Sunday, April 28, 2013

Press interviews and a meeting with the Minister, bad news for Spanish football, Master Chef, Oli on the TV this week, the Paradise, Suzy is 29 and other stories.

Sunday 28th April 2013
Suzy, 29 today!
Hello again everyone,

What a week it has been again.  Work has consumed a lot of my time but I have to say it has been enjoyable and very productive.  I will have told you many times that work and leisure converge for me, in that I often don’t distinguish between the two, getting enjoyment out of both.  I also think the secret of being good at your job is actually liking it and I love mine, the head of communications (also known as PR) for Yoigo – yes you know what Yoigo is, the 4th mobile operator in Spain which is 76% owned by the Nordic (Swedish Finnish) telecoms operator TeliaSonera who recently announced they will not be selling us and who look forward to helping develop the company in the next few years.

The first proof of that decision was the visit of the head of Mobility Services (the division in TeliaSonera that includes Yoigo in Spain together with their other operators in the Nordic and Baltic countries) on Monday and Tuesday.  I refer to T.K, my boss’ direct report, a tall and bold man just turned 40 who is actually Finnish.  It was music to my ears to hear the familiar Finnish accent when he spoke English.  I was to take care of the communications activities of his visit which were an interview with Expansión (Spain’s top financial daily), an after work get together with the staff and then the coordination of a press release with the Ministry of Industry when he and my boss were to meet the Minister of Industry, José Manuel Soria, on Monday to explain Yoigo’s plans to launch 4G (you know what that is too don’t you?  The new mobile  technology that will improve our experience using mobile phones dramatically with much higher internet speeds and bandwidth for downloading multimedia of all sorts and kinds.  So I was really pleased with the headline of the press release: “José Manuel Soria welcomes Yoigo’s plans to be first to market with 4G in Spain”.  First to market is really something special, if you think we are such small fry compared to the other 3 more established and big operators.
The meeting with the Minister of Industry (in the middle)
Of all three activities, the interview with Expansión was the most stressful because I had to translate the questions from Spanish into English and then again from English to Spanish, as well as all the in between comments.  You have to concentrate really hard and your thoughts cannot wander because if they do, you lose the thread and won’t remember what the question or answer is.   The questions were tough too I can tell you as the journalist, Nacho, is a real veteran in telecoms and knows his subject really well.

So Monday and Tuesday were pretty crazy but everything went well, not least because I had worked my *** off over the weekend together with Anna, the reliable and never tiring head of communications of TS Mobility Services.  Neither of us knew until the Friday before what was to be expected of us on Monday and Tuesday!  I always think though that I thrive on challenges where there is a time constraint, like the events of the beginning of this week.

On Monday night I was able to relax with all the family, i.e. both girls for dinner, certainly one of the highlights of the week for me.

On Tuesday in between coordinating the press release with the Ministry of Industry, I made another set of fantastic meringues.  I was not to eat any until the next day as on Tuesday I fasted.  Usually I fast on Mondays and Thursdays but the former was out of the question this week as I had to attend a management team lunch at Yoigo with our distinguished visitor from TeliaSonera.  I was the only woman at the lunch, something I still find rather awkward.

Tuesday was the day Barcelona was to play Bayern Munich in Germany in the first leg of one of the semi finals of the Champions League.  My Father and Eladio watched the match together in the lounge.
My Father and Eladio watching Bayern Munich beat Barcelona on Tuesday

I’m glad I didn’t as I was devastated to hear the Germans thrashed the Spaniards 4-0.  It was a very embarrassing result indeed.  

I totally forgot about the match and the awful result when I watched the third episode of the Spanish edition of Master Chef.  Eladio is not at all interested or so he says, but he was awake the whole time, so I think he secretly actually quite likes it. 
I'm really enjoying Master Chef
On Wednesday in between working on my 4G communications plan, I had time to make salmorejo (thick gazpacho typical of the Córdoba region) and our very favourite “perushki” (little Russian pies with mince meat, onion and rice – my Mother’s recipe).
My perushki
Olivia much appreciated the wonderful lunch when she came home late from work.  That morning she had been on television reporting on an initiative for schools to make children aware that some 60 million under privileged children in the world have no access to education.  A red chair in their classrooms is the symbol of there not being enough chairs for these children to be able to go to school.  I saw the video later of her report which you can watch here if you click on this link and then fast forward to 11.33.  If you carry on watching, you will see how Marilo Montero, the main presenter of the programme, actually congratulates Olivia in public on how well she did the report, knowing exactly what questions to ask to get the small children to reply properly; not just saying yes or no. The secret here is that Olivia loves small children.
Olivia interviewing a little girl in one of her live reports this week
On Wednesday afternoon, I was once again stressed and busy, this time because at very short notice I had to get out a media alert on Yoigo’s launch and sale of the new flagship phone from Samsung, the S4.  I had little time to react and needed the ok from the communications people at Samsung as well as the person in charge of terminals at Yoigo.  The good news here is that our prices were the best of the 4 big operators in Spain, so I hope sales of the much anticipated phone will have gone well when it started selling on Saturday. I was on the alert and working on this from about 6 in the afternoon until nearly midnight.  So when my boss sent me a whatsapp the next morning at 9, I was able to tell him the alert had gone out just before.  Phew was what I felt when I answered him.
The S4 went on sale with Yoigo this Saturday with the lowest price in the market
While I was busy on the media alert, Real Madrid was playing Borussia Dortmund in Germany.  The match could only be seen on pay per view channels which we do not have.  My former boss Johan very kindly kept me updated but when I heard Germany was once again beating Spain with 4 goals to 1, I didn’t want to hear any more.

I got a bit of sweet revenge later by watching a film about catching an old Nazi.  I posted this on FB and a German friend of mine, Volker, commented “fair play”.  I’m not sure whether he was being sarcastic or not; judge for your selves.

Unless Barcelona and Madrid can perform a miracle in next week’s second legs of the semi finals, it looks like this year’s Champions League final will be between two German teams, not exactly what fans of football around Europe will be  happy about.

Thursday saw me at the office again, this time for a meeting with Ericsson and Samsung who will be joining us in a press conference I am organizing for the 7th May where we will be announcing our concrete plans for the exciting 4G launch this summer. 

That day Suzy had taken time off from work to help her beloved ex neighbour Elena with her removal, as she was changing flats and leaving Villanueva de la Cañada for Majadahonda.  Below is a photo of Suzy with Elena and her sister Chati on the removal lorry full of Elena’s stuff.  For the record, Chati who is an out of work nurse (in the middle of the photo with sun glasses) will be going with Suzy to London in May.
Suzy with Elena and Chati when Elena moved flats this week
For the fourth time this week I was at the office again on Friday.  It was for another meeting with the communications manager of Samsung Mobile and then for another press interview.  The latter was with my boss and the media was the Spanish news agency, Agencia Efe.  I have known the journalist who covers telecoms, Ana G. for many years and sitting in on the interview with her is like having a cup of coffee with a friend.  That’s the nice part, the risky part is making sure she doesn’t get news you don’t want written about as it’s not public yet.  As I write this here, I have just looked to see if she has published the interview and bingo she has.  You can read it here in Spanish of course.

That morning Olivia was to be on television at 11.30 about a court case for embezzlement by Marisol Yagüe during her time at the Marbella Town Hall.  I was able to see it later here via video streaming and you can too if you click here and go to 11.30h.  Oli told me later she had had literally 10 minutes to prepare and knew nothing about the case.  For not knowing anything I think she did a pretty good job.
Oli reporting on a court case on Friday
I was to miss her next report on Friday at 13.10 as I was driving home from the interview at work.  But amazingly these days, you can watch tve1 live on your mobile via the +24 or applications available on most smart phones.  So I parked my car just before and from the comfort of my seat was able to watch her report.  It was about how a group of mentally handicapped people had collected kilos and kilos of food for poverty struck families; another great initiative. You can see the report here if you go to 13.10h.  I must add here, just how great it is to be able to watch TV live on your mobile, something, unthinkable of just a few years ago.  Ah and with 4G the user experience will be even greater.  The photo I took of her reporting was actually a screen shot from my iPhone and of much better quality than the photos I usually take of her on the television.
Oli's live report on Friday which I saw live on my mobile phone
This week was busy for Olivia too, not just because of these reports but also because she was preparing a video about the Madrid marathon which is being held today.  She did a lovely story about a group of senior runners who have run every edition of the Madrid marathon since it began and what motivates them to do it.  The video report was shown on her programme on Friday but it was also shown on the TVE main news and on the TVE sports channel today (teledeporte), something that rarely happens. You can see it here.

Finally it was Friday afternoon and the end of the working week.  We went for our usual walk with the dogs and it was cold and windy as it has been most of the week.  The treat that day was dinner out.  Eladio and I decided on Ginos that night where I enjoyed a great dish of pasta. 

Saturday was the day before Suzy’s birthday and Eladio and I went birthday shopping for cards and presents for both our daughter and my Father who will be 94 on 1st May.  Whilst at Centro Oeste and with the excuse of finding something for Susana, I spied a pastel blue tuxedo liketrouser suit at Zara which I had seen on their website.  They only had small sizes so I was very happy to find that their size M (40) was a perfect fit.  I don’t know when I will wear it but right now it is hanging with pride in my wardrobe, waiting for the perfect occasion.
The pastel blue tuxedo like trouser suit I bought from Zara on Saturday

Back home, frantic cooking was going on for a pre birthday lunch Suzy was preparing for some 15 or so of her closest friends – mostly her girlfriends. Here you can see Suzy cooking with Oufa our Moroccan home help. Copi was around to help as was Juli
Oufa and Suzy cooking on Saturday

Meanwhile Oli had gone to the train station to pick up Merce who was coming from Yecla in Murcia.  Her visit was a surprise for Suzy.  In this video you can see how Merce is hiding in the garden hut and how Olivia and Juli tell Suzy to go in and that there is a present for her inside. Suzy’s reaction was vintage Suzy and priceless.

Anita had another surprise for Suzy for her birthday lunch yesterday.  She had made one of her amazing creative cakes.  Suzy has had a fixation with mermaids ever since she watched the Disney version of the Little Mermaid when she was a girl.  So Anita decorated the cake with a replica of Suzy with her red hair and a mermaid body, as well as countless other little symbolic things such as the Union Jack – as she is going to leave Spain to live in England next month.  This is Anita with her cake creation before Suzy saw it.  I really think she could make a living out of creating cakes – what an artist.
Anita and the amazing cake she made for Suzy
We left the girls to their own devices, praying they would clear up afterwards (and they did) and we ventured out for our walk and wow was it cold.  The good weather has gone and it seems winter is on its way back.

With time on my hands in between coming back from our walk and dinner, I decided to watch the first episode of series one of The Paradise, which I had ordered from Amazon after recommendations from my sister-in-law Dolores.  This new BBC series, based on the novel Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola is about the creation of a luxury department store called The Paradise in the north of England at the end of the 19th century.  Dolores was right to recommend it, it is right up my street and I shall be watching episode two after publishing this and going for our walk.
Joana Vanderham who plays Denise Lovett in The Paradise
 And today, Sunday 28th April is my first daughter Susana’s 29th birthday. She was born on 28th April 1984 at the Clínica San Francisco de Asis in Madrid at around 5 in the morning.  I have just unearthed a photo, the best one I could find of me and her just after she was born.  I look awful but I suppose that’s because of just having given birth.
Me with Susana a few hours after she was born 29 years ago
This morning I woke up early to prepare her birthday breakfast.  Whilst laying the table and going out to buy croissants and churros, my mind went back to when she was born and how 29 years ago at this time in the morning she would have been just a few hours old and how happy and amazed we were to have her.  She has made us happy and sad, made us laugh and get cross, wonder at her, enjoy her company, get exasperated with her and be proud of her ever since: feelings I suppose most parents have of their off springs, but mostly she has brought us joy. Suzy is charismatic and loving and usually quite easy to get on with. She has bags of personality and charm and mostly is very popular with her friends and colleagues.  Professionally things are difficult for young people in Spain these days with so much unemployment and this has spurred her on to finally make the move she has already really wanted to do, to up and leave everything and find her fortune in England.  She will be going in the middle of May and of course we will miss her, but on the other hand it’s a great opportunity and I have no doubt whatsoever that she will land on her feet, just as I did when I came to Spain to find my own fortune in 1982.  I certainly did find my fortune, marrying Eladio and having our wonderful girls as well as finding success professionally, although it took a few years. 
This is us at breakfast, a fine feast to celebrate Suzy’s birthday today.
Suzy's sumptuous birthday breakfast this morning
We were to celebrate again at lunch, although I, at least, was not at all hungry.  There was another cake, this time made by Oufa and it is a masterpiece, tasting wonderful.  Here is Olivia bringing it in with the candles lit for Suzy to blow out.
Oli bringing in Suzy's birthday cake at lunch today
The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of Suzy blowing out the candles and making a wish – probably to do with her London adventure.  The one below is of her with Merce, the girls’ friend who made a surprise visit from Murcia to join Suzy’s celebrations this weekend.  Merce commented at lunch today that she has known the girls for half their lives as they first met in their mid teens when we bought the apartment in Santa Pola and where her parents had an apartment too.  How time flies!
Suzy with Merce at the family birthday lunch today
And now as I write, the girls have gone and our big house feels empty.  Suzy took Merce to the train station and Oli has left for the North of Spain with her TVE crew.  The forecast is for snow in the north of Spain next week and Oli will be the programme reporter on the weather in that area, something she is quite familiar with.  When the TVE car came for her, together with her 23 year old producer colleague, they had no final destination.  Maybe they will go to Santander, Asturias, León, Rioja or Navarra.  Hopefully we will hear from her later and find out.  Anyway, she has gone to do what she likes best; going offsite with the TV crew to do live reporting.  We look forward to watching her next week and if I am busy or away from home, I know now that I can watch her on my mobile phone.  Doesn’t technology rock?

And that my friends, is the end of the story of this week. So I will love you and leave you and wish you a great week ahead.

Till next time


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Maduro for President, bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, the Pulitzer photography prize, English neighbours, “the lady’s not for turning” laid to rest, Clarks shoes, the girls came back from Tenerife, wonderful weather and meals outdoors, Suzy in Avila and other stories.

Suzy in sunny Avila today (at the Plaza Mayor)
Hi again my friends,

What a week it has been in all senses, full of political news as well as tragedies in the United States, good news for Yoigo and lots of things happening on the home front.

On Monday the world woke up to hear that Hugo Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro had won the elections in Venezuela but by a very small margin.  His opponent, Hector Capriles, called for a recount after 3000 or so “incidents” in the voting which the new Government rejected and later in the week Maduro was sworn in.  There have been protests every since and it remains to be seen how the situation will progress.  It is certainly a questionable victory that the democratic countries are not happy with.  I for one would have liked to have seen an audit take place.
Nicolas Maduro

On Monday, when the wonderful weather continued, as it was to do all week, Eladio got out the summer furniture for what we call our “outside dining room”, the patio outside the kitchen where we enjoy our meals in the good weather.
My first meal outside this year was on Monday

Whilst we were enjoying dinner that night outside, albeit a very frugal meal for me as Monday was my fasting day, the news was breaking about bombs at the Boston Marathon.  We were amazed to hear on TV in bed later how homemade bombs, using pressure cookers (the Spanish Fagor brand), killed three people and injured and maimed for life many of the spectators and runners.  I mean terrorism, if that’s what it was – and we didn’t know at the time – just doesn’t go with sport.
The Boston Marathon which was bombed by two Chechen brothers

The news continued through the week of the repercussions of the terror and how the US police and FBI finally caught up with the culprits.  They were two young brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, of Chechen origin aged 26 and 19. They were spied on the public cameras wearing black and white caps and people who knew them identified them immediately and alerted the authorities.  It is yet to be found out why they targeted the Boston Marathon, one of the big five, and it will be some time before we know.  Tamerlan is now dead after a shooting fight with the police and his younger brother who managed to get away but was caught a while later, was shot in the throat and is clinging for life in a Boston hospital and obviously because of the wound will be unable to talk for sometime if he recovers. 
The Chechen brothers

There have been articles about Tamerlan and Dzhokhar, but one which caught my attention was written by David Remnick and published in The New Yorker and analyses the story behind the woes of the Chechen people and the story of the Tsarnaev family.  It all boils down to Stalin who in the middle of the second world war declared this region’s people disloyal to the USSR and banished them from their homeland in the northern Caucasus to Central Asia and Siberia.  Many did survive but the Tsarnaev family finally found themselves in Kyrgyzstan and some ten years ago moved to the US.  The rest of the story you know, how Tamerlan did not adapt and yearned for his roots and eventually became a fundamentalist. He committed this awful crime and is now dead.  And you know what? I just think it is all the fault of one of the worst dictators to ever walk the earth, Joseph Stalin.  If you think Hitler was worse, talk to my Father who knows his history and will tell you that the latter devil massacred many more people than the former some of whom were Chechens and whose ancestors bear a grudge still today.  In my readings to document this story, I was fascinated to find out that Chechens who turned to Islam in the 15th century, speak Russian with a thick accent and that their own language is called “Noxchiin Mott”.  I wonder whether the two now famous brothers who perpetrated the horror of the Boston Marathon spoke that language or whether they were more familiar with English after having spent their formative years and done all their schooling in the US, the true melting pot of the world and supposed bastion of democracy.

Tuesday saw me thinking about the Boston bombings but busy at the office in the morning.  Tuesday was also the day the news of this year’s Pulitzer prizes was announced.  I was happy to hear that a Spaniard, Manu Brabo, had won the Breaking News Photography prize.  The prize was awarded to him and his team from the Associated Press for their “compelling coverage of the civil war in Syria, producing memorable images under extreme hazard”.  You can see the full collection here, but the one that stands out most is of a Syrian man crying whilst holding the body of his son.

One of the winning Pulitzer prize photos by Manu Brabo

I think the thermometer was at its highest this week on Tuesday. I went for walks on my own in the afternoons in the middle of the week as Eladio has his UNED tutorials then.  I probably recorded the highest temperature on Tuesday afternoon on my walk as you can see in the photo below.
My warmest walk this week
It was on Tuesday afternoon that I found out we would be having an English neighbour. Imagine that for me!  As I came back from an errand, I met two women just outside the house next door which has been on sale for quite a few years now.  It has been difficult to sell not just because of the crisis but because the house, more of a shell really, is unfinished and will need a lot of work and money to become a proper home.  We began to talk in Spanish and I immediately recognized the English accent of one of the women.  Kate too was very surprised and pleased and told me she had made an offer for the house and that it had been accepted.  I invited my new English neighbour and her friend in for a “nice cup of tea” on our outside dining room table and here we introduced ourselves properly.  Kate is a teacher of English at a local school and is married to a Spaniard, like me of course which tickled us both pink.  Her husband is from the north of Spain and works in the telecoms market the same as me.  So they are just like us; an English woman married to a Spaniard and with similar professions.  In their case she is the teacher and in my case Eladio is the teacher.  I look forward to their moving in and having an English neighbour and hopefully a friend but I think it will take some time because of the work needed doing on their new house.   

Wednesday was an important date in the history of Great Britain.  It was the day of  Margaret Thatcher’s “ceremonial funeral” (one step down from a state funeral) and it was of course broadcast in its entirety on television. 
Margaret Thatcher's coffin fittingly draped with a Union Jack flag

Many of us have been following the news of her death and not unsurprisingly the nation was divided in its sentiment as it was during her premiership and indeed for much of her life.  There were those who mourned her death and those who celebrated it.  I am sort of in the middle.  I was a teenager when she came to power and I lived through the major events when she governed such as the Miners’ strikes, when she removed the school milk allowance and was called “Thatcher the milk snatcher”, the bomb attack on her own life during one of the Conservative Party conferences, the war with Argentina over the Falklands and of course her downfall which had much to do with the proposal of the “poll tax”.  I think she became just a little too regal or full of herself especially towards the end of her last government.  So yes, she did some good things and some bad things.  She will be very much remembered for some amazing public speaking and celebratory quotes.  I think the most famous quote of all is when she said “the lady’s not for turning” at a Conservative Party Conference in 1980.  It has now become a Thatcherite motto and even a name to describe Baroness Thatcher which is why I have chosen it for this week’s headline.  The full declaration was the following: “you turn if you want to” but “the lady’s not for turning” in reference to her opposition to the liberalization of the economy that her predecessor, Ted or Edward Heath had urged. Another quote I read this week and loved was this: “Being powerful is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t”.
A quote I particularly like from the late Margaret Thatcher
I didn’t see the funeral but read about it as being the biggest funeral for an ex British Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and the first one since his death that the Queen attended.  People lined the streets to view the funeral cortege.
The route of the funeral procession

One thing that struck me of the funeral was the reading by her young granddaughter Amanda, aged not yet 20 who read flawlessly at the funeral service.  When praised on her performance she was to comment that it was “in the blood”.  I’m sure her grandmother would have been proud to hear her, although I wonder what she would have thought about her pronounced American accent.
Amanda Thatcher reading at her grandmother's funeral, a flawless performance
 But not everyone was mourning her death that day.  I particularly found funny this picture I found which reflects the sarcastic negative sentiment some people have about her figure.
Some people wished the Iron Lady a rest in rust
So yes on Wednesday, the lady who was not for turning, that most charismatic, loved and hated English woman figure who was part of my growing up years in England, was finally laid to rest.  I am not one who would like her to rest in rust, just in peace and to have her place in history if only for one major achievement: being the first woman premier both in England and in Europe. RIP Maggie.

As you know, in this blog, I comment on important worldly events but also on the mundane, often the trivia of our lives, so don’t be surprised about my next story.  Whilst Margaret Thatcher was being laid to rest, Eladio was giving our dogs their fortnightly or rather monthly bathe.  And here is a photo of dear Elsa stoically putting up with the warm water and soap which I sometimes suspect she secretly likes as she puts up no opposition.
Elsa having a bath this week
 More trivia that day for you, but important for me: my new Clarks red and blue shoes ordered online the day before arrived just as the dogs were having their baths. So why is that important you may ask? Well, I have ungainly and funnily shaped feet, rather too wide and cannot wear dainty shoes to be found in the shops here for Spanish women with elegant feet.  Clarks, the good old English shoemaker, makes shoes which are good for imperfect feet like mine; i.e. they are slightly wider and generally more comfortable.  I needed some blue shoes and some red shoes to go with all the new outfits I keep buying and this week I found just what I wanted on, shoes in those colours with medium sized heels which would fit the bill.  And they arrived on Wednesday and were a perfect fit.  All I can say is 10/10 for Clarks for making shoes that are nice (not beautiful but pretty enough), that fit me, are not too expensive and are delivered almost for free the day after purchasing them. 
Red shoe, the model I bought from Clarks online this week
Blue shoe, the model I bought from Clarks online too this week

My dear girls were back on Wednesday night from their four day break in Tenerife.  You may remember me telling you last week that they had gone with Rocío, Erika and Anita to stay with their school friend Estefanía who now lives there.  From what they told us when they came back it seems much time was spent on the El Médano beach and relaxing at Estefanía’s home.  For the record here is a photo of them having lunch together one day.  It must have been Anita who took the photo as she is not in it.
The girls with their friends in Tenerife last week
They were home for a late outside dinner that night, having been picked up at the airport by Olivia’s boyfriend Miguel who had come to join her for the rest of the week.  I went all out, or rather Oufa went all out to make a special dinner.  I’m sorry now we didn’t take a picture to capture the dinner we prepared for their return.  They told us it had been warm in the Canary Islands but not quite as warm as here.  Ironically the islands are now going through a heat wave with temperatures over 30ºc.  Suzy commented it was Murphy’s Law.  I suppose it was.  In any case they came back quite brown from sunbathing on the beach which they later told me was rather windy.

Of interest on Thursday I went out shopping in search of a full cover for my iPhone which I dropped at the beginning of the week. If fell on the screen side which is made of glass and it splintered. Funnily enough it still worked but it was difficult to see text or photos.  When I posted the photo below on FB I got comments from ex Nokia colleagues to say that didn’t happen to Nokia phones.  I don’t know if it does but it is true that I never broke the screen of any of my Nokia phones.  I am lucky I work in the industry as I soon got a replacement phone whilst mine is being mended.  But I decided I didn’t want it to happen again because of the fuss of restoring all the information, pictures and applications which can take a few hours and went in search of a full cover.  I went to the Apple store at Gran Plaza 2 but didn’t find anything suitable there. In the end it was at The Phone House that I found a lovely white leather case which is now protecting my replacement phone.
My broken iPhone  a sorry sight
When I told Suzy I was going to Plaza Norte 2 for a case for my phone, she commented I would be doing some clothes shopping too.  She was right.  I just couldn’t resist going into H+M and Zara and at the latter found a great black and white checkered blazer and matching skirt.  So “me” the girls told me me later.
The black and white checkered blazer from Zara
Thursday of course was the day tragedy struck the US for the second time this week. This time an explosion occurred at a fertilizer plant in a town called West in Texas.  The death toll was higher than in Boston and 14 people died whilst 200 people were injured.  Thankfully this time it wasn’t because of terrorists.
The blast at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas this week
Friday was a very busy day for me and a great day for Yoigo.  It was the 1st quarterly results day and they were published by our majority shareholder, the Swedish telecoms operator TeliaSonera at 7 that morning.  At 8h I was attending my first conference call with the communications staff in the group and at 08h.30 the second one, this time with the head of the Mobility Services division which Yoigo belongs to.  The other countries in this group are Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.  The news for Yoigo was good and it was my job to communicate it quickly to the press and employees in Spanish.  Yoigo’s sales had increased by 19% vs the same quarter in 2012, a sort of wow in these times of crisis. 
It was good news for Yoigo on Friday
One good thing about being busy on Thursday, my second fast day of the week, is that it took my mind off food.  I had to be in the office for a meeting with my boss to go over an important agenda for next Monday and to discuss some other important upcoming projects I am responsible for. Some of the items discussed at the meeting had me working a lot of this weekend, but I do not mind. I hardly distinguish my work time from my private time and always prefer to have lots of projects to deal with being the busy bee I am.

That evening, Eladio and I went out for dinner as we often do on Friday nights.  The restaurant we went to was new and one that had been recommended by Juana for a lunch engagement some of my ex Nokia women colleagues and I will be having next month.  But intrigued by her recommendation, we decided to try out Xa Casa Picón in Majadahonda on Friday.  The pretty building it is housed in is one I am very familiar with having driven past it many times and one I have always liked.  It used to be a furniture shop but is now a restaurant.  It certainly lived up to our expectations and also the positive reviews I had seen on Foursquare and Trip Advisor.  We will definitely going back if only for the “salmorejo” which was out of this world.
Xa Casa Picón, the restaurant we discovered on Friday
Saturday was probably the best day of the week. Both girls were to be here for lunch which always makes me happy.  Because of the good weather we were to have the first barbecue of the season. 
Eladio cooking the barbecue meat on Saturday
I have to admit the temperatures went down this weekend but it was still sunny if a little cool, and even so our first family barbecue was a complete success.

After lunch Suzy went off to a rural hotel near Avila with her Russian friend who we call Vladimir, although his name is actually Emil.  Today she sent me some photos. The one illustrating this week’s blogpost is of her sitting in the beautiful main square of Avila, the “plaza mayor”.  The one below is of her standing by the walls of the town. We expect her home this evening.
Suzy by the walls of Avila today
I should also mention that on Saturday too Olivia and Miguel who are becoming keen short distance runners, did a 10km race. It was in aid of mental health and here they ran with a friend from Montrondo called Jorge who had a terrible car accident some years ago but is now a keen runner.
Olivia ready to run the 10km race on Saturday

Last night we were invited out to dinner.  Olivia’s boyfriend, Miguel, invited the three of us out to dinner for a belated celebration of his birthday.  We went to a great place called Sibara in Majadahonda.  They serve fish and chips amongst other things and which of course I chose.  It was a good occasion to get to know Miguel a little better.  Apart from being an engineer and cameraman for TVE he is a keen sportsman and especially loves swimming.  In May he will be swimming the 30km stretch between Ibiza and Formentera which will take him some 10 hours to do.  I don’t think I could even swim for an hour without stopping so am very impressed with his new challenge.

And now it’s Sunday again and the sun is shining and we are having a nice relaxing day.  When I say we I do not refer to Olivia who right now will be finishing an exam for a fixed job in Melilla with TVE.  She works for TVE but does not have a fixed contract, but this opportunity is a shot in the dark as there will be many contenders and only one vacancy.  In any case we wish her all the luck in the world.

Tomorrow will be very busy for me with an important series of events I am involved in at work, including lunch.  Thus I shall put off my normal fasting Monday until Tuesday.  

I will leave you now to enjoy a walk with Eladio and the dogs and some quality time with Suzy who has just back from Avila.  I wish you all a great week

Meanwhile, all the best