Sunday, February 09, 2014

Pedro J’s last day, storms in Spain and snow in Madrid, Facebook’s look back video, my early birthday present, a trip to El Escorial with the girls, my birthday weekend, the Winter Games take off, a Spanish princess in the dock, thank you Google and other stories.

With my beautiful girls (Oli left with  the grey scarf and Suzy right with sun glasses) at El Escorial on Friday
Hi everyone

What a great week it has been in very many ways.  It has been full of news and surprises and the best birthday ever!  I left off last Sunday.  That day was my god daughter Alicia’s birthday.  She is the youngest of the 13 cousins and the ones who live in Madrid prepared a surprise lunch for her.  Here is the photo to document the event.  Love you Ali, you know that.
The surprise birthday lunch for Alicia
Last Sunday was also the last day for Pedro J Ramírez, as editor of the right wing Spanish paper El Mundo. He is one of Spain’s most high profile journalists and the news was echoed by media as prestigious as The New York Times which wrote that his dismissal was mainly caused by his criticism of Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s right wing premiere.  Be that as it may, Pedro J is now asking the American newspaper to correct its piece which I doubt it will.

Sunday also saw the beautiful north eastern town of San Sebastian suffer a mini tsunami.  The pictures of the waves penetrating into the city centre are incredible.  There have been vicious storms in the north of Spain as there have been in England, France and Portugal.  The main news of the week here has been mostly about the devastation they caused. 
A mini tsunami in San Sebastian
The weather forecasts also predicted snow in many parts of Spain.  Here in Madrid we were eager to see its arrival and were delighted when it began to snow heavily in the middle of the morning on Monday.
It snowed on Monday
But it didn’t last or settle and all I could do was envy my colleagues and friends in other parts of Europe who have lots of snow.

Tuesday was a busy day.  The mother company of Yoigo, TeliaSonera, announced reorganization changes that day in the communications team.  I was very sad to hear that the head of my communications team will be taking another role.  I have worked with Anna for years and will sorely miss her.  Her role will be resumed by a Finn called Tatu who I don’t know.  However I have good experiences with working with Finns, so the change might not be too drastic.

Tuesday 4th February was Facebook’s 10th anniversary.  Curious to see when I had actually joined, I found out it had been in August 2007 and that my first friend had been Anne (Finnish).  My second friend was Juana and my third Maija.  Anne and Maija have both been my bosses at Nokia and all three “girls” are ex Nokia.  It was funny to see the Nokia Connecting people slogan ringing true here once again. That day Facebook launched an individual look back video for all its users and it went completely viral with everyone posting their video.  I am not very keen on Facebook as a company (bit too dominant) but was impressed with the idea.  This is my video if you are interested which I wouldn’t be surprised if you weren’t. 

On Wednesday, as on Monday, I fasted.  I was up early for a conference call and then off to Yoigo for a meeting with my external PR team. Wednesday was a day we had all been looking forward to.  Let me explain; on Wednesday night Suzy was coming from London especially for my birthday.  She was also coming for her friend Copi’s 30th birthday but wanted it to be a surprise for Copi, so none of us were allowed to post anything on Facebook or anywhere else.  Now I can finally talk about her visit in the open. She brought her boyfriend Gabor with her who was met by his mother at the airport too.  He hadn’t seen her for a year and a half and I witnessed the reunion which was very emotional.  Seeing Suzy again was emotional for us too and a very happy moment.

Oli had taken off Thursday and Friday to be with Suzy and I had done as much work as possible beforehand so as to spend nearly all my time with her too.

After a wonderful breakfast together on Thursday morning in the dining room with my Father – a table loaded with churros, chocolate, coffee, croissants and orange juice – the three of us got ready to go out. I went shopping with my beautiful daughters and we had a field day at Zara together.  There I got my Father’s present for me, a lovely pastel blue wool coat.

My lovely pastel blue woolen Zara coat

We had a family lunch together – Eladio was back from invigilating the UNED University exams. I had made “cocido madrileño” for Suzy – which, being the productive sort of person I am, was cooked and ready by the time the girls were up at 9 O’clock!

Suzy joined Eladio and I and the dogs for a walk that afternoon.  It was the perfect day.  Later they met up with the “manada” – their group of friends, minus Copi of course and this time they were joined by Gabor.

If Thursday was perfect Friday only got better. It started off with another nice breakfast (minus the churros, croissants, etc) in the kitchen with the girls and both their boyfriends, Gabor and Miguel.  They had decided to spend the morning in El Escorial – that beautiful little town near the mountains outside Madrid where Philip II built the famous monastery come Palace.  I decided to join them and thus the five of us found ourselves in that very austere but pretty town walking the streets in the sun.  Miguel took some great photos of us all with Olivia’s semi-professional camera I wish she would use more.  The one I like best is the one illustrating this week’s post, of the girls and I.  I also love this one of all of us, minus Miguel the photographer of course.  You can see the rest of Miguel’s great photos of us in El Escorial here.
In El Escorial with Suzy (sun glasses), Gabor and Olivia (right)
We decided to have lunch nearer Madrid so that Eladio could join us.  Thus we went to La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas, the scene of many family celebrations.  Thank you Olivia and Miguel for treating us all to a wonderful lunch there.

That night the girls were off to the surprise party they had planned with their friends for Copi’s 30th birthday which in fact was to be the next day like mine.  The girls have been friends with Copi since they were 3 and 4 and she is very much part of our family and life.  Suzy's attending was supposed to be a surprise for Copi, except that by mistake Oli posted photos of our day trip to El Escorial on the group whatsapp.  It was my job, as usual, then, to keep the peace after the unfortunate incident.  Even so Copi was delighted to see Suzy.  Here is a photo of the girls, their boyfriends and Copi that night.
Celebrating Copito's 30th birthday on Friday night
That evening the Sotchi Winter Games were inaugurated.  I only watched a bit, but of course much has been reported on the news. The main stories running up to Friday were about hotels not being finished, the gay rights controversies and huge security worries.  Sotchi, Russia’s answer to Benidorm or Blackpool but on the Black Sea and apparently Joseph Stalin’s favourite resort, was for a few hours on Friday the centre of attention around the world.  You can watch the amazing ceremony here.  I only saw a part of it but read later that it was supposed to be a view of Russia, connected by its majestic past to an exciting future through the dreams of a young girl called “Lubvov” – love in Russian.  There was nothing missing; all the Russian stereotypes such as War and Peace, Swan Lake, the Revolution, all had a part in the fantastic ceremony.  While it happened, some madman in Istanbul tried to highjack a plane to take him to Sotchi but thankfully the attempt was aborted.  I hope nothing awful happens and wish that the young Spanish ice skater, Javier Fernández, who just won the European  Championship brings home a gold medal from Sotchi. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
The Sotchi Winter Games inauguration
Saturday of course was my birthday.  I was 57 yesterday and surrounded by my family.  I think yesterday was one of my best birthdays ever.  It started off with a special breakfast – yes more churros and croissants.
My birthday breakfast with all the family and the boyfriends
This year we were joined by both boyfriends and both of them signed my birthday card.  I loved all the words from them and my family which you can read here.  I was happy with my presents too, a watch and jumper from the girls, the coat from my father, a white cold winter anorak from Eladio and a lovely scarf from Fatima our home help.
Lovely words on my birthday card
However we were alone as a family at lunch for which Fátima made one of our favourite meals – fish and chips. I did the beer batter though and Oli helped me deep fry the fish.  The piece de resistance was the cake. I loved the fruit and chocolate creation Eladio got from one of our favourite bakery shops nearby.
No birthday would be the same without a cake

Saturday wasn’t only Copi’s birthday or mine. It was also my nephew and Eladio’s godson, Juan’s.  Below is a photo of Juan and his family, our family, celebrating his birthday too.  Happy birthday dear Juan too.
Our nephew Juan celebrating his birthday too on Saturday with his family
In the afternoon on went on a second walk, to work off all the churros and cake and to work up an appetite for dinner.  Dinner was a family affair again and we were joined by the “boyfriends”.  We went to “Terraza La Escondida” in Pozuelo where our invitees agreed the place is great and the food superb and all at a very good price.  We took more photos over dinner of course and below is the one of us all around the table at dinner.
Last night's birthday dinner.
You can see the rest of the photos of my action packed or should I say food packed birthday here.  I should also make a mention here to thank all my friends and family for their phone calls, emails, videos, whatsapps and posts on Facebook to wish me a happy birthday. Thank you, all your wishes came true, I had a great day.
Who didn’t have a great day yesterday was the Spanish Princess the Infanta Cristina, King Juan Carlos’ youngest daughte,r who was in the dock of the courts of Palma in Mallorca.  It was the first time in history a member of the Spanish royal family was to appear in court as the subject of a criminal investigation. She was to be questioned in connection with the corruption scandal involving her husband’s questionable business affairs; allegedly defrauding regional governments of millions of euros of public money.  The whole affair has caused the royal family a huge headache and has damaged its reputation enormously.  Who knows what the outcome will be but it is a triumph of justice just to see the king’s daughter in the dock. I’m sure she had a dreadful time whilst pleading innocent of her husband’s crooked dealings, saying she knew nothing about them.  I wonder!
The Spanish princess arriving at the courts in Palma yesterday
And today is Sunday.  As I was checking my gmail at breakfast I suddenly realized that thousands of my missing emails had suddenly appeared in my “bin” folder.  In fact some 5.500 emails dated from 2005 to 2010 which had been purged by the hackers of my gmail account were suddenly there.  You will know that when my gmail account was hacked on 20th January in Stockholm, they deleted all the emails.  I tried reaching google unsuccessfully and then decided to ask for help from the communications manager of their offices here in Spain.  Marisa immediately went to work getting the help of a group of engineers in California.  They sent me an automated message during the week acknowledging the problem and saying that if my messages didn’t reappear they could not be recovered.  What I didn’t know though was that my case had been taken on as a special project. So I was delighted to see  some of the messages reappear today. I now have hope the messages between 2010 and 19th January this year will also be recovered.  My faith in Google has been restored.  To boot, to quote my friend Jacky, yesterday on my birthday there was a google doodle birthday greeting for me; wow an individual doodle.  I was impressed. This was it.
My Google birthday doodle which pleasantly surprised me yesterday
I started writing this post this morning when the girls were asleep and have resumed after taking Suzy to the airport.  It’s amazing how soon her visit and my birthday have come to an end.  However we enjoyed her company to the last moment.  I joined the girls for a late breakfast (my own was at about 8.30) and spent time with Suzy before we had lunch.  Lunch was the last family gathering before we all took Suzy to the airport.  There we met with Gabor whose Mother was seeing him off too.  Our goodbyes were sweet but nostalgic with the odd tear shed – mostly by my lovely emotional daughter Suzy.  I do hope it won’t be long before we see her again.  We have to make plans to see each other for her birthday in April and or Olivia’s birthday in May.

The house feels flat now, it’s raining cats and dogs outside so there will be no walk this afternoon.  Next week will be quiet but we have St. Valentine’s to look forward to.  Eladio and I will be going away on Friday for a romantic getaway to a spa hotel in a small village near Soria. 

Meanwhile my friends, I wish you all a great week ahead,

Cheers Masha

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