Sunday, September 25, 2011

A weekend at the seaside, a birthday and other stories.

At the seaside in El Campello with Julio and Fátima

Hello again, after a week’s break.

Here I am this quiet Sunday afternoon writing from the whicker sofa on the swimming pool terrace whilst Eladio and my Father sleep the siesta.  Autumn officially started this last Friday, but we haven´t noticed its arrival here as the weather is still warm and sunny.  The girls have been to stay in a village called Gavilanes in the nearby mountainous province of Avila. They rented a house for the weekend with their friends Rocío, Estefanía, Elena, another Elena, Juli and Dave.  The house, called Las Islillas, looks very attractive on the website.  I requested a photo of the whole group for this week’s blog but will have to suffice with one of Suzy, Oli and Dave at the entrance of the village.  I’ve just had a whatsapp from Suzy to say they are on their way back.  So the house will be alive again soon.

Suzy and Oli were in Avila with their friends this weekend.

As it’s been two weeks since I last wrote, I’d better start from the beginning.  The week before last was quiet.  I would go for early morning walks with Suzy and the dogs and for late evening walks with Eladio and the dogs too.  It was a sort of exercise in seeing if I could shed the kilo and a half or so which don’t seem to want to go away after the summer.  It actually didn’t work, so I think I will stop making the effort and only go in the evenings.

I was in and out of the office for meetings and interviews and quite busy really.  The highlight for me that week was the launch of  Amazon finally came to Spain, Amazon, the site where I do so much online shopping, mostly for books, is now on my doorstep.  For a minimal cost of 13 or 14 euros, you can subscribe to Amazon Premium and that covers the cost of all your deliveries for a year.  So far I have ordered a shaver and two books and both orders were with me within 3 days.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to order my English books on the Spanish site but I can, so I am doubly happy now.  

The other highlight of that week was another live appearance by Olivia on TVE1.  I missed it because I was at a meeting but thankfully could see it later here (Minutes 02:05:39 onwards and specifically from 02:06.22.  It was about the shooting of two Spanish policemen by a Nigerian immigrant; not a nice story.  This week Olivia is on holiday.  She has a great job but the conditions are very precarious.  The contract runs out at the end of this month and she will only hear the day before 1st October whether she can continue for a further 3 months.  It is the same case for 19 of her colleagues, not a nice situation to be in.  I keep my fingers crossed all will go well and she will be able to further her curriculum at TVE, the most important media house in the country. 

The week was also spent looking forward to our weekend away with Julio and Fátima in El Capello, near Alicante where Julio has bought a new flat.  We were to leave on Friday and drive in our car and at the last moment Fátima let us down by coming on the train instead and not arriving until Saturday lunchtime.  Fátima is supposedly my best friend and I suppose it’s a good job she doesn’t read my blog (a sore point) but she nearly always lets me down at the last minute when we are about to go to an engagement.  I won’t go into the details, suffice it to say, I get very annoyed and find it hard to understand her reasons which in my mind are often to do with unorganized single motherhood.

We were lucky with the weather and I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend because for once we spent our whole time on the beach.  When we go to Santa Pola, Eladio only wants to go in the evenings and I end up getting bored in the flat.  Not so this weekend, where we were up early and on the beach before 10, enjoying the sun beds, the papers and uncrowded beach which is just a 10 minute walk from Julio’s flat.  We enjoyed great meals, either at the flat or at Arrocería Cava where we indulged in “arroz abanda” and “fideua”. 

Julio and Eladio coming out of the sea on the uncrowded beach  in El Campello

We left on Sunday afternoon, feeling relaxed tanned by the September sun and only wishing we could have one more day together on the beach.  You can see the rest of the photos of our trip here.

Monday was back to normal but my mind must still have been in ElCampello as I nearly forgot I had a lunch appointment that day.  It was with Jorge L and luckily I remembered just on time.  Jorge was my account manager at the Perception and Image PR agency when I worked for Nokia.  He since went on to be the GM of the UK Spanish based agency Lewis PR and now he is the VP for Spain and the south of Europe.  Jorge wanted me to see his new offices and I did too, not least because my nephew Juan works there.  He must have been a little embarrassed to greet me there I imagine.  Jorge, a fellow Dukanian, and I had lunch at a nearby Basque place and spent most of it talking shop; ie. talking about our profession and how social media affects us all these days.  It was great to see you again Jorge, not just on Facebook but in real life!

On Tuesday Olivia went off on a mysterious trip, invited by her “beau”.  All she knew was that she was going north and that the location was more than 300km away from Madrid.  She was supposed to be away for just a night or two.  It sounded very exciting and I was dying to know where she was going.  However, we rang her the next day, texted her, whatsapped her to absolutely no avail.  Finally on Thursday we got hold of her beau’s number and reached her.  She was having a good time in Oviedo and had apparently left her mobile phone in the car!!  That is very typical of Olivia, but I must say she had us worried.  She was home on Friday, on time for Eladio’s birthday, full of praise for the wonderful spa (Las Caldas Villa Termal) she had stayed at.  I had a look at the web and I must say it looks great although I’m not sure I would be interested in having a chocolate massage which is what she did when she was there.  Anyway it was nice to have her back, if not for long.

Friday was the big day, Eladio’s birthday, yes his 67th, why not admit it?  Amanda wrote on FB (on mine, not his because he doesn’t have one jajajaja), “happy birthday Eladio, you still look 25”. I had to be in the office early so we had to skip on the birthday breakfast but I was back at midday and we went for a walk, that is, with Eladio, Suzy and the dogs.  Meanwhile, Olga was preparing a sumptuous paella for Eladio’s birthday lunch.  Eladio and I were to celebrate later on in the evening too, by way of a romantic dinner at La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas.

Olga made a great paella for Eladio's birthday lunch on Friday

The cake was not home made this time, but a good enough Sacher torte from the nearby “pastelería”.  Here is the moment before blowing out the candles after lunch.

Eladio and his beautiful girls Oli and Suzy (in their pyjamas hahaha) on his birthday.

I was a little worried to see that Grandpa hardly ate any of the cake when he has always had a very sweet tooth and it was at Eladio’s birthday lunch that I noticed he was looking frail and rather down or depressed.  It can’t be easy to lose your mobility suddenly, be in pain and depend on those around you for everything.  No wonder he is feeling down.  He has been eating less and less and of course losing a lot of strength. He fell some 23 days ago and the pain from the sprained ankle should have decreased by now but it obviously hasn’t.  So we called the doctor, a young pregnant one, who visited him in the evening.  She didn’t know any English and called him “Lloyd” which is his surname!  We showed her the x-ray and she said we should have another one done but higher up in the leg just to make sure there is no fracture anywhere.  So we are going to get an appointment with a highly recommended traumatologist at the Clínica 2001 in Majadahonda on Monday.  The pregnant doctor also told my Father to eat what he liked but to eat.  Since then I have done his cooking personally, making the things I know he likes and I think he has perked up since then.  He will be reading this blog, before any of you, probably, so I hope he agrees.  In short we are trying to look after him as best as we can.  Olga is just great and we wanted to get someone for the weekends too and interviewed a lady from Ecuador in her mid fifties recommended by Olga.  We actually agreed for her to start yesterday but at the last moment decided that no, we didn’t want her to come as we didn’t want to subject my Father to someone new who somehow didn’t feel right.  She didn’t like walking, didn’t like cooking, didn’t like our dogs and was just a little sinister.  So no, Lourdes is not coming, we shall look after my Father on our own and as I told him, it is a pleasure to do so, as he is so appreciative and easy to please.  I just hope his leg gets better soon.  

So the weekend was spent looking after my Father, cooking and being with the dogs.  We enjoy the afternoons by the swimming pool terrace reading our books.  The dogs like to be with us often too as you can see in this lovely shot of Eladio with Norah.

Eladio (my Antonio Banderas) with Norah on the swimming pool terrace on his birthday

I have just finished reading a great novel called The Island by Victoria Hislop, highly recommendable and I am now reading Restless by William Boyd which Sandie was keen for me to read.  So far I much prefer the former.

One of the things I cooked this weekend was more croquettes which I know my Father loves.  Well in fact everyone loves them in this house.  The recipe I use comes from the Simone Ortega cookery book called 1080 recipes.  They are very tricky and sticky to make.  I made the mixture yesterday morning, triple the amount in the recipe, and made up the croquettes today which took me most of the morning.  I was the proud maker of more than 60, some of which we had for lunch today.

I did a lot of cooking this weekend, including making over 60 ham croquettes

Whilst I was writing this afternoon I heard that there had been an English victory in my favourite sport, cycling.  Mark Cavendish had won the Men’s World Road Cycling race held in Denmark today and many thanks go for this win to the British team taking part.  It’s not often that the British win in cycling, so I thought this victory was worth a mention.

Before I finish this week’s post, I must also mention the news item that made the biggest impact on me today.  Believe it or not the antideluvian Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has finally decided that women can be in politics and vote.  To think that women in England have been allowed to do so since 1918, makes you think how awful the restrictions must be for Saudi women in this day and age.  Hopefully they will be allowed to drive soon too and do other normal things without a man’s permission, things that women in the west don’t even think about. It must be ghastly to be a woman in that country.  For me the worst thing to adhere to would be the strict black outer clothing that covers all of their bodies except their eyes.  

Saudi women are finally allowed to vote.  When will they be allowed to drive?

Luckily I am a free woman living in the west.

And that my friends, is it for this week. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

The anniversary of 9/11, the cousins in Ponferrrada, royal glamour in Santander, dinners out, and other stories.

Me in Santander last week, just before a big storm.  Luckily the sun shone for the rest of the week

Hello again

I am writing from the swimming pool terrace, this Sunday afternoon which happens to be not just any Sunday but the anniversary of the 11th September.  How time has flown. I don’t need to tell you what happened that day as you will all remember it clearly.  Like any other event that makes a big impact on us, you never forget what you were doing when you heard the news.  Many lives were lost that day because of terrorism and hatred of the American people; a new kind of war which still hasn’t ended.  For most of us, as an ex colleague wrote in his blog, it means air travel has become so security driven it is no longer pleasant.  It has got to some ridiculous extremes and what annoys me most is that I cannot carry on board more than 100ml of toiletries, nor water nor a yoghurt carton for the journey nor many other usually harmless things. The days of enjoyable and glamorous air travel were put to an end this day 10 years ago I’m afraid.  The news is full of the anniversary and it’s impossible to be immune to the stories which in a way affected all our lives.  We will never forget the images of the passenger planes crashing into the Twin Towers and of people jumping out of the towers and bewildered people running away from the scene covered in dust.

This week was the 10th anniversary of the 11th September.  Who could ever forget?

We are alone at home on this anniversary. It is still relatively warm and Eladio has just had a bathe. My father is sitting in his new wheel chair reading his book by the kitchen terrace where he spends most mornings and afternoons.  Olga looks after him splendidly during the week and we are now looking for someone to be here at the weekends too, otherwise we have to be here 24 hours a day and cannot go out unless we do so singly.   He seems better but has not yet tried to stand on his foot which he sprained now over a week ago. For someone his age it takes much longer to recover and I’m sure he looks forward to when that happens, to be back on his feet again and not dependent on us all which I know he must hate.  

The girls are on their way back from Ponferrada, a town in León where their older cousin Marta and her footballer husband Ministro, live.  All the cousins were invited to a special house warming weekend at their new detached house.  I am looking forward to details of the weekend but meanwhile will have to suffice with a few pictures posted by Suzy on Facebook.  This is the first time the cousins have spent a weekend together on their own and they will have had a whale of a time.  There are 13 of them with ages ranging from 40 to 18.  Not all of them will have gone, but most I am sure. Also some will have taken their partners, so there must have been a fair crowd.  I wonder whether there was room for them all to sleep but imagine they all slept on mattresses on the floor. Oh to be young again and enjoy what are now called “sleep overs”, but not for me I’m afraid anymore because my body just wouldn’t be able to take them hahaha.

Happy cousins in Ponferrada this weekend.  My girls are in the centre sitting down, Oli in green and Suzy in white.

My last entry was a week ago today, when I wrote from rainy Santander.  I spent most of the day waiting for Julio whose plane landed 4 hours late.  We did get a good long walk on the Sardinero beach though before dinner. Sunday night was a time for being with my team, the people from QuintaEsencia and Ketchum.  I invited them to dinner at Zacarías, which is turning out to be an annual event.  Julio joined us and the dinner was great; not least thanks to Zacarías’ magnificente “Palenque” tomatoes.

The tomatoes at Zacarías are spectacular.  Rumour has it they are grown exclusively for his restaurant in Santander

Santander, or rather the Telecoms Conference held there, is an annual event for me and was once again a great success for Yoigo.  Our presentation was on Monday as was our party and I felt like I was hanging around all day until both were up and running and I could relax. It’s always like that.  You’ve been working on something for months, then, you just have to cross your fingers all will go well when the moment comes and of course you have to wait for that moment at Santander until the other presentations are over.  They are all usually conventional power point presentations and made by what I call “men in black”.  One good thing about hanging around in Santander is that you get to network a lot as everyone who is anyone in the telecoms corporate and press world are there too.  Our presentation, original as ever, was well received. There were no hitches, except for the projector dying 10 minutes before it was time for us to present.  Thankfully it was working again on time but I must say I got a few more grey hairs when that happened.  Funny for me was doing a joint press conference afterwards with Nokia as Yoigo and Nokia were on stage at the same time and it was only fair to the press that we made both our spokesmen available.  You can see the Yoigo presentation here.  Our main news was terminal financing, a novelty in the Spanish market brought by Yoigo from the Nordic countries.  We must have done a pretty good job with the media as when I googled the term in Spanish “Yoigo +pago a plazos” a few days later,  I got over a hundred thousand of results.  The power of internet never ceases to amaze me.

In the evening we were able to relax before the traditional Yoigo party and so a group of 10 of us or so went out for a well deserved dinner to La Posada del Mar.  I must add that I always walk from our hotel by the Sardinero beach to town and back, or rather to the Puerto Chico area where all the restaurants I mentioned are located.  It takes some 25 minutes there and 25 minutes back.  I do it for the exercise of course but also because of the wonderful sea views and because it is such a pretty walk in general with flower beds on most of the pavements and wonderful English type mansions to feast my eyes on.  

I love the walk from the Sardinero beach to the Puerto Chico in Santander

Our party takes place in the Puerto Chico area too, at the Olympic Sailing Centre. The party was as successful as other years.  The guests are all participants in the conference plus local Yoigo shopkeepers and even Yoigo Facebook “fans”. This was the invitation; the theme being about the future.

The invitation to this year's Yoigo party in Santander.

It might have been great for the guests but I never enjoy my own parties so I did a disappearing trick just before 2 in the morning as I was in desperate need of my beauty sleep.  The walk back in the cool of the night helped for that to happen.

People always look forward to the Yoigo party, it's the most exciting item on the conference programme

On Tuesday the telecoms conference was to be rewarded on its 25th anniversary, with a bit of royal glamour, with the visit of the Crown Prince of Spain, Felipe and his wife Princess Letizia and I didn’t want to miss the occasion.  There was a reception for the CEOs of all the sponsors at the Palace of the Magdalena where they had their photos taken but then had to pay for them! At 12 o’clock on the dot, they came into the conference room at “Caballerizas” preceded by bodyguards, the Director of the Conference, the Rector of the University, the Mayor of Santander, the President of the Community of Santander and finally the Minister of Industry.  Unfortunately you couldn’t see them as they sat on the front row whilst we had to listen to a speech from each and every one of the authorities mentioned above until the Prince finally got up on the stage and delivered his own.  He is indeed tall, towering above everyone.  He didn’t say anything spectacular but he was the only one to greet the followers “online”, a nice digital gesture or so I thought.

I must say the royal couple added a lot of glamour to this year's telecoms conference in Santander

Later I was to see them up close as there was a private cocktail party for the participants of the course and in they walked where it was to be held into the pretty gardens of the Caballerizas building at the UIMP University.  I took a photograph and was immediately told to put my camera away.  Well here is the photo, not a very good one, but at least a token of the event for me to keep.

A stolen photo of the royal couple as they entered the gardens for the cocktail party

They looked just as they do on the TV and magazines.  I’m sure this was just another act for them and not a particularly interesting one either.  It must be difficult to have to be on show all the time which is how I perceived them; not very interested but having to act as if they were.  But now to what you are probably most interested in, what I thought of them.  The Prince was charming as all princes should be, very good looking and tall and never took his wonderful blue eyes off his pretty wife Letizia, the ex TVE news presenter.  I am told she is not obsessed with fashion although she has to follow it to some extent.  She was very casually dressed in what looked like simple Zara style clothing, with dark cotton trousers, a light grey cotton jacket and striped t-shirt.  Interestingly she wore flat shoes and of course was dwarfed by her very tall husband.  I knew she was supposed to be very thin and that is how I saw her too; very very skinny and bony but still a striking girl. On several occasions she came alive when greeted by ex journalist colleagues.  I’m sure she misses that world.  But then again she has exchanged it willingly  for the golden cage of the Princess of Spain.  In any case it was a great occasion to get a bird’s eye view of the royal couple and it certainly added glamour to the “men in black” conference Santander always is for me.  

Once they had gone, I made my way back to the hotel and decided to award myself a little prize, after such a successful participation; time by myself.  The sun was shining and I was determined to spend the afternoon on the beach.  I loved every minute of it, except when huge waves engulfed me.  I had witnesses to the occasion, an Anglo Polish couple, Alan and Irena, whom I had met at the hotel at breakfast.  They live in the north of England and we have plenty in common.  Irena promised to read my blog.  If you are reading this Irena, it was a pleasure to meet you.

The sun always shines in September in Santander and I made sure I got some time on the Sardinero beach.

In the evening, my partner was my good friend Julio.  Free of all professional commitments we were able to indulge in dinner at one of our favourite places in Santander, La Bombi.  Unsurprisingly we spent part of the time there networking as half the conference seemed to have made the same decision as us, to have dinner at the ever popular La Bombi.  

The next day, Wednesday, I was up early for a last walk on the beach before packing and heading to the airport, only to find out my plane would be delayed by more than two hours.  I was kept company by my counterparts at Orange Spain, David and Fernando and we had fun talking about our job in the sector, our main conclusion being that the communications managers and media got on very well despite the fierce competition between our companies.  
Once in Madrid, before going home, I had a long meeting in the office which didn’t end till nearly 19h was when I was finally able to pick my car up from the car park and drive home.  Of course I met the rush hour traffic which made me realize just how lucky I am working from home and not having to confront it on a daily basis.

I was happy to hear on my return that my youngest daughter Olivia had been live on the TV again during my absence.  Her live appearances always make me feel so proud of her.  In actual fact she only does so to substitute a colleague who had been on holiday last week.  On Wednesday Olivia filled in because the colleague had a cold sore on her lip.  Very uncharitably I found myself hoping that it would continue.  The live report was quite exciting as it was about the new season for TVE and all the famous presenters were there.  It was nice that she knew one personally, Sergio Sauca, a friend of mine who is the sports presenter on the evening news.  Here is the link if you are interested.  You can see her bit at minutes 01:53:04 and 01:59:24.

The TVE presenters Olivia presented live on Wednesday on TV.  My friend Sergio Sauca, the sports presenter is in the middle with the colourful tie.

On Thursday and Friday I was able to wind down at home and catch up on work, as well as home affairs.  Friday was a holiday and to celebrate Eladio and I went out to dinner on our own locally.  We chose De Brasa y Puchero which makes a magnificent salmorejo.  As we were tucking in, Oli was working for the very last night of her 3 month stint with the TVE24h news channel as part of her master degree in TV journalism.  Today her inferno is over as she will now be able to concentrate on her job with the morning programme, La Mañana de la 1.  Here she starts at 7 in the morning and leaves at 2 in the afternoon, leaving her the rest of the day free.  Right now (today is now Monday) she told me she felt as if she was on holiday.  

The weekend was quiet without the girls and we spent most of the time by the pool with our books.  On Saturday night I had an exciting engagement on the occasion of the end of the Tour of Spain which was finishing in Madrid the next day.  I went out to dinner with my friends from the cycling world, Pedro Delgado, the ex winner of the Tour of France and his wife Ludy, Carlos de Andrés, the cycling commentator for Spanish TV and his wife Mireia, José Luis Laguía, a legend in Spanish cycling and Sergi Egea, the cycling journalist for the Catalán newspaper El Períodico de Cataluña.  We went to La Cesta de Recoletos in the centre of Madrid and spent a great evening catching up on each other’s news, some of which was quite surprising.  It is something we do every year except that I have been missing on the last few occasions.  It was great to see you all again my wonderful cycling friends.  I miss the sport, but I mostly miss you.

And this brings me to Sunday, yesterday, the anniversary of 9/11 and the beginning of my blog.  The day had a good end for me with the arrival of the girls and Gaby from Ponferrada after our evening walk and a family dinner, lovingly prepared, around our candlelit wooden table on our kitchen terrace.

And that my friends, is it for this week.  Hope you have a great week.  All the best till next time,

PS you can see the rest of the photos I took in Santander here.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Santander here we come again, Oli’s debut live on TV, Grandpa fell, Almodóvar’s latest film and other things.

Oli reporting live on TVE1, so exciting for us.
Hello everyone,

Here I am this Sunday morning at the beginning of September writing from my hotel room in Santander.  It’s a bit like here we come again, because I come every year.  Those of you who are not in the telecoms sector in Spain will wonder why I am here.  A holiday perhaps?  Unfortunately no, although I’d love one here especially as the hotel I am staying at, and where I always come, the Santander Silken Río, is right opposite the wonderful Sardinero beach.  

The view from my room of the Sardinero Beach in Santander, somewhat empty this Sunday morning because of the weather

But no, I am here for the XXV telecoms conference organized by Ametic at the UIMP University which starts tomorrow. Yoigo plays a big role here,  not only participating in the conference, where all the big guns come,  with an ever original and much awaited presentation but also because we host a huge party for all the participants, some 400 people.  This year there is added glamour as the Crown Prince of Spain, Felipe and his wife, the ex TVE presenter, Letizia Ortiz, will be making an appearance at the conference.  I have been working on these activities most of the summer and finally the time has come to execute them.  Normally Eladio accompanies me but this year it wasn’t to be as he will be tied up next week with invigilating the UNED University exams.   I came early today as I had hoped for time on the beach but unfortunately the weather hasn’t behaved and it is cool and rainy.  Hopefully it will stop raining later and I will, at least, be able to go for a long walk on the beach. Thus I have no other option but to write my blog which I’m sure you are happy to hear. As I am writing I have just received a message from Eladio to tell me that he is out for a walk with my four daughters, Olivia, Susana and the dogs Elsa and Norah.  I so wish I was with them.

The week was very exciting in that Olivia made her live debut on TV on Monday and went on to do more live reports throughout the week which had us glued to the TV, as we watched her open mouthed with excitement.  I can’t begin to describe what it feels like.  I got a short whatsapp on Monday morning to tell me she would be on TVE1 (Spain’s most important channel) at 12.15 but she didn’t even mention the topic.  Of course I told everyone I could via Facebook and sms and we all gathered around the TV in the lounge awaiting the moment.  The topic was to be one dear to her heart as she was covering the press conference of Pedro Almodóvar’s new film, The skin I live in live, from the Casa de América in Madrid. She had been told one hour before that she would be doing so.  Later on she explained that she took this to be a test of her abilities and that if she failed it would be very unlikely she would ever have the opportunity again and would have forever worked as an anonymous journalist in the TV newsroom.   I am pleased to say she passed with flying colours. You can judge for yourself by clicking on this link and going to minute 01.53.59. She even managed to have her photo taken not only with Pedro Almodóvar but also with Antonio Banderas, who I am sure need no introduction to any of you.  I was extremely jealous of course as I highly admire the Spanish Director and love the looks and personality of Antonio Banderas.  You might find it funny to know that in Eladio’s family we are known as Antonio and Melanie, because we, apparently, bare some resemblance.

Oli with Pedro Almodóvar, how exciting

And now with the man, Antonio Banderas, my very favourite actor.

Suzy and I were so excited we wanted to make or buy something special for lunch on Monday to welcome Olivia.  Her favourite food is Spanish croquettes so we embarked on making some 40 odd, for the first time ever – they are tricky and sticky to make - from a recipe in my most trusted Spanish cookery book, 1080 recipes by Simone Ortega.  They came out perfectly and Olivia was delighted.  We have since gone on to make another batch for freezing, they have proved so popular.

Oli and I in the kitchen making croquettes for Olivia whilst she is on the TV, so proud and happy for her

On Tuesday Olivia was sent off at the crack of dawn to the town of Cuéllar in Segovia to report on Spain’s oldest bull-run.  As she had no time to document what she was to report and of course, knew nothing about the subject, Eladio and I were asked to do some research which we presented to her at midnight when she returned from the evening news programme she also works for as part of her TV journalism Master which thankfully finishes next week.  Again she did a splendid job, reporting live twice from Cuéllar.  You can see it here at minute 08.33 - 10.39 and from 01.53.36.

On Wednesday she had a respite but on Thursday she was reporting on The Madrid Fashion week (link) and on Friday on a story about missing babies (minute 33.27 – 34.11).  As you can see, her subjects are very varied.  She comes home exhausted from the stress.  Her conclusion is that 90% of what comes out on TV is a lie but I think that is a bit exaggerated.  Her descriptions of the logistics of each live report are hair-raising.  She goes out to a location with a cameraman, a technician who is also the driver of the satellite vehicle and a person from production who, according to her, is as junior as she is but says that responsibility for everything lies exclusively with her.  Thus she has to choose from where they will film, never an easy task and then she has to coordinate with the TV studio to agree on what to say and what they will ask her during the report.  She gets phone calls right left and centre and coordination and timing are crucial. She gets a cue and can listen in to the programme when she’s about to talk but sometimes things fail and she cannot hear and things become tricky. I cannot begin to imagine her level of adrenalin and am amazed at how well she improvises when asked a sticky question. She told me that for the last report at the Courts on the case of the lost babies, she was aware of the cameras from all the other channels, Tele5, Cuatro, TeleMadrid, Antena 3, all with veteran journalists and there she was, little Oli, the youngest of them all, yet representing the most important channel, TVE.  I think for a moment she was even impressed with herself; although she is overall far too critical. But then of course, she sees all the faults that we don’t see.  I am very impressed with how well she has done so far and appreciate, probably much more than her, what a great experience this is for a budding journalist.  I can only wish her luck and say well done Olivia; certain of one thing, she has the talent to be a TV presenter or reporter. 

Olivia’s live reporting was very exciting but the week was not to be without unfortunate events.  Grandpa was slowly on the mend after being in hospital and even ventured out of the house with Eladio on Monday to do the weekly shopping.  On Wednesday Suzy asked how he was as it was a week since he was discharged from the hospital.  He said he was better but then showed us his ankles which had swollen slightly again.  So Eladio made another appointment with the doctor who prescribed slightly stronger medication as well as sleeping tablets.  This I think was his downfall as on Thursday night he got up to go to the loo at four in the morning feeling very drousy and shaky on his legs.  The dear man fell and then lay on the floor for half an hour before being able to reach for his alarm. I was the first one to reach his room and it was a sorry sight for my eyes to see him lying motionless on the floor.  He had hurt his ankle and was unable to move.  Between Eladio and Olga they managed to put him into bed.  The next day we took him with great difficulty by car to the clinic where he had an x-ray.  The damage is a sprained ankle, not very much for what it could have been, but enough to make him bed ridden for the next week or so. We are taking great care of him and Olga has come into her own with her previous experience of looking after an elderly gentleman.  She is wonderful with him, washing and shaving him; something which would have been difficult for me.  I wish him a quick recovery of course as I know that he must hate to be bed ridden.  

That night I was unable to sleep after the fall, worried but also afflicted with a terrible migraine.  I was up at 6, because the only way of helping my poor head is with a hot shower and some breakfast in my stomach.  In any case I had to be up early to be at the office for a management team meeting and a subsequent meeting with our PR and events agencies on the last minute details of our activities in Santander.  Quite a few changes were made which meant I had to work over the weekend and even go into the production agency’s office on Saturday until the original and rather ambitious presentation was finalized satisfactorily.

Even though I was exhausted on Friday I was determined to go and see Almodóvar’s new film, The skin I live in, the one Olivia reported on during the week.  As Olga was at home to look after my Father, Eladio and I were able to go to the cinema and then out to dinner, activities our bodies and souls seemed in great need of that day.  So what did I think of the film?  Many things really, it’s difficult to describe.  I didn’t used to be a fan of Almodóvar, finding his films all a bit weird but now they fascinate me and I was interested to see how the new film would compare to the others, especially because the genre was different, The Skin I live in being rather more a horror story.  This is what I put on my Facebook status yesterday after having seen it: Impossible to describe Almodóvar’s new film The Skin I live In. Somewhere in between brilliantly kinky and osbscenely entertaining. It is brutal, haunting, bizarre, perverted, sometimes funny, where Banderas rises to his very best in this wierd and mad role. Felt guilty watching it but could not take my eyes off the screen. It is a masterpiece and I am fast joining the club of fans of this unique director"  If you haven’t seen it I cannot give away any of the story.  You will just have to go and see it for yourselves.  Eladio on the other hand did not like it at all, just wasn’t his type of film unfortunately.  What he did like was dinner afterwards at La Alpargatería on table number 7 of course, our table.

The poster of Almodóvar's new film with Antonio Banderas and Elena Amaya, The skin I live in.

Saturday was a good day with no incidents to report thank goodness.  I went to have a cup of coffee with Fátima, my best friend and neighbour, whom I hardly ever see.  It was great to catch up, but mostly great to have some girly time, something I was much in need of. In the afternoon I had to go the production agency but was back on time for our daily walk. We decided that Elsa, who had hurt her front left paw after the accident some 10 days ago, was fit enough again to join us.  And wow, did she enjoy it, chasing after Norah the whole time, who stoically put up with her.  Norah seems to consider herself Elsa’s mother and has become much calmer and more mature since Elsa’s arrival and it is a joy to see them together.

And today is Sunday and now you know the end of this week’s blog about being in Santander.  As I write, the weather has improved and there is a faint possibility the sun will come out.  I am waiting for my friend Julio who will be arriving later so we can go for a long walk on the beach together.

That’s it then folks for this week.  I hope you have a good week coming up; cross your fingers all my activities go ok here and that my Father recovers quickly.

All the best till next week/Masha