Sunday, April 12, 2015

Winnie the Pooh and breakfast, Miguel’s 40th birthday, to Valencia with Samsung, a man called Burger to marry a woman called King, Pippa’s new toy, ordering meringues, imperial leather soap and other British produce online and other stories including me live on TV talking about Whatsapp calls

Sunday 12th April 2015
In Valencia on Thursday
Hi everyone,

I hope you’ve had a great week. Mine has been quite busy and interesting but it wasn’t all good as you will find out if you continue reading.

I left off on Sunday which was Easter Day.  That afternoon Real Madrid beat Granada 9-1 in La Liga.  Ronaldo scored 5 goals which is probably his first.  I don’t know if there is a word for 5 goals although the media were talking about a hat trick which for me means 3 goals or strikes in any sport.

On Monday I fasted as I did on Wednesday. That day we interviewed two Bulgarian ladies as possible substitutes for our current home-help Gema who is Moroccan.  We are quite happy with her except that recently she won’t take my Father up the path to the kitchen in his wheelchair as she says she has a bad back.  This of course means that if we are not at home he has to stay downstairs.  However after talking to a few possible candidates and interviewing Danka and Tanya, we decided that there is no perfect home-help and for the moment will continue with Gema. One of the deciding factors is that she makes excellent home-made bread which Eladio loves.

On Tuesday it was lovely to have breakfast without fasting.  On my fast days I have oat bran with a mixture of skimmed milk and water.  On my non fast days I have a kiwi, a glass of orange juice and a piece of toast; much more enticing.  One day this week I saw a quote from one of the Winnie the Pooh books of a conversation between Pooh and Piglet and it’s all about breakfast.  This is the quote.

I can’t but help being in agreement with Pooh as breakfast is my favourite meal of the day.  I love Piglet too.  It was my Mother who instilled my love of A.A. Milne’s books; the adventures of Christopher Robbin, a tradition I carried on with my own children.  These books are timeless and I always adored them. So when I saw this picture I knew I had to share it with you.

On Tuesday whilst I was having breakfast I read an article in a popular Spanish news portal: “El Confidencial”.  It was about the use of Yoigo’s new Sinfin tariff and quoted me as the journalist had sent me some questions the day before.  It’s always funny to see your name in print.  You can read the article here (in Spanish).

Tuesday was Miguel, Olivia’s boyfriend’s 40th birthday.  She gave him her present at breakfast; the Samsung Galaxy S Tab.  Here are two photos of him enjoying the moment.
It was Olivia's boyfriend Miguel's 40th birthday on Tuesday
Olivia hadn’t warned me it was his birthday that day so we had nothing for him.  I put that to remedy very quickly and Eladio and I drove to a shopping centre nearby where we bought him the original tablet case and screen protector.  Whilst there we had a cup of coffee and I succumbed to an exquisite fruit tart.  I posted the photo on Facebook and added this footnote: “like Mr. Kipling’s cakes, “naughty but nice”.  When I was young my Father bought a lot of Mr. Kipling’s cakes. When I googled the phrase I was astounded to find out that it was coined by Salman Rushdie: “The slogan is said to be his creation when “trying to raise a few bob to write novels by working as a copywriter”. Now that did surprise me. Later Lyon’s changed the tagline to “exceedingly good cakes” which I think is still in existence.  But for me they will always be “naughty but nice”.
My "naughty but nice" fruit tart with coffee on Tuesday
To celebrate Miguel’s birthday Olivia surprised him by taking him out to dinner to Pedro Larumbe, one of Madrid’s top restaurants.  I was already in my pyjamas as she was getting all dolled up to go out. She inspired me to change our evening plans and there and then I got ready to go out, dressed up and took Eladio to one of our favourites – on a much more humble scale - La Vaca Argentina.  We had a lovely mid-week dinner out.  Sometimes it’s nice to change routines and habits, don’t you think?

There is not much to report on Wednesday apart from the fact that I fasted and went to the hairdresser for a well needed cut.  What I do want to mention though is that both on Tuesday and Wednesday I went on two hour long walks. 

Thursday was the highlight of the week.  I had been invited as one of the Spanish mobile operator communications director by Samsung Spain to their press conference for their national launch of the new S6 and S6 Edge smartphones which would be going on sale in 20 countries, including Spain, the next day.  The press conference was happening in Valencia and we went by high speed train.  At the train station there were some 50 or so journalists from Madrid and when we arrived at the Joaquín Sorolla station in Valencia there we greeted more journalists who had come from Alicante and Barcelona.  We were all put on a bus and taken to an event centre by the port near the famous Malvarrosa beach.  In big writing all across the building you could see the words “Welcome Samsung Galaxy S6”.  It so reminded me of our times gone by flashy and glamourous Nokia launches.  However this time I was not the hostess but the guest. It felt strange.
With some of my favourite journalists outside the Samsung event location

It was funny for once not to be part of the group of organisers which is usually my role but I felt relaxed looking on and seeing how Samsung do it.  We were taken upstairs to a big hall, the major attraction of which was a door to a big terrace overlooking the port and beach.  Here is another photo, this time with the GM of Samsung Mobile Spain and some journalists.  The big wheel behind us is very similar to the London Eye.
In Valencia with Samsung and journalist friends
The presentation was very similar to any big multinational type presentation but all went without a hitch. Afterwards there was time for demos and interviews – reminding me once again of our Nokia launches.  I liked the phone, specially the Green Edge model but did not like their funny glasses with the actual phone inserted at eye level.  They made me feel very claustrophobic.

From the event building we walked across the road to the restaurant where we were to have lunch.  Samsung had organized the tables, like they are done at weddings.  I was to sit, as I did on both train journeys, next to my counterpart from Telefonica, Juan Carlos and in between us was our counterpart and host from Samsung José Luis.  This was just one of the spectacular paellas served to us at El Coso right on the Malvarrosa beach.  The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of me overlooking the beach and also the famous Hotel Arenas where Eladio and I once stayed.  For the records it is the best in town.
Authentic paella with Samsung in Valencia
I wondered where all the Korean staff were who were present at the launch but found out they were having lunch on their own somewhere else.  Was I surprised or not? I’m not really sure.

Soon the day in Valencia was to draw to a close and we all got on the bus to the station to catch the train leaving at 17.10 which would arrive in Madrid at 18.48, a very short journey.  In the old days when Spain had no high speed trains, instead of 1.40h it used to take a whole morning.  I once remember many years ago, in the 70’s taking a train from Barcelona to Alicante which took a whole day.  Spain in infrastructure has really come on and has the longest high speed rail track in Europe and in the world is second only to China.  However it is not cheap to travel on the “Ave” and there is a big discussion going on in this pre-election year whether to go ahead with plans of extending the network as much as is planned: one day to cover all provincial capitals.
Spain's high speed rail network and its now famous "Ave".
Thursday in Valencia was my highlight of the week but it was somewhat tainted by an ongoing worry I had.  You see on Tuesday I discovered a sore on my breast which seemed to ooze liquid and wouldn’t heal.  I rang the hospital to get an appointment with a dermatologist and the earliest I could get was next Monday.  All day on Thursday I was worried and googling the web on my phone and reading all sorts of nasty possible causes.  On top of the oozing there was an annoying itch so that night when I got home I rang a doctor via my health insurance policy and she told me to go to A+E at my local hospital.  As soon as Eladio was home after his UNED classes, off we went.  In my mind I was imaging the possibility of either breast cancer or melanoma that my Mother and brother respectively died of.  It’s amazing how something like that can completely change your outlook on life.  At the Montepríncipe Hospital in Pozuelo I was seen by two gynaecologists.  Their diagnosis was “mycosis fungoides”; however they are not dermatologists so I’m not sure they are right.    They prescribed a special cream and told me to see the dermatologist on Monday.  It has improved only very slightly since. But I must say I was relieved to hear there was no lump or anything dangerous although my worries won’t go away completely until the appointment on Monday.  On top of that the next day I woke up to find one of the scars of the stiches from the operation on my broken ankle to be infected quite badly so now I am changing two damned bandages on my body daily.  All my life I have had the sort of skin that heals very badly and the ankle stitches still look very sore after 3 months when after such a long period of time they should be completely healed. In any case both sores seem completely minor incidents after my thoughts on Thursday in Valencia. 

When we finally got back from the hospital and it must have been past 10 at night, I was starving as the paella had long been digested by then.  So it was lovely to sit down to a meal Olivia had prepared specially for us.  She coined it a “Russian dinner” and indeed it was: “pelmeni” (sort of ravioli) and “perushki” (meat and rice pies).  Thanks darling. 

Friday was a rainy day.  I was terribly busy in the morning as I had to prepare for a taped TV interview by the national Spanish private channel “Cuatro TV”.  They wanted to interview someone from Yoigo on our opinion on Whatsapp calls and the future of IP voice calls.  It was to be at 4pm in our offices.  On a Friday at that time, it was not surprising that no other spokesperson was available. There was no other choice but for me to do it.  In the past I have always had a bit of stage fright for TV and radio interviews or presentations but for some unknown reason recently I have completely got over it.  I don’t know why; maybe age helps because you get, or I at least do,  more self-confidence.  In any case the interview went well.  It is supposed to be included in their news programme this weekend.  It didn’t get broadcast yesterday and I’m not sure it will today either.  This is because it is the sort of news item which is not time critical and could be used at any time.  Also if there is more sudden urgent news, it could well be dropped.  Well, if it does come out, I shall of course let you know next time.

Friday was very busy for me, as apart from preparing for the interview which took me most of the morning, I had to get our walk in and do the weekly food shopping.  This is a major weekly task as we are a big household of 5/6 people not to mention 3 dogs and 1 cat! We had completely run out of everything; mostly fruit of which we eat an awful lot in this house.  The best thing about shopping these days is that I don’t have to do the putting away part which I leave to Gema. I leave everything in the car and scuttle off feeling just a little guilty whilst she and Eladio carry all the bags up to the kitchen.

Talking about food, it was on Friday that I read a story which I found very amusing.  It was about a man from the US (not sure which state) called Joel Burger who was to marry his childhood sweetheart Ashley King.  They had a photo taken outside Burger King who, when they got a whiff of the news, immediately offered to pay for the wedding.  The Daily Mail dubbed it as “whopper of a wedding”, in true tabloid UK journalistic speak.  I liked the story of course but can hardly imagine wanting a wedding with Burger King food.  How awful. 
Burger to marry King!
I am not a fan of Burger King and never have been. I quite like a McDonalds meal about once or twice a year but really am not into fast food.  So dinner on Friday night with Eladio was at Gino’s a great semi Italian chain of restaurants owned by Vips.  We are always welcomed there when we go back.

Meanwhile Olivia had gone to Valencia with Miguel who was to take part in an open swimming race in Cullera on Saturday and to celebrate his 40th with his friends there. Thus we were to be quite alone this weekend.

Miguel, Olivia's boyfriend, taking part in an open sea swimming race in Cullera on Saturday
And Saturday came and brought more birthdays.  It was my sister-in-law Dolores birthday yesterday.  Happy birthday my dearest.  It was also Carmen’s birthday.  Believe it or not she was also 40 yesterday but I will always remember her when she started working with me as a trainee at Nokia when she had just finished her studies.  In a FB message today she called me a “super boss”.  Well she is a super person and was a delight to have in my team.  You might be interested to know that today she runs a very successful music school with her partner Mapi and that she is the oldest of 13 or so children and that her Mother who had the last child in her early 40s, never lost her figure.  Carmen used to describe to me breakfast at their house with mountains of cereal boxes or Christmas day which was complete pandemonium.  There were too many presents to wrap up so they arranged them in little piles with the name of each child on each pile and her brothers and sisters would excitedly run into the lounge to see their presents.  Carmen was a treasure to work with.  Happy birthday my dear too.
Carmen who turned 40 yesterday
On Saturday morning after breakfast I went out to pick up the white anorak from the cleaners, the one I had worn when I fell and broke my ankle.  Well right next door to the dry cleaners there was a new pet shop and I couldn’t resist going in to buy a toy or two for little Pippa.  I bought two in the end, the one in the photo below being the most successful.  Pippa adores it as we adore our little 4 month old cute chocolate coloured mini dachshund.  Of course we also adore our beagle Norah and our lab Elsa and try not to spoil Pippa too much in front of them.  If they knew she slept with us they would be furious but they don’t know and we keep it a secret.
Pippa delighted with her new toy yesterday
Having some time on my hands on Saturday I also did some online shopping.  We love meringue nests and these are not available in Spain to buy off the shelves.  So sometimes I buy them in bulk online from a British store.  Yesterday I ordered 100, 50 for me and 50 for Dolores from Brit Super Store.  They seem “cheap” at 2 pounds a box of 8 (Sainsbury’s brand) but when you add up the shipping costs they nearly double in price. 
I ordered 100 of these online yesterday, 50 for us and 50 for Dolores!
As well as meringues I ordered other British produce I love but can’t get in Spain.  I bought imperial leather soap, my favourite - if you are English you will know it.  It annoys me that Eladio always removes the red metal label in the middle which is part of its trade mark and is not supposed to be removed but of course this brand of soap means nothing to him does it?
Imperial Leather soap

The rest of the order included Marks and Spencer’s “extremely chocolatey – milk chocolate – biscuits, Fry’s Turkish delight for my Father and E45 body cream. 

My online shopping of “British produce” didn’t stop there.  Later that day I was drawn to an article about a man called William Tallon who was the late Queen Mother’s most devoted servant and a character of a man, the story of who is filled with steamy gay and other anecdotes below or maybe above the stairs at Clarence House.  There and then I downloaded the biography by Tom Quinn called “Backstairs Billy, the biography of William Tallon the Queen Mother’s devoted servant”.  I am thoroughly looking forward to the book as I am sucker for behind the scenes stories of palace life, a life so secret to the general public like me.
The book I bought online yesterday 

My mind most have been compassed towards England on Saturday as I was also interested to see and hear it was the day of the Oxford and Cambridge boat race which takes place on the River Thames.  My Father was watching it too.  Oxford beat Cambridge but the story of the day was that for the first time the women’s boat race was taking place on the same day.  The other story was that the women from Oxford won too. I’m sure my Father, who went to Cambridge, would have preferred it to be the other way round; me too as I was born there.
A scene from the Oxford and Cambridge boat races yesterday on the River Thames
Meanwhile in Valencia, Miguel’s 40th birthday party was in full swing. He was to invite nearly 40 people to a dinner where he and his guests, including Olivia, must have had a great time.  Here is a photo of Miguel and his birthday cake, themed on swimming which is his passion.
Miguel and his swimming themed 40th birthday cake yesterday in Valencia

And today is Sunday.  The sun is shining and we are hoping for the temperatures to rise at least a few degrees as it has been quite cold this week, although the sun has been out most of the time except for Thursday.  In Montrondo it has snowed but thankfully not enough for the builders to stop work.  They are sending us promising pictures of the progress, such as the tiling on the bathrooms.  I’m not so interested in the plumbing or electricity wires although Eladio is of course. 

And that, my friends, is the story of this week.  Next week will be quite full with lots of appointments, conference calls, interviews and a dinner with our friends Juana, Oscar, Fátima and Julio but of course you will hear all about it in next week’s post.  Meanwhile, I wish you all the best,

Cheers Masha

PS Just as I finished this post, I found out I did come out on TV Cuatro news today at 14h.  I didn't see the news but many people told me they did and that I did it fine with the right messages coming out!  Here is a photo of me on the TV.  Hopefully I will get the clipping soon.

No comments: