Sunday, March 17, 2013

The flu virus continues, discovering Downton Abbey, Pope Francis, Olivia in Lisbon, Samsung’s new phone and other things

Oli on stage as an MC in Lisbon this week
Hello again everyone,

Today is Sunday and is day 13 of my flu virus which has had me out of action and feeling unwell and strange for so long now.  I don’t remember the last time I had flu but it must have been many years ago.  I have waves of nausea and have lost my appetite (good you may say), things taste and smell strange, I have gone off coffee and can’t stand my new perfume Angel.  I haven’t been for a walk for two weeks and have little energy.  I have spent a lot of my time in bed sleeping and I have been plagued with ghastly headaches for which no tablets have any affect.  Luckily this is a peaceful time for me at work and I have no trips or events on the horizon, so I have had to stick it out at home.  On Monday I thought I was better and got of bed but it was an illusion.  On Tuesday I had to go into work for the weekly management team meeting and then a fancy lunch at No with the girls from my events agency and my new boss.  That was such a huge effort I think I have paid for the consequences the rest of the week.  On Thursday Eladio dragged me to the local doctor when my head was at its worst.  There I heard my symptoms were common and that there was an epidemic of this particularly strange and cruel virus.  He prescribed antibiotics in which I had no faith as I have always understood that they cannot cure a virus.  But I was wrong.  Finally yesterday, Saturday I began to feel just slightly better and today I know I am on the mend.  I still feel all those funny things but at least the headaches have gone and I can begin to feel myself again.  Today I think I shall go for our walk for the first time in nearly two weeks and that will be the test.  I have friends who have also had this flu and some have warned it takes a whole month to get over.  I sincerely hope that in my case it will be less. 

But let me start from the beginning, from Monday.  The week before I had made an order for meringue nests and sugar free jelly from a new online shop called Brit Parcel.  I love meringue nests to serve with fruit and yoghurt and ice cream and they are unattainable in Spain.  The big plus of meringue is that each piece only contains 50 calories, so great for keeping the weight down. So this was my chance and I ordered 25 packets.  Even I was shocked when I saw my order arrive on Monday morning.  I now have enough meringue to last us more than a year.  The problem though is the expiry date is the end of May.
My order of meringue nests from Brit Parcel
This was the week I discovered and fell in love with the British TV series Downton Abbey.  My friend Julio had lent me the dvd of series one some time ago but I never had a moment to watch it.  So while I was in bed curing my flu, it was finally the time to do so.  I had watched parts of series three recently on the television but of course not having watched the series from the beginning didn’t understand a lot of the story.  So from Wednesday to Friday I polished off the whole of series one and have now ordered series two and three from Amazon which hopefully will arrive tomorrow.  It’s a great British series, similar to Upstairs Downstairs but oh the setting is much grander and the story line is far better. 
The main characters from Downton Abbey now all very familiar to me
Discovering Downton Abbey has been the one advantage of having flu.  I can’t think of any other.  Oh but yes I can, the pleasure of having my wonderful husband Eladio looking after me so lovingly.  Thank you Eladio.  You are the best personal doctor in the world.

On Tuesday the much awaited Conclave started to vote for a new Pope.  When I last wrote I told you I had hoped for an African pope.  I was very interested in the whole process as much of the world’s media were, so I was very cross with myself, when, because of watching Downton Abbey, I missed the white smoke on Wednesday.  To tell you the truth I missed it because I thought the process would take much longer.  I have followed the news very closely and am fascinated with the whole story.  It is funny that in this increasingly secular world the media should have made such a fuss of the conclave.  But they have and I think the reason is the sheer fascination with the medieval rituals entailed being played out in this modern age.  I had hoped for a black Pope but am equally pleased a Latin American has been chosen, someone from the “new world”, albeit of Italian origin.  Jorge María Bergoglio, aged 76, the arch bishop of Buenos Aires is the first Jesuit Pope and he calls himself Francis after the humble lover of the poor, Saint Francis of Assis. He is a breath of fresh air, modest and simple in his ways and in his first 48 hours or so has broken with many of the trappings of his predecessors, shunning protocol, talking directly and even going on incognito trips. 
Pope Francis, the new Pope from Argentina
His first words were very simple, Buona Sera and he started with a joke that his fellow cardinals had to go to the end of the world to find a new pope.  He refused to travel in the pope mobile preferring the cardinals’ bus.  He also refused to wear the pope’s red shoes and ermine red cape remarking that “the carnival is over”.  In Buenos Aires he apparently travels on public transport but that will probably be difficult in Rome.  When he was shown the Papal rooms he commented that there was room for 300 people and that he didn’t need all that space.  Later he held a press conference for the 5000 media reporting on the conclave where he abandoned the script and told them some of the secrets of the conclave as well as saying that he wanted a poor church for the poor.  Oh yes I like this man, but don’t get me wrong.  He is modest and humble, smiles and jokes but he is not liberal and we will not see him admitting women to the priesthood or recommending contraception or even letting priests marry.  On the other hand he is a breath of fresh air in the stifling and corrupt Vatican and I think he will attract more people to the dwindling faith and will do the Catholic Church a lot of good.
Pope Francis blessing the dog of a blind journalist, true to his namesake he must be a lover of animals.
On Wednesday just as the white smoke emerged from the chimney of the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Olivia was arriving by plane in Lisbon.  I told you last week that she was to be the MC for a European Union prize giving ceremony.  It was for a teacher’s project called eTwinning.  The event was on Thursday afternoon and for the occasion she wore a lovely red dress of mine from Zara.  Isn’t it nice that we can wear each other’s clothes?  Miguel, her boyfriend, had flown out from Valencia on Thursday morning to be with her and they were to make a long weekend of the occasion.  So whilst in bed watching Downton Abbey Miguel was sending e photos of Olivia in action, on stage in Lisbon.  She looks so professional, don’t you think?  She later admitted she found the whole subject of the prize giving rather boring and I told her I hoped no one noticed. Thankfully they didn’t as they were very pleased with her and have said they want to work with her again in next year’s edition.  She was also approached by a man in the audience who said he wanted to hire her services for an event in Istanbul.  Fancy that!  She will be back tonight but just for a few hours as tomorrow she will be up at 4 in the morning when a car comes for her from TVE to take her to the airport where she will catch an early flight to Santiago in Galicia from where she will be reporting this coming week. 
Oli is a natural on stage
This week was a sad week for my best friend Fátima.  On Wednesday morning I heard through Julio that her 86 year old father had died.  I rang her immediately and heard that the lady who looked after him and whom I know, Manoli, had found him dead in his bed in his flat in Santa Pola that very morning.  Fátima told me through tears that she had spoken to him the night before and that apart from his flu he seemed perfectly ok.  Later she told me he must have died of sudden pneumonia, so this horrible flu virus finished him off.  She went immediately to Santa Pola with her brother Manuel and sister Gloria to do everything you have to do when someone close to you dies.  On Friday morning when I was doing the food shopping with Oufa I bumped into her and we went to have a cup of coffee together and she was able to tell me of her ordeal.  Her main feelings were of guilt for not seeing him often enough.  I told her he wouldn’t want her to suffer from guilt, that guilt is so negative and that she should remember the good times.  My heart went out to her though of course and made me remember my own Mother’s death.  Nothing ever prepares a child for the death of his parents. R.I.P. Manuel.

This was the week Samsung, the Korean mobile phone giant, chose to launch its new Galaxy S4 model and it did so in the homeland of it arch enemy Apple, in the US, in the heart of New York at the Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan.  I am a great fan of the S3 model and also a user of the Apple iPhone 5 so was interested to see what was new in the S4.  And it turns out that not much.  It’s all about software rather than hardware.  I had hoped for a less plastic finish, but the S4 looks identical to the S3.  You can see that in this picture of the two models.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 looks exactly like the S3
It apparently does new stuff that I find rather gratuitous like stops a video if you remove your eyes from the screen and I have also read that many of the new features are available already for other Android phones via applications.  What is an improvement though is the camera which has 13 megapixels.  But is it an iPhone killer?  Only the market can answer that but I doubt it.

The weekend has been quiet.  I am feeling better but not really up to going out to the cinema or for dinner out.  So the highlight this weekend was having Suzy and her friend Juli for lunch yesterday. Oufa our Moroccan home help made fish and chips but in a very unBritish way with spices in the breadcrumbs and potatoes.  Today, her day off, I am cooking a traditional Spanish meal, oxtail with sauce made from the stock and vegetables with sautéed potatoes.  You see, my appetite is coming back.

We didn’t go out last night, Saturday but thoroughly enjoyed a great World War II film on the TV in bed called “Where Eagles Dare” by Alistair McClain and starring Richard Burton and a very young Clint Eastwood.  It had us riveted to the screen to well past one in the morning. 
Where Eagles Dare made in the late 60's but still a great film.
Hopefully next weekend I will feel completely myself and we will be able to go and see the new version of Anna Karenina and also have dinner out.  And now I have the reached the end of the tale of this week and it is time to go upstairs and make the sauce for the meat.  So I will leave you and wish you all a great week ahead.

Cheers till next week my friends


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