Sunday, May 03, 2015

A devastating earthquake in Nepal, Suzy’s visit to celebrate her birthday, Pippa was ill, Olivia reporting on the “house of horrors”, my Father’s 96th birthday, a sister for George and other stories.

Sunday 3rd May 2015

The four of us going out for dinner on Suzy's birthday on Tuesday night
Hi everyone

I left off last Saturday and was shocked to hear, after publishing my blog, of the earthquake that hit Nepal, that lovely Himalayan country we visited when we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009. Since the news we have had updates on the number of victims which is growing as rescuers reach the more remote areas.  The earthquake on a scale of 7.8 has left a death toll so far of over 7000 lives.  It was the height of the climbing season and there were over a 1000 climbers on Mount Everest which was also struck by a terrible avalanche killing many.  There are still some 1000 Europeans missing.  I was astonished to hear that there were 580 Spaniards in Nepal the day the quake struck; 35 of whom are still unaccounted for. 
Someone being rescued after the earthquake in Nepal 
I was affected more than usual by news of an earthquake because I have been to Kathmandu and loved the country but also because the company I work for or rather Yoigo’s mother company, TeliaSonera, has an operator in Nepal called Ncell with the biggest network in the country.  You might not know that it is thanks to TeliaSonera that there is mobile coverage on Everest for example.  The company’s first priority was with its employees; nearly 600.  They worked fast over the weekend and on Monday sent out an airplane with medical staff and which carried tents, blankets, medical supplies, extension cords and adapters, water purifying products, food and sanitation items. Many other companies and countries reacted much later.  For example it is only today, one week after the tragedy, that Spain is sending help to find its missing citizens.  Here is an update on their activities in Nepal. 
The TeliaSonera airplane leaving Stockholm for Kathmandu with medical supplies and other equipment
I was happy to hear that all Ncell’s employees were safe, but no so their houses nor the company headquarters.  As communication is so important at a time like this the other priority was repairing any damage to the network.  But the company went even further and offered free calls and sms to all their customers.  Yoigo wanted to help too as did all the TeliaSonera companies around the world. So on Monday we too offered free calls to our customers out there and to anyone who needed to call them from Spain.  We also collaborated with the Red Cross by setting up sms numbers for our customers to make donations.  There was not much more I could do but as I told Olivia this week, I would have jumped at the chance to go out there and help in some way.  I also wished I had become a proper journalist, not just a communications director for a company, and would have done anything to be reporting on the tragedy on site.

Lives have been lost which is a terrible tragedy and the country will have to be rebuilt in many areas.  But there is also a dreadful cultural loss.  I was devastated to read that many of the country’s cultural gems have been destroyed.  Not everyone goes to Nepal to trek but also to see the wonders of Kathmandu, Patan and the country’s incredible Buddhist temples and architecture.  I just hope that the Pashupatinath temple, the Durbar squares in Patan and Kathmandu, the Swyambhunath temple (the monkey temple) and my beloved Bhaktapur, once the capital of the country and where we had an encounter with two little Nepalese boys (you can read about this in my blog here) will be able to be restored to their former glory.  I also hope that the wonderful Dwarika hotel where we stayed and a place we will never forget is still intact.
Eladio and I in beautiful Bhaktapur City in Nepal in 2009 which has now been destroyed
It was on Saturday night that we went to the airport to pick Suzy up.  We took Pippa along too as a surprise because you see Suzy had not met Pippa who arrived at the beginning of February. Here is a lovely photo of Suzy and her Father embracing upon her arrival.  It had been nearly 4 months since we had seen our elder daughter who lives in London.  It was great to have her back.  She was coming for her birthday on Tuesday 28th April and would be staying until Wednesday morning.
Suzy happy to see her father on Saturday night at the airport when we went to pick her up
Just as we got home Pippa was sick in the car. Then a little later she had a bought of diarrhea.  So that night she had to sleep in the kitchen.  In the morning Suzy and I took her to the vet.  Here is a photo of Suzy holding her at our local vet. 
Suzy with Pippa at the vet last Sunday morning
The bad news was that our adorable miniature chocolate coloured dachshund had to be hospitalized for 36 hours. It seemed she had gastroenteritis and as she is so young, just 4 months old, it could be dangerous and she needed to be on a drip and be monitored constantly. I felt dreadful saying goodbye to little Pippa as she looked at me yearningly and scratching the cage she was put into. 

Being a Sunday the family was able to be together all day.  Suzy had brought us some crumpets (a sort of English savoury muffin with holes in it on which you toast and spread butter on).  I hadn’t had crumpets for years and neither had my Father.  Thanks Suzy for bringing them.
Thanks for the crumpets Suzy
We had lunch all together for the first time in many months; fish and chips, except that Suzy who is a vegan couldn’t eat the fish.  Here we are the five of us enjoying our lunch last Sunday.
All five of us had lunch together last Sunday
The afternoon and evening were complete chaos as Suzy had organised her birthday party at home from 5pm onwards for over 20 people.  The weather was not good so it had to be held inside.  I think the best moment of the party was the treasure hunt her friends had organised for her with some 20 clues which had us all trailing around the house behind her and trying to find out where each clue would lead her to next.  The final clue was in the garden just when it began to pour with rain.  It was by our old swings at the end of the garden that Suzy found her treasure.  This is her with it; including a fancy hat which she had to put on during the hunt.
Suzy with her birthday treasure - a bunch of 5 euro notes
You may think that her treasure was a bunch of flowers and that is what it looks like.  But no, each flower was made out of 5 euro notes, using an origami technique, all adding up to over 100 euros which would be the main present from “la manada” and a help towards saving for her trip to Thailand in the autumn.Suzy was delighted with her present and as she and all her friends came back in from the garden I got them together to take a group photo to immortalize the occasion.
Suzy and just some of the friends who came to her birthday party last Sunday
More and more people arrived and it seemed as though there were more than 40 cars parked outside our house.  The kitchen was completely invaded so Eladio and I decided to make an escape and have dinner out.  Just before we left, our new home help arrived to replace Gema who apart from going to Morocco for 10 days unannounced told us recently that she could no longer take my Father up the path to the kitchen in his wheelchair as she has a bad back.  So it is welcome Salud, a 48 year old Spanish woman from a village in Toledo who has now been with us for a week and so far seems very efficient.  Best of all she is not illiterate, speaks Spanish perfectly and has no problem eating the same food as us.  Thankfully I will no longer have to search for halal food or have problems communicating with her.

On Monday I spent as much time as I could with Suzy.  However I was away for lunch as I had a date with a journalist and my boss.  We went to a restaurant called El Quënco de Pepa.  You should have seen the tomatoes.  They grow them themselves there and they are spectacular; nearly as good as those from Zacarías in Santander.
Home grown tomatoes at El Quënco de Pepa in Madrid
I should not forget to tell you that on Monday we went to see Pippa to find out how she was getting on and hoping we would be able to take her home.  She went crazy when she saw us.  I mean really crazy and crying the whole time.  I was upset to have to leave her again but happy that we would be able to pick up her up in the evening and bring her home.  Here is a photo of me after she had calmed down and just before we brought her home.  She was better and I was given medicines and special food for her.
Bringing little Pippa home from the vet
My sister-in-law Yoli commented that I looked a bit like the Virgen Mary with a “baby” in my arms, yes my little Pippa which made me laugh.

Tuesday was Suzy’s official birthday and my whole day was dedicated to her.  It started off with a family breakfast as is the tradition in the house. Thankfully Olivia could join us as she didn’t have to go until 11.30 that morning.
Suzy's birthday breakfast.  Can't believe she is 31.
After breakfast Suzy and I took Olivia into work. Then we drove into the centre of Madrid where Suzy had to get a duplicate of her international vaccination card which she had lost  Then we went to have coffee with a friend of hers from school called Poppy.  Our last errand was to drop off 50 boxes of meringues and 2 boxes of wine at José Antonio and Dolores’ house.  Here is a photo of Suzy with José Antonio who was delighted to be able to say happy birthday to his niece in person as he hadn’t seen her since last summer when the family was together in Montrondo.
Suzy with José Antonio on her birthday
We were home just on time for the birthday lunch.  I can’t remember what we had but we catered for Suzy’s vegan regime.  The piece de resistance was a special velvet cake and here is a photo of Suzy blowing out the candles. 
Suzy's birthday cake moment
We spent the afternoon together or rather slept a siesta with Pippa in Suzy’s room and nearly woke up too late to go and pick Olivia up from work but we made it.  Oli had managed to get off work early at 6.30pm and we were going to go shopping.  One of our destinations was Zara of course and here is a photo of the girls at that store in La Vaguada.
The girls at Zara in the afternoon of Suzy's birthday
The last item on the birthday agenda was a family dinner out.  We went to Zurito in Pozuelo. The photo illustrating this week's post is a selfie   the four of us just before we went in.It was lovely for the four of us to be together as it is so rare these days.  The birthday dinner was great and the food, as usual, spectacular.  Here is a lovely photo of Suzy with her Father at that dinner on Tuesday night.
Eladio and Suzy at her birthday dinner at Zurito
I would have loved to have spent Wednesday morning, Suzy’s last morning at home, with her but that was not to be as I had to be in Madrid at 10.30. I was to accompany my boss for an interview at the Spanish news agency Efe.  I arrived early, had a nice cup of coffee next door and then decided to take a selfie by the logo of this well-known Spanish institution.
Me at the Spanish News Agency Efe on Wednesday morning
After the interview, when I was on the point of leaving I checked my email and funnily enough there was an email from another journalist from Efe asking me for information on what our company was doing to help Nepal after the earthquake.  I decided that as I was already at her offices I might as well call her from reception and give her an interview which is what I did.  I was very happy to be able to tell her all the things TeliaSonera and Yoigo were doing to help the country and the employees of their branch operator in the country Ncell.  You can read the article the journalist wrote here about our efforts and another one here including quotes from me.

I was home on time for our last lunch with Suzy.  I was with her too when she packed and also drove her to the airport.  This time our farewell was sweeter than usual as Suzy will be back in three weeks’ time for Oli’s 30th birthday at the end of May.

I drove straight home to join Eladio on our walk. I have to admit that whilst Suzy was with us I did not fast nor did I go on as many walks as usual.  Soon I was back in the car again as Olivia had asked me to pick her up in Majadahonda where she was reporting on the “house of horrors” case.  At Calle Sacedilla number 6, a woman had been murdered and cut up into pieces by the tenant who is also suspected of having murdered his aunt the previous owner of the house.  The case has become very big in Spain and has even reached the international press.  You see these sorts of cases are quite rare in Spain, thank goodness.  I must say it was funny to see Olivia doing a live report in the flesh so to speak.  Here she is in a photo including one of the “house of horrors”. The case is quite close to us for two reasons really; one being that Majadahonda is an area we know very well.  Also one of the girls’ friends, Copi, worked with the murdered woman at a beauty salon.  Uff, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
Olivia reporting on the "house of horrors" in Majadahonda on Wednesday afternoon
On Thursday I was busy with lots of work to catch up on after Suzy’s visit.  I had another lunch with a journalist and my boss, this time with Spain’s leading newspaper, El País.  Apart from the talk about Yoigo and the Spanish market we also spoke about the red lines a newspaper like El País cannot cross.  I was astonished to hear that one of them was the current strike by external workers for Telefónica.  Some 75% of them are on strike (they only earn 800 euros/month), yet there is hardly any news about it in the media.  In the three encounters with journalists this week from the sector I also learned about the pressure put on them by my communications counterparts from the big three operators; something I would just never do.  I’m beginning to find out what a dirty game corporate communications can be.

I got home late on Thursday afternoon, the plan being to go on our walk and then do the weekly shopping.  But that wasn’t to happen as Pippa was ill again.  She had been fine since we brought her back on Monday evening but on Thursday morning had vomited again and did so many times that day.  So I took her back to the vet worried she would be hospitalised again. Thankfully she wasn’t.  She was given primperan (to stop the sickness) and we were to continue with her medicines and special food.  She would not eat or drink that day and was very quiet and sad.  It made my heart bleed.  Here is a photo of her in our bed.  Actually she was in Oli’s arms at the time.
It was very sad to see little Pippa so ill this week
Thankfully she has got much better since. However I am still crossing my fingers and being very careful with her diet.  There were times this week when I feared for her life.  I just cannot imagine life without her anymore.  It is amazing how much one can love a little puppy like Pippa but then she is so very special.

Friday was 1st May and a holiday in many parts of the world.  Oli though worked poor girl as did Salu our new home-help.  It was also my Father’s 96th birthday.  Imagine.  I put on a splendid breakfast for him which I know he appreciated.  He got lots of presents too; Thorntons’ chocolates, 2 pairs of Marks and Spencers trousers as well as a book I think he is enjoying: “17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis and the Biggest Cover-Up in History”.  
This book was one of the presents we gave to Grandpa for his birthday
Before opening his presents, just as he taught me as a child, first he opened his birthday card which Suzy had bought especially in the UK as cards here are useless compared and on which we had all written a message.   Here is a photo of him at breakfast that morning.
My Father at breakfast on his birthday
We had lunch together again as well; the three of us that is.  I had bought him a lovely strawberry and cream cake covered in chocolate which we all enjoyed. I think he did enjoy his birthday as he always does. 
Grandpa and his birthday cake. 
On Saturday I was happy to see fruition from my work or rather from the lunch with El País.  There was an article in the news that our flagship tariff, the sinfin (29 euros/month all the voice and data you can use) will continue indefinitely.  I always get a kick out of positive news coverage on the company. On the other hand if the news is negative then it can be a problem for me.  But no, the sun was shining for me on Saturday thanks to this article.
News in El País on Saturday morning about Yoigo - a part of my job.
It was on Saturday that the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to her second child.  It was a girl and the British are placing their bets on to what name it will be given.  I hope it will be called Victoria.  Amazingly a favourite name or the “name on the nation’s lips” is actually my daughter’s name, Olivia. Now that would be funny.  I particularly liked the front page of today’s Sunday Telegraph here below.
It is entitled “a sister for George”.  George of course is the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first born and next in line to the British throne after his father William.  But George is also the name of my beloved and departed brother; so I too am “a sister for George”.  Long may she live.

I spent most of Saturday with Olivia.  She joined me to do the weekly shopping and we even went and had a cup of coffee at Alverán in Boadilla.  And I have spent most of today Sunday with her too.  Today is Mother’s Day in Spain; something I haven’t really brought the girls up to celebrate.  Even so it was lovely to get a very beautiful voice message from Suzy and a collage photo she posted on Facebook to celebrate the occasion.
Suzy's Mother's Day collage photo she posted on Facebook for me today
What a fortunate Mother I am to have such wonderful girls.  Salu told me just after being with us for a few days, what lovely girls they are. That was nice to hear.  I hope it has something to do with how we brought them up. 

Next week will be busy too, but now that we are in May, it seems like the summer is coming and the days are longer.  Our walks are more beautiful too as everything is green and the fields are speckled with daisies and other wild flowers. 

Wishing you all a great week ahead,

Cheers till next time


No comments: