Sunday, February 02, 2014

British hymns, nostalgia and belief, a wet and blustery walk, Motorola sold again, Spanish football in mourning, puppy love and other stories.

Eladio kitted out for our wet and blustery walk on Tuesday

Good morning my friends, this lovely sunny Sunday at the beginning of February.

This week has been quiet, I haven’t been away anywhere and actually there is not much to record, but let me have a go at telling you about my, or should I say, our week.

I left off last Sunday after the first walk of the day.  Recently I have been trying to get in two walks a day (just under 2 hours) to get good activity recordings on my fit bit.  Really it’s all about burning more calories so as not to have to reduce my intake too much.  So after the family lunch last Sunday I went on the second walk, alone this time.  When I go alone I listen to music on Spotify where I have various collections of my favourite music. Usually it is my classical collection that uplifts me but this time I decided to listen to my collection of British hymns, after all it was Sunday.  The experience was very uplifting and I found myself singing along as if it were a sort of spiritual karaoke.  Incredibly my voice came back stronger and stronger as I walked along the familiar path.  The experience took me straight back to my formative years at my school in Bradford, St. Joseph’s College as I listened and sang those wonderful familiar hymns that had my hair standing on end.  Thank goodness there was no one else on the walk or whoever saw me may have thought I was mad! It was as if I was standing at morning assembly in my green 6th form uniform in Our Ladies Hall or singing in the wonderful school choir under the instructions of our emotional Irish music teacher, Mr. O’Rourke (remember girls?).  I am forever grateful to him for having sung in his wonderful choir, an experience I often wish I could repeat and that has stayed with me forever.
Part of my Spotify collection of British hymns
I sang along to some of my very favourites only remembering the first two or three lines of the first verses of these most British of hymns such as Immortal Invisible God only wise, Love divine all loves excelling, Praise my soul the king of heaven, Dear lord and father of mankind, Stand up stand up for Jesus, Let all the world in every corner sing, All people that on earth do dwell, For all the saints, Onward Christian soldiers, Guide me o thou great redeemer, Be thou my vision, Morning has broken, There is a green hill far away, Land of hope and glory, rule Britannia, Jerusalem, Jesu joy of man’s desiring.  People who went to school with me and live in Britain may not relate to this part of my blog, but others who have gone abroad like me, may well feel the same nostalgia.  I wonder if that is true.  Listening to them brought the eternal dilemma of whether I believe in God or not.  I found myself choosing which one of these hymns I would want to be sung at my own funeral!  It is quite clear to me that I would choose a Church of England funeral, but is that just because of my upbringing or because I believe?  Yes, my friends that is the eternal dilemma, not just mine but of many other people I am sure.

I soon had to break the spell of the experience and attend to earthly matters as at 8pm on Sunday evening I had a conference call with Stockholm.  It turned out to be about company reorganization that hardly affected us really. 

Monday morning brought with it another early conference call about the same subject and then I had to be off to Yoigo for a meeting.  Monday was of course my fasting day so for me it was rather ironic that day to read that Dr. Dukan had been struck off the medical register in France.  I think this man of the famous high protein diet needs no introduction.  I of course am very familiar with his diet which I went on in 2010 and since which I have remained more or less on track.  Today I use the Fast diet (yes another fad diet I suppose) to keep to my weight.  You probably know he was struck off for promoting his slimming diet in breach of regulations which for me is a technicality.  The underlying question is that he has been accused of giving damaging dietary advice.  To quote some of the media this week “food experts around the world have warned the regime is a health hazard due to its very low vegetable and carbohydrate intake”.  So do I agree or not?  Well it worked for me, but I wasn’t on it for long and also I only did a very short period of the pure protein phase (2 days in my case) whereas some people did that phase for far too long which must be dangerous. Dr. Dukan has made a lot of money out of his diet but won’t be doing so any longer as his emporium is breaking down and the last I heard may soon be going bankrupt.  Well it worked while it lasted, for me at least, but I, like many other people, have just gone on the next thing.
The end of the Dukan Empire?
For the record I am posting here the dinner I had that night, the dinner I always have on Fast days when I am only allowed 500 calories.  My dinner of a lean ham omelet, asparagus and tomato followed by a mandarin is very colourful and works out at about 235 calories.  It is my only meal when I am fasting and I look forward to it all day.
My low calorie dinner on Fast days
On Monday I heard from my friend Fátima that her birthday lunch on Wednesday would have to be cancelled.  It was because her mother Gloria had been taken into hospital with complicated flu symptoms.  Today I heard she is being discharged but it must have been a complicated week for both of them.  From these pages I wish Gloria a quick recovery.

On Tuesday I went into the office again for another meeting but was home for lunch with my Father and Eladio.  Tuesday was a blustery, cold and wet day but that didn’t stop us going on our walk.  In fear of a lot of rain Eladio donned a long red outer raincoat that I had bought in San Sebastian in 1992 when I was at the start of that year’s Tour de France.  It is a garment which brings back lots of memories and is incredibly useful in the rain.  Eladio, according to his sister Pili, looked like Little Red Riding Hood.  That is the photo which illustrates this week’s blog.  But I took others on the walk when a wonderful full rainbow appeared in the sky.  Unfortunately it was impossible to catch the whole of it on camera, but here is the best shot I managed.
Eladio and the rainbow on our blustery walk
Wednesday was a quiet day.  That day it snowed in Montrondo and I yearned to go, hoping the snow would last till the weekend but we didn’t in the end as none of Eladio’s family could join us.  I am still hoping to go to see some snow this year.  Maybe there will be snow in Soria when we go for a St. Valentine’s weekend to Almarza.  I certainly hope so, otherwise I will ask Eladio to take me to nearby Navacerrada in the mountains outside Madrid one weekend.
Snow in Montrondo this week. I would have loved to be there
Thursday was my busiest day. It was results’ day; i.e. our mother company TeliaSonera was announcing the last quarter and year-end results for 2013, including Yoigo’s of course.  I was up at 6.50 to attend the first conference call of the day at 8 and another one immediately afterwards. Then I had to join the webcast of the press conference in Stockholm at 10.30.  The news was good for Yoigo we had increased sales by 14%!

It was on Thursday too that there was news about Motorola, a company close to my heart as it was where I forged my career as a PR professional in the telecoms sector.  I joined Motorola in 1990 as the fourth employee in Spain.  Motorola went on to become the leading mobile phone manufacturer. It declined when I joined Nokia in 2000 and not so long ago was bought by Google for some 12bn dollars.  Well the news on Thursday was that Google was selling it for just under 3 billion dollars.  This time it was going to an up and coming Chinese manufacturer, Lenovo, more known for its PCs.  These days the Chinese or Far Eastern countries dominate the market, so possibly this could be good news for Motorola but I have my doubts. 
Google sold Motorola to Lenovo this week.
Friday was quiet, the disruption of the day or rather the morning being a phone call from my friend Fátima who was with her mother at the hospital.  Her daughter, also called Fátima, had managed to lock herself out of their flat and she needed me to rescue her.  Thankfully we have a set of her flat keys and they live very near so the rescue mission was not complicated. 

That evening Eladio and I went out to dinner.  We went to De María, an Argentinian restaurant in Majadahonda. Our main topic of conversation was about Montrondo as we are beginning plans to reform the house we have inherited.  We are receiving estimates from different builders and this week we received one with wonderful plans on how to reform the house. Eladio is very excited and so am I.  We have also bought lots of glossy country house magazines to get inspired from.
Magazines to inspire us when we reform the house in Montrondo

On Saturday football fans in Spain woke up to the news of the death early that morning of Luis Aragonés the former manager of Spain’s national squad.  Aged 75 he had died of leukemia.  His death dominated the news yesterday and praise of his work with the national team – he was instrumental in Spain’s first Euro Cup win in 2008 – came from all corners of the country.  Juan Mata, member of the squad and player for Man United said: "He gave birth to the best Spanish football in history. Very sad news. He will always be remembered”. He couldn’t have worded it better.  RIP Luis Aragonés.
The Spanish squad paying homage to their manager Luis Aragonés in the Euro Cup win in 2008
That morning, Eladio and I went out shopping for my birthday present from him and my Father for my 57th birthday next Saturday 8th Feb.  You won’t know this but for the past few months I kept thinking I was going to turn 58 next week.  I am so pleased I was wrong and have now gained a year. 

We came home to a lunch of fish and chips.  I made the amazing beer batter and got lots of praise from Olivia and Eladio.  Of course we needed a brisk walk in the afternoon.  It was blustery again and very cold.  During the middle of it I got a whatsapp from Suzy to ring me.  She was excited about a flat she and Gabor had seen in Whitechapel and wanted to tell me about it.  They are flat hunting as they can no longer stand living in the crowded ghastly place that has been her abode since she moved to London last May.  I do hope they find the right place soon and can move out and enjoy living in a proper home.

We went out for dinner with Olivia last night – quite an unusual thing to happen on a Saturday night.  But I jumped at the chance as we don’t often go out together although of course we will on my birthday next week.  We took her to our latest find, Terraza La Escondida in Pozuelo where we had a table by the open fire that I had booked via El Tenedor (The Fork).  This amazing website offers discounts at restaurants.  In this case the discount is 40% and the food is great.  It has become our latest favourite dinner venue.

And today is Sunday, the end of the week. I had breakfast with Olivia and part of it was re-watching with her, the wonderful advertisement the American beer company, Budweiser, had made for the Super Bowl.  I don’t care about American football or beer but love this ad called Puppy Love.  You can watch it here if you haven’t already.  Amazingly more than 30 million viewers have watched it.  For those of you who can’t see it the story has nothing to do with football or beer, it is called Puppy Love and is about the relationship with a golden Labrador puppy and a beautiful horse.  Someone comes to adopt the puppy but the puppy doesn’t to be parted with the horse.  I also love this wonderful photo of the two animals.
The puppy and the horse in the Budweiser Super Bowl ad I love so much
Well of course you know we are dog mad in this house.  I love horses too and we have a golden Labrador, Elsa, so it feels as if the advertisement was made for me.  It also brought back memories of when Elsa was little and first came to our house.  It was puppy love for us too that day as it was for Norah our beagle who immediately adopted little Elsa.  I love this photo of that day, of the two of them lying down under the table in front of each other tired after playing.  I hope you like it too.
Our labrador Elsa and Norah, the day Elsa came and the day they fell in love too.
And on that happy “puppy” note, I shall sign off and do all the rigmarole needed to publish this post. But just before let me send birthday greetings to my god daughter Alicia who is 22 today. Happy birthday darling.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week ahead,

Cheers till next time,


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