Sunday, December 04, 2016

RIP Margaret Rhodes, “new clothes”, Oli’s programme this week, the Christmas parties begin, Pippa turns 2, off to our beloved Montrondo and other stories.

Montrondo, Sunday 4th December, 2016

Happy in Montrondo with Pippa yesterday 
Hi again everyone.

I am writing from Montrondo where we have come to spend the long December bank holiday.  It's great to be at our new house again and to be able to wind down and relax after a very busy week.

Last Sunday was a very rainy day in Madrid.  I only managed one walk that day. Suzy, however, went out in London.  Her date that day was for lunch with her bosom friend Vicky from Argentina at a Vegan and Italian restaurant.  I love the picture of Suzy but just wish she wouldn't be vegan:-(

Suzy out for lunch last Sunday in London
That day, Margaret Rhodes, the cousin and best friend of the Queen and daughter of the Queen Mother's sister, died aged 90.  The poor Queen will have few friends and family left from her generation as she is over 90 too.  I recently read her cousin's book, The Final Curtsy and on Sunday listened to her on Desert Island Discs where she was interviewed in 2012. 
Margaret Rhodes with the Queen. 
The book and interview make for fascinating reading and listening.  From what I could gather, the cousins were rather similar.  RIP Margaret Rhodes you were a good friend to your cousin and she will sorely miss you.

Talking about fascinating reading, last weekend I came across a book by the sister-in-law of Bin Laden, Carmen Bin Laden who is half Swiss and half Iranian and was brought up in Geneva. In "Inside the Kingdom, my life in Saudi Arabia, she tells how she stupidly married a Saudi (Yeslam) with all the consequences and not only any Saudi but one of the brothers of the infamous Osama Bin Laden. 
Fascinating reading
What a story of life for a western woman in Saudi Arabia. It's amazing how many western women are wooed into marriage by Saudis in the west and only find out what they are really like when they are taken to live in that most forbidding kingdom where women's rights are similar to those of camels! Thankfully they lived part time in Geneva and there she was able to divorce him and after a huge legal battle  gain custody of her 3 daughters.  Had she done so in Saudi Arabia she would have lost them forever. I wonder what Margaret Rhodes would have thought of life for women in the most restrictive of Middle East countries.  She was much luckier and grew up as a privileged gentlewoman and lived cosseted within the inner circle of the British Royal family. 

Monday morning was the time of week to get on the scales and I was dreading it, not knowing what they would tell.  Well they told me I had lost yet another kilo.  That's 9 in total in 8 weeks and I am feeling and looking good.  I had a huge pile of clothes I haven't been able to wear for 5 or  6 years and each week as I lose another kilo I try them on. Well, the pile is shrinking as I can get into nearly all of them. That day I was delighted to see how I now fit into these suits I was dying to wear again. It's amazing how much choice I have now and the clothes in the pile seem like "new clothes" as I haven't worn them for ages and many of them only once or twice.  Here I am trying just 2 of the outfits on.

Trying on my "new clothes" and nearly everything fits! The jacket was a Zara size "M":-)
That was such a boost in morale. I spent the day working on preparations for Yoigo's upcoming 10th anniversary which would be on Thursday, 1st December. 

On Monday evening I had my annual appointment with what I call women's MOT, yes the dreaded gynecologist.  Actually I hadn't been for 2 years (naughty).  In October I did the required tests, the mammogram, the mammogram scan, a blood test and for the first time a densimeter bone test.  The gynecologist, a lovely young woman who was pregnant for the first time, also performed the dreaded cytology test.  It didn't hurt a bit, for a change, but I put that down to my conversation with the doctor about her pregnancy.  I commented she would be treating herself and would have all the advantages of knowing what it's all about.  She laughed and said everyone told her that but she had her worries too as she sees lots of things that can go wrong in her daily work.  The sweet doctor pronounced the all-clear and said I was in great shape.  And I felt it. I walked out of the Quirón hospital in Pozuelo feeling on top of the world and felt sorry for anyone else walking out who, unlike me, had bad news.  You can't take your health for granted. I know as I have lost so many of my family to the dreaded cancer. 

Oli was with us all week.  Miguel was in Valencia and as our house is nearer her new work premises in Telemadrid in Boadilla, she preferred to stay with us.  I love it when she is home. Thus we had dinner together that night. We also watched her programme, Mi Cámara y Yo.  Entitled "How old are you?", it was about how people look younger today than our grandparents and why. A lot of it had to do with plastic surgery but not all.
Oli had fun making this week's programme about ageing
I'm sure plastic surgery, hair transplants and state of the art dental aesthetics, have a lot to do with it but for me the big difference in how women today look a lot younger than their mothers or grandmothers has to do with 3 factors.  1) women in their 50's today and over, die their hair, 2) we are more attune to healthy living and do exercise 3) fashion is no longer just for young people.  I wonder if you agree. To prove her point, Oli showed a photo of her grandmother, my mother-in-law at our wedding aged 58 and compared it to one of Sharon Stone today.  Well of course the difference is vast. I am nearing 60, older than my mother-in-law at the time and intend to keep looking good and young but would never undergo any sort of surgery.  No thanks!  How about you?

On Tuesday I was up at 06.30.  Oh how I hate my body clock (this morning in Montrondo I was up at 6 am!).  It was a quiet day with no rain and I got both my walks that day. Oli that day had travelled to Cuenca, a pretty inland province and town in between Madrid and Valencia, famous for its cliff hanging houses.  She was preparing a programme on idyllic getaways for Christmas and that day the subject was the beautiful castle in Cuenca which is a Parador.  Here she is outside it.
Oli at the castle in Cuenca, now a Parador
Amidst the preparations for Yoigo's 10th anniversary, I had Christmas on my mind.  All my shopping has been online so far. That day our Christmas crackers arrived, delivered by Amazon. They are not expensive but the transport fees are.  I would buy them in Spain if I could but they are difficult to come by.  Here is the big box with all the different crackers, some of them by Robin Reed, which I opened as soon as they arrived.  Christmas would not be the same without them would it?  
My online order of Christmas crackers arrived on Tuesday
Wednesday was great, apart from waking up at 6 am.  That day I had a lunch appointment with my team from QuintaEsencia, our events' agency at La Máquina in Jorge Juan.  For the occasion,  I wore some of my "new clothes", a black pencil skirt with a white slit by Zara, a black jacket with cuflinks also by Zara and a black and white blouse from a local boutique.  Amazingly I was able to wear a black patent belt on the skirt, the first time I have been able to wear a belt for quite a time hahaa.
Ready to go to my lunch appointment on Wednesday in my "new clothes". 
Really QuintaEsencia is my agency as I introduced them to Yoigo.  I want to thank the three sisters, Bea, Cristina and Gloria, and Miguel for their unlimited support and amazing work over these last 10 years.  They have been like a team to me as well as a group of friends.  I shall sorely miss them as under the new organisation I am no longer in charge of events.  However it was with them that I was working on the activities for the upcoming 10th anniversary for Yoigo.  I do hope it is not the last time. 
Lunch with Miguel, Cristina, Bea and Gloria on Wednesday
It was nice to be in the centre of Madrid for a change and after lunch I walked from Jorge Juan  towards the Colón square and to "Calle" Goya.  Here I walked past Platea, a new gastronomic centre. I just had to stop at the greengrocer outside to take a peak and a photo of what is, perhaps the best one to be found in Madrid.
Just some of the fruit and veg at Platea.
I was home on time for my second walk of the day and then it was time to get ready to go out again. I was off to a Samsung party for the launch of a new "Gear" watch.  For the occasion I had lots of clothes to choose from and that night I wore the black and white harlequin dress by H+M. I think it was only the second time I have ever worn it hahaha.   I have been to lots of parties this week and at none of them have I been able to taste the delicious food on offer. I drank water and ate a Pronokal bar when I left.  The party took place at the Barceló theater which is a discotheque these days and oh how I hate "discos". I can't stand the noise and the darkness.  But it was nice to see familiar faces and chat to ex colleagues from the sector. I didn't stay for the concert, preferring to go home early and join Eladio in bed to watch more episodes of The Good Wife, which, by the way, we are getting tired of. 

Thursday was 1st December, the official start of Christmas; not November may I remind you. It was also Yoigo's 10th anniversary.  Sadly the new organisation didn't want to do anything special for the employees.  At least we made an effort for the press.  For the event, we sent out a press release and also a beautiful 10th anniversary birthday set to the press. This is the box QuintaEsencia made following my instructions.  It's beautiful isn't it?
The beautiful box we sent to the press for them to celebrate Yoigo's 10th anniversay
It contained a chocolate 10 with candles, sweets and sparklers.  The sample box I kept is on display at home and I want to keep it as a souvenir, although Oli is threatening to eat the sweets hahaha.  

I had yet another appointment that night, another Christmas party and there have been quite a few this week.  I had been invited to my PR agency, Ketchum's seasonal bash which was to start at 7pm and then I was going to the ADSL Zone (a sector news portal) event for their annual awards  It was at these awards two years ago that I was given the prize of best Communications Director of the sector. Wow that was a proud moment.  Fátima, my best friend and ex Motorola and Nokia colleague, was coming with me.  Again that night, I had plenty of clothes to choose from. This time I wore a simple black dress from Lindex and a red coat I adore.  Here I am, ready to go.
Dressed in red and ready to go to two parties on Thursday night
Unfortunately we never got to the Ketchum party as the traffic was horrendous.  Don't ask me why but we left home at 6.45 and didn't get to the Castellana Avenue until 8.20; too late to get to the first party which was in the Calle Lagasca.  So instead we drove straight to the Hotel Villamagna, a well known 5 star hotel in Madrid. Wow ADSL Zone had put on a great event.  Their biggest achievement is gathering the cream of the sector every single year.  All the big guns go and I know so many people I had a ball that evening.  It was especially great to see my ex Motorola and ex Nokia colleagues.  In the photo below Fátima and I are with Gonzalo and Xavi, our friends and colleagues from our years at Motorola.
With ex Motorola colleagues on Thursday night at the ADSL Zone prize giving dinner
We didn't stay for dinner though - once again thanks to Pronokal haha, and left when it started.  I later heard it went on until 2 in the morning hahaha.  Well I was tucked in bed well before that.

Friday was to be a difficult day. It was the day of the Yoigo Christmas party, the first never to be organised by me. It was for the employees of the whole new group. As you will have read in other posts, there are 100 employees in Yoigo but the Mother group have 420 making it all very invasive. For the occasion I mixed and matched my "new clothes" and wore a Zara checked jacket with the black and white pencil skirt. On top I wore my red coat.  I had to hold my head high and look good for the occasion although inside would be another matter.
What I wore to the Yoigo Christmas party on Friday
But before getting to the Círculo de Bellas Artes where the event was starting at 13h I wanted to visit the English shop in Madrid. It's called "Living in London" and this is the shop window with lots of enticing British things.
The British shop in Madrid "Living in London" on Number 4 Santa Engracia street
There are 2 shops actually which are more or less next to each other. The one in the photo sells British stuff, mostly decorative and the other one sells food.  I stocked up on some Christmas fare at the latter.  

With my purchases I decided to walk from Santa Engracia to the Círculo de Bellas Artes on Calle Alcalá, perhaps Madrid's most famous street.  It was a lovely crisp sunny day and I liked walking the streets of the city I don't come to very often.

I got to what was supposed to be the company "Christmas" party but there was not one sign of the festive season, not even a Christmas tree. They had created a sort of discotheque inside the beautiful fine arts centre which for me just didn't go. It was so brash. 
This year's company Christmas party
Again I would be eating nothing on offer and only drinking water. There was no seating whatsoever which with my high heels left my feet hurting after standing from 1 o'clock until nearly 4.30 when I left.  There were so many people I didn't know and it was difficult to spot a colleague but thankfully I did. We all agreed the event was no match for our previous parties.  It was at the event that I also found out I would  no longer be in charge of social media in my job.  First events, my absolute forte and now social media; about which I know quite a lot.  The party was no comparison to the ones I have organised for the company as many of my colleagues commented that day. Feeling rather down, I left as soon as the speeches were over and made my way home. 

I was home just as Eladio was finishing mowing the lawn. Fátima, my friend, came for a cup of tea which was just what I needed.  Oli was home at 7, early for her, and it was great to have dinner together.  Thanks to Pronokal, as you know, we are sacrificing our Friday night dinners out.  To tell you the truth I do miss them but prefer to see the kilos shedding hahaha.

Yesterday we set off for Montrondo where we will be spending a whole week.  Next week there are 2 holidays on Tuesday and Thursday  and many people take the rest of the days off and get a full week's holiday like us.

It was Pippa's 2nd birthday yesterday. She didn't get any presents but lots of love of course.
Pippa turned 2 yesterday
She is the love of our lives which wouldn't be the same without her.  She joined our family in February 2015 and has been a bundle of joy and love ever since. She especially gets on with Elsa.  It took a while but Norah is now more fond of her than when she first came.
Pippa and Elsa adore each other
Norah can't help being jealous of little Pippa as the little one gets to travel with us. If Norah knew knew she slept in our bed with us she would probably die of jealousy. It's because she's small and easy to take with us but also because Norah and Elsa behave abominably in the car. Pippa doesn't like the car either but at least she sits quietly.  Here she is in car yesterday just before we set off for Montrondo. I'm sorry to say she was sick on the way:-(
Pippa in the car yesterday for our trip to Montrondo.
Thanks to my Pronokal diet there was to be no pit stop at Rueda on this journey either.  That is one big sacrifice I can tell you. We got to Montrondo at around 2.30 and even though we had remotely switched on the central heating when we set off, the house was rather cold. I dread to think what it would have been like if we hadn't switched it on.  Eladio lit the fire and soon the house was warmer.

We settled in quickly and after a small lunch (tiny in my case haha) I had a bit of a siesta on the couch with Pippa.  At 5 we decided to go on our walk before it got too dark.  We only went as far as Murias but enjoyed the walk on the old path.  The photo illustrating this week's post is of me with Pippa in my arms on the walk yesterday.  And here is a selfie of Eladio and I together on the old path with its blanket of autumn leaves.
With Eladio on our walk yesterday
I wrapped up well as it was quite cold outside. We had expected rain but it was bright and sunny yesterday, not like today with the fog and rain.  However the forecast for the week is good, so I look forward to more walks in good weather.  

Once home and still a little cold, the best remedy of course, was to sink into warm water in our lovely claw foot bathtub.  I felt so good afterwards.  Dinner was yet another small affair after which we watched the news.  "El clásico" (Barcelona vs Madrid at El Camp Nou) took place during our walk and my bath and we heard on the news that there was a 1-1 draw.  

Last night, a bit fed up with The Good Wife, we chose another series to watch. Our choice was "The designated survivor" about US politics.  It's quite a thriller and the story line is interesting too; all the American government die in an attack at the Capitol, including the President and Vice President. 
Our latest series on Netflix
That puts into motion the appointing of his successor, a person who is the "designated survivor" but actually doesn't know he is until it happens.  First he has to deal with accepting the circumstances and then deal with the aftermath of the terrorist attack.  Interesting I can tell you.  I fell asleep half way through episode 3 though so shall have to catch up today.

And today is Sunday and as I mentioned earlier, I was up at 6, as seems to be the norm this week.  It's raining but that won't stop us going on a walk or maybe 2 in my case.

I can hear Eladio stirring , so will leave you now to publish this post and get on with the day.

All the best till next time.

No comments: