Sunday, September 21, 2014

Autumn is here, consolidation in the Spanish telecoms market, Edge of Eternity, the United Kingdom continues to be united, a fox on our walk and other stories.

Sunday 21st September 2014
All ready to go to the office on Tuesday morning
Hi again another Sunday in September.  Today is the 21st and the beginning of autumn.  We have had autumn type weather most of the week with intervals of showers but today it is sunny and I am sitting by the pool writing my blog.  Olivia is sitting next to me learning French.  She always manages to surprise me.

Let me start from last Sunday where I left off. That day after I had published my blog, Alberto Contador won the Tour of Spain in a spectacular finish in Santiago in the emblematic Plaza del Obradoiro.  It his is 6th great tour (3 Tours of Spain, 1 Giro and 2 Tours of France).  I was happy to hear the news but between you and me my love of cycling has diminished over the years and this time I didn’t even watch a stage on the television although I followed the results in the news every day.
Alberto Contador celebrating his 3rd win of the Tour of Spain last Sunday
Olivia was back from Valencia with Miguel that night but too late to join us for dinner I am afraid.

Monday of course was my fasting day.  It was on Monday that I finally had my long telephone conversation with my dearest and oldest friend Amanda.  It had been her birthday on 13th September and we had agreed to call each other.  We hadn’t spoken for such a long time so it was great to catch up with her news.  We haven’t seen each other either for at least 3 years and I hope soon we can put a remedy to that.  I wonder when.  Amanda suggested when our house is finished in Montrondo.  Well that would be marvelous. Meanwhile Eladio was off to the hospital in Móstoles for an appointment with my Father’s urologist after his recent operation.  Thankfully he is fully recovered from his operation.  He will be having a scan in December as part of a routine check-up.

Monday was a busy day in the Spanish telecoms market.  There had been rumours in the press about consolidation.  Yoigo, the company I work for, as I pointed out last week, is on sale again for the 3rd time and the papers were speculating that the Spanish fixed operator Jazztel was interested in buying us.  They also said Orange was interested in both operators.  That day I got many calls from the press and was only able to give the standard answer that we would be happy with whatever decision our shareholders made and that meanwhile work continued as usual.

The next day I woke up to a start.  I was making my breakfast at about 7.30 and saw many messages.  It seemed the night before, just before midnight, Jazztel had announced that Orange was buying it and that one of the conditions was for the latter not to buy Yoigo.  I was astounded. At very short notice I had to organize a staff meeting at midday as some members of the board were in town and it seemed appropriate to address the staff who would only have read the news in the media.  The photo illustrating this post is of me ready to go to the office. 

I was home for lunch and on time to watch the midday news with Eladio.  The item that interested me most was the news that Ken Follett’s third book in the saga and trilogy about modern history beginning with World War 1 as seen and lived through the eyes of families in England, the US, Germany and Russia was out that day.  It is called “Edge of Eternity” and follows “Fall of Giants” and “Winters of the World” both of which I loved and devoured. I decided there and then to order the kindle version rather than wait a week or more for the huge hardback to arrive.  I was also considering that there really is no more room in my library of English books so probably better to have the e-book version.  Of course it arrived immediately.  I started reading it that evening and have been reading it most of the week.  The only drawback about reading it on the kindle is that it is difficult to go back and consult the front pages listing all the characters and there are so many of them.  And do I like it?  Well yes but maybe not as much as the previous books.  Edge of Eternity starts in the early 60s and is all about the Cold War and human rights for negroes in the US with the characters living out events again in England, the US, Germany and Russia.  I love the parts where some of the characters work closely with Kennedy and Khrushchev but I am not too keen on all the events surrounding Cuba as that is not my favourite part of history.  No doubt Vietnam will be central to the book but I haven’t got far enough yet to know. 
I am enjoying reading Ken Follett's Edge of Eternity on my kindle
Of note on Tuesday my Lakeland online order arrived.  It contained 3 rotary whisks and 4 toast tongs to be used at home, our flat in Santa Pola and Montrondo of course. Both are items totally unavailable in Spain.  Lakeland is a great English kitchenware store I discovered with Suzy when I was in London in August.  My very old rotary whisk which we had had at home in Bradford finally broke and I needed a replacement.  A rotary whisk, if you don’t know what it is, is a manual whisk which is great for whisking small things quickly such as eggs for a fluffy omelet. 
My new rotary whisk from Lakeland
The magnetic toast tongs are just the trick for getting toast out of a toaster without burning your fingers or having to use a knife.  If you are interested here is the link.  You will see they are very cheap but I can tell you they are incredibly practical.
Lakeland's magnetic toast tongs

The highlight of Tuesday was dinner at home on the terrace with Olivia and Miguel.  I made delicious mini fillet steaks with wonderfully tasting tomatoes smothered in thick dark green olive oil.  I got full marks for that meal that night from Eladio.

Wednesday was a quiet day with not much to report.  It rained and the temperatures went down and I found myself reading in the evening by the pool with my dressing gown on.  Gone I think are the days when I come back from my walk in the evening to swim and take a shower outside.  I haven’t yet removed the towels and shower gel but I might have to soon.
Thursday was a big day in the history of the United Kingdom.  The referendum for independence in Scotland was to take place that day. It was the biggest news in Europe I think and everyone followed it closely, myself included.  I had mixed feelings. I love Scotland but didn’t really want it to disunite from England for various reasons.  And neither did the British government nor the opposition in England. Even the Queen told people to think carefully before they voted. It must be said the British Government allowed the referendum never thinking that Scotland would vote for independence.  However as the time came closer polls were forecasting a narrow win to the Yes camp so the British government rallied round in a last minute panicking mode to campaign for a No vote, promising all sorts of autonomous measures which they will now have to keep to.  The Yes group called Better Together made last minute efforts to swing the result in their favour calling on ex PM the Scot Gordon Brown to campaign and he made the speech of his lifetime.  Andy Murray, like the Gasol NBA Catalonian basketball players, via twitter showed he was in favour of independence.   We wouldn’t know the result until the next day.  What we did know was that the turnout would be very high.
There was a lot of tension around the referendum leading up to the day of voting
Meanwhile in London, Suzy, totally unfazed about the referendum was at a birthday party in their house for one of their flat mates, Luana, an Italian girl who I met when I stayed there in August.  Poor Luana has a tiny room which she described to me as a cage. I was furious to know she paid 400 pounds a month for what really is smaller than any prison cell I have ever seen, albeit only on television.
Suzy with flat mates and friends celebrating Luana's birthday this week

We woke up on Friday to know the results of the Scottish independence referendum. Thankfully for a lot of people the No voters had a majority, not that big, but sill a decisive result.  The final tally was Yes: 1,617,989 (45%) No: 2,001,926 (55%). Glasgow was the area which voted mostly yes whereas other parts of Scotland, notably the Shetland Islands, as my Father had predicted, voted predominantly against independence. So it can be concluded that the United Kingdom will remain united, although a new chapter in UK history is about to unfold as David Cameron must honour the devolution pledge he made to the Scots and which he has also offered now to Wales and Northern Ireland.  The issue continues and tension is definitely in the air as the West Lothian question continues to be unsolved and which refers to the debate in the United Kingdom over whether members of parliament from outside England – from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – can vote on matters that affect only England whereas English MPs cannot vote on their matters.

The Scottish referendum results.
This week when following the news of the referendum I came across a great video explaining the referendum and its history.  It’s supposed to be for non-Brits but for me it was a learning experience.  This is the link if you are interested.

That night Eladio and I went out to dinner as we always do on Friday nights.  This time our choice was the quasi Italian restaurant Ginos where I devoured a plate of delicious pasta.  Against my urologist’s recommendations I had a small glass of red wine.  Since he banned alchohol from my diet I have tried it a couple of times only to find out that it doesn’t seem to affect my OAB at all.  On the contrary it helps me sleep better.  I am looking forward to telling him that at my next appointment, hahaha.

Saturday came.  After my walk I spent part of the morning making a typical Madrid winter dish, “cocido”.  I left everything cooking and to be switched off by Fátima at the appropriate time and left the house with Olivia to go shopping.  We went to Centro Oeste for Olivia to buy Eladio’s birthday present.  I have already bought mine and my Father’s.  Naturally whilst we were there we ventured into Zara.  Amazingly for once I didn’t buy anything. 
What Madrid "cocido" looks like
In the afternoon we spent some quality time sitting, reading and chatting by the pool where we were joined by Olivia for once.  It was the perfect occasion to call Suzy which we did.  She told us she is moving out of Canada Water to their new flat in South Bermondsey this Monday coming. Later she sent us a photo of the beginning of their packing.  I recognize the striped towels in the picture which I bought many years ago at the market in Santa Pola.
Suzy is moving house tomorrow
Later Olivia joined me on our new walk.  It was on our way back that a beautiful fox crossed our path stopping at a short distance to stare at us.  We were so taken aback we didn’t react in time to take a photo. It is the first time we have seen a fox on our walk.  I remarked to Olivia that so far on my walks I have seen the following fauna: eagles, vultures, rabbits, sheep, snakes and even the odd wild boar.  Then just a few minutes later it crossed our path again and once more stood looking at us. This time we had the presence of mind to take a photograph before it disappeared. Oli’s photo was better than mine and this is it.
The beautiful fox Olivia and I saw on our walk yesterday evening
Later Eladio regretted not having joined us and this morning when the three of us went on our walk with the dogs, we hoped to see it again but we didn’t.  I do hope it appears again. 
And today is Sunday and as I said at the beginning of my post autumn is here. That always makes me sad as there is only the winter to look forward to now.  You probably all know that my favourite season is the summer and I just hate to see it go. 
The news today in Spain is that a second Spanish citizen has contracted that deadly virus Ebola.  You will remember the first one was Miguel Pajares a 75 year old priest working in Liberia who later died.  Manuel García Viejo, aged 69, working in the same order as Miguel Pajares is a priest too but also a doctor and as I write he is being repatriated to Spain from Sierra Leona to be taken care of at the Carlos III hospital in Madrid. No doubt Olivia will be reporting on the case tomorrow on TV. Meanwhile Ebola continues to be a deadly threat in Africa with more people dying every day and no known cure or vaccination available yet.

Next week is going to be exciting.  On the one hand it is Eladio’s birthday.  This year he changes decades and amazingly he will be 70 on Tuesday and lots of exciting things will be happening that day. I can’t really begin to believe that my husband is going to be 70 when for me and many other people he looks much younger.  This is him today with Olivia and the dogs on our walk this morning.  He doesn’t look his age does he?
Eladio, Olivia and the dogs on our walk this morning.
On the second hand I have an exciting trip coming up this week.  On Wednesday I am travelling to Vilnius for a meeting all day Thursday with my communications colleagues from other countries in Europe.  I shall be returning on Friday so have just two nights in the Lithuanian capital of which I know very little.  The Lonely Planet guidebook of the Baltic countries my Father has lent me will come in handy and make great reading on the flights out.  Naturally there is no direct flight to Vilnius from Madrid.  Going out I will fly via my beloved Helsinki but very frustratingly I will be at Vantaa airport for less than an hour – so near yet so far.  Of course I shall be writing about my impressions of Vilnius in my next blog post.
Meanwhile I wish you all a great week ahead.  Also I wish lots of luck to Suzy in her moving house and early happy returns to my wonderful husband Eladio.

Till next week my friends,

Cheers Masha.

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