Sunday, September 06, 2015

Eladio home from Montrondo, blonde again, sleeping dogs, a special dinner, Aylan Kurdi symbol of the refugee crisis, Oli reporting on robberies in Rivas, tea with Lisbeth Salander, a man with an eagle on our walk and other stories.

Sunday 6th September 2015
Blonde again and feeling good on Friday night at La Txitxarrería restaurant
Hello again

It’s not the best week of my life I can tell you.  It’s had more downs than ups unfortunately and has taken its toll on me, someone who is normally very positive.  So it’s chin up for the moment my friends.

Last Sunday when I left off there was a terrific thunderstorm.  Maybe it was a warning of what was to come.  That night I spoke to Eladio and was devastated at his news. He told me of a rift with his siblings over the concessions of the allotments from their progenitor. They have not respected the spirit of the legacy and the end result is that we have been the only ones to actually hand over a substantial amount of payment whilst they have twisted and distorted the conditions of the concessions to their benefit with one sibling getting a property not just scot free but even receiving additional funding. Sadly we have broken up relations and will only restore them if this is resolved to everyone’s benefit not just theirs.  Some cruel and petty accusations were thrown at my kind husband who does not deserve them.  I refuse to watch him being trampled upon. They might not want to remember but it was thanks to him they were able to leave the village in the 60’s and prosper. 

I mused over the unfairness and implications as I had dinner alone that night – a bowl of muesli which I ate whilst watching The Diary of Noah on the TV.  Needless to say I did not get much sleep.

Monday was a quiet day.  It was my fasting day too. I was alone at home working. I wished I could have been in Santander for this year’s annual telecoms congress.  It would be the first time in nearly a decade that I was not to go.  I was working on a press release and the communication of a new tariff to be announced on Wednesday that I had a feeling would not be as well received as it deserved.  You see we were withdrawing a promotion which had lasted 6 months and were replacing it with a new tariff with less data but even so the best of its kind on the market.  My job as a communications director is never easy when working with press who cover telecoms companies.  To start off with, the sector is always exposed to criticism as it is a vital service that affects people’s pockets.  Then you have some media whose vision of how a company works can be limited.  They are on the side of their readers and expect companies to offer really cheap services but then if in their quarterly results are not up to scratch they get criticized again.  Sometimes too some of them are biased by companies’ competitors who happen to invest more in advertising in their media.  It’s not an easy to win situation and there are a lot of people in the business who have no idea how a communications director’s job works but are always quick to offer their opinion without knowing what lies behind or how the game works.  It’s the name of the game and that day because of this I felt a little down.

That afternoon another problem arose. I was very surprised to hear that an advert for a programme I will be featuring in had been aired on TV.  My participation was supposed to be a secret and we would be given a private showing this next Monday for us to give our go ahead.  But meanwhile the cat was let out of the bag and there I was on TV again and again and again.  Even worse was the photo they had chosen; a photo that I hadn’t even seen.  I looked like a witch and it was only on Friday that I got the Producer to make the TV channel remove it.  TV is like that, they always want the most dramatic or eye catching image. I argued that it damaged my personal brand.  Thankfully they removed it but it can still be found as it has been circulated on the web. I am a bunch of nerves now as to what the programme will be like.  The mystery will be solved next week my friends.  So, watch this space.

Meanwhile Eladio was still in Montrondo.  It was to be his last day there and I was happy to receive photos of our new kitchen/dining room table and chairs.  Hopefully soon the kitchen will be installed and the doors put in.  Then we will be able to live in the refurbished house. 
The new table and chairs
On Tuesday I went for the last morning walk on my own.  Eladio would be back that day and we would be going on our walks together with all three dogs.  Eladio, José Antonio and Dolores were home by lunch and of course the only topic of conversation was the rift which left me feeling emotionally very drained.  Even so it was lovely to see them.  Talking of the dogs, that night whilst having dinner with Miguel and Oli and trying to untangle and explain the complicated circumstances that had led to the rift, both Norah and Elsa took to their kennel and fell fast asleep.  Here they are sleeping peacefully together. I wish it was a question of “let sleeping dogs lie” but I’m afraid it’s not.
Sleeping dogs - Elsa and Norah
Life was back to normal on Wednesday, at least as far as our routine is concerned. With a heavy heart Eladio and the dogs went on our walk.  Once the press release was issued I decided I needed some time to myself and went to the hairdressers to dye my hair blonde again. Remember I had died it brown by mistake a month or so ago?  I was so happy to get the “real” me back. And here is the selfie to prove it.
Back from the hairdressers on Wednesday blonde again
It was a stressful day media wise.  We got some stick from the press as expected but one particular journalist really put his oar in it and we debated on responding to him and how on Twitter.  Meanwhile Eladio mowed the lawn which had grown out of all proportions whilst he was away. It looked lovely afterwards.
The lawn just after it was mowed by Eladio this week
Dinner was special that night. Miguel, Oli’s boyfriend, prepared a cod dish with a recipe from the TV chefs the Torres brothers.  It was basically fried in batter made with flour, honey and beer and served on a bed of vegetables (pisto – made by me) with caramelized sultanas and pine nuts on top.  This is what it looked like.
Dinner made by Miguel
And here we are enjoying it.
Enjoying the special dinner made by Miguel
It was that night that I first saw the photo of the dead Syrian toddler on a beach in Turkey which the whole world has now seen.
The photo of thee dead Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi found on a Turkish beach this week
It was then and there that I realized that I have absolutely nothing to complain about compared to the thousands of refugees trying to make their way to Germany from Syrian, Afghanistan and Iraq, from war and totalitarian regimes. The photo of 3 year old Aylan Kurdi whose body was found washed up on a Turkish beach has now become the symbol of the conflict.  It took just one picture to mobilize the Western World to wake up and help these people whose lives are a tragedy we should try to understand.  It was the story of one family out of thousands which was the catalyst in the opening of the border from Hungary to Germany.  Now the refugees are being welcomed in most of Europe.  Aylan died together with his 5 year old brother Galip and their mother Rehan when on a dinghy boat which was heading from Turkey to Greece.  They never made it to Greece as the boat capsized in huge waves on the way. 
A photo of Aylan and his brother Galip before they made that fateful journey
Only the Father Abdullah Kurdi, a Kurdish Syrian survived.  He had tried to get a visa to take his family to Canada to join his sister who had paid the money the family had to give to human mafia traffickers.  The Canadians had refused the visa but after the death of the three members of Abdullah’s family they have offered him refuge there.  Of course he no longer wants to go.  He told the world he would return to his home town of Kobane in Syria to bury his family and to bury his soul with them and that is what he has done.  His only satisfaction is that his story has been the catalyst in the change of heart of the European Union’s policy on “migrants” who thankfully are now being called refugees.  
Abdullah, Aylan's devastated Father who lost his whole family trying to reach the West on a toy dinghy
Another Syrian boy’s photo and video have also made the rounds on social media and online webs.  Whilst stuck in Hungary hoping to get on a train, 13 year old Kinan Masalmeh was interviewed.  His English is halting but his message is very clear:  “Stop the war in Syria. We do not want to have to go to Europe”. But is it as easy as that?  I hate war but I also hate what is happening in that land of conflict thanks to the evil Islamic State and totalitarian Bashar al-Assad. 
13 year old Kinan Masalmeh from Syria gave a very strong message to the world this week from the train station in Budapest
I reflected much on this issue the next morning and even suggested to my husband that we take in a Syrian family.  I well remember my parents taking in a Czech married couple to live in our attic in Bradford when I was a child.  It was 1968 and they were fleeing from the Soviet invasion of Prague.  I wonder what happened to them.  I was delighted to read this week too that the Prime Minister of Finland set an astonishing example by offering his country home to refugees saying it was empty and there was plenty of room for them. That was such a Finnish gesture and I admire it.  If Spain’s Prime Minister Rajoy had done the same thing, no doubt he would have gained many more votes in the upcoming general elections here in December.  But it never occurred to him did it?

Thursday was my fasting day.  It was that day that I watched Olivia on television reporting live on robberies in one of Madrid’s less salubrious suburb towns, Rivas.  Miguel was with her and sent me a photo of her reporting and told me what time she was on.  It was lovely to see her on TV and take my mind off my problems but of course the story was not upbeat.
Olivia reporting live from Rivas on robberies in the area
On Friday morning the main daily newspapers told the story of the Kurdi family.
The story of the Syrian boy and his family were on the front page of most of the newspapers in the world on Friday morning
Once again I reflected that I have nothing to complain about.  That did not stop life continuing and Eladio and I went on our walk as usual.  On our way back Olivia and Miguel were on their way for a run.  They often run 5km in an hour and I love that they do sport.
It was on Friday morning just before lunch that I received an email from an old pupil of my Father’s.  This is what he wrote: “You won't remember me, but I studied Russian with your father at BGS in the '70s, when I was called Michael B, and came to Heaton Grove a few times. I was a good friend of John A, who you may remember. Anyway, I just wanted to say what a surprise and a pleasure it has been to find your blog. I have very fond memories of your father and would like to be remembered to him. He may also like to know that another BGS old boy from our year, Roger Mosey, is now Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge” (that’s where my Father studied German and Scandinavian languages in the early 50’s)   It was so nice for my Father and I to receive his email.  Quite a few of his pupils have reached out to him after so many years that I remarked to my Father that he must have made a mark on many of them whilst teaching them Russian, German or French.  I am very proud of him. Thanks Michael for writing.  It made my Father’s day.  I hope you don’t mind me copying your words and that you appreciate my removing the surnames, apart from Roger Mosey who I take it is quite famous in the UK from his time at the BBC.  In my blog, as many of you know, I never put people’s surnames so as to respect their anonymity.  The exceptions are for celebrities or if people are deceased. Michael’s email was one of the positive highlights of the week.

Another highlight was dinner out on Friday night with Eladio.  We chose to go to one of our favourites, La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo.  The photo illustrating this post is of me at the restaurant feeling more relaxed and less stressful after what has been quite a cruel week.  In my hand is a glass of Asturian cider which I love.

Before I go on to Saturday, I should also tell you I had a cup of tea with Lisbeth Salander on Friday afternoon.  Well not quite.  I actually had a cup of tea just as I was starting on the 4th book in the Millennium series called “The girl in the spider’s web” which I had bought and downloaded on my kindle as soon as I had read it had been published.  Of course it is not written by Stieg Larsson who died before he became famous.  I was surprised anyone was allowed to continue his saga and am not sure how the Swedish author David Lagercrantz got permission but somehow he did.  I had missed journalist Mikael Blomkvist and Lis Salander since I finished the trilogy some years ago.  I was skeptical about how good it would be but actually the prose is very similar to Stieg Larsson’s and the book is riveting; although it takes some getting into.
Tea with Lis Salander
On Saturday on the way back from our walk we were amazed to see a man walking towards us holding a very large bird which I thought was a falcon.  I was wrong.  The man told us it was an American eagle known as a Harris eagle and that he practiced falconry.  I am no great bird fan but was somehow drawn to this majestic creature and asked the man if I could stroke it and I did and it let me; despite Elsa and Pippa going a bit mad in the background.  It’s not often you come across a scene like that on any walk and it made my day.  It also triggered memories of my once doing falconry at the magnificent Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland.  It was on a press trip with Motorola in the 90’s.  So you see there are some good perks to being a communications director contrary to what I wrote above, hahahaha. 
The man and a bird on our walk on Saturday morning; a magnificent Harris Eagle
At about mid-morning Olivia and Miguel left for Cáceres where they would be staying the weekend at Miguel’s parents’ house in their village (most Spaniards have a village they are from although they live in the city).  Later Oli posted a picture of the two of them by a river.  Today Miguel is competing in a long distance swimming race in the huge lake in an area called Valdecañas; an artificial inland “seaside” resort.  I’m sure he’ll be on the podium or in the top 10.  He’s a very competitive swimmer. 
Olivia and Miguel in Cáceres this weekend enjoying time by a river
Meanwhile I decided to spend my time cooking.  Salud, our home-help will be going on holiday from tomorrow for a week so I thought it would be a good idea to cook dishes for meals during the week.  Cooking when you are not under pressure can be very enjoyable and relaxing.  For the record I made lasagna, salmorejo (thick gazpacho from Córdoba) and “bitki” (Russian hamburgers). 

The rest of the day was spent in the sunshine by the pool with Eladio reading; in my case more of Liz Salander. 

Today is Sunday, blog day of course.  I have now come to the end of this week’s tales and there is very little to tell about today. Oli and Miguel will be returning tonight.  Meanwhile I cooked again for lunch and made a real British Sunday roast lamb dish which my Father and Eladio much appreciated.  The afternoon will probably be spent again having a cup of tea with Liz Salander!

Tomorrow will be another day as Scarlett O’Hara would say.  I’m not sure how next weeks’ going to turn out but you will find out soon; in next Sunday’s post.

Meanwhile have a good week,

Cheers till next time/Masha

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