Sunday, December 14, 2014

Goodbye Fátima, hello Gema. Little “Yoigo” part of the team, the longest train in the world arrives in Madrid full of Christmas presents, personal shopping at Ikea and a break in in my car, parties in Madrid, Queen Fabiola of Belgium’s funeral, Christmas came to our house and other things.

Sunday 14th December 2014

Christmas came to our house on Saturday
Hi everyone, we are well into December now and the weather has been awful.  It’s raining hard right now so I have put off my walk until later.  So here I am writing this week’s post.

Last Monday was a national holiday in Spain and even Oli had a holiday. Even though it was a holiday I woke up early.  My body clock is programmed for me to wake up between 7 and 7.30.  It was a cold and frosty morning but at least the sun was shining on my walk.
It was a cold frosty but sunny walk on Monday morning
That day I took some time to do some Christmas shopping online as well as make and order a family desk top calendar which I make every year.  Monday felt very much the aftermath of the two big events I had the week before, the press conference and the big Christmas party to launch our new image.  You can see the photos of the former here and the photos of the latter here too.

On Monday Fátima came with her two children, Sara aged 10 and Omar aged 6.  She brought with her our new home help Gema and the idea was for her to show Gema the ropes.
Fátima our home help with her children.  It was sad to say goodbye to her on Monday
In the end Fátima has sorted out her problem of working with us and leaving the children at home alone by deciding to go and live in France with her sister Oufa, our previous home help.  They will be going at the end of this month.  We will sincerely miss dear sweet and troubled Fátima who has looked after my Father so lovingly.  I wish her lots of luck in her new life.  Hopefully we shall see her before she goes.

On Tuesday I fasted and went into a meeting at Yoigo.  Meanwhile Olivia went into work and took with her one of the “bunches” of sweets we had made for the events.  Her colleagues were delighted that I had “sweetened” their morning.
The Yoigo bunch of sweets Olivia took to work on Tuesday morning
Tuesday of course was Gema’s first day on her own.  She is 52 and has 6 children, all grown up, three live in Morocco and three live in Spain.  She wears a headscarf and on Monday was wearing red leggings and looked very strange.  It must be difficult for her to get to know our huge house.  She made quite a few mistakes the first day, such as misplacing the Emma Bridgewater sugar bowl which finally turned up with the olive oil.  I had asked her to make a salad and a fruit salad and was aghast when I saw she had put the avocado in the latter rather than the former.  Then I found the ice cream we had had for lunch in the fridge rather than the deepfreeze.  However her attitude is great and she seems to clean quite quickly.  I think she needs time to settle in.  Let’s see how she gets on this week.

On Wednesday the longest train in the world arrived in Madrid from China. The “Yixinou” express left the city of Yiwu in Eastern China on November 18th, passing through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France.  The journey was 13.000km long and five times as long as the Orient Express.  It came piled high with Christmas presents and arrived yesterday 21 days after it departed China.  It will return to China filled with Spanish produce such as cured ham, olive oil and wine.  It made quite a sensation in the media.  The Times wrote that the train took 10 days less than a ship would have done which I found a bit funny as Madrid is nowhere near the sea.

The longest train in the world which arrived in Madrid on Wednesday
Meanwhile I went off to a meeting in Madrid with members of my team from the events agency QuintaEsencia and PR agency Ketchum.  I took the time before the meeting to go to an English shop in Madrid called “Living in London” to buy Christmas fare such as crackers, cranberry sauce, sage and onion stuffing as well as two boxes of Thornton’s milk chocolates.

At our meeting we were joined by “little Yoigo”, the new company mascot whose carer is Gloria who is one of the owners of QuintaEsencia.  Here she is at the meeting with her sister Bea with the puppy in her arms.

Gloria (left) and Bea at our meeting in Madrid on Wednesday with "Little Yoigo" who is another member of our team
 Little Yoigo is like another member of our team. Wherever Gloria goes, the puppy goes too.  I can’t wait until we find one for us.

After our meeting we went off to have lunch at El Almirante de Bogavante to celebrate the success of the events the week before.  Here is a photo of all of us around the table.

Lunch with my two teams on Wednesday in Madrid
 On Thursday Eladio and I had an appointment at Ikea to go on a personal shopping expedition for all the items in the kitchen come dining room and lounge for our house in Montrondo that Raquel and her team from A Doble Altura had designed for us.  Raquel’s company offers personalized interior decoration services to Ikea customers at Ikea in San Sebastián de los Reyes, the only service of this kind in the whole of Spain.  We had a great time going around with Paula choosing all the elements of the room they had designed.

When we came out and opened our car we saw that someone had broken the smaller triangular back window and broken into the car.  The back seats were full of broken glass and Eladio’s burberry coat had been stolen.  It was not a nice sight.

We had to make a police report because hopefully the insurance will cover the loss of the coat which cost us over 1000 euros a couple of years ago.  That took up most of the afternoon. Thankfully, as the car is a company car, the window will be replaced and I won’t have to worry.  But that day we learned a lesson; that is never to leave anything visible in the car when you park it.

On Wednesday evening I was going to the annual TecNavidad Christmas party organized by the telecoms press and which is sponsored by all the companies in the sector including Yoigo.  Its main purpose is to raise funds for charity but it is also a great occasion for people from the sector to get together. It was starting at 9.30 pm so I had plenty of time to get ready.  Then suddenly on Facebook I saw an open invitation to an after work drinks event at Casa Carolo where we did our press conference and which is partly owned by Bea, one of the three sisters who own our events agency, QuintaEsencia.  There and then I decided to go and join them before going to “TecNavidad”.

I couldn't resist this invitation on Thursday evening
 As I never usually go out in the evening Bea and her sisters were amazed and I think pleased that I turned up.  Little Yoigo was there too and I spent most of my time there with him in my arms. 

Soon it was time to go to the other event where I would be joined by my colleague Belén who is a lawyer at Yoigo but also the head of Corporate Social Responsibility.  It was nice to see familiar faces and greet them in an informal atmosphere.  We didn’t stay long as we were very hungry and in the end decided to go back to Casa Carolo and have some dinner.  Here is a girly photo taken there.  It was a really nice evening.

At Casa Carolo on Thursday evening - I am holding "little Yoigo" in my arms
 On Friday I took my car into the office to be serviced and for the back window to be mended.  I was lent a lovely Range Rover to use until I get my own car back.  It was going to be our toy this weekend although we haven’t used it much.

That night we decided on La Txitxarrerría for our Friday evening dinner out.  They have a great menu but I always choose the meat which I think is superb.  Here I am with a nice glass of cider about to attack my meal.

Dinner at La Txitxarrería on Friday evening
On Friday in Brussels the state funeral for Queen Consort Fabiola took place. The popular Spanish Queen of Belgium who died aged 86 on 5th December reigned for 33 years and was born in Madrid in 1928.  Her full name was Fabiola Fernanda María de las Victorias Antonia Adelaida but everyone called her plain Fabiola.  She was the wife of Baudouin, the King of the Belgians who died in 1993.  The couple did not have children so the crown passed to her husband’s younger brother King Albert II.  I was happy to hear there was a Spanish flavor at her funeral in the Belgian capital at the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula.  Her cousin Blanca Ahumanda played the castanets while the choir sang the “Salve Rociera” a hymn of praise to the Virgin of the Dew (Virgen del Rocío), the most popular virgin in Andalucia. I later read that this had been at the request of the Dowager Queen before she died.  I didn’t know much about this Spanish Belgian Queen but was interested to read about her linguistic skills.  Apparently she was fluent in French, Dutch, English, German and Italian as well as her native Spanish; something quite unusual for a Spaniard as the people in this country are not renowned for their skills in learning languages. Fabiola was obviously the exception.

Queen Fabiola in her hay day
 On Saturday I was finally able to dedicate some time to our own Christmas. I was up early as always and went for my early morning walk before the rain came.  Saturday was an important day too for Gema who was to shower my Father for the first time. It was to be her baptism of fire.  I came home to find she had taken him upstairs and given him breakfast but for some reason hadn’t showered him. Thus she had to take him up again and Eladio and I waited outside with baited breath just in case he fell.  Thankfully all went well and we were so relieved.

Olivia and I later went Christmas shopping.  This was my first physical Christmas shopping expedition as I have done a lot of it online already.  We went to Decathlon and then to El Corte Inglés.  In a single morning I got everything I needed to get for Eladio and my Father.  We came home to have the chicken curry I had prepared earlier.  Meanwhile Eladio had brought up all the Christmas decorations and had put up the tree and the lights.  It would be up to me to do the rest.  I started on the rest on my  own whilst everyone else was having a siesta and then suddenly decided to stop as it was very sad to do it on my own.  Also I have a nasty cold at the moment so decided to have a siesta too and then get Eladio and Olivia to help me with the rest of the decorating later.

When we got up I put on some Christmas carols, Olivia decorated the tree, I put up other decorations and put candles in their place whilst Eladio stuck the lovely Swedish paper cutouts on some of the windows.  The lounge looked lovely afterwards and the photo illustrating this week’s blog is of a panoramic view of the lounge.  Here are some more photos of how Christmas came to our house this year.

Some of our Christmas decorations
After our efforts we would have gone for a walk but it was raining heavily.  Thus we decided to watch a film and Olivia and I chose one of several TV dramas I had ordered from Amazon this year.  We chose The Fall and we binge watched nearly all of it until midnight, only stopping to have dinner.  It’s a superb thriller about the hunt for a serial killer in Belfast.  Dinner was a treat as I made pancakes at Olivia’s request.  Here is a photo of Eladio and I tucking in.

Tucking into pancakes last night
 And today is Sunday and the rain continues as I told you at the start of this post.  Thus we prolonged our breakfast in the kitchen together.  I was writing my blog and Eladio and Olivia were reading the news.  Then Olivia rang Suzy and it nearly felt as though she was with us.

Eladio and I at breakfast this morning
 She will be next Sunday and we can’t wait.  But before she comes I have so many things to do workwise, mostly involving the Yoigo children’s party which takes place on Thursday.

Now I have told you all about our week, it is time to publish this post and start thinking about preparing lunch and hope that the rain will remit and we can get some exercise today.  So cheers my friends until next week,


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