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,


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