Sunday, March 01, 2015

This years’ Oscars, rehabilitation, an earthquake in Spain, a meeting with a difference, Pippa settling in, an international coffee experience, regaining independence, Olivia in Extremadura for the weekend and other stories.

Sunday 1st March 2015
A meeting with a difference
Good morning everyone.  It is the 1st March today and the beginning of another month.  For me it’s the beginning of a new period after my accident and extended recovery period.  I am now on the mend, using crutches to walk and regaining my independence and I can’t begin to tell you how great that feels.

Last Sunday, the night of the Oscars, Eladio and I re-watched The lives of the others, that frightening German film that won best foreign film some years ago which is about how the Stasi (secret police) spied on the lives of citizens of East Germany.

When I woke up on Monday it was to find out that Birdman and Boyhood had been awarded most of the prizes.  Neither of these two films attracts me. I was very pleased though to see that The Theory of Everything (about Stephen Hawking) got best actor.  British born Eddie Redmayne did it again after winning best actor at the Baftas.  He really was great as the extremely disabled British physicist and I only wish the film had got best picture too. 

Eddie Redmayne, the British actor who won best actor at the Oscars for his role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything
I’m always interested to see which foreign film gets best award in this category. This year it was the Polish film “Ida”.  It’s about a nun in the 60’s who discovers she is Jewish.  Always a sucker for films about hospitals, prisons or nuns, that story certainly appeals to me and I have now downloaded it on my computer and look forward to watching it soon.
The Polish film Ida won best foreign film at this year's Oscars
On Monday morning Eladio took me to my rehabilitation session as he would do every morning of this week.  There I spend 20 minutes on a magnetotherapy machine after which I do different sort of ankle exercises on a wobbly board for 40 minutes.  Finally I spend 15 minutes walking on a special walkway with bars to hold on to and this is where I suffer not really having interiorized the right steps.  But somehow I manage to do it, muttering to myself, right hand, left leg, left hand, right leg.  Sometimes I get blocked and all the people looking on try to correct me which leaves me feeling mortified.  Most of them are elderly people with all sorts of different physical disabilities which need correcting or rehabilitating. They all know each other very well and the place seems like one big family.  I have now had 6 sessions and another 9 to go.  They must be working as my ankle is on the mend and I can walk without crutches, limping along. However, the doctor, Raúl, tells me I should use the crutches so mostly I do.  From next Monday onwards I will be allowed to use just one crutch.  Hallelujah!  At last I will have one hand free.  When you walk with two crutches your hands are occupied and you cannot carry anything or even answer your phone without stopping to pick it up.  Opening and closing doors is also difficult but the really worst thing about crutches is that when you put them down they tend to fall.  Surely someone one day has to invent better crutches? One thing I have noticed since using them, though, is just how nice people are to you.  It’s one of the advantages.  The other of course is that you are excused from household chores.  It’s also funny how you tend to notice other people on crutches; the same way as when you are pregnant you notice other pregnant women. 

On my way home, I had a conference call with my Finnish boss as we do about once a month.  I was delighted to tell him I would be able to make it to the bi annual communications meeting in Helsinki on 10th and 11th March.  I shall be going out the Friday before to stay with my great friend Anne in Salo.  On Monday evening I shall be attending an ex Nokia communications dinner which I have organized together with Marika and then on Tuesday and Wednesday I will be occupied with the European Comms meeting.  I return home that evening.  For the first time in my life I have requested wheel chair assistance for both flights as I have to avoid long walks on my crutches at the airports.  I think I could possibly manage on my own but carrying my PC will weigh me down and going up and down the steps could be a challenge.  I only hope I am allowed to do some duty free shopping, especially at Vantaa airport where I shall be indulging in Finnish brown bread, jams, smoked salmon and other delicacies.

It was on Monday afternoon that I heard there had been an earthquake in Spain which apparently had even reached Madrid although I never felt a thing. The centre was in Albacete, near a town called Ossa de Montiel (170km from Madrid).  The magnitude was 5.2 on the Richter scale.  Not much damage was caused and no one was injured thank goodness.
This seems to be the only damage done at Ossa de Montiel in the earthquake in Spain this week
It was the main news that day and later in the evening Olivia was sent to Torrejón de Ardoz on the outskirts of Madrid to report on buildings there being evacuated because of the earthquake.  All news reports that day reported on the same story.  Reality was, according to Olivia, that the buildings were actually being evacuated for another reason that had nothing to do with the natural disaster.  But that wouldn’t have been news would it?  This just goes to show you cannot believe everything you read or see on the news.

That afternoon I had an interview on the phone.  It was with a first year journalist student from Barcelona, called Cristina who was doing a report for her studies on the history of InterRail.  She had found an interview with me by TVE on my experience in the early 70’s a year or two after InterRail was launched.  I was pleased to see that she had reached me through my blog and had also read my experiences there.  I look forward to reading her report which I asked her to send me. 

It was on Monday night that Pippa, our adorable frisky tiny little chocolate coloured miniature dachshund puppy learned a lesson from her elders Norah and Elsa.  One of their favourite tricks is to lick whatever they can reach when the washing up machine is being loaded.  That evening they taught Pippa how to do it and she excitedly joined in as you can see in the photo below.
Pippa learning from her elders
.On Tuesday afternoon, after my rehabilitation session, my PR and Events’ teams came for a final meeting before our planned activities at next week’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.  Because of my accident I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it this year but now I shall be able to go. I will be travelling by high speed train and on both journeys will be accompanied by my friend and ex colleague Julio.  I shall go straight to my hotel and stay put there only leaving for meals out and to go the Yoigo party and Yoigo press conference on Monday and Wednesday.  I will not risk going to the congress which would mean walking along miles of carpet on just one crutch, something I’m sure my Doctor would not approve of. 

The photo illustrating this week’s blogpost is of our meeting which I have included in the headline as a “meeting with a difference”.  Well it was different for various reasons; first it was at home, second I served my guests English afternoon tea with delicacies from Bettys and finally because we had our dogs present.  Rather it was the first time Pippa was to meet her future boyfriend and fellow Yoigo mascot who is also called Yoigo.  Yoigo yapped quite a lot, I think because he was mystified with Pippa and Pippa didn’t take much notice, spending most of the meeting sitting quietly on my lap.
Pippa meets Yoigo 
Pippa really is settling in very well and although she probably still misses her Mother and brothers and sisters, she lives a splendid life with us.  Her major advantage is that she gets to sleep with us, in our bed, as I told you last week. The excuse is if she slept in the kitchen the alarm would go off.  You might say then why doesn’t she sleep in her own bed in our bedroom and you would be right, except that she pines and tries to jump up on our bed the whole time which is why we have opted for her to sleep with us.  The real reason is that both Eladio and I are besotted with her.  Every night before she comes to bed, she gets a flannel bath and then happily curls up with us.  She behaves quite well, i.e. no accidents so far.
Pippa in our bed
If she wants to sleep during the day she can do so in the kitchen. She tried to destroy her own bed which we have now put away until she grows out of chewing on things – her favourite pastime.  So now she either hogs Elsa’s bed or joins her in it.  This is a photo I took of the dogs this morning after breakfast.  Lovely isn’t it?
The three dogs in the kitchen this morning
On Wednesday after my rehabilitation session, Eladio and I had something to look forward to.  We were to take my old car to Yoigo after its 4 year lease had run out, to pick up my new company car.  And there you have the two of them with me in the middle with my crutches.  We were sad to see the old 4wd go but I must say the new one is magnificent.  They look the same colour on the photo but actually the new car is a much brighter red. We are still learning how everything works as it is very sophisticated.  But I must say I was pleased when I got the Bluetooth connected with my phone mainly because it also connects the audio and now we can listen to Spotify whilst we drive.  Although I had tried that out on the old car it never worked.  Now I won’t have to bother with cd’s to listen to good music. We have yet to learn how the auto-park function works which, when we do, will be a great advantage to me – those of you who know me, know that reverse parking is not my forte hahaha.
Me with my old and new car this week
Eladio drove it from the office to the petrol station to fill up the tank. He then suggested I drove it home from there.  I didn’t think twice knowing I would be able to do so as it is automatic and of course my left foot (my bad foot) would not be needed.  Whilst at the wheel, I realized I was finally regaining my independence and from now on with crutches and driving again, I could do or go nearly anywhere.  That was a grand moment.

Every morning this week I have done rehabilitation and walked a lot on my crutches but I still have to rest my ankle so I am still working from my bed. When I have got work out of the way, I have spent most evenings watching series I have downloaded on my pc.  On Wednesday afternoon I watched the end of Broadchurch Season 2.  In a way there wasn’t enough closure and I was left slightly dissatisfied.  I am not sure whether the producers can get much more out of the story although they have already announced there will be a third season. 

I had a chat with Suzy later that evening about her application to the HCPC (Health care professions council) which I told you about last week.  She has to do all the work and my role is like a mentor or rather I am her sounding board.  What they ask for is daunting and seems very unfair but we have no option but to continue and fight this battle.  Later in the week we had a longer chat after she had done her homework and now we have decided on a strategy.  She has 28 days to submit the papers they have asked her for which I know will take up most of her time for the next three weeks.  Meanwhile she sends me the bits and pieces she is writing for me to correct and suggest any changes. 

On Thursday before going to rehabilitation I went for an early morning emergency appointment with my dentist.  I had felt a sharp pain in one of my back molars a couple of times the day before.  It turned out not to be an infection, thank goodness, but it seems the tooth is condemned to be extracted one day as there is something happening to the root; it seems to be absorbing itself and can only be held at bay by special hygiene.  My dentist has recommended a new hygiene method using what is known as a water jet tooth cleaner.  I shall be investing in one as soon as I find one. 

After rehabilitation that morning, I went to have a cup of coffee at a bar called Piero, as I always do whilst waiting for Eladio to pick me up.  I had noticed the blonde waitress there suspecting she was Russian from her accent when she spoke Spanish but of course she could have been Ukrainian.   So that day I asked her and she told me she was from Moscow.  I then told her I was of Russian origin and had only been to St Petersburg which I loved to which she replied that was like telling someone from Madrid you preferred Barcelona to Madrid.  A lesson was learned that day.  My morning coffee at Piero turned out to be very international as whilst talking to the Russian waitress the girl next to me, also having a coffee, chirped in and it turned out this beautiful young girl called Mary was half Indian and half Bulgarian.  Having been to India and knowing only just one Indian word I said “Namaste” to her.  I told her of course that my Mother and her family had lived in Bulgaria when they escaped from Russia.  She was a lovely girl and I warmed to her immediately because of her looks and exotic background.  Half Indian and half Bulgarian certainly beats my Half English and half Russian.  I just wished I had taken a photo to record that very international coffee experience on Thursday morning.  The moment though will linger in my mind for quite a while.

That afternoon I began to regain my independence.  Something as easy as driving your car to the hairdresser may seem very mundane. However, to me it was a huge step after more than 6 weeks being almost housebound.  So off I went after lunch in my new car to the hairdressers, Marco Aldany, in nearby Boadilla.  I hadn’t been since well before my accident and my hair was in dire need of a cut and the roots seen to. I felt a new woman when Sandra had finished her work.  Olivia later said she didn’t like the cut and thought it made me look old but that was in the evening.  So I left the hairdresser feeling on top of the world and drove home to find my M+S parcel waiting for me. I had ordered black and white long sleeved tops which always seem to disappear as well as two more pairs of black leggings.  There and then I tried everything on slightly worried that the size I had ordered (12) may not fit after 6 weeks of immobility.  So I was delighted when everything did fit.  I am happy to do a bit of advertising for Marks and Spencer in this week’s post and tell you that these leggings called “Indigo Collection Cotton Rich Leggings with StayNEW” are absolutely fabulous.  They fit perfectly are incredibly comfortable and keep their shape.
I swear by my M+S Indigo leggings
I must say another advantage of having been grounded for 6 or so weeks is that I haven’t spent much money as I haven’t been able to go out shopping, nor I have felt like it, spending most of my days wearing pyjamas. I am glad to tell you that the new state of affairs will promptly put a stop to that and I look forward to at least some clothes shopping in both Barcelona and in Finland.  So watch this space.

It was on Thursday evening that after having finished both Last Tango in Halifax and Broadchurch I was a little stuck for which series to watch next.  I had Call the Midwife to watch which I thought wouldn’t appeal to me after seeing the beginning of episode one of season one some time ago.  However, I decided to persevere even though I’m not too keen on watching women giving birth.  However the allure of nurses and nuns on TV was there of course but the attraction caught on when I realized that the story was set in the East of London in 1957, the year I was born and when most women at the time, like my mother, gave birth at home.  Since starting episode one of season one, yesterday I started on season two and am now completely hooked on the series.  The TV series is based on the true life account of midwife Jennifer Worth.  My favorite nurses are definitely Chummy (Miranda Hart) and Jenny Lee who I think plays Jennifer Worth (Jessica Raine).  I now want to read the books and have bought the kindle edition of the first of the trilogy called Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s.
The cast from Call the Midwife, my favourites are Chummy and Jenny
This week in Madrid the ARCO (contemporary art exhibition) was on and it was one of the topics Olivia was to report on.  She was very disgruntled when she was asked to do a report on the financial benefits for Madrid rather than the exhibition itself.  In her research, talking to taxi drivers and hotel workers, she found out the fair does not bring much money to Madrid but when she told her producers that they insisted she did a favourable report on the economic benefits for the Spanish capital.  So she found herself telling people to say so when she interviewed them and came home that night very disappointed in her profession.  But that’s how journalism works these days I’m afraid.  Not so long ago I read somewhere that most of the world’s media is owned by 6 giant corporations.  I think that says it all. Pretty frightening isn’t it?
6 corporations own 90% of the media1
Oli did however a chance to get a quick glance of some of the exhibition and here is a fun picture of her behind one of the bizarre exhibits at Arco.
Oli at Arco this week
Friday was a good day.  It was also the first day I drove to work for a meeting for a very long time.  It was about the content for our up and coming press conference in Barcelona. We had prepared everything; the press release and presentation but will now have to start from scratch as everything has changed.  But I didn’t mind as I have no worries about challenges or working during the weekend.  That’s part of my life.  So on Saturday morning the version of the press release I was happy with was sent to everyone for their comments.

On Friday afternoon I went with Eladio to do the weekly food shopping for the first time since before my accident and that felt good too.  That night we went out to dinner, as we always do and again we went to Zurito where we celebrated my new found mobililty, freedom, independence, etc.

Meanwhile Olivia had gone off for the weekend to Extremadura (south west Spain) to Badajoz with Paula.  They were to stay with Giovanna who lives in Badajoz where she works as a journalist for the Spanish news agency, Europa Press.  All three girls met when they did the TVE master in journalism a few years ago.  Yesterday they have Mérida, the political capital of Extremadura and famous for its Roman ruins, especially the amphitheatre. 
Oli (left) with Giovanna (middle) and Paula yesterday in Mérida, the capital of Extremadura
Her trip to Extremadura reminded us of our trip there with my Father just before Easter in 2009.  His memory is very intact and when we spoke about it yesterday at lunch, he well remembered our visits to Cáceres, Trujillo, Guadalupe, Mérida, Badajoz and La Parra.  I also reminded him of our visit to the very well-known and expensive two Michelin star restaurant called Atrio in Cáceres which cost him a small fortune. In sleepy Badajoz I think we went to the best place in town too which was called Aldebaran which was very good and much cheaper than Atrio.

And yesterday, Saturday, was a quiet day at home.  I didn’t go out anywhere and spent a lot of the day reading, playing with Pippa or watching Call the Midwife.  I also made lunch for the first time hobbling around the kitchen and trying not to step on Pippa.

Today Sunday is equally quiet and whilst Olivia is away the house seems very empty.  Today is “blog day” to quote my Father and I don’t feel free to do anything else until I have written and published it.  As Gema is off for the weekend, we shall be having her chicken couscous left overs for lunch today.  I must say she is very good at Moroccan cuisine, but not so up on Spanish menus. 

And tomorrow a new life begins for me; I will be on my travels again and I much looking forward to a change of surroundings.  Tomorrow morning I will be off to Barcelona, back on Wednesday evening and off again on Friday to Helsinki.

Meanwhile I wish you all a good week.  Cheers till next time


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