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

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