Saturday, March 03, 2018

Beast from the East meets Storm Emma, this year's MWC which I didn't attend, Oli in the sun in Mexico, Suzy in the snow in London, rain in Madrid and other stories.

Sunday 4th March 2018.
Father seeing daughter off, umbrella in hand on Wednesday morning. She was off to sunshine in Mexico. 
Good morning all

Well what a wet week it has been here.  It seems to have rained everyday with hardly any respite and many a time we were robbed of our walk or had to turn back. In Spain, according to the song from My Fair Lady, "the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plane". Well this week it rained, or snowed everywhere in the country.  There has been extreme weather in most parts of Europe with heavy snowfalls bringing countries unused to it to a standstill. Both Ireland and the UK were on red alert this week.  We have seen images such as Venice or Rome covered in white which is highly unusual and even snow at sea level. This week the best beach in Spain according to Trip Advisor, La Concha in San Sebastian, was covered too in snow. Believe it or not some people even bathed and apparently they are part of a group that does so everyday, come rain or shine.
Snow in Rome
The culprit at the beginning of the week was an icy blast from Siberia, a polar vertex I read. That was   dubbed "the beast from the east" and  was bad enough. But then Storm Emma, bringing blizzards from the Azores in the Atlantic, made its appearance and caused tension as the two weather phenomenons met and clashed. If you want to understand a bit more about how this happened, read here. And apparently the extreme bad weather is here to stay for some time until the battle or clash is over.  Floods will replace the snow too. This was no joke as the death toll rose during the week to over 60 with 23 in Poland alone. Even in Spain we had at least 3 deaths, 2 from avalanches. 

However, last Sunday was dry and sunny. Our young Airbnb guests from Latvia, Estonia and the UK slept late after their "gig" the night before. While they slept I prepared the lunch, a Sunday roast and had to go out to get an extra leg of lamb. When I came back they were already up but didn't leave until just before we sat down to lunch which didn't please Olivia as she hates coinciding with my Airbnb guests. They were a nice bunch of kids and one of them even interviewed me for his Latvian blog about music hahaha. He asked me about music trends in Spain and being my age and no fan of very modern music I was a bit stuck for an answer hahaha. 
Last week's international Airbnb guests
Later Maxsim, the Estonian guest who had made the booking, wrote a wonderful 5 star review for which I am extremely grateful.  

While I was having lunch at home, many of my telco colleagues from around the world were attending the Mobile World Congress in Spain or would be arriving that day in Barcelona. It would be the first time I was not there for many  years. The organisers, delegates and anyone with a bit of common sense, were shocked to hear that the radically left wing Mayoress of the city, Ada Colau and the President of the local Government, The Generalitat, had publicly stated they would not greet the King of Spain that evening at the opening dinner although they would attend the dinner.  Her reason was that she did not agree with his televised statement after the illegal referendum calling for the unity of Spain, accusing him of being unsympathetic to their cause.  The separatist issue in Catalonia is an open threat to the GSMA taking the fair somewhere else such as Dubai so the Mayoress' gesture will not have helped to keep it in Spain. Some 110.000 delegates attend and the MWC brings an estimated 450 million euros to the city each year being the biggest exhibition in the telco sector in the world. To make matters worse there was a huge demonstration in the centre of the city that night protesting at the King's presence in Barcelona. An ex colleague from Nokia told me it was very tense and she had great difficulty returning to her hotel. 
Protests against the King of Spain in Barcelona last Sunday
It's rather sad that the news about the Mobile World Congress around the world the first couple of days was precisely about political tension in the city rather than what was on show. In my mind this is like cutting the hand that feeds the  mouth or are the protesters so radical they don't want the fair to be held in Barcelona? I wonder which of the two is true. 

Luckily things died down after a couple of days and there was news from the fair which wasn't political. The main topics were 5G, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things and connected cars and machines or devices. One headline in El País caught my attention and it is that there are now more mobile phone lines than people in the world. Wow, I remember when I worked for Motorola in about 1990 that the mobile phone penetration in Spain was less than 2%. How the world has changed. According to El País there were 5 billion users in 2017 (66% penetration) but 7.8 billion sim cards. To check the newspaper got its numbers right I looked up the world population for 2017 and it is about 7.6 billion people, so yes there are more sim cards in use than people in the world. But it is not all people using them, it is "things" or machines, what is called The Internet of Things. We have examples everywhere and I don't have to look outside my own house or houses to count. Here we have our own phone lines and 2 machine lines, one for the alarm system in this house and another one for the remotely controlled cental heating in Montrondo. The numbers will surely increase as 5G is rolled out. The other news was about new flagship phones launched by the big guns, including Samsung's S9. In my mind there is always a lot of hype about a new phone when in reality it's not much different from the previous model. Mine is an S7 and I won't be changing it any day soon hahaha.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind having the new model but I'm not paying the  nearly1000 euros it is going for. 

One thing I didn't miss at this year's show was the amount of people, 1000 less than last year apparently but far too many for me. 
 I don't like the crowds at the MWC.
I hate big crowds and always have. So no I didn't really regret not going. 

Thus on Monday morning while my colleagues were queuing to get into the congress, I was making bread in my kitchen. This week I had hardly any work to do and spent a lot of my time either cooking, reading or watching TV series as well as going for walks in between rainfalls. 
The bread I made on Monday
This time I put lots of different seeds and nuts in and maybe overdid it although Oli told me I hadn't. 

A funny thing happened on Monday when I got a message from one of the agencies I registered with last year. They wanted me to attend an audition to appear in a sausage advert. Well, that did not interest me hahaha. In fact I have given up going to the auditions as  the dates are often awkward but also the agency world for walk on parts in TV ad's seems to be a bit of a mafia and I cannot compete with the old hands. So, no, I won't be appearing in an El Pozo TV advert about sausages. 

In fact one of the reasons I don't watch mainstream TV these days is that I generally hate TV adverts. We now watch mostly streamed TV on either Netflix or Amazon Prime. On Monday night we finished El Accidente and started on a new series called "I know who you are" (Sé quién eres). It would have us riveted all week and entertain us on rainy afternoons. It's another Spanish TV series; some of them are extremely good. This one was broadcast recently on BBC4 and had many rave reviews like this one  The Guardian. It's an amazing whodunnit legal thriller about a missing girl with much suspense but is so fast paced we often have to rewind to catch up with the plot.
Our current TV series
On Monday I must have been extremely relaxed as on Tuesday morning I woke up at 7.15 instead of 6 a.m. I gave poor Pippa a huge scare that morning as when I bathed her I left the water on too hot and nearly scalded her. My reflex was to grab her out of the bath and then lower the temperature of the water coming out of the tap. I felt so guilty I must have spent the whole of the next hour trying to make it up to her. That will never happen again.  Meanwhile, poor Eladio, was continuing the search for a plumber to come and install the new boiler he bought a few weeks ago. We have had estimates ranging from 250 to 5000 euros which is a bit baffling. Eladio continued his search all week and more and more plumbers came to see the boiler and work they would have to do. Finally my husband accepted one of the estimates and the plumber chosen has promised to come on Monday. Let's hope he does and let's hope all goes well and we don't have to be without central heating for more than a day. It's been extremely awkward for my Airbnb business I can tell you. 

We did the food shopping on Tuesday morning and I think we bought enough to last us, hopefully, at least 2 weeks as I seemed to buy 2 of everything. Oli came for dinner that night and it was great to cook with all the cupboards and fridge full of food. I made my new onion and spinach omelette, a dish I really like. It is nearly as tasty as the real Spanish "tortilla" which is made with potatoes. My spinach omelette looked just like it. 
The spinach and onion omelette I made for dinner on Tuesday night.
Oli had come to spend the night with us before flying to Mexico the next day. I was worried about her going to Monterrey, a dangerous city if ever there was one, but was happy to hear she and her cameraman would have a private driver throughout their stay and would be lodged at a very good hotel in the least dangerous part of the city, San Pedro. Oli was roaring to go and I must say I would envy the sunny weather she would experience there. Her suitcase was full of clothes for cold and warm temperatures but really she should have concentrated on the latter as the  temperatures there this week have been in the mid 20's a far cry from the rain, cold and snow in Europe. 

Oli was off to the sun while Suzy would be weathering the cold and snow in London. What a constrast.  We had a lovely video chat with her after dinner, the 4 of us, something we should do more often. Suzy was having her "pudding" which was raw apple with a spoonfull of peanut butter. Suzy always tries to tell me that peanut butter is healthy but I don't believe her as I think it is the most calorific food in the world possibly after mars bars fried in batter apparently common in Scotland hahaha.  We were worried she was cold in London where the temperatures were below zero. She was wearing the thermal pyajamas Oli had bought for her at Primark for Christmas and told us she was fine. I didn't like hearing she has no heating in the kitchen or other parts of the flat. If it was freezing cold in London it was even worse in Yorkshire. So I was rather sorry for our friends Kathy and Phil who were returning to Keighley that day from their holiday in sunny and warm Marrakech. 

It was on Tuesday that the interview with the CEO of Adamo with a Spanish news site called "El Español" was published. It was great to get some media space for Adamo during the week of the Mobile World Congress. It got lots of views. I was pretty pleased, it being my first interview for Adamo with the Spanish media. On my LinkedIn profile I posted it and got more than 270 views. Whenever I post anything about Adamo, I get lots of views from my ex employee which is always curious to see.  Are they following me? If you can read Spanish, here it is

Wednesday dawned and brought with it snow in London, snow that settled. Suzy sent us a photo and it was unbelievable. I remember snow as a child in London when we used to spend our Christmases with my Grandmother and Aunty Gloria in Ickenham. I remember very vividly the slides we used to make on the pavements outside their houses. Well the snow in London was still there this weekend. It was amazing to see Big Ben covered in the white stuff too as it doesn't happen much these days.
Snow in London this week
I also spent Wednesday baking but not before Oli left. She was leaving at around midday and Eladio saw her off in the rain. I took a photo of the two of them just as he saw her off and have chosen it as the main picture to illustrate this week's post. My youngest daughter will be away for 10 days. However it is a long journey there, 11.5h from Madrid to Mexico City and then an 1.5h to Monterrey. She wouldn't get there until the next morning for us, midnight in Mexico. 

I cooked and baked a  lot on Wednesday, making vegetable soup and oxtail soup for lunch, perfect dishes for cold weather.  In the afternoon, inspired by Easter coming up, I tried my hand at making home made hot cross buns. I have never made them before always buying supermarket packs but I decided as I had time on my hands I might as well try. First I found a recipe. There were loads but I went to the first one that came up which was from the BBC Good food site. This is the recipe by the way if you are interested.  It's a very similar process to making bread except that the dough is very sticky as it has butter, warm milk and eggs in it. It has to prove 3 times which means that the buns when they are placed on the tray tend to stick together. Next time I shall make the rolls smaller . The recipe also seems very similar to that for brioche which I wouldn't mind making too one day except that I should stop baking fattening things. Don't worry though we only had one each and I froze the rest for Good Friday. I have to say it was delicious, nothing like the bought hot cross buns. Ah and here are mine which I am very proud of, as baking is not really my skill but I am learning.
My hand made hot cross buns
Thursday was the first day of March. Soon it will be spring but not yet unfortunately. Just as we were getting up, Oli was arriving at her hotel at midnight in Monterrey after a nearly 18 hour door to door journey. She was shattered but nothing that a good night's sleep wouldn't cure. Meanwhile, in London Suzy woke up to even more snow in London. Thursday was the day the so-called Beast from the East met Storm Emma. Somehow she managed to get to work. Many people didn't with trains and buses unable to make their journeys. Then when Oli was just waking up in Mexico, around 15h our time, we got a photo from both girls, Suzy in the snow and Oli in a t-shirt in the sun. What a contrast. 

Suzy in the snow in London with her NHS colleague and fellow dietitian, Jenny from Ireland
Oli in the sun in Monterrey

They could not be more contrasting pictures. The weather here was so bad on Thursday we could not leave the house. We spent the afternoon and evening binge watching the TV series "I know who you are" only stopping for dinner. 

At about 10.30 that night, our French Airbnb guests arrived after their plane had been  delayed by an hour and a half, probably because of the weather too. Celine and her fellow students who have stayed with us twice before, arrived in torrential rain and we welcomed them in. Unbelievably, they went out again afterwards to have dinner. I wouldn't have risked it. They are here to do a course in hearing aids. The local University (UEM) does offer a very varied syllabus I thought when they told me.  Thankfully they understand the hot water situation and know themselves how to turn it on and off. I was pleased too that day to get another booking also from repeat guests. A family from the UK who was with us last August is coming again in the summer. They were lovely, especially their talented and comical little boy Brody. I loved him. I am very pleased to see that I have lots of bookings for the summer, mainly for July and August, the high season, whoopee!! 

Friday brought more rain. That day I had a lunch appointment with my friends Julio and Fátima in Boadilla. However Fátima never showed up, nor did she answer our phone calls or whatsapp messages. It was a complete mystery and worried us that something might have happened to her. She is not known for her punctuality but complete silence was rather strange. The next day, we finally got a message from us to say she had forgotten our appointment. So it was just Julio and I for lunch. We went to a place I had been recommended, "Denominación de Origen".  Julio and I caught up on each other's lives over a "menu del día". And here we are together in a not very good selfie just before we parted.
Lunch with Julio on Friday
We had both arrived in the rain and left in the rain. The rain has really got me down this week but I suppose I shouldn't complain as it is good for the reservoirs which were well below their normal level after the drought. I do wish it would rain at night and be dry during the day and commented to Julio during the lunch that maybe, one day, scientists will come up with a way to control the weather. If we can have driver free cars and drones and all the other amazing new technology, this could be possible one day. It would be great wouldn't it?

Eladio and I managed a walk with the dogs in the afternoon but turned back before the end. Just as we got home it poured it down. 

While we were on our walk, Oli was filming in Monterrey. That day her subject was a Spanish missionary priest, Father Martín. She had got his contact through my friend Juana who lived in Mexico for some years. Gracias Juana!  Oli was in her element that day as she filmed him and the children he works for. You can tell by the smile on her face and all signs of jet lag gone.
Oli filming the Spanish priest and his pupils in Monterrey on Friday
Being Friday, Eladio and I went out for dinner, even though I had been out to lunch with Julio. However, I, at least, needed to get out after being cooped up in the house most of the week because of the weather. We went to Ginos and I ate comfort food, pasta, my favourite and something I hardly ever eat at home. We came back to watch more of the TV series and again went to sleep very late. 

Saturday came and I had slept badly. I am quickly running out of sleeping tablets that I can no longer get because the private medical centre where a Cuban lady doctor used to prescribe them has now closed. 

We woke up to sunshine. Wow sunshine and it was sunny all morning. We thus went for our walk shortly after breakfast to beat the rain and we did. Facebook reminded me that 9 years ago to that day had been Norah, our beagle's first walk as a puppy. I can't find the photo now. 

I came home to make lasagne for lunch which my Father loves. Oh dear more pasta:- And guess what we did for the rest of the afternoon? Well we followed the pattern of the whole week and watched the final episodes of the TV series, "I know who you are", only stopping for dinner, and once again till past midnight. Well I did also stop at one point to reply to a new Airbnb enquiry, an English family who wanted to come at Easter. A few minutes later they booked which now means I have 9 new bookings to look forward to. Whoopee! 

So that's the end of the series for us now. There was little closure in the final episode with the baddies winning. I would have preferred a happy ending but I didn't get it and I suppose life is like that. I am now looking forward to watching Season 2 when it is available. 

And today is Sunday and once again I have woken up to rain. My French Airbnb guests have just left and I saw them off in rain just as we welcomed them in rain. They will be coming again in April, their 4th stay with us. Thanks Celine, it's always pleasure to have you.

So now I am at the end of this week's rather boring tales. I do hope next week will be a bit more exciting. 

Loving you and leaving you now until next Sunday,

Cheers Masha.

No comments: