Sunday, February 22, 2015

21 Egyptian Coptic Christians beheaded by Isis, Betty’s came to our house, Pippa’s arrival and settling in, Shrove Tuesday, walking again (with crutches), lunch with Marika and Claudia, my rehabilitation started, hacked sim cards, Oli and Miguel skiing in Navacerrada, a chance meeting at dinner on Friday and other stories.

Sunday 22nd February 2015.

Finally on my feet - my first day with crutches - notice "the blur of Pippa who I am very careful not to step on
Hi everyone,

Well this week has been great.  Five weeks after my operation I am now semi mobile which is so encouraging and motivating.  Also our adorable new puppy Pippa, a chocolate coloured mini dachshund, arrived on Tuesday adding to the mayhem in our household.  The kitchen is full of dog stuff, beds, water bowls, toys, old slippers and on my crutches it is rather difficult to manoeuvre myself around the kitchen. Also with crutches you cannot use your hands for anything so I have taken to walking on the crutches but using my pc chair to move around in the kitchen so that I can use my hands.

Going back to last Sunday, I spent the afternoon with Olivia making litres of vegetable soup for our dinners as well as a batch of perushki (Russian meat pies).  We must have been cooking for more than 2 hours and I was exhausted after the effort and my foot was swollen and aching.  However I had begun to feel useful again and I must say the food came in handy for dinners this week. Otherwise we always seem to have the same; salad with Gema’s brown bread and Spanish cured ham.  The latter was given to us by Miguel and it is delicious and fast disappearing

Monday was my dear friend Jackie’s birthday.  Being a Christian she would have been appalled at the big news that day that Isis had beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians as the whole world was.  They were killed in Libya and Isis published a beheading video which I do not want to see.  Just looking at the photo of these poor innocent men about to be beheaded on a beach in Libya is enough to make your hair stand on end.
This photo is now so famous it needs no caption
The Egyptian government immediately retaliated by attacking Isis fighting areas in Libya.  Equally worrying was the news that the Ukraine Russian ceasefire was not being fully respected.  In my mind the two most dangerous issues threatening peace in the world are these two and neither of them are easy to halt with peace talks or without.

Monday was day 36 after my fall and again I spent most of it in bed working in the morning and watching series such as Last Tango in Halifax in the afternoon. On Monday too I bought the kindle version of Jane Hawking’s book “Travelling to infinity, my life with Stephen” upon which the film “The theory of everything” was based.  I was interested to read the real story not the 2 hour summarized life of their 25 years together and it makes fascinating reading.
Jane Hawking's book
Tuesday was a great day.  In the morning my Betty’s order arrived.  You may remember me entering a competition where one of the prizes was a St. Valentine’s hamper. Well I didn’t win, nor did I expect to, so instead I ordered a hamper myself. In a nutshell if you can’t go to Betty’s if you don’t live in Yorkshire, then let Betty’s come to you; ordering their produce online.  Their online page is very enticing for Betty’s lovers, however that list is limited if you live abroad like I do as only a certain selection of items can be delivered abroad.  In any case both my 96 year old Father and I, who were great fans of this lovely Yorkshire tea shop when we lived there, were delighted with the hamper.  Here is a photo of my Father and I and the contents of the Betty’s order on our dining room table.
My Betty's order
But far more important than the Betty’s order was the arrival of Pippa, our delightful new chocolate coloured miniature dachshund.  When she arrived we immediately fell in love with her. This is one of the very first pictures of her. 
Pippa in her bed when she arrived which actually she has never used
She is in her bed which actually, after this picture she has practically ignored preferring to hog poor Elsa’s bed, leaving the latter to lie down on the tiled floor.
Pippa prefers Elsa's bed
Pippa took to our home immediately although it was obvious from the beginning that, like a baby, her preferred situation is sitting on my lap.  In a way it’s like having a new baby and Pippa is a little like a substitute for the grandchild we don’t yet have or foresee coming for quite a while.  But that’s ok because both Eladio and I actually prefer puppies to babies.  That’s a terrible admission but it’s true.  I don’t really like babies, far preferring them when they become toddlers; although if the baby is mine or my daughters’ then of course that would be an entirely different story and I would be besotted with it.  Meanwhile I am besotted with Pippa as we all are, including Gema our home-help whom our new puppy follows wherever she goes.  Olivia, who was dying to see little Pippa, had to wait until the evening when she came home from work with Miguel.  Here is the first photo of her with the puppy. Again it was love at first sight.
Olivia meets Pippa
The most delicate moment was introducing Pippa to our dogs, Elsa our 3 year old Labrador and Norah our 5 year old beagle.  Elsa was more worried and Norah totally ignored her.  However it didn’t take long for the three of them to be at peace with each other thank goodness.  At the beginning we didn’t leave them alone together in the kitchen until today.  I have a feeling that the boss will be little Pippa in the long run but only time will tell. 
The three dogs together
I think the photo below proves the harmony of the three dogs.  Here is little Pippa sleeping on top of Elsa in the kitchen with Norah on the left in her bed, the only bed that Pippa respects for the moment hahaha.
Pippa sleeping on top of Elsa
For the moment as Pippa is only 2 and a half month’s old, she can’t go outside until she has had her third vaccination on 10th March.  I can’t wait to see the three of them outside in the garden and to take Pippa with us on our walks, that is, when I am able to walk properly again.

As she can’t go outside, she can’t sleep outside either. She can’t sleep on her own in the kitchen either because of the alarm. So I am very embarrassed to admit that she sleeps with us; i.e. we are three in the bed at night.  On the first night we brought up her lovely new bed but when she saw us “climb” into our bed she kept jumping up on my side of the bed and crying until I picked her and put her between us.  That night and every night since, she has slept with us, snuggling up to me or Eladio.  I have been told I am giving her bad habits but actually having her sleeping with me in bed is a childhood dream.  Pippa’s favourite place is our bed and here is a video we took of her this week playing with my slipper on our bed. I have always been a dog lover and as a child was not allowed one.  As you can see I have made up for lost time in a big way ever since I got married and made my own home which is now full of dogs and our cat Phoebe.  As yet Phoebe and Pippa have not met. That will be the next milestone in Pippa’s arrival haha.
My side of the bed where Pippa loves to curl up and fall asleep
Tuesday was Shrove Tuesday and when I realized it was I decided to make pancakes for dinner.  Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras in French or Martes de Carnaval in Spanish, is the day before Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent and a semi fasting period in the Christian churches.  In England, it is more known as Pancake Day a tradition I haven’t really implanted in our household but this year I did.  I made loads of pancakes with whole grain flour as there was no white flour but they turned out fine.  I had mine with fresh raspberries and yoghurt as well as sugar free maple syrup.  Eladio preferred his with honey.  Here is a photo of Eladio and I enjoying our pancakes.  Oli and Miguel tucked in happily too.  Meanwhile in London I was pleased to hear from Suzy that she had also made pancakes for dinner.
Having pancakes for dinner on Shrove Tuesday
Wednesday was my big day.  I had an appointment at the hospital to see the orthopedic surgeon who had operated on me.  He took one look and pronounced me ready to walk with crutches, bearing weight on my bad leg, just 5 weeks after the operation.  I was worried I would be clumsy but I actually took to it quite fast.  The good news was he said I would be able to make it to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress at the beginning of March and for my trip to Helsinki just afterwards; probably with the aid of just one crutch. He then sent me to the rehabilitation department to get an appointment.  I was disappointed to be given an appointment there for my first evaluation a whole week later, meaning I probably wouldn’t even be starting on rehabilitation for more than 2 weeks, in fact after my trips to Barcelona and Helsinki.  So there and then I rang an old professional friend called Amalio who used to be the Director of Marca (Spain’s number one sports newspaper) who I had been in contact with recently.  When I had told him about my accident he told me to ring him when it was time for rehabilitation as he wanted to recommend me one of the best doctors in the field; Dr. Torralba who specializes in sports’ rehabilitation and in whose hands many of Spain’s top sports’ legends have passed.  When I rang him he gave me an appointment for the next day. I was very relieved as I knew how important it is to start rehabilitation as soon as possible.

On Wednesday afternoon I caught a snippet of Olivia’s programme.  Just as I turned the TV on there she was reporting live.  It was about a 17 year old boy called Richard who disappeared 10 days ago after a fight in Alcalá de Henares in Madrid.  How awful for his family.
Oli reporting on the story of the 17 year old boy Richard who went missing 10 days ago
On Thursday morning Eladio drove me to Madrid for the appointment at the private rehabilitation centre owned by Dr. Torralba.  I would have far preferred to drive to Yoigo on my own to be at my boss’ side during an interview with the prestigious financial monthly magazine Actualidad Económica.  However, from a distance I had organized everything including a briefing and knew that my boss would be in good hands as he would be accompanied by Carlos from my PR agency.  The truth is I would have preferred to be there to hear every word of the interview but it could not be.

The rehabilitation centre is called Imersa and is near Atocha, so quite a drive from here.  It was at Imersa that I was taught how to walk properly on my new crutches and I have been walking that way ever since.  It wasn’t easy to learn as I my psychomotor abilities have always been rather lacking.  For example I can’t dance for toffee and am nearly incapable of learning dance steps.  But that day I did learn finally how to use my crutches.  First  you place them a large pace away from you, put your left leg forward at the same level as the crutches then place your right leg one step ahead of the crutches, so really, crutches, left leg, right leg, crutches, left leg, right leg until it becomes automatic.  You see it is not easy.  After learning how to use my crutches I was given a schedule of 15 sessions of rehabilitation which were to include something called magnetotherapy; a technique used a lot in sports’ injuries.

After the appointment at Imersa I was going to stay in Madrid as I had a lunch appointment with my ex Nokia communications colleague Marika and her daughter who were visiting Madrid this week.  However I had a sudden urgent request to write a brief for the Swedish Prime Minister on Yoigo as he was meeting a group of CEOs of Swedish owned companies including ours on Friday.  We rushed home and I wrote the 25 line summary of our company for the Prime Minister after which I got ready again to go to Madrid to have lunch with Marika and Claudia.  Dear Eladio drove me to Madrid again to the restaurant after which he drove to José Antonio and Dolores’ house nearby to have lunch with them.

It was great to meet Marika after so many years.  I think we must have bored her sweet and beautiful daughter Claudia who is a medical student in her 5th year in Helsinki with our talk of the Nokia days.  It was at this lunch that Marika and I agreed to host an ex Nokia comms mingle cocktail event with many of our ex colleagues when I go in March.  I posted the event on FB this weekend and hope lots of people come.  Being on the ground in Helsinki Marika will be in charge of finding and booking a suitable location.  I look forward to that. We had lunch at Iroco in Calle Velázquez and it was my first outing to Madrid for a lunch or dinner since my fall.  It was very enjoyable.  I was happy to hear that my Finnish friends had enjoyed sunshine every day in Madrid and were very impressed with the city. As we stepped outside to say goodbye, Julia, who works at my events agency, was passing by so I asked her to take a photo of the three of us together in Madrid and this is it.
Lunch with Marika and Claudia on Thursday was one of the highlights of this week
We parted ways and I took a taxi to José Antonio and Dolores’ house to see them for a little while before going home.  Once home I had quite a lot of work to catch up on but there was Pippa getting in the way trying to bite at all the cables and in the end I had to work with her on my lap using only one hand for my keyboard!

That night Pippa had visitors.  Friends of Olivia and Suzy, “la manada”; Copi, Carolina, Elena and Dave were coming to see her. Thus Oli and Miguel organized dinner which we had all together in the dining room with all three dogs under and around our chairs and legs.  As was to be expected they all fell in love with Pippa.
A selfie of some of the members of the Manada who came to dinner on Thursday to meet Pippa
Friday came and brought with it the breaking news that British and American secret services had hacked sim cards in 2010 and 2011 by stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of mobile phone communications. Hardest hit was Gemalto, the Dutch firm which is the world leader in the manufacture of sim cards; producing some 2 billion cards a year.  Most operators in the world, including us and our mother company TeliaSonera buy their cards from them. I first heard of the news when I received an early morning email from a Spanish journalist asking me our position on the news and how it would affect our customers.  He sent me the article where the news appeared and which said the information came from the famous whistleblower, in hiding in Russia, the now famous Edward Snowden.  It was my job then to liaise within the company to decide on a statement.  Basically what we ended up saying was that we were talking to Gemalto to see what had happened and that our customers’ privacy and security were paramount to us and that we were of the opinion that “all government surveillance of communications should, in all countries, be in accordance with the law and that the scope and method must be transparent”. Gemalto itself issued a press release which you can read here and where they say the hacking, if it had occurred, had happened without them knowing it.  The laws of most countries state that if authorities need to monitor a customer’s phone, they must do so via a legal path and with a judge’s authority.  If it is true that the NSA and the GCHQ have hacked the cards, this means they have broken the law and more worryingly they can now listen in to millions and millions of phone calls.
The story of hacked sim cards by British and American intelligence was big news on Friday
Friday was also my first morning of rehabilitation and when I realized there was no mobile coverage at the clinic I was a bit desperate.  The session ended up taking nearly 2.5 hours and I felt very sorry for Eladio waiting outside.  Next week we have decided he will drive me there and I will take a taxi back.  Once again I would have preferred to be at Yoigo that day as I had called a staff meeting; what we call “Yoigo Mornings” to present the 2014 financial results.  It was to be the first Yoigo Morning I had ever missed.  Again, as with the interview with Actualidad Económica, I organized it at a distance but felt frustrated not being able to be present.

Meanwhile Olivia had taken Friday off and was going to make a long weekend of it with Miguel by going to Navacerrada to ski on Friday and spend the weekend at the Cándido Hotel in Segovia. They had the perfect day for skiing.  Here is a photo of them up by the “Bola del Mundo” as this peak is called (top of the world).
Oli and Miguel went skiiing to Navacerrada outside Madrid on Friday
In London that day Suzy was spending the morning at London Fields with her Friends Chati and Mónica.  Here is a photo of the three of them. 
Suzy with her friends Chati (in the middle) and Mónica (right) in London Fields on Friday
It was on Friday that Suzy received her 3rd evaluation of the process of registering with the HCPC (health and care professions council) and once again the feedback is daunting.  She has to provide more evidence of adhering to their very strict SOPs (standards of procedure).  I have printed out the documents and we shall have a long talk this afternoon about how to go about it.  We will not give up until Suzy is a fully qualified registered nutritionist with the HCPC although many a person in a similar situation would have given up by now.

On Friday we went out to dinner again.  It was a huge relief to do so on crutches rather than in a wheel chair. We chose Zurito in Pozuelo.  Just as we had sat down at our table, we had a chance meeting with an ex Motorola colleague, Ignacio who saw us as he walked into the restaurant.  He then brought his wife Monica and their adopted Russian children Anders, now aged 18 and Ana, now aged 14 to our table to see us.   What a lovely family they make. I had seen Ignacio many times over the years at various sector events, including ex Motorola dinners, but I hadn’t seen his wife and children for at least 14 years.  Wow it was lovely to see them. We caused a huge disturbance at the restaurant and even the bottle of water and plate of olives fell over on our table in the rush and excitement of the moment.  Here is a photo of the 6 of us.  We have agreed to meet soon and when I am back from Helsinki I will organize a dinner.
The chance meeting with Ignacio and his family at the Zurito restaurant in Pozuelo on Friday night
Saturday was a quiet day and I didn’t do much.  Olivia occasionally sent us photos of her and Miguel having a good time in Segovia.  Of all the photos she sent, this one of them jumping up in the air against the Roman aqueduct is probably my favourite.
Oli and Miguel in Segovia yesterday by the Roman Aqueduct
And today is Sunday and they will be back for lunch.  I can’t cook anything complicated due to my limited mobility so it will be grilled steak and chips followed by fresh fruit. 

In the afternoon I will be talking to Suzy to go over the HCPC papers but I shall also be going out.  We just heard this morning that our friend Mari Carmen, the ex-wife of Eladio’s best friend Roberto, fell down some stairs and broke her femur and had to have a hip replacement.  Gosh I felt so sorry for her; what a spate of accidents between the two of us!  So, yes we shall be going out, to hospital, but this time to see a friend. I hope she recovers soon. 

Next week I shall be going to my rehabilitation sessions every morning and look forward to my ankle getting stronger day by day.  I shall also be working on the final details of all our activities at the Mobile World Congress which takes place the following week.  On Tuesday afternoon I shall be having a meeting with the teams from my PR and events Agencies and they will be coming here for it.  They will also be meeting Pippa which I think is an added bonus.  There will be tea and coffee on the table as well as some of the Betty’s cakes and biscuits, uum scrumptious.

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

Till next Sunday


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