Saturday, May 27, 2017

Back from Hong Kong, terror in Manchester, Oli back from Norway, celebrating her birthday, trip to Barcelona and other stories.

Sunday 28th May 2017
Great to be home again and on my walks with Eladio and the dogs.
Hi again,

Another week in my life has gone past. This was the week I returned from my trip to the exotic and very far away Hong Kong. The trip back was long and tiring as I knew it would be. I left at 8.30 in the morning (2.30 in Madrid), arrived in Dubai nearly 8 hours later and just didn't know what time it was there.  That was when I felt very confused and bewildered. I  had 3 hours there so only saw the enormous airport. I did see some of the terrain as we landed and it looked like a desert. I was told it 37ºc outside which didn't surprise me.
Landing in Dubai
It's a city with the highest sky scrapers in the world and does not attract me at all.  It was funny to see prayer rooms for women and prayer rooms for men at the airport. Why are they separate I wondered?  Even on the Emirates airplane on the multimedia screen there were indications as to how long it was to the next praying time!  Muslims pray 5 times a day.  After a 3 hour wait there, I got on the flight which would take me to Madrid and would last nearly 8 hours too. I was lucky in that on on both flights I had an aisle seat with no one sitting in the middle. The day seemed so long to me. We were given food at all sorts of times and I wasn't really hungry but I ate to pass the time away. The second flight was the most tiring of the lot. I tried to sleep but it wasn't easy. Finally, finally, we touched down in Madrid at about 8.30 pm here. My journey had taken 19 hours, not counting the time it took to get to and from the airports. I had to take a taxi home as Eladio was in Montrondo. It was strange to come home and not find him here. But of course there was my Father and Lucy to greet me. Pippa had a fit of excitement when she saw me and was delighted to sleep in clean white sheets with me in our bed that night. 
It was super to be home and super to see the dogs again. 
Thankfully I slept quite well. I'm not sure if I had jet lag or not but I did feel quite tired for a few days and needed at least the morning to settle in. I would have liked more but time was against me this week. 

Monday was of course Oli's birthday. She turned 32, fancy!  But she wasn't here either, but in Norway filming for her new programme; "Madrileños por el Mundo". It would be the first time in many years that she wasn't at home to celebrate. My Father was delighted to know she was in his favourite country, where he lived during and after the 2nd World War. He was an officer in the Royal Navy and was given a medal by the King (Haakon  VII?) for his help in the liberation of Norway from the Nazis. That makes me so proud of him. He speaks Norwegian like a native and studied German and Scandinavian languages at Cambridge University. He has visited the country many times and was tickled pink when he heard that Oli's first destination with the new programme was precisely Norway. She went to Stavangar and Bergen and of course visited the fjords. Her trip also coincided with the National Day of Norway and my Father knew which date it was, 17th May!  So he was more than delighted when I showed him photos of her trip like these ones of her on a small airplane flying over the fjords and the one below on a speed boat.

Oli in Norway. She loved it. 
We got to test his Norwegian ourselves as when Oli came back, she gave him stuff she had bought for him there; a Norwegian flag,  a national newspaper, and a chocolate bar called "Kvikk Lunsj" which he knew of course. When Oli told him it was the origin of the kitkat, he knew that too. 
The origin of the Kitkat comes from Norway. They invented it first. 
It seems there is still litigation going on by the copiers of the original Norwegian chocolate biscuit. She also brought him some fish paste that people from Norway spread on their bread. We asked him to tell us what it was made of. At 98 he had to read the small print and told us that it was made of cod roe. We couldn't believe he knew how to say or read or translate the Norwegian for cod roe. We told him we were very impressed. He is so humble about his knowledge of languages he said there was not much to be impressed by. Well there is. He's amazing!! 

I must say Oli has the perfect job for a journalist who loves travelling like her. Her next destination may well be Miami, lucky girl. 

Thinking about her, I spent the morning chilling out as much as I could. I was up early and went on my walk which felt glorious. It was so nice to be back in my terrain in our big house and garden surrounded by nature in sharp contrast to Hong Kong and its overwhelming amount of people and sky scrapers. 

I helped Lucy make the lunch for which Eladio would be back. He was travelling home from Montrondo with his brother and his wife and I invited them to lunch. They were here by 2. After lunch we had some quality time together before I started work for my new customer, Adamo, the Swedish owned regional fiber operator. They wanted me to prepare a press conference in Santander on 2nd June as well as a press trip for journalists from Madrid and Barcelona. There was a hell of a lot of work to do and not much time to do it in. Also I would be doing everything myself, whereas at Yoigo I had a press agency to do most of the work and an events agency. Well this week saw me in charge of every single aspect, from contracting the venue, to hiring the audiovisual services, the restaurant for the dinner the night before, the menus, the wording for the invitation, the press list and of course the press release. I worked like there was no tomorrow this week but at the same time I felt so happy to be working on a new and exciting PR project.  

I worked until dinner which we had at 9. We always go to bed after dinner. Well that night I was looking forward to seeing myself on TV again. I think I told you that Paloma, the journalist who took over Oli's job at her previous programme, "Mi Cámara y yo", had filmed me and our house for a programme that would be broadcast that night about alternative services for tourists, including of course, Airbnb.  Unfortunately I was so tired that I fell asleep.  However I was able to watch it the next day. This is the link to see it although I'm not sure it can be viewed in all countries outside Spain. It was quite a lark really and a bit of fun hahaha. I must say I enjoyed doing it. I sent the link to the Colombian guests who appeared in it, Paola and Juan and they loved it. 

It was dreadful to wake up to the news on Tuesday of the terrorist attack at a pop concert for children at the Manchester Arena. Yes, again, Isis struck and a suicide bomber killed innocent people, many of them children. I don't want to add any photos here, only to say that I was shocked to the core.  Manchester is a city I knew quite well when I lived in England and I have school friends living there.  On Monday night in a terrible blast as the people left the concert, 22 people were killed and 64 are injured. Will this type of terrorism ever go away? The photo I will add though is of the Union Jack in the shape of a heart and the name of the city Manchester, a city of peace which did not deserve what happened on Monday night. My heart goes out to the city. Sorry for you Manchester. Hate you terrorists.
Sorry for Manchester
While I was working hard on Tuesday, reeling from what had happened in Manchester, Oli was on her way back from Norway via Amsterdam. We were going to celebrate her birthday with dinner out to La Vaca Argentina that night. However her plane to Madrid was delayed and she was rerouted via Barcelona which meant she wouldn't get home until nearly midnight. We postponed the dinner to Wednesday night which was rather frustrating.

I should mention that on Tuesday I had lunch with my great friends, Julio and Fátima, to celebrate the former's 49th birthday hahah. We went to El Buey in Boadilla which we all agreed we don't like as much since the owner retired and his daughter took over. In any case we had lots to celebrate, especially that Fátima is getting better from the illness she has. I'm sorry I didn't take a photo. 

The rest of the day I spent working on the Adamo project but there was time for a walk. I'm afraid there hasn't been time for 2 walks a day this week as I have been oh so busy. On the walk on Tuesday we took the brush along to groom Elsa who is shedding hair like there's no tomorrow at the moment, leaving hairs all over the house, even though she is not allowed past the kitchen:-(
Dog grooming time on Tuesday morning in the sun
Our walks have had to be in the mornings this week as it has been so hot. We have had a heat wave and temperatures reached over 35ºc at times in Madrid and other parts of Spain. So I badgered Eladio to get the pool ready, not just because of the heat but also for my Airbn guests who, I am sure, are attracted to the house because of the pool. But I would have to wait. 

Oli didn't get home till nearly midnight and to add to the stress of travelling and cancelled flights, they had left her luggage in Amsterdam. Thankfully it arrived the next day. It was late and I was asleep but got up to greet my youngest daughter who I hadn't seen since before I left for Hong Kong. I wanted to give her her presents; clothes from Zara. She tried them on and only half were rejected and to be returned hahaha. Buying clothes for the girls is always a risk.  

On  Wednesday I would be on the road again. I was off to Barcelona to meet the people from Adamo who had hired me to do the PR project. The CEO is a young Swede aged just 37.  He is a real entrepreneur and good at what he does. I got the job because of another Swede, Johan, the ex CEO of Yoigo and my ex boss. It feels good to be working on a project with him again. So I caught the 9.30 high speed train which would get me to Barcelona by 12.30. I worked all the way using my pc but mostly without an internet connection as, believe it or not, there is still no Wifi service on the "Ave" although I have heard that it will soon be available.

I arrived in very humid and warm Barcelona and took a taxi to the Adamo offices. I didn't really know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised to see just how modern and advanced the staff are there and how well they do their job. They have the fastest internet in Spain (1000Mbs) with coverage in regional areas and soon rural ones too as well as densely populated new urban towns.
The Adamo offices. 
I went to lunch with Fredrik the Swede and his colleague Xavi the technology guy. It turned out we have lots of connections in common, including my Catalán friends Pepe and Marc and my Catalán customer Miquel from Genaker!! They are all ex Nokia colleagues:-) We advanced a lot through the lunch and afterwards and I left at around 3.45 with a clearer picture in my mind. I had a ticket for the 5 o'clock train but was able to take an earlier one which would get me to Madrid at 7 instead of 8 pm. I couldn't believe how hot it felt in Madrid when I arrived at Atocha and went outside. I saw Indian tourists sweltering and I commented to them that it was just as hot here as in India hahaha.

My Cabify taxi came (equivalent to Uber here) and soon I was home again. But not for long as we went out to dinner to celebrate Oli's belated birthday. We would continue to do so this weekend too. The only person missing was Suzy. 

Suzy has news too this week in that she finally found accommodation in a nice ground floor flat in Ipswich. In the end she found it through Airbnb although she is paying the owners direct, rather than at the hospital residence who were so complicated and demanding about renting her a room. Some time this week she sent a photo of herself at work. I was so proud to see her in her hospital outfit enjoying being a Band 6 dietitian. Good for you Suzy.
Suzy at work at the Ipswich hospital
Dinner, as I said before, was at La Vaca Argentina where we enjoyed a super meal together. It really is our favourite place around here.
Dinner at La Vaca Argentina on Wednesday night. 
Thursday was just as busy as Wednesday. I had lots to do, I wondered how I would cope. It was like being back at the beginning of Yoigo. I worked non stop on my Adamo PR project all day.  We did go for our morning walk though and afterwards it was Eladio too who worked all day but he was setting up the swimming pool as I had badgered him to do, poor guy. It had been emptied and a part of it painted, so on Thursday, Lucy and I helped him take off the cover which is damned heavy. You might like to know that a few days before, I saw a poisonous snake on the cover. It was being picked at by 2 magpies (disgusting). Of course when I saw it I shouted for Eladio who came running as did Lucy. 
The poisonous snake on the swimming pool cover before it was taken off this week. 
At first Eladio laughed at us saying it was harmless but when he tried to catch it with the swimming pool net - you should have seen him - he admitted it was poisonous.  He lifted it out the best he could and did not kill it. Instead he led it outside into the street. I hope it doesn't come back. 

After removing the cover he spent most of the morning cleaning the walls of the pool in the heat.
Eladio cleaning the pool
He then began to fill it with water which would take all day and part of the following morning. He spent the afternoon cleaning the huge cover and then I was amazed to see him mow the lawn. At 72, he is very strong and sprightly. I do admire him. As my friend Juana said on FB, he is a "treasure". Indeed he is. I have never regretted marrying him; quite the opposite. 

On Friday morning again I was up at 6. Finally I had found the right moment to draft the press release for the upcoming press conference in Santander next Friday. I had being doing everything but writing it as perhaps it was the most difficult of the tasks I had to do; most of them were contacting journalists for the press trip. It was so nice to be back in the sector so to speak and to be inviting them. They seemed pleased too.

We managed our walk after Eladio had proof read the release - I always get him to check my Spanish just in case. My client immediately put the document into Google Docs for opinions and editing. I am not familiar with the tool and although it is useful, it can become a never ending editing of a document that actually drives me mad. 

I had one exciting thing to do that morning and it was to go and pick up the Samsung Galaxy S8 I had ordered through Yoigo. Currently I have the S7 edge and love it. The girl on the  phone assured me the S8 was bigger as I had asked for the Plus version which she said was far too big. They were supposed to deliver it at home when suddenly on Thursday afternoon I got an sms to say they hadn't been able to deliver it as no one was at home - well that wasn't true. So off I went to the courier's office in an industrial estate in Villaviciosa. I brought it home, eager to start on the unboxing but when I opened it and put my S7 next to the new S8 I saw with my own eyes that the latter is actually smaller (narrower) than the S7. Because I have bad eyesight I need a big phone, so feeling rather disappointed I rang Yoigo to return it and they will be coming for it on Monday. I am now wondering whether to go the Corte Inglés (department store) to take a look at the Plus version and buy it from them. That way too I will have more choice in colours as Yoigo only has the black and dark grey versions. I want the pink gold one don't I hahaha.

I came home via Mercadona (supermarket) to to a bit of extra fruit shopping. We had done the weekly shopping on Tuesday but nearly all the summer fruit had diminished. I just love the summer fruit here, especially the black juicy cherries.
Summer fruit. I love it. 
It was just before lunch that I finally took the plunge and had my first bathe of the season. The pool had only just finished being filled with water - I don't want to know what the water bill will be:-( And here I am in the water.
My first swim of the season. We opened the pool on Friday morning. 
I was very thankful to Eladio for getting it ready. With the pool open and the beautiful sunshine and all the outdoor furniture ready for use, it felt as though summer had come. In a way it has although it's not official till next month. The pool terrace looked lovely too.
The swimming pool and terrace ready for the summer

That night after all our combined work I thought both Eladio and I deserved dinner out. We chose to go to Ginos and were joined by Oli and Miguel. 

We would be celebrating Oli's birthday on Saturday morning this time with my Father and we organised a proper birthday breakfast.  Eladio went to get the "churros" and "porras" as well as the thick chocolate you dip these fritters in. Again I broke my diet. I must be careful after all the excesses of Hong Kong. Promise I shall be good this week coming. 
Oli's birthday breakfast on Saturday morning. 
We had it outside as the weather was so benign. We all enjoyed the churros and the moment, as did the dogs, hahaha who you can see in the picture. 

Before starting with the rest of the day, Eladio, the dogs and I went on our walk and Oli and Miguel who drove past on their way to the sports centre, took the photo of us that illustrates this week's post. Thank you darling. 

Later they would do food shopping for another birthday celebration. Some of their "manada" friends were coming for lunch. They would stay until late at night. 

Yesterday I had to prepare for more Airbnb guests who were arriving. A family of 4 from London were coming and a couple and their baby too. Joaquim, actually from Catalonia, and his Lithuanian wife, arrived around 6.  They live, by the way, in Milton Keynes where he works for the Spanish bank, Santander. As soon as they had settled in they went straight into the pool. Their reason for coming you may wonder; well to see the Copa del Rey final last night between Barcelona and Alavés (from Vitoria in the north of Spain) at the Altético de Madrid stadium "Vicente Calderon". Joaquim told me it would the last match played there before the team moved stadiums. I checked this morning to see who had won and it was Barcelona so I was happy for my guests. 

No sooner had they left for the match, when the other guests arrived, Amaia, her husband and their 3 month old baby. They had come from Bilbao. So it was funny to have Catalonian and Basque guests together under our room on the same night hahaha. 

Eladio spent another day in the garden, this time with all the garden lights, getting them ready for my 60th birthday party next month. Yes, he really is a treasure.

And today is Sunday and we shall have our own guests for lunch today; Irene and Tomas. No doubt you will hear about it in next week's blog post. So I must sign off now and get on with the day. In the afternoon I have to start on the dreaded power point presentation for next week's press conference.

Wish me luck for next week in Santander. And I wish you all a great week ahead.

Cheers till next time

No comments: