Sunday, July 26, 2015

More heat but please don’t go to Benidorm, Olivia reporting on sharks, a Finnish Swedish dinner, three Spanish journalists missing in Syria, final stages of the rebuilding of our house in Montrondo, a wild fire nearby, a new look I now regret, Spain the best country in the world for food and other stories.

Sunday 26th July 2015

My new look - I now regret dying my hair dark
Hi again,

It’s Sunday, blog day and it’s another scorcher.  The temperatures are in their high 30’s and today we are expecting 37ºc maximum and an unbearable 24ºc minimum. At least it’s a reprieve from the 40ºc we have been experiencing but that won’t be for long as another heatwave is on its way.

While I’m on the subject of heat in Spain, I read the other day “the number of overseas visitors to Spain has hit a new high, with 29.2 million in June – 4.2% more than the same period in 2014”.  Very many of them are British and they flock to Benidorm, that mega resort on the Costa Blanca that they have turned into a sort of Blackpool but with sun and made their own.  As I wrote on Facebook, “Sorry but I've always hated Benidorm the Blackpool of Spain. It's like  England in Spain with all the worst of Britain”. If you haven’t been, this picture of the crowded Levante beach should put you off going forever.
The crowded Levante beach in Benidorm
It’s a far cry from the lovely little fishing village it was in the 50’s when only locals used to go until package tours were invented in the 60’s.  I know what I am talking about because my parents bought a village house 18km away in Callosa de Ensarria high in the mountains in the mid-seventies. My parents didn’t drive and there were only 2 buses a day so often I would hitch hike there past orange groves with my brother or my friends.  The beaches were not so crowded in those days but it was already a haven for drunken, tattooed Brits and Germans.  My mother used to say that it was the worst class of people from Europe who went on holiday there.  It’s full of fish and chip shops and British pubs, so un-Spanish. 
Benidorm in the 50's before the age of package tours
However Benidorm holds a special place in my heart because, believe it or not, it was where Eladio and I fell in love in the summer of 1980.  We preferred the “Poniente” beach which is much quieter and we still go there sometimes to remember those heady days of first falling in love.  So, if you do go to Benidorm, then please avoid the Levante beach and head for the Poniente.  The bar we used to go to when we first fell in love was the Vimi bar which still exists and which we often go back to although the owners are not aware of its significance for us.  It’s nothing special but then at the time we were in a world of our own. 
Eladio and I a few years ago at the Vimi bar on the Poniente Beach in Benidrom
A Finnish friend who wants to book a holiday in Spain wrote to me after my comment on Benidorm and asked for recommendations as to where to go.  My advice to her was to avoid the Costas (Costa del Sol, Costa Brava and Costa Blanca) and either to go north to Santander, Galicia, Asturias or the Basque Country or to Huelva or Cádiz.  I have given her some tips; such as staying at a Parador, the state run hotels often located in beautifully restored palaces or casteles as I want her to see the real Spain which I promise you is not Benidorm.

Talking about the sea it was on Tuesday that Olivia had to do a TV report for her programme Aquí en Madrid for Telemadrid.  It was about sharks and was to mark the 40th anniversary of the film Jaws.  I always hated that film.  It made such an impact on Suzy when she was a child I hated it even more after that.  For her report Olivia interviewed Karlos Simón a scuba diver who knows more about sharks than anyone else in Spain.  He told her that Jaws did an awful lot of damage to the image of sharks and that in reality they are not the man-eaters the film made them out to be.  He has swum many times with sharks so he knows.  Even so, I would never ever dare to do so.  Here is a photo of Olivia with Karlos.

Olivia with Karlos Simón
As it has been so hot, Olivia also had to do a live TV report on ways to avoid the heat; such as using an umbrella when walking in the streets or pulling the blinds down at home and drinking lots of water.  One man’s advice was to put a t-shirt in the freezer for a while and then put it on.  He swears it keeps you cool for a couple of hours. Here she is talking to the man with the t-shirt.
Olivia reporting on the heatwave
It’s the holiday season too and Olivia did another report on that too.  This time it was about a travel agency that cheated its customers.  They would reserve their tickets, take the money and then cancel the reservation.  The deluded customers would turn up at the airport only to find they did not have a seat on their flight.  The fraud amounted to over 45 thousand euros.  Here she is on her way to the show the spectators the travel agency.
Olivia reporting on fraud by a Madrid travel agency
Olivia often complains that the reports she does are not very newsworthy.  Sometimes that is true and sometimes it is not. I’m sure she would have preferred to report on the main news item of the day in Spain.  It was sad news.  Three Spanish war correspondents were reported missing in Syria and feared kidnapped by ISIS.  They were last heard from on 13th July in Aleppo, one of the most dangerous towns right now in the world for a journalist.  One of them, Ange Sastre, was a colleague of the journalist (Jesús) from La Razón who was to interview my boss the next day.  Jesús told me the newspaper knew about the missing journalists but that the government had asked the families and colleagues to keep the story secret whilst they negotiated.  The news was leaked by the Spanish newspaper ABC and since then it is common knowledge.  I can only hope their fate will be a quick release and give thanks that the Spanish government is less strict than their American or UK counterparts the fate of whose kidnapped journalists is often the worst there can be; beheading on video by ISIS for the world to see.  The last photo of the three of them seen together was posted on Facebook by their interpreter.
The 3 missing Spanish freelance journalists, left to right, Antonio Pampliega, Angel Sastre and Jose Manuel Lopez
It was on Tuesday that the Spanish telecoms regulator the CNMC published a resolution in favour of Yoigo in a plea we had made.  We were delighted to read that the CNMC had decided that Yoigo under its contract with a big operator in Spain would be able to resell its network to virtual mobile operators.  It was my business to come up with a statement on our opinion on the resolution.

That night, running out of ideas of what to make for dinner, I decided to make some Finnish Karelian pies I had left in the deep freeze from my last trip there as well as my favourite Swedish dish, the open prawn sandwich the Swedes call “räksmörgås”. This was the result.  I got lots of compliments that night from Olivia, Miguel and Eladio.
The  Finnish Swedish dinner I made this week
On Wednesday I was busy.  I spent part of the morning at the office because the chief editor of economy for the La Razón newspaper was coming to interview my boss.  It was to be a long interview on the situation of the telecoms market as well as the part Yoigo plays in the business.  A photographer came along too and took some great shots of my boss in our iconic cafeteria where we have billiards, table football, a darts board, a TV, sofa type swings as well as very well frequented bar.  Here he is by the billiard table.
My boss during the photo shoot
In the afternoon Eladio and I went to Ikea to finalise the lists of furniture and equipment we have ordered for our house in Montrondo, including the kitchen. Our builders told us we could now have the kitchen fitted but we did not factor in that Ikea will take 2 months before they install it.  Well if we have waited for this moment since the rebuilding started in May 2014 I suppose we can wait a couple more months until it is really finished.  The house has been painted inside and this week they will be putting in the floorboards, the doors, the railings and staircase.  Yesterday they sent us photos of the painting of the bathrooms.  I had told them I wanted pastel colours but instead they used darker colours.  I was a bit cross but actually think it looks ok.  What do you think?
The painting on 3 of the bathrooms in Montrondo
On Thursday I worked quietly from home.  I have a very big project on my hands at the moment. I am organizing the annual Yoigo summer party for employees and partners, some 270 people to take place in the middle of September.  This year we will be going to El Rocío, a beautiful little village in Huelva in the middle of Doñana, Europe’s largest nature reserve.  El Rocío is famous for its pilgrimage and we will be doing our very own pilgrimage; 10 km in horse driven carriages and on gypsy caravans.  I have to ensure the sponsorship of our partners, some 28 companies and get together the guest list, organize the transport on the high speed train to Seville and a hundred other things.  I am very lucky that I have the best events agency in Spain to ensure the event goes off without a hitch and to ensure a “wow” reaction from my guests or at least that is my objective. 
Beautiful El Rocío
I was busy in the morning but in the late afternoon I spent the time by the pool with my kindle.  Alicia, my goddaughter and her boyfriend Chema came to join me.  Not long after Olivia and Miguel returned from Madrid.  I caught Olivia, Chema and Alicia on camera as they were talking together.  See if you can spot little Pippa who always has to be where people are.  
Oli, Chema, Alicia, Elsa and little Pippa this week by the pool
Just after Alicia and Chema left, they sent us a photo of a fire nearby.  We could even see it from our bedroom balconies.
The wild fire as seen from our house on Thursday evening
We weren’t sure where it was and later Alicia sent us another photo, this time close to the fire and told us it was at the entrance to Campodón.  There are many wild fires in Spain at the moment owing to the high temperatures but usually they are forest fires.  The fear is when they are near people’s homes like this one on Thursday. 
A close up of the fire
On Thursday I spoke to Suzy on the phone.  I was worried about her health.  I think I wrote in one of my recent posts that she has had and has pains in different parts of her body.  She has been to the A+E and to her GP and has done a few tests but the whole process seems very slow.  So on Thursday I advised her to come to Spain as soon as possible where I know they will do all the tests in a day or two and we won’t have to wait 3 weeks for the results.  Thankfully, she is coming on Monday at midday and we will be going straight to the hospital where her friend Rocio’s father is a doctor.  Juan is a darling and I always turn to him when we have a health issue.  He will open all the doors for her and put her in the hands of experts. Health comes first and if that means coming to Spain and paying for the flight, well then so be it.  The Spanish health system is one of the best in the world and if she had gone to A+E here 3 weeks ago, she would have had all the tests done there and then, not like the UK where from A+E she was more or less told to go her GP and she still doesn’t know the cause of the pains.  Keep your fingers crossed for Suzy.

On Friday I finally found the time to go to the hairdresser and have my roots seen to.  My hair seemed to have got blonder probably because of the sun and it looked nearly white.  I asked Cristina to dye it two tones darker and that was my undoing.  Once my hair was washed I saw in the mirror just how dark it was, even darker than my natural light brown colour.  I saw another woman in the mirror.  Cristina assured me it would be lighter when she blow dried it and that after a couple of washes at home it would get lighter.  This is what it looked like:
The selfie I took when I got back from the hairdresser.  I'm smiling but I'm not feeling very happy
When I got home Eladio said he liked it.  When I posted the photo on Facebook I got mixed reactions.  The truth is I now regret what I have done and didn’t realise that 2 tones darker would make it so dark.  I keep washing it with shampoo but the dye is not resisting. If it doesn’t get lighter by the middle of next week I shall go back to the hairdresser and have some highlights put in. 

In the afternoon Eladio went to Ikea again to grab the kitchen sink we want installing Montrondo and of which there are very few units.  It’s made of porcelain and has a country style look.  This is what it looks like.
The Ikea kitchen sink for Montrondo
Meanwhile I had an hour to myself by the pool before I had to go off and do the weekly shopping.  As always, I was joined by little Pippa who is a bit like my shadow.  Our miniature chocolate coloured dachshund is nearly 8 months old.  She remains small but is very long, a true “sausage dog” as you can see from the picture below. 
Little Pippa is very long now!
It was sometime this week that I read with interest an article about the country with the best food in the world. This is the article and it is written by a travel and food journalist from Australia called Ben Groundwater.  He starts off saying that most people think the best food in the world is either French or Italian and goes on to tell his readers in The Traveller, that actually the best country is Spain and that for a funny reason this country is under the radar whilst it has some of the best restaurants in the world, including Can Celler the world’s number one restaurant.  He is right when he explains that the Spanish staple dish is not paella. 

Olivia and Miguel would later say that Ben Groundwater was totally right after their dinner on Friday night at Dstage, Madrid’s top restaurant where dishes are so creative you just have to take a photo of each and every one of them.  If you don’t believe me, here is a collection of photos of the dishes I ate there recently and which I posted on the chef Diego Guerrero’s twitter yesterday.  Dstage is very special and if you haven’t been there yet please put it on your to-do list! 
Food at Dstage - unbelievable

Eladio and I were to eat well too that night.  We went out to dinner with our friends and neighbours Elena and José Luis.  The photo illustrating this week’s post is of me all dressed up and ready to go out.  I had hoped that a nice outfit and makeup would enhance my new look but it didn’t really did it?

The restaurant we chose was El Lago set by a lake in the middle of a country club in Boadilla called Las Encinas.  I have been past the club countless times but had never been in.  Elena and José Luis were members of it for many years and when we drove in they took us on a tour of the club.  It has every sports facility you can imagine including an ice rink and is enormous and beautifully kept.  El Lago restaurant is right by the lake and is a very romantic setting.  It was a great evening and the food was good too; not Dstage standard of course, but great barbecued steak which was so big I couldn’t finish it.
Dinner was at this romantic setting at El Lago in the Encinas Club of Boadilla on Friday night
Saturday started like every day this week with an early morning walk with Eladio and the dogs.  Olivia and Miguel were home and whilst they were finishing their breakfast I made our lunch.  Salud our home-help is away for 4 days as next weekend she will have to stay here whilst we are in Montrondo for the annual family gathering.  It was my opportunity to cook then and I enjoyed making one of my specialities, chicken korma curry.  Everyone loved it.

After a siesta yesterday the only place to be was by the pool.  It was not quite as hot as other days so I was able to read my kindle happily under the parasol.  Eladio doesn’t often swim in the pool but yesterday I caught him on camera.  He always was good looking and I marvel that he is 70 years old but still has film star looks.
My drop dead gorgeous looking husband in the pool yesterday afternoon

And today is Sunday.  After writing and publishing this post I shall once again make the lunch – chicken again; this time a Sunday roast and then more time by the pool in the afternoon.  I need to recharge my batteries for next week. 

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


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Oli is back from Almeria, a new deal for Greece, sweltering in Spain, visit of Isidro and Yoli, a TV interview, Elsa finally took the plunge, Suzy got her HCPC card, Alicia beginning her nursing career, Toño and Dolores back from Cuba and other stories.

Tuesday 21st July 2015

Working for the BBC would have been my dream job
Hi everyone,

Sorry I am late with my blog but in all honesty I haven’t had a moment to myself for more than 10 days. Finally I have found the time.

I left off on Sunday 19th July.  That day Olivia came back from Almeria where she had been on holiday with her boyfriend Miguel for a week.  From all accounts they had a great time and above all Oli relaxed and recharged her batteries and is now back at work.  Here is a photo of the two of them enjoying a cocktail in Cabo de Gata.
Olivia with Miguel in Cabo de Gata on the last day of their holidays
On Sunday no one was surprised to hear that Djokovic beat Federer in the Men’s final at Wimbledon.  I had lost interest in the championship since the Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza lost to Serena Williams in the women’s final.  I was far more interested that day to watch Real’s goalkeeper, Iker Casillas, announce alone in the Bernabeu Stadium press room that he was leaving for Oporto.  His announcement was sad and a farce as he was not leaving of his own will and everyone knew so.  He is a legend in the team and one of the best captains they have ever had.  I just hope he will still form part of the Spanish national team, “La Roja” and that it is not a real goodbye Iker.  What a gentleman, what a player, what a pity Real Madrid let him go.
A sad goodbye for Real Madrid's captain and goalkeeper, Iker Casillas
Monday was a big day for Greece.  The previous Sunday the Greeks voted no against the conditions of a very strict deal.  The week in between was difficult for Greece and for Europe.  Would they leave the Euro? Would they leave the EU?  What would be the implications for the rest of the countries?   But finally Alexis Tsipras reached a new deal on Monday after 17 hours of negotiations.  The irony of it all is that the conditions of the new deal were actually worse than the previous ones and now the new young Prime Minister will have to call new elections. The good thing is that Greece will remain in the Euro and in the EU.  However their population will now have to suffer an austerity that will bring many of them to their knees.  In my honest opinion I think they should have been allowed to be forgiven part of their debt as they are never going to be able to return it all.  It’s a bit like Monopoly really, the bank always wins.

Alexis Tsipras returning to Athens to explain the new deal to the Greek Parliament
Most of the week I worked from home, bearing the heat the best we could.  We are at the end of our second long heatwave and just as the temperatures are decreasing by just a few degrees we are now on the verge of an even more intense heatwave. This is the hottest summer I remember in all the years I have lived in Spain.

I had good news and bad this week.  On the one hand my friend from school, Maureen, who has been battling with cancer at the Bradford Royal Infirmary where she has been staying for months, is now clear of the dreaded illness.  She has been a heroine and instead of moaning or getting depressed which I am sure most people would do in her situation, she has made real that super English expression, “chin up” or more likely made use of the very British “stiff upper lip”.  She went out to celebrate with her friends from school, “girls” I was at school with too.  I would have loved to have been there too. I am delighted for you Maureen. 
So happy my brave school friend Maureen (front right) is now cancer free
The sad news is that my dear friend Adele who went to Nottingham University with me, lost her mother this week.  I knew her Mother and Father from our student days and know what a lovely family Adele has.  My heart goes out to Adele and to her family.  Their only consolation was that they were all with her whilst she died and that she did so in peace surrounded by her family.  Darling Adele, I’m so sorry for you and know what you have gone through and what you are feeling.  I only have to think about my Mother to say so.  R.I.P. Mrs. Brierley.

Friday was a big day for me.  It was the day Yoigo’s mother company, TeliaSonera, announced the quarterly financial results.  We had made an ambitious PR plan to present our results locally, with statements, q+as, interviews etc which bore its fruits.   I was happy later to see headlines such as this.
Yoigo announced good financial results last Friday
That day I had an interview on the television.  I sort of mentioned to the producer that I would have loved to work for the BBC and the dear man took a screen shot of me on camera.  Later he edited the photo for it to look as if I was presenting the BBC news.  It’s the photo I have chosen for this week’s cover photo.  Certainly it would have been my dream job but I never knew that when I was young and now of course it is too late.  In a way my daughter Olivia is doing what I should have done. 

Saturday was a great day.  It was the day Suzy received her HCPC card which means she is an officially registered UK dietitian.  We can’t wait to celebrate with her in person.
Suzy's HCPC card
That day Isidro, Eladio’s youngest brother, came with his wife Yoli and their youngest daughter Alicia for lunch.  They also came to take my mother-in-law home.  In the summer she stays 2 weeks with each of her offspring. I am sure she was happy to leave sweltering Madrid and go back to cooler León.  Here is a photo of Eladio with Yoli, Isidro and Ernestina, my mother-in-law, on her last day with us.
From left to right, Yoli, Ernestina, Eladio and Isidro
That night Oli and Alicia went out with some of Olivia’s friends and here is a great picture of them both enjoying what looks like a mojito.
Alicia and Olivia out on the tiles on Saturday night
Alicia is my goddaughter. She graduated very recently as a nurse and is now working at a big Madrid Hospital, “Ramón y Cajal” in the intensive care unit.  I asked her for a photo and this is what I got.  I’m extremely proud of her and was happy to hear her tell me that this is her dream job and that she would like to work there forever.  Not many people can say that about their jobs. Alicia, who is her in her early 20’s knows now what she wants to do in life, unlike me who only knew later on in life when it was too late.  However I’m not complaining.  I have always enjoyed my job.  It’s just that I never chose it.
Alicia, my goddaughter, the nurse
Yoli brought me some lovely summer shoes; flat white lace sneakers.  This is what they look like.  Thanks Yoli.
My new sneakers
It was on Sunday that our golden Labrador Elsa finally took the plunge and swam in our pool.   Labradors are known for loving water.  However Elsa has always been reluctant to go into water for some reason. Thanks to Juli, the girls’ friend and my “adopted” son, she finally took to the water and swam in our pool.  She loves playing fetch and Juli with a bit of coaching was able to get her to jump in, fetch the ball and come back up the pool steps with the ball in her mouth.  And she did it over and over again.  Here she is with Oli in the pool. It’s lovely to watch her.
Elsa in the pool with Olivia
Here, by the way is a lovely photo of Eladio, Olivia, Alicia, Juli and myself last Sunday which I nearly forgot to include.  I just wish Suzy had been with us too.
From left to right; Juli, Alicia, me, Oli and Eladio
On Monday after our early morning walk, Olivia and I tried to coach Pippa into the pool too.   She was able to swim but kept swimming back to us.  Pippa prefers to sit with me in the water on the steps.  Here is the photo I was able to capture on my camera of little Pippa swimming.
Pippa swimming

Yesterday Monday I spent the whole morning catching up with my work.  I had a lot of media calls too which I had to attend.  But by lunchtime I was semi free.  Toño, Eladio’s next brother down, and his wife Dolores, were coming for lunch and to pick up their mongrel dog Nuba.  It had been staying with us whilst they were away in Cuba visiting their son Miguel who now lives there semi permanently.  He is setting up a music school for tourists to learn Cuban Music.  It is called Havana Music School and looks very promising.  It was their first visit to Cuba and apart from being with their son Miguel, José Antonio wanted to visit the descendents of my in-law’s family who emigrated there from Montrondo in the 1920s and they travelled all over the country to do so.  It must have been quite an adventure.
José Antonio, Dolores and Miguel in Cuba
We spent part of the afternoon in the shade by the pool listening to the tales they had to tell of their experience in Cuba.  We will be seeing them again when we return to Montrondo on 1st August for this year’s family get together.  Unfortunately our house won’t quite be ready  for the occasion.  Tomorrow we are going to Ikea hopefully to sign the order for the kitchen to be installed as well as everything else we have ordered there. 

And that folks is all there is to tell this week.  Sorry it’s a short blog post but really there is not much else to tell. Wishing you all the best, cheers till next time,


Sunday, July 12, 2015

The record heatwave continues, Oli and Miguel on holiday in Almeria, farewell Nokia mobile phones, Muguruza reached the Wimbledon final, Gloria is 40, friends for tea, goodbye Dr. Zhivago and other stories.

Sunday 12th July 2015

With Gloria. She turned 40 this week and is as lovely as ever.

Good morning everyone.  It’s another Sunday and “blog day” to quote my Father and my friend Jackie.  It’s incredibly hot as it has been for weeks now and it is quite suffocating.  But more about that later.  Let me start where I left off which was on Wednesday 8th July.

That day Suzy continued to have pains in her stomach, more precisely in the pelvic region.  She had been suffering from the pain off and on when I was with her but it got worse when I left. I persuaded her to go an A&E at a hospital so off she went to Guys who then sent her to St. Thomas’.  Funnily enough my Mother’s sister, Dara, was a nurse there before the war but I have never been there.  They found that her blood pressure was very low, gave her pain killers and then referred her to her GP.  He took more tests and thought it may well be appendicitis.  Thankfully the pains seem to have receded for the moment so hopefully it was just a storm in a teacup and nothing serious.

On Wednesday I worked from home quietly.  I was very busy though as I had to call all the main journalists and read out a statement about our quitting negotiations with Orange for their network assets after they had bought Jazztel, a fixed line operator.  We had showed a lot of interest in the assets but they turned out to be mainly adsl with only 5% fiber which in the long run would not allow us to make competitive convergent offers as sooner or later adsl will be an obsolete technology. 

I had time that day of course for my early morning walk and for once during the week I did the cooking.  I showed Salud, our home-help, how to make meat loaf, one of my specialities.  Just as we came home from the walk my Father had fallen in the bathroom as he tried to get into his wheelchair.  Salud was a marvel, lifting him up from the floor all by herself and thank God he wasn’t hurt in any way.  No damage done.  I always fear a fall and worry he may break his other hip.  We shall have to help him more in the bathroom from now on.  He took it very lightly, laughing and praising Salud for her efforts.  I’m not sure I could have lifted him up from the floor by myself. 

It was that day that I wore the little flowery dress I had bought at Pull and Bear in Oxford Street with Suzy.  It’s sort of funny to buy clothes from a Spanish shop abroad (Pull and Bear belongs to Zara) but when I saw it I knew it was for me.  It was on sale too and only cost 7.99 pounds!
The flowery Pull and Bear dress
One of the reasons for wearing it is that it is cool and perfect for a hot day. As I said at the beginning of this post the  heatwave continues and there have been record temperatures for so long now I can’t remember when it started.  Most of the country is on alert for wild fires of which there have been many.  Just look at the map and you will be amazed at the heat.  Some parts of Spain reached 45ºc, such as Zaragoza.  Here in Madrid it has been between 39 and 42ºc which at times is unbearable.
The heatwave in Spain
Meanwhile Miguel and Oli continued their holiday in Almeria.  We spoke once this week and Olivia told me it was unbearably hot there too. 
Oli relaxing on holiday in Almeria this week
Almeria is perhaps the hottest province in Spain. I remember going on holiday there with the girls when they were toddlers and my parents and I swore I would never return in the summer.  Thankfully they are right by the beach and spend a lot of time in the water. Here they are kissing whilst snorkeling.
Oli and Miguel kissing under the water in Almeria
I got another photo from them later where they are cooling off with two delicious mojitos in Cabo de Gata.  Olivia will be returning tonight.  Sadly I won’t see her until next week as I am off on my travels too later today.
Oli and Miguel drinking mojitos in Cabo de Gata
I was pleased to hear they were having a good time, relaxing and feeling very happy.  On the topic of happiness, it was this week that I read the results of a survey taken in Spain.  It revealed that Spaniards are a happy nation despite the crisis and that 8 out of 10 said they are really happy.  I am not officially Spanish of course but I can tell you that I too am happy living in sunny Spain; a great nation to build a home.
8 out of 10 Spaniards say they are really happy - despite the crisis.
Whilst the Spaniards are happy, I can only imagine the Finns on Wednesday were very unhappy with the news that Microsoft published that day. The American software giant had bought the Finnish mobile phone division where I used to work.  It seems, according to the announcement from the company’s chief executive that the deal is to be a sort of write off – unimaginable – and that 7.800 jobs from the phone business are to be axed and many of them in Finland.  My heart goes out to the people who will lose their jobs and to Finland which has lost part of the jewels in its crown.  Thankfully the company Nokia continues to exist, the part that makes and sells network infrastructure.  However Nokia will never be the same again. Commenting on the subject, my dear Finnish friend Anne who lives in Salo where the company has been most hit, posted a photo of her collection of Nokia Mobile Phones.  I remember launching many of them; some of them together with my dear friend Anne.  Those were the days.  It is sad that they are over.
Anne's collection of old Nokia phones.  I wish I had kept mine.
Thursday was a hard day for me.  Fasting in the heat never helps of course.  I had to work on the press coverage of the previous day’s PR activities and send out a report to Stockholm.  That took up most of the morning. 

Suzy had another red letter day that morning when she received the final confirmation of her registry with the HCPC.  I’m so happy for her.  Well done darling.  You are now an official UK dietitian.  It took a year of paperwork but it was worth the effort.
Suzy's letter of final confirmation
Most of England this week will have been watching Wimbledon.  If you live in England life revolves around top lawn tennis for two weeks of the year. After that the English don’t watch much tennis.  With Nadal out in the early stages Spaniards had lost interest in the championship.  We all knew that Murray, Djokovic or Federer would get through to the men’s final.  Now we know it will be Djokovic and Federer playing this afternoon. My hopes are for Roger Federer.  As to the women’s tennis well Spain didn’t have a good woman player did it, not since Aranxa Sánchez Vicario who reached the final or Conchita Martínez who won the tournament in 1994.  So there was a big surprise when we heard that a tall 21 year old girl with a funny name, “Garbiñe”and surname “Muguruza” who is really Venezuelan but has a Spanish father and Spanish nationality, had got through to the final.  I mean she was number 20 in the world.  True she had beaten Serena Williams in last year’s French Open but one could hardly hope she would even get through to the quarter finals on a surface which is not hers, grass.  Even Garbi, as she calls herself, couldn’t believe getting through to the semi-finals and beating Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland. This is the photo she posted on her Twitter after the match when she knew she had reached the finals of Wimbledon, the greatest tennis championship in the world.  How could that be?

Garbiñe Muguruza ecstatic at getting through to the finals at Wimbledon
She played Serena Williams yesterday in the final.  My heart and most of the spectators wanted the valiant newcomer to win but it was not to be; even though she put up an extraordinary fight.  The outcome was 6-4 6-4.  Garbi is young and Serena is in her middle 30’s. Maybe one day, Garbiñe Muguruza will take her place and will become a household name too.  I, for one, hope so. 

Friday was a long day.  These days I tend to wake up at 6 in the morning and that is what happened on Friday.  If I get up early I can pack an awful lot into a day and that’s just what I did that day.  I had meetings all day in the office as well as in town in the afternoon. One of the meetings was with my events agency QuintaEsencia which is headed up by 3 sisters, Cristina, Bea and Gloria.  They came along with Yoigo, Gloria’s dog, our company mascot and boyfriend to be of Pippa as they are identical in breed and colour.  It was Gloria’s 40th birthday that day and from these pages I want to say happy birthday again and to thank her not only for how well she works but for her friendship.  She is a lovely outgoing and beautiful person, both inside and out.  This week’s front page photo is of Gloria and I together at the Yoigo summer party recently.  She’s lovely isn’t she?

It was on Friday afternoon that the world heard the famous Egyptian actor, Omar Sharif, had died of a heart attack aged 83.  I was shocked.  For me he was Doctor Zhivago, perhaps my favourite film of all times, one I have seen countless times and never tire of.  I read later that he himself didn’t like his acting in it because of his big watery eyes.  Well I, like many other women around the world, do not agree. He was drop dead gorgeous to quote Lady Diana.  It seems he is equally famous for his role in Lawrence of Arabia which I actually haven’t seen. I shall have to remedy that soon.  It was sad to think that he has died.  Goodbye Dr. Zhivago, goodbye Omar Sharif. 
Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago 
In the early evening I had friends for tea.  My dear Nokia girlfriends, Juana, Marta and Fátima came to have tea with me.  I think it was the only personal engagement of the week.  Thanks girls for coming. One of our topics was of course the Microsoft announcement but we also had a great time gossiping about other things.  Hope you liked the British tea and Betty’s biscuits.

Saturday was just as hot as Friday, Thursday and Wednesday. Whilst poor Garbiñe Muguruza was fighting Serena Williams on Wimbledon’s centre court, we spent the afternoon by the pool and in the water.  At times little Pippa joined me.  She doesn’t want to swim but is happy if I hold her and sit on the steps so long as her head is not in the water.  Here is a photo of the two of us yesterday.
With Pippa in the pool yesterday. She will only go in if I hold her and sit with her  head above the water!
Eladio’s mother is still with us.  I suspect she would love to go into the pool too but as she hasn’t been in a swimming pool for years, if she ever has been in one, she contents herself by sitting by it with her feet in the water.  Here she is enjoying the moment.
Eladio's mother with her feet in the water this week
And today is Sunday.  After lunch with Eladio, my Father and my mother-in-law I will be off on my travels and won’t be back until Tuesday. 

Wishing you all a great week, cheers till next time