Sunday, June 04, 2017

Garden lights, Santander with Adamo, press trip and press conference, Oli at a wedding, We are the Champions, more terror in London and other stories.

Sunday 4th June 2017

In my element, moderating the Adamo press conference in Santander this week
Hello  everyone, 

It's Sunday again and we are now in the month of June, well on our way to summer. 

Last Sunday we had the pleasure of the company of Irene and Tomás for lunch. Irene was one of the daughters of the family where I was a sort of au-pair in Madrid in my 3rd year at University. Forever after my year with the González-Gálvez family, I considered them my Spanish family and we have been in contact ever since. Irene was about 12 when I first went to live with them.  She married her lovely teenage boyfriend Tomas and they are both now in their early 50's and  proud parents of 4. They came because their youngest, Nacho, had come to compete in a golf tournament near our house. 
With Irene and Tomás.
Oli and Miguel joined us. In the photo we are having coffee after the meal by the swimming pool terrace which we had opened just a couple of days before. 

When they left, I pressed on with preparations for the press activities I was planning for my new customer Adamo, a Swedish Internet Optical Fiber operator in Spain with the fastest internet speed I should add.  I would work hard for Adamo all week. I don't remember having worked so hard in one big spurt like that for a long time. 

There were so many little details to take care of I nearly forgot to book a flight for one of the journalists. Thankfully I remembered on time. On Monday morning I sent off the presentation for the press conference which would be later shared on Google docs for review by all those involved. The press release had finally been approved but the worst part was to come when it would have to be reviewed by partners and collaborators too. I can tell you from experience that it is no easy task to get a press release finalised. Funnily enough the easiest part is writing it.

Adamo had taken me on to organise everything for their announcement in Santander on Friday but they had really taken me on to gain press coverage about them and the news to be announced. Well, the press coverage actually started on Monday when one of the journalists invited wrote an article about the return of Johan A., the "father of Yoigo", my ex Swedish boss. It also said that he had hired me again which was rather sweet. He has returned of course to head up a Spanish operator, but as Chairman of the Board. I had, and have to point out to everyone, that it is actually another Swede, Fredrik G who is the founder and CEO of Adamo. Believe it or not this 36 year old entrepreneur set up his first company when he was just 16 and sold it at 18. He is quite something and very cool to work with. So when the journalist told me he was going to write the article, I said fine so long as he included who Fredrik was:-)

On Monday too a new Airbnb guest arrived, Miguel, a Spaniard who lives in Switzerland and who was doing a tour of Spain in his sparkling Swiss number plated Audi car which no doubt he drives very fast on the German autobahns, hahahaha. He was a pleasure to host; he didn't cook and in fact we didn't really see much of him. 

On Tuesday I worked non stop again. I was a bit stressed too I should add but decided to take everything in my stride.  That day I did the all important question and answer document, the one you do to prepare the speakers for difficult questions from the press. I also did the timing for the conference and finished the programme. I also got a lesson on seating protocol for politicians from the Santander Government press office. You learn something new everyday, even this late in life hahaha. 

By Wednesday nearly everything I had to do was done. I just had to finish a few things such as the new Swedish CEO's bio to add to the press kit. I never missed my morning walk with Eladio this week but often had to miss the afternoon ones. We were running out of fruit that day, so we went food shopping. This is just some of the lovely summer fruit we bought and which of course has since dwindled.

Summer fruit, we can't get enough of it. 
I also got an anti mosquito strap as they are eating me alive on my walks. It's the time of year for them I am afraid. Thank goodness we haven't had any more snakes though. 

Whilst I had been working on the Adamo project, Eladio was working on the garden lights which we hadn't used for years and which I need for my upcoming 60th birthday party. They were working badly, the was a short circuit somewhere. The cause came from a lump of grass growing in one of the lamps. Eladio also changed all the bulbs for led lighting which is much more economical. On Wednesday night, when it was finally dark at 10pm, we went into the garden to see them lit up. I was so pleased to see them all working and the garden well illuminated. I can't wait for my party. Thanks Eladio. You are a real brick.

Thanks to Eladio the garden and pool lights are all working again now. 
Thursday came and it was D Day for me. Before I left for Santander though I was pleasantly surprised by a video Oli sent to the family. It was a re-encounter with her University TV lecturer who was doing a series of them for the UEM (Universidad Europea de Madrid) website. She graduated there 9 years ago and hadn't been back since. I'm so proud of her as was her lecturer who said she had worked very hard and that he knew from the first time she went in front of a camera that she would be a success. And a success she has been. I think she only realised that when she did the video. You can see it here (in Spanish). I'm so proud of Olivia I have no words. Of course I am her Mother so why should I not be proud. Well done darling. I am of course your greatest Ambassador. I can't wait to see her first programme with Madrileños por el Mundo, all about the Norwegian fjords. It's on 13th June. So watch out for it. 

I left late for the airport as I was still finalising all sorts of things for the press conference the next day. Eladio took me to Barajas and I met up with my 11 journalists (1 would be travelling later and another would be travelling from Bilbao) at security at 13h. Gloria, from my events agency, QuintaEsencia, was there to give us the boarding cards as well as the lovely press kit. As our flight was at 14h which is lunchtime here, we had included a salad and some fruit in the mini ruck sacks made for the occasion.
The travel press kit we prepared for the press trip
Thankfully my journalists were on time and our flight left punctually too. We arrived in Santander 40 minutes later to good weather, an astonishing 26ºc which is pretty high for this time of year. A bus was waiting to take us to our hotel, my favourite, the Silken Rio right in front of the famous Sardinero beach.  I settled into my room with a sea view and admired the beach from my room.
The elegant Sardinero beach in Santander
We had "free time" until dinner, so at about 5 I went down to the beach with my bathing costume on and hotel towel to find some of the journalists who had had the same idea. We even bathed believe  it or not and the water was not as cold as we had expected. Remember this is the north coast of Spain which is the Atlantic not the Mediterranean. And here we are together on the beach.
On the beach with some of the journalists. 
But my free time didn't last long. No sooner had I bathed then I was sent a press clipping which sent a chill down my spine. The President of the local government who had been shown the joint press release to be issued on Friday, earlier in the day had spilled the beans at lunch that day in a town called Potes. Not only had he told the news we were going to announce the next day but he got some of it wrong. The news was that Adamo was deploying fiber internet in the whole region and investing 40m euros. He got it wrong and said it was Adamo together with 2 local companies when the only company investing the money was ours!.  So I had to leave the beach, quickly shower and wash my hair and go and meet some of the management team members of the company in secret at a café nearby away from my journalists. Our objective was to add news for the next day and turn the situation around to our benefit. That meant of course that I had to re-write the press release and presentation, send it internally for feedback, correct it again and then send it to my events agency for them to add to the usbs in the press kits and more importantly have 50 copies of each printed in colour the next morning on time for the press conference starting at 10.30 when some printing shops only open at 10 am.  It wasn't until 1 in the morning, after the press dinner, that I was able to send the final documents to Cristina from QuintaEsencia. Thanks Cris and thanks Julia. 

So I didn't get down to reception to meet my journalists until 9pm when I should have been there by 9 to to walk them to the restaurant. Stressed was not the word and I didn't quite know what to tell them when they said they had seen the news. I could only promise there would be more news the next day.

But now I had to concentrate on the dinner. I had chosen one of my favourite places in Santander, the Deluz restaurant which is a beautiful house in lush grounds and looks actually very English. My events team, Cristina and Julia, had been there before to decorate and the lawn was full of orange balloons and the dinner table set with lovely flowers and of course the specially printed menu.

Before we walked in I organised a group photo. It was the best time to take one and the only opportunity we would get. 
Adamo press dinner gourp photo.
Dinner started with cocktails on the lawn. It felt like old times being at a press event with my ex Yoigo Swedish boss, Johan. They call him the "father of Yoigo" and the press were joking that I was the "mother of Yoigo" or his Mother. I often feel like it hahaha. Here we are together. It's a pleasure to work with him again. The only thing is that instead of saying Adamo I often found myself nearly saying Yoigo by mistake hahhaha, it's so ingrained in me I'm afraid.
With my ex Yoigo Swedish boss Johan at the press dinner
We were all having such a good time, I nearly forgot we had to go in to have dinner and it was past 10pm when we started. The dinner was to be lovely as was the menu card which shall be a keepsake of my beginnings with Adamo. Adamo by the way, means to fall in love in Latin:-)
The press dinner menu
In order for all the press to be able to talk to the members of the company, at each course I made the latter change places which caused a bit of hilarity and chaos at times but the press appreciated it. 

Soon we were joined by Fredrik, the CEO who had had to travel from Stockholm that day. And here we are around the press dinner table at Deluz. It felt like old times and could well have been a Yoigo press event:-)
The press dinner

Afterwards it was Fredrik and I who let off the Adamo balloons and watched them disappear into the sky. It was a lovely end to a super dinner.
Fredrik and I letting off the Adamo balloons after the dinner
When the dinner ended everyone went off for drinks but I had to go back to my hotel to add the final corrections to the press documents and send the final documents to Cristina.  I didn't get into bed until nearly 2 in the morning.

I was up later than usual the next day, at 7.30. I put on my shorts and a t-shirt and went down to breakfast feeling pretty shattered. I was soon up in my room again as I had yet to draft another document, this time my welcoming speech and introduction of the speakers at the press conference. Thankfully I didn't have to worry about setting that up as Cris and Julia took good care of that.  The journalists went by bus with one of the company employees and I sneaked out to go on my own to the venue, the beautiful Palacio de la Magdalena, a symbol of Cantabria. I just love that place. I needed time to be on my own and prepare for my part of the press conference; being the moderator and getting it right. 
The stunning Palacio de la Magdalena where our press conference took place
Built in 1908 as a summer residence by the sea in Santander for the Spanish Royal Family, it is a stunning piece of architecture with a combination of English, French and regional styles. I love it and always have. It was the British wife of Alfonso XIII, Queen Victoria Eugenia (Ena) who particularly wanted the English style,  inspired apparently by her love of the Isle of Wight. We had hired the "sala real", the royal hall for our press conference, perhaps the most beautiful in the palace. 
The beautiful Sala Real where we held our press conference. 
Everything was ready when I arrived, the photo call, the sweets, the press materials and many people were already there. 

Soon all the journalists were there, mine and the local press from Santander who had been invited by the local government.
Full house at the press conference on Friday
I was the press conference moderator as someone had to introduce the 6 speakers to everyone as well as explain the order of speeches and then moderate the question and answer session. That's the photo I have chosen for this week's post. I was at my most serious. All the speakers were men, including the President of the Government of Cantabria, the rather famous politician, Miguel Angel Revilla, yes the guy who gave the game away the day before. I was the only woman and I had to stand whilst they all sat. The telecoms sector is a notoriously male dominated sector. 
Me moderating the press conference
The whole thing lasted over an hour, with lots and lots of questions. Afterwards there was coffee and snacks for everyone as well as time for more questions and the odd interview. It was all over by 12.30 when the bus came to pick our group up. I was already beginning to see articles published by the journalists I had brought on my mobile. I was overwhelmed really as I wasn't sure what their reaction would be.   Thanks to them  for coming and for the media coverage they provided. I cannot thank them enough. Adamo has a very bright future as a fiber operator here deploying infrastructure in areas where other operators don't go and I look forward to more PR projects with them in other areas. Nor can I thank Johan or Fredrik enough for their belief in me and for giving me this project. I now feel a lot more confident as I grow into my new professional role in life as a communications consultant. 

I was dying to get home as I was absolutely exhausted after 12 days of non stop work, not the mention the responsibility lying on my shoulders for everything to go according to plan. The plane left half an hour late and we arrived at 3.30 to 32ºc at Barajas airport. That was warm. I booked a ride with Cabify and about one hour later I was home. I fell into the arms of my lovely rock solid husband, unpacked, washed and then just flaked out for the rest of the day. I needed to rest so much.

We were to be alone this weekend as Oli went off to a wedding, the wedding of her best friend at school, Paula. She would be going with other school friends, Sonia, Elena and Virginia (I think). It was to be  a 3 day affair in boiling hot Huelva.  Her going to her friend's wedding had me thinking whether she would get married too soon. I really hope so.

Despite my need for rest, I was in for a bad night's sleep unfortunately as my British and South African Airbnb guests were arriving late. They were supposed to touch down at Barajas airport at midnight. They got lost in their hired car having put in the wrong address in the satnav and I was talking to them on and off from 12 to 2 in the morning when they finally arrived. What a night. Even so I was still up early on Saturday morning and was tired all day of course.

I made their breakfasts at about 9.30 and then we went for our walk. They had come to attend the Cross fit games at the Caja Mágica stadium and I wouldn't see them again until this morning. People come to stay here from all over the world and for all sorts of reasons. Whilst on the walk, I got photos of Oli and her group all ready for the wedding. They all looked lovely; so smart in the wedding outfits.
Oli and her friends from school ready for Paula's wedding. 

Later Oli would send us one of her with the bride.  Wow she looked so different as I hadn't seen Paula since they left school.

Oli with Paula her best friend at school, at Paula's wedding yesterday
I spent most of Saturday chilling out. After the walk, I joined Eladio on the terrace and started reading a new book on my kindle. But after a few pages I think I fell asleep. Eladio caught me on the camera just a few moments before.
Chilling out on the terrace yesterday
Suzy, meanwhile, was in Brighton with her flat mates but I never got a photo. Apparently they had great weather. It was warm here too but we have had lots of showers and thunder storms which I suppose is typical of late spring. 

My best friend Fátima came for dinner yesterday. She stayed to watch the match of the year, at least for Real Madrid. They were playing the Juventus team in the Champions League final held in Cardiff. I was a bit upset to see Gareth Bale only come on at the end as obviously the location was his home town. I heard it's because he was injured. He's a great player but always seems to be injured. The match went well for Real Madrid who won 4-1 with 2 goals from Ronaldo.  It was to be their 12th cup, 2nd in a row and 3rd in 4 seasons. I suppose Juventus never had a chance. They had a chance in 1998 the last time the two teams met each other in the final. I was there at the Amsterdam Arena when I worked for Motorola who sponsored the Champions League and took 100 guests with me. I will never forget Pedja Mijatovic's goal, the only one in the match but enough to give Real their 7th cup. Well yesterday was their 12th! Well done Real, "hala Madrid". 

Real Madrid celebrating their win last night in Cardiff. 
But there was nothing to celebrate this morning when I woke up to news of yet another terrorist attack in London. It happened last night on London Bridge, probably just after the match. A white van with 3 terrorists aboard wearing fake suicide jackets rammed into passersby on the pavements of the busy bridge, killing and injuring them. They then got out wielding long knives and went under the bridge to the famous Borough food Market and started stabbing people at random. The Police were alerted 8 minutes after the attack began and soon hounded them down and shot them, but by then they had already killed 6 innocent people and injured 22. 
The white van the terrorists used for the attack
Yet another terrorist attack of this kind had happened again in London as it has before and also in Berlin, Stockholm and Nice. There is no way of stopping these sort of attacks despite putting the Army on the street.  I have no words. I am only comforted by the fact that my daughter Suzy who lives in London is safe but my heart goes out to those who weren't safe last night and to their families and friends. What dreadful times we live in. 

On a lighter note, this morning we went to our neighbours' house, Julio and Ekaterina who were holding a party to introduce his new band. We had to come home for lunch though to join my Father and during the meal it began to rain heavily. I can only imagine my neighbours had to move everyone and everything inside. Poor them.

Just before I come to the end of this week's blog, let me include the news that Suzy took part in a photo shoot this morning for the website of the nutrition clinic she works for at Harley Street at the weekends, when she is not at Ipswich hospital where she works as a dietitian for the NHS. The clinic is called Raquel Britzke and Suzy loves working for them. The photo shoot is for the dietitians who work there. So I look forward to seeing her profile on it soon. Meanwhile here is one of the photos she sent, obviously with a healthy vegetable smoothie in her hands hahaha. 
Suzy during the  photo shoot this morning for the Raquel Britzke nutrition clinic she collaborates with 
Now I am at the end of this week's post and it's time to sign off and to carry on resting and chilling out. Next week we may well be going to our apartment by the beach for a well deserved break, a break both of us really need right now.

So my friends, let me leave you here until next time,

Cheers till then,
All the best Masha. 
PS You can see more photos of my PR events in Santander here on Facebook. 

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