Friday, January 20, 2017

Insulting prank calls, a car accident, Oli MC at a gala dinner, visiting Microsoft, lunch with Ketchum, light at the end of the tunnel, Trump's big day and other stories.

Sunday 22nd January 2017

Photo with my team from Ketchum past and present after lunch with them on Thursday
Dear all

This has been my first week without a job.  Another, rather more relevant person than me has also joined the ranks of the unemployed, possibly one of the most popular Presidents, ever, Barack Obama.  Oh we shall miss him.  I miss belonging to Yoigo; it's so strange and job seeking is one of the most difficult tasks I am facing.

Sunday was a quiet family day.  However I shall remember it for 2 late night prank phone calls supposedly from the CEO of Másmóvil.  I realised it wouldn't be him so late at night. No, it wasn't him but the same nasty man who keeps calling me using fake identities from the phone numbers in my mobile.  When I answer the call he starts insulting me and I feel attacked as I don't know who he is. It's always the same voice and I just want to know why he does it and would he please stop. He has done this on other occasions using other identities or a number I don't know.  I have reported the case to the IT and security people at Yoigo but there is not much they can do.  I have found out my stalker calls me using a phone app called "ID caller faker". I have done some research and in the picture below you can see how it works
How prank caller id faker apps work

These nasty phone apps can even choose a different voice for the caller. I could report the case to the police but I think even they wouldn't be able to do much. It's very unpleasant and on Sunday night it stopped me from sleeping.  The CEO promised to look into the case but I have heard nothing since.

A piece of news I read on Monday upset me a lot.  Believe it or not it was reported all around the world that 8 billionaires are as rich as the world's poorest half. This comes from Oxfam's report on the wealth and poverty in the world.  Don't you find that disgusting?  I do.  The big names are very well known and include the owner of my favourite shop Zara, Amancio Ortega.  These are the culprits, all men by the way.
1. Bill Gates (US): co-founder of Microsoft (net worth $75bn)
2. Amancio Ortega (Spain): founder of Zara owner Inditex (net worth $67bn)
3. Warren Buffett (US): largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8bn)
4. Carlos Slim Helu (Mexico): owner of Grupo Carso (net worth $50bn)
5. Jeff Bezos (US): founder and chief executive of Amazon (net worth $45.2bn)
6. Mark Zuckerberg (US): co-founder and chief executive of Facebook (net worth $44.6bn)
7. Larry Ellison (US): co-founder and chief executive of Oracle (net worth $43.6bn)
8. Michael Bloomberg (US): owner of Bloomberg LP (net worth $40bn)
(Source: Forbes billionaires' list, March 2016)
The richest men in the world. The top 8 are richer than the poorer half of this world!

Why don't these people give up half of their wealth to the world's poorest half to balance the injustice?  What they donate seems like peanuts to me.

Monday was not a good start to the week.  No sooner had Oli left the house for work than we got a phone call to say she had had an accident on the big roundabout over the M50 not far from home. She had bumped into the car in front of her and unbelievably both air bags had exploded, hurting and burning her right hand.
Poor Oli's hand injured from the explosion of the air bags
Eladio rang the insurance company to report the accident and order a tow lorry and was with her pretty quickly.  Not soon after I was there too only to find our 3 cars, various policemen, the area cordoned off and poor Oli in tears and in pain sitting in the back seat of Eladio's car.  
We caused quite a spectacle on the M50 roundabout after Oli's accident on Monday
She told us the explosion of the airbags was a terrible experience as gas came out and she just didn't know what was happening.  Thankfully the driver of the other car helped her move it and neither car was damaged, except of course for the airbags which would need replacing at a very high cost. Soon the ambulance arrived and cleaned up Oli's nasty wound and sent us off to the nearest hospital to have it looked at and bandaged.  Then the tow lorry arrived and took her car to a garage in Alcorcón. It was quite a spectacle I must say but I'm relieved that Oli only suffered minor injuries as it could have been a lot worse.   I should also add that the police and ambulance staff were very helpful and we learned that day how the protocol for car accidents involving injuries works;  very efficient indeed.

I took Oli to the hospital in my car and we were ushered in immediately to be attended to because it was a car accident; otherwise we would have had  to wait longer.  Thankfully, although the wound was quite nasty at first sight, there was nothing broken and it was just an abrasion.  It was bandaged up and Oli was also given a tetanus jab.  We were home by 1 but then I had to dash off again as I had my diet doctor's appointment at 2.10 pm, the first since before Christmas.

He was late, his pc didn't work and neither did his scales so he had to rely on the weight information I gave him. I was not impressed with him and never have been. I only needed him to prescribe the Pronokal diet products but have not found him supportive or even interested in my case.   Meanwhile I was starving during the wait as it was way past lunch time. He put me on a 1000 calorie maintenance diet for 2 months, allowing me to eat a bit more at 2 meals a week. This means, hurray, I can now go out to dinner again on Friday nights.  I shall sorely miss the luncheon vouchers I got at work  which we used to use for meals out. It was one of many  of the perks I am losing now after being fired, including the fabulous car, the free petrol, free motorway toll pass, free internet, mobile phone and private health insurance and  quite a few etceteras.  Last week when I mentioned this to my friend Grainne she said she had never had any of these perks so didn't miss them.  The large majority of the population don't have them either so I shall just have to get used to being a part of those who don't.

I came home to find Oli waiting to have lunch with me. Mine was a frugal affair as I hadn't left anything prepared.  Just as I was having lunch I was sent a link to a second media article about my being  fired from Yoigo or rather its mother company MásMovil who bought us recently.  I was very flattered once again.  I wasn't behind any of the articles, rest assured. It's not my style but it's nice to get public recognition that I was good at my job and was fired unfairly.  Thank you José Tercero for taking the time to think about me and thanks for the flattering comments.  You can read the article here. It's entitled MásMóvil fires the Yoigo Undercover Boss in clear reference to the TV programme I "starred" in last year which has been repeated countless times  and which you can see here.  I suppose the author found it rather ironic. 

A shot of me in the programme Undercover Boss (El Jefe Infiltrado)
Eladio went off to his daily private lessons which I suspect are tiring him out, especially as his pupil seems to be very slow and difficult to teach and I  went out again, this time to the hairdresser.  I haven't had my hair cut or the roots dyed for quite a while and I have to look good if I'm job seeking at my age.  It was slow here too and I didn't get home till nearly 7pm having had to sacrifice my afternoon walk for getting my hair done. Whilst I was there I realised that finally my corporate email account had been suddenly removed.  So no more emails from Yoigo.  It was just a part of the mourning process of being fired.  There would be more to come during the week. 

Oli was at home feeling better.  She was busy working on the script for a hotel chain gala dinner awards event where she would be the MC in English one  night this week.  She has presented quite a few prize giving events in the past, in Brussels, Madrid and Lisbon. This opportunity came out of the blue through a TV friend and now that she is a fully fledged TV reporter, she has what is known as a "caché" in Spain (celebrity net worth) and was paid well for just a few hours work; the equivalent of quite a few days of Eladio's tutoring lessons I could add haha. For the event she had to wear a long evening dress. We only have 2 at home, the ones I bought for the girls some 15 years ago for New Year's Eve. that amazingly still fit them. Oli's was light purple and cinderella like and Suzy's sleek and blue.   Friends lent her other long dresses but the company hiring her went for the blue one. 
Trying on the dress Oli would wear at the gala hotel awards as the English MC
I tended to agree.  I had to act as photographer for the photos of her in the different dresses she sent to the organizers for them to choose haha. I was also to be the chauffeur to drive her to the beautiful Casino restaurant in the  Alcalá street in Madrid and of course helper in the translation of the long and boring script of the hotel awards.  We spent more than 2 hours on it after I came back from the hairdressers. Why do event organisers for prize giving ceremonies make their scripts so boring I wonder?  

Tuesday was the day Teresa May outlined her terms for a hard Brexit.  There was no mention of what her intentions were for Brits like me living in the EU.  For citizens of the EU in the UK, however, there was mention of a cap figure.  Oh Theresa May and you other Brexiters, you sure have made a big mess with the decision to leave the EU.

That morning I had an appointment with my dear friend and ex Nokia colleague, Juana who now has a high flying job with Microsoft.  She invited me to their offices nearby to help me update my cv. The format of mine is at least 10 years old and needs a fresher look.  I felt something of an alien entering the amazing building of the 3rd most valuable brand in the world just after Google (1) and Apple (2).
Microsoft is the 3rd most valuable brand in the world

Of course its former CEO, Bill Gates, is first on the list of the 8 billionaires mentioned above.  The whole place felt like another planet, sleek, clean, glistening with lots of young geeks walking around looking like superior beings.  My jobless state made me feel quite inadequate, not to mention old,  in the Microsoft Spain surroundings that day.
The impressive Microsoft Spain HQ which is even more impressive inside
My friend showed me around and I was very impressed. There are 500 employees but only usually some 200 there on one day as anyone who wants can work from home. When they do go in, no one is assigned a desk and uses anyone available.  There are no private offices, but lots of small empty rooms for the employees to use when they want some privacy.  There is a huge customer area which feels like one big VIP airport lounge but sleeker with food and drinks available all day long. There are auditoriums for events, gardens, beautiful sitting areas and meeting rooms that feel more like modern lounges. If this was the Spanish Microsoft building I wondered what the US HQ in Redmond would be like.  Juana told me it was a huge campus with many buildings.

We got on with the job in hand in one of the private rooms and here we went through various formats. We finally chose one and started work on it which I would later finish at home.  Thanks my friend for your help and support. Juana had to rush off to London straight afterwards where she would be working at the company's Paddington office for most of the week.  I left feeling a little inadequate until another friend, the Spanish cycling celebrity, Pedro Delgado, called as I was crossing the road to get my car.  He had seen the article about me being fired the day before and had tweeted it of his own accord which was very kind of him. He's such a sweetie and is always on my side. We arranged to have dinner with our partners next week.  I look forward to that.  Thanks Pedro.

I came home to have a late lunch on my own again.  But it was lovely to have Oli waiting for me. She was rehearsing for the awards.  I was pretty bushed that day as was poor Eladio with his 3 hour afternoon private lessons.  It was on Tuesday afternoon, once again sacrificing my second walk of the day, that I went to the dentist, my dear Dr. Garralda.  You see I am losing the company dental care policy too.  It expires at the end of this month so I decided to use it for one last time by getting an appointment to check my teeth and more importantly have them  properly cleaned, something I don't remember when I last did.  He was so sweet and understanding; he feels more like a friend and offered me the same prices as with the insurance company.  How nice of him.  We always have a good chat and exchange stories on how our daughters are doing, as they are the same age. One of them got married to a South African and lives in Dubai. Quite exotic I think.

Thankfully my teeth were ok and thankfully they were very professionally cleaned by the most competent dentist I know.  On my way out I crossed the road to enter what must be the best fruit and veg shop in the area, La Frutería Luis and where I bought some delicious tangerines and leeks.  I would have bought a lot more but it's quite an expensive place and after losing my job we are on a cost cutting exercise (ouch).
La Frutería de Luis in Majadahonda
I had a craving for vegetables that night and as soon as I got home I boiled leeks, cauliflower and carrots to have with an omelet for dinner.

As usual we were in bed at about 9.30 and I fell asleep during a new episode of our current Netflix series, "Bajo Sospecha".

On Wednesday morning I was tickled pink to hear from a close acquaintance that this daughter had got into the final of this year's Masterchef.  She got into the last 15 from months of competing with what began with 2000 applicants.  I have been sworn to secrecy as to who she is.  All I know is that she will be separated from her family for more than 3 months and will not even be allowed to use her mobile phone while the programme is being shot. What an experience for an amateur chef and what an experience for her and the family. Watch this space when the programme comes out in the spring.

It was a freezing cold day.  The cold front finally hit Spain and on my walk at 9 a.m. my phone registered -2ºc, even lower than London, the difference being the sun was shining here.  It was even colder than in Ottawa, Canada, where my cousin Andrei lives!
It was very cold in Madrid this week
But the sun wasn't shining in much of Spain.  In the South East (Alicante region) it had actually snowed for the first time in more than 30 years.  Schools were closed for example in Murcia hahaha. There was snow in the village my friend Jacky lives in inland Murcia on the border of Alicante.  She said it was the first time in a century!  Meanwhile it also snowed in Benidorm of all places and this image of the white covered beach there says it all. I feel sorry for all the pensioner tourists on holiday there who had hoped for better weather. I'm sure they didn't take the right clothes hahaha.  You would have thought there would be snow in Montrondo too but there was no sign of it. This is the world upside down weather wise.
The beach in Benidorm this week.  Unbelievable.
That morning, using some of the clout I still have from my role as Ex (ouch) Comms Director for Yoigo, I went to have  my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge screen repaired (replaced actually as it was broken) at the mobile phone repair centre the company uses.  It's miles away in a small town north of Madrid called San Sebastián de los Reyes and I got a little lost on my way despite the sat nav. Funnily enough it was here that one of the scenes from the Spanish Undercover Boss programme in which I featured, was filmed.  Being a curved phone, it took ages, over an hour but whilst I was at the offices I was well looked after by Nadia and Félix.  Thanks guys and thanks for the standing invitation to go whenever I need my phone mended which I hope won't be for a while.

As I was leaving to get my car, another car passed me and stopped.  The driver was one Miguel Angel, the boy who had featured in the phone repair scene with me on TV.  He was with his Father and sister Sara and told me he was, like me, now on the "dole".  So now there were 2 people who had featured in the programme in the ranks of the unemployed.  He parked the car and we hugged and his Father kept thanking for me for treating his son so well. He didn't need to thank me as Miguel Angel, although a little aggressive in the programme, has a heart of gold.  He just lost his job as a phone repair technician as the brand he was working for, Sony, is losing market share.
With Miguel Angel who featured in the TV programme Undercover Boss
The 3 of them had just come back from the Job Centre after signing on.  Gosh, that means most of his family is now unemployed.  We are told Spain is getting back on its feet but Wednesday's episode told a different story.  It was great to see Miguel Angel and I wish him lots of luck in finding a new job. !Suerte amigo".

I didn't get home for lunch until late, just as Eladio and my Father were finishing theirs.  After a 15 minute siesta (I need a little nap in the middle of the day as I get up so early), I went off for my afternoon walk.  Thankfully the temperatures had climbed to a more bearable 5ºC.  Eladio went off to his private lessons to Sara, the 18 year old who is in her last year at school and needs constant tuition.

Just as I was coming back I got a notification on Facebook to tell my my administrative rights for the company FB page had been removed.  It was yet another part of the mourning process of losing my job.  It felt like a stab in the back especially as it was I who had set up the page years ago, when FB was only just starting.
This Facebook message was yet another stab in the back in the mourning process of losing my job. I wondered who the guy in the picture was, the guy who removed me. 
I just tried to shrug it off and once back I had to dress up and go out again.  My friends and General Managers of my now ex PR agency, Ketchum, Tony and Teresa, knowing of my situation, had invited me to join them at the British Chamber of Commerce's New Year Cocktail to do some networking. I'm not a one for cocktails and never have I been  one to be a part of the British expat society here, preferring to integrate into Spanish life.
The invitation to the cocktail party
But I thought I had to make the effort and an effort it was.  At work I used to drive to a car park in Pozuelo and then get a taxi into Madrid. Now when I got into the city I drive to the nearest Metro station, Colonia Jardín (20 mins from home), try to find a place to park (difficult) and take the metro to town (approx 35 mins).  This is news from me as I don't normally "do" the metro.  I didn't even know how much it cost or how to buy a ticket but after a few tries and with tips from Olivia, I took to it quite easily. You see in Madrid nearly only the working class, low paid people and students use it, unlike in London. So I took the metro (Line 10) on Wednesday night to the Gregorio Marañón metro station in the centre of the city and stepped out into the freezing cold and walked 700 metres up the María de Molina street until I came to Lagasca.  It was in this street the cocktail party was taking place at a fashionable place called Warehouse.  Ironically it was where the last press conference organised by me which was to announce  Yoigo's financial results took place in the summer.  The mourning process continued as when I registered I was given a name badge with the company name below; Yoigo.  I felt a bit of a sham as I no longer work there and had to explain to anyone who spoke to me that night and looked at my badge that I had lost my job:-).  I didn't know many people and most of them there were small Spanish financial companies looking to find contacts for business.  I did however bump into a dear English/Spanish friend, Rose, who is the head of the PR company Weber Shandwick.  It was great to see her and we shall meet soon for lunch. Tony, who knows everyone, as Ketchum does the Chamber of Commerce's PR, introduced me to the British Ambassador, Simon Manley.  Well that was a pretty wow moment. I should have taken a photo, damn!  So what did we talk about? Brexit of course.  I asked him what would happen to Brits like Tony and I who have lived and worked here for so many years.  His answer was we would be ok and that it was in the Spanish Government's interest to let us stay on. Well it better be.

I couldn't eat any of the cocktail stuff and only drank water, so at about 9 pm (it started at 7.30) I left. So did Tony and Teresa and we arranged to meet again soon for lunch. It took just under an hour to get home by metro and car.  Eladio and Pippa were waiting up for me and came down to join me as I had a quick bite to ease my hunger.

Thursday turned out to be the best day of the week.  It was packed with activity and good news.  It was the best day since I had lost my job.  At 12 I had a phone call meeting with an ex Nokia colleague who wants me to collaborate as a freelance consultant for his company that deals in professional two way radios.  We agreed on an initial project; a press conference in Barcelona at the beginning of February and others to come. There and then I had landed my first freelance job. I have been debating whether I want a permanent corporate role or whether I should be a communications consultant.  It seems I don't get to decide and to start with, at least, it will be the former.

Afterwards I had to rush off and drive to the metro station Colonia Jardin, leave my car there  and take the train into the centre of Madrid yet again. This time I was invited to lunch by Isabel and Ludi from my PR Agency, Ketchum as a sort of farewell meal. We have worked together successfully for 10 years and will sorely miss each other.  The "girls" had a surprise in store for me as they had invited 2 former team members who left Ketchum a while ago; Carlos and my dear dear Gustavo H.  A more recent team member, Víctor, also came. It was a lovely reunion.  I have chosen one of the photos we took as the main photo for this week's post.  Guys you rock.  It was great working with you and I hope to again one day soon.
With my lovely PR team. From left to right: Carlos, me, Isabel, Ludi and Gustavo
During the middle of the lunch I got more good news in a phone call from the USA from a former Motorola colleague.  He offered me the possibility of working on another freelance communications project, this time for a mobile phone company which obviously is right up my street.  I couldn't believe it; 2 freelance projects in 1 day.  You see there is now light at the end of the tunnel.  I am raring to go now and want to make an impact.

Once home, I started immediately on the first project which is more concrete and has a deadline.  My afternoon flew past whilst I worked until Eladio came home from his private lessons at 9 in the evening.  He was happy too although being a more cautious person, he is wary of me being a freelancer rather than a full time corporate employee.  Well time will tell.

On Friday I was awake at the unearthly hour of 5.45.  I had decided my weighing days after the start of the 1000 calorie maintenance diet would be Friday mornings from now on as at the weekends I was going to follow the doctor's advice and break the diet for at least 2 meals.  I got on the scales grudgingly, worried I had put on weight since the new diet, but wow oh wow I had lost another kilo. I now weigh 59.3 kilos.  I don't think I have weighed that in more than 30 or 40 years.  I have gone from 74.1 to 59.3 since October 4th which in stone my English friends is from 11.6 to 9.3 stone. Suzy says that's too little but I don't agree as many people my height weigh a lot less.  What she has suggested is that I stop the 1000 calorie diet as it's very restrictive and I feel hungry most of the day. Instead she will draw me up a more reasonable one.  I'm very proud of myself. To celebrate I would take Eladio out to dinner that night using some of the last company luncheon vouchers in my possession.

Friday was the day of the dreaded Trump Presidential inauguration and swearing into the highest office in the world.  The country is divided and there was to be an anti Trump march of an estimated million people at the same time.  Oh how I hate that man and all he stands for.
Donald Trump's swearing into Presidential office.
The words of the oath are: "I do solemnly swear  that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." Donald Trump added at the end, as most Presidents have done although it's not obligatory, "and so help me God".  That would be absolutely unheard of here in Spain which, although known for being a Catholic country, is a completely secular state today. I'm not sure if he said yesterday "God bless America" which is used a lot by politicians and seems cheesy here in Europe.  By tradition, incoming presidents raise their right hand and place the other hand on a bible or other book.  Donald J. Trump chose his childhood Bible given to him by his Mother which was held out for him by his wife, Melania, the new First Lady. Their 10 year old son Barron who is rumoured to be autistic poor boy, looked on as it happened.  I wonder what he was thinking.  I didn't hear the speech nor watch the inauguration but heard the crowds were fewer than when Barack Obama was sworn in.
The crows compared - Obama and Trump's Presidential inauguration day. The picture speaks for itself.
The next day the crowds of women marching against Trump all over America and in other parts of the world, certainly beat that of Friday.  I was proud to see my friend Sue in the demonstration in Chicago.  You can see her in the photo below.  I do hope that makes Donald Trump think.  According to an American friend living in Finland who has followed the whole process closely, all the big bully wants is to bask in the glory of being President as the world's top "Alpha male" and doesn't care about the politics which he will leave to his close equerries.
My friend Sue (right) in the women's march against Trump in Chicago on Saturday.
I did hear though that his speech was very aggressive which didn't surprise me and was based on "America First".  The world did not take kindly to his becoming President and I keep asking myself how the hell it happened. I suppose in the same way Brexit happened.  There were huge anti Trump demonstrations too that day but they came far too late.  All I can say is, "God bless America" with its new and frightening President Donald J. Trump.

After my first freezing walk in the early morning, I came home and settled down to work on my first project for the upcoming press conference to be organised in February. I have to come up with the press materials; press release, power point presentation, facts sheet and q+as, so I started on the press release. Eladio was my proof reader and I was quite proud of myself for having written it and also happy with the visual format.  I was only to find out later in the day that the company hiring me for this project had already drafted their own press release with information I didn't have so Friday morning's exercise may well have been in vain.  But not completely, as it showed me I was capable of drafting one.  You see it has nearly always been my PR agency who wrote my press releases until now of course.

Eladio joined me on my second walk of the day and the dogs came for the first time in days.  It was still very cold.  After a short siesta - I need one if I get up at 5.45 in the morning hahaha - Eladio went off to his 3 hour tutoring in Pozuelo and I went to do the weekly shopping.  Our usual supermarket, Mercadona was closed. It must have been a local holiday in Villaviciosa that I wasn't aware of. So I decided to try my luck at the new Dia in Boadilla.  If it takes me 30 minutes to do the shopping at Mercadona as I know where everything is and follow my list, at Dia it took ages as I didn't know where anything was.  I was not impressed with the French owned supermarket even though the whole chain has been recently refurbished.  There were lots of things on my list they didn't have so I had to go to Supercor nearby afterwards to get the rest.  Thus I got home much later than usual.  Just as I was arriving so were Oli and Miguel who helped me carry in all the provisions together with Salu our home help.

They had news for us.  After Oli's accident, her hand was better but still bandaged and sore and she can't drive.  The news was bad in that her car was a write off after the accident, as to restore the airbags the price would be over 4000 euros which the car is certainly not worth. So she will give it to a friend who owns a garage for scrap and now has to buy a new one.  Miguel is in charge of finding one for her. Today they are going to see a "0 kilometre" car, a black Ford Focus. I asked him to look for a car for me too.  They wanted to buy it up front but that is not possible these days.  You are obliged to finance it, of course to boost the financing market.  Isn't that just ridiculous?

Friday night was the best night of the week.  It was the night I would go out to dinner and break my diet for once and boy was I hungry hahaha.  It was also my first night out to dinner since I started the diet, not counting our time in Cuba. Oli and Miguel joined us and Eladio came straight from his long lessons in Pozuelo.  We ordered pizza bread for starters and I had pasta with tomato sauce, prawns and asparagus which tasted just delicious.  I was not able to finish it though which is highly unusual for me but maybe that's because my stomach has shrunk. I even had dessert, 2 delicious scoops of pistachio  ice cream, all washed down by lambruscco rosé wine. But don't worry it was back to my diet the next morning.
My choice of pasta with tomato sauce, asparagus and prawns for dinner at Gino's on Friday night
Thankfully on Saturday the freezing temperatures receded a bit and on my walk I saw the temperature was 5ºc. Plus the sun was shining.

I spent part of the morning working on the second project I have been given but will know more about it in a scheduled phone call with the US on Monday.  Exciting!

People have been so supportive of my recent dismissal from the company I have worked for for 10 years and I was to get some more support on Saturday.  My dear "Spanish family", the "González-Gálvez" with whom I lived from September 1978 to July 1979, organised an impromptu dinner that night.  It was to find out how I was coping after the dismissal.  The dinner was to be late though, not until 10pm at night.  Irene and her husband Tomas invited us as well as her brother Gerardo and his wife Vicky.  When I went to live with my "Spanish family" in 1978 as an au-pair to teach them English during my year in Spain as part of my University studies, Gerardo was about 14 or 15 and Irene one year younger.  It's amazing to see them today in their 50's with 5 and 4 children respectively, some of them now University students!
Dinner with my "Spanish family" - at Irene and Tomas' house on Saturday night
It was a great evening as we always feel completely relaxed with them because we have so much that bonds us. Our hosts put on a wonderful spread for dinner and I broke my diet just slightly.  But we didn't get home until 1.30 in the morning which is incredibly late for Eladio and I who are early to bed people.

And today is Sunday and we shall be having guests ourselves for lunch today.  Thankfully Eladio's Sunday philosophy lesson to his Brazilian student, Emiliano was cancelled. When I heard that I rushed to invited Toño and Dolores to lunch whom we haven't seen since we parted on 4th January in Havana.  But of course I will be telling you all about that next week.

I have got to the end of the story of this week now my friends.  It's time to publish this, print a copy for my Father and go on my first walk of the day. This week turned out better than expected.  Let's see what next week brings.

Cheers for now, Masha

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