Sunday, October 07, 2012

1st October anniversaries, a coincidental TV appearance, recipe for Spanish oxtail, “the path to Spain”, a Nokia girly lunch, on a yacht in Valencia, moon lit and red sky at night walks, a surprise visit and other things.

Sunday 7th October 2012

1st October anniversaries, a coincidental TV appearance, recipe for Spanish oxtail, “the path to Spain”, a Nokia girly lunch, on a yacht in Valencia, moon lit and red sky at night walks, a surprise visit and other things.

Oli with Gustavo on Monday - they surprised me and made my day.

Hi again

This week the weather has been wonderful.  We are experiencing what is known as an Indian summer or in Spanish “el veranillo de San Miguel”, so different from the storms and floods of last week where so much damage was done in South East Spain. 

Monday was 1st October and whilst golf fans on the this side of the ocean were reveling in the win of Europe vs America in the Ryder Cup, captained by the dashing Spaniard José María Olazabal, who dedicated the win to the legendary Seve Ballesteros, my thoughts were elsewhere. For me the 1st October is the anniversary of the death of my amazing Mother and also the anniversary of my start with Yoigo, already 6 years ago; a bitter and sweet date.  These thoughts remained with me most of the week.  It is a date I can never forget and which is always recorded in this blog diary.  My Father will have been thinking my Mother, his wonderful partner too and it was about one year ago when he had his fall and broke his hip.  Thankfully those days are over and he is much recovered and well looked after. Today whilst my men were reading the physical papers, I was reading the Daily Telegraph online and was astounded to read just how badly elderly people are treated in English residences and hospitals.  I read too how Rumanian and Spanish nurses were appalled at the treatment.  So I am really glad my Father is here with us, safe and well looked after.   Looking back over my 6 years with Yoigo it has been good, although times are changing now.

On Wednesday Olivia made my day in a way with a special and rather coincidental appearance on television.  In the morning she sent a photo via whatsapp of herself with a professional friend of mine Gustavo who used to work on the Yoigo account at my PR agency Ketchum. He has since moved to Ogivly and works on the Ford account there.  I couldn’t understand why they would be together.  The coincidence was explained by them both in successive photos and messages.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of the two of them.

Ford had agreed with her programme, La Mañana de la 1 that they would do a piece on suits worn by their engineers when designing and producing cars.  The suits simulate typical disabilities in people over 70 and the engineers wear them to understand better these people’s needs.  I think that’s a great idea, one that could be emulated let’s say by engineers designing mobile phones.  They might then understand that people over 40 start to lose their eyesight and bear that in mind when coming up with new ideas for phones. Gustavo was delighted to see that the reporter covering the issue was Olivia, my daughter and I was equally delighted to hear that the two of them were involved in this piece of news.  Gustavo sent me the picture below of Olivia fitted out with the engineers’ suit, ready to go live from the Ford factory in Madrid. 

Oli live or ready to go live on Monday on a piece about suits Ford engineers wear when taking into account elderly people's needs in cars.

We watched the piece of news live at 11.45 and you can see the piece here if you fast forward to 11.45 of course.  All in all this really made my day.

On Wednesday I sharpened my cooking skills.  I haven’t cooked seriously for a long time as of course Ivanka makes our meals and I have been on my protein based Dukan diet.  But now that my weight is fine and I had some time on my hands and after having spied and bought some very nice looking oxtail at the local supermarket, I decided to cook for the family and for us to enjoy this great Spanish recipe from the 1080 recipe book.  I should add that this is a typical dish from Córdoba. This is what it looked like.

My oxtail dish based on the Spanish recipe - a dish originally from Córdoba

If you are interested, this is how you make it.  Place the cut up oxtail pieces (I used two tails) into cold water until it boils.  Then remove the foam, add big pieces of chopped onion, three or four whole carrots, salt and pepper and cook slowly for at least 3 hours.  Once the meat is soft you drain the water and place the meat in a dish in the oven sprinkled with a little oil so that it browns on both sides.  Then you make a puré out of the carrots and onion and some of the stock which is served separately with the meat.  This dish is typically accompanied with sauté potatoes or fried potatoes but not in the shape or chips, more like the size of small roast potatoes.  And voila, there you have Spanish oxtail ready for eating.  We all loved it, Ivanka too and Suzy took some when she visited us that evening.  

The biggest news on Wednesday was the first of three presidential debates in the US between Romney and Obama.  I didn’t watch it, except for some parts of it on the news that day.  Everyone seemed to coincide that surprisingly Romney had beaten Obama.  But the news in Spain was of Romney’s comment to the current President: “I don’t want to go down the path to Spain” in clear reference to our financial crisis.  The Spanish news was very critical of this comment, so bad for Spain’s image abroad.

The Romney Obama debate this week

I wrote last week about the controversial photos of Spain’s supposed poverty in the New York Times.  It is certainly the fashion and very newsworthy for the foreign press to dwell on this subject.  In reference to this issue Olivia told us this week that a journalist friend of hers had been contacted by a journalist from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – Canadian state TV) wanting to do a piece on how badly Spain is suffering. The journalist, a she, insisted on being taken to the poor areas and interviewing beggars!.  However much Olivia’s friend tried to tell her this wasn’t the true picture of Spain, the Canadian journalist was only interested in portraying the disastrous “path of Spain”.  This is a very dangerous path for the country whose government is totally unable to improve Spain’s brand awareness. Whilst it is true we are suffering a crisis, the reporting is very biased and only one side of the coin.  It’s a question of give a dog a bad name and the name stays.  After all, it’s all about perceptions.  The image most of us have in our heads about Africa, for example, is that everyone is starving, when that is hardly the truth.  My conclusion then is that you cannot believe everything you read; things are not black and white, but of course stories like these are what people want to read, so journalists, like sheep, churn them out and this way become biased themselves, like the lady from the CBC. 

On Friday in a girly Nokia lunch with Juana, Jill and Zenaida at Sibara in Aravaca, we discussed this issue as of course we discussed Nokia’s fate.  I had read on Wednesday and commented to them that there was news that Nokia was selling off its assets in order to save money.  There was also a rumour that it was selling Nokia House, its amazing flagship headquarters in Espoo just outside Helsinki.  When I posted this on Twitter I actually got a message from Nokia to say this wasn’t true.  So I breathed a sigh of relief, as for me that would have been the end of Nokia.  I well remember that beautiful glass building which I visited many times in my 6 years at Nokia.  The glass gives it light in the winter and the wood inside adds warmth.  It is perhaps the most beautiful modern building I have ever been in. Every time I went there I couldn’t help feeling proud of belonging to that amazing company.  Today it is the shadow of what it was but Nokia House remains, for the moment.

Nokia House, Nokia's worldwide HQ in Espoo (Helsinki) thankfully is not for sale. I have visited it countless times.

The girly Nokia lunch was great as it always is, although Fátima, Susana and Ana couldn’t make it.  Really it is only Jill, Zenaida, Juana and I who are always faithful to our lunch appointments. We also talked about past colleagues, so many of whom have left Nokia and also about our families.  My friends have much younger children and I often feel like the grandmother of the group, although luckily I don’t look like one.  We agreed to meet again at the end of November.  We had such a nice time (great restaurant with superb fish and chips on the menu!) that I completely forgot to take a photo for this week’s blog and kicked myself for not doing so afterwards.

Olivia had left on Thursday for Valencia, Friday being a free day for her.  She went to stay with her boyfriend Miguel and the two of them have spent the weekend on a yacht.  This is Olivia’s first yachting experience and despite initial worries of seasickness, the first night was fine, although she is not too keen on the vessel’s movement.  Her Father is not a good sailor and we were worried she wouldn’t be either, but so far so good.  Here is a picture of her on the yacht before they set off and I think it is taken in Denia.

Oli has spent the weekend on this yacht near Valencia

Meanwhile we have been left alone again with no girls to brighten up our weekend. Suzy went off to Santa Pola with her Russian friend Emil on Wednesday and we have had no news since.  The weekend then has been very quiet.  Eladio and I went out to dinner on Friday night, not to noisy Friday’s like last week, but to another American establishment called Foster Hollywood and it was fine although I felt a bit guilty having a brownie and ice cream for dessert!

Being on our own means sticking to our routines and we have been reading a lot by the pool in the late afternoons.  I finished the harrowing “Five chimneys, the story of Auschwitz” by Olga Lengyel, a survivor from Cluj in Transylvania.  It is one of the most vivid stories by survivors of the holocaust.  Then I started on Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates which arrived from Amazon this week.  It is a novel about Marylyn Monroe and had been recommended to me by Adele, but so far the prose is a bit uphill, so I may not finish it.

Sticking to our routines, means a walk each evening with the dogs and this week, because of the weather they have been lovely.  One day this week I captured the moon on my camera when it was bright and seemed so near.

The moon on our walk one evening this week

The walk was almost moon lit.  Then yesterday I captured an amazing red sky.  I always remember being told as a child on walks with my Father that a red sky at night meant shepherds’ delight in that the next day there would be good weather. Whereas a red sky in the morning, meant shepherds’ warning, in that bad weather was coming. My experience has taught me that shepherds are nearly always very right.

The red sky on our walk yesterday

I mentioned to Eladio whilst walking with the dogs, Norah our beagle and Elsa our Labrador, that nowadays, as the girls so seldom here, they have become substitute “daughters” which of course they haven’t but they certainly are company.  On Friday after my Nokia girly lunch I went to the Corte Inglés department store to pick up a watch strap and whilst there bought the dogs a new red collar each and also a rug type bed for them to lie on in the kitchen when it’s cold.  They tend to destroy most of their beds or Norah grabs Elsa’s bed and puts it on top of her own, leaving Elsa to lie uncomplainingly on the cold floor.  So with this in mind, I decided on buying a rug big enough for them both to lie on and with no filling for them to destroy.  So far so good, although I did see Norah trying to bag it for herself this morning to which I immediately put a stop.

Elsa our labrador on the new rug I bought for the dogs.

This weekend they both got their fortnightly bath, as they had to be clean to lie on the new rug for the first time.  And this is Eladio’s job, one he does a little reluctantly but very well.  The dogs are a little reluctant too but once inside the bath seem to even enjoy the experience.

Eladio drying Norah after her bath yesterday

Yesterday, Saturday, was a quiet day too and again I put my hand at a bit of cooking and made lasagne, something I haven’t made for so long I couldn’t remember certain things and had to ask Juana on whatsapp for some instructions.  As I made it, Ivanka looked on, learning to add this dish to her good but limited repertoire, as she did when I made the oxtail.  We ended up making far too much just for the four of us, so we will be having it again for lunch today.  But I must say it was delicious.

Of note yesterday, Saturday, one of the reasons we didn’t go out in the evening is that we wanted to watch a wonderful Spanish film called "Lavida que te espera", called “Your next life” in English.  It was starting at 11pm very late for me and I was worried I would fall asleep, but I didn’t as I find this film riveting.  Set in the remote valley of the Pas in Santander in northern Spain, it is a rural drama of love and death and passion and old fashioned traditions and hard work which has you on the edge of your seat until the very end.  The film was made in 2004 by the director Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón who is actually from the Santander province. We saw it when it first came out in 2004 and have wanted to watch it ever since.  So you see it isn’t only Pedro Almodóvar who makes good Spanish films. 

The great Spanish film we saw last night

And today is Sunday and I am at the end of this week’s tale, but not quiet.  Nothing special was going to happen today.  That’s not quite true as the first clásico (Barcelona Madrid football match) is taking place tonight but unfortunately it’s only available on pay per view channels which we do not have.  Something special was going to happen on the home front but Eladio didn’t know. Juan, his nephew and godson was coming with Cristina, his girlfriend, to bring him a belated birthday present.  I knew about it because Juan needed some advice on what to get but I kept the visit secret so that it would a pleasant surprise for my husband.  And indeed it was.  They came mid-morning and stayed for coffee and we sat in the sun by the pool catching up on their news and ours and the of course the news of other members of our mutual family.  Eladio was tickled pink and I think delighted, so when his Mother, Dolores reads this, she too will be pleased at Juan’s gesture and with the photo below.  For the record they bought Eladio one of his favourite fragrances by Loewe.  The visit was lovely and the thought behind it even more and a memory we will treasure.  Thanks Juan and Cristina.

A surprise visit this morning from Juan our nephew and godson and his girlfriend Cristina

Now I am at the end of this week’s tale and it’s time for me to heat up yesterday’s lasagne and set the table for us three oldies.  

That’s it from me for this week my friends.  I wish you all the best, good reading until we meet again next Sunday.


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