Sunday, June 24, 2012

“Something to look forward to”, summer came and the semantics of Midsummer, football and the difference between a French and Spanish omelette, lunch at Suzy’s and more.

Sunday 24th June, 2012

“Something to look forward to”, summer came and the semantics of Midsummer, football and the difference between a French and Spanish omelette, lunch at Suzy’s and more.

Lunch at Suzy's flat on Saturday was the highlight of the week

Hi everyone

It’s Sunday morning.  This time last week we were travelling back from France, a trip that we were looking forward to for months and that is now over.  You look forward to things for so long and then they are so quickly over.  Someone once said to me, Javier a sports journalist friend, that actually there is more joy in the planning than in the event or activity itself.  There is a famous quote: “focus on the journey not on the destination” but I don’t remember the author. They are probably right and Eladio and I always say how nice it is to have “something to look forward to, however small.   Having something to look forward to gives you a good positive feeling which I suppose is a taste of happiness. So here you have me planning more things, another “something to look forward to”, such as a trip to London in August and savouring the idea.  But more about that later.

The week was quiet, dominated by the Euro Cup quarter final matches, something which my Father especially is enjoying. The matches, for him are just that; “something to look forward to”.  For him watching the football is a change in his routine, adding a bit of spice to his quiet life.
The quarter final matches took place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday interrupting our daily walk but even I didn’t mind.  When I wasn’t interested in the matches, I continued reading the Fifty Shades trilogy, very thrilling.  I finished it on Saturday morning and now look forward to another book by the now famous English woman author, E.L. James who I think will now write the book from Christian Grey’s perspective rather Anastaia Steele’s.  So I hope, “Meet Christian Grey” comes out soon.

EL James, the author of the  Fifty Shades trilogy

The men enjoyed watching the Czech Republic play Portugal on Thursday.  Portugal, with striker Cristiano Ronaldo on a winning streak, won by 1-0 taking Portugal through to the semi finals.  On Friday they watched Germany beat Greece by 4-2, much to the Greek’s chagrin who chanted things like “you may have the euros but we have a heart” to the amazement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who put forward preparatory meetings for the European Union summit, to attend the match taking place in Poland.  

The next quarter final match was yesterday, between France and Spain and was to be held in the Ukraine where no authorities from either country were to attend in protest against the former P.M. Timoshenko being in prison in suspicious circumstances.  This match was by far the most interesting for us of course, as Spain is our home country.  Spain had never beaten France in an official match so the statistics were against us.  However La Roja, played a great game last night with Real Madrid’s, mid fielder, Xavi Alonso, making his 100th appearance for Spain, garnering 2 goals to take Spain through to the semi finals. It will be against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, a player the Roja know well.

Xavi Alonso celebrating his first goal against France in the Euro Cup Quarter finals last night

There was much emotion behind this match and many jokes on internet, as well as a spirit of Spanish retaliation against French criticism in the recent past about doping in Spanish sport.  One I particularly like is a photo of the difference between a Spanish omelette (made with eggs and potatoes), much bigger than its French equivalent, the plain omelette which in Spanish is always called a “French omelette”.  The caption has a double meaning and says “No nos dopamos, lo echamos más huevos”, a rough translation being: “we don’t dope, but put in more eggs” (eggs also meaning guts).  I personally always prefer a Spanish omelette.

The French and Spanish omelette joke that circulated on internet before the match

So yes, Spain beat France in a great match for Spain by 2-0, making the Gauls leave the Ukraine with their tails between their legs.  It was a great moral victory for Spain against their upbeat neighbours.  We now look forward to Spain doing the same with their other neighbours, Portugal next Wednesday and playing Germany and either England or Italy in the final.  England plays Italy tonight, so that remains to be seen.

England play Italy tonight in the Euro Cup Quarter Finals

I was pleased to read a twit from England’s former striker Michael Owen after the match vs France which said: “Nothing I’ve seen has made me change my mind.  Spain to win it beating either England or Germany in the final”.   If he’s right, I only hope it’s Germany they beat and not my other homeland England.      

We have all been looking forward to summer too and it finally came on 21st June.  The Scandinavians look forward to what is called “Midsummer” more than anyone as this festivity is for them nearly equal to Christmas.  Here you can see a great video of how the Swedes celebrate.  Midsummer is the longest day in the year, after which the days get slowly shorter.  It is also called the “solstice”.  I have never understood why it is called “Mid” summer if it actually falls at the beginning of summer.  The semantics here are strange.  But they were unraveled by my linguist friend, Andy who explained that the word “mid” actually comes from the German or old English “mit” meaning “with” and not “middle”, so Mid Summer means “with summer”.  Now I understand.  In the north of Spain and in many other countries it coincides with St. John (San Juan) and is often celebrated with bonfires.  In the Nordic countries, where it is called “midsommar”, the maypole (symbolizing fertility) always makes its presence.

A maypole is always present at Swedish Midsummer festivities

At our home, the summer weather had already come, but you know it’s really here when the hydrangeas are out.  Eladio planted many of them when we first came to live here and they always bloom at this time of year.

When the hydrangeas are out you know summer is here

The week has been full of planning for me, or rather last minute preparations for two big events I have coming up next week.  On Wednesday we have a press conference together with Spotify and fittingly it will take place at the Hard Rock café in Madrid.  It’s something we have been working on for a while and hopefully will bring us some good PR results.  Personally I think that the Yoigo and Spotify brands make a great fit.

Yoigo and Spotify will be holding a joint press conference next week.  I think the brands fit so well.

And then on Thursday we have the annual Yoigo summer party, the origin of which comes from the Swedish roots of the company, something I used to do at Nokia too, what with the Finnish roots.  This project or party is huge, in that I have to gather as many sponsors as I can through my colleagues, to finance the party.  Some 20 odd are on board now.  They get to send representatives, making up more than half the numbers.  Actually this year the list of guests is about 320, the mail address list being a total nightmare.  This year we are doing a typical Spanish “fiesta” in a village outside Madrid in the mountain area called Hoyo de Manzanares.  We will have bumper cars, a village band, a waltzer, churros, you name it, it will be there.  I only wish I could enjoy my own parties.  I tend to enjoy them when they are ending and everything has gone ok. Then I can relax but boy am I tired the next day.  You may think that’s because of the late night or alcohol but actually at my own parties I don’t usually drink.  Besides I am being strictly Dukan these days before our holidays in July.  The reason has more to do with after the event tension I am sure.

It'll be the Yoigo Summer Party next week too

The highlight of this week was Saturday when we were going for lunch to Suzy’s new flat.  That was certainly something my Father was looking forward to, because he hasn’t been out of the house for a long time but also because it would be the first time he was to see Suzy’s cozy little pad.  Oli couldn’t join us as she had end of season lunch with the colleagues from her TV programme.  In the end most of the food was brought by us, but Suzy did make some splendid Russian “pelmeni” with “Smetana” for my Father and herself. The photo illustrating this week's post is of the lovely lunch at Suzy's house.

Her friend and neighbour Eladio had given Suzy some Swiss chocolate for my Father, knowing he has a very sweet tooth.  These were quickly finished off after lunch with coffee as was the pistachio nougat I brought back from France.  My Father was impressed with Suzy’s neat little flat which is perfectly equipped and very modern.  Whilst we were there, Eladio put some finishing touches, fixing things she needed putting on the wall for which he had taken along his handy black and decker.  

Today too has been a day to look forward to as we were expecting guests for lunch. Eladio’s recently operated brother, José Antonio, his wife, Dolores and their little dog Nuba were coming for lunch and to spend the afternoon with us.  Juan, their youngest son joined us too, but unfortunately there were no “girlies”.  Suzy had a very late night and was tired and Olivia left in the morning for Galicia where she will be reporting for Spanish TV all week until her return next Friday evening.  I look forward to seeing her on the television.  That will probably be the last time for a while as her programme will be suspended in the summer until 1st September, although there is a small question mark as to whether that will happen or not.  In any case, I know she will thoroughly enjoy this last week and then she will have two full months of time off.  She has plans to spend part of it on inter rail with a friend from the programme, Bea, a producer.  That will be exciting. 

The afternoon was spent by the pool and I must say today has probably been the hottest day of the year so far.  I saw someone put up a picture on FB of a thermometer in Madrid that marked 42ºC.  So I was in and out of the pool all afternoon.  We could only sit under the trees in the shade and even then if it was very hot.  In the early evening I prepared an afternoon tea tray for everyone with my favourite Emma Bridgewater pottery.  Here you can see José Antonio and Eladio around the table, just before we poured the welcome cups of tea.

José Antonio and Eladio by the pool this afternoon

I have come to the end of the week now but before I sign off, I must tell you about the trip I have planned to London in August, another trip to look forward to. It will be another reunion with my friends from Nottingham University, Sandra and Adele whom we were with in France last week.  But this time we will be joined by Sue Chappel, another friend from University who I haven’t seen since our mide 20’s.  Sue is now living in Australia!  It all came about after an exchange on Facebook where I heard that out of coincidence both Sandra and Sue would be in London around 15-18 August. So I proposed that Adele and I go out to London too and hold a proper reunion, just the “girls” that is, without our husbands or partners.  And the idea was accepted immediately and now both Adele and I have booked our tickets and we all have something great to look forward to.

In actual fact, I’m a lucky lady as I have lots of trips to look forward to this summer.  In July Eladio and I will be off to Verin and then Sanxenxo in Galicia.  From there we will go to Montrondo for the annual family gathering.  In Montrondo we also look forward to a visit from our friends Kathryn and Phil from Keighley.  Then of course, after a quick return to Madrid, Eladio and I will spend a few days at the beach in Santa Pola.  London will be straight after Santa Pola.  It promises to be a great summer.

On that happy note, my friends, I leave you until next week and of course, meanwhile wish you all a great summer too.



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