Saturday, December 16, 2017

Home from Montrondo, team lunch with Ketchum, a sweet table, the Yoigo family Christmas party, Oli in Montpellier, more preparations for Christmas and other tales of the week.

Sunday 17th December 2017
Wearing my new dark green velvet Zara trouser suit, ready for the Yoigo Christmas party
Hello everyone.

Another week has passed and the countdown to Christmas is decreasing fast. It's now just over a week until the big day and I can't wait. I have nearly everything ready as you will read below. But let me start from last Sunday.

It was raining cats and dogs in Montrondo, the day we left, as it had been since the previous Friday. It was torrential rain and we wanted out hahaha. So at about 10 am, after closing the house, we left. With just one stop we were home by 2.30,  on time for a makeshift lunch of leftovers I had brought with me. We had avoided most of the Bank holiday traffic and even more the beginning of what was dubbed Storm Ana with snow falls in many parts of Spain. There was also snow in many parts of Europe, including London, to Suzy's surprise. 

Oli and Miguel left after lunch and we wouldn't see her all week. In fact we won't see her until 22nd December when she is back from filming in Montpelier  in the south of France for her next programme. It was raining too in Madrid so we missed our walk. In fact we hadn't been on a walk since Thursday and my body was craving for one. I spent most of the afternoon binge watching Season 2 of The Crown and am just adoring it. As I commented to Eladio this week, there is no country like Britain which makes period dramas as well as the Brits and The Crown is up in the league of series like Upstairs Downstairs or Downton Abbey. It really is superb. The only thing I don't like much is the actor who plays Prince Philip. He is not like the real Duke of Edinburgh. 

Monday was a busy day. I was up at 6 and as soon as I had finished breakfast, set about making bread for Eladio as we had totally run out. And these were the multi cereal loaves I made that day.
The bread I made on Monday
I had lots to do apart from making bread, most of it connected to the organisation of the Yoigo Christmas party 5 of us were organising. My part was the speech and the sweet table. That morning I finally got down to writing it and wasn't happy with it until Wednesday as I kept making changes. I wanted it to be emotional, evocative but also funny.  I think I succeeded. To prepare the sweet table I went out to get the sweets and chocolates but also Christmas fare. For the base I would use the things my friend Juana had brought to make the sweet table she prepared for my 60th birthday. I had just 60 euros to spend and did my shopping at sweet shops, Mercadona (local supermarket) and a cheapo Chinese shop. 

I had a Christmas lunch date on Monday with  various ex members of my team at Ketchum, the PR agency I used when I worked for Yoigo. But first I had to cross the city to meet up with Dragutin, one of the party organisers, to hand him an external disc with lots of old Yoigo photos as he was in charge of making a special video for the party.  I seemed to walk all day and was rather cross I had left my fitbit in Montrondo. I feel lost without it. 

Lunch was at a place called Whitby but nothing to do with the Yorkshire seaside town although they did have a sort of fish and chips on the menu. It was freezing outside as Storm Ana raged in Spain. By 2.30 I was at the table I had booked and my team arrived in fits and starts. Finally at about 3pm we were all there, Carlos, Ludi, Isabel, Aida and Blanca. The only person missing was my first account manager, my beloved Gustavo who now works for Volkswagen in their PR team but is always travelling. It was just great to see all my ex team but it was a short lunch although very sweet. We must meet more often. I miss them. These days I have to do all my PR work myself whereas I used to be able to delegate nearly everything to them. And here we are around the table together.
The Ketchum lunch on Monday
I was home on time for a walk with Eladio and the dogs and it was even slightly sunny. When I came home I continued watching The Crown to which I am addicted and don't want to end yet.

On Tuesday I was equally busy, mostly with last minute preparations for the Yoigo party. I also spent some time wrapping up more presents, mostly those which I had ordered online. The parcels under the tree were growing in number and still are hahaha. We go for quantity here with lots of little presents:-)
More and more parcels are appearing under our tree for Christmas
I also had to do work for Adamo which proved difficult when the light went off. There was a breakdown in the area and the electricity was off for nearly 4 hours. Again we got our walk in and again I watched more of The Crown. But what Eladio and I both really wanted to watch that night was our daughter Olivia's programme for Madrileños por el Mundo about The Maldives. You can see it here on You Tube if you have a moment or haven't already seen it. She was very brave in the programme when she dived into the sea to swim next to a huge tiger shark. She later told me she had been pushed in by the monitor hahaha.
Oli ready to dive in the programme she did on The Maldives. 
On Wednesday I was up early and, as I often do after breakfast and reading the news, I prepared lunch so as to be free to do other things in the morning. That day I made a recent favourite, my version of "coq au vin". Eladio loves it particularly. I served it with rice which I have learned to perfect recently. I fry garlic in a saucepan, add a glass full of rice and then slowly add 2 glasses of vegetable water and boil it until all the water has been absorbed. I learned the method from one of our Moroccan home helps, Fátima. This is the coq au vin which we demolished on Wednesday.
My coq au vin
I still had more work and errands to do that morning, finish a press release template for Adamo and go and buy pink silk paper for my sweet table. On our walk before lunch I was delighted to get a sudden new Airbnb reservation for 3 nights from Thursday to Sunday. A young student boy called Andrea from Italy was coming for a physiotherapy course this weekend at the nearby UEM University. I was a little confused as to whether he was male or female as in Spanish Andrea (ending with an a) is a Spanish girl's name but apparently in Italian it is male. He hails from Bergamo in the north of Italy. He wouldn't be our only guest this weekend as Borja from Navarra, a PE student, was also coming. It would be his third stay. 

After lunch I had a siesta and had to kill time until I had to leave the house for the Yoigo Christmas party at around 6.30. It wasn't starting until 8 pm but I had to be there early in order to set up my now famous sweet table. Instead of sleeping a siesta, I watched more of The Crown, Episode 6 about the betrayal of the Duke of Windsor in his connections with Hitler. I found it so interesting I watched it again on Friday as I had partly slept through the most important parts. What a story. 

As I had lots of time on my hands, my preparations for getting ready included a jacuzzi. We have one in our bathroom which I hardly ever use but I decided upon this little luxury on Wednesday evening and enjoyed it immensely. I had decided to wear the new dark green velvet trouser suit I had bought from Zara (from my Father hahahaha) for Christmas. The photo illustrating this week's blog is of me in the outfit and ready to go out. I also wore my trusty glittering necklace which actually belongs to Olivia. 

In the end I was a little late but got to the venue, the Santamania gin distillery by 7.15 By 7.45 the sweet table was ready. I had help from 2 of the staff there and this is what my sweet table looked like when it was finished. It's thanks to my friend Juana of course as most of the material was hers to which I added a Christmas touch. I now know how to make sweet tables; something I absolutely adore. In the past at my Yoigo parties I had my events agency, QuintaEsencia to do all the decoration and animation but for this party we all had to do everything ourselves. It was a good lesson actually.
The sweet table I did for the Yoigo Christmas party on Wednesday
As I said, we had to do everything ourselves, even my speech. If you are interested and can read Spanish this is it:
Discurso Fiesta Navidad ex y no ex Yoigos
Miércoles 13 de diciembre 2017. Santamanía Las Rozas
La gran familia Yoigo. Pasión, ilusión y amor.
Buenas noches y gracias por estar aquí.
Me llena de satisfacción vernos todos reunidos esta noche para celebrar la Navidad juntos, como hacíamos cada año en la época dorada y en los buenos tiempos. Aquí estamos algunos miembros de la familia Yoigo porque, si Yoigo es un operador, es un operador que hemos hecho entre todos y creo que todos estáis de acuerdo en que formamos una gran familia. Como la película “La gran familia española” pero mucho más.
Algunos ya no estamos en Yoigo y echamos de menos las fiestas que organizábamos. Por esta razón, Marta, Sonia, Dragutin, Laura y yo nos propusimos reunirnos hoy para esta fiesta de Navidad “a lo Yoigo.  Lo importante era vernos porque nos queremos y nos echamos de menos. Citando el famoso anuncio de un turrón, “volvemos a casa por Navidad”.
Somos la familia que fundamos Yoigo y, mientras duró, fue un viaje maravilloso. Estoy convencida de que estáis de acuerdo. 
¿Quién no se acuerda de nuestras grandes aventuras y altibajos; del lanzamiento con tanta ilusión y tantos problemas, de los primeros 100.000 clientes, de los 250.000 y de cuando empapelamos el edificio en Alcobendas cuando alcanzamos un millón, del lanzamiento de todas nuestras tarifas, la de 0 con sus problemas, la del 8, la del 6 y qué decir de la Sinfín? Y fuimos de fiesta en fiesta porque tocaba, porque lo merecíamos y también porque nos las pagaban nuestros proveedores claro.  ¿Con qué fiesta de verano os quedáis,  con Salamanca, San Sebastián, La Rioja, Valencia, Ibiza o El Rocío? En nuestro ADN están los entrañables muñecos y las Verdades Verdaderas que nos dieron tanto recorrido y algún que otro contratiempo al departamento legal.
Y tuvimos que vivir con los constantes rumores de nuestra venta por parte de TeliaSonera. Pero capeamos las noticias y seguíamos con nuestro día a día. También llevamos en el recuerdo las fiestas de Navidad y las fiestas de los niños. Yo me quedo con aquella con los animales de Faunia que me causaron una buena bronca por parte de Compras. Sólo había pedido permiso para un burro y vino el burro pero también un reno, una vaca, un buey, un camello y para el deleite de los niños un montón de animales más. También nos quedan en el recuerdo las Yoigo Mornings donde nos poníamos morados. Y, me imagino,  que los técnicos se acordarán para siempre del encendido del acuerdo de roaming nacional con Telefónica que hicieron en tiempo record. Si por algo se nos conocía era por nuestra rapidez en poner en marcha nuestros proyectos y planes o nuestras ideas de última hora.
Siempre rompíamos las reglas del mercado, marcábamos la diferencia y disfrutábamos haciéndolo. Todas estas aventuras y altibajos permanecerán en nuestros recuerdos, pase lo que pase. Pero por fin llegó la venta y se acabó todo. Pero, que no nos quiten  “lo bailao”. Nadie nos lo puede quitar porque fueron hechos que vivimos intensamente.
En esta noche de recuerdos, falta el Padre de Yoigo, Johan. Pero está aquí presente el otro Johan, su mano derecha, su alma gemela, y tan querido por todos nosotros y que no dudó en venir de tan lejos para estar aquí esta noche. Thank you Johan. También quiero dar las gracias a Robert, Viktoria  y Karin por venir también de lejos. Ellos, lo sé, se sienten también parte de nuestra gran familia. Y bueno, me atrevo decir que yo me siento un poco como vuestra Madre. Desde luego por edad, sí podría serlo. Yo os llevo en mi corazón y eso es lo que hacen las madres.
De alguna forma u otra, el proyecto nos tocó el corazón a todos porque todo lo que hicimos, lo hicimos con pasión, ilusión y con amor. Estos son los ingredientes imprescindibles para que una compañía tenga éxito.
Y con pasión, ilusión y con amor las grandes familias celebran la Navidad. Así que sigamos disfrutando de esta fiesta pero, antes de terminar, vamos a hacer un brindis para agradecer y recordar los maravillosos años que pasamos todos juntos. No lo olvidaremos nunca.
Y por último, gracias a Santamanía por cedernos su fantástica destilaría para esta noche. ¡Gracias Sonia!
Alzad las copas. Brindemos.
¡Viva Yoigo! ¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Happy Christmas! 

50 people had reserved but 58 came. It was  a good turnout for the Christmas period. Seeing everyone again was so emotional, especially people who had left years ago and who had been great colleagues, such as Fernando, head of customer care, or the expats who came, Johan, Karin and Viktoria from Sweden and Robert from Denmark. Robert, Tony and I were the only ever Brits at Yoigo and were as thick as thieves so it was very special to be together again.
With my fellow ex British colleagues at Yoigo, Tony left and Robert right
Seeing each other again was the best part of the party. We are like a family as I said in my speech, a family that founded an operator and did so with passion, enthusiasm and love. So, on Wednesday, like any great family, we celebrated Christmas with those same ingredients, ingredients that are essential for success in any organisation or family. Luckily I remembered to do a group photo. Many were taken and the light wasn't very good but the result was not too bad. Here we are all together.
The Yoigo family reunited for Christmas
The Yoigo spirit lives on I can tell you. Every year I used to put on spectacular Christmas parties which of course are now a thing of the past. So on Wednesday we recreated, at least, the spirit of those parties. What a night, what wonderful memories. 

I left late for me, at nearly 1 in the morning but happy with the evening. Eladio and Pippa were waiting for me in bed when I got home and I didn't get to sleep till after 2 in the morning. My bloody body clock woke me up at 5.50 which meant I had slept under 4 hours. I had a headache too after drinking wine. I should have known better.  

I woke up to see photos of the party various people had sent me.  I have included all the ones I have in an album on Facebook which you can see here. I felt pretty tired throughout the day. When Eladio and I went out to do the food shopping, he bought more lottery tickets (my goodness) and I just had to have a cup of coffee at my favourite cafeteria in Boadilla, "Alverán". I'm afraid I couldn't resist a croissant to go with it. 

On the topic of croissants which hail from France,  that morning, Oli was on her way there, to the city or town of Montpelier in the south where she would be enjoying croissants for breakfast at the hotel she was staying at, the "Grand Hôtel du Midi" which looked lovely. She travelled by train, the quickest way; a 6 hour non stop journey. She got there in the evening and was happy with her room which was small but cozy. 

When we finished our weekly food shopping at Mercadona, we picked up Andrea, our Italian Airbnb guest, who had arrived by bus. Once home I showed him the house and his room and he seemed pleased. 

I was delighted that morning also to receive the "Ramo Leonés" which I had ordered online from Montrondo, the typical Christmas "tree" from Leon and nearby provinces. This is the final result which I am very happy with.
My new "ramo leonés" which arrived on Thursday
That afternoon I had a conference call with Adamo and technology failed me. The hangout session for a video conference call didn't work and my phone was behaving badly. I had to switch it off and then on again until I was finally able to connect via a whatsapp call. There was lots to discuss. 

Later we went on our walk and at 7 pm had an appointment with the vet for Elsa who has developed a lump above her snout and by her eye. She has had it for a while and we should have taken her before. The vet thought it was a tooth problem and prescribed antibiotics and anti inflammatory tablets. She will have a scan on Monday and will no doubt need surgery. Let's hope it's just a tooth problem and not a tumour.  

On Friday I was up at 5.30. One of the advantages of getting up at the crack of the dawn is that you tend to get a very productive day. And productive I was too that morning. As soon as I had had breakfast and read the news, I began making lunch, cream of vegetable soup to be followed by baked hake (merluza) with garlic. I then drove to Las Rozas to the venue of the Yoigo Christmas party to collect the remains of the sweet table. Once home I made my own sweet table which is now looking very enticing in our lounge.
Our Christmas sweet table
While I had been away, my British Corner Shop online Christmas order had arrived which made both my Father and I very happy.  I now have all the essentials for our Christmas day lunch.  These were the contents:
My British Corner Shop online order arrived this week
Just as we were about to have lunch, Borja, our Airbnb student from Navarra who was coming for the third time, arrived. He had brought with him a wonderful bottle of locally made "pacharán" liqueur which I'm sure we shall open at Christmas.  So we now had 2 Airbnb guests in the house but they hardly met and in fact we hardly saw them.

Meanwhile Oli was in Montpelier on her first day of working there on her new programme. She would be busy as she had to film 5 "madrileños" living there. Being the south of France she was lucky with the weather. She sent us the occasional photo and here is one with her first interviewee. 
Oli working in Montpelier
We heard from Suzy too. She was pretty excited on Friday as that night she was going out to a Christmas dinner and party at no less than the beautiful 5 star Landmark hotel in London. Lucky her!  So that night, Oli would have dinner in France, we would have dinner in Spain and Suzy would have her Christmas dinner in London. Soon, though, we shall be all together here and I can't wait.
The Landmark hotel where Suzy went to a Christmas dinner and party on Friday night.
I'm afraid I didn't get any pics of Suzy at the dinner, just photos of the food which is not what I wanted hahahaha.  

After our late morning walk, a delicious lunch of baked hake and a short siesta, I watched episode 6 of The Crown again as I had slept through some of it the night before. Eladio joined me and is now also a fan of the series although he does need me to explain who is who all the time which is a little frustrating hahahaha. Episode 6 concentrates on the stories of the Duke of Windsor, the Queen's uncle who, as King Edward VIII, abdicated to marry the divorced Wallis Simpson.  The stories were of his exile in France where he got bored and wanted to return to the UK to take on some meaningful job. However the Queen is told of his relations and encounter with Hitler during the war and of his disloyalty to England. Thus she sends him packing. I had always known there was sympathy from her Uncle to the Reich regime and was curious to know how factual the episode was. It turns out it's pretty true. Most interesting are the real letters from the Duke to the Duchess and how he calls the Queen, his niece, "Shirley Temple" and the Queen Mother "cookie" after a cook that Wallis Simpson knew. 

That night Eladio and I went out to dinner too, but nowhere as fancy as The Landmark Hotel. We chose La Txitxarerría which, owing to the Christmas bookings, was so full we were lucky to get the last table. We ate early and were home by 10.30 which is very early for Spain hahahaha.  

Saturday dawned and yes I was up before dawn hahaha, at 5.30!! I had time for everything and made more bread for Eladio which was ready by 10 am. I must say the house smelled gorgeous. Maybe one day we will be able to share smells online, not only photos and videos. Who knows?
I made more bread on Friday morning
It was a cold but sunny day and we enjoyed our walk enormously. We were home by 12.30 with plenty of time to spare before lunch and decided to visit the Boadilla del Monte Christmas market we had seen advertised.  We parked by the "Infante Don Luis" palace built in 1765 by the architect Ventura Rodríguez for Luis Antonio de Borbón y Farnesio, the younger son of King Philip V and brother of King Carlos III.  And here I am in Boadilla with the palace in the background.
In Boadilla on Saturday morning to visit the Christmas market - the Palacio Infante Don Luis in the background
Unlike Christmas markets in the northern countries in Europe, this one was held in an ugly marquee by the palace. It would have been much nicer had it been an open market next to the palace. Food trucks were advertised but they didn't look very attractive. There was not much inside either, a few boring looking stalls and also very loud music. We left very soon rather disappointed. We then wondered into the palace where we had only been once. It's not really been restored as there is a lack of funding. Here the town had housed the Christmas crib which also was nothing special. We soon walked out into the gardens and out onto the street again where we headed to the Lonja de Boadilla bar for a coffee outside. Well, they didn't serve coffee, despite having a machine, so we opted for a glass of white Albariño wine and a plate of Spanish tortilla. I suppose I am not used to having wine before lunch and it completely knocked me out and I felt as if I had been drugged. I slept in the car to Majadahonda to pick up Eladio's glasses and all the way home. I was groggy through lunch and slept a long siesta until 5.40!  Still feeling wheezy, I stayed in bed and watched 2 more episodes of The Crown, the first about Jacky Kennedy's visit making the Queen look a little drab hahahha and the second about the marriage of Princess Margaret to the renowned and already unfaithful photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones. I fact checked both episodes afterwards and they were pretty true to what really happened. 

In between episodes I got a sudden Airbnb reservation from a family of 5 from Taiwan for February. Wow! Our guests are so international. They will be our first guests from Taiwan. We also heard from Oli who is loving France, speaking French, adoring the town of Montpelier and added in her whatsapp "J'adore la France". We were happy for her. We also got this photo.
Oli happy in Montpelier
After the two episodes of The Crown it was time for dinner. I rustled up a tuna fish salad and soon we were in bed again, this time to watch the news. I was happy to hear Real Madrid had won the Club World Cup. It was their 6th time and also their 5th title this season. I only wish they were doing a bit better in La Liga.  I must have fallen asleep very soon after that as I don't remember anything else we watched. I was probably still under the influence of that damned glass of white wine which affected me so much.  

Today is Sunday and I was awake at 5.20 only wishing I could sleep a little more but no I couldn't. So here you have me writing my blog at the crack of dawn in the kitchen with the dogs asleep in their baskets at my feet. I'm not sure how the day will pan out but no doubt you will hear all about it in next week's post.

Meanwhile my friends, have a good Sunday.

Cheers till next time,

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