Monday, July 08, 2013

Olivia reporting from Andalucia and so to Ibiza, Master Chef España, back again, a lazy sunny weekend at home with the family, history made for British tennis and other stories.

The Yoigo family at this year's summer party in Ibiza
Good morning everyone

It’s Sunday again and the time to write my weekly post.  I wonder how your week has been.  Mine has been a blast, as this week was the annual Yoigo Summer Party which thankfully is now over after weeks of preparation.  So let me tell you all about it.

Last Sunday, Olivia went off to Córdoba to report on the high profile court case with José Bretón who is accused of killing his two small children, Ruth aged two and José aged six, in revenge for his wife filing for divorce. They apparently disappeared when he was with them in a park but later ashes with bones at his country house were analyzed and finally found to be of small children. Olivia would be reporting on this case and others in Andalucia all of last week. 

Meanwhile we had the abuela with us, Eladio’s 92 year old Mother, Ernestina who has spent most of the week knitting woolen socks in sharp contrast to the highest temperatures of the year so far.  She has also enjoyed wetting her feet by the pool in the afternoons and here is a great picture of her with Eladio in the pool which I took last Sunday.
Eladio and his Mother enjoying the pool last Sunday

Later that night Eladio and I went for our usual walk with the dogs.  I checked the temperature and it was 30ºc at 10pm in the evening and still light.  This photo proves both facts.
On our walk the Sunday before last - just look at the temperature and the light for that time of night.  Oh I love summer.

It was on Sunday evening too that Spain played Brazil in the final of the Confederations Cup and I am sorry to report we were beaten 3-0; a score La Roja (the Spanish national football team) are not used to and which humbled us all that night.

On Monday we all sat by the television to watch Olivia report on the court case in Córdoba which she did twice that morning.  You can watch the second report here if you go to 11.05h.
Oli reporting on the José Bretón case in Córdoba last Monday

It was on Monday that I was surprised by some corporate news.  The Siemens part of Nokia Siemens Networks was to be acquired by Nokia making it an all Finnish network manufacturer once again.  I was pleased for the company which I had once worked for and pleased for my colleagues who I know will be much happier to be an all Finnish rather than a German Finnish company. The two cultures are near in some ways but also very far in corporate style, the former being very hierarchical and the latter quite the opposite.  I enjoyed working for a Finnish company as I now do working for a partly Swedish owned corporation.  Their sense of fair play and no “bullshit” are what I like best. You can read about some of the reasons behind the decision here one of them being “"Nokia is trying to get stability in the networks division so they can repair the handset division," according to Strategic Analytics.  Whatever the reason, I am pleased with the news.

Monday and Tuesday for me were the busiest days of the week.  I was working on last minute preparations for the Yoigo annual Summer Party.  The destination had been a whispered secret for a while and if you have read about my “secret” trips in recent posts, I can now tell you they were to Ibiza.  Yes I was organising a two day party there for 210 people, no mean feat if you think about the hotel and travel logistics and factor in that people in Spain are not good at confirming or rather forget to do so and play havoc with your organisation.  It is not easy either to decide which people to put into which hotel and we had three, or on what flight; the crack of dawn regular flight for 30 odd people or the mid morning charter flight we had booked for the rest of the group.  Whatever you decide, some people are going to complain.  Add to that people turning up late for the early flight or missing it and the guaranteed chaos of the hotel check-ins for so many people and you get a sort of nightmare that I always want to avoid.  Thank goodness the girls from my events agency, especially Gloria, never lose their cool and can deal with any situation with a smile.  Thanks Gloria, Cristina, Bea, Miguel, Nuria and Julia, you are great.  Thus I decided to go a day earlier, ahead of the rush as I needed to keep my cool after some very frustrating days working on the last minute logistics.

But first I had to go the office on Tuesday morning for an unscheduled management team meeting.  I got there early so was able to watch Olivia reporting from Jerez on another trial, the killing of a young girl called Miriam Tamayo. She had to interview the parents which she told me later was very traumatic.
Olivia reporting on the case of the killing of Miriam Tamayo last Tuesday in Jerez. 

I was stuck for lunch alone as my flight wasn’t leaving until the early afternoon.  But that wasn’t for long as some of my “Yoigo boys”, as I call them, had me join them for lunch that day.  So off I went in the warm sunshine with Javier, Juan and my dearest Dragutín to the nearby Hotel Eurostars for a “menu of the day” meal.  Of course they were delighted to have lunch with me as they knew they would be able to get all sorts of information about the arrangements for the summer party from me.  However I wasn’t good company as I kept getting calls about people wanting to change flights and similar problems.

Soon I was at the airport to catch the 4pm flight to Ibiza.  It arrived punctually and I took a taxi to the hotel where I was staying, El Corso, right by the yachting port and with great views of the town of Ibiza.
Ibiza town, the view from my room at the Hotel Corso

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon working, again on last minute details for the big event.  I had a dinner date with the team from my events agency QuintaEsencia at 9.30 pm in town and decided to walk there in the evening sunshine.  It took me 45 minutes and I even had time left over.  So what did I do?  Yes you guessed, I went to Zara as it was the beginning of the summer sale.  I had in mind to buy a dress for the following night’s gala dinner because the one I had brought wasn’t really suitable for such hot weather. And there and then I spied a beautiful cream embroidered dress which I had eyed before.  The largest size available was size “M” and I was delighted it fitted me.  This is the beautiful dress.
My new dress from Zara

Dinner at La Brasa was once again a bit of a disaster. We were there to taste the menu for the lunch on the last day of the summer party. The previous tasting was not good and we had changed the menu completely as we were to do again that night. The place itself is lovely, a sort of garden terrace and is very popular in Ibiza.  However, I am not impressed with the quality of the food or the service.  On the day, the food turned out to be ok but the service was very slow, just as we had feared.
La Brasa restaurant in Ibiza

I would have walked back to the hotel after dinner but that night I did not want to miss the last episode of Master Chef.  It was to be the last one and there were just three finalists left out of the original 15.  They were Fabian, Eva and Juan Manuel.  Olivia who works for TVE had the heads up on the outcome and had already told us that Juan Manuel would win and that Eva and Fabian would come second and third.  Even so I wanted to watch it and I arrived in my room just towards the end.  I was pleased for Juan Manuel who was proclaimed Master Chef Spain 2013 by Spain’s most famous chef, Ferran Adria.  His words to Juan Manuel struck a chord and I totally agreed when he said: “first look for happiness then look for success as it is happiness that most often leads to success”.  Juan Manuel is a 25 year old out of work waiter from Almeria who can hardly believe his luck. He is now famous, he will publish a book with his recipes, has won 100.000 euros and will be enrolled on the Cordon Bleu course in Madrid to further his learning and love of cooking.  I have enjoyed the programme enormously and look forward to the next edition.
Juan Manuel, Spain's first Master Chef

It was on Tuesday too that Suzy and her friend Chati had moved into a new flat in Whitechapel, the area they live in London.  To judge by the photo of their new room, it is bigger and slightly better than their previous accommodation where they had bunk beds.  Suzy would have joined me in Ibiza but that day she had an interview for another job, this time as an events assistant, so it wasn’t to be.  This year would be the first year that neither of my daughters would be with me at the Yoigo Summer Party.
Suzy and Chati's new accommodation in London

And finally on Wednesday the Yoigo Summer Party for employees and partners began and it was to go on until Thursday evening.  They weren’t to arrive until mid morning so I was able to watch Olivia from the comfort of my hotel room live on TVE at around 10 in the morning.  Miguel, her boyfriend from Valencia, had joined her in Córdoba and sent me some photos of her reporting live.  I am so happy he could join her as he gives her so much stability and self confidence.
Olivia reporting last Wednesday on the court case in Córdoba

The first item on the Summer Party agenda was lunch at the Pura Vida beach club followed by activities on the Niu Blau beach.  I was there to greet our guests and spend the day with them.  For the meals I always tried to join my colleagues, Belén, Tony, Antonio and Pedro.  I spent the afternoon on the beach with them afterwards too. I think a great time was had by all as the food was excellent, the beach was more or less for ourselves and you could do water activities or just relax if you chose to.  Towards the end of the day we gathered for the great photo of us all together which illustrates this week’s post.

The next item on the agenda was the gala dinner at the Destino Pacha hotel where the employees minus the management team were staying. This is a brand new luxurious hotel which is totally awesome.  The dinner was awesome too.  Afterwards the “flower party fiesta” began.  As we all walked down to the discotheque our pictures were taken with an original photo call.  This one is of me with my team from Ketchum, our PR agency, Carlos and Isabel.
With Carlos and Isabel at the Yoigo Summer Party last week

The party began with the showing of a video starring the employees from the Financial Department.  They had put on a pseudo Eurovision Song Contest and they bowled us over with their talent.  We then had to vote for the best song.  Most of us voted for José María and his team dressed up in flamenco gear and singing Telia Telita Telia (a play words from the famous song Pena Penita Pena). They all had us in stitches but theirs was just the best. The party continued but I slipped away at about 2 in the morning, exhausted from the day’s activities and the stress of worrying about all the little details.  I heard later that some people partied until breakfast time.

Two ex colleagues slipped away with me too, Isidro from Nokia who now heads up Sony Mobile Spain and Oscar from Motorola who now heads up LG Spain.  Our conversation in the taxi back to the Hotel Corso centred on life at Nokia Spain which brings back sweet but also very bitter memories.

I woke up late for me, at about 9.30, the next day.  I was too tired to face all our external guests at breakfast so ordered mine in my room – something I love to do.  I was then able to catch Olivia on the television again. I think she was in Huelva, this time reporting on the case of the missing baby.
Oli reporting on the missing baby case in Huelva last Thursday

That morning I was completely free until lunchtime, so I decided to walk to the nearby Talamanca beach and have a bit of time on my own there.  Later I checked out of the hotel and walked into Ibiza town where I found lots of my colleagues exploring the local shops.  In the street and via my mobile phone I watched Oli again on the TV, this time reporting on the temperature in Córdoba – 41ºc, the highest that day in the whole of Spain.  You can see it too if you go to 13.12 in this link.
Oli, the weather girl, reporting on the highest temperature in Spain in Córdoba last Thursday

Just before lunch I went in search of a cash point. My luck was out that morning as although the money came out, the machine swallowed my card.  Luckily they opened it for me an hour later and I was thankful to have my card back.

Meanwhile my colleagues had started the long lunch at La Brasa in Ibiza town.  I didn’t miss anything as the service was very slow.  At the end of the meal, a video summary of this year’s Yoigo summer party was shown and which you can also see here.  We always say in our family “all good things come to an end” and that was true of this year’s summer party once we had finished the lunch at La Brasa.  

From there we made our way to the airport, where, as usual, I bought the local delicacy, the typical “ensaimada” pastry which we would enjoy at breakfast the next day.  I was very tired at the airport and slept most of the way home.  It was only when I was in the taxi going to retrieve my car that I realised I had left my British passport in the magazine compartment of my seat 7C.  We immediately rang the airline, Vueling but so far I have had no success. Vueling is famous for good customer care but I am afraid that is not my experience. We were referred to lost property at Madrid airport but I kept insisting that the passport would not be given in until the magazine was changed the following month.  I got nowhere with their Twitter or Facebook pages so this morning I resorted to ringing their press department who now seem to be dealing with the problem properly.  I do hope I get my passport back soon.

It was lovely to be home again but oh so warm, much more so than in Ibiza. Thankfully it was Friday and I was able to wind down a bit. Olivia was on the TV again that morning, this time reporting on the fate of 120 unpaid Bulgarian strawberry pickers in Huelva which you can see here if you go to 11.30.  
Oli reporting on the unpaid Bulgarian strawberry pickers in Huelva last Thursday

Later she was sent to Seville where she reported on the extreme heat in the Andalusian capital.  You can see that too here if you go to 13.10.
Olivia (in the middle) reporting on the high temperature in Seville on Friday.  On the right her colleague in Valencia and on the left her colleague in Orense, Galicia, where it was even hotter than Seville.

On Friday we took the abuela to have lunch at José Antonio and Dolores’ house in Madrid.  It was the first time she had left our house, so I think the outing did her good.  Later when she went to bed she admitted she was exhausted.  I can only imagine being 92 and suffering that heat.  I would be exhausted too.

In the afternoon I went to do the weekly food shopping with Fátima.  You may remember Fátima is Oufa’s older sister and is replacing her as our home help as Oufa is getting married in August and will be going to live in Paris.  Fátima started last Monday with us.  Her Spanish is very limited but is improving.  She is 41 I think and a lovely person but scarred from being a battered wife.  This is her first job and to judge by this first week, we couldn’t have anyone better.  But I know that she needs help in many ways – to improve her self esteem and to begin to enjoy life.  Just being with her makes me realize once again just how fortunate I am for having been born in the west into a middle class family.  Fátima is one of 10 brothers and sisters and she now has to bring up her two small children alone, although she has the help of her sister Ashouak here in Madrid.  As we enjoyed an ice cream together during our shopping outing, she told me about her terrible marriage and I tried to help her look on the bright side and to forget the past and enjoy the present.  I think she is learning a bit from me.  I asked her whether she wanted to use our swimming pool and she admitted she had never been in one before.  So I promised she would try ours out as soon as there were no men on the horizon.  That was yesterday.  I gave her a bathing costume and entered the pool with her whilst she trembled, half from fear and half from pleasure.  This morning she left for her two days off and she was wearing a red top inherited from me.  On her head though she was wearing a black scarf so I offered her a red one instead, to match the top. She willingly accepted and asked me to take a picture of her.  And here she is laughing and smiling.  It is my intention that she laughs and smiles more as I help her to enjoy life and at the same time modernize this darling woman who needs love and attention to blossom and enjoy life once again.
Fátima, our home help, looking much happier after a week with us

But back to Friday.  That evening Eladio and I went out to dinner true to tradition.  This time we went to Sibara where I always order the gazpacho and their style fish and chips.  As it was summer, the tables were laid in the garden and the place was full.  We enjoyed our time together that evening as we always do on our Friday night dinners out together.
The Sibara restaurant where we had dinner last Friday night

Saturday was another hot day.  As usual my Father, Eladio and the abuela had their breakfast outside and read the papers.  I took a photo of them for the records.  It’s nice isn’t it?
Eladio with his Mother and my Father after breakfast on Saturday morning

We spent most of the day by the pool.  That evening our friends Mari Carmen and Roberto who are now divorced but still on good terms, came to dinner.  The meal just had to be a cold one so I made vichysoisse followed by salmon and lobster salad.  I’m afraid we spent the whole time chatting that I completely forgot to take a photograph.

Sunday was the highlight of the week.  In fact I started writing this post yesterday but had to put off finishing it if I was to spend any time with Olivia who was returning at 11.30 and later with José Antonio and Dolores who came for lunch and to spend the afternoon and evening with us.  It turned out to be a very lazy family day; something I was much in need of if I was to recover quickly from last week’s exertions. 

Lunch was a Moroccan dish prepared by Fátima who by the way is a very good cook.  Here is a photo of us sweltering around the table outside the kitchen.
The family lunch on Sunday

In the afternoon, whilst Oli was getting a quick rest and packing her case before leaving for Córdoba again, the men slept a siesta and Dolores and I read our books, surrounded by our three dogs.  I particularly like this photo of José Antonio asleep with Nuba his delightful mongrel lying with him on the sun bed.
José Antonio and Nuba having a siesta in the shade yesterday

Earlier that morning Miguel, Oli’s boyfriend, was taking part in a swimming race from Santa Pola to the island of Tabarca – some 6km I think.  They had stayed in Santa Pola at our flat that weekend because he was taking part in the swim.  Oli very proudly told me he came 15th out of over a 1000 participants.  I asked him for a photo and this is what I got. He is on the right and certainly the best looking guy in the photo.
Miguel (on the right), Olivia's boyfriend and his companions who raced in the swimming competition from Santa Pola to Tabarca yesterday

Whilst we were resting in the garden by the pool on Sunday afternoon, Andrew Murray from Scotland was playing in the final at Wimbledon against the number one player, Novak Djokovic.  He was fighting to become the first British player to win Wimbledon in 77 years since Fred Perry.  I was certain he would not win as were most people.  I kept checking my phone and was happy to see him win the first set.  I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that he had also won the second set.  Then I and all the British fans could begin to believe in fairy tales.  He went on to beat Djokovic in three straight sets and make British tennis history in doing so.  The crowd was ecstatic as were British tennis fans everywhere in the world, including myself.  There are no words to describe what it means for a British player to win Wimbledon, England’s prime sporting event and the biggest feat for any tennis player.  So, well done Andy, well done British tennis. You made us all happy now and even if no British player wins Wimbledon again for another 77 years we will still remember your victory.
Andy Murray who made British tennis history yesterday when he won Wimbledon

Later we went for our walk as usual which the dogs enjoyed immensely. I took this photo of my walking companions to record in this post.  We love José Antonio and Dolores spending their weekends with us and I look forward to many more.
Dolores, José Antonio and Eladio on our walk yesterday evening

When we came back Eladio had a swim in the pool as I was preparing our dinner. Meanwhile Olivia had arrived in Córdoba from where she will be reporting on the outcome of the José Bretón murder case.  It was even warmer there so she also went for a swim on the rooftop pool of her hotel. This is the photo she sent me.  It was taken by her producer friend and colleague Bea, who certainly knows how to take good pictures.
Oli diving into her hotel swimming pool last night when she arrived in Córdoba

And that was the last story of my very long and activity packed week.  A nice one to round off this post I think.

I wish you all a good week ahead.  That’s it for now folks

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