Sunday, June 28, 2015

Good news for Suzy, a goodbye lunch, The Roof, planning my trip to England, frightening lone wolf ISIS attacks in Europe and the Middle East, Oli reporting on the increased terrorist alert in Spain, gay marriage legalized in the USA, a heat wave and time by the pool.

Sunday 28th June 2015
The goodbye lunch for Carlos
Good morning everyone.

Summer started last Sunday and the heat came with it bringing with it a record breaking heat wave for this time of year.   Today will be a scorcher as most of the week has been.

Last Monday I was awake at 06.50.  My body clock wakes me up far too early these days.  I try to think of it positively in that my days are longer and I can pack a lot more into them.  It has been a very busy week and I needed those extra hours to keep up with my work.  I fasted that day as I always try to do on Mondays and Thursdays; not that I am getting any slimmer as I tend to eat more than I am allowed on the other days. Thanks to the morning walks and the fasting, at least I am not putting any on; or at least I don’t think I am.  The only way to know would be to get on the scales but the scales and I do not get on and I haven’t weighed myself for a number of years.

That morning I had a meeting with my PR agency Ketchum to get to know the new team leader and to go through all the “to dos” on my list.  I organize my work by lists of what’s pending and keep updating them.  The lists never get shorter but I love it when I can cross things off.  Life is a constant obstacle race isn’t it?

On Tuesday I had lunch with the directors of Ketchum, Tony and Teresa.  Tony is English and Teresa is Spanish, so they are an Anglo Spanish couple like Eladio and I.  They are also foodies and took me to Triciclo, a great little restaurant in the heart of old Madrid in “Huertas”.

It was on Tuesday that we got good news from Suzy.  Remember the news about her being registered with the HCPC in the UK from last week’s post?  Well finally on Tuesday the last two hurdles before becoming a registered UK dietitian were accomplished.  The HCPC required a verification email from both her Universities to confirm she had taken her degrees there.  The CEU University sent their email on the Friday before and the UCM (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) sent theirs on Tuesday.  Suzy then rang the HCPC to make sure they had received them. The good news was that they had and they told her it would take just 4 or 5 working days before she received her coveted number.  This number will allow her to work as a registered dietitian who are very well paid in the UK; even better than nurses.  We are so happy for her.  I shall be going out to see her next Thursday and we shall celebrate together.  It was on Tuesday that Suzy sent us a photo of herself in a summer top made by a friend she had met when she worked temporarily at Decathlon.  It’s lovely to see her smiling in the photo.
Happy Suzy in her new top
On Wednesday I had a goodbye lunch with Carlos who was my team leader at Ketchum and was leaving the company. He will dedicate his time to two of his dreams, writing and cinema and is even involved in a project to make a film.  I had prepared a surprise lunch for him with the team from Ketchum and QuintaEsencia (our events agency).  He thought lunch would be just with me.  But no, I wanted to give him a proper send off and to thank him for 7 years of good work and fun together.  He was a very reliable team leader and was always there when I needed him. I’ll miss you Carlos. QuintaEsencia made a photo album for the occasion for him to remember his times with Yoigo over the years.  If you saw the album you would think that we spent the whole time partying.  Well of course we partied but I can tell you there was an awful lot of work behind each and every event; work that people don’t see.  They just imagine PR is a question of glamour and parties.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of the lunch.  It was at El Paraguas, a lovely restaurant in town which I highly recommend.  The food is from Asturias in the north of Spain and is superb.
The goodbye lunch at El Paraguas
I was back late in the afternoon and after I had dealt with some emails, I had a visit.  Alicia, my goddaughter came to have a bathe.  She has just graduated as a nurse and comes quite a lot these days as her boyfriend Chema leaves nearby.  Here is a photo of her in the pool trying to get Elsa to join her in the water which is mission impossible.  I think Elsa must be the only Labrador in the world who is not attracted to water.  I wonder why.  In the photo Pippa is looking on – even more scared of the water than Elsa.
Alicia in the pool with Elsa and Pippa looking on
That night I had one of the most pleasurable of tasks as a PR professional.  I had to go and taste the food on the menu for a big employee and partner summer party I am organizing for next week.  It’s going to be a cocktail party and I have to make sure there is enough food for everyone and that it flows as it should; not an easy job. The party will take place at The Roof, perhaps Madrid’s loveliest rooftop.  It is located in the Plaza de Santa Ana in the heart of Madrid.  I love the place and it has a connection already with Yoigo as it was here that I did the commercial launch in 2006.
The Roof at night
I could find very little to fault with the spread I had to taste and in the end only changed two little items.  This is what I tasted and I found it difficult to eat one of everything.  Later I was told by the staff that in the cocktail party they will serve 4 units of every item so there are no fears of there not being enough food
The cold entrées
The hot canapes
Thankfully on Thursday I didn’t have any meetings so was able to work quietly from home.  It was on Thursday that I finally had some time to plan my visit to England to see Suzy.  I will be going out next Thursday until the following Monday and will have three full days with Suzy as she will only be working on the Thursday.  Suzy suggested we visit Stonehenge and Bath.  In turn I suggested a visit to the Houses of Parliament which I have only ever seen from the outside and to Kew Gardens.  In the end we will be hiring a car and visiting Bath on Friday.  I have only been there once and I was a student at the time so it was many years ago. But I have a lasting memory of what a beautiful city it is.  I have booked lunch at the Roman Baths Pump Room Restaurant where the menu looks scrumptious.  I look forward to afternoon tea there whilst Suzy will be going for the vegan items of course. 
The Roman Baths in Bath Somerset which we will visit next week
As to the visit of the Houses of Parliament, I booked a tour for Saturday morning by ringing their offices. Ideally I wanted a guided tour including afternoon tea but they were fully booked so an audio guide tour will have to suffice. Whilst talking to the office I asked about visiting Big Ben.  I was astonished to hear that you have to be a UK citizen which I thought was very racist and have no idea why that condition exists.  Well I thought Suzy and I are UK citizens and both have British passports, so I asked to book a ticket. I was even more astonished to hear that to do so we would need to be sponsored first by our MP!!!  I told the girl that I didn’t have one as I lived in Spain and she suggested that we do so by being sponsored by Suzy’s MP.  She asked for her post code and told me that Suzy’s MP is a lady called Harriet Harman.  I gave it a try and wrote an email to her office.  Shortly I received a reply to say that all tours were fully booked until November.  Big Ben will have to wait until another time.  But isn’t this extraordinary?  I’m sure many people don’t know how difficult it is to visit the most famous clock tower in the world.

We shall be visiting the Houses of Parliament but Big Ben is out I'm afraid
Part of my work on Thursday was preparing a press release on the prize my boss would be given that night in Valencia.  He was named “engineer of the year” by the Valencian College of Telecommunications Engineers.  This was quite an honour and deserved communicating although it didn’t get as much regional coverage as I had hoped.  The reason was that the local Valencian government was being appointed that day after the recent elections and the local news was all about that.

Friday was supposed to be a quiet day.  I had time to go the hairdresser and get my roots and nails done.  It was whilst I was there that I heard that ISIS had done it again. On the 1st anniversary of their existence and during the holy month of Ramadan, lone wolf attacks were carried out in Somalia, Kuwait, Tunisia and France.  In Tunisia a gunman killed 37 tourists, most of them British, on a Spanish owned hotel beach in Sousse. 
Deadly ISIS attack on a beach in Sousse in Tunisia
Meanwhile in France there was an attack on a gas factory near Lyon.  The gunman killed his boss and then beheaded him leaving an ISIS flag at his side.  I’m afraid that that is their terrible trade mark.

The reactions around the world were of horror.  At the same time most countries increased their terrorist warning alerts. In Spain it was increased from 3 to 4, 5 being the highest when the Army takes over.  Olivia reported on the increase in the alert from one of Spain’s biggest train stations, Chamartin in Madrid.  Here she is interviewing the police at the train station on how Spain was reacting to possible attacks in this country.
Olivia reporting for TeleMadrid on the increased terrorist alert in Spain after the attacks this week
That night Eladio and I went out to dinner to La Txitxarrería where I enjoyed what I consider is the best steak in the area.  It was during dinner that I heard that the USA had legalized gay marriage.  It was a big thing for the US and for gay rights around the world.  Even the White House was floodlit in rainbow colours as you can see in this picture.
The White House floodlit with rainbow colours to celebrate the legalisation of gay marriages in the USA
I always think the US is years ahead of Europe in many things.  But not in this case.  It was 10 years ago, for example, that Spain legalized gay marriages. 

Yesterday Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far.  The temperature reached 38c and in some parts of Spain it went as high as 40c.  The only place to be yesterday was by our pool. 
The only place to be in this heat wave is by our pool
We were in and out of the water most of the day.  Not the dogs though.  Here is lovely photo of Olivia in the pool cooing at little Pippa, our spoiled little chocolate coloured mini dachshund who will be 7 months old on 3rd July.
Oli in the water yesterday with Pippa lying down outside the pool
Alicia came again yesterday afternoon whilst her medical student boyfriend Chema was swotting for his exams.  Juli, the girls’ friend, came too to spend the day and in the afternoon the four of us played cards by the pool. We played “sevens” a highly addictive card game that Sandra and Jeffer taught me last year when they stayed at our flat in Santa Pola.
Playing "sevens" with Juli, Ali and Oli yesterday
For dinner I rustled up something quick and easy to make; a Swedish open prawn sandwich which is fast becoming one of our favourite dinner menus.  Last night we had to sleep with the air conditioning on for most of the night.

Today promises to be even hotter than yesterday and again most of it will be spent by the pool, the only place to be when it so hot.

Next week is going to busy but I have Thursday to look forward to when I fly out to London.  But of course you will be reading all about that in next week’s post. You might have to wait for it a day or too later than usual as I won’t be back till the following Monday.

So I will say goodbye until next time.  Wishing you all the best, cheers and bye for now,


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