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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ray Shaw S from Bradford GS remembers both your parents and would love to write to your father.
David Atkinson