Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas parties, stomach bugs, preparing for our own Christmas, Suzy coming home and other stories.

Me with Baltasar, the "black" king at the Yoigo Childrens' party on Thursday
Good morning everyone,

How has your week been? Mine has been up and down, mostly due to stomach bugs, but more about that later. Let me start with last Sunday.

Sunday was the day the new direct high speed train railway line between Barcelona and Paris opened.  It was also the day Peter O’Toole died.  Does this talented and ironic and iconic British actor need any introduction?  He will be remembered most for his role as Lawrence of Arabia.  When Eladio and I visited Jordan we saw where part of the film was shot in the Wadi Rum Desert and where his desert hideaway was.  It was the perfect location for the film.
Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia
Finally last Sunday the technicians from Telefónica came to install optical fiber, i.e. superfast internet.  For that to happen we had to build a trench all the way across the garden to bury the cable.  This is what the trench looked like.  I was amazed to learn that optical fiber is the same size as one single piece of hair.  Imagine!
The trench in the garden to lay the cable for optical fiber
Unfortunately not all could be done in one day, so the technicians promised to come back on Monday.  And they did, but it wasn’t until the end of the day that finally we had between 60 and 105 megabyte speed. It certainly makes a difference.

I didn’t feel well on Monday and was still recovering from the stomach bug which started on the Saturday.  It was a good job it was a fasting day, although in any case I had no appetite for food.  In the morning I was at work on various errands and later in the day I started on preparations for our Christmas Eve dinner by making and freezing loads of croquettes and perushki (Russian meat pies). 

I felt worse as the day went on and Monday night was one of the worst in a long time with frequent bouts of diarrhea and then at about 5 in the morning I was suddenly attacked with cystitis, something the girls have always suffered but I had never had before.  I can tell you it is awful. Thankfully there were some pills in Suzy’s bathroom which after an hour or so did the trick and that awful burning feeling went away.

On Tuesday I was on the mend, although I didn’t feel 100%.  In fact I still don’t.  But I’m hoping I will by Christmas Eve.  Once again I went into the office.  There I was delighted to see how the marketing department had decorated the bus stop outside the office with Christmas greetings to all the employees which included a list of all our names. This is what it looked like.
The Yoigo bus stop wishing all employees a happy Christmas
It was a good job I felt better on Tuesday as I had a lunch appointment with my ex women colleagues from Nokia: Jill, Juana, Fátima and Susana.  We chose Aspen, a favourite of mine but also near where Fátima and Susana work.  It was great to see my ex colleagues again and so nice that we make the effort to keep in touch.
Lunch with the ex Nokia girls on Tuesday
That evening I had another Christmas event to attend, a cocktail party hosted by my PR agency, Ketchum, but frankly I just didn’t feel up to it.  Instead I stayed at home and watched the last episode (12) of season 3 of Homeland whilst Eladio was out teaching at the UNED University.  Of course I cannot include any spoilers here in case you haven’t watched the last episode.  All I can say is that it really surprised me and left with rather an empty feeling.

On Wednesday the big news was the death of the famous great train robber, Ronald Biggs.  The train robbery took place in the 60’s and is one of my first memories of news.  He was larger than life and escaped from prison and went to live in Brazil for many years until giving himself up to return to England where he said he was missing the British pint of beer. 
Ronald Biggs enjoying life in Brazil.
Wednesday night was the Yoigo employees party which I had organized at a fashionable venue in Madrid called Macadamia.  Wednesday was the first day I began to feel normal again so was able to eat and drink.  However the former gave me a dreadful headache that night, as it often does.  The party was a success and I heard later that many people stayed on until 4 in the morning. Not me, I headed home at around 1 in the morning.  Here is a photo of me enjoying the evening, or rather watching the young violinist, Pablo Violín performing for us.  He was just amazing.  At only 24 he is a permanent violinist with the orchestra at the Teatro Real (Madrid Royal Theatre) and in his spare time, plays at parties like ours. If you want to know what he sounds like, here is a clip of him on You Tube.
Watching and listening enraptured to Pablo Violin at the Yoigo employees Christmas party
You can see all the photos of the Yoigo employee party here.  I think it was one of the best to judge by many of the comments made to me by the staff.

Thursday saw me cooking again.  This time I was making the dessert for the annual Christmas dinner at home with Julio and Fátima who were coming on Friday night.  I decided to make fruit trifle, my absolute favourite dessert.  This is what it looked like.  Notice Elsa got in the picture too!
The trifle I made for dinner at home with Julio and Fátima - notice Elsa looking on!
On Thursday it was the Yoigo children’s party.  As always it took place at the offices or rather outside as each year the number of children coming increases. This year we had 170 children plus parents and grandparents of course.  This is the party they look forward to all year.  This year we had a show called ratatouille but also a donkey for them to ride and then the traditional 3 Kings.  I was enamoured with the donkey called “elegante” and which came from Zamora.  Here I am trying to get on it.  I finally made it with a bit of help.
I'm a rather big child! - Trying to get on the donkey at the Yoigo childrens' party on Thursday
The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of me with Baltasar, the “black” king, who is always my favourite.

I got home exhausted and very hungry as it was my fasting day.  So I ravished my single omelette and tomato before going to bed.  Eladio was out at his only Christmas party event, with the UNED University.

Friday was a busy day.  Finished with all the corporate Christmas events, finally I was able to concentrate on our own Christmas.  The house was decorated, I had bought most of the presents and prepared menus but still had to get some presents. So I invited Eladio to go Christmas shopping with me, not always a good idea as he keeps telling me not to spend too much at Christmas. He says that every year and I don’t take a blind piece of notice.  Actually I did all the shopping whilst he looked on.  It was my fasting day so I left him having lunch at the Corte Inglés cafeteria whilst I went in search of my present from him and my Father! It’s always like that.  They are dear men but have never had a clue about present buying.  I got myself a wonderful camel coat, a garment I have always wanted.

Finally on Friday I got Eladio to put the lights on the tree outside.  He had been putting it off for a while. He needed me to hold the ladder at one stage and I must have left the door open as later I found Norah in the kitchen gorging on one of the cheeses I had brought home as part of two of the lovely Christmas hampers I got.  I reckon Norah ate a whole half cheese!
Eladio at the top of the tree putting up the Christmas lights.
That evening Julio and Fátima were coming for dinner but first I had to do the weekly food shopping with Fátima (our home help with the same name as my best friend coming that night).  I was home just on time to put the finishing touches to our meal, or rather put the soup on and cook the fish and béarnaise potatoes.  Luckily the dessert was made.  But of course I had to lay the table too.  Apart from the best china, I put out crackers, party poppers and wonderful green gnomish style Christmas hats.

And here we are around the table with our Christmas hats.  It was a great dinner and a great tradition.  Our next meeting will be on 11th January for another annual tradition, dinner at Julio’s which the girls and my Father used to come to but no longer do or can.
Dinner at home on Friday night with Julio and Fátima
On Saturday, 21st December, Solstice, or the first day of winter, was unfortunate for Eladio.  We were going to get up early to drive to Montrondo to meet the builder and then go on to León to have lunch with the family and pick up the abuela (my mother-in-law) who would be spending Christmas with us.  Well, all that went out of the window, as Eladio woke up feeling sick and was sick at around 7 in the morning.  Upon his first bout he said he was ok and we could go but after his second he agreed we just couldn’t go.  The poor guy had a stomach bug like mine.  We are not sure whether it was a virus or food poisoning. Whatever, he spent most of the day in bed being sick and with a temperature.  I left him in bed to go out and buy the very last presents needed for Christmas as well as a lovely poinsettia which now graces our lounge. 

Miraculously he woke up this morning feeling fine.  Today is the lottery day, or rather the day of the big Christmas lottery called “El Gordo”.  Olivia has had to go to work as it is her TVE programme that will be covering part of the broadcast and the story of the winners.  We have 8 tickets between us which if any of them is a winning ticket could bring up to 40.000 euros each.  Who knows?  The Christmas lottery is Spaniards’ biggest Christmas tradition.  When I first came to live here I couldn’t understand why Eladio spent so much on the tickets when we were poor as church mice.  But now I do, and as I write I have the 8 tickets next to me and the TV on.  I am crossing my fingers we may win something. 

But of course my lottery winning today is having Suzy back for Christmas.  My darling daughter will be arriving tonight, late, from London.  The three of us, Eladio, Oli and I will be going to pick her up and I can imagine the tears of joy that we will shed when she arrives.  She will be here just for a week and we will have to share her with lots of people, but that’s ok.  Our own Christmas will be complete when she arrives. Welcome darling, I can’t wait to have you back.
So, all that remains for me to do now is to wish you all a wonderful Christmas.  Ours is looking good, nearly everything is ready.  Next week when I write it will be over, but of course there will be New Year’s Eve to look forward to.  Looking forward to something is the spice of life.  I’m sure you agree.

Cheers everyone,

Happy Christmas,


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