Sunday, February 08, 2015

A red letter day for Suzy, a surprise sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird”, more extreme brutality from the jihadists, recovering from the accident and operation, the list of things I want to do when I can walk again, a parcel from Jackie, the biggest snowfall in Montrondo in more than 50 years and Javi the local heroe, mittens from Finland, Oli trapped reporting on the snow, watching Last Tango in Halifax, Ana came to visit, Pippa is growing, out to dinner, red roses from Juana and Oscar, thank you for a wonderful birthday and other things.

Sunday 8th February

Happy with my birthday presents this morning
Hi everyone

It’s Sunday 8th February and it’s my birthday.  I am 58 today, just 2 years away from the dreaded 60 milestone.  Who would believe it?  Certainly not me!  So far it has been wonderful and it is only the beginning.  But let me tell you about it later and start off from where I left off last Sunday.

Last Sunday Oli went sales shopping and bought me a lovely grey cardigan from Oysho.  How I would have loved to go with her, but as you know I am still immobile due to the accident and operation on my ankle.  Suzy meanwhile was continuing her visit to Nottingham.  I was very pleased to hear that she visited the “Ye Olde trip to Jerusalem” which is supposedly the oldest pub in England and an old haunt of ours when I was at Nottingham University.
The oldest pub in England which Suzy visited last Sunday in Nottingham
That afternoon I binge watched the now semi new Forsyte Saga TV series.  When we watched the 1967 series at home in England we had to content ourselves with watching one episode a week for months and months. These days you can watch various seasons of nearly any series you want all in one go.  How things have changed. 

Monday was spent like nearly every day since my accident: breakfast in bed (the biggest advantage of being immobile), a very careful shower, working from my pc in my new bed come office and later watching TV series.  For my lovely daughter Suzy, however Monday turned out to be a red letter day.  She didn’t know the expression and I explained that it meant a day of “special significance”. What was significant for her that day was that she landed the interim job she had applied for whilst waiting for her registry number as a UK qualified dietitian to come through with the HCPC (health and care professions council).  She will be working for Decathlon, the French sports retailer – the biggest of its kind in the world – at the only store in London which is very near where she lives in Surrey Quays. That will keep her busy, earning money and get her out of the house.  I wish her lots of luck and hope she enjoys the job.
A selfie from Suzy working at Decathlon
On Tuesday I was feeling down about being immobile and trapped.  The prospects were not good either as I had been told I would be in a cast for 2 or 3 months and probably not walking properly until another 6.  That day I surfed the web a lot about the recovery length and got rather depressed in the process.  Then my friend Jackie told me to be more positive and to look up how to speed the process up.  I did just what she said and one of the things I found out was the importance of my diet. I knew I had to be on a high fiber diet but apparently the body needs a higher intake of calories than normal for the bones to mend.  That doesn’t mean eating more, but eating more carefully.  It’s amazing how my body has craved for fruit and veg ever since the accident as if it knew what I should be eating to recover.  Of course I need a lot of calcium too which I am having via milk and lots of veg but at the same time I am steering clear of carbohydrates and sugary stuff as I don’t want to put on weight whilst I cannot do my normal exercise. 

Life continued of course on Tuesday and from my small but connected world in my bedroom I was amazed to read that Harper Lee, the reclusive American octogenarian author of the literary gem “To Killl a Mockingbird” (Pulitzer Prize) of which 30 million books have been printed since it was published in 1960 – made even more famous by the film with Gregory Peck – was to publish its sequel
Scout with Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird

Since writing To Kill a Mockingbird (a novel of racism in Alabama in the 30’s as seen through the eyes of a 10 year old tomboy called Scout and of how her lawyer Father Atticus defends a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman) she never published another novel.  However it turns out that the manuscript for her first novel was found by a friend recently.  This first novel is about Scout as an adult and some of her memories as a child about her Father’s law case.  At the time her publisher wrote back to advise her to write another novel this time about Scout as a child and the law case.  And this is exactly what she did.  When her friend found the manuscript recently and showed it to her, Harper Lee was very surprised it had survived and sent it to close friends to get their opinion.  They advised her to publish it and the rest is history now or will be when 1 million copies will be printed in the US shortly.  I always loved her book, as did my Mother.  I think it was one of her favourites.  So, I for one am avidly forward to reading the sequel which, as I say, funnily enough was written before To Kill a Mockingbird.  The new novel is called Go Set a Watchman.  Isn’t that an extraordinary story?
Harper Lee the author of To Kill a Mockingbird
A much worse story hit the news that day too.  IS – those savage and brutal jihadists, issued a ghastly video showing how they burned alive the captive Jordanian pilot, Kasasbeh in a cage.  The release of the video came days after the beheading of a second Japanese hostage within a week. Isis had vowed to kill them unless the Jordanian government handed over Iraqui Jihadist and “would-be suicide bomber” Sajida al-Rishawi both on death row in Jordan.  The deal collapsed when IS did not show proof of the pilot being alive.  I have not seen the video and refuse to watch this barbaric act.  I am disgusted at this new form of terrorism as the whole world is too.  The two Iraqui prisoners were executed in Jordan in a wave of retaliation from this country which is a target of IS because of its involvement in fighting the IS in Syria. Later I read that the pilot’s mother died of sorrow.  I can wholeheartedly understand that.
The awful death of the Jordanian pilot at the hands of IS
On Wednesday Eladio took me to the hospital for my appointments for x-rays, a changing of the dressing on my leg and a visit to the orthopedic surgeon who had operated on me.  I was expecting a new cast to be put on.  But no, Wednesday turned out to be a red letter for me also.  I was amazed when the doctor told me my bones were healing super-fast and that the cast was to be taken off there and then.  His instructions were that I was to be immobile for another 2 weeks after which I was to visit him again.  I was also told to do ankle exercises to strengthen the muscles and I am doing them religiously. 
Doing my ankle exercises with a super elastic band which is perfect for the purpose
He said that in 2 weeks’ time I would be able to walk with crutches bearing weight on my leg.  I know I could not use crutches in a hopping style but I’m sure I will be able to manage them if I can put weight on both legs.  I was ecstatic at the news and any depression I had lifted there and then.  I came home in a much better mood delighted to have the heavy cast off my leg. It’s good to know that my recovery period will be much shorter than expected.  I can now begin to envisage myself at the beginning of March in Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress and even better, in Finland for the bi-annual European Comms meeting I was so looking forward to.  I still don’t know if I will be able to go but the doctor said maybe I could if very little walking is entailed.  So please keep your fingers crossed. On the way home in the car I began to digest the good news about my recovery and in my mind I started making a list of all the things I want to do when I can walk again. This is the list which is not in any particular order apart from the first item:

Go for my walks, make it to Barcelona for the MWC, join the European team I belong to in their next meeting in Finland at the beginning of March and spend the weekend before with Anne in Salo, go to Montrondo, go to the snow in the mountains outside Madrid, have my nails done, go shopping with Oli, go see Suzy in London, a trip to Yorkshire and tea at Betty’s, go for a drive in my new car which will be ready for picking up in Feb, Visit Gael, Juan and Cristina’s newly born baby boy, go and see Oli’s newsroom and meet her lovely colleagues who sent me a present and fantastic get well card, shop at Naranjas de la China where Ketchum ordered the super fruit and flower hamper they sent to me, shop at España en la Mesa where JP Media ordered the lovely gastro hamper they sent me, have dinner and shop at Platea, the new Gastro centre in Colon where my events agency QuintaEsencia bought the super vegetable hamper they sent to me, go the office and see my colleagues, personally pick up little Pippa, the puppy miniature dachshund coming from Granada, lunch out with my friends Julio and Fátima for a belated birthday celebration, dinner at DStage with Juana and Oscar, Visit Nottingham University with my friends and co students Adele, Sandie and Sue,  where I studied and where I haven’t been back since a year after I graduated in 1980 and many etceteras.

Once I was back in my bed come office with a new positive mind set, up came Eladio bearing a parcel. I couldn’t believe it. What another parcel?  I have received so many presents, visits, good wishes I feel overwhelmed.  The parcel was from one of my dearest readers, a person I have known since I was a child in Yorkshire and person I am coming to love more as the years pass.  Dearest Jackie had sent me a box of Yorkshire goodies: sweets, biscuits and tea for my birthday.  This is me delighted with Jackie’s parcel.
Opening Jackie's birthday present
The big international news on Wednesday was of course the horrific story of the Taiwan Trans Air plane that crashed into a river in Taipei.  Of the 58 passengers only 15 survived.  The footage of the accident was very shocking.  I’m sure you have seen how the plane comes over a road with lots of cars and just manages to avoid them swerving into the Keelung River.  There have been quite a few awful crashes recently in this part of the world and I, for one, would be very hesitant to buy a ticket to fly with Trans Air or Malaysian airlines.  I’m sure you would too.
The Trans Air crash in Taipei on Wednesday
But the news that made most impact on me on Wednesday and the following days was of the snow in our beloved Montrondo.  There have been tremendous snow falls in most of the north of Spain; some of them quite historic, but in Montrondo it snowed this week more than it has for some 40 or 50 years.  If you don’t believe me, just look at this photo of one of the 15 or so villagers, José Antonio, as he shovels away the snow to make some sort of path.  Literally he is up to his neck in snow. That is a lot more snow than you would even find in Lapland or northern Sweden right now. 
Villager José Antonio from Montrondo up to his neck in snow this week
Here is another photo, this time of Manolita, perhaps Montrondo’s most loved neighbour.  She is smiling whilst shoveling away as much snow as she can so as to reach her hens to get their eggs. Snow usually leaves Manolita quite nonplussed as she is used to it, but even she admits this snowfall is one of the biggest she has ever seen. 
Manolita clearing the snow in Montrondo this week
The villagers are snow trapped in Montrondo.  Salo, who lives there, told me the snow plough managed to clear the road from nearby Murias but that there was so much on either side of the road it was difficult to pass.  That meant the bread vans from Senra or Murias couldn’t make the delivery.  So the local hero, Javier, the youngest villager, put on his snow shoes and made it down to Murias where every day this week he has bought bread and taken it back in his ruck sack to be delivered to each and every neighbour in Montrondo.  He really is the local hero.  I love seeing his photos on the Montrondo group page in Facebook. If it wasn’t for my foot we would have gone there in a shot this weekend.  I am just hoping the snow stays until my foot gets better and I can witness with my own eyes this historical snow fall in “our” village.
Javi the local hero delivering bread to all the neighbours in snow trapped Montrondo

I must say I woke up feeling a lot more comfortable without the cast on Thursday morning.  Olivia was off at the crack of dawn to do a report on the snow in a village called La Hiruela about 90 odd km from Madrid.  On the way they were trapped in the snow and had to be helped.  Even the snow plough itself was trapped.  I’m not quite sure how they got out but they had quite an adventure. This is a photo of their car being pushed in the snow.
Oli and her TV crew trapped in the snow outside Madrid this week
Many cars were trapped on that road and many more in Spain this week.  Thankfully Oli and her TV crew made it to La Hiruela where Olivia interviewed a shepherd who showed her a baby lamb that had been born that night.  Olivia was surprised it had lived in such freezing conditions.  The shepherd explained that it was thanks to the  ewe’s milk, without which it would certainly have died.  Here is a photo of Olivia trying to report on the snow in freezing cold and very windy conditions.
Oli reporting on being trapped in the snow this week
Believe it or not on Thursday afternoon I got yet another parcel. This time it came all the way from Finland and was from my dearest friend Anne.  She had sent me a lovely birthday card and a pair of white mittens she had made herself for me, which of course made them even more special.  Thanks my sweetie, really hope to be able to wear them with you in Finland if I make it in March.  Here is a photo of me delighted with yet another present; mittens from Finland.
Delighted with the homemade mittens Anne sent me from Finland for my birthday
Friday was a busy day.  My boss had a live interview with the Spanish Cope radio at 9 am about the company’s performance and the mobile phone market in general. That’s morning radio prime time and the programme, La Mañana, has nearly a 1 million listeners so the interview was important. I felt very frustrated not to be by his side but had organized everything remotely which is the only way to do things when you can’t move.  I listened to the interview and was very pleased with the questions and answers.  He was pretty word perfect and there were no gritty questions thank goodness.  You can listen to the interview here on this link (in Spanish of course).

On Friday I was happy to have an email from my oldest best friend, Amanda.  We went to school together and have been friends since we were 10 years old.  It was great to get her news. I replied immediately and told her lots of things I would never dare put here as you can possibly imagine.  Whilst looking out for good TV series to watch whilst I’m immobile, a few people had recommended a series called “Last Tango in Halifax”.  I wasn’t sure it was my cup of tea until Amanda recommended it in her emails.  She knows my taste, so I went for it and downloaded the first 2 episodes.  I have devoured them but unfortunately the quality of the other episodes is not too good so I decided to order the box set of the 3 series from Amazon and can’t wait for it to arrive next week.  Last Tango in Halifax is a great British TV series supposedly set in Yorkshire – Skipton, Harrogate and Halifax (although disappointingly the Harrogate scenes are shot in Lancashire) about two families.  The main plot is how the two septuagenarian grandmother and grandfather of the respective families meet up after 60 years when they had once been sweethearts.  It’s a mixture of drama and comedy in the best British way, so I’m devouring it and loving the Yorkshire settings and accents and the portrayal of modern day life in Yorkshire.
Loving Last Tago in Halifax
On Friday afternoon I was blessed with another visit.  My dear ex Nokia friend Ana came to see me.  I appreciate that as she has such a busy professional and personal life with two small children.  Thanks Ana for making the time and the effort.  I loved our 2 hour gossipy chat catching up on our lives.  It meant so much to me.  We forgot to take a picture so I asked Ana to send me one to illustrate this part of this week’s post. This is dear Ana. 
Great to have a visit from my friend Ana on Friday afternoon
On Friday too I got some photos of Pippa – the miniature smooth haired chocolate coloured dachshund who will soon be part of our family – end of Feb.  They are not very good photos but the best I have.  The breeder Antonio, to whom I spoke on Friday, obviously knows lots about these dogs but is not a good photographer.  I was happy to hear that Pippa has a lovely disposition.  We can’t wait to see her and hold her in our arms. Waiting for you little Pippa with all the love in the world. 
Little Pippa is growing
Believe it or not, on Friday, Eladio had insisted on taking me out for dinner, to get me out of my pyjamas and out of bed.  He was right I suppose but it was a big effort.  My leg no longer hurts so it sort of made sense but it did feel strange dressing up and putting makeup on.  We borrowed my Father’s wheel chair for the occasion and I felt very funny being wheeled down the street and into the restaurant.  Oli and Miguel were waiting for us when we arrived.  I felt a bit self-conscious in a wheel chair but soon forgot I was in one and enjoyed the dinner enormously.  We went to Zurito in Pozuelo which serves lovely food.  That night, I broke my diet but who cares? Miguel took a lovely photo of Eladio which Oli posted on FB adding that we were still in love “35 years later” which some people interpreted as our anniversary.  It wasn’t though. For the record we have been together since the summer of 1980 but got married in 1983.  What is true is that we are still in love and will always be.
Out to dinner with Eladio on Friday night, my first outing since the accident
I took one of Oli and Miguel too.  You can judge for yourselves if they are in love from the expression on their faces.  Expressions say it all I think when they are sincere.
Oli and Miguel at dinner on Friday night
Yesterday Saturday was a quiet day for me at least, no outings of course and no visits.  And once again I received a present.  This time it was a beautiful bouquet of red roses from my friends Juana and Oscar.  It was another early birthday present. I can’t thank them enough.  Red and yellow roses are my favourites so I was delighted with my present. 
Red roses from Juana and Oscar for my birthday 
And finally I have got to Sunday, the most important day of this week as it is my birthday.  I have to thank Eladio and my family and friends for making it so special.  I am overwhelmed with all the messages, posts, whatsapps, phone calls etc and can’t thank you all enough.  The day started with a lovely birthday breakfast as all our family birthdays do.  The photo illustrating this post is of me with the presents, a wonderful fruit and flower hamper from Olivia and Miguel (Naranjas de la China) and the black Michael Kors bag I wanted from Eladio and my Father.  Miguel was using his new camera and took some great photos of my birthday. Perhaps my favourite is this one of me with Eladio. 
At breakfast this morning with Eladio
Lunch was to be special too. We made it all together, a simple but delicious meal of fillet steak, chips and salad.  Here I am frying the chips whilst talking to Suzy on the phone. That was the most important birthday phone call of the day for me as you can imagine
Cooking and talking to Suzy on the phone - the best birthday phone call of the day
Lunch of course was followed by the birthday cake moment.  Eladio had ordered my favourite, millefeuille with fresh cream and raspberries on the top.  Here are the four of us by the cake enjoying that moment.
The birthday cake moment at lunch today
So you see it’s been and it’s being a wonderful birthday, despite my limited mobility. But I know now that the progress will be faster and that I have so much to look forward to when I can walk again.

Wishing you all a good week ahead, cheers all till next time,

PS for those of you who aren’t direct friends and want to follow my blog on Facebook here is the link.  I welcome you to like the page and join the conversation. I would love to hear from you there, know who you are where you come from, why you read my blog and welcome your comments.

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