Sunday, November 26, 2006

Anne came for the weekend and Manuel's a Father

Manuel and Daniela. Father and daughter.

Sunday lunch. Gaby, Manuel, Paola, Eladio, me, Anne

Graciela, Anne and I at Dantxari

Eladio and his tripe (callos)

Friday brought me my darling Finnish friend Anne, ex Nokia colleague and boss, for the weekend. We hadn’t seen each other since the Summer and had a lot of catching up to do. We have spent the weekend so far in a very family way. Friday was lunch together and on Saturday morning she went with Eladio and I to a fabric shop to order some fabrics for my Mother-in-law’s room plus our own room. She was a great help and inspiration, specially as she’s in to interior decoration and I am certainly not.

On Saturday evening we went out for dinner with Graciela – the ex Advertising Manager from Nokia and spent the most of the evening bitching about our time there – poor Eladio got a bit fed up. The restaurant, Dantxari, off Plaza España, had been recommended to me by Julio and I must say we all gave it 9/10. The food was Basque and had all the typical Spanish fare that Anne so loves and Eladio too, cos he couldn’t choose between pig’s trotters, tripe or ox tail!! In the end he ate tripe – revolting for me as a Brit but a delicacy for a lot of Spaniards.

Sunday being Sunday, we prepared a roast – roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and all the trimmings. We were 8 for lunch as Manuel and Paola came with their sweet little baby Daniela. She behaved perfectly and didn’t cry once. Ana Valdivieso came for coffee – another ex Nokia who is now in HP and is their legal counsel. Slightly awkward situation as Manuel was Anne’s ex and she and Paola had not met!!

The day was rounded off with our daily walk which we actually subjected Anne to every day of her stay. But she never complained.

That’s about my news for this weekend.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekend in the UK with Amanda and family - seeing Olivia again. Meeting Roger too!

Visiting Sheila and on the walk with my Father and AmandaIn the kitchen with Roger
Jake, Oli, Susi and Cord

Shopping with Amanda
The 4 of us and the 5 kids together


Finally the weekend we had all been waiting for came. Oli went to the UK on her Erasmus University exchange on the 18th September so we hadn’t seen her for 2 months – well Susi had the weekend before and we were all meeting up at my friend Amanda’s house in Surrey for the weekend. Amanda and I go back a long way, to when we were 11 and made friends at our first day at senior school.

The four of us, Daddy, Eladio, Susana and I caught an Air Madrid flight to Gatwick on Friday afternoon and were met there by Amanda and Oli in the pouring rain. There was a slight hitch in that Amanda couldn’t find her car for about half an hour! Oli was looking gorgeous and it was so nice to hug her tightly after 2 months of not seeing her.

We got to their lovely new home in Surrey to meet up with the rest of the family - I must warn you this is a “blended family” (like Los Serrano in Spain) in that Amanda and Andy were previously married and both bring 2 children each to the marriage, Cordelia and Jake and Johnathan and Jane respectively. Unfortunately Johnathan who is at University couldn’t make it. Cord is 17, and Jake and Jane are both 16. It had just been Jane’s birthday and we were witnesses to the wicked presents she had been given. I went up to our bedroom to get the camera and realized the bed had a huge bulge in the middle. I sort of thought there might be some bedding underneath and pulled back the duvet. And what did I find? Yes, a blown up naked man doll with a huge erection! I howled with laughter and brought him downstairs to join the party – see the photos. The trick was played on me by Jake and Oli. Thanks kids! The “doll” – a present to Jane for her birthday was called Roger! You can just see Roger to the left of Jake in the kitchen picture above. You are not getting a full blown picture as it is too rude!

The evening had started off on a good note, so we then started on the wine. We had taken over 12 bottles as a contribution for the weekend – Andy and Amanda are heavy wine drinkers !! – but unfortunately one broke in Susi’s suitcase and you don’t have to imagine the smell and clothes. Amanda prepared a beautiful lamb casserole and we all sat round their lovely wooden table in their gigantic kitchen.

Saturday was a day crammed with activity. First we went to Guildford for some quick shopping – M+S and Boots of course. At M+S Eladio, the girls and I bought loads of yummy sruff for Saturday’s lunch as our contribution to the food. So we had prawns, Orkney crab meat, pate, mackerel, raspberries, avocado salad, plus lots of lovely ham and smoked salmon Amanda had. This was not washed down by wine as this time as I wanted to avoid a siesta in the afternoon. Instead we went for a beautiful Autumn walk with the dogs. After the walk the kids stayed behind to watch Breakbone Mountain (is that what it’s called - Oli corrected me in a comment, sorry it's Brokeback) and we went to see Amanda’s mother, Sheila at her new residence – a wonderful block of assisted flats for the elderly in Aldershot which actually resembled a 5 star hotel more than anything else! It had just been her 80th birthday but she was blooming.

From there we went back to Amanda’s place to find Susi crying her eyes out over the film but more than ready for another shopping spree. This time it was to their local Sainsbury’s to stock up on Christmas fare – crackers, Christmas pudding and all the other trimmings. Then it was time for dinner again and we started on more wine. Amanda served a lovely recipe of Jamie Oliver (a well known young English chef who is quite a celebrity) – crusty chicken with garlic, beans, chile and tomato – I got the chile, thanks Amanda.

This morning we got up early to have a family breakfast. We had to leave at 12 for Gatwick but managed another family walk with the dogs – Poppy and beautiful Rosie – along lovely Surrey autumn leaf lanes. The good byes were emotional but happy because of the great time we had had. Oli was leaving just after us to catch a train from Guildford to Falmouth with loads of changes. The journey was going to take her at least 8 hours. We will be seeing Oli quite soon though as she will be back for Christmas on the 9th December.
It was a bit of a rush to Gatwick and even more of a rush at the airport with no time for duty free shopping unfortunately. I nearly cracked up at customs when I saw the man was called “Roger” like Jane’s doll.

The flight back was uneventful but unfortunately upon arrival 2 of our suitcases were missing. Fortunately they have been traced and will be delivered tomorrow lunchtime.

Thanks Amanda, Andy, Jake, Cordelia and Jane for a great, great weekend.


Ex Motorola gathering

The group of Motorolans from the early 90's

On Thursday night I went to the gathering of the Ex Motorola employees from the early days – 1990 – 1995. We call ourselves the Analogue Generation. Motorola started in Spain in 1990 and we were a very enthusiastic team of people who started it up from scratch in a society who didn’t know what a mobile phone was. When I say started up, I mean that, from the very beginning with hired offices and a very small team. For most of the people Motorola was their first job and a lot of them were then in their early 20s then.

Today most of us are all still in the telecoms sector and we have representatives in Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Orange, Vodafone, Yoigo, Telefónica and of course some of the original team are still with Motorola.

The organizers, Nuria, Pepe and Vicent – and a big thank you to them from me from my blog – put in some hard work first to find us all and then in the wonderful way they organised it. We were given a special sweat shirt for the occasion which we all wore proudly the night through. First we played bowling and then went on to dine at a great Argentine restaurant. But just before dinner they put on a video where they had used photos of us all which we had sent in with nostalgic music and funny captions. The video was a true masterpiece and had us all in stitches. We all looked so so young compared to these days. We were also given a copy each – thanks again Vicente.

It was such a good event that we have agreed to repeat it again next year.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Susi and Oli - a weekend in London


This post is for my daughters Susi and Oli who have just spent the weekend in London. Oli travelled from Falmouth and Susi from Madrid and they stayed at their pied a terre which is Miguel's flat in Marble Arch - a very posh place according to Susana.

They did all the usual touristy things as you can see from this small selection of photos. They had a fabulous time.

Love you darlings.


The Retiro Park today

Hello again,

I just couldn't resist including this post in my blog about the Retiro today. The Retiro park is Madrid's Hyde Park or Central Park and is at its best on a Sunday morning when the Madrileños go for their Sunday walk, all dressed up with their kids and family. We used to go there with ours when they were small and when we lived in the centre of Madrid.

Today was amazing because of the weather, 16ºc and so sunny. The foreigners, and there were loads of them, were all in shirt sleeves.

Here are some pics, including one of a great side show which is what the Retiro is all about on a Sunday morning.

Write again next week.


A heavy social life this week. It all started with Sandra

Hi again

So, yes, Sandie finally made it to our house last Sunday night, after an hour driving round in the taxi in El Bosque, the area where we live. We hadn’t seen each other since Susana was 8. So if Susana is now 22, that makes it 14 years! Funnily enough we thought we both looked quite good for our age – bubbling with life as usual. Unfortunately Jeffer, Sandra’s boyfriend couldn’t make it that night but when we met him on Monday night his first comment was “like peas in a pod”. And it’s true, Sandie and I are peas in a pod in our attitude to life and how we enjoy it. So Sunday was a lovely family dinner, made by Gaby and Susi – thanks kids – so that we could have more time with each other as there was so much to catch up on.

Monday we went out to dinner with Jeffer and Eladio and I got a bit lost in Madrid and couldn’t find the car on the way home. We ended up having dinner at La Taberna de Lucio as Casa Lucio was closed. The prize dish is “huevos estrellados” which roughly translated is broken fried eggs which is actually, as Sandie pointed out, just that. They were not impressed with that dish, although they were with some of the others.

Tuesday was a rest, going out wise, but on Wednesday evening Eladio and I went to his first Yoigo do. My new company had organised an evening out for the employees and their partners and had taken over a bar in Madrid called La Consentida. We had loads of fun, getting to know my new colleagues and drinking volumes of wine and I must say the food was delicious. We were such a mix of nationalities, it seemed like the United Nations, but that’s what’s so nice about my new company.

On Wednesday evening we also took Susi to the airport as she was off to London to spend the bank holiday – until this Saturday – with her beloved sister Olivia. Olivia was traveling to London from Cornwall and the two of them were staying at Miguel’s, their pied a terre in London. How lovely for them.

Thursday was actually a national holiday so I spent a quiet day at home with Eladio, Susi and my Father. In the evening Eladio and I went to see a film I had long been wanting to see: The Queen; oh so British. It would have been much better to see it in English but I had to make do with Elizabeth II and Tony Blair talking in Spanish. The film took me back to my roots like I never thought possible and there I was crying throughout over the death of the People’s Princess, Lady Diana. Really, though, it is very very well done and I highly recommend it, but probably more to British people.

Friday I worked but explaining my day to Eladio made me see what a lovely job I have. It was spent visiting all the proposed locations for the press conference and launch party I am organizing for Yoigo for December. It included a lovely lunch from the events agency and I also came home with a bunch of flowers - something to do with work but impossible to explain here.

Another very important thing happened on Friday in that Eladio and I went to the BMW garage to get the GPS installed. We had seen these work in other people's cars, but never imagined how they were going to change our life! We are very impressed and now don't know how we lived without one before. It is so useful and such fun. Long live technology!!

And yesterday Eladio and I went to the cinema to see the film he was dying to see: Gal which is about a huge political scandal of state terrorism which occurred under the last Socialist Government in Spain where state paid police were entrusted with the killing off of members of the Basque terrorist organization ETA. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, but in the end found it very informative and not as violent as I had expected.

Today we are having lunch at José Antonio and Dolores’ house in Madrid, so we shall probably go for a nice walk in the Retiro first. Susi is not joining us as she came home in the small hours after returning from London pretty late last night.

Well, we now have next weekend to look forward to as on Friday, Eladio, my Father, Susi and I will be traveling to London to stay at Amanda’s house (my childhood friend) where we will meet up with Olivia. We are dying to see her as we haven’t seen her since 18th September. It’s going to be a very short visit – arrive late Friday, be there all Saturday and return mid morning Sunday – but we will enjoy it to the full. I am also looking forward to a quick visit to Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencers, of course.

So that’s it for this week which has been very busy and intense with lots of things happening socially. The best of all was seeing Sandie again who was looking great!!

Unfortunately the photos are **** but they are all I have.

Write again next week.

All my love

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekend in León

Yoli and the cats
Pili, Yoli, Adela and Eladio at Alejandro's place.

We spent a very wet weekend in León with Eladio’s family. On Friday, Eladio, my Father, Susi and I left the house in the early evening and faced enormous traffic leaving Madrid. It rained all the way, as it did the whole weekend.

We stayed with Eladio’s youngest brother’s family, Isidro, Yoli, Laura and Alicia. They had prepared a scrumptious dinner for our arrival which we enjoyed together as we hadn’t seen each other since the Summer. After dinner Susi and Laura went out and we watched the TV with a lovely drink of Pacharán which, unfortunately had me asleep within 5 minutes and gave me a strong headache for the whole night and the next morning. I will never learn that strong drinks are NO good for me.

The next day was spent visiting all of Eladio’s family in their respective houses. We started at Adela’s where we met up with Adela, Primo and my Mother-in-law. Next we went to Pili’s for a lovely lunch of roast lamb. Then we all went to Adela’s son Roberto’s new house where we had tea and cakes. Finally we ended up at Alejandro’s new house where there was coffee and cakes, again! So, before dinner and in order to survive, Yoli, Isidro, my Father, Eladio and I went for a long walk – about 7 km, so as to work up an appetite for dinner. We all went out for dinner to a lovely place called Michaela; lovely except that we weren’t very hungry.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of Isidro’s family’s cats, Lolita and daughter Tati; such fun and so sweet.

We left mid morning today as we had to be home on time to get ready for my dear friend Sandy who is coming to dinner tonight. Sandie and I went to University together and have kept up over the years less frequently than we would have liked. So I think tonight will be the first time I probably 15 years! Sandi – really Alessandra Lizioli is half Hungarian and half Italian, was brought up in India and went to school in England. Today she is living in Brussels. There will be more on the visit after tonight with lots of photos of course.

Dying to see you darling.