Sunday, October 09, 2016

A visitor for Suzy in London, lunch with my Spanish family, turmoil in Spanish politics, “a bitter future for Britain”, the premiere of Olivia’s new TV programme, an historic day for Yoigo, Suzy in Zurich and other stories.

Sunday 9th October 2016
Lunch with "my Spanish family" last Saturday 1st October
Hi again

Another week, but what a week it’s been in many ways. 

Saturday was good.  It started off with breakfast with Eladio and Oli; a luxury. As always, we all read the news.  In London, meanwhile, Suzy and the girls, Chati and Ana, her flat mates, would be having breakfast with J, another member of their group of friends they call “la manada” (the herd).  He was to be their visitor for a few days during which I heard they had a blast. 
The girls in London last weekend with their visitor.
Indeed they would have a grand time, biking all around the capital together.  Here they are near Tower Bridge with more of Suzy’s friends.
The Manada having fun in London and biking everywhere
That morning I went with Oli to get a birthday present for her Father. The poor girl has been so busy since she started as a reporter for the TV programme (Mi Cámara y yo), she hasn’t had a moment to do so.  She chose a lovely pair of blue Armani sunglasses.  Oli  gave them to him later when we met in Mirasierra where we would be going to have lunch with “my Spanish family”.
Oli bought new sun glasses for Eladio for his birthday
We were invited that day by Gerardo and his wife Vicky and their large group of children.  His sister Irene and her husband Tomas came too with 3 of their brood of 5.  Also there was Lucía, the youngest sister and her newly wedded husband “Juancar” (Juan Carlos). The photo illustrating this week’s post is of all of us around the table.  What fun we had.

About a year ago Gerardo and his family moved into a big new house and we were to see it for the first time.
Gerardo and Vicky's cool new house and terrace where we had lunch last Saturday
We felt completely at home as of course for me they are my Spanish family and I know the feeling is mutual.  It’s great that after all these years we are now in closer contact than ever before.  Eladio enjoys their company too and there are lots of philosophical and religious conversations which have everyone questioning facts and beliefs.  Gerardo was the chef that day and made a super barbecue for us all which we ate around 2 big tables on their elegant porch.
The chef Gerardo and Eladio. Juancar and Marga in the background.
I just love their kids and I was a popular guest as I had brought with me 2 huge bags of sweets.  Lunch dragged on, or rather the conversation was so stimulating, we didn’t make a move until about 8 in the evening. 

Whilst I was there I was alerted to the fact that the programme I had starred in a year ago, “Undercover Boss, was on yet again. Thus my phone was buzzing with lots of messages from spectators, most of them hoping I could offer them a job. I wish I could.  But I do faithfully answer them all. 

We came home to the news that Spanish politics was in turmoil.  Pedro Sánchez, leader of the PSOE socialist party had resigned. 
Goodbye Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish socialist party
You probably know that there has been nearly a year’s deadlock to form a government after two hung parliaments in succession. The acting PP (right wing) party led by Mariano Rajoy won the second round of elections with 137 seats but they need 176 votes to form a government. They have come to an agreement with the new moderate party, Ciudadanos who have 32, so not enough. The PSOE (socialist party) won far fewer, just 85, but led by Pedro Sánchez have refused to abstain and let Mariano Rajoy get on with the job.  It’s no joke having an acting government; things just slow down.  Many members of the PSOE, in disagreement with Pedro Sánchez who kept repeating “no is no”, forced him to resign in a party conference on Saturday.  It is not clear who will be his successor. Hopefully his resignation will now end the deadlock. We have yet to see whether the PSOE will just abstain or whether the two parties will form a coalition.  Thankfully the news on Saturday has put an end to the calling of a third general election scheduled for Christmas Day this year.  So, yes, Spanish politics was in complete turmoil but hopefully will soon be back on course.  I’m no great fan of either of the leaders but am fed up of the political stalemate.

Sunday was another beautiful sunny day.  The sun doesn’t seem to want to go and I’m not complaining.   I even swam in the pool after our morning walk again.  Meanwhile Suzy and the girls were enjoying the company of J in London.  Here they are below having a picnic in a park there where it seems the sun was shining too.
Suzy and Anita having a picnic in a park in London with their visitor J.
We didn’t have a picnic but I made roast chicken for lunch.  I was fully conscious it would be the last family meal together where I would be able to enjoy any food I wanted  for a long time as on Tuesday I would be starting the Pronokal diet, the one that Suzy prescribes at the clinic she works at in Harley Street. 
The roast chicken I made last Sunday for lunch
We spent  the afternoon reading by the pool. My choice was a book called The Marrying of Chani Kaufmann by Eve Harris.
One of my latest books  - a inside view of the life of Hasidic Jewish women
I seem to be very attracted to the genre of books about Hasidic Jewish women, or rather the incredibly strict lives they lead.  This extreme Ultra-Orthodox sect seems to me to be one of the most restrictive for women in the world and I mean that. I am so glad that I was born into a liberal society and way of life where women, if not completely equal to men, are free enough to live how they like. 

If there was turmoil in Spanish politics, there was turmoil too in British politics last weekend.   Dear Theresa May, who is reminding me more and more of an extreme version of Margaret Thatcher, said at the Tory Conference on Sunday that “Brexit is Brexit”. She has threatened to invoke article 50 in spring 2017 which means we could be out completely by 2019. You know, I never thought it would come to that. Hopefully she would eat her words when later in the week the pound plummeted to an all-time low level against the dollar (she didn't of course). But I’ll come to that later.

 The slogan for the conference was “A better future for Britain” but when the new Iron Lady put her hand up against the words a very awkward photo appeared as she turned the "e" into an "i".  You see she was now promising “A bitter future for Britain”.  Indeed it seems bitter.  I am bitter and angry about Brexit.
An awkward photo for Theresa May that came out of the Tory party conference last weekend
Many people are angry with her, but no one can beat 5 year old Brooke whose surname is Blaire by the way. This determined little girl is worried about the homeless and so her Mother posted a video of her giving Theresa May a real telling off about it, telling her she should be out giving them biscuits and hot chocolate.   
Brook Blair, the angry 5 year old who told Theresa May to help the homeless
The video became an immediate sensation on social media and television.  I would love to know what the Prime Minister thought when she saw it. 

Monday came.  I read the US beat Europe in the Ryder Cup. More interestingly and more surprisingly in a referendum on Sunday Colombians rejected the peace treaty President Juan Manuel Santos had forged and signed with the FARC guerrillas.  In a way I understand them because with the peace treaty there would be no recriminations or punishment for their crimes - more than 250.000 deaths in some 50 years.  They would just slink back into society with all their sins forgiven. I'm not sure what the referendum result means now for the treaty. Hopefully the guerrilla warfare is over despite the vote on Sunday. 

Monday was an important day for me.  I had an appointment with the doctor I had seen to go on the Pronokal diet but I could only start after he had seen the results of my blood test. Well they were good (sigh of relief) and he prescribed the diet.  Basically in the first phase you only eat vegetables (and only some) at lunch and dinner and substitute food presented in many forms which you must have 5 units of each day.  There are also lots of supplements and vitamins to take.  Once I had his prescription, off I went to the clinic in Madrid where I was attended to by a far too slim dietitian.  I was very impressed with the sleek premises. She seemed much stricter than Suzy  - no sugar free chewing gum (Suzy says I can have up to 3 a day and I am) and no milk in my coffee (Suzy says I can have up to 300ml of soy milk a day and I am). 
Pronokal products at their gleaming clinic in the centre of Madrid.
I paid a packet for all the stuff - enough to last me the three weeks of the strict phase 1. Thankfully the later phases introduce real food gradually after that. 

Monday night would be my "last supper" of real food and I enjoyed it with Eladio and Oli who came home to watch the debut of her new TV programme together with us.

I loved every minute of the report called "raro raro" about unique and special things in Madrid but then I am her Mother.  If you haven't already see it you can judge for yourselves by watching it on this link here.  Later in the week they released a great video clip with her and her colleague Amaya R to promote the programme which you can see here too

On Tuesday I started the diet.  It's tough but doable.  The best thing is it sheds weight fast or is supposed to and you are not hungry. As I ate the dry rusks with watery coffee for breakfast  I wondered to myself just how many diets I have been on in my life and whether this would be my last.  I would like to think it will and that I will be able to maintain the weight loss but I doubt it will happen.  At least it will give me a few years of looking slimmer hahaha.  It's great to know though that I have Suzy at a distance taking care of me and advising me. She went on it herself to find out what it's like for her patients and lost 6 kilos in 3 weeks!  I'm older so I don't expect it to be quite as fast for me.  But I promise you I shall stick it out and do all the phases.  When I have a goal I have endless will power I can tell you.  But when I don't I go the opposite way.  That's how I am, no two halves about me. 

Some of that weight was probably lost due to her cycling in London. That morning she sent me this photo of her with her new bike on Tower Bridge.  I do admire her and must say she knows her way around London like a black cab driver; well not quite but nearly.  Good for her.
Suzy on her bike in London this week
I didn't have much time to think about food that day as I was busy working. I had a meeting with my new boss and had lots of communications materials to prepare and get ready for sending regarding the acquisition of our company (Yoigo) by the smaller Spanish operator MásMóvil.  However I did feel thirsty all day and had a bit of a headache - side effects of the diet of course.

Wednesday, Day 2 of my diet brought another headache and more thirst but I stuck at it.  I had another meeting, this time at the offices of MásMóvil in Pozuelo with the head of HR, my new boss and my PR agency.  It was a strange sensation to enter their offices. That very day payment was being made to the previous owners, the Swedish Finnish operator TeliaSonera to finalise the deal.  It was an historic day for Yoigo and I had funny bitter sweet feelings all day.  It felt like being orphaned and not knowing what the future would be bring. At Yoigo we are just 100 people and have 3.6 million customers. The company that has bought us has over 400 employees and far fewer customers. Right now we are undergoing the integration process and it feels so strange. 

Oli was having problems at work.  She was preparing her next programme about roof tops in Madrid - the kind with spectacular views and something special to offer and the locations were either not easy to find or people just didn't want to be on TV.  She would have problems all week and would be working at the weekend. She was very stressed but I knew that all would be right on the day.
Oli on a rooftop in Madrid this week with her cameraman preparing her next programme
Work continued for me on Thursday when finally the press release went out to announce the termination of the acquisition of Yoigo. I was involved in informing the employees and of course posting it on our social media pages. Again it felt funny.  I had expected some sort of formal goodbye from our previous owners, TeliaSonera.  After all I had worked for them for 10 years but all I got was a laconic email and a short note from another colleague. I would have loved to attend the recently celebrated global comms day to be able to say goodbye to all my colleagues.

In the evening I was at the hospital in Pozuelo for yearly gynaecological tests. This year they included a bone densitometry scan which I have never done. I suppose that's because of my age. Its objective is to measure the density of bone mineral.  I do hope I don't have the dreaded osteoporosis. I will get the results later this month and will see the gynaecologist at the end of November.  As I was leaving, it must have been nearly 8 pm and just then I received an email  inviting the management teams of both companies to a meeting at our offices the next morning and to a lunch where we would be informed of the new organisation chart.  I looked at the list and saw that there were only 2 women on it, 2 of us from Yoigo. It was to start at 11 am. I had a conference call with a journalist and our technology director at 10, so decided to wake up at 6 the next morning to avoid the traffic and get to the offices well on time on Friday morning. 

Friday 7th October was Happy World Smile Day. But there was no smile on my face when I looked at my phone whilst drinking my coffee at 6.15.  There was a message to cancel the conference call which meant I needn't have got up so early.
Friday was Happy World Smile Day.
There were no smiles in the financial markets that morning either.  It was black Friday for the pound sterling which dropped or rather plummeted 10% to 1.15 USD. It happened overnight and blame has been put on a "fat finger" in the stock market and trading in Asia.  It is much more likely due to Brexit.  I wonder what Theresa May thought about that after she had promised a "better" or was it "bitter" future for Britain.  I was sorry for the Brits who were cheated at airports being given less than a euro for their pound, I was sorry for my Father's pension but sorry for what will become of the UK without Europe.  Ok I was born a UK citizen but when the UK entered the EU I also became an EU citizen and now because of Brexit I have been stripped of that citizenship. To top it all I didn't even have a say as there is a law that you cannot vote if you have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.  

It was pretty ironic that that very day the UK Government made a proposal for Brits who have lived outside the UK for more than 15 years to be able to vote. 
This proposal from the Government for people living abroad to be able to vote has come too late to save Brexit
It was bitter sweet news as the proposal has come too late.  Between 1 and 2 million British people live outside the UK in other countries in Europe and I guess that if those of us who have been away for more than 15 years had voted in the Referendum the result would have been  In and not Out.  It's ironic isn't it?  

This was on my mind as I drove to the office for the meeting. But also during the day I would be thinking of my brother-in-law who was being operated on in León.  It would be a very long day for him and his family. I wished I could have been there with them but I had to be at the office.

I joined the meeting room full of men.  I'm used to there being more men than women around in my sector but on Friday I was 1 of 2 women only and some 20 odd men. It was daunting. I wonder how each one of them would have felt if it had been the opposite way round.  Just before it started,the meeting was cancelled so I was stuck at the office until the lunch at 2.30. I stayed around working on my laptop and catching up with colleagues and wondering very much what the changes would be. 

The last thing I wanted after having started my diet was to go to a corporate lunch but I had no choice.  It was a rice place and I knew there would be paella on the menu so before entering I asked the staff to quietly prepare and serve me a plate of grilled vegetables without oil and without any fuss.  If I was 1 of 2 women earlier on, at the lunch I was the only woman and I didn't like it I can tell you and the last thing I wanted was for them to comment on what I was eating. Aaagghh. 

Finally we were informed of the changes and the new owners have been respectful and kept us all on, although we are now, all but one, in number 2 positions and not the top spots.  It was a bit like reckoning day but I drove home very relieved if not exhausted.  

My dear darling husband was at home waiting for me.  It was Friday night and the night we usually go out to dinner together. Thanks to my diet, however, there will be no more dinners out for quite a while. Watch this space hahaha.  

The main news of the day by the way on Friday, apart from the drop in the pound, was the announcement of the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.  It went to President Juan Manuel Santos because of the peace treaty with the FARC guerrillas; the one the country voted against. 
Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia - this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner
Well good for him. He strove for peace in very difficult circumstances.  I don't know who the other candidates were but I did hear that the buffoon Donald Trump had been nominated. I can only think that it was a joke. 

Who was smiling that day was Suzy, my daughter who lives in London. She was off to visit Zurich for 5 days with Chati and Anita to stay with a friend they had met in their recent trip to Nicaragua.  She had never been to Switzerland and I warned her that it was expensive.  I can imagine it is even more so after the pound dropped. Poor Suzy. I haven't heard much, just seen photos of nice looking buildings with grey weather in the background. But there is one photo of Suzy enjoying an enormous glass of beer on Friday night. 
Suzy in Zurich enjoying a huge glass of beer
I hope to hear more about the trip; not just the beer drinking hahaha.

On Saturday I woke up with a bit of a cold.  I was happy to see I had lost 3 cm around my waist and another 3 around my hips. I'm dying for the kilos to shed and to get into clothes that no longer fit.  We went for our walk and I had my diet lunch with my Father and Eladio. I ate cooked cauliflower and broccoli and a ghastly coconut flavoured packet dessert by Pronokal whilst they enjoyed Salud's spaghetti bolognese.  

Meanwhile Oli was working - yes on a Saturday. Not fair, not it's not but she has negotiated that if she works on a Saturday she will get 1 day off and if she works on a Sunday she will get 2 working days off. Now that was clever of her.  She went with her team to film a wedding on a luxury hotel rooftop. I sort of wondered how the bride and groom would accept their wedding being on TV but they appear to be happy about it as you can judge in the photo below.
Oli with the bride and groom - filming a wedding on a hotel rooftop in Madrid for her next programme.
All in all Saturday was a quiet day with not much to report which was quite welcome after such a busy week with all its ups and downs.

And today is Sunday and it promises to be another quiet day.  I shall be going for our walk now with the dogs and later make lunch for the men. They will get fabada. I will get more vegetables hahahaha.

And next week will be another story which I shall telling you all about in my following post.

Meanwhile I wish you all a happy Sunday and a great week ahead,


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