Sunday, May 26, 2013

A tornado in Oklahoma, a meeting of colleagues from the competition, Oli’s 28th birthday, Suzy’s London experience, terror in Woolwich and other stories

Sunday 26th May 2013
Oli with the wonderful birthday cake made by Ana standing next to the photo call at her birthday party
Hi everyone,

It’s the last Sunday in May and finally we have some good weather.  My mind this week has been more in London than here, following Suzy’s adventures but also in Stockholm.  The latter is because I have been preparing a press trip there for most of this last week and tomorrow I will be taking 8 of the main telecoms Spanish press to visit the country and experience 4G (the new super fast mobile phone technology) which has been working there since 2009.  So I was most surprised to hear later in the week that this most revered, democratic and calm country had been witness to violent riots from unemployed immigrants in the suburbs similar to the outbreaks so common in the “banlieues of Paris”.  I’m sure it will be a topic of conversation amongst us tomorrow.  

As usual, let me start from the beginning of last week, or rather from last Sunday where I left off.  Just as I had posted my blog post, RafaelNada beat his arch rival Roger Federer in the Italian Open final which was to be his 7th title there.  It was the 30th time the pair met and maybe they will meet again soon at the French Open at Roland Garros.
Rafa Nadal celebrating his win at the Italian tennis open last Sunday
Monday was my fasting day.  They were difficult at the beginning but now I actually look forward to them.  I had a meeting in the office that morning and when I am busy I just don’t think about food.

On Tuesday we woke up to the news of the disaster in Oklahoma caused by a tornado of the highest possible strength, F5 on the scale which measures tornados, the Fujita–Pearson scale.  It has caused a billion dollars worth of damage and killed 20 people, 10 of them children.  The dantesque scenes, especially in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma, remind you of bombing scenes in the 2nd world war.  Buildings were completely destroyed but few people died in the scale of things because of the tornado shelters most of the population has access to and which exist because the area lies in what is called the “tornado corridor”. 
Some of the devastation caused by the tornado in Oklahoma
Eladio would have heard of the disaster on the radio in his car that morning when he was on the road early on his way to invigilate exams at the UNED University.  He was to be invigilating most mornings of last week but would join us for lunch.  He was home too to go on our daily walk, something we never like to miss as I’m sure you know.  It keeps us fit but also gives us quality time together and is an intrinsic part of our lives.  That afternoon before our walk we had a date with our oldest couple friends, Benito and Loli who were visiting a handicraft exhibition in Villaviciosa de Odón.  Whenever we meet we always talk about how we met in Saconia where we all lived before we were married.  

Wednesday was Olivia’s 28th birthday but as she is up so early to start work at 7am, we were not to see her until lunch.  That morning I had an important appointment in Madrid.  The financial daily, El Economista, had just published the first edition of their new online technology magazine and wanted to gather together the communications directors of the main Spanish operators in a round table discussion on the sector.  It is I think the first time we were all gathered together and it was great to stand next to my counterparts in the other operators who are both friends and foe from the competition.  There was Pepe from Vodafone, Fernando from Orange, Paz from Telefónica, Estefanía from Ono, Beatriz from Jazztel and little me from Yoigo.  This is all of us together and thanks to the initiative of Antonio L from El Economista who we all like so much.
The communications directors of the Spanish operators all gathered together
After the historic encounter I had to rush back to prepare for Oli’s birthday lunch.  I went to get her favourite cake made of pastry, cream and raspberries at a cake shop in Boadilla.  They didn’t have it but offered to make it in just 10 minutes.  The sun was shining, I was feeling happy and had 10 minutes on my hands so I decided to sit outside and enjoy a cup of coffee.  I gave in to temptation and also had one of their amazing fruit pies which you can see in the picture below.
A bit of indulgence on Olivia's birthday whilst waiting for her cake to be made
The birthday lunch was very simple. Oli had asked for fried eggs and chips which we would later turn into the Spanish dish called “huevos rotos con jamón” (broken eggs with ham and chips).  This is what it looked like before we broke the eggs.
Olivia chose egg and chips for her birthday lunch
At all birthdays in this house there is a cake, cards and presents.  The photo below is of her reading our card and she looks lovely.
Olivia on her birthday at lunch
As we sat around the dining room table we were all conscious that Susana was not with us.  She is of course in London where she started living just over a week ago.  

I loved the photo she sent to Oli that morning to say happy birthday.  See for yourselves here.
Suzy's happy birthday photo to Olivia from London
 Her first week has been an intensive start to her adventure there.  She really is starting from scratch and from the bottom, so there is only room to go up and not down.  She and Chati are sharing a small bunk bed room in a flat of 10 young Spaniards.  I was horrified to learn there are only two bathrooms for all of them.  I also looked up their address on Google Street View.  The building looks like a typical down market 60’s London block of flats in a rather dismal area but Suzy says it’s brimming with life.  I think the East End is not what it used to be.  In any case they are enjoying their experience enormously.  Suzy says there is a spirit of camaraderie and they are learning the ropes fast; looking for jobs, applying for a national insurance number, registering themselves as a nurse and dietitian with all the bureaucracy that involves and even applying for what is called a “job seek allowance”.  They are in a bit of a catch 22 situation in that they cannot open a bank account because they cannot prove they live in London as their accommodation is illegal and if they don’t have a bank account they cannot receive a salary.  Hopefully they will find legal and better accommodation soon.  Meanwhile Suzy’s English is improving daily with lots of new vocabulary she never learned from me and she seems to be getting to know parts of London I have never even heard of, such as Borough Market or Dalston Roof.  

On Tuesday they met up with Oli’s Erasmus Indian friend, dear dear Sandeep whom we all love so much.  He lives in Cornwall and was in London last week to do some editing for the Chelsea Flower Show.  Here they are together.  Doesn’t Suzy look happy?
Suzy with Chati and Sandeep on Tuesday in Chelsea
However she is not following the news, as she is living in her own little bubble in London and had no idea of the terrible terrorist attack that happened in Woolwich, an area she has not yet explored but which is not so far from where she lives in Whitechapel.

On the night of Olivia’s birthday, a young soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, was killed and decapitated in full view of the public by two members of a band of radicalized muslim youth.  The photo of one of them with his hands full of blood ranting in the street will be remembered for a long time.  He justified the killing in revenge for the killing of muslims in Irak and other countries by English and American soldiers. 
The mad perpetrator of the Woolwich attack in London
The next day, Thursday, was my second fasting day of the week.  I was so immersed in preparations for the press trip I hardly thought about food. My mind was so busy that afternoon that when I went shopping with Oufa I never noticed my glasses falling off the neck of my blouse as I left the car to enter the super market.  I went back later to find them broken on the kerb.  Luckily the lenses are not broken and I am now hoping Visionlab, where I bought them can find a similar pair to be able to use the lenses.  If not I will have to fork out 600 euros for a new pair of varifocal glasses.  I have another pair but they are red and as I always wear matching clothes and glasses, my biggest problem was deciding what clothes to put in my suitcase for Stockholm when in my mind I had decided on a lot of black and white for next week’s trip.  I’m sure you think I am very silly.  Well perhaps I am.
My broken glasses, a sorry story
On Friday I had to go the office and then rush to Boadilla for my lunch appointment with Julio and Fátima.  It was to celebrate Julio’s birthday and he invited us for lunch at El Buey where we always go for our celebrations.  It being nearly summer salmorejo (a thick type of gazpacho from Córdoba) was on the menu.  This is what it looked like.  Delicious it was too.
Wonderful salmorejo at El Buey on Friday with Fátima and Julio
On Saturday Olivia was having a birthday party at home for her RTVE colleagues and the girls’ group of friends commonly known as “la manada” – the herd.  I was to help her prepare for the barbecue which thankfully her boyfriend Miguel took care of in Eladio’s absence. Her friends Rocío and Dave turned up early to take care of the decorations.  I had made a photo call and stickers and Anna had made a spectacular cake.  It was very original too as it represented Olivia when she reported on floodings in a river in Valladolid where she got into trouble with the local authorities for dangerous reporting.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of Olivia with the amazing cake by the photo call in the garden.  Here you can see the cake close up. Isn’t it amazing? It tasted really good too.
The amazing birthday cake Ana made for Olivia's party yesterday
And today is Sunday, everything is cleared away and we are getting ready for another barbecue.  Eladio’s brother, José Antonio and his wife Dolores and their son, Juan (Eladio’s godson) and his girlfriend Cristina will be here for lunch today.  I spent part of yesterday afternoon making salmorejo for the first course whilst Eladio cleaned and prepared the terrace by the swimming pool for their visit.  It is looking great now and I look forward to the moment he removes the swimming pool cover and we take our first dip.

I must start on the rest of the lunch, so will finish this post in haste.  Next week will be exciting.  I always love going to Stockholm but especially at this time of year when the weather is better and there is light until late in the evening.

I wish you all a great week ahead.  Until next week my friends,

Love Masha

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