Sunday, June 05, 2011

A girly week, Oli in London, a change in plans, broken plates, first barbecue of the season, the cucumber crisis grows and other stories.

Today's family barbecue, the first of the season.

Hi everyone,

This week’s blog post promises to be short as my last entry was just a few days ago and not much has happened since then.

Whilst I am writing this Sunday afternoon, there is a classic tennis match going on.  Rafa Nadal is playing Roger Federer in the final of the French Open commonly known as Roland Garros.  If Nadal wins it will be his 6th win of this Gran Slam, equaling tennis legend Bjorn Borg’s record but more importantly he will retain his number one status.  There were fears that Djokovic, the Serbian number two, would win both the title and take the number one spot, but the championship went differently. In the semi-finals Nadal beat Andrew Murray of Scotland and Federer beat Djokovic.  Nadal has not had a great season, but now seems to be back in form.  Right now he is leading by 2 sets but I cannot watch as I find the whole thing far too tense.  Maybe when I end this post we will know.  Right now all I can say is “vamos Rafa”.

Wednesday was not a good day.  I had a headache throughout and also got out of sorts after a botched hair cut at my local hairdresser, basically because Angie who usually cuts it has left.  I walked out fuming but also worried the over- zealous Cuban hairdresser, Andrés, would get into trouble.  I like to have my hair short at the back and longer at the front but in an ascending way.  Andrés wanted to make some minor change at the back of my neck and there must have been some sort of misunderstanding as the end result was not what I wanted.  The girls say I look like a mushroom and I suppose I do.  I will just have to wait now for it to grow and to look for a new hairdresser.  This, my friends, is what it looks like from the back and I am not happy with it.

My botched hair cut

Thursday set the scene for a girly week.  I had lunch with Suzy after which we went for a quick shopping spree to Centro Oeste.  As Oli was away I seemed to spend quite a lot of time with Suzy this week especially as she works from home.  As I told you last week we both have set up office by the swimming pool.  On Friday afternoon we went to have a coffee nearby and as we were doing so a lady came past with some beautiful red roses.  We thought she was selling them but in fact she was giving them out free to promote her newly opened flower shop.  Here is Suzy with the rose she got, looking very summery.

I spent a lot of time with Suzy this week.  One day she will leave and I know I have to enjoy her now
I think I told you last week that Oli was going to London for a small break after her master degree and before the internship with TVE.  She flew with Easy Jet to Gatwick and going out last Tuesday the plane was delayed by over 6 hours.  Returning yesterday was a problem too as, due to the train being delayed at Victoria Station, she missed her 19.30 plane back to Madrid.  Truth to tell she could have caught it as the plane hadn’t left when she got to the check in desk.  It was in the hands of the ground staff of Easy Jet to decide her fate.  Fate was not on her side, though, the reason or excuse being that her luggage was too big for her to carry on board.  She was able to get a seat with the supposedly low cost “Ryan Air” at an extortionate sum of 300 euros one way, Ryan Air being the only airline operating a flight to Madrid after the one she had missed. Now she is home and I have just seen her post in Facebook: “home sweet  home”.  Oli spent her time in London with some of her beloved Erasmus friends who forged their friendship at Falmouth University in 2008.  She stayed with dear Japanese Shino who I hear is being a little exploited working in a sushi bar in London from 8 in the morning till 12 at night. Sandeep, her Indian friend, came from Plymouth to be with them and they were also joined by Rafa who is doing a masters degree in photography in London.  Definitely missing was Sumit, the other Indian friend who is working on a film in Bollywoood (fame for him soon I hope).  Here is a photo of them together I pinched from someone’s Facebook. 

Oli in London this week with her ex Erasmus friends

The highlight of the girly week was lunch with the Nokia girls: Jill, Zenaida, Ana, Susana, Juana and Fátima.  I nearly always arrange these encounters and on Friday we went to La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas for our reunion lunch.  Only Jill, Zenaida and Fátima still work at Nokia (Nokia Siemens Networks) but of course, much of our conversation centered on the company’s fate at the moment.  Last week Nokia for the first time in years issued a profit warning.  They are being squeezed at the top end by the likes of Apple and Google (Android) and at the bottom by the cheap Chinese brands.  When we all worked there at the beginning of the last decade Nokia was the jewel in the crown of mobile phones.  However Nokia’s downfall should not surprise me at all as I have seen similar movements in the sector happen before.  In any case it still has an impact on me because of my emotional involvement.  It was at times a great company to work for.  Sadly that is no longer true and many people I knew no longer work there. 

The Nokia girls reunion lunch at La Vaca Argentina on Friday

On Friday too I had to make a change in our plans for our trip to England this summer.  We were to spend 7 days in Devon with friends and then go up to Yorkshire with them for a few days.  I got an email from my friend on Friday telling me they could no longer join us and that we won’t be able to stay with them.  Thus I had to rethink our stay in the UK.  I decided to find a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire Dales which wasn’t an easy task as it is a bit late in the day.  Happily though, I came across a nice looking cottage in the small town of Gargrave just outside the ancient market town of Skipton, the so called “gateway to the Dales”.  This is it, it’s called The Arbor and looks quite nice don’t you think?

The cottage I have booked for our holiday in Yorkshire this Summer

I chose the cottage because I liked it, the price was right but also because of the location.  I wanted it to be near all sorts of places we must visit such as Ilkley, Harrogate, Keighley (to see Kath and Phil), Haworth, Bradford (my old home town) York, the Dales themselves of course and maybe even the Lake District. I am so looking forward to this new trip down memory lane, to my childhood haunts but also to get recharged with some Englishness and some “Yorkshireness” too.  It’s funny how I used to hate the area when I lived there as a teenager but now I sort of need to go back.  I am still hoping to organize a school reunion dinner and really must get down to writing to people this week.  Can’t wait to see them all again. 

I have now reached the broken plates part of this post and I’m sure you are wondering what I am talking about.  I refer to my lovely EmmaBridgewater collection of breakfast crockery.  I have been collecting it now for a few years and buy it online here and it is not cheap I can tell you.  It’s something I want to leave to the girls one day but I had been noticing lately that a lot of it was broken or chipped.  The culprit is Olga our live in maid who doesn’t want to own up to it but I must say I was very cross when I counted at least 11 affected pieces and then noticed certain pieces missing.  I had no alternative but to order replacements only to find that some of the patterns have been discontinued.  This last week the parcel arrived including the new pattern, “Blue Hen”.

Some of the Emma Bridgewater crockery I have had to order to replace the broken and chipped pieces

I have been a bit naughty and inspired by the new arrival, promptly made another order including another new pattern to add to my collection.  This one is called Hellebore and you can see it here.  You see my collection includes the same pieces (small mug, big mug, plate, small jug and cereal bowl) but in different patterns (flowers, polka dot, speckled hen, pink hearts, starry skies, auricular). Hopefully it will arrive this coming week.  Olga has been warned well in advance not to break any more of it but I am not very hopeful as she is terribly clumsy.

If the week was a girly week, the weekend, or at least most of today, has been a family day.  In honour of the family and the summer we decided to have the first barbecue of the season.  Whilst the girls and their friend Juli were sunning themselves by the pool, Eladio and I prepared the barbecue which was absolutely splendid as you can see from the photo above.  Here are Eladio and I posing by the fire whilst the meat is cooking.

Eladio and I by the barbecue just before lunch today

There are a few more photos here of the occasion, as you know I love to graphically record the highlights of my life and today was certainly one of those.

We had salad with our barbecue but not cucumber.  Actually we are not great cucumber eaters but as you know its consumption is very much affected in Europe because of the E-colli bacteria found in it which has lead to the death of about 20 people mostly in Germany.  At first the German health authorities pointed at produce imported from Spain and also included lettuce and tomatoes, thus damaging Spanish exports tremendously.  They have now gone back on their word but the damage is done.  It is still not sure how the bacteria got into the produce but the centre of the outbreak seems to be in Hamburg.  Meanwhile the Russian government has banned all import of vegetables from Europe and the USA threatens to do the same.  So the story continues.  One thing we have all been advised to do is to wash our hands more frequently.  I think I am not in danger as I forever wash my hands and do not really eat much cucumber.  Let’s see how this cucumber crisis evolves.  At the moment it is not looking good.

I have just reached the end of this week’s post and have also heard right now that Rafa did win the French Open against his arch rival Roger Federer.  For the record he won the match 7-5 7-6 5-7 6-1.  This is his 6th win which equals Bjorn Borg’s record.  It is also his 10th grand slam but most important of all he is still number one in the world and probably Spain’s best ambassador for sport.  Well done Rafa!
Rafa Nadal who has just won the French Open for the 6th time, probably Spain's best ambassador for sport
On that happy note I leave you until next week.  Hope you all have a good one.

Cheers for now


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