Sunday, September 29, 2013

Olivia in Galicia reporting on the murder of Asunta, Suzy started her new job, Yoigo launches 4G in Valencia and Málaga, the two sisters reunited in London, a family barbecue and a very wet walk and other stories.

The family barbecue on Saturday
Hi again my friends

Well this week I haven’t been anywhere and have had a quiet week at home getting up to speed with my work.  I have had time for lots of things, including reading and watching films which you will find out about in this week’s chronicle.

I left off last Tuesday, so let me start from there.  That day we heard from our neighbour that she had finally sold her house.  It had been on sale for a few years now and was difficult to sell, because it is unfinished but also because of the crisis. We were amazed to hear that the new neighbours, whom we haven’t yet met, have some affinity with us.  They are a couple in their forties with two young children.  The Father is Spanish and the Mother is Russian and they met in England.  To top the affinity, they apparently own and run a production company.  I really look forward to meeting them and also to having people live next door as our neighbour never lived there.

If you read my post last week, you will remember that Olivia had been sent suddenly to Galicia that day, to the capital Santiago, to cover the terrible case of the murdered 12 year old adopted Chinese girl Asunta.
Asunta, the 12 year old Chinese girl found killed last week
She was on the television various times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday covering the development of the case which has become national news.  Since the body of the girl was found last Sunday both parents have been charged with possible homicide.  So many rumours have been spread but there is no real apparent motive and no incriminating clue that links either of them to the murder of their adopted daughter; a brilliant young teenager who excelled at school and was turning into a beautiful young girl.  The case has gripped the country and I was proud to see my daughter covering such a high profile case live on TV.  I was equally puzzled as to how any parent could possibly kill their child when Eladio shocked meby  telling me he had read that some 300 children had been killed at the hands of their parents in the last few years.  I can only imagine that you have to be mad to kill your own child. 
Olivia and the team in Galicia she worked with reporting on the case
Suzy meanwhile was getting ready to start her new job with Create Food and Party Design based in Wimbledon.  However she had started a nasty cold and had to go the doctor for the first time since she arrived in England.  I must tell you about the visit as it indicative of times in England.  As Suzy lives in the East End it was not surprising that the doctor she went to see was Muslim.  She was amazed that he listened to her chest without telling her to remove her jumper and that he did so through the garment; obviously not wanting to see her naked chest! What kind of doctor is that I ask myself?   She then went on to tell him she had some strange bruises on her legs that she wanted to show him.  Well, believe it or not, he refused to look at them. I have since told her to go and find a “white doctor”.  On the bright side she told us the medicine was free at the chemist and she is now a lot better.

The next day Wednesday was her first day with Food Create and Party Design.  She went in twice this week and will be starting properly next Monday.  Her role eventually will be to supervise the catering at events at the art deco and famous Oxo Building which is much nearer where she lives.  I was happy to hear that all her colleagues are English so finally she will only be living in a “Spanish bubble” in London.

Meanwhile at home I had time in the evenings to start watching Broadchurch, the DVD TV series I bought some time ago and which my friend Amanda recommended me.  It is a great “who dunnit” set in Dorset and has you riveted as to who could possibly have killed the young boy found dead on the beach in the first episode.  In true Agatha Christie fashion, just everyone seems suspect.  I am embarrassed to say I saw the whole of it in just two days.  

I then went on to watch a TV film I had bought in the same Amazon purchase spate a while ago; Our Girl.  This is a very different story and is about an 18 year old teenager, Molly Dawes, from a problem family who ends up joining The British Army and gets sent to Afghanistan.  I can highly recommend it.
Poster of the film I watched this week: Our Girl
If those were my films of the week, I must also tell you about my reading.  Last weekend I read somewhere that the Duchess of Cornwall, yes the famous Camilla Parker Bowles, had been caught reading the Cazelet Chronicles. Interested to see what her taste is like, I googled them to find they are written by Elizabeth Jane Howard and knew I would like them.  They are now out of print but I managed to buy second hand copies on Amazon and this week three of the four arrived: The Light Years, Marking Time, Confusion and Casting Off.  On Friday afternoon I started on The Light Years and so far am enjoying it thoroughly.  The Cazalet Chronicles is a family saga set just before and after the Second World War in England and is the “chronicle” of a well off middle class family, their servants and friends.  I read somewhere that it is a good “comfort read” and I thoroughly agree.
The Cazalet Chronicles which will be keeping me entertained for a while now
I also had time for shopping this week, and not only food shopping.  With the excuse of going to the post office to pick up some of the Amazon books which for some mysterious reason had not been hand delivered, I made my way to Zara.  Here I found two wonderful garments which I may well be wearing soon as the weather has finally turned autumnal this weekend.

I was particularly happy to find out that tartan is once again in fashion – when has it ever gone out of fashion? and grabbed this blazer as soon as I saw it.
The red tartan blazer I got from Zara this week
I also loved the look of this red and black squared top with zips down the side – seem to be in fashion too.  Luckily it looked good on me, not like a pair of dark green tartan trousers which just didn’t fit – I know, I have put on a bit of weight after the summer but promise you my “fast diet” should deal with the problem shortly.
The red and black top I also purchased at Zara this week

On the work side, I am excited to tell you Yoigo launched 4G in Valencia and Málaga this week, after completing the launch in Madrid.  We sent out a press release on Thursday which got quite a lot of coverage.  I look forward to telling the press next month that we have also launched in Barcelona and other provinces.
Our 4G advertising on the trams in Valencia this week where we launched the new technology
On Friday Olivia was back from Galicia, happy with her week of reporting on such a high profile case.  She was pretty exhausted too and didn’t even go out that night, preferring to stay at home to unpack and pack again for her journey the next day to London.

Meanwhile, Eladio and I, true to tradition, went out to dinner to Ginos for a gorge of pasta which I love.  We always go out to dinner on a Friday night in Madrid but of course haven’t done so for weeks because of our constant travelling.  

Yesterday, Saturday, was the highlight of the week in many ways.  First I got up early to have breakfast with Olivia and help her in last minute preparations for her trip to London to see Suzy.  I was so excited that our two daughters would be reunited there and rather regretted not having bought a ticket too.  Eladio took Olivia to the airport and I saw her off outside the house.  Here is the photo of them leaving in the car.
Oli leaving on Saturday morning for the airport.

Later at lunch, after some messaging where my help was needed in reuniting them at Victoria Station, I was delighted to receive a photo of the moment they were finally together in London.
My two beautiful daughters reunited in London yesterday
I knew they would be happy that day, but probably arguing the next day, as is typical of them and of most siblings.  I look forward to seeing more photos of them together and hope they have a good time and don’t quarrel too much.

In the morning after Olivia left I was busy, as was Fátima, our home help, and Eladio when he returned, getting things ready for the family barbecue.  José Antonio, Dolores, their daughter Sara and son Juan and his girlfriend Cristina were coming for lunch.  Rain was forecast and in the middle of the morning it started to pour, so we decided to lay the table by the pool which has a covered terrace.  Luckily when we sat down to eat the rain had stopped and the sun came out.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of the family round the table.  My father looks great doesn’t he? as my friend Brenda commented on FB and who hasn’t seen him for years and years.

The weather got colder so we spent the afternoon inside, reading and talking with music on in our lovely lounge and having a light “afternoon tea” on my lovely Emma Bridgewater pottery.  Later Juan and Cristina had to go but Sara stayed to join us on our walk.  It was threatening rain again so we kitted everyone out with old rain coats, some of them promotional and pretty old.

In this photo you can see my walk companions kitted out in rain ware at the beginning of the walk. Notice the different colours; a bit like the Spanish red and yellow flag.  We must have looked a picture but thankfully we were the only people out on the walk yesterday.  The others, wisely, had not ventured out and would not be drenched like us.
Kitted out for what turned out to be an extremely wet walk!
As we advanced on our walk with the dogs and just as we were at the half way mark, it began to pour heavily and we had to shelter in the trees which wasn’t much help as the wind was so strong.  We just had to grin and bear it, getting wetter and wetter and make our way home.  Thankfully it wasn’t cold and was rather a fun episode to record in this week’s blog.  When we got home, we had the luxury of removing our wet clothes, drying off and putting on warm clothes. Later they stayed for dinner which we enjoyed in the dining room.  It was one of those nice impromptu family dinners where we spoke for ages afterwards. The main topic of conversation was Montrondo, or rather how and when we are going to do the makeover of the old house and all that that entails.  José Antonio, Dolores and Sara who built a new house from scratch there not so long ago have plenty of experiences to share with us. 

They left late at night but we hope to see them again next weekend.  All in all it was a great day. 
And today is Sunday, the last day to record on my blog. Well there is not much to say about today.  We are alone at home with my Father as it is Fátima’s day off and will probably be having the leftovers of yesterday’s barbecue for lunch.  My plan for the day is to carry on reading The Light Years and to go for another walk this afternoon.  However we must be careful not to get caught in heavy rain again.

And on that note, my friends, I will leave you until next week, wishing you all the very best,


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To Stockholm and back, off to Montrondo, Eladio’s birthday and other stories.

In Stockholm last week
Hi everyone,

I’m a bit late with my blog post this week but if you read last week’s entry you will forgive me because you will know I have been travelling yet again.  

Today is Tuesday and finally I am at home and here to stay for a while.  So let me tell you about last week.  I left off on Monday 16th September when I wrote my blog on the plane on my way to Stockholm.

I arrived in the early evening and went straight to my hotel, the Stureplan, right next door to the company HQ.  I was disappointed with my room as it had a tiny window in the roof which could not be opened.  I knew I couldn’t sleep there as I would have felt totally claustrophobic, so after some haranguing with the desk staff, I was finally given a junior suite, for a small extra charge.  It turned out to be lovely with its own balcony, the only negative point being that it was miles from the lift; but that’s always my luck.  It was too late to go out as it was already dark and uninviting because of the rain.  I decided thus to publish my blog, order room service and have an early night on quite a comfortable bed.  Unfortunately this time I hadn’t brought my feather pillow which wouldn’t fit in my cabin luggage and I had relied on the Swedish hotel having one which it didn’t. Thus I got three nights of fitful sleep and came back with a sore neck. On the plus side, I ordered my favourite Swedish food for dinner – an open prawn sandwich which is called “Räksmörgås” as I learned from my Swedish friend Gunilla and Mexican but Swedish bred friend Ilyana when I posted the picture below on Facebook.
Room service in Stockholm - my favourite Swedish food open prawn sandwich (“Räksmörgås")
Afterwards I watched the end of Mr. Selfridge on my PC.  I am now waiting anxiously for series 2 of the latter, series 4 of Downton Abbey and series 2 of The Paradise.  I have pre ordered the last two but I don’t think they will be available until November or December. My next series will be Broadchurch which was recommended to me by Amanda and owing to my faulting memory I had forgotten I had already bought it in a spate of Amazon purchases of British TV films and series.
Looking forward to watching Broadchurch
I was up early for our communications team meeting starting at 08.30 and was disappointed with the breakfast as there was nothing sweet on hand – if you know me I’m not one for savoury breakfasts.
Our meetings were to be held on the 7th floor of the TeliaSonera HQ which is surrounded by an open air terrace with great views of the square in front with all the lovely spires on top of the buildings.
Stureplan in Stockholm
The day was good.  We had a day of training in “leadership communication skills” imparted by a wonderful Brit called Dominic who turned out to be from Bristol.  He was a professional trainer who comes from the communications world but what I liked about him most was his witty way of addressing us.  I learned all sorts of new tricks and tools, one I particularly liked is called “the elevator speech” – i.e. getting across your message in less than 45 seconds.  The company he represents is Synopsis Communications Consulting and their mission is apparently to turn strategy into action; not a bad thing.

In the evening our team leader Anna, invited us all to dinner.  When I say all, I mean my colleagues from the communications team she heads up and who are from the Nordic and Baltic countries.  The meal was just up the road at a great steak house called Vassa Eggen.  The food was out of this world but I paid for it later as I tossed and turned all night on a very full stomach.

Wednesday’s meetings were more hands on and about topics we are all in the throes of.  As usual we had an early lunch and this time we went offsite, but round the corner again and to the Scandic Anglais restaurant.  The meeting was over earlier than planned and I realised afterwards that if I had known I would have caught a flight home that afternoon.  So there I was with time on my hands on Wednesday afternoon in Stockholm.  For once it wasn’t raining and the sun had come out, although the temperature was only 14ºc.  So guess what I did?  Yeah you guessed right, I went shopping and had a whale of a time.  I wanted to go to Jackpot the Danish designer I liked but the boutique in Bibliotekasgatan had closed down.  A Swedish colleague warned me but said there was an outlet at Ahlens, a well known department store.  But first I thought I’d go to the Galerian shopping centre nearby to visit Lindex, Kappahl and Vero Moda.  I never got to the latter two because I saw and bought so many things at Lindex.  Lindex is a sort of Scandinavian Zara but as the pretty Hungarian Italian Swedish born shop assistant who charged me for the clothes said, is not as “snooty”.  I had never thought of Zara as snooty but maybe some people do.  I walked out of Lindex with a huge bag of emerald green jeans, various coloured jumpers and cardigans and a white blouse.  The lovely shop assistant thanked me for adding colour to her day.  I thought that was a nice compliment.  I took a photo of my bag outside the shop and immediately sent it to Olivia via whatsapp to tell her I had bought lovely clothes for her and me as it was my intention to share the clothes with her.
Shopping at Lindex
Since I came home I have found out that Lindex has an online store and you can order clothes from Spain and that the transport cost is just 7 euros.  That makes me happy as I love their clothes; the Scandinavian style and up till now I could only shop there on my trips to Sweden.

Conscious of the small capacity of my suitcase and the difficulty of packing my new clothes I skipped on Kappahl and Vero Moda and made my way to Ahlens to see what Jackpot had to offer.  Well they didn’t have anything that appealed to me. But I did spy a nice boutique called In Wear and here I invested in a fashionable bright red lightweight down jacket which everyone in Stockholm seemed to be wearing in different colours.  Of course I won’t be wearing it for a while as we are still experiencing summer weather here.
One of my acquisitions in my shopping spree in Stockholm
Ah I nearly forgot to tell you that the whole purpose of my shopping expedition was to buy a birthday present for Eladio.  And I did.  I bought him a yellow Gant shirt to add to his collection of this lovely Swedish menswear.

That evening I had another early night in and watched the only film I had on my pc, The King’s speech and which I adored in English as the first time round I saw it in Spanish.  Unsurprisingly I had the same prawn sandwich for my dinner that night.

On Thursday I was going home and had no idea what an ordeal the journey back would be.  There were no direct flights that day so the company had booked me a flight via London, arriving and leaving from Terminal 5.  I can tell you now that I will never do that again as it is chaos at T5.  The worst thing about returning via London is that you have to go through security again – and the queues are endless, as well as passport control.  Thus I had no time whatsoever for shopping at the airport, the only reason I agreed to travel back through London.  So there you have it, I left the hotel at 09.30 and didn’t get home till about 9 in the evening, 12 hours of travelling for a 3.50h direct flight time.

It was good to be home; but again it wasn’t for long.  Yeah we were going to hit the road again the next day, this time to Montrondo to spend the weekend with Eladio’s 5 brothers and sisters and their wives/partners and their Mother.  Luckily I had the morning to get organized and more importantly to go out and get cakes for Eladio’s birthday to be celebrated in Montrondo and at home the following Monday.  I also had to buy a present from my Father.  I had no idea what to get him so decided on something safe; more Gant clothing.  I got a lovely bottle green and white checked shirt and bottle green cardigan to go with it.

We left after lunch loaded down with food to share with the family; namely Fátima’s Moroccan chicken tagine and her wonderful rice, as well as lots of other food for dinner that night and our breakfasts.  We got there at around 19h and were greeted by the other first arrivals; José Antonio and Dolores.  Dolores and I immediately agreed on a brisk walk to Murias and back with Nuba their mongrel.  We wanted to go the old way across the fields and on the old path but hadn’t bargained for a group of horses or is it a herd? That would have been fine if they hadn’t been so interested in us and started trotting and then galloping towards us.  We weren’t sure whether it was threatening or not.  I love horses but am wary of their size and as I had no sugar or salt to offer them we opted for crossing the fence in the field where they couldn’t reach us.
The horses in Montrondo who chased after us
In the picture above they look very peaceful but later they worried us when they started coming after us.  I do think it was Nuba who put the cat among the pigeons here.  Thus on our way back we came along the path and away from the fields.

Just as we were walking back, Adela, the elder of Eladio’s two sisters, were arriving by car with her husband Primo and my Mother-in-law Ernestina who is in her early 90’s but looks a lot younger.

The next day Adela, Dolores and I went on an early morning walk to Murias and back again, as Adela and I would do on Sunday morning too.
Adela and I in Murias on our early morning walk.  I especially like the old fashioned blue shutters so typical in the area
Later that morning the rest of Eladio’s brothers and sisters arrived; Alejandro and his Paraguayan wife Carolina, Pili and her husband Andrés and Isidro and his wife Yoli.  It was to be a relaxing weekend with just the older generation and the finest weather we have ever experienced at that time of year in Montrondo.

Soon we were enjoying lunch around the big kitchen tables and celebrating Eladio’s birthday with his family.  I loved the sweet garland they had made for him.
Eladio celebrating his birthday in Montrondo.  Just look at the lovely candy garland his family made for him
Afterwards most of the family went off for a siesta.  The men would need it to produce the energy necessary to stack literally tons of logs from a field that belongs to them outside the village which would be brought by a tractor in various journeys to the old house to again be stacked neatly for the winter.  The photo below is of the wood arriving.
The first tractor load of wood to arrive
Meanwhile we women looked on, enjoying the afternoon sunshine and also listening to the radio.  You are probably wondering why we would be listening to the radio.  Well it was to follow a match: Pili and Andres’ son Mario’s was making his debut in the León Handball first team playing in León on Saturday against the Huesca team.  In the end they drew.

One of the main reasons for gathering together this weekend in Montrondo, apart from the business of transporting and stacking the wood logs for the winter,  was to make plans to reform the old house which we have inherited. But before we reform ours, Pili and Andrés will be rebuilding the old house next to it and which is now a ruin.  It was where Eladio was born so has a lot of sentimental value.  On Sunday morning their builders came to look around and finalise the initial steps that will be taken to start.  They had good references from Eladio’s brother Alejandro, so he took them around the old house we will be reforming too, to get a quote from them.  Both young builders gave us the right “vibes” and right now Eladio and I and, of course, Pili and Andrés are really excited about our projects.
The houses to be soon reformed in Montrondo
We left Montrondo on Sunday in the late afternoon and were home by about 10pm.  We were greeted by Fátima, our living in home help and my Father.  Of course we were greeted by our enthusiastic dogs too.  Poor Norah didn’t get a look in as Elsa overshadows her when it comes to greeting us on our arrival home.  We only saw Olivia to say goodnight as she was out with her old school friends; Paula, Sonia, Elena and co.  

Yesterday, Monday, was Eladio’s official birthday and it was celebrated in style as we like to do so at home.  It started off with a birthday breakfast with “porras” and “churros” (Spanish fritters) dipped in thick chocolate.
Oli and her Father Eladio yesterday at his birthday breakfast
We gave him his presents and card and read with interest what we had written. We also laughed at what Olivia had written – she apologized for being stubborn and tiresome when she was a child!  She couldn’t be with us for lunch when we lit the candles on his cake (chocolate of course and from the marvelous patisserie “Mallorca”).
Eladio was 69 yesterday and looking great.
But she joined us for dinner that night when we went out to La Vaca Argentina to celebrate.  The three of us had a great meal but were keenly aware that Suzy was missing.  All in all I think Eladio had a great 69th birthday.  I can hardly believe that next year he will be 70.  He looks so good for his age and I’m sure you all agree; it’s not just flattery on my part.

And today is Tuesday, the last day to be recorded in this week’s blogpost.  Today I am fasting (yes I stick to the “fast diet” but only when I am at home), but lots of things are cooking and happening too.  To start with Oli is off to London to see Suzy this Saturday (until next Wednesday) and amazingly she has managed to get the BBC presenter she met in Galicia to show her round the BBC while she is there.  Also her day is now completely topsy turvy.  She went to work but rang me shortly afterwards.  She was coming home as the editors of the programme are sending her to Galicia again today.  She will be covering the terrible case of a 12 year old girl who is adopted and of Chinese origin and who was found dead yesterday.  The story is national news.  I am happy for Olivia though that she will be out in the field again and doing what she likes best, investigative journalism.  

The other thing that got “cooked” today, was another journey to London.  Whilst on our walk to Murias, Adela and I agreed to go together with my other sisters-in-law.  In the end the rest of them decided not to come but Adela is keen to go and for various reasons.  She has never flown before, nor visited London but is very happy for me to be her guide.  Of course I want to go with her too, but I have a vested interest as it means visiting Suzy again.  So I went and booked our flights for the December bank holiday and we will fly out on Thursday 5th in the evening and return on Sunday 8th.  It’s going to be fun. Watch this space.  

And now my friends I have reached the end of the story of my life since I last wrote. You can see the full selection of the photos  of our weekend in Montrondo here.

Meanwhile everyone, I wish you all the best, until next time,


Monday, September 16, 2013

A disappointing Apple launch, remembering Beryl Ranwell, Suzy got the job, a weekend in Campello, off to Stockholm and other things.

Monday 16th September 2013

Eladio and I in El Campelo this weekend
Hi everyone,

It’s Monday and I’m on the plane to Stockholm for a communications meeting with my counterparts from the Mobility Division of TeliaSonera, Yoigo’s parent company.  So I have just under 4 spare hours  to write this week’s blog and tell you all about last week, my pc battery permitting of course.

On Monday last Olivia started her new time table at the programme she works for at TVE, La Mañana de la 1.  She starts at midday and ends at 21.30.  She is not too happy with the change but on the bright side she can sleep more in the morning and I get to have breakfast with her.

That evening Rafa Nadal was playing Novak Djokovic in the US Open Final but we weren’t to see the result until the next morning at breakfast.  Olivia and I were delighted to hear that Spain’s best tennis player in history had won in 4 sets (6-2,3-6, 6-4, 6-1).  That was his second win at Flushing Meadows and his 13th grand slam title.  He has a little way to go to Roger Federer’s 17, but now that he is over his knee injury and back to even better form, he may well make it.
Rafa Nadal won his second US Open this week

On Tuesday we had the pleasure of the company of Dolores and José Antonio who had returned from China the day before and were coming to get their beloved mongrel dog, Nuba.  Of course it was a great chance to hear about their travels and to enjoy a day together.  

Tuesday was a big day for Apple which I think turned out a bit sour.  They launched 2 new products that day, the 5S, an improved version of their iPhone 5 and the expected “cheap” 5C.  The 5S salient feature is that it includes unlocking with your finger print.  What’s so great about that?.  However the market criticism has been aimed at the 5C which turned out not to be so cheap and thus caused a lot of disappointment.  As a journalist friend of mine wrote, the “C” is for colour – it comes in various colours and a plastic case – and not for “cheap”.  I replied to him that I thought Apple has a communication problem.  The firm from Cupertino relies on reams of positive coverage from the press but totally lacks any kind of transparency.  I think they should have informed the market not to expect a low tier new iPhone if they were never going to launch it.  Thus they would have avoided the disappointment and to a large extent the negative press.  If only they could  learn a lesson in humility vs arrogance then maybe they would be more popular and last longer at the top of the ladder – I suggest they cast an eye at what happened to similar arrogant firms like Motorola or Nokia but I doubt they will. I for one am not excited by their new products this time round at least. What I am looking forward to is their new software the IOS7, available soon I think.
The iPhone 5C coloured phones are anything but cheap

Tuesday though will go down in my memory as the day I got the sad news that Beryl Ranwell died.  It was via an email from Andy D who sent me the link to her obituary published in The Guardian at the beginning of July and which you can read here.

Beryl was very much a part of my teens and early 20s. She was the administrator or when I knew her, the secretary at the Russian Department at the University of East Anglia.  Here she helped run the famous Norwich Russian courses (NRC) where both my parents and Aunty Masha taught, the latter being a language instructor at the department too.  Beryl was flamboyant, glamorous, extrovert and an absolute darling. When I read the news I dug out a photo of her together with my Mother in 1974 during one of the very early Russian courses in the summer.  Later she would buy a house in Bolulla, inspired by Aunty Masha and as families we became quite close.  I remember how her deceased husband, Derek who was an expert in botany used to enjoy the fauna around Bolulla in the hills of Alicante.  Both of them would put on  wonderful dinner parties for some of us privileged participants at the NRC at their delightful little English country cottage in a pretty village, the name of which I don’t remember, near Norwich. Beryl I was so sorry to hear of your passing away.  I remember you very fondly; you were part of a lot of fun we all had at Norwich in the 70s and 80’s. 
Beryl Ranwell on the right with my Mother at the Norwich Russian courses in 1974

On a more positive note, on Tuesday I started watching the Mr. Selfridge ITV series I had bought some time ago, after loving The  Paradise.  This is just as good and had me rivetted most of the week. I am looking forward to watching the end tonight in my hotel room in Stockholm.
I am in love with this series

Wednesday 11th was of course the anniversary of the 11th September which needs no explanation here.  It was also my dear friend Grainne’s official 60th birthday – you remember we went to her birthday party in Badalona last week. Her son Marcel had a wonderful surprise for her; a puppy which he gave to her that day and which we all knew about beforehand.  Grainne has always wanted a dog – this one is nameless so far – and on Wednesday her dream came true. 
Grainne and her birthday present

I can certainly understand her need for a dog – I always wanted one as a child and only realized my dream after we got married. Today we enjoy Norah, our 5 year old Beagle, and Elsa our two year old Labrador and couldn’t envisage life without them.

Here is a photo of Norah enjoying our company at lunch on Wednesday – in the dining room for once as it rained out of the blue that day. She wasn’t only enjoying our company, she was on the watch for crumbs from the table, something she is expert at hahah
My darling Norah

Elsa was given to us by Manolo, my friend Fátima’s brother and it so happened he came to visit us on Wednesday, or rather my Father, with his partner, Susana, a lovely young woman from Ecuador.  Manolo is learning Russian and loves to practice with my Father. 

That afternoon, miles and miles away in London, Suzy was meeting up with my niece, Sara (the daughter of José Antonio – Eladio’s brother – and his wife Dolores).  Sara was returning from her year in the Far East and had travelled from Vietnam to London where she will be staying until today, after which she will be coming back to Spain.  I loved the photo Suzy posted of her with Sara in Covent Garden, one of my favourite corners of London.
Suzy with her cousin Sara in London this week
Thursday, my second fasting day of the week, was busy.  I went into the office in the afternoon for an interview by the financial newspaper, Expansión, with my boss.  It was a more personal type interview for a section about top executives’ different types of offices and ways of working.  I hope the journalist was suitably impressed with Yoigo and I look forward to seeing the article when it is published.

As always on Thursday afternoon I went shopping with Fátima.  Afterwards, or rather after my “fasting diet” dinner, we went on our daily power walk with the dogs.  It was just as we were getting home that I got the most important whatsapp message of the year.  It was from Susana to say “I got the job”. An extraordinarily helpful friend of mine from my Motorola years, Antonio, who is based in London, helped her get an interview with a leading London catering and events company.  The interview had taken place the week before and on Thursday she got the thumbs up.  So far all she knows is that she will be working from an iconic London building overseeing events and catering there.  I don’t’ want to say any names or places as she still has to agree on the conditions of the job.  But meanwhile, we are delighted for her.  As for Suzy, she must be over the moon.  Thanks Antonio for putting her on the job ladder and on a decent rung too.  It’s up to her now to make a success of it and I have no doubts that she will.  Go for it Suzy, well done, love you.

So it was with a light heart that we set off on Friday to Campello with our friends Julio and Fátima to stay at the former’s flat in this quiet beach town near Alicante.  It is the third September in a row that the four of us have gone there for the last bathe of the summer.  On the way I rang my dear friend Amanda to wish her a happy birthday and to catch up on her news.  It’s been a long time Amanda, I would love to see you again soon.

We got to El Campello in the  early evening and as soon as we had settled in, we went off for a walk on the promenade.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of Eladio and I at the seafront.  The one below of Julio, Fátima and I was taken a few minutes later.
With my friends Fátima and Julio in El Campello this weekend.

We had dinner that night at Seis Perlas where we always seem to go each year, after which we walked back across the bridge to Julio’s apartment.  The next morning, I took care of breakfast for everyone, as I was to do the next day.

Saturday was spent entirely on the beach and despite the warnings of cloud, the weather forecast people had got it wrong and the sun shone all day as it did on Sunday too.  Being the creatures of habit we are, lunch was at Cavia as it is every year.  Here we devoured the most delicious fideua (paella made of thin noodles) washed down by “tinto de verano” – summer wine in English but meaning a sort of sangria made of red wine and lemonade.
The fideua we had at Cavia in El Campello on Saturday
I spent both days on the beach reading “A long way home” by Judith Tebbutt an English woman who was kidnapped by Somali pirates in Africa and the story of her imprisonment and rescue which is quite an incredible read. Afterwards I found myself looking suspiciously at black Africans trying to sell their wares on the sea front! 

We had  to say goodbye to the beach yesterday Sunday after another lunch at Cavia where this time we had great paella or rather “arroz a banda” and “arroz señoret” and returned to Julio’s flat for the necessary shower and cleaning  and packing.  We were ready to go at around 18h. Eladio was our driver back as he had been on the way out and he patiently drove the four hour journey home to Madrid yesterday.  We encountered some heavy traffic entering the capital city and weren’t home until after 10.  We had all caught the sun which I can only imagine to be the last time we will this year.  A good time was had by all and the four of us vowed we would repeat the trip next year again in September.  You can see the full collection of photos of our weekend in Campello here.

This morning, Monday, I enjoyed breakfast with Olivia and luckily I had some time to get ready and pack for my next journey which as you know since you’ve read the beginning of this blog, has already started and I’m on my way to beautiful Stockholm.  I don’t expect much sun there and have been warned to bring a “brolly” which I have, along with a coat, tights and sensible shoes – the only downside of Sweden being its weather!

I look forward to a productive time with my colleagues from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Lithuania and Estonia and to some good times together.  I will be retuning on Thursday, this time not on the direct flight which I am on today, but via London – oh well that will give me some time at Boots and Smiths, etc hahaha. I won’t be at home for long either as on Friday we’re going to Montrondo for the weekend to be with Eladio’s brothers and sisters.  So you see I’m still feeling like Phileas Fogg like I told you last week.  

And now I’m at the end of this week’s tale.  I wish you all the best.  Until next time,