Sunday, April 15, 2012

Olivia, our TV correspondent in Santander, a thousand million dollars for Instagram, invited to a party, the King who kills elephants, centenary of the Titanic, “Bozhe Moi” Suzy is leaving and other stories.

Olivia enjoyed being a TV correspondent this week in the north of Spain

Hello again, 

Another week has passed and now we are halfway into April.  This week has been packed with news both at home and in the media.  So let me begin.

Last week I left off telling you Olga was going on holiday to Turkey and that Zena was coming to clean.  In the end that never happened as Olga’s Brazilian friend was detained at Madrid airport and sent back to Brazil on the next plane as her papers were not in order.  I think this has something to do with a diplomatic conflict between Spain and Brazil but do not know the details.  So, poor Olga returned on Monday with her tail between her legs so to speak.  Hopefully her friend will be able to return soon and then they can resume their holiday.  Meanwhile Zena had made the borsch (Russian beetroot soup) I had asked her to make so brought it on Monday morning, although she was not going to do any cleaning. 

We had a lot of borsch with smetana and perushki this week

It was a joy to see her but a little sad to see the state of one of her eyes after the cancer scare she had a few years ago.  It will take a lot of skin grafts until it is healed.  She looked into my face and said she wished she could look “whole” like me, to which I replied with a heavy heart that the most important thing is that she survived that most dreaded disease.  What else could I say?  I always think it is better to count your blessings but felt for dear Zena of course.

On Monday many things happened, but most important for me was seeing Olivia on the television live, something that still never fails to impress and make me proud of her.  As you know, on Sunday a van from TVE had picked her up to take her to the airport from where she was flying to Santander, that beautiful town on the north coast of Spain.  She was to be a correspondent for a week with the programme she works for, La Mañana de la 1, and would be travelling in the area to wherever the news they wanted her to cover was taking place.  Monday saw her in Burgos where she covered the news of a young boy called Héctor who suffers from the Lennox syndrome which is a sort of mix between being spastic and suffering from epilepsy.  You can see her in this picture graph I took of different shots of her reporting live.

A sequence of Olivia reporting from Burgos on Monday

Monday brought with it too the news tof the grandson of the King of Spain, commonly known as Froilán aged 13, who accidently shot himself in the foot that afternoon.  He was with his Father at the time, now divorced from his mother, the Infanta Elena, doing “target practice”, which is illegal for a child of his age.  No doubt the incident will have reminded the King of the tragic moment when he himself shot and killed his own brother the Infante Alfonso,  just one year older than Froilán, in 1956, a story quite unknown outside Spain and one that is hardly ever mentioned. 

The King of Spain Juan Carlos as a boy with his family.  In 1956 in a tragic accident he shot and killed his brother Alfonso (sitting on his mother's lap).

I later read that “Froilán” when being admitted to hospital, begged his parents not to tell his grandfather of the shooting accident so as not to remind him of the terrible incident in 1956, something the King will never have forgotten.  Fortunately the young member of Spain’s Royal Family, was only slightly injured.  However he, or rather his Father, will have to face the law and account for what happened on Monday.   

The King with the older of his two daughters, Elena, and her son,  his grandson Froilán aged 13  who shot himself in the foot on Monday

You may remember I wrote about Instagram last week, my latest social network where people share photos easily and instantly on their mobile phones.  Instagram, with some 30 to 40 million users worldwide, invented by another young and clever American student, by the name of Kevin Systrom whilst at University (Stanford), was sold on Monday to Facebook for the staggering amount of 1 billion dollars (thousand million).  I should add, if you didn’t know and I’m sure you do, that Facebook is the biggest thing on internet these days, with the permission of Google, its arch rival, with some 850 million users and growing every day.

Facebook created by CEO Mark Zuckerberg (in the picture) announced the acquisition of Instagram for a cool billion dollars on Monday

This has come just before Facebook will be launching on the stock exchange.  The announcement came straight from Mark Zuckerberg’s FB profile and has been in the news ever since.  I can see why Facebook would be interested in Instagram, first because it works only on mobiles, the future of all social networks, but also because it shares photos, something Facebook is all about.  So rather than live with the competition, Facebook bought it, taking on too the 10 or eleven owners come employees and promising to run it separately.  So, overnight the young Kevin Systrom became a multi millionaire.  All I can say is well done.  My only question is where is the money in this is as Instagram has no revenues?  That’s the question the media the world around are asking but I really think the answer will come shortly as very soon advertising, Facebook’s way of making money, will become mainstream on mobile phones.  It’s just a question of time. Meanwhile, I am enamoured with the new application and so far have posted all these photos since it was available on Android just over a week or so ago.

Kevin Systrom, the young Stanford graduate who created Instagram and is now a multi millionaire

Tuesday was busy.  I had to go into work for the weekly management team meeting, thus missed Oli on the TV again.  However back home Grandpa and Eladio were loyally watching her report on a seven year old boy in Bilbao who had saved his 2 year old sister’s life when their holiday home set on fire.

Oli reporting live from Bilbao on Tuesday about a little boy who saved his 2 year old sister from a fire

That day I would have wanted to be with “my men” as Grandpa had an appointment with the Spanish immigration police to apply for or rather renew his Spanish residency.  His previous document was out of date, so in a way he was “legalized” this week. He was given what is called a “certificate of European citizenship”, a slip of paper to be stuck into his passport.  This is a process I have been going through over the years and each time the document has been different, as well as the requirements to get it or the place to go for it for that matter.  One thing common to each and every time though, is that you have to go personally.  I was a bit put out that my aged Father had to go in person and be taken in a wheelchair with all the discomfort that entails.  However when he arrived, the officials took one look at him and took him to the front of the queue.  I suppose there are some benefits of being a nonagenarian!  Apparently the new certificate lasts for 10 years and there were some jokes about his coming back to the police station to renew it when he was 103.  I for one would lay my bets on that happening as my Father, despite his limited mobility, is in the best of health.

Of note on Tuesday too, Eladio and I went out to dinner.  We chose the nearby De Brasa y Puchero, where we were the only guests in the dining room; probably a sign of these crisis times.  That did not spoil, however, the taste of their marvelous dish, “patatas revolconas”.  This is something we choose to eat there each and every time we go.

The "patatas revolconas" Eladio and I enjoyed on Tuesday night at De Brasa y Puchero

On Wednesday I was especially pleased to hear that the Spanish chef, Elena Arzak, daughter of the famous “Juan Mari” had been named best woman chef of the year.  Wow that is recognition of Elena Arzak. 

The Spaniard, Elena Arzak, who was named best woman chef of the year this week

Believe it or not I once had dinner at Arzak, the the 3 Michelin star family restaurant in San Sebastian and of the very top restaurants in Spain.  I took Eladio there a few years ago and, typical for him, he was not particularly impressed but I was I can tell you.  I think you will be too when you see what we ate in the photo below. I also remember the award winning chef stopping at our table and asking whether we had enjoyed our meal!

A collage of photos of the meal Eladio and I enjoyed at the famous restaurant Arzak in San Sebastián a few years ago.

Again on Wednesday I missed Olivia day reporting, this time in a small town called Alles in Asturias which has been cut off from the outside world after an avalanche destroyed the only road leading out of the town.  In this photo Oli is in Alles with the team from TVE accompanying her all week.  She spoke fondly of the team of men consisting of the driver, the technician, the producer and cameraman who looked after her as if she were the Queen of Sheba.  She used the Spanish term “Reina Mora” in her Facebook status!

Oli and the team from TVE1 this week, reporting here from Alles in Asturias

Oli was to be reporting again live on Thursday too, as she did every day last week.  This time she was sent to a mountain top in Cantabria, El Alto de Campo to report on the snow storm.  She was great and looked and sounded as though she had been doing weather reports all her life.  She even got on a toboggan and went down the slopes clad in a wooly hat and her TVE snow anorak.  Again I did a photo grid of the different sequences which you can see below.

 A collage of photos of Oli reporting on the snow at Alto de Campo in Cantabria this week

Thursday brought with it one of the week’s highlights, an invitation to a party to which I make a reference in this week’s blog post headline.  It was to the launch of Sony Mobile’s first smart phone after the separation of Sony from Sony Ericsson a few months ago.  Ironically that day Sony lay off 10.000 of its staff.

The invitation to the Sony Mobile party I went to this week

 I don’t often get invited to parties or rather I don’t go to many.  In fact  I am usually the one to organize them but I was looking forward to this one.  It wasn’t the new Xperia S phone that I was interested in.  It was more to see my ex Nokia colleague, Isidro M, who was the Product Manager when I was the Communications Manager there.  We used to do launches and presentations together, so seeing him, for the first time since we parted at Nokia and in his new role as the CEO for Sony Mobile Spain launching a new phone, brought back many memories, both good and bad, of course.  He was accompanied by someone called Santiago Segura, an actor and film director of the sort of comedy films that are not my kind of thing, but have a huge audience in Spain.

My ex colleague Isidro M next to Santiago Segura at the Sony Mobile party this week

I was also keen to see Russian Red, the stage name of a young Spanish singer called Lourdes Hernández who has a haunting voice and sings in English.  One of her most famous songs is “I hate you but I love you”.  If you haven’t heard it, this is the link on Spotify. She sang this song to the delight of the audience at the party on Thursday but the stage was covered with a transparent curtain making it difficult to see her properly as you will appreciate in the picture below.

Russian Red performing at the Sony Mobile party this week

Friday had me in Madrid most of the morning.  I was with “my girls” from the events agency, QuintaEsencia, that they own between them, Gloria (left brown) Bea (middle yellow) and Cristina (right pink) looking for a location for an up and coming event.  If you don’t know them you would never believe they are actually sisters.  I just had to take this photo of them wearing their fashionable Stella Rittwagen satchels which are actually a copy of the authentic Cambridge satchel, the type I used to have when I was a school girl.

Gloria, Bea and Cris with their Stella Rittwagen satchels in Madrid on Friday morning.

I missed Oli that day reporting again on the snow and was also to miss her return from being our correspondent in Santander.  She came home after 21h but we were out.  We had a dinner date with our friends Javier and Ana who are readers of my blog for which I am always honoured.  We went to a superb little place, with very English decoration, called Gobolem in Las Rozas.  We will be going again as the food was fabulous, especially the oxtail risotto uuummm.

The Gobolem restaurant was a discovery on Friday

On Saturday, for once in a long time, we were all home for lunch.  The news that day was dominated by the story of the Spanish King having had an accident and broken his hip.  It was to be the 74 year old Monarch’s fourth operation since May 2010.  Since then he has also undergone the removal of a benign lung tumour, had a torn Achilles heel repaired as well as been given an artificial right knee joint.

That was the way the now indignant Spanish public heard that it had happened whilst in Botswana on a safari to hunt elephants.  If he hadn’t had the accident we would never have known that he had been invited to hunt and kill that most noble of species in a very expensive jaunt, so unfitting for the Spanish monarch whilst his subjects are in the midst of the worst economic crisis in recent history.  It is ironic to think too that King Juan Carlos I is the honorary Chairman of that much respected charity organization, WWF, whose mission, amongst other things is to preserve the endangered species. The feeling is that with this incident he has gone one step too far.  The Botswana story may well go down in history as the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as the reputation of the Spanish Royal family is concerned, particularly of its King, until recently the most respected institution or person in this country. I, for one, would not like to be in the skin of the King’s communication’s team this week. 

The King of Spain posing in Botswana next to the elephant he had just killed.

On a lighter note, whilst this episode was hitting the Spanish media, Eladio and I took our usual walk with the dogs yesterday, Saturday.  I took the time to try and take some photographs to show you how beautiful our golden Labrador called Elsa and our Beagle called Norah are. 

Our dogs on the walk yesterday - Elsa is the labrador and Norah the beagle

Elsa loves running to catch a stick like most dogs, although she is slightly reluctant to give it back, as you can see from this short video I took.

Saturday 15th April 2012 will go down in history, for being the centenary of the sinking ofthe most iconic ship in history, RMS Titanic.  In the late evening of the 14th April 1912, the supposedly unsinkable and most luxurious liner ever to sail the seas, hit an iceberg near Newfoundland on its maiden voyage and within two hours or so, on 15th April in the early morning broke into two and finally sank into the freezing sea.  

RMS Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10th 1912

There were not enough life boats for all the passengers. Only 710 out of the estimated 2210 passengers and crew on board, were saved and boarded the rescue ship, the nearly equally famous Carpathia.  For the most the rule of sea applied: women and children first, thus families were torn apart that most tragic night in the history of sea voyages and the story of the Titanic has gone on to be a legend.  In a way it was the end of an era and has fascinated people ever since.  Until only a few years ago, some of the survivors were still alive.  Sadly today there are none.

The front page of The New York Times on 16th April 1912

I can’t read enough of it and am fascinated with its story, ever since I saw James Cameron’s beautiful if cheesy film.  Thus this week I read anything about the centenary that came before my eyes.  I also ordered and have begun to read The Shadow of the Titanic, the story of its survivors, very few of whom went on to be successful in life.  All of them coincided in saying that the thing they would never forget about that night was the noise made by those left on board or stranded in the sea just before it sank,  a terrible noise they would live with forever after. One young survivor, Eva Hart, aged only 12, commented to her Mother from the life boat how awful the noise had been.  Her mother replied that much worse was the silence afterwards ………….

Shadow of the Titanic, the first of the books about The Titanic that I have ordered from Amazon

Now I have reached Sunday and in a way it is one of the saddest days of our lives.  It is the day Susana will be moving out, although I am not yet sure whether she will be sleeping at home tonight or not.This is how her room looked just before lunch today.

Suzy's nearly empty room today.  She is leaving home and it is very sad

Eladio, Olivia and I have been feeling strange all day, not quite taking it in and hardly wanting to get involved.  I have not organized any goodbye lunch or dinner as that would be making too much of a fuss.  After all, I keep comforting myself, she is only moving down the road.  

You will wonder what the “bozhe moi” refers to in the headline, that is, if you don’t know Russian.  Bozhe Moi means something similar to Oh My God and was often uttered by my Russian born Mother RIP.  I used it today as Susana had brought 3 Russian boys to help her move out.  They are new found friends and certainly added a lot of colour to this house today.  In fact one of them is half Russian and half from Azerbajan (if that is how you spell it) and the other two are brothers from Armenia, who have lived also in Georgia and Russia.  All three have been living in Spain since their teens and their Spanish is near perfect.  Suzy, fittingly, gave them some Russian food for lunch, for their efforts, namely “perushki”, little Russian pies we had made this week.

Suzy already in her new flat with her Russian friends who helped with the removal and her friend and neighbour Elena

So, yes, “bozhe moi”, Suzy is finally leaving and it tears me in two.  With my head I know it’s time for her to leave but my heart is broken as any Mother’s heart would be on a day like this.  Darling Suzy, I love you.

And that, my friends, is it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my tales and I wish you a great week ahead.

Cheers till next week


No comments: