancake day restored, bad news from Japan, a visit from León and more

It was great to have Pili and Andrés and the "abuela" with us this weekend.  Here we are out to dinner on Sunday

Good afternoon my friends.

So how was your week? Mine was fine, especially this weekend when we had the pleasure of the visit of Eladio’s sister, Pili, her husband Andrés and their Mother, Ernestina. They left a few hours ago, after which we went for our bracing daily walk with Norah of course. Our walk this week and last has shown the loveliest sign of spring, through the blossom on the wild plum trees walking up the hill. Also it seems to get dark later and you hear the birds singing after 7pm, another sign of spring which is now only a week away. I just wish it would get warmer and stop threatening rain.

I so love the blossom on our walk, a sure sign of spring coming
And now I am at my computer writing this week’s blogpost. Olivia is out, or so I think, my Father is reading upstairs, Eladio is working at his computer next to me and Suzy is on her way back from Cádiz with Gaby. Later this evening, hopefully when I’ve finished writing, we will be going out to dinner with our friends Roberto and Mari Carmen as we do most Sundays.

The week has been fine for us. Tuesday was a highlight. It was both International Women’s Day and Shrove Tuesday. I’m sure many people wonder why there is a special day for women, approximately half of the world’s population. Well I have the answer to that. Whilst women are still discriminated or battered in any part of the world, it’s good to have a special day to remember that we have to keep on fighting to eradicate both. I am a very fortunate woman but I often think that I too have suffered discrimination sometimes at work. It certainly wasn’t easy to climb the professional ladder especially in Spain in the 80’s and 90’s and I really think I had to work harder or prove myself more than my male counterparts in similar jobs.

Tuesday  was International Women's day, a day that will always need to be celebrated whilst descrimation exists.

So Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as "Pancake Day in the UK, and I as I told you last week, I was determined to reintroduce the tradition of making pancakes that day for dinner. I got a great recipe from the Emma Bridgewater website which made some excellent pancakes. If you are interested this is the recipe: 1 Cup plain Flour, 3 eggs, 2 Cups milk, 2 Tablespoons melted butter, 1 Tablespoon of sugar, 1 Pinch of salt. I was very worried on Friday when I weighed myself that I would have put on weight due to the pancakes and other excesses, but no, my wonderful scales told me I had only put on 100 grammes. I must say we all enjoyed them and each and every one of us ate them with a different filling. My Father had them with strawberry jam, I had them with fresh raspberries and a dollop of cream and one with golden lyle syrup (delicious), Eladio had them with honey, Suzy and Oli had them with chocolate spread and Olga had them with ham which I think Norah enjoyed too, hahaha.

I restored the tradition of pancakes at home on Shrove Tuesday and they were delicious

On Wednesday, believe it or not, I was back to the film studio (Iralta Films) that had produced the short film about Yoigo. My mission now is to produce a shortened version that we can share with more people and put on You Tube. So there I was with Bea and Angel again, this time with the scissors cutting out huge chunks of the film and yet still trying to keep it fun and emotional.

Thursday was busy too and included a lunch plus interview with the financial daily paper, Cinco Días. It was with Antonio R.A, a very well known journalist in the sector and one I am quite close too. Funnily enough he was asked for references about me before I joined my present company. He told me later that he had given a glowing report. Thanks ARA. By the way we went to Nicomedes, a place I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

I was to see Bea and Angel again that night, as Bea and her sisters from my events agency, QuintaEsencia, had organized a party for some people from Yoigo, Iralta Films and also our PR Agency Ketchum. You will remember we had recently done a press conference at Bea’s house, which is the house used for filming in the very popular Spanish series called Cuéntame, of which I am a great fan. It was a good party but I went home early as I was tired, but also because I hate coming home to find Eladio asleep.

On Friday morning, the world woke up to the news of a terrible earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. The magnitude of the quake was 8.9, probably the highest to ever hit Japan which lies in the most seismic part of the world. Despite Japan being the 3rd biggest economy in the world and the best country for an earthquake to happen (because they are so prepared) it has caused devastation and havoc. Worst of all are the threats of explosions of some of their nuclear power stations. The death toll is unknown but probably over 10.000 and of course many people are missing or feared dead. All the world’s eyes are on the Nippon nation right now. I read today in an article in El País that Japan may well even come out of this tragedy stronger than before, just the same as it did after the previous worst earthquake there in the 30’s and after the Hiroshima atom bomb attack at the end of the Second World War. On a personal level our thoughts were with Shino, Olivia’s Japanese friend from her Erasmus year in Falmouth and whom I met when we went to visit Oli. After a few hours of worry Shino assured us that she was fine and this is what she wrote: “Thank you so much for the messages, I’m fine but I’m really scared and devastated about the explosion of the nuclear power plant. I was going to go back to the UK tomorrow but cancelled my flight. I’ve never come across such disasters. I really hope this to be end soon”.

Disaster caused by the 8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan on Friday

Friday for us, though, was a joy as we were to receive the visit of Pili, Andrés and my Mother-in-law, Ernestina. They arrived from León in their new BMW in torrential rain which later disappeared and we were in store for a great weekend together. Olga served us a nice simple dinner of Spanish “tortilla”, salad and ham, after which we watched the news of the disaster in Japan on the television. On Saturday Pili and I decided on a girly shopping morning and off we went in my new BMW to the nearby shopping centre, Centro Oeste. Our first stop was of course Zara where we came out happy with our bags of clothes and shoes as you can see in this photo.

One of the best moments of this weekend, going to Zara with Pili.

After a wonderful lunch of fish and chips made by Olga, and a short siesta (that great Spanish weekend sport), we made our way to Boadilla to go on the special walk in the wood by the palace. We took Norah who travelled in the back of Andres and Pili’s car which has a special net cum harness for carrying pets but she hated it and cried the whole way. You can see her desperate face in this picture here.

Norah not happy in the back of Pili and Andres' car when we went to Boadilla for our walk.

Pili, no great walker, and her Mother stayed within the vicinity of the palace whilst Eladio, Andrés, Norah and I strode off for a walk which took well over an hour because we got lost as we usually do in this wonderful evergreen oak wood.

Andrés, Eladio and Norah on the walk in the lovely evergreen oak tree wood in Boadilla on Saturday

In the evening we had a date in town for dinner with Eladio’s other brother, José Antonio and his wife Dolores. We went to Naia, a restaurant in the old centre which is part owned by a colleague of mine. The picture illustrating this post is of the four of us enjoying a glass of wine whilst waiting for José Antonio and Dolores to arrive. We had a great dinner and were given the best table at the restaurant. Pedro my colleague also treated us to the desserts and mine was out of this world, a brownie with violet flavoured ice cream!

Today was a great day or rather morning together too. We decided on the spur of the moment to take Pili and Andrés, my mother-in-law and my Father to the Retiro Park, Madrid’s equivalent to Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York. It is really a fine place, especially on Sunday mornings when people converge here to enjoy the walk by the lake, a walk that is filled with side shows and stalls offering market type wares. We mostly enjoyed a great black magician from Cuba, a guy we shall not easily forget.

Raúl, the black magician from Cuba who so entertained us at the Retiro Park on Sunday

We were joined by José Antonio and Dolores and their dog Nuba, a funny looking mongrel they adore, as well as by Olivia a little later. We all enjoyed a coffee together at the end of the walkway whilst contemplating people boating on the lake by the famous monument to Alfonso XII.

The monument to Alfonso XII, the landmark of the lovely Retiro Park in Madrid, as we saw it on Sunday.

As we left we got a passerby to take a photo of us all. I commented later, laughingly, that it looked like a group photo from an old age pensioners’ excursion somewhere.

All of us at the Retiro Park this Sunday.

And soon the lovely morning was over and it was time to go home for our final meal together, lunch prepared for us by Olga for us just to heat up. How our lives have changed since Olga has come to live with us is what I thought as we drove home.

Our visitors were soon to leave but the fun continued when Pili and I were in Olivia’s room and she was showing us her hair extensions. Then in walked Andrés to whom Oli promptly put them on. We were in stitches at the sight. I mean he looks so funny. If you live in Spain you will know who the comedian actor cum director Santiago Segura is. Well, Andrés with Oli’s extensions became an immediate look alike. Here is the photo of Andrés and here is a link to images of Santiago Segura. I hope you are laughing now, hahaha.

Andrés wearing Olivia's hair extensions took on a complete hippy look on Sunday just before they left.  What a laugh!

Then in walked my 89 year old Mother-in-law, Ernestina, and Oli put the extensions on her too and this is the photo of the two of them looking like a old hippy couple, hahaha. As Oli was adding the finishing touches with the yellow Parisian beret and striped one,  Pili and I literally fell on the floor laughing.I hope you find this picture funny too.

My brother-in-law Andrés, always up for a laugh, with my 89 year old Mother-in-law both wearing Oli's hair extensions.  They had us in stitches. 

Their visit ended on this hilarious note but was the tonic of the whole weekend. Pili has just phoned to say they have arrived home safely but also to tell us they had a ball of a time. Well we did too and only hope they will come back soon. You can see the rest of the pictures of our time together here.

And that, my friends, is it for this week. I wish you all a great week coming up.

Cheers Masha

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