Sunday, November 27, 2011

Suzy in Barcelona, Oli in Brussels and I in Madrid and a lot to tell you this week.

Oli, in a beautiful Desigual dress, as MC at the awards in Brussels last week for U4Energy

Hello again,

Wow this week has rushed past and been packed with activity.  I have hardly had a moment to catch my breath as I was so busy with my own work projects.  Neither did I have a free moment for myself nor did I have much time for Eladio or my Father plus I  hardly saw my girls who, as you will see, were both in similar situations to me, working hard and immersed in their own projects but in Brussels and Barcelona.  All I can say is thank God for Olga who looked after my Father and the house meanwhile and for Eladio for keeping the boat afloat. 

When I left you last week the girls were still in Barcelona together.  They enjoyed a long weekend staying with Laura and were joined by Rocío and Elena, who, for some reason they call “Pulgui”.  Laura lives a bohemian style life in an old flat near the Mercat de la Boquería, Barcelona’s famous food market.  In some of the photos Suzy posted in FB you can see them doing their breakfast shopping at this enticing market.  I remember seeing it the first time I visited Barcelona when I was in my early 20’s and being stunned by the colour and variety and produce on offer.  I’m not sure whether it’s true or not but I always hear the story that the chefs from the best restaurants in Barcelona come and personally select food here for their menus.  Here is a lovely photo of Suzy mesmerized as I was so many years ago, just gazing at the sight of one of the stalls in the market. 

Beautiful Suzy mesmerized by the Boquería Market in Barcelona

They had a great time, judging by these photos posted by Suzy on her Facebook, visiting the Parque Güell and riding bikes in the old part of Barcelona. Oli had to skip the park visit as she was working on her script for the Brussels event, but did manage the cycling excursion I think.

Suzy, Pulgui and Rocío in the Parque Güell in Barcelona

On Monday, the girls parted their different ways.  Suzy was to stay in Barcelona to attend the bi annual convention organized by the food services company she works for; Aramark.  So she made her way to the hotel where the event was taking place and where the participants were staying.  It was at the big Hotel Fira Palace. The dinner party, later that night was at the Palau San Jordi where, I think she danced the night away with her colleagues and bosses.  

Suzy's first corporate function with Aramark was at the Fira Palace in Barcelona last week

She was back on Tuesday evening delighted with the experience but with a huge backlog of work to face which she is still ploughing through now.  Suzy is now in charge of the diets and food supplies at various residences and hospitals, including the Zarzuela hospital nearby in Aravaca.  She visits the hospital every morning for a couple of hours and the rest of the time she mostly works from home.  On Saturday she had a huge clean out and rearrangement of the furniture in her room, and this is how her “winter office”, a term coined by her in FB, now looks.

The desk where Suzy works from home.  She rearranged her room on Saturday and this is what her "winter study" looks like

Meanwhile Olivia caught a mid morning flight to Brussels from where she went straight to the rehearsal of the U4Energy Final award ceremony for the winners of the entries into a school competition across Europe focused on energy education.   It was taking place the next day at the Museum of Musical Instruments where she was to play a big role as the MC, sharing the stage no less than with the European Commissioner for Energy, a Mr. GüntherOettinger.  Olivia worked for weeks preparing her participation, nothing could be read, it all had to be learned and there were many names and institutions to introduce and explain, in a world very unfamiliar to her.  All this was done under the very demanding direction of Caroline, who had picked her for the job after her success in the awards in Madrid a month or so ago.  I was not surprised later to hear from her, just after the event, how well it had gone and how she had been congratulated by many people.  She was also told she had “won her ticket for next year”.  For the occasion she wore a Spanish designer dress, from Desigual.  There is a story behind this as when she had packed and her suitcase was lying open on her bedroom floor, I asked her what she had planned to wear for the ceremony.  Dear Olivia pulled out an everyday red woolen dress by Zara and some very ordinary shoes.  Suzy and I made her put it back and between the two of us, picked, from her multiple wardrobes, the spectacular dress she was to wear on the night of the prizes.  You can see it close up in the photo of her that illustrates this blog entry. It was much more suitable than the simple woolen dress she had chosen and I think Olivia was very grateful for the advice.  I thought it rather fitting that my English-Spanish daughter should wear a Spanish designer dress at an event in Brussels, like flying the flag in a way.

Oli on stage with the European Commissioner for Energy at the event last week in Brussels.  Love her Desigual dress.

The day after the awards Oli was able to relax.  Her first stop was coffee with my dearest friend Sandra.  It was thanks to Sandie that Oli got the freelance MC job with the European Union.  It was also the first time my youngest daughter was meeting one of my dearest friends, as they had last met when Olivia was about 7.  So I was delighted to get a message from Sandie just after they met saying: “Wonderful beautiful fabulous daughter.  She is you in duplicate xxxx”.  Thanks Sand for those lovely words.  I’m not sure she is my duplicate but she is all the rest. 

Oli with my dearest friend Sandie in Brussels last week.  Oh how I would have loved to have been with them.

Oli spent the rest of her stay visiting the sights of Brussels and here is one photo I adore.  I suspect it was taken by Nico, who paid a surprise visit the night of the awards and stayed with her for the rest of her trip.

A wonderful photo of Olivia in Brussels.  Notice her name in autumn leaves!

Oli also got the chance to visit the European Commission, I think through an invitation from the Commissioner.  Once there she actually saw the President of the Commission, the famous and rather ugly Portuguese José Manuel Durâo Barroso or shouldn’t it be Joâo, as he is Portuguese and not Spanish.

Olivia visited the European Commission whilst in Brussels.

Whilst in Brussels Olivia tried and enjoyed the chocolate and waffles, pommes frites and beer, visited the European Commission and Parliament, walked around the beautiful Grand Platz, saw the Manneken-Pis and his lesser known sister, Jeanneke- Pis. However, she was at her happiest when she visited the Spanish TVE correspondent’s office, that of Alvaro López de Goikoetxea, a familiar face on the Spanish news.   She came back delighted with the experience which included sitting with him at the window of his office, overlooking the European Parliament, and from where he stands when he reports for the news.

Olivia with the Spanish TVE correspondent Alvaro López de Goikoetxea in Brussels.

Here are morephotos of Olivia’s stay in Brussels which I have rescued from her Facebook and the U4Energy website.

Olivia did not come back until Thursday night late.  The next morning she was up early for work and I actually didn’t see her until Friday afternoon.  We were going on our walk with the dogs and she was driving home but not for long as she announced that she would be on her way to Valladolid for the weekend to stay with her TV master friends Paula and Giovanna.  And she is still there.  Hopefully we will have the pleasure of her company for lunch today.

Olivia with her friend Giovanna this weekend in Valladolid

Whilst the girls were doing their thing in Barcelona and Brussels, I was busy in Madrid preparing with my colleagues for a big press event last Thursday.  We had invited a select group of journalists to our 5th anniversary lunch where we were also to launch a whole new generation of flat fee tariffs, “las planas de Yoigo”.  Each tariff is at least 20% better than our competitors, be that in the amount of minutes you get, the price of texting or the cost per minute once you have consumed the so-called “bucket of minutes”.  We were also announcing new data tariffs and a revolutionary product called MultiLínea where a customer can share the amount of data he has between various subscriptions for just 3 euros a month.  And of course we had to go over the 5 years of Yoigo in the Spanish market and talk about the trends for the next five years.  There was a hell of a lot preparation to do and it was very intense, especially on Wednesday, the day before the event.  We also wanted to avoid any leaks so decided only to invite a few journalists and it worked, for once! If you are interested you can see the presentation we made here on our press page (in Spanish of course)

The event which took place at a lovely little restaurant in Madrid called Castellana DF, was a complete success with 100% turnout and loads of coverage, although this time we did not manage to be a trending topic on Twitter with our #5añosYoigo.  But we did get coverage in most of the big written papers as well as online, including the front page of, the widest read news portal in Spanish in the world with over 30 million readers.  So I was particularly pleased when I saw that our news was the third most read article that day.  We placed some great bait with the press using the headline in our release that through the presentation of these new flat fee tariffs,  Yoigo was starting the second phase of the price war in Spain.  The bait was in the wording “price war”, a term Spanish journalists associate with Yoigo and never fail to reproduce in their articles. 

At the Yoigo press conference last week, celebrating our 5 years in the market

The event left me completely exhausted and with a headache for three days, but at least on Friday I was relatively free to do the shopping with Eladio at Carrefour, go on our walk in the afternoon and go out to the cinema in the evening.  We went to see “A dangerous method” about the psychologists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud and the former’s stormy relationship with a young Russian woman patient.  Later we had a light dinner on table number 7 at La Alpargatería.

The film we went to see on Friday

On Saturday I was too exhausted go to The Phone House annual convention and had no particular plans for the day except to be at home for my Father with Eladio.  However when Eladio’s brother, José Antonio rang mid morning, we invited them to lunch.  I prepared a dish from Galicia which is where Dolores is from.  I made “Caldo Gallego” and then “lacón con grelos”, very suitable for winter meals.  Caldo Gallego is a soup made with stock, white broad beans, potatoes, “grelos” (a vegetable that is similar to the green shoots you get from a cauliflower) and various types of meat.  “Lacón con grelos” is a cooked ham with whole potatoes, chorizo and “grelos”, to which I also added cabbage and carrots.  I got great compliments for the food.

After a little siesta, the four of us ventured out for a longer walk than usual. We were accompanied not only by Elsa and Norah but also by dear little Nuba, José Antonio and Dolores’ delightful mongrel dog, who was probably the creature who most enjoyed the day with us yesterday as she was dying to get out of the flat in town and run in the countryside.

The walk yesterday with José Antonio and Dolores and the dogs was glorious

A good day was had by all and I do hope they come and see us again soon, as they are such close family and we hardly ever see each other, even though they live in Madrid.

Today we are expecting more visitors.  Rocío’s parents, Esmeralda and Juan Ignacio, are coming for afternoon tea and that will be a big relaxed affair from 6.30pm this afternoon in one of our lounges, together with the girls.  I have yet to organize it but as there is so much food in the fridge I do not feel stressed.  We are very grateful to Juan Ignacio, the head anesthetist at the hospital in Alcorcón where my Father was operated, for all his help with my Father which is never ending.  He has been amazing.  Recently my Father has been going to physiotherapy to recover the movement in his right hand and just after two or three sessions, he is actually beginning to use it again.  Olga, who accompanies my Father, the three afternoons a week he goes to physiotherapy, tells us just how much everyone seems to like my Father for his gentlemanly behavior.  He is very popular with the nurses, physiotherapists and ambulance personnel but that of course, does not surprise me, as I know that my Father is the nicest and most gentle person you could ever meet.  

And on this note, I leave you, as I have lots to do and am in a hurry. First I must publish this entry, including the photos and links, then go for a walk with Eladio and the dogs and then make a small lunch before preparing for our visitors this afternoon.  You will hear all about that in next week’s post.

Meanwhile have a great week,

All the best/Masha

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Elections in Spain, a busy week, bumping into friends, Ali came to stay and the girls in Barcelona.

Alicia came to stay with us this weekend.  Here we are on our walk with our dogs
Hello again,

Here I am writing on a rainy Sunday morning in our kitchen with Alicia (my niece and god daughter) working on her computer next to me (something about articulations; well she is studying nursing ..).  Alicia is spending the weekend with us, but more about that later.

Alicia studying with me in the kitchen whilst I'm cooking and bloggingNotice she's wearing one of the Freijo Lloyd (Oysho) dressing gowns we so love in this house - this one is Suzy's!)

The dogs are at our feet, my meat loaf is in the oven and my Father is having his mid morning something (aperitivo in Spanish), served to him by Ali who addressed him in perfect English to his delight.

The meat loaf I made for today's lunch, a staple part of my cooking repertoire

It’s not just any Sunday, it is Sunday 20th November and General Elections in Spain.  Ironically it is also the anniversary of the death of Franco, Spain’s fascist dictator who died in 1975. Eladio has gone off to vote and he is the only person voting in this household as the girls are away and my Father and I as residents cannot vote.  If I had to vote, I would have great difficulty as neither candidate inspires me.  Later tonight we will know who the winner is, Rubalcaba or Rajoy, whether either has an overall majority or not or whether they will have to depend on other political forces to govern.  Whoever wins, and the polls predict Rajoy from the right wing PP party to be the absolute favourite, after so many years of the PSOE (socialists) being in power, will have a difficult  job getting Spain back on its feet with so much unemployment, the highest in Europe and a critical financial situation to solve.

But let me start at the beginning of the week.  It has been busy.  I have been as busy as a bee with lots of things coming up on my work agenda, a press conference next week, Yoigo’s fifth anniversary and all the Christmas events looming on the horizon too.
It's hard to believe that Yoigo will be five on 1st December.

On Monday I was in the office for meetings and then rushed to Madrid location hunting for our Christmas events.  The nice part was having lunch at one of the possible locations, the Hotel Puerta de América, very Yoigo, but a bit modern for me.  I was in the office again on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and narrowly escaped having to go in on Friday too.  On Wednesday I was up at the crack of dawn to go to the Quirón hospital in Pozuelo to do a blood and urine analysis as part of the tests for the problem I wrote about the other week.  Spain is a great country for doing blood tests; I never remember doing any in England.  They may be revealing but what I hate about them is that you have to go on at least a 6 hour empty stomach which means you nearly always have to go early in the morning. How I hate not being able to have breakfast first thing.  My glucose level must go down and I start to get a headache.  Eladio went with me, so straight after the test we had a magnificent non Dukan breakfast in the cafeteria on the premises of the hospital.  I must say the toasted croissant and porras (sort of long thin donut) more than compensated leaving the house on an empty stomach.

More than anything, this week has been about bumping into friends and I mean in real life, not on Facebook or Twitter which is where I usually interact with old friends and acquaintances.  So it was lovely to bump into Alicia, Gonzalo’s wife in Centro Oeste as I came out from shopping in Carrefour on Friday.  I hadn’t seen her for many years.  Later Gonzalo sent me a lovely “whatsApp” to copy the message Alicia had sent to him just after seeing me: “Me acabo de encontrar con Masha y está impresionante” which means “I’ve just bumped into Masha and she looks amazing”.  Wow, that really was a compliment, especially as I am coming up for 55 in February hahahaha.  

Later that day I was in the Corte Inglés to pick up a watch I needed repairing and low and behold at the very same counter was Graciela, an ex colleague from Nokia and now a neighbour.  I hadn’t seen her for at least two years.  We agreed there and then to have coffee soon together one morning and to go out for dinner with our husbands.  Graciela is married to Eduardo who was also my colleague at Nokia.  Whenever I write about my ex Nokia colleagues, I always remember the famous external and internal quotes such as “Nokia connecting people”, “Nokia disconnecting families” and the best one: “Nokia reuniting colleagues” which is what happened when I bumped into Graciela on Friday.

Alicia and Graciela weren’t the only friends I bumped into this week.  When I went out yesterday afternoon with Alicia to the Centro Oeste shopping centre in Majadahonda, we bumped into Laura in Zara (where else?) who is the daughter of our friends Javier and Ana.  Coincidence has it that Laura is also studying nursing at the same University as Alicia, the Nebrija University. Laura was with her mother Ana who had just returned from visiting Javier and their son Ignacio in New York.  Cristina, the next daughter down was with them too, so it was great reunion.  We all carried on shopping and later met for a coffee and a long chat in the noisy cafeteria outside Zara.  Ana and family are readers of my blog, so will be waiting to see the picture we had taken of us as we were saying goodbye yesterday.  Unfortunately Cris had left just before the photo was taken.  It won’t be goodbye for long though as we have agreed to visit them in Peñacaballera, their village in Salamanca, in the Christmas holidays and for six of them to come to our house for dinner in the first week of January.  Great to see you girls!

It was a great coincidence to bump into Ana and her girls at Centro Oeste whilst Alicia and I were shopping there too

Friday was probably my busiest day where I had to juggle with my work life balance. I won in the end though as I managed a lovely lunch with my god daughter Alicia and my daughter Susana.  We went to Castellana DF in Madrid where I had to check out the menu for our press conference next Thursday.  The girls were delighted to help me. Alicia, who comes from León, where most of Eladio’s family lives, is in her first year of nursing and living in Madrid with her cousin Paula.  She has been a little stressed and ill lately and needed some quiet time to catch up with her studies and relax.  So she asked whether she could stay with us for the weekend, little knowing that the girls were not going to be here, as they were off to Barcelona for the weekend.  Funnily enough and unknowingly on both sides, Paula was going to spend the weekend there too.  No doubt they will have met up by now. Once Ali knew the girls wouldn’t be here, I imagined she wouldn’t want to come. So I was delighted when she agreed to a quiet weekend with her god parents, with promises of long walks with the dogs, siestas, good food and a shopping expedition.  I suspect it was the shopping expedition that lured her most.  You have already seen her above in the photo with Ana, Laura and I with all the bags.  Ali was so happy with her purchases she spread them out on Suzy’s bed and I loved the scene so much I asked for a photo for this blog.  And violá here it is:

Alicia had a very productive time shopping in Centro Oeste yesterday with me

I think the mission was accomplished and it was a delight to have her with us, especially as the girls are away.  The shopping was great, as were the walks and I hope the food too.  We even hired a film last night to watch together.  The hardest task was finding something suitable for the three of us, the most difficult person to cater for being Eladio whose film tastes are very limited: westerns, academic or war themed.  We ended up choosing “The WayBack”.  It sounded right up Eladio’s street, a group of political prisoners, victims of the zealous Communist regime, escaping from a Soviet Gulag in the 40’s and making their way through Siberia,  Mongolia, China and Tibet until they reached India.  We were warned in the shop that it was a good film, if a little slow.  So when Eladio started complaining it was a bit slow, which it was, I had to motivate him to carry on being interested; not an easy task with my husband.  It was actually a good film all in all, although I would have preferred it to include more background of what was happening in communist Russia whilst the prisoners were on “their way back”.  

The film we hired yesterday, right up Eladio's street if a little slow

Above all though I think Alicia enjoyed being with our wonderful dogs, her favourite being Elsa. She helped Eladio wash them and spent lots of quality time trying to train Elsa with basic commands.  Hopefully some of them will stick.  

Alicia and Elsa in love

Whilst Ali spent the weekend with us, the girls, of course were in Barcelona.  Funny, I was there too last week.  So why are they there, you probably want to know?  Well it all started because Suzy has to be there on Monday and Tuesday next for her first Aramark convention, the big American food services company she works for.  The girls then decided to make a weekend of it and stay with Laura, their friend from their years in the scouts, who has just gone to live there.  So off they went on Friday together with their inseparable friends Rocío and Elena.  On Monday, Suzy will be attending her very first corporate event. I remember a few years ago, when she was still a student, she accompanied me to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress.  At the time she commented that she would like to work for a company that held congresses she could attend.  Her wish came true but we couldn’t have known it at the time.  Well done Suzy.

Meanwhile on Monday, Oli will be travelling to Brussels for the U4Energy final awards where she will be the MC and sharing the stage with none less than the European Commissioner for Energy himself.  They take place on Tuesday afternoon at the beautiful Museum of Musical Instruments in the heart of the capital.  She has had to work so hard on all the preparations for the event and it will be no easy task introducing and presenting all the various members of the organizations involved, the VIPs attending, and of course the schools taking part in the competition and what their projects were.  I wish her lots of luck but know she will do a good job.  Whilst in Barcelona yesterday, she had to forego some of the activities with her friends in order to work on last minute preparations.  Here is a photo Rocío took of her “rehearsing” in Laura’s little flat in the centre of Barcelona. 

Olivia practising in Barcelona this weekend for the Brussels EU event where she will be the MC on Tuesday
 I just wish I could be there with her on Tuesday, or in fact visiting Brussels on Wednesday. I just hope Sandra and her meet up, as Sandie lives there and is one of lifelong friends and it’s thanks to her that Oli got introduced to the organizers of the event.  Go for it Oli, you will be a star!

That’s it really for this week.  Next week promises to be even busier but news about that next Sunday.  Meanwhile have a great week yourselves.  

All the best

PS You can see the full set of photos of Alicia’s visit and of this weekend’s activities here on my Facebook.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

To Barcelona and back, a holiday in the middle of the week and other things

With Grainne in Barcelona

Hello again, 

I hope you all had a good week. Mine was fine, spiced with a trip to Barcelona on Monday and Tuesday.  In my previous jobs I used to travel a lot; sometimes as much as once a week and often to far off locations such as Shanghai, Cape Town, Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, Marrakech, many times to Helsinki or to Chicago and many other places.  These days, I am lucky if I get two or three trips to Stockholm or somewhere else near or in the Nordics once a year as well as a couple of trips to Barcelona and one to Santander.  The travelling was great and even if it was a bit too much I have to admit I miss it sometimes which is why the trip for work purposes to Barcelona this week was so special than it would have been before.   I was attending a course on social media on the Tuesday and on Monday I had a lunch date with two women journalist friends, Carmen and Toñi who have set up a great new technology website for women.  It’s called “gadwoman” and I love it!. 

With Toñi and Carmen, the Gadwomen, in Barcelona this week

Being hyperactive, organized and a great lover of life, I planned the trip with care so as to cram in as much as I could, both work and pleasure.  I took an early high speed train which got me in to Sants Station in the centre of Barcelona at midday.  I must admit I enjoyed every moment of the ride, including a little bottle of red wine at just after 10 in the morning with some forbidden nuts! From the station I took a taxi to my favourite hotel, 1898, on the Ramblas.  Once I had checked in and unpacked (oh yes I even unpack even if I’m only staying one night!), switched my computer on and connected to internet (can’t live without it), I was on my way to meet Carmen and Toñi at Toc Barcelona nearby; Carmen’s choice.  In fact, most of the places on my list of favourite restaurants in Barcelona are recommendations from her over the years.  I have known them both in their caliber as technology journalists based in Barcelona for many years.  Many a press trip with them in my previous job with Nokia served to forge our good relationship and we share many good and interesting moments together.  Toñi reminded me of one in particular.  It was on one of my last trips which was to St. Petersburg after a day in or two in Finland, and actually my first and only visit to Russia.  She reminded me how I had to persuade the guide to visit a church and how we finally managed it and how I shed quiet tears whilst lighting a candle and praying at an icon whilst the astonished journalists looked on.  I later had to explain what visiting a church in Russia actually meant to me with my Slav background. It was good to see Toñi and Carmen again and I wish them lots of luck with their new project.  

I walked back to my hotel via the fashionable Born district which Carmen recommended.  Not for her the H+Ms and Zaras of Puerta del Angel, Barcelona’s most commercial street.   However, just one look at a price label in one of the shops in the Born, had me scuttling off to the global brand stores I’m afraid.  At H+M I bought a lovely woolen striped long cardigan and another one for Grainne who I was meeting that night, for a fraction of what the dress I saw in the shop in the Born cost.  In any case it was nice to walk freely through the streets of the old town, wondering to myself whether I felt like a tourist or a local.  I suppose a bit of both.
The Born district in Barcelona.  It's supposed to be very trendy but I didn't really see whey.

I had a dinner date with Grainne later.  Those of you who know me personally will know that she is a very dear old school friend who lives in Badalona, on the outskirts of Barcelona and who I make a special effort to see every time I go and this time was not going to be an exception.  You might wonder where her name comes from and how it is pronounced.  Well it is of Irish origin; both of her parents were from the Republic of Ireland.  As to how you say, it’s not easy.  You say: “Grawnia”!  Anyway I had made a reservation at the legendary Los Caracoles just of the Ramblas, so a stroll away from my hotel.  As it was never recommended to me by Carmen or anyone local and only by English friends it sounded suspiciously touristy.  It turned out to be so, offering paella, a dish, which comes from Valencia and which no Spaniard would ever eat for dinner as it is so heavy. It was full of tourists and touristy food and a Tuna group came in singing corny Spanish songs such as “Amapola” which my Father actually loves.  Having said all that, I can understand why it is so popular, the food is good, the décor is great and even better is the old time quality atmosphere the whole place emanates, as you go up the stairs and past the huge open kitchen where the food is cooked in public. In Madrid its counterpart would be Botin, just off the Plaza Mayor which I have always admitted is touristy but loved.
The kitchen at Los Caracoles is open to the public.  The place has great atmosphere

We had a great dinner together as always, catching up on each other’s news and talking about our respective families and friends.  Grainne loved the cardigan dress I bought her. You will see in the picture illustrating this blog that I was wearing mine for the occasion.

 Afterwards we walked back to my hotel from where Grainne was to take a taxi home and in that short stroll we realised just what a dodgy place the Ramblas is.  It is teeming with tourists but also with suspicious characters and it is overall a dangerous place to be especially at night.  One young man who was covered in piercings asked Grainne for some money to which she replied she was out of a job.  He commiserated with her as if they were in the same boat so to speak and it was a bizarre moment.  I only felt safe when I was back in the lobby of the hotel.

On Tuesday I was up early for a scrumptious Dukan forbidden breakfast.  I had checked out by 8.30 and was on my way to the IESE Barcelona Business School to register for the social mediaconference.  There, in the same queue for registration I met Erika, Suzy’s school friend from early childhood at St. Michael’s.   Erika, who is half Swedish, is a clever and beautiful young lawyer who is fascinated with the world of fashion.  So much so that she did a master in fashion journalism with Conde Nast and is now working as a trainee reporter for Vogue Spain.  It was a lovely coincidence.  It was great to see you there Erika.
It was lovely to bump into Erika at the social media conference in Barcelona

The Social Media conference was more like a one day long presentation by the same person.  This was Charlene Li.  I had never heard of her but she is supposed to be big in social media and very influential in Silicon Valley but of course I have never been there.  She is an American Chinese woman probably in her 40s who knows her subject well but didn’t really inspire me.  Maybe I was expecting more or maybe I know enough about social media not to be surprised.  I spent the whole session on Twitter, tweeting some of her sound bites or re-tweeting tweets from other people in the audience who seemed more impressed.  I must say the room was jam packed and there must have been some 400 people there.  The conference was so packed they ran out of food after the first ten minutes at lunch and it felt like feeding time at the zoo with people desperate for their share. 
The social media conference with Charlene Li

I took the 18.30 train home and it wasn’t till nearly 9pm that I was trailing my suitcase, heavy handbag and pc up the drive and into our house.  It’s always great to be home. Whilst I was away I had missed Oli on the television on Monday morning.  It had snowed in the mountains outside Madrid and she had been sent to Navacerrada to cover the story.  Needless to say she left the house in normal clothes and had to borrow gloves and a scarf from the producer.  You can see the clip in this link.  Whenever Olivia is on the television, or rather, whenever she tells me she is going to be on, it’s still a novelty for me and I get very happy and excited for her and tell all and sundry. Thus Grainne saw her too and was suitably impressed as was Pili in León who watched it in a bar in her coffee break with her work colleagues.

The next day, Wednesday, was a holiday, the Almudena, the patron saint of Madrid.  That meant we were all at home for once.  I had to check out a restaurant for an event in December, so took the family along with me as there seemed to be no other free day in my agenda to do so.  The meal was great and the restaurant fine and there and then I booked it for our event on 1st December which will be to celebrate Yoigo’s fifth anniversary.  Fancy, five years in the market.  For me it seems like yesterday and here we are now with nearly 3 million customers, 1000 shops and over 90% brand recognition and going strong.  
Lunch with the family in Madrid on the Wednesday bank holiday, killing two birds with one stone in a way

Thursday and Friday were really busy and I went to the office on both days.  I also had a meeting at the Zielo shopping centre with Elena who runs a great cake and pastry business with a view to ordering this year’s Christmas gourmet gift as well as the birthday cakes for 1st December.  She does some amazing cakes.  This is her blog, if you want to see some of them.  

Friday was the 11th of the 11th month of the 11th year, a really special date.  The date is a perfect palindrome and apparently happens only once a century.  Internet was full of it.  I had hoped it might bring me some special luck but didn’t notice anything different to any other Friday. 

Suzy spent Friday evening making a sort of swiss roll, from her boyfriend Gaby’s mother’s recipe.  It looked very fattening, made of rich tea biscuits dipped in syrup and then covered in a chocolate butter spread and sprinkled with coconut.  Here is the finished product which we didn’t get to try till the next day.
Suzy is a great little cake maker.

The weekend has been quiet.  As Olga has the weekends off, we have to look after my Father and cannot leave him alone in the house for more than an hour or so.  That’s not normally a problem though as there is usually one of us at home.  So on Saturday morning, after leaving lunch ready, Eladio and I went off to Centro Oeste a shopping centre in nearby Majadahonda, with the excuse of picking up his trousers from Massimo Dutti.  It was such a sunny day we decided to have a little something at a bar called La Gitana where we had been with Adele and Bernard recently.  Later in Centro Oeste, we got more than Eladio’s trousers, I can tell you; this time a furry coat and striped woolen dress from Zara.  I can only admit that I have far too many clothes.  My excuse is that I making up for all the years I couldn’t buy any because of my previous figure.

That night I wore the new dress (yes you’ve noticed I like stripes) to dinner with Eladio at La Alpargatería. The girls stayed in as they had guests for dinner, so we decided to go out at the last moment.  Here I am wearing it on table number seven, our favourite.  
Eladio and I on our favourite table at La Alpargatería restaurant in Majadahonda on Saturday and me in my new dress from Zara

Today, Sunday, was another quiet sunny day with not much to report.  I made a lovely roast chicken in the morning to the sound of British hymns from Spotify on my pc in the kitchen.  I was listening to “Immortal, invisible, God only wise which I adore and Olivia and Eladio thought I was listening to Christmas carols!  There and then I was so moved listening to my collection of hymns that I decided that when I die I would like to have them played at my funeral ah and that I would want the service to be held in an Anglican Church.  I told Olivia, there and then just in case it never occurs to me to tell anyone before the event.  

Well I’m not going to end on the note of my funeral, that’s for sure.  So what else is there of interest to report this week that I haven’t  included above?  Yes, I know, I’ve changed my mobile phone and not only that, I’ve changed brands.  I’ve stopped using my fancy Samsung Galaxy S because the battery wasn’t lasting me more than a morning, even after getting a new one.  So what am I using now you may ask?  Nothing fancy, the HTC Desire S.  It’s an ordinary Android phone but the battery lasts more than the iPhone or the Galaxy and it works perfectly.  This time I’ve gone for functionality rather than brand and I think I’ve made the right decision.  For the time being I am delighted with it.

The only other thing I could report on is politics and as you know I’m not keen on the subject.  However I am bombarded with it in the Spanish news.  One good piece of news is that Berlusconi has finally stepped down, rather like a dictator and everyone seems to have heaved a huge sigh of relief in Europe.  And in Spain the news is dominated by the up and coming general elections on 20th November.  The two candidates, Rubalcaba from the socialist party and Rajoy from the conservative party just do not inspire me as I guess they don’t inspire many people here.  In any case as I am not a Spanish subject I cannot vote but will be looking on with interest to see if whoever wins is able to get Spain out of the crisis, and improve the unemployment figures, the highest in Europe.  That does interest me ……….

Cheers folks till next week.  Hope yours is a good one.

PS You can see more photos of my trip to Barcelona here