Saturday, January 20, 2018

An unexpected trip to England, Oli stunning MC at an awards dinner, my first Adamo press conference in Madrid and off to Yorkshire for the week.

Keighley,  West Yorkshire, Sunday 21st January 2018
Dressed in orange, the Adamo colour, for our first press conference in Madrid this week
Well hello from Keighley in West Yorkshire.

I had no idea when I left off last Sunday that I would be here today. But that’s all because of a spur of the moment and unexpected decision I made at the beginning of this week.  

Oli was back from Valencia last Sunday and I must say she brightened up my day. Sunday was the day my Father made a nearly full recovery after his awful bronchial flu which had worried us so much. At dinner that night Suzy video called us. We had a lovely chat but it was very obvious she was missing us and we were missing her a lot too.  That was what got me thinking, why not join the girls when they are together in Manchester this next Friday which is Oli's next destination for her programme "madrileños por el mundo"?  At first I thought just of going myself to join them. My mind began to race, Manchester, yes the city I told you last week I thought was still in Lancashire, haha, but is very near Yorkshire, where I grew up. I hadn't been back there since 2011 and am sorely missing it. Of course I have been many times to the UK but always to London to see Suzy and I have no roots in London. It's Yorkshire I yearn for. The more I thought, the more I realised I had this physical need to go  as well as to be with the girls and that I would also like Eladio to come along. The only thing stopping me was my Father's health and also the damned central heating which needs a new boiler. Thankfully Eladio has now ordered one and they will install it when we are back. 

On Monday my Father was completely recovered. He could stand up again and his appetite returned. His resilience is amazing at his age; nearly 99!  Thankfully that means that Lucy can manage him by herself. It was then that I proposed to the girls that we go to Yorkshire together. We would go out early and they would join us the following weekend. But that couldn't happen as Oli would be working throughout and would have to stay in Manchester. So I then decided, that if Eladio was willing, we would go out this weekend, spend the week in Yorkshire and then be with the girls in Manchester next weekend from Friday to Monday.  And guess what? He agreed after a little persuasion. I then had to find somewhere to stay. Eladio suggested an Airbnb place in my own home turf. I suggested inviting ourselves to stay with our good friends Phil and Kathy where we would feel so much more at home. Kathy and I went to school together and met at St. Joseph's College when we were aged 11. And of course this is where we are staying and are very grateful to them. The week is going to be so much fun but it's also all about going back to my roots, to the roots of my childhood in Yorkshire. By the end of Monday I had bought our tickets, Ryan Air flights to Manchester and back, nearly half of the cost being incurred by the luggage (what a cheek) and Kathy had organised a taxi to pick us up at the airport. We were all set. In fact I was so excited that night I couldn't sleep.

Monday itself was all about work as was all the week because on Wednesday I was organising a company dinner and on Thursday a big press conference, for Adamo, my new company. The only interruption that day was a quick coffee with my neighbour, ex colleague and friend, Elena to catch up on each other's lives. It is important to keep up with friends and Elena never fails to get in touch with me ever so often. Thank you my dear and thanks for listening to all my woes. She really cheered me up. I think that was just before Eladio had agreed to the trip hahahaha.

On Tuesday morning over breakfast I googled things to do in Manchester and frankly I couldn't find much. There is a great science museum, not my thing, a famous library, not that interested and of course there is football with Man Utd and Man City both coached by Spanish Liga ex rival coaches Mourinho and Guardiola. That doesn't interest me either. I looked at the weather and "by gum", as people from Yorkshire would say, it is going to be freezing. On Friday the lowest temperature was -11c. We would have to go well wrapped up. We will see what to do when we are there and it will be all about being to together, going for walks and having meals together. I am looking forward to fish and chips and curry which my vegan daughter Suzy is horrified at hahahaha. Well we are not going to vegan restaurants in Manchester I can tell you. 

I spent the whole of Tuesday working only really interrupted by lunch with my Father and Eladio, made by me of course, and by our walk. That night Oli would be doing a very glamorous and well paid job. She would be emceeing at a big gala awards dinner hosted by a hotel company called Bluebay. It is considered the big event to start off Fitur, the largest tourist fair in the world which is held in Madrid every year. After all, Spain, as I wrote last week, is now the number 2 destination for tourists in the world with more than 80 million visitors in 2017. The event was to be in both English and in Spanish and of course Oli was hired, as she had been the year before, to do the English emceeing. Her Spanish MC colleague was another TV reporter. Both had to wear evening wear and had to provide it themselves. This meant the young reporter had to hire one and Oli borrowed a long evening dress from a friend. And here they are together just before the gala dinner began.
Oli and her reporter colleague, the 2 MC's at a gala awards dinner this week
It was held at an amazing building in Madrid called the "casino" which isn't actually a casino but a beautiful art deco (I think) venue which is famous for its staircase that has been used in countless films and TV series in Spain. Here is Oli posing on the staircase.  She looked amazing in evening dress and at such a stunning location. I'm so proud of her but I suppose that is very normal as I am her Mother. So please forgive me if I pepper this blog with so many gushing comments about my daughters. 
Oli in evening dress at the Casino 
While she was at this glamorous event, we of course were already in bed and probably asleep as we go up to our bedroom straight after dinner to watch TV, mostly Netflix. We fall asleep relatively early and I wake up at the crack of dawn like nearly every day.  

Wednesday dawned and I was up at 6.15. I had many last minute preparations to do for the big corporate dinner that night for Adamo and their partners and for the press conference the following day. I can't remember what else I did that day as I worked non stop. Finally the time came to go. The dinner was held at a chic restaurant in the centre of Madrid, very near our guests' hotel, called Club 31. We had hired a private dining room and we would be 16 around the table. I would be the only woman. Isn't that just so typical? This has been the norm throughout my career in Spain but I hate it. However, there was not much I could do. It was women, however, who prepared the event, the team from my wonderful events agency, QuintaEsencia run by 3 sisters who I adore, Cris, Bea and Gloria. They were there to greet me when I arrived and even before going in, I knew that every little detail of the event would be perfect and perfect it was. We had made printed menus and decorated the table with pine cones and chocolate keys. This was what each guest would see when he sat down.
Attention to detail and creativity at the dinner on Wednesday night
The table was very inviting too and beautifully decorated. In all my events, there is attention to detail and creativity. They wouldn't be mine without that and this is where my agency excels. Thanks girls for a job well done, once again.
The table at the Adamo dinner on Wednesday night
On a much more humble level than Olivia, I was the MC that night and the hostess of course. My main mission was to greet everyone, make them comfortable, sit them down and make sure the dinner was served promptly without endless waiting in between courses. I hate dinner tables when you sit next to the same person all night and never get to talk to the rest. This is not good for relations at corporate dinners. To avoid this, what I do is to make people change places after each course and this is what we did that night. That way we all got to talk to everyone. It was fun and the food was delicious but I was not feeling well. I had an attack of wind and had to go to the loo to loosen my skirt more than once. I just couldn't wait for the dinner to be over, take a taxi home, get into my nightgown and into bed. It was only then that the wind attack receded. However, I had to put on a straight face so that no one at the dinner would know. I also wanted to get home as early as possible as the next day I had a big challenge, my first Adamo press conference in Madrid. 

So at midnight, like Cinderella, I made my exit, leaving all the men to go off and have drinks. I am not an after dinner drinks person. In fact, I can hardly drink alcohol as it gives me a headache. Although I am an events planner, I never really enjoy my own events. I far prefer going out for dinner with my husband and the girls on a Friday night. A colleague had whatsapped me just before the dinner to say he couldn't come and added "enjoy the dinner". Little does he know how much effort is put into planning and executing an event and that when you are the organiser and the hostess you don't actually enjoy the event itself. 

And Thursday came, my big day, the day of Adamo's first major press conference in Madrid. It was to be held at Casa Suecia (Sweden House) which I chose because of the company's roots. It started at 11 and owing to a gigantic traffic jam I only got there by about 10.50. But I knew the girls from QuintaEsencia would have everything ready and of course they did. The place looked lovely. We had made special press kits, a giant photo call and decorated the tables where the press and partners would sit with bunches of sweets and place mats. These were them.
Sweet bunches, my trade mark at all my press conference and which are hugely popular with the journalists

The press kits. 
I dressed in orange for the occasion, the Adamo brand colour with the only orange garment I had, a jacket that had belonged to Oli actually but it also matched my Custo (Catalan designer label) dress, the one both Oli and I have hahahaha. Eladio took a photo before I left and that is the one illustrating this week's post.

The only thing that wasn't good about the arrangements for the conference was the lighting. There were 2 lamps under the photo call which made all photos taken at the venue a little dark. I should have brought along a professional photographer but I wanted to cut on costs. Next time I shall definitely take one as later in the afternoon, press who hadn't attended asked me for photos of the event and the ones taken with our mobiles were not good. That was a lesson learned. 

All the Adamo staff attending were there when I finally arrived and I would have preferred it the other way around but that was not to be owing to the traffic jam. They of course had the advantage of having being able to walk to the venue from their hotel which was literally across the road. 

As soon as I got there I had to get out my PC and open the emails I had prepared with the press release to be sent to media all over Spain as soon as the press conference started. I had to delegate the task of sending them as I would be "emceeing" the event and couldn't be in two places at the same time. Just before the press conference started though, I managed to have a photo or two taken with part of the team and here we are. I look so small next to these guys, even though I was wearing my high heeled ankle boots, the only high heels I can wear hahahaha. Since I have lost weight I look tiny!
With some of my colleagues just before the press conference started.
Everyone was there but would the journalists turn up? That was my biggest challenge. I had sent out the invitation a week ago, whatsapped and called many of them. I had about 15 confirmations which is a great figure for the telco sector in Spain and especially for a press conference with a relatively small player. The news we were announcing was that Adamo was extending its optical fiber internet network to reach mainly rural areas in 3 regions in Spain, Lugo, Navarra and Castilla la Mancha (Toledo and Ciudad Real). It was big news for Adamo but was it big enough for the press I asked myself?  And would they turn up? If they didn't or if only a few came all my efforts would have been for nothing and I would have failed my new customer. But they did come didn't they? They didn't fail me. They were there to support me and they told me so. What a great bunch of people they are, the journalists I have known for years. Some 16 came and of course with the Adamo staff and partners we had a full house as you can see in the photo below.
The Adamo press conference in full swing on Thursday morning
My core group of telco journalists sat together and even took a photo of themselves at what they tweeted later was Adamo's first press conference in Madrid. They are so loyal and I am so grateful they all came and supported me. I am also grateful for the articles they wrote.
My core group of telco journalists
The press conference began and I was up on stage introducing the speakers. The young Swedish CEO and founder of the company was up first and grabbed a lot of attention. Here we are together as the event began.
The CEO and me at the press conference on Thursday
After the presentations, I moderated the question and answer session which went on for quite a long time. I could see the journalists were interested in the news which they saw as a fiber internet company taking their network to rural areas and villages and towns which have been ignored so far by the big players. Those are the areas Adamo targets and does so successfully. We will be investing over 50 million euros in the first phase of the extension of the network, reaching more than 300.000 homes and creating more than a 1000 jobs. This was also news for the media in the regions affected. To reach them I had to do a lot of googling the week before to find the right contacts but the efforts paid off as later I saw plenty of articles in all the areas affected by the news.

We had booked the venue, the bar of Casa Suecia which is actually a hotel from the NH Collection chain, until 13h. When the last journalist left, I stayed on and called an ex Yoigo colleague and friend, Marta, who works at a company right across the road from where we had held the press conference. It was lovely to see her. With everything over and happy with the turnout and the articles and tweets I was already seeing online, I left at about 2 and was home to join my Father and Eladio for lunch, or rather start mine as they were finishing theirs. I was completely exhausted as I always am after an event, especially a big one I have spent weeks planning.

All I could do was get some shut eye after lunch and then go for a walk with Eladio and the dogs. I was supposed to be going to a party that night in Madrid put on by the telco journalists and communications directors, but I was too tired and I was also busy working. After my walk I got all sorts of calls and emails from journalists asking for clarification of some of our news and for photos. I didn't get up from my desk until nearly 9pm.

What made me happy that night was that Homeland Season 6 was starting on Netflix. Unfortunately Eladio fell asleep half way through the first episode but I managed to stay awake. I'm not sure I like season 6 that much but of course will watch the rest as I love Carrie and co.

On Friday I was up incredibly early, exhausted but happy with the coverage achieved from the press conference and press release I had sent out in parallel. By 9.30 I had my media report from my trusted press clipping company, JP Media and was amazed to see we had achieved more than 70 articles, 65 online and 8 in printed media on both a national and regional level. With the tool the service provides I worked out that the coverage was equivalent to an advertising spend of over 200.000 euros!!! Later I got a whatsapp from the reporter from Agencia Efe, the Spanish news agency, to congratulate me as she had seen the coverage. If she was impressed then I must have done an incredible job. The results could not have been better as the articles too were all either neutral or positive. There was not one negative one. Way to go Masha!

As soon as I had digested the results and done all the calculations, it was time to see to my own life. I had so much to do. I had to make the lunch, go with Eladio to the garage to take my Mini to undergo a small repair on the car body,  go the bank and I also had to do the shopping, to leave enough provisions for Lucy and my Father while we were away. The day didn't seem to have enough hours in it. And I hadn't even started on preparations for what to take for our trip to England.  So no wonder I forgot to pack a couple of vital items hahahaha. That would have to wait until Saturday morning. 

The only break in the day was watching the news in bed after lunch. The worst news this week was about that awful couple with 13 offspring aged from 2 to 29 who had been horribly treated by their perverted parents in their house somewhere in California. That story dominated the news this week and is one of the most dreadful things I have ever heard. I preferred to watch the sport section. There was good news for Spain. Nadal is doing very well in the Australian Open, Carlos Sainz, the 55 year old Spanish rally driver was on the verge of winning his 2nd Dakar rally  and Javier Fernández, the Spanish figure skating champion was about to garner his 6th consecutive win of the European Championship in Moscow. Later we heard he had won again. He's amazing.
Javier Fernández Spain's ice skating ace
I later watched his performance which you can see here and it was faultless. He's such a good ambassador for Spain as is Nadal and many others. Fernandez' win on Friday was yet another feather in the cap for Spanish sport.  

The only afternoon I didn't work this week was on Friday. We went on our walk and then I did the weekly shopping with Lucy. Olivia, who had just come back from work, and would be staying with us until we left for England, joined us at the supermarket. I felt so proud of my beautifully groomed TV reporter daughter, arriving in her own car and doing her own shopping. More than proud, it made me see just how grown up she is now. We both came back for a rush job of putting everything away while Lucy gave my Father his supper and put him to bed.

We wouldn't be having our supper at home. Our grown up daughter, Olivia, invited her parents out on Friday night for dinner at La Txitxarrería. It was probably the best moment of the week. And here she is with her proud Father, both of them choosing food from the wonderful menu.
Eladio and Oli at dinner on Friday night at La Txitxarrería
We didn't eat a lot but even so I felt full. Funnily enough I had weighed myself that morning for the first time since well before Christmas. I was worried I had put on weight and yes I had, but only one kilo. In fact I am exactly the same weight I was one year ago which is a huge achievement for a yo-yo person like me.  

Saturday came, the day of our departure but we weren't leaving until the afternoon. My day would be busy until we left. I was up at 6.15 and straight after my breakfast started writing this blog as I would have no time today to write it all in Keighley. This morning I only had to write about our arrival and publish it before breakfast and then I would be free to enjoy my time in England or so I thought. I had planned a lazy morning going for a walk with Oli, Eladio and the dogs, making lunch and going out with Oli to buy a new suitcase for Eladio as all our good ones seem to have disappeared. Thanks girls hahahaha.

At about 10 am as I was about to have a shower and in the middle of packing, I got a sudden Airbnb booking for that night for 6 adults and 1 child, a group from Virginia USA. It was immediate panic stations. The rooms had to be ready and worst of all I had to ask Enya to vacate her room and offered her ours as we would be away which also caused a bit of friction in my family:-( I got everyone into action and we also had to put the spare single bed in one of the rooms for the child. I had to send the lady, Marina, my information pack by email. In my mail I explained about our hot water situation because of our faulty boiler telling her that after showers the hot water has to be switched off but they could have showers whenever they wanted to. Well her reaction was immediate, she was cross and wanted to cancel. Suddenly panic stations were over, the bed was put back, Lucy stopped the extra cleaning and Enya carried on in her room. Meanwhile I got a call all the way from the US from Airbnb asking me to waive the cancellation fees. I immediately did of course as I didn't want any problems caused with the platform or my super host status jeopardised. It was 1.5 hours of problems which I could have done without that morning as we were leaving for England at 15h. So I hurriedly finished packing, left Lucy with instructions to  make the fish and chips and rushed off with Oli to get a new suitcase for Eladio. We were home by 1.30, packed Eladio's case, half of it with my stuff of course, and sat down to lunch. It had been a nightmare of a morning but soon to be over and we would be off to the airport. 

We left at just after 3, me feeling a little guilty about leaving my Father for so long. To be on the safe side I had rung my neighbours, Julio and Katya and Fátima for them to know they would be contacted should anything happen. We were at the airport on plenty of time. At the drop off point where Oli parked, she took a photo of the two of us feeling on top of the world about to fly to England and stay in my beloved Yorkshire. Here we are with our thumbs up! Like a mother hen she kept insisting we be careful and look after ourselves. Sometimes it feels like Oli is my Mother and I am her daughter when it is the other way around hahahahaha.
At the airport in Madrid yesterday when Oli dropped us off
Everything went smoothly, even though we were travelling on Ryan Air  not my favourite airline with all their restrictions and extra payment for nearly everything except breathing, for the moment at least. I had brought a decaf tea bag as that's the tea I can drink, otherwise I won't sleep at night. When I asked them for hot water for it, my goodness I got a telling off and had to pay 3 euros, 2.8 pounds for the paper mug and boiling water. I mean 2.8 pounds for a cup of tea is a rip off but 2.9 pounds just for the paper mug and water is daylight robbery. 

We were half an hour late on our arrival and when we landed I realised I had hardly any battery left on my phone. I then realised too that in my haste packing I had forgotten to pack my charger. Thankfully I had packed Eladio's and thankfully Eladio's phone was charged and I could use it to contact Kathy. I needed to to find the taxi driver who was picking us up. It took a while to find him and for  him to find us but he finally did and took us off in the dark and foggy and freezing night on a one hour drive over the Pennines to Yorkshire. He was a Pakistani from Keighley and a rather radical one too. He and I chatted nineteen to the dozen all the way with me interrogating him on his thoughts. He told me he couldn't travel as for Muslims with their dietary restrictions they didn't dare eat non halal food anywhere. He did admit though to drinking whisky which is a no no for Muslims but he told me it was only a small sin. His love of the Prophet Muhammad was a bit over the top for me. I learned all about his life, even his marital problems. What a funny guy with his Yorkshire accent and long beard. But he knew his way which was what we needed and by about 9 pm we were at Kathy and Phil's house, our home for this week. 

It was so lovely to see them and we got a wonderful welcome in their beautiful Victorian house which is deceivingly large. They had done all sorts of renovation since we had last been here in 2011 and we were assigned their new guest room with our own bathroom which was new too. But first for giving them our presents as well as Spanish ham and 6 bottles of wine, Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Rueda we had got at the airport. Phil had made a great dinner but first we sat in their comfortable sitting room with an open fire and chatted non stop, catching up on our lives since we had last seen each other which was at my 60th birthday part in June. They had gone all out to prepare our visit and I hope we hadn't given them too much work to do. There were flowers all over the house, a huge bowl of fruit - they know we are fruit lovers - with all sorts of out of season fruit, such as apricots or peaches, lovely clean towels, new bars of soap, bottled water in our room and of course a super clean house. We weren't very hungry but the meal of spaghetti bolegnese made by Phil who is the chef of the house and a good one too, was delicious. We ate fruit and chatted after dinner, sitting on their lovely crimson velvet Laury Ashley sofas which apparently they don't sit on as they love them too much and are only for visitors like us hahahahha. By 1.30 in the morning for us, it was 12.30 for them, Eladio and I were much in need of our sleep. It had been a long day for me especially and pretty stressful too. I realised when unpacking that it wasn't only the phone charger I had left behind but my knickers too which are just as vital. Thankfully Kathy came to the rescue and lent me some of hers. Sorry about the intimate detail here but I thought it might make you laugh. I never usually sleep well in a bed that isn't my own where I don't sleep very well anyway, but I was delighted to find that the mattress was really comfortable and just how I like it. So soon we were in the world of slumber.

I was up at 7 UK time and 6 my time while all the others would sleep on for a while. And here I am now writing this week's blog from their sitting room. It's funny as they are faithful readers of my blog and tell me they usually read it in bed on a Sunday morning. So today, they will be reading what I have finished writing in their very own house.

But before I sat down to my blog, I had my morning coffee and read the headlines. I was delighted to read that 55 year old Spanish veteran rally driver, Carlos Sainz, had won his 2nd Dakar Rally, supposedly the toughest in the world. That was another feather in the cap for Spanish sport. Spain really does excel at sport. 
Another Spanish sport victory. Yesterday Carlos Sainz, the 55 year old Spanish veteran rally driver garnered his 2nd Dakar Rally. 
Today will be our first full day in Yorkshire. Kathy and Phil have made all sorts of plans for us, one of them being a full British Sunday roast this evening. What a treat. I think we will be going for a long walk this morning but let's see how the day pans out and I will tell you all about it in next week's post.

So, my friends, that's it from me for this week. I hope you enjoy this post. I will certainly enjoy our time here which will be stress free in sharp contrast to my very busy week.

Cheers then till next Sunday where I will be publishing my next post from Manchester.

All the best to you all and wishing you a great week too,


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