Sunday, October 16, 2011

A wrong diagnosis and a simple question: Sir, Why can’t you lift your leg up? My Father in hospital and no other stories to tell this week.

My Father slowly on the mend after his emergency hip operation on Wednesday.  Olivia and Susana spend many an afternoon with him, as does Olga.

Hi everyone, 

This week has not been good.   In fact it has been exhausting and very worrying; very different from last Sunday when life went on as usual.  Now it has fallen all apart.  There is only one thing to report, my Father is in hospital and our lives revolve around him.  The house is empty, the dogs don’t know what is going on and we spend the days and nights taking turns to be with my Father.  Eladio and I take turns at night and the girls or Olga go in the afternoons. In Spain each patient is expected to have someone to accompany him, day and night and that is what we do.  We have turned into nurses over night, something which for me was distressing and difficult at the beginning but is now becoming easier.  As an acquaintance said on Facebook, “do it with love and it will all come naturally”.  How right she is.  Thank you Tanya.

You will know that my Father fell some six weeks ago, just a few days after being in hospital.  He complained that his left ankle and foot hurt and the 4 doctors who saw him, including a prestigious traumatologist, all made a wrong diagnosis and said he had a sprain and prescribed bandaging and paracetamol.  He did tell them all that it most hurt when his left leg was lifted but they still all insisted he had a sprain which they could see from the X-rays.  However they only took X-rays of his foot, not his leg or higher up, even though we insisted. And because of the wrong diagnosis in those six weeks he was confined to a wheel chair and terrible pain and dependent on us for his every movement, which of course depressed him.  We did our best to look after him and feed him and cheer him up but I could not understand why six weeks after the fall he was still in agony.  What we didn’t know was that he was also losing blood.  No wonder he was so weak and listless. He was monitored by his local GP, if you can call it monitoring, who told us that from the blood test results she had seen he had lost a lot of hemoglobin and iron and could be bleeding internally.  She thought the loss of blood came from the daily aspirin he was taking for his heart and took him off it and prescribed iron tablets.  She warned us that if we saw any blood in his stools, to rush him to hospital.  This turned out to be a contradiction as apparently if you take iron tablets your stools will always be black.  

On Tuesday afternoon, the day before Spain’s national holiday on 12th October and the day before my trip to Lithuania, fate was ironically on my Father’ side as we would finally find out what was wrong with him.  In the late afternoon, Eladio saw the dreaded blood and rang the doctor who told us to ring the equivalent of 999 (112 in Spain).  The Emergency services immediately sent an ambulance and my poor frightened Father was lifted in to it on a stretcher.  It was his first time ever in an ambulance and my third, I think.  Luckily I was able to accompany him and Eladio followed behind in his car.  We were taken to the Spanish national health service hospital in Alcorcón some 15km from home.  He was in agony the whole way complaining about the pain in his foot with every bump the ambulance made and I could do nothing to help him, just look on with a broken heart.

We arrived at the hospital and were attended immediately.  I had dreaded hours and hours of waiting in the emergency unit but no, two young doctors came quite soon.  In just five minutes they realised what was wrong with him.  The young South American doctor asked my Father in perfect English “Sir, could you please lift your right leg up (the good leg)” which he did.  Then he said “Sir, could you please lift your left leg up (the bad leg)” and my Father said he couldn’t.  The doctor insisted: “Sir, why can’t you lift your left leg up?” and thereby came the answer.  He couldn’t lift it up because his hip was broken or that was what the doctor suspected.  His suspicions were confirmed with an X-ray five minutes later. We could hardly believe what we were hearing.   Six weeks ago my Father had fallen and broken his hip and none of the doctors had been able to diagnose or bother to diagnose it.  The so-called prestigious traumatologist at the Clínica 2001 in Majadahonda just took an X-ray of his foot, briefly touched it and did not ask my Father the vital question if he could lift his leg.  Later I asked the traumatologist at the Hospital de Alcorcón, why the other doctors hadn’t realised and I think he covered up for them by saying that if my Father had complained about pain in his foot they wouldn’t have suspected it was his hip.  I then asked why the pain was in his foot if the fracture was in his hip.  The answer was simple, pain can manifest itself in another part of the body to the injury, as often happens with back injuries, for example.  But surely traumatologists know that I thought.  Thank goodness the young South American doctor, to whom I will always be grateful, asked that one simple question which was the key to my Father’s well being.

Luck was also on our side on Tuesday in that we knew a doctor at the hospital who pushed all the right buttons for things to move fast and in the right direction for my Father.  It turned out that Juan, the father of Rocío, the girls’ best friend from St. Michael’s school, is the head anaesthetist at the very same hospital where my Father was.  Juan was travelling to Chicago the next day, but even so he rang all the right people and got his team to take his place and be there for any assistance we needed, including Teresa, a gentle lovely doctor who helped us enormously throughout.  

Luck was not on our side that first night which I spent with my Father in the Emergency Unit.  I had just a hard chair to sit on and needless to say neither of us got a wink of sleep. That night is better forgotten.
So now we knew he had a broken hip which would have to be operated.  However my Father was a high risk patient because of his age and weak health caused by the blood loss.  There was an option not to operate but that would have meant never walking again and forever living in pain.  We decided then and there that he was to have the operation. The doctors were not sure whether the blood loss came from the hip fracture or from another cause.  So first they had to wash out his stomach and then subject him to an endoscopy, the latter an unpleasant test which when we read the consent form, made us think twice.  Thankfully Juan was always there to advise us on the phone.  I cannot thank him enough. No internal bleeding was evident from either procedure so the next day, Thursday, they went ahead with the high risk operation of a replacement hip. 

Teresa and the Cristina, her delightful young colleague from Juan’s team of anaesthetists let me in to the ante theatre where I was able to see my Father before his operation.  He was going to have a lumbar anesthetic rather than a general anesthetic which was a lot less dangerous for someone his age.  Some two hours later Diego, the traumatologist who had operated him, told us the operation had been a great success.  We were so happy!  Teresa then let us see him in the reanimation room (if that’s what it’s called in English hospitals) and he was amazing, he was all there, completely aware of what was going on and not particularly distressed or worried.  I was so proud of him.

Well that was last Thursday and today is Sunday.  He is slowly getting stronger.   All my friends and family have been a great support.  I hesitated about reporting his progress on Facebook but now I’m glad I did.  There have been so many wonderful comments and I read them all to him and he is amazed.  Thanks my friends.  Fátima came to see him last night and Julio came this morning, Pili and Dolores ring nearly every day and Jackqueline is praying for him as are some more of my friends. As I said on Facebook, it’s good to have religious friends in these times, hahaha.  I made a pact with Jacky, I would feed him with food made lovingly at home and she would pray.  Jackqueline has prayed at every stage and every stage has been a success.  I’m so impressed with her results that I have now asked her to pray for him to walk again and have a good health and mind and live to at least 102.  She has agreed but is not too sure whether 102 is God’s providence or not! Caring for Grandpa after such a big operation is like reviving a wilting plant, some sun, some water and most of all loving care.  

As the hospital food is not appetising and he is not very hungry, I decided on the second day to bring him his food from home and bring him the food he likes best. So here I am thinking most of the day what I am going to make to take him for his next meal, to whet his appetite and to make him stronger.  Then when he eats it all, I feel like clapping my hands with joy and happiness as my tactics are working.  Our main occupation now is for him to eat and to do the special exercises from his bed in preparation for getting out of bed.  Yes, Grandpa will get stronger, the pain will go, he will take his first steps on a zimmer frame and he will come home and will have quality of life.  Then we’ll take it from it there, slowly but surely.  His main objective is to go on the weekly food shopping outing with Eladio where they both enjoy a glass of white wine and a tapa at the Cafetería Río.  You see, he doesn’t ask for much.  

Whilst my Father has been in the hospital I haven’t really followed the news, as my thoughts are really only with him.  There really are no other stories to tell this week.  I have realised however just how warm the weather continues to be.  We still go about in summer clothes.  Before my Father went into hospital on Tuesday afternoon, believe it or not both Olivia and I swam in our very cold pool.  We enjoyed the afternoons with him there, as did our dear dogs which are now a little abandoned.  I took this photo of Elsa on Monday who this week reached the grand old age of 5 months, a mere puppy but now getting bigger and bigger as you can see from the photo below.

Elsa was 5 months old this week.  She is so beautiful and such a lovely dog.

 If my Father hadn’t been admitted to hospital, this week I would have told you more about the lunch with my ex Nokia girl friends on Monday.  The lunch was called for by Susana to celebrate her new job but she cancelled at the last minute, as did Fátima.  So Jill, Ana, Zenaida and I arrived at the restaurant Susana had told us the lunch was to be, a place called Coquerel in Majadahonda to find it was closed.  In the end, rather cross with Susana, we went to a Chinese place nearby and had a cheap menu of the day.  

I would also have told you about my exciting trip to Vilnius in Lithuania on Wednesday for the Communications team meeting.  But of course I had to cancel it.  I love travelling but even if I had been going to the moon, I would have cancelled as I could not miss being with my Father at such traumatic times for him.  

And that my friends, is the story of how our lives turned upside down in just a week.  As I finish writing my thoughts are with my Father and Eladio in ward C2, room 222 at the Hospital Universitario Fundación Alcorcón.  Eladio will be in the reclining chair by the window and my Father in his hospital bed.  They occupy one half of the room.  The other half is occupied by another patient, Juan in his late 80s’ who snores so loud at night I can’t sleep.  Rosa, his daughter spends every night with him and we have become good friends.  Illness tends to unite.  I wish them all a good night as I wish you too.

Cheers my friends, till next week.  


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Shopping with the girls, RIP Mrs. Wright, an eccentric Duchess, goodbye Steve Jobs, homemade cooking and other things

Mrs. Wright in 2008, already aged 100 I think.
 Hello again, 

Another week has passed.  We are well into October and the good weather continues. I am still wearing summer clothes believe it or not.   I have been shopping with the girls this week on quite a few occasions (there is nothing like retail therapy to make you happy) but felt reluctant, with this weather, to buy any winter clothes which is what the shops stock at this time of year.    I did buy some lovely shoes and boots but will wait for the weather to turn cooler before wearing or buying any real winter clothes.  On Saturday morning Suzy took me to a little boutique in Majadahonda called Despacio, recommended to her by Rocío, where I found a treasure of a striped long jumper come dress; something I think I can wear in all seasons.  The little shop was a true find and we will be going back I am sure.

Shopping with Suzy at a boutique called Despacio in Majadahonda on Saturday

Shopping took up some of the week, but certainly not all.  I was in and out of the office for various projects I am working on and also had lunch with the new telecoms journalist for El Mundo, Spain’s main right wing newspaper, as well as a meeting over coffee with the girls from my events agency, Quintaesencia, at Zielo.  

And on Wednesday evening I got a phone call, which I knew would bring fatal news.  It was from Susan Wright, our neighbour in Bradford.  Susan’s Mother, Marguerite, Mrs. Wright to me, who would have been 103 in a fortnight’s time, died in her sleep on Monday night and left Susan, a spinster, with whom she has lived all her life and most of it at 5 Heaton Grove, an orphan, aged nearly 80 herself.  As she spoke and half cried to me on the phone, she pronounced that “Mummy was all my world and I cannot live without her”.  They were my parents’ neighbours for nearly 50 years as my Father remarked just now whilst I was ordering flowers for Mrs. Wright’s funeral next Tuesday.  Susan and Marguerite were a slightly eccentric, but loveable genteel daughter and mother with somewhat fiery characters who lived their lives surrounded by beautiful antiques in a Victorian house.  Today it is an oasis of beauty in a street, now completely owned by Asian immigrants but which was once described as millionaires’ row when it was first built by German textile merchants in the 1870 when Bradford was at the heart of the wool industry.  I saw Mrs. Wright for the last time in the summer and as I was saying goodbye, I knew then, that I was saying goodbye forever.  “The Wrights”, as we called them, were wonderful neighbours of my parents, but especially so when my Mother died and my Father was left alone in that big house in Heaton Grove.  They would share the newspapers everyday and my Father would be invited each Sunday for afternoon tea and homemade cake and they would do or finish the Times or Telegraph crosswords together.  My heart goes out to Susan now, who will be left in that great big house surrounded by beauty but absolutely alone.  Meanwhile my thoughts are with her Mother too.  Although she had a seemingly eternal life, her last two years were cruelly afflicted with dementia.  Now she can finally rest in peace.

The Wrights, our loyal neighbours at Heaton Grove for nearly 50 years.

The Wrights, I am sure, would have been fascinated to read in The Times about the marriage of an eccentric Duchess in Spain this week.  I refer to the Duchess of Alba, the woman with the most titles in the world; more than Queen Elizabeth herself, who at the age of 85 got married for the third time this week to a titleless civil servant 24 years her junior.  She did so after huge opposition from her children and the Spanish royal family.  Only after making her future husband who some call a “toy boy”, sign away any rights to her fortune, could the wedding go ahead.  The Duchess of Alba whose full name is Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonso Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y Silva, was once known for her looks, but after so much plastic surgery has completely ruined any remaining beauty and in my eyes looks like a ridiculous scare crow.  Her lips are so pouted she can hardly speak and her hair looks like a kitchen mop. 

The wedding of the larger than life 85 year old Duchess of Alba was the news of the week in Spain.

The wedding was much in the news here and even Olivia found herself reporting on a topic around it.  The day before the wedding the Duchess’ youngest child and only daughter, Eugenia Martínez de Irujo was reported to have chicken pox and would not be able to attend the wedding.  Most people took this to be an excuse on the part of her daughter who didn’t want to attend the wedding.  As it turned out the story was true and in fact the Duchess’ youngest child had to be admitted to hospital with complications.  And this is the story Olivia reported on from the Gregorio Marañón hospital where she was admitted.  You can see the clip here - minute 01.52.42.

This week in fact, Oli did two live reports, both of which I missed.  On Tuesday she was reporting on the story of a baby who died after a shoot out in a church near Madrid by some mad man.  She hardly ever lets us know these days as if every live reporting were just part of a new routine.  To us, it is still a novelty and we are extremely proud of her.

It's always news for us when Oli reports live on TVE1

Now that Olivia no longer has a double job, we see a lot more of her, in the afternoons and evenings of course.  She starts work at 7 and finishes at 2 and is home in time for lunch. We try also to have dinner all together and go for family walks.  It’s what I call quality family time.  Quality family time is also spent in the early evenings by the pool with Eladio, my Father and the dogs.  This is our quiet reading time.  As I told you I would, I started Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd this week and am riveted by it and far prefer it to Restless the previous book I read by the same author.

We spend most afternoons or evenings reading by the pool these days and are always accompanied by the dogs.  Here is Eladio with  darling Elsa, our labrador puppy, soon to be 5 months old
If Wednesday was the Spanish Duchess’ big day, it was also the day that Apple was to announce what the world thought would be the iPhone 5.  Apple, the masters of communication, had the whole industry waiting and I, for one, was a little disappointed to find out later that they were only launching the so-called iPhone 4S and that the iPhone 5 (whatever that is, a low tier version of the icon phone?) wouldn’t come until 2012.  The supposed big new feature of the iPhone4S is voice recognition.  Hopefully it is a better or easier to use voice recognition technology as my experience with it has never been successful and I long gave up on it ever working properly either in a phone or in my car. My first experience goes back to the early 90’s whilst setting up the Motorola stand at the Spanish SIMO exhibition with the help of a young technician, Alex Good.  The ****** application never worked; it just kept saying “voice not recognized” until I could have thrown it off the stand.  As it was at least 2 in the morning at the time, my patience was at its end.  Alex’ explanation was that it probably preferred a man’s voice and it did.  

Luck would have it that the very next day, the man at the core of the company, Apple, the quickly becoming legendary founder, Steve Jobs, passed away.  He was only 56 and died of that dreadful disease, cancer.  Steve Jobs needs no introduction as he was one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs or business magnates and heads a league of men of similar stature such as Bill Gates, Mark Zukckerberg or the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergei Brin, who all built iconic companies in Silicon Valley.

 I have read a lot about him since his death on Thursday, as people have paid tribute to him on internet and offline all over the world.  He has been compared to Einstein, to Henry Ford and there have even been jokes about him in heaven offering to make applications.  I agree he was a visionary, he was probably a great man, but he did not invent the pc, nor the mobile phone as you might be lead to think.  In my mind he reinvented them or led a team of people to do so and he made very desirable and beautifully finished products.  Above all he was a master in communication, hardly ever needing to advertise his company’s products.  The media were happy to advertise any news about Apple for free and for that to happen you have to be someone very special or make very special products.  His name was entwined with the company as part of its brand and you cannot imagine Apple without Steve Jobs, nor can you think about Steve Jobs without thinking about the company called Apple.  

Steve Jobs was entwined with Apple as part of its brand.  I wonder how Apple will continue without him.

For me he was the Father of the best mobile phone ever.  To understand him better, to understand this very clever, charismatic entrepreneur, I recommend you watch, if you haven’t already, the Stanford commencement speech made by him in 2005.  I love the bit especially when he says: “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle”.

On Thursday I was hit unexpectedly by a small brick on my head and my whole world came tumbling down for a day and a night, at least in my mind, and it made me think over a lot of things.  It also made me appreciate even more everything I have.  Then when I read those words by Steve Jobs, I identified with them one hundred percent and they will keep me going even in the darkest times.    In fact on Friday when it was all over, Eladio and I went out to dinner to Tony Romas and I wrote in my check-in at Foursquare, “celebrating life with Eladio”.  In Steve Job’s speech at Stanford, he also said that he had learned to live every day like it was the last day of his life.  I like the idea but won’t be taking it too far if I want to maintain a bit of equilibrium in my life.  In any case, thank you and goodbye Steve Jobs.  The world will never forget you

The day Steve Jobs died, my Father, who has never owned a mobile phone, nor used an iPhone, received his very first email.  It came from a fellow retired teacher at Bradford Grammar School, Raymond Shaw Smith.  Ray, to my Father, Mr. Shaw Smith to me at the time, taught Classics and was married to a woman with a Spanish name, Dolores, who unfortunately died two years ago. They lived on a farm in West Yorkshire which I remember visiting it as a child with my family.  My Father was delighted to get his “first email” and he dictated a long reply to me to send to Raymond. I did so and included a photo of the five of us and sincerely hope he received it and writes back as it cheered my Father up enormously.

We continue to look after my Father with loving care and I am paying particular attention to his meals. I have been making food he especially likes to whet his appetite. In the results of a recent blood test he has lost a lot of iron, so on Saturday I made one of my specialities, Spanish lentil soup but added spinach for some extra iron.  It was followed by homemade croquettes, fruit salad and ice cream.  This is what the lentil soup looked like.  We had it for lunch yesterday and again today when the girls’ friends, Juli and Rocío came for lunch unexpectedly. 

My homemade lentils

As I am finishing my blog, I can hear Suzy, Juli and Rocío emptying the washing up machine in the kitchen, whilst Olivia has made a disappearing trick as usual.  Olivia loves food but is at odds with domesticity.  My Father is sitting next to me in his wheel chair with a cup of tea and biscuits and will soon be reading this entry.  As ever, he is my most loyal reader.

I hope you enjoy this week’s post and I also hope you all have a great week ahead of you. Mine will be quite exciting as I shall be travelling to Lithuania for a meeting in Vilnus on Wednesday.  There will be news about that in next week’s blog post.

Meanwhile, all the best


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Looking after Grandpa, remembering my Mother, something to celebrate, Alicia came to stay, 5 years with Yoigo and other stories.

Grandpa being looked after by all of us.

 Hello again,

I wonder how your week has been. Mine has had its ups and downs, but on the whole it has been ok.  At the top of my mind there is always my dear Father, who, at the grand old age of 92, is now very frail and needs constant attention.  We took him to the traumatologist on Monday because the pain in his leg was not getting better.  We thought he had a sprained ankle but actually he has a sprain in one of the small bones in his left foot.  We were doing all the right things to get him back on the mend so we just have to continue.  I think he is getting better very slowly but then what can you expect at that age.  In any case, he worries me and when I see him so uncomfortable I realize just how much I love him.  He is all I have left on my side of the family and he is the only person to share the memories of my childhood and of my immediate family, my brother George and my beloved Mother.

This week was the 12th anniversary of the death of my Mother, something which will have been on my Father’s mind the whole time.  It is a date neither of us will ever forget just as we will never forget her.  My Mother, as I have written countless times in this blog, was unique in so many ways; someone who always left an impact on you because she was larger than life and full of contrasts.  She was all the adjectives; daring, lively, fun loving, religious, academic, creative, naughty, respectful yet often lacking in respect, loving and affectionate and someone who knew how to listen.  In short she lived life to the full, having come from a background worthy of a novel.  She came from a Russian aristocratic family who fled the Revolution whilst she was in her Mother’s womb. Born in the Russian Embassy in Rome, the family later emigrated to Sofia in Bulgaria.  Her 2 metre tall now penniless Father, Prince Andrei Lieven became a priest and her aristocratic Mother, Sophie Stachovich, suddenly had to look after 6 children almost  single handedly, when back in Russia she probably only saw them at bed time.  My Mother, Elena Lieven, was sent to school in France at the age of 6 and did not return to Bulgaria until she was 10.  When the war came, she fled Bulgaria, in fear of the takeover of communism, and made her way to Germany to join her brothers Sasha and Kolya.  When the war ended, and her experiences there would be worthy of another book, she found herself unable to return to communist Bulgaria.  The decision she took then decided my future, as in 1944 my Mother made her way to England, to learn the one language missing from her repertoire of Russian, Bulgarian, German and French as well as a smattering of Italian.  Some 10 years later she met my Father and they went on to be happily married until death did them part on 1st October 1999.   So on Friday 1st October 2011, Grandpa and I and the girls, who adored their Grandma, remembered her especially even though we all carry her in our hearts every day.  Mummy I will always miss you. 

My Mother, as I best remember her, watering her plants in the porch at 6 Heaton Grove, Bradford

Grandma would have been very proud of her granddaughters, Susana and Olivia this week.  Oli appeared on TV again, which always gives me a lift in morale.  You can see the clip here at minutes 41.55 (12.13) and 02:08 (13.44). This time she was reporting on Euro Disney recruiting 600 Spaniards for the theme park in Paris.  She came home armed with the visiting card of the CEO of Disney Spain and I wonder if she realizes how much experience she is gaining.  On Wednesday she told us that her contract with TVE has been extended until next January.  We were so happy for her.

Suzy had great news too.  On Tuesday her bosses at Aramark, the big American food services company she has been working for since May, promoted her and made her a supervisor of a residence in Madrid.  This will be in addition to her job as a dietician for the company and will mean she will be working full time.  She will continue to work from home.  Suzy, we are very proud of you.

We decided to celebrate both girls’ successes and booked a table on Friday night at La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas where always go to when we want to celebrate something.  Unfortunately my Father couldn’t join us and he was sorely missed.  But who did join us was Alicia, my beloved god daughter, who came to stay for the weekend, and Gaby, Suzy’s dependable boyfriend.  The picture the waiter took is very bad quality, but still it captures the happy moment. 

Celebrating at La Vaca Argentina

It was great to host Alicia this weekend.  On Saturday morning, the girls in this house, went to Majadahonda to the famous flea market and then to the shops in the main street where we also sat outside and had a typical Spanish “aperitivo”, some white wine with a tapa. Here is a picture of the 3 beautiful girls at the market.  You can see the rest of the photos of Alicia’s time with us here.

Suzy on the left with Ali in the middle and Oli on the right, at the market in Majadahonda on Saturday

Alicia, I think you know, is living in Madrid with my other niece, Paula.  I hadn’t seen them since they moved in at the beginning of September and then through a chance remark on Facebook, Paula joined the girls and I for a bit of retail therapy on Wednesday afternoon at La Vaguada, a big shopping centre not too far from where they live and only 15 minutes in the car from our house.   We had a great couple of hours together, with visits to Zara, H+M, Stradivarius and Oysho amongst other places, and then enjoyed some delicious frozen yoghurt at a Danone stand.  Here is a picture of the three beautiful cousins on Wednesday at La Vaguada shopping centre.  I hope we can soon repeat the experience.  Alicia couldn’t be with us as her Nursing lectures are in the afternoons.

Shopping with Paula in La Vaguada, a great girly afternoon

The 1st October is a significant date for me, as it is also the date I joined Yoigo.  This year, though, is even more important as it is my 5th anniversary with that great, amazing, fun, challenging and different mobile phone operator where creativity rules. I joined 5 years ago and am still loving it.  I had a couple of down moments this week and twice was cheered up with good news about Yoigo related to or as a result of my work in PR.  According to a study by Hydra Social Media and Socialbakers, Yoigo is the 12th best brand in Spain at managing its Facebook page.  We beat our competition to the ground as we are the only telecoms company to reach the top 20.  That news certainly lifted my spirits and came just when I needed it.

I was happy to see that Yoigo came out so well in the Social Media study above, 12th best brand in Spain at managing its FB page which is actually my responsibility:-)

As always this week there has been time for reading.  The weather continues to be great and we mostly read in the later afternoons by the pool with my Father and the dogs at our feet. I finished William Boyd’s Restless and am about to start on “Ordinary Thunderstorms” by the same author, whilst Eladio is reading one of my favourites, the “Three Wild Swans; Three Daughtersof China”.  Grandpa is reading  Bound Feet and Western Dress” also about China.  On the subject of books I must tell you that my friend, Mariano Guindal, and the father of San, his Chinese adopted son, whom Susana has been teaching for some years now, made his debut as a writer this week.  Mariano is a prestigious financial journalist and for the last two years has been working on a book called “El declive de los dioses” (the fall of the gods) which this week he presented in public.  It is the story of the transition of the Spanish economy from the times of Felipe González to the current Spanish Premiere, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of which he was an exceptional witness.  Susana brought us a signed copy from him of which we are extremely proud. We actually saw Mariano on the television one night in an interview about the book and we know there have been many more. I have a feeling his book is going to be a great success which makes me very happy for both Mariano and Mar, his wife and fellow journalist who is the book’s co-author.

Mariano Guindal, our friend who made his debut as an author this week when he presented his book in public.

Mariano gave us a signed copy. I am very proud of him.

There was also time for watching films and last night we hired the film Pan Negro, Spain’s entry for the best foreign film in the 2012 Oscar’s.  It is set in the Spanish post Civil war era and I had been looking forward to seeing it but was actually disappointed.  I didn’t like the story or the dialogue between the children and thought all the actors were rather ugly.  I for one don’t think it’s going to win in this category. 

Pan Negro, Spain's entry for  best foreign film in next year's Oscars, a bit disappointing.

On the topic of the Spanish Civil war, I must mention something that surprised us all, one lunch time, this week.  My Father has an amazing memory and it’s incredible to see just how lucid he  is, despite being unwell.   We were talking about the 1st October being the anniversary of my Mother’s death. I pointed out, of course, that it was also my 5th anniversary with Yoigo and then Eladio said that it was also the date the Spanish Civil war ended.  Here my Father perked up and corrected my academic philosopher husband and said it had actually finished on 1st April 1939.  I googled this on my mobile phone and soon saw my Father was right.  I then challenged him further and asked him which date the war had started to which he immediately replied: 17th July 1936.  Again he was right and I was very proud of him, as I have always been.  

And that folks is it for this week.  

Cheers till next time