Saturday, February 25, 2017

The secret German church in Madrid, Oli goes skiing, Julio and Fátima for lunch, a last minute decision to go to the Mobile World Congress, "astronomical" news, Theodore Storm in German Gothic script and other tales of the week.

Sunday 26th February, 2017

With my best friends, Julio and Fátima who came for lunch on Tuesday

Hi again everyone.

Another week has passed and it's now nearly the end of February, the shortest month of the year. 

Last Sunday was a quiet day as most Sundays have been so far this year.  We had gloubtsy for lunch (cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and rice) made by Zena our Ukrainian weekend carer.  It's always a favourite with my Father and I and I asked Zena to make a lot so as to have more during the week!

Whilst Zena was making the Russian dish of my childhood, I was cooking artichokes and we were talking comfortably together all about the Bolshevik revolution and how it affected my Mother and her family. We talked so much that I didn't notice the artichokes were burning.  I had stupidly forgotten to add water and they had dried and the saucepan was burning.  The saucepan bottom was completely black which upset me a bit as it belongs to the first set we ever bought when we got married.  However, dear Zena came to the rescue and I'm not sure how but when I saw it later it was glistening and clean.  

Olivia didn't join us for lunch that day and missed the gloubtsy which she loves too.  No she had to work that day, shooting a story for her next programme, secret places in the main streets of Madrid such as Gran Vía, Calle Alcalá and Paseo de la Castellana.  I felt sorry for her having to work on a Sunday but not for long when she told me that she would get 2 days off in exchange.  Her subject that morning was the hidden away German Evangelical Lutheran Church in Paseo de la Castellana 6 where she would attend the service; thus she had to work on a Sunday.
Oli with the pastor of the German church in Madrid on Sunday
It was built for the German protestant population in Spain in 1888 and opened in 1907.  The Spanish King Alfonso XIII who had to abdicate just before the Civil War, gave his uncle Kaiser William II permission.  That was not an easy thing to do at the time as any religion other than Catholicism was frowned upon then.  One of the conditions for building it was to house the German Embassy in a mansion next to it which is now the parish priest's home (lucky him).  The church was to be hidden behind it and could not have a tower of any sort. So it really is a secret church and not at all known in Madrid. It is called the Friedenskirche (church of peace). Oli told me the mass or service was very boring.  I can imagine it was hahaha.  It's not often she goes to church on Sunday either. 

Monday came and brought the good weather with it. It has been sunny all week and the temperatures in Madrid have reached 20ºc at midday.  It's pretty cold in the morning though and I have to wrap up well for my walks. 

That morning I had a "meeting" with María, an out of job journalist who knows me through another colleague.  She wanted to meet me to find synergies as she too wants to set herself up as a communications consultant.  The difference between us is that I am nearly 30 years her senior. Despite that we had a lot in common.  We met at Starbucks in Pozuelo and over a lovely cup of coffee shared our stories.  I'm not sure we will find synergies but it was good commiseration therapy hahaha.  

We weren't the only ones to lose our jobs.  My previous company has just fired 2 more directors, both of whom are women I worked closely with.  I spoke to one of them that night and it wasn't good for my spirits as the whole conversation got me reliving my own redundancy process and I'm afraid I hardly slept that night.  Oh sugar!!! 

Tuesday was a much more positive day thankfully.  Oli took a day off on Tuesday to go skiing with Miguel in the mountains outside Madrid.  I bet you didn't know there are skiing resorts just a short drive away from the centre in the Guadaramma mountain range.  I always heard that Madrid is the highest capital in Europe.  So yep, off they went with their skiing gear and enjoyed a day in the snow with lots of sunshine.  Here is Olivia that day on the slopes of the mountains where they skied from 11.30 am to 4.30 pm and only ate a sandwich for lunch. No doubt they had a hearty dinner.
Oli skiing on Tuesday 
The slopes outside Madrid are very popular with the "madrileños" but as the resorts are rather small they get far too crowded at the weekends.  Even so, Olivia complained about lots of school trips hogging the snow.  We haven't been for years as I can't ski but I do love the snow. 

Back home, I continued work on the Spanish version of my website. It's all translated now and you can see the finished product here.  I'm quite proud it already has more than 1.400 page visits. Please visit it and do me a favour, share it on twitter or facebook from the page itself so as to help improve its SEO (search engine optimisation); i.e. for it to come up on Google in the first few positions when you google my name.  I have done the web to find more freelance jobs, so if you hear of any, do let me know.  Jackie, my dear friend from Yorkshire, is proof reading the English and I have yet to get Eladio to proof read the Spanish text.  So if you see any mistakes, bear with me or send me comments. Thank you all. 
A screeenshot of my website now available in both English and Spanish.  Updating it is very addictive a bit like playing with a favourite toy.
Tuesday was not only a more positive day, it was the highlight of my week when my friends Julio and Fátima came for lunch. In fact they came early, especially for Julio and I to work on synergies too as he is a telecoms consultant.  Of course we all worked together at Nokia which is where our threesome friendship came from. Fátima, though, I met at Motorola.  So there you go, its the people that count, not the companies. I have chosen the photo of the three of us to illustrate this week's post. And below is a photo of Julio and Fátima together at our dining room table after a lovely lunch of meat loaf and carrot and potato pure.
Julio and Fátima
After lunch, I took Julio on my walk in the sunshine to further explore synergies and there are many.  It was thanks to him that I decided at the last minute to go to the Mobile World Congress taking place in Barcelona next week. I haven't missed an edition since it was first held there some 9 years ago.  I decided to go to see my new customers and a prospective customer too.  After all, it's the very best place to find people and to be seen.  Getting an exhibitor pass for free when they cost 600 euros each, was actually much easier than I thought thanks to lots of contacts. As to accommodation, a dear school friend from Yorkshire, Grainne, will be putting me up. I will be going in very different circumstances to the past when I had everything paid for; but there you are that's the price you pay for becoming self employed. 

On Wednesday I worked from home which is now my official office.  In that way nothing has really changed since I left Yoigo. I took a break just before lunch to go with Eladio to the main department store here, El Corté Inglés, to buy 2 pairs of bottom sheets for our king size bed.  The old ones have holes in them and I seem to be the culprit, although I don't know why hahaha. That afternoon I gave my second conversation lesson in English to my new "pupil", a neighbour called Carmen.  Afterwards I went on my second hour long walk of the day, accompanied by little Pippa.  On the walk I rang Suzy and we had a long chat; mostly catching up on our lives.  It was nice to hear she's happy working for the NHS as all you read in the British press are negative things about the British health system.

But the biggest news on Wednesday came from the NASA in the US.  I'm not into astronomy but even I was impressed to hear scientists had discovered there is a new solar system. It has 7 planets similar to earth and it even has water on 3 of them which shows they could be inhabited.  It is called Trappist I think. So, the search for alien life is on.  It will take a while I imagine as I heard the new planets are 39 light years away.  I wondered whether that meant it would take 39 years to travel there.  Actually it seems I am right but you would have to travel at the speed of light hahaha.  I looked it up in a science magazine and this is what it says: "TRAPPIST-1 is 39 light-years away from Earth, or about 229 trillion miles (369 trillion kilometers). It would take 39 years to get there traveling at the speed of light. But no spacecraft ever built can travel anywhere near that fast"Well no one will do it in my life time for sure.   But yes, it was big news; "astronomical" news in fact.
The new solar system.

They may not do that in my lifetime but I have a feeling instant travel on earth is coming some time in the much nearer future.  As part of what is called the 4th generation industry, which we are on the brink of, there is a technology called "hyperloop".  Hyperloop is the transport of the future, first in trains. This week I heard there were plans for  a hyperloop (sort of tube like the ones we see in some establishments to carry money up and down floors) train that could transport people, goods and cars from Madrid to Tangiers in just one hour.  Just think what that could bring and mean to people.  One day, when I am no longer here, maybe one of my granddaughters will be reading this prose and laugh as she is already using instant or hyperloop transport to see all corners of the world in no time.  Sorry for the ramblings.

On Thursday I weighed myself and was down to 57.7 Kgs. When I told Suzy I was losing more weight on my supposed "maintenance" diet, she said it was probably because of my exercise, 2 x 1 hour long walks a day. So I decided to "up" the quantity of milk and fruit a bit at breakfast. Let's see what happens from now on. 

That morning I continued work on my website. It's becoming a bit of an obsession as I could carry on working on it forever, adding and changing content, etc.  Now my CV and website match thanks to the great photo of me with the giant blue phone. And my dear events agency, QuintaEsencia, have made me matching visiting cards too which I love.  The front is with my picture on a white background and the back is in turquoise matching the colour of the phone. They are so cool and will come in handy for my trip to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The front side of my new visiting cards. They are so cool.
I also updated the list of confirmed guests to the goodbye Yoigo dinner I am hosting next week.  While I was doing all this, I got the news that the King's brother-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, who was sentenced to 6 years prison last week for gaining illegal income for inflated priced sports events, using his royal connection, got a "get out of jail free card" that morning.  So, no he won't be going to prison which is what he deserves. Don't ask me how, the legal system is so complicated, but what I do know is that justice is not the same for everyone in Spain. He'll be delighted of course, as will his wife, Cristina, the King's ousted sister. But everyone else here is outraged at the news. 

Iñaki Urdangarin got a "get out of jail free card" on Thursday. 

On Friday morning I weighed myself out of interest after having increased my milk and fruit intake the day before and was surprised that even so I had lost more weight and was down to 73.3 kilos. There and then I skipped on my oat bran porridge and made toast from a  roll of brown bread spread with low fat butter. Oh it was delicious.  On Friday I would be looking forward to dinner out as one of the 2 meals or so  I am allowed to break my maintenance diet.  Most of all I was looking forward to a glass of wine and dessert!

Eladio joined me on my first walk of the day on Friday morning.  I would do my second one later. Funnily enough it was very foggy although the sun would make its appearance at midday.  And here we are; the "walking couple", in a selfie I took for the girls but it's also for you.
Eladio joined me on my morning walk on Friday

We came back to find the gardeners Eladio had hired, shearing the hedges. It would take 3 able South American workers one whole day to do the whole job in.  It's a job I persuaded Eladio not to do on his own this year thank goodness.
Eladio talking to one of the hedge shearers on Friday morning.
I spent part of Friday morning applying for two PR Manager roles with Amazon in the UK.  Am I crazy? Well maybe.  But you have to think outside the box.  I'm happy to be a communications consultant but need more projects to retain the standard of living we are now used to.  I didn't think they would  bother including me in their candidate list but there you go, I tried.  

As I get up so early these days, I have taken to enjoying a short siesta after lunch with Eladio.  Pippa always joins us which is so funny. Here she is about to settle down for that lovely Spanish tradition, lying at the end of our bed.
Pippa who always joins us when taking a siesta after lunch. 
Towards the end of our short siesta that afternoon, Oli texted to ask me to pick her up in Boadilla at around 5. She was shooting the introduction to her upcoming programme about palaces and castles for sale, using the Boadilla palace as the background. Unfortunately I got there when she had finished and wasn't able to see her in action. 

It was shortly after we got home that, very surprisingly,  I did get a reply from Amazon but not one I was expecting. I must have gone through the first filter as I got an email asking me to do a "numerical reasoning test" to get through to the next stage. Well, I'm not very numerate only being good at mental arithmetic.  The email explained I could do a practice test and provided the link. I got Oli to sit with me so's to do it together and oh my God it was so difficult.  The questions are complicated maths and economic type problems and you have to answer 18 questions in 23 minutes while the clock is ticking.  I think we managed  3 when about 10 minutes was up.  Later her boyfriend tried it too with a a bit more success but the time factor was the most hindering factor.  I'm not sure how I'm going to go about this but will certainly have to practice. I then looked up on the internet just how important the test is and my goodness the stuff I found was pretty awful.  I also found out that to get a job with Amazon you go through about 10 rounds of terrible HR stages.  I think I could manage them all, especially the verbal reasoning, the presentation, a case study, role playing, etc but it's the numerical reasoning test that's daunting me.  So watch this space.  But do I really want to go and live in London which is where the job would take me?  Not sure at all. 

Friday afternoon was not the time to be practicing numerical reasoning tests.  No, it was time for my second walk, this time in the sun. Eladio and Oli joined me and we took the dogs.  Meanwhile the 3 gardeners who hail from Ecuador, were still pruning the trees and shearing the hedges.  This is what the garden looked like towards the end of the day. What a job and I'm very relieved Eladio outsourced it this year.
The garden on Friday in the throes of tree pruning and hedge shearing.
That evening we went out to dinner to one of our favourite places, La Vaca Argentina in Las Rozas and were joined by Oli and Miguel.  I was looking forward to breaking my diet as I am allowed to do a couple of times a week on the maintenance diet I am following.  Wearing a size 10 black dress belonging to Olivia (!!!), off we went in the Yoigo mini car that the company has lent me until 10th March.  I'm afraid I ate too much.  I started off with a small glass of wine, a small roll of brown bread dipped in olive oil, then an artichoke dripping in foie sauce and an oxtail croquette. By then I was already full but still had the second course coming; Argentinian fillet steak with chips of which I could not even eat half.  I wanted a dessert and the 1/3 of the brownie we shared was all I could manage.  Suzy later warned me when talking on the phone that night that, as I was now "petite", my stomach had shrunk and that I could no longer eat the portions I could before. How right she is. Next time I shall skip on the starters and bread and just have a second course and share the pudding. Obviously that night my eyes were bigger than my stomach. 

I woke up on Saturday morning still feeling full and had no appetite for breakfast apart from a cup of coffee.  Whilst I read the "papers" - well The Times on my iPad -  Salud, our home help, was making everyone else's breakfast.  She had brought up my Father's glasses and book.  I glanced at it, interested to see what he was reading. For the  records it was Immensee by Theodor Storm, a famous German author he is fond of and he was reading it in old German Gothic script!!! 
The book my Father is currently reading is Immensee by Theodor Storm and he is reading it in German Gothic script. He bought in in 1938 when he was just 19!

I took a look inside and saw his inscription: "C.C. Lloyd, The Vicarage, Henbury, Bristol, 1938". So he had bought it when he was just 19.  I bow down to him; he is simply awesome. Not many 19 year old's or nonagenarians would be able to do so neither now, nor in 1938. The thing is he is very humble too and doesn't think that this is anything special when it is actually incredible. My Father is indeed "immense". Please forgive the pun haha.  It was nice to see he was using a bookmark Olivia had bought for him on her trip to Indonesia a few years ago; rather sweet I thought.

Saturday morning was a bit of a rush.  After my walk I came home to get ready to go out again, this time to do the weekly food shopping with Eladio. Home again, I left him to unpack it all and put it away and went out yet again. I was to meet Gloria and Ramón in Pozuelo, yes at Starbucks in the Corté Inglés, where she would be bringing me the freshly printed visiting cards. They are so nice and I am very grateful to QuintaEsencia.  Thanks girls.
My new visiting cards by QuintaEsencia, freshly printed.

By then it was past 1 o'clock and I had to rush home to prepare everyone's lunch.  I made chicken noodle soup followed by mini hamburgers with all the works.  

I think yesterday was the warmest and sunniest day of the week and I enjoyed my second walk in splendid sunshine and without a coat.  Poor Eladio, meanwhile, had gone off to his daily afternoon private lessons.  

Saturday ended with a light dinner, just the two of us, then a session on Netflix. We finished the detective series "Paranoid" and started on "Fauda".  Let's see if we get hooked or not.

And today is Sunday, blog day and time to publish this post.  I shall be off to Barcelona shortly, destination MWC, the biggest mobile phone fair on the planet which expects to see more than 100.000 delegates invading the city and I will be one of them.  You will, of course, be able to follow my adventures on my social media profiles and will get  a summary in next week's post.

All it leaves me now is to say cheers till then and wish you all a great week,

Bye till next time,

No comments: