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.

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