Saturday, February 24, 2018

The story of a ring, clothes shopping, press conference in Toledo, an eye test and other tales of the week.

Sunday 25th February 2018
There's nothing like retail therapy and feeling good in new clothes hahaha like in this new pink coat. I'm a sucker for pink. 
Hi everyone,

What a busy week it has been work wise I have to say. There's not a lot to tell really although when you read my blog you might think there is. Last week a friend, Susan, said she felt tired reading my exploits. I actually don't think I have that many exploits. Maybe it just sounds like I do. Well, you can be my judge. 

Last Sunday was a cold day. It's been cold all week although thankfully sunny. After greeting our Airbnb Taiwanese guests eating their funny breakfast of sliced fried potatoes, lettuce and potato salad - no coffee or toast for them, Eladio, Oli and I set off to Madrid. We wanted to see the highly praised exhibition about Auswhitcz. I tried to buy the tickets online before going but it seemed mission impossible. So we drove there, parked in the freezing cold near Plaza Castilla and walked to the Canal de Isabel exhibition centre. Once at the ticket office we were disappointed to hear there were no tickets until the afternoon. Well we weren't going to hang around waiting and decided to go another day. I still have to find out which is the right website to buy the tickets. Eladio suggested going for a walk in the Retiro Park but it was so cold we ended up coming home. It was rather a waste of a morning. Oli and I took the time to make bread or rather she made the bread while I supervised her and now she knows how to make her own. Great Oli. This was the bread as it came out of the oven. It turned out a treat.
Oli's bread, the loaves she made last Sunday
I had prepared chicken korma for lunch, a family favourite. We were still eating it on Friday hahaha. As usual we went for our walk with the dogs in the afternoon and Oli joined us. We all enjoyed the sun. 

We decided to have an early dinner that night so as not to coincide with our Taiwanese guests. We shouldn't have worried as while they were here they were out all day and home very late, sometimes past 10 pm. The hot water issue was very inconvenient as the plumbers still haven't turned up to install the new boiler.  I think I told you the plumber whose estimate we had accepted delayed coming as he went skiing in Baqueira, Spain's most exclusive ski resort. On Monday he sent Eladio a message to say he had broken his leg skiing and so my husband had to start his search all over again.  We wondered whether the tale of the broken leg was really true or was just an excuse not to come possibly because the estimate was a bit low. Plumbers do live well in Spain and seem to earn as much as lawyers or doctors who also go skiing. 

Eladio spent all of Monday trying to find a new plumber. There is a lot of unemployment in Spain but a huge shortage of plumbers or so it seems. Maybe it would be better to skip University and become a plumber these days and you can still live the life of Riley hahaha.  This was very annoying as we have been putting off a trip to Montrondo until the hot water situation is sorted and it now looks like we won't be able to go until March. 

While Eladio searched for a plumber willing to do the job, I worked hard on the press conference I was organising in Toledo and which would take place on Wednesday morning. So I had no time to make a fresh lunch that day and we ate leftovers. Eladio remarked on our walk that day that it was a miracle there was a meal on the table every day for lunch and dinner. That's not a miracle I thought, just good planning, organisation and hard work actually. 

The story of a ring didn't actually start that day, although the loss of my Mother's gold wedding ring did. Just before my birthday, we went to the Corté Inglés to get me a ring with a pearl. The day after my birthday the pearl fell off. Thus we went for a second time to change it. Instead I got a Svarokski rose gold ring which I loved. Later I realised it was a little too small for the ring finger on my right hand. Thus on Monday evening I went again to change it for a bigger ring. Once there I realised I had brought the wrong receipt and would have to go back for the 4th time the next day with the right receipt. I didn't realise that while trying on a bigger ring on that 3rd visit on Monday that I had taken off my Mother's wedding ring and left it on the counter. So on Tuesday I went again  with the right receipt and they gave me a bigger ring. I only realised when I got home that my Mother's ring was not on my finger. So I rang and was delighted to hear it was with lost property. Thus I went again for the 5th time and thankfully retrieved my Mother's ring. Thereby goes the story of the ring or rather the story of my forgetfulness. Here, by the way, is the Svarovski ring and the bracelet to match. It's lovely isn't it.
My new ring (and bracelet). 
Monday night was not a good night. The Taiwanese came back that night, their last night, really late at about 10.30 pm and asked for hot water for 1.5h. I don't think they appreciated our problem with the boiler. If the hot water is on for more than 15 minutes flooding starts. Thus my husband had to go down to the boiler room every quarter of an hour to check the pressure, let out some water and all of this for 1.5h!!  Eladio complied and thus we went to sleep really late. In the morning he told me he got up at 2 in the morning, saw light under the door and went to inspect. He found the Airbnb family had left nearly all the lights on. We think they had done it on purpose but we shall never know. They had also left the poor dogs out in the cold. For that I couldn't forgive them. They were up at 5 in the morning on Tuesday which was pretty annoying as I like my quiet time when I get up at 6.  To tell you the truth I was happy to see the back of them when they left at 7. They told us they had left some bread in the fridge which we could eat. They didn't tell me it was moldy. Later Lucy told me they had left hairs everywhere. But what intrigued me most was that they had removed the photos on the wall in one of the rooms, photos Oli had taken in India.  One of them is of a little girl defecating while her mother is cooking nearby and a cow is looking on. Perhaps it offended them. Who knows? Usually our Airbnb guests are respectful and well behaved. It was a relief not to have anyone this week or so I thought until Saturday afternoon when I got a sudden instant booking. 

That day I got a new reservation from a woman who is coming at Easter with 4 other adults and 2 free of charge babies. It annoys me that under 2's are free on Airbnb as actually they cause the most trouble. She kept asking me whether there were enough bathrooms as they were coming with babies. She obviously didn't read the ad and I told her we have 7 ensuite bedrooms and 9 bathrooms which I hoped would be enough for the babies. She promptly booked and now I am dreading this group too. My experience tells me that those who ask loads of questions and don't read your listing turn out to be the most troublesome. Well, hopefully by Easter the boiler will be new and we shall be away in Montrondo.  

The highlight of Tuesday was going clothes shopping in the morning after my 4th visit to El Corte Inglés. With most of my work done for the press conference, I had some free time on my hands. I went to Centro Oeste shopping centre, actually to take a ring I had bought in Hong Kong to be mended. Once there I couldn't resist going into Zara and H+M. But it was at a little boutique called "Algo Bonito" (Something Pretty) that I made my find of the day or week or month. There I spied a pink coat, identical to one I have in black and which I love. It's warm and cosy and very comfortable. When I bought the black one I tried the pink one on and actually loved both. So when I saw the price tag of 24 euros I grabbed it. It's the one I'm wearing in the selfie above. There is nothing better than retail therapy and finding a garment which fits like a glove. I have worn it non stop ever since, except on Wednesday, and not only with pink. 

I think dinner was the other highlight of Tuesday which was rather a troublesome day. I made spinach omelette which I had seen made on a TV programme and rather fancied making. It was delicious and will no doubt now be added to our general menus for dinners. It's quite healthy too if you drain the olive oil well. 
My spinach omelette
Wednesday was this week's D Day for me. It was the day of my press conference for Adamo in Toledo with the local government (Junta de Castilla La Mancha) where we would be announcing the expansion of our fiber optical network in the region. The press conference was supposed to start at 12 and at 11.30 we were to meet with the President of the Community, the rather famous socialist politician, Emiliano Garcia Page. So there was to be lots of protocol and we all had to look good and the men had to wear suits and ties for a change. 

Once again I chose orange as my main colour, the Adamo brand colour and this is what I looked like. The dress I am wearing is black lace with orange underneath. I bought it last year in Barcelona and Wednesday was the first day I was to wear it. It was a pity I couldn't wear my new pink coat but pink and orange, in my classic style of dressing, just don't go together, neither does the red background in the photo below either.
Orange and black for the press conference on Wednesday in Toledo.
I took a taxi to Madrid and met my colleagues, Fredrik, Xavi and Pedro at the Atocha train station and we drove to Toledo. There was heavy traffic but that was to be expected. We got to Toledo at about 10.30, parked and took a taxi into the centre of this medieval town. Toledo was once the capital of Spain and is known for its mix of Christian, Jewish and Arab cultures and is much visited by tourists. It was the first time I was going for work purposes and envied the tourists in the sun visiting the town also made famous by El Greco. The events were to take place in the wonderful 15th century palace "Fuensalida" where the Empress Isabel of Portugal once lived. Today it houses the Government of Castilla La Mancha. At the entrance we met representatives of our local partner, Gestioniza. I had hired a photographer and the first photograph he took was of us at the palace doors. Notice I am the only woman in the photograph. Sadly, that is not unusual for me.
Outside the Palacio de Fuensalida
If it was impressive on the outside, it was stunning on the inside too as you can see in the photo below.
Inside the Palacio de Fuensalida
Unlike Madrid, no one is in a hurry in Toledo. Time stands still there and it certainly did for us on Wednesday. We had to wait for the President for 1.5h as he was running late at a previous event. He didn't turn up until nearly 1 0'clock. However he was charming and the meeting went really well. Here we are with him posing in the lounge which is part of his amazing office with views of medieval Toledo, especially the famous castle.
With the President of Castilla La Mancha
Thankfully in his office I wasn't the only woman. The other woman present was the Counselor for Economy and trade. Our meeting went on for longer than scheduled and even the press in Toledo lost their patience waiting. Thus our press conference started at nearly 1.30 and only 3 journalists were left when the local governments' army of press officers had assured me all the press in the region would be there. Unfortunately there was nothing I could do to remedy the situation, only hope that the news announced in the press release I sent by email would be published widely. 

Although it started late and there were only 3, well actually 4, journalists, present, everything went smoothly.
Our press conference in Toledo on Wednesday
We were finished and out by 2 pm. With not much time on our hands as we had to leave at 3 to be on time for a media interview in Madrid, it was time to eat. I was starving and thankful that one of our team members knew the town and took us to a typical bar for some well deserved tapas.

By 4.20, Fredrik and I were at the Hotel Suecia (Hotel Sweden) in Madrid on time for his interview, his first with me, with El Español. The interview was to consist of a sit down interview, a photo shoot on the roof terrace and a video too. The latter was a bit of a problem as it was rather noisy everywhere. In the end the accommodating staff of the hotel took us to a "clandestine" bar on the ground floor called Hemingway as that is where he is supposed to have gone to write and drink while in Spain, a country he fell in love with and made world famous through many of his novels like A call to Arms and Fiesta both of which I read many years ago. It was a very interesting bar but right next to the kitchens and I had to stand in the door to stop people coming through and making a noise. The roof photo shoot was challenging too because of the wind and mostly for me because I don't like heights and the only protection is a glass wall. 
The photo shoot part of the interview at Hotel Suecia on Wednesday evening
We were done by about 6.30 pm and all I wanted to do was to go home. But work didn't conclude at 6.30 as I had to make a call to a new client in the taxi on the way home. I couldn't wait to get my feet up and have dinner with Eladio quietly in our kitchen. It had been a long, tense, challenging but successful day all in all, except for the delay in the start of the press conference. 

I woke up on Thursday feeling pretty exhausted mentally but it was nice to read the headlines that the news from the day before had generated; some 30 articles. I still get a kick out of seeing news I have sent to journalists published in the media even after all these years. 

But that morning I wouldn't be reading much as I had an appointment at the Hospital Quirón in Pozuelo to test my eyes for a possible laser operation I had read about. I started having presbyopia, old eyes really (hahaha) when I was just 39 and have worn glasses ever since. Over the years I also developed farsightedness and now wear varifocal glasses. But I don't see very well with them either. The tests took nearly 2 hours and it turns out that apart from the above I also have the beginning of cataracts. That rules out a laser operation. The option for me, as explained to me by the head eye specialist, Dr. Castillo, is an operation to remove the cataracts and the insertion of trifocal intraocular lenses. This would give me, artificial yes, but perfect sight and I will no longer have to wear glasses. So I'm going for it and my right eye will be operated on 21st March and the left eye on 4th April. Wish me luck. It was an exciting step to take. I am already imagining watching the TV without glasses, buying non prescription sun glasses, applying  makeup  without the use of a magnifying mirror and all the other benefits of good sight, not to mention using my mobile phone without having to enlarge the typeface to extra large hahaha.  Another big advantage will be able to work out hotel showers without glasses. As my sight has gradually decreased I have noticed that nothing is made these days with people like me in mind and that's because it's usually young people who design modern devices and they all have great eye sight. 

That was the big news of Thursday or rather of the week. Otherwise the day was much the same as the rest of the week, including our afternoon walk and cosy dinner together, followed by a great  Spanish TV series on Amazon Prime called "El Accidente".  We have been binge watching it nearly every night this week and staying up late to do so. There is a lot of suspense and some nasty scenes too. Remember the dead horse in the bed in The Godfather? Well similar stuff I'm afraid. 
The TV series we are currently watching in the evenings
Friday was a free day for me. In Spain it was the anniversary of the 23rd February coup d'etat in 1981. What really happened that day and in the plan is still a bit of a mystery. The ex King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, was known for stopping it and being the key player in the restoration of democracy in Spain. However, there has always been a big question mark as to whether he was really an instigator but that when it went wrong, he decided against it. There are many theories and the archives of the time are still under lock and key so maybe only our grandchildren will ever know. I am inclined to think he was very much a part of it. Eladio is immersed in the subject, having just read a book that confirms this theory. How much of what we are told or read is really the truth? Not much I am afraid. 

Being a lovely free day for me, I spent the morning cooking and made more bread which perhaps was the best I have made so far. This time I added some sesame seeds. I also made "cocido madrileño" another firm favourite in this house.
Friday's bread. 
Saturday morning was hectic as it was when I had to work fast on revising a proposal from my new PR agency customer to a technology client. I think I worked for more than 3 hours in between trying to have a shower hahaha with numerous phone calls to explain my thoughts and feedback to the proposal. Thankfully I didn't have to make lunch as there were plenty of leftovers, including the chicken korma, the last of which we ate yesterday. This week I didn't do the food shopping and I'm now hoping we can last until Tuesday as Monday is never a good day to shop as supplies are low and I know that from experience. If the morning was hectic and busy, the afternoon was quiet or looked as though it would be until I got a sudden instant booking on Airbnb. Just as we were finishing our cold and sunny walk, I saw a new reservation on the app. It just said "Maxsim is booked" and I quickly looked to see when it was and my goodness it was for right now or within the hour. Maxsim who is from Estonia was coming with his Latvian and English friends, a group of 2 young girls and 2 young boys, and they were already in the neighbourhood. So we had to run back for me to check the rooms and be ready for their arrival. They got lost as many people do but were with us by 7 pm. They are really nice kids, our first lesbian couple by the way - thank goodness Eladio didn't bat an eyelid - a brother of one of the girls and his friend. They had come to stay as they were going to a "gig". Yes, of course, I thought, a gig is a concert. But it wouldn't be a classical concert to judge by their slight heavy metal appearance. They were going to see  a group called "suicide boys" play in Madrid. My goodness, we have had people staying for all sorts of reasons and this is certainly a first. Actually they are lovely people and the girls have lived in Yorkshire!!! Of course we had to explain the hot water situation and showed them how it worked so they could switch it on and off themselves. 

We didn't see much of them though as soon they were off to the concert. We, on the other hand, were going out for a quiet dinner with Oli and Miguel who arrived shortly before our guests. We hadn't booked a table and decided to find a new restaurant using The Fork and Trip Advisor. We came up with nearby "Parilla el Bury" (Bury's grill) and booked at 8.30, the earliest we could. Thus we were the first there. The other guests didn't start arriving until we were finishing. Did we like it? Well yes, but it was nothing special and I doubt we shall go again. The important thing was to be together, as we hadn't seen Oli for a week and she will be off on her travels again this Wednesday to film for another programme. In the end she will not be going to Latvia (funny coincidence because of our Latvian guests) but finally to Monterrey in Mexico which of course worries me. She doesn't seem at all worried and I do hope all goes well. 

Dinner with Oli and Miguel was a good end to a rather stressful week. We were home by about 10.30 and of course our guests were not. No doubt they came back in the early hours of the morning. Thankfully we didn't hear them and they didn't leave the lights on hahaha. Eladio and I were eager to watch the end of the last but one episode of El Accidente and the the final one. However, I think it must have been the wine as I soon fell asleep and tonight I will have to re watch the parts I missed. Well that's something to look forward to. 

And today is Sunday and hurray Oli and Miguel are staying for lunch. They do brighten up the house and of course lower the average age of the residents hahahaha. So today I will be making lunch for the family but I'm not sure what yet. 

Next week, hopefully, will be a quiet week work wise. Cross your fingers the plumber comes tomorrow and correctly installs the new boiler.  Unlike many people I know in the telecoms sector, this year will be the first time I will not be attending the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which starts tomorrow. There is no reason to go as no one I work for will be participating officially. Last year, the first time I went after leaving Yoigo, I went to fish for a job or jobs but luckily this year I don't have to do that so I see no real reason to go. However, I wish everyone going a great week. 

Now I have come to the end of the tales of this week and I shall get on with the day which promises to be another cold and sunny one. 

Wherever you are, I wish you all a great week ahead.

All my best wishes,

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