Saturday, October 22, 2016

Week 3 of the Pronokial diet, Oli in a hot air balloon, Pakistani blue eyed tea seller turns model, remembering Aberfan, off to Montrondo for another family wedding,

Sunday 23rd October 2016
With Pippa on our walk on Friday afternoon
Good morning all from Montrondo.

It is Saturday morning and we are here for the weekend or rather we have come to celebrate my niece Laura’s wedding to her fiancé Dani.  Actually they got married in a registry office in the middle of the week with just their parents and god parents. There will be a family lunch in León today to celebrate.  It’s our 4th wedding this year, after Lucia’s, Miguel’s and Paula’s.  More about it later.

The week was quiet but intensive, work wise, especially to do with the merge after MásMóvil bought Yoigo in which I am involved and affected as are all the employees, 420 from our new owner and 100 from Yoigo.  Imagine the challenges but there are also lots of synergies.

Let me start from where I left off last Sunday.  It was a quiet day at home and it was nice to be joined by Oli.  The two of us went shopping to El Corté Inglés where we went to pick up a watch of mine which had been repaired.  Of course once there we did some shopping.  It’s such an amazing store; as soon as you go in you are tempted by so much.  Later we had dinner together and we all watched Jordi Evole’s Salvados documentary on the plight of migrants at sea in the Mediterranean.  I had expected so much more from this singular and popular journalist but I was disappointed.  I really should have watched a rival channel’s first episode of a documentary on the reunion of the participants 15 years on of Operación Triunfo (successful reality singing talent show). 
Just loved the Operación Triunfo reunion
Thanks to the internet I was able to watch it the next day and loved every minute of it.  You can see it here. I can imagine my Finnish friend Anne adoring every moment of it as it was aired when she lived here when she worked for Nokia Spain and she watched it every week. The whole of Spain fell in love with the participants; especially the finalists, the winner Rosa and runners up, David Bustamante, David Bisbal, Chenoa and Manu Tenorio.  I look forward to episode two on Sunday which again I shall probably watch online later.

On Monday, the end of week 2 of my Pronokal diet, I got on the scales.  The week before I had lost 2 kilos and was hoping for another 2 to be shed. I was disappointed when I had only gone down 900 grammes.  Luckily I weighed myself on Friday morning too and had gone down a further 400 making the total weight loss so far 3.8 kilos.  I am certainly noticing it in my clothes. I can even notice it in my hands as my wedding ring is looser.  I am feeling great although I have to admit the diet is probably the most difficult I have ever done but I shall stick to it, come what may. Soon you will see the slimmer Masha. Then we will see how long it lasts hahaha.

One of the things I did on Monday was go to the appointment with the social security office to get the 2 years I had been on the dole in 1999 and 2005 incorporated into my “vida laboral” (work life register) which are important for my future pension.  Oh the bureaucracy!  I had to fight at the office in Alcorcón where I was told I should have gone to the one in Majadahonda.  On the automated phone call to book the appointment because of my post code I was sent to Alcorcón. So we protested and thankfully got this office to do the paperwork.  At least we found out that those 2 years are on their system but now we have to wait probably more than a month for them to appear on the register.  And I will get no notification and will have to find out myself when that happens. What a stupid system!!!  We came home feeling cross.  I can’t stand bureaucracy and old fashioned systems and wish the Spanish administration would keep up with the times. One phone call or an app on mobile phones should do the job as happens in other more modern countries.

Tuesday was a historic one for Yoigo.  The Swedes were coming to say goodbye and I had arranged the employee event where we all get together and which I call Yoigo Mornings. I invented them at Nokia and they are a great success. It was a historic day as it would be the last one we would celebrate as a Yoigo team of employees as we have been bought by a small Spanish operator. 
Our last Yoigo Morning was on Tuesday
When the final negotiations took place a few weeks ago, I wrote here that I had missed a goodbye from our previous owners, TeliaSonera (now called The Telia Company). Well we got it on Tuesday but were all a little bit disappointed as we had hoped for some token of recognition for our efforts over the last 10 years to build Yoigo to what it is today; a company that has nearly 4 million customers with just 100 employees.  But Swedes are Swedes and all we got was a cup of coffee and some snacks, none of which I could partake in because of my Pronokal diet.

Work went on and that morning there was a press release issued by the BNB branch Cetelem to announce financing of our terminals to customers.

I also had a tense time that morning over, who in the future would be in charge of events; my domain and something I have been doing for 10 years with great success. On Wednesday, a wet and nasty day,  I would be notified in very unusual terms that this area would be removed to a new super department.  The whole episode left me feeling rather orphaned.

If it wasn’t a good day for me, it was an interesting one for Oli.  This week she has been shooting stories for the next programme she is preparing for Mi Cámara y Yo which will be about tourism in Madrid.  Wednesday saw her with a group of retired British tourists visiting Chinchón, a pretty village outside Madrid.  She sent a selfie with them  to greet me. It made me laugh.
Oli with the British tourists in Chinchón
I’m sure Oli would have been interested in my favourite news item of the day; the blue eyed tea seller from Islamabad who turned model after his photo was instagrammed.  He is just so good looking.  18 year old Arshad Khan, a tea seller (chai wala) at a bazar in Islamabad was photographed by Javeria Ali, a young photographer who loves to capture human life. When she saw Arshad pouring the tea she was struck by how good looking he was and posted her picture on Instagram.
The blue eyed Pakistani tea seller
It immediately became an internet sensation and now she has become a famous photographer with the photo she took being compared to the famous one of the Afghan girl. Arshad’s fate was immediately affected by the internet fame and soon he was snapped up by a modelling agency and now has a contract with them. 
The tea seller (chai wala) turned model
He looks a lot more attractive in his work shirt than he does as a model, don’t you think? The Chai Wala who previously earned 60 euros a month for selling tea will now see his earnings rise astronomically and he and his big family saved from poverty and all because of his blue eyes and this wonderful picture.  The power of internet is amazing.

Thursday was a long and tiring day for me.  I had an intense day which started before sunrise and ended long after sunset.  It was spent mostly in a hotel room in the centre of Madrid and was focused on the integration of the two, or rather three companies, as the small operator Pepephone had also been acquired.  As usual the majority of the attendants were men.  There was a lot of energy at the beginning of the day but as the time passed it waned.  You can only take in so much information in a few hours, when they drag on your attention span drops but the organisers were a consultancy and I think they have never learned the basics of how to capture an audience’s attention when a meeting goes on for so long.  The best thing about the day was getting to know so many new colleagues.
The work day in a hotel on Thursday which lasted from sunrise to after sunset
Oli’s day was much more exciting. On Thursday she went up in a hot air balloon with a group of Japanese tourists near Segovia. 
Oli in the hot air balloon this week
It was to be her first ever experience.  I warned her that hot air balloons are very sensitive to wind.  I remember bringing one over from the UK to Málaga many years ago for a Motorola event.  Due to wind, wind which as person standing outside you would probably not even notice, it never took off and had to be tethered. I have never used one ever again in an event. Luckily Ol’s did take off although they had to wait from 7 to 11 in the morning for the balloon to fly. Here she is with the Japs:-)
Oli with the group of Japanese tourists by the hot air balloon this week
I didn’t get home that day until past 8 in the evening and had to continue work when I got home.  The next day we were sending out a press release on Yoigo’s earnings for the third quarter of the year.  These earnings were still under the ownership of the Swedes and would be our last results with the company.  The press release needed lots of fine tuning until it was ready to be released on Friday morning at 7.15 am.  Yes, the Swedes do things early hahaha.  Thankfully I was up early as usual and the release went like clockwork. The best thing is that the results were good and earnings had risen.  We got lots of articles like this one from El Economista.

Friday was the 50th anniversary of the Aberfan tragedy when a coal tip collaped over the village of Aberfan in South Wales, mostly hitting the Pantglas Junior school.  It happened at about 9 in the morning on 21st October 1966 just after assembly and on the last day of school before half term.  It killed 116 children and 28 adults.  Those who died, had no chance and those who survived have lived with the memory for ever afterwards as has the whole village. 
A picture of the aftermath of the Aberfan coal tip disaster 50 years ago
When it happened I was aged 9, like many of the children who died in their class rooms suffocating from the terrible onrush of the slurry which came down the hill and swamped the school and nearby houses.  I remember the story on the news.  It was a national disaster and one that has gone in history and will never be forgotten.  I had been reading all about the disaster in the last few weeks as the anniversary was coming up.  My memory was sketchy and I wanted to find out what happened.  I came across a book by survivor Gaynor Madgwick who lost her brother and sister in the tragedy.  Her account is harrowing but well written if you really want to know what happened which was my case.  
The book I have been reading this week.
The tragedy doesn't bear believing.  How awful to be starting your day at school, having said goodbye to your parents in the morning and then never to return or to have to survive that terrible accident.  RIP Aberfan victims. May nothing similar ever happen again. 

With thoughts of the anniversary on my mind, we left for Montrondo on Friday morning just after 10 am.  There was to be no stop at Rueda for the usual glass of wine and ham thanks to the Pronokal diet.  It took just 3.5 hours to arrive, most of which I spent working thanks to my mobile phone.

We arrived to brilliant sunshine and a welcome from José Antonio, Dolores, their daughter and her baby Lucas.  After settling in and having lunch, Dolores and I went for a long walk to Murias and back via our new walk, a real discovery. 
A selfie with Dolores on our walk on Friday afternoon
 t's a good 1.5h with beautiful scenery.  Montrondo was looking lovely with the beginning of autumn colours to be seen everywhere.
Autumn colours in the sunshine on Friday in Montrondo.
Oli had requested a photo of me with Pippa and Dolores obliged. And that's the photo I have chosen to illustrate this week's post. 
It was wonderful to be back in Montrondo where I could get away from "it all" and relax and wind down.  I couldn't believe the sunshine and on the way back took off my cardigan and walked in my short sleeves. Imagine!  It had been raining and cold when we left Madrid in the morning.

Once home I offered  tea and biscuits to everyone and we all enjoyed time in our kitchen catching up on our news. Sara's baby is now 8 months old and is such fun to watch.

As the evening progressed it got colder.  We had the central heating on but feeling a little chilly I decided to use our claw foot bath tub.  It would be only the second time I was to use it.  But wow did I enjoy the hot bath. The shape of the tub is very ergonomic and is very comfortable to lie in. Pippa wondered why I wanted to be inside as she shuns water hahaha.

When I was dry and dressed in my pyjamas, I came upstairs to find Eladio had lit the fire.  It looked so warm and welcoming.
Eladio lit the fire on Firday night, the day of our arrival
After a very frugal dinner, we sat down to watch the news followed by the last two episodes of the American TV series we have been watching recently; American Odyssey. 
The TV series we have been watching this week on Netflix
It's an intriguing thriller about the American military forces against Al Qaeda and the corporate power and money that funds terrorists to force war and increase the business of the sale of arms. It's not as good as Homeland, the script is sometimes silly, but the story is riveting. We finished the series last now and are now feeling a little orphaned and missing the main characters. Let's see what our next Netflix TV series is to be. 

Saturday came and brought mist and rain. I was up at 7.15 and Pippa and I had breakfast together after which she sat on the couch whilst I started writing this week's post.

Meanwhile Oli and Miguel were on the high speed train to León from Madrid and would be arriving at 11.45. 
Oli and Miguel on the high speed train to León from Madrid on Saturday morning
Back in Montrondo we got ready to go to the wedding. We had been told the dress code was free and informal but we were in for a surprise as when we got there nearly everyone was dressed up to the nines.  It was apparently a last minute decision we were not told about. 

The sky was grey and it was raining and would be doing so all day.  We arrived in León at the Hotel Las Infantas where the wedding lunch would take place, just after 1.15.  Shortly we were joined by Oli and Miguel who were also informally dressed. Then all the very dressed up guests trickled in.  The bride in the end had decided to wear a proper wedding dress which was short and made of a beige lacy fabric.  She looked radiant with her handsome husband.  That was the moment we chose to give them our present.  Remember the one I told you about last weekend.  The present was a basket full of household goods from Zara Home which I hope they like.  Here they are happy to receive it.
The bride and groom receiving our present
The dining room was set out beautifully and the food I was told was fantastic.  It certainly looked like it. But I wasn't to taste it.  My will power prevailed and I had ordered a plate of asparagus followed by another one of grilled mushrooms and courgette.  It was rather frustrating not to be able to enjoy the food at the wedding but you see I didn't want to break my diet, especially as my next doctor's appointment is on Monday. 

I couldn't indulge in the lovely array of sweets on display either.  Those who enjoyed it most were my great nieces, Diana and little Lidia who were impatient for the moment to come when they could they could eat them haha.
The sweet display at the wedding reception on Saturday
The music was provided by Eladio's brother, Alejandro, who plays the accordion and Miguel, Oli's cameraman boyfriend, was in charge of the photos. I haven't seen them yet so unfortunately cannot include any of them here today.

Dancing started soon after the lunch.  Eladio and I are terrible dancers whereas all the rest of his family are born dancers.  Even so, we got up and did our best.  It was the snake dance I liked best of course as there are no steps to follow hahaha.  The bride was the main protagonist yesterday but it was our youngest great niece, Lidia, who stole the show.  She has so much personality and is a little devil but such fun.  Olivia, who adores kids, enjoyed her company immensely.  Here they are together in the foyer of the hotel.
Oli with little Lidia
They would dance together too as you can see in the photo below.
Oli dancing with little Lidia
The group photo was a bit of a disaster. Not everyone was there and I had to go and find Eladio to get him to join.  However when I found him the shoot was over. I only got a shot of when the group started getting together hahaha. Note my mother-in-law aged 94 who is at the front.  She had a grand time. She always loves family gatherings.
Trying to get the wedding guests together for a group photo. 
We didn't leave until nearly 7pm.  I guess the drinking and dancing would go on much later but we had to go as we had left Pippa stuck in the house since 12 that morning.  She was delighted to see us and I felt guilty for having left her behind. If Spain was a more dog friendly country she could have come with us.  

We were all tired and were soon in our pyjamas; well, Oli, MIguel and I were, and it was time for dinner.  No one was very hungry so I just made a simple meal of salad and scrambled eggs. Needless to say my dinner was more bl**** vegetables. This diet is so so hard.  

Netflix was the evening entertainment. We watched a rather violent film called Olympus has Fallen about an attack on the White House until it was time to go to bed.

And today is Sunday and it is still dark outside.  It will be even darker next Sunday when the clocks go back. It is raining again and I can only imagine we shall go for a long and wet walk. Yesterday, unfortunately, there was no time for one.

We shall be leaving Montrondo after lunch and tomorrow will be back to routine and work.  

So, my friends, I have come to the end of this week's tales and it only remains to wish you all a great week ahead and sign off until next time.

Cheers all

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