Saturday, December 30, 2006

An outing to the Retiro and an encounter with a Gypsy

Hi again.

Today Eladio and I took my Father and his Mother on an outing to the Retiro. The Retiro is Madrid’s “Hyde Park” and is always fun to visit. There are so many people from so many places, lots of street attractions like puppet shows or people playing music.

It was a sunny day and there were still some leaves on the trees, quite something for the end of December. Above are pictures of Eladio and me with his Mother and my Father.

And while we were enjoying a coffee opposite the lake, a gypsy woman approached us and before we knew it she was reading our hands. I enjoyed every minute of it but Eladio was trying to shoo her away. Her name was Susana. She told me I would live a long life, had had some bad luck in the past but would be very lucky now in the future. She also told me many people envied me which didn’t surprise me. She then read Eladio’s hand and told us he was a solid serious and very hard working person and that he would be a grandfather of twins!!!! (Susi later told me a gypsy had once told her she would have twins, so let’s look out!!). The gypsy then read my Mother-in-law’s hand and said she would also live a long time – well that’s easy to say I suppose as she is already 85!! About my Father she said the same and that he was a man of “capital” and that he had lost nearly every one dear to him which again was true. The only thing she got wrong was when she said my husband had had lots of women before me. Little did she know that I was the first!!!

What a laugh. Sandy darling if you read this you may well remember the two of us having our fortune told in the Retiro some 15 to 20 years ago, just before you went to work in Brussels and I joined Motorola. Wow was that fortune teller right with his soothsaying.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and this family will be going to León once again to see the new year in with Eladio’s enormous family. This year we will be changing restaurants .- THANK YOU YOLI –

So my next post will be all about that. Rest assured we will be all trying on the newly acquired wigs and will have a great laugh all together.

Happy New Year friends and family.

All my love

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Dinner at Fátima’s

From left to right: me: Augustin, Fátima and Julio

Anselme and Fátima junior watching the film
Hi again

Yesterday came another Christmas celebratory meal, this time at my best friend, Fátima’s house. The dinner was organised for Julio, Augustin and family, Eladio and myself. Augustin of French origin (plus some German or Swedish, can’t quite remember – suffice it to say Augustin is very international), was a former colleague of ours at Nokia until he got married to Eva and they went to live in Paris – well California first. Since then he has had 2 children, Anselme who is now 4 and a little girl who is 5 months old.

So dinner was a lot about old times but also catching up on each other’s news. Unfortunately Eva and the baby couldn’t come because the baby was teething but we did get to see Anselme who spent the evening playing with Fátima’s daughter, also called Fátima.

Whilst we had dinner – and a lovely one too, specially the ham and the Tiramisú – Fátima’s speciality, the 2 kids watched “Looking for Nemo” which gave us all a chance to natter about old times but actually, as Julio pointed out, it was as if time had not passed by as we felt just as close as ever.

I hadn’t seen Augustin since the 3GSM Congress in Cannes in February 2004, which was really some time ago, but I must admit he looked no different and as good looking as ever.

It was great to see you again Augustín and thanks Fátima for the great dinner.

And above are a couple of pictures of the evening to illustrate this post.

Cheers till New Year’s Eve when I will be writing my next post.


Christmas Day 2006 and the English traditions

The tree with all the presents

The table laid for Christmas lunch

Hi again

Christmas day is certainly the favourite day of the year in our family and this year was going to be no less, specially as it was to be our first Christmas in El Bosque. And this year we had Eladio’s Mother here which made it even more special.

If we celebrate Christmas Eve the Spanish way, we certainly celebrate Christmas Day the English way with no concession to change of any sort. The tradition comes from my Grandmother, my Father’s Mother, who, by way of my own experience from childhood, influenced the way I organise Christmas in this household and no doubt the same will happen to my own daughters.

Christmas Day always starts with the girls opening their stockings (knitted by my Mother when they were small) in one of their rooms together. The contents are just small tokens as the real presents come later. That is followed by breakfast all together in the dining room with the best china and a table groaning with good breakfast fare. Then the rule is we all get washed and dressed and join up around the Christmas tree to open the presents. Present opening can only begin when the Christmas Carol tape is on – it’s now over 20 years old and is getting a bit past it. Also very important for this “ceremony” is a good box of chocolates, preferably Cadburys.

The opening of the presents can take over an hour as there are more than 5 of us and each of us has more than one present for all the members of the family. Also to wind out the process even longer, only one present can be opened at a time so we all get to see what everyone has got and ooh and aah at everything. I can’t complain this year as I got a digital camera from Eladio (remember the other one was run over by Andy’s car), some Silver Rain EDT from my Father, more cosmetics, an Accessorise bag (black and white and so in fashion) from Susi and some lovely place mats and napkin holders from Oli. Everyone else seemed pretty happy too.

After the present opening came the preparations for the lunch which is always the same and cannot vary: turkey with sage and onion stuffing and cranberry sauce, brussel sprouts and roast potatoes plus the eternal English gravy followed by Christmas pudding and white sauce heavily laced with brandy. And, of course, there are crackers which can only be pulled after the desert.

The only change to the traditional English Christmas day is that we have introduced the Spanish national sport, the much loved and needed Siesta! This now takes place after the copious lunch and is appreciated by us all.

The day finishes with a family walk, a light dinner or no dinner and a film in the evening. This year it was one by Almodóvar, “All about my Mother”. I wonder what my English grandmother would have said about that?

All in all a great Christmas day. And here are some pictures of the great day taken with my new digital camera.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Eve / Nochebuena 2006

The family around the Christmas table.

Another view of the family around the Christmas table.

Juan and Oli looking great!

Juan, Sarita, the Abuela and Olivia looking cool!

José Antonio and his Mother, Ernestina - "la abuela" - they look like something from the Adam's family!

Hi everyone.

How is your Christmas going?

Ours is great as we love Christmas in this house. This is the first Christmas spent in our lovely new home. And Christmas Eve this year was very special not only because of that but because we had Eladio’s Mother with us. For Eladio it must have been the first time in more than 20 years. We also had the pleasure of the company of Eladio’s beloved brother and family who live in Madrid, José Antonio, his wife Dolores and their kids, Miguel (now living in London and working for Citibank), Sarita (guapa) – now living in China and Juan (studying and working for the TV channel, Cuatro).

So it was a real family reunion over the Christmas Dinner. Christmas Eve or Nochebuena in Spain is as important as Christmas Day is in the UK. And in our house we actually celebrate them both. We were 11 for dinner and the table was full of good food, crackers and candles. We had made far too much but that’s not a problem as today is Boxing Day (yes we celebrate that too in this house) and the girls’ boyfriends are here for lunch and it will all get eaten.

After the sumptuous dinner, we had champagne and chocolates in the dining room and then started trying on the wigs I had bought in the Plaza Mayor and those Eladio and I got at the Phone House party. It was such fun and we spent a good hour laughing ourselves silly but the hysterics came when Eladio’s Mother tried the wigs on herself. Just have a look at the photos and you will laugh too.

When everyone went and we made our way to bed, I had the final task of taking the girls’ stocking presents out from hiding to put in the Christmas stockings my dear Mother had made for them many years ago when they were very small. Today they are 21 and 22 but tradition dictates that they still get a stocking while they live in this house.

Happy Christmas my dear friends.

All the very best

Monday, December 25, 2006

Outing to the Christmas Market in the Plaza Mayor

Eladio looking "punky" in his blue wig!

Me and the abuelos at the Plaza Mayor on a very sunny Christmas Eve

Hi everyone and Happy Christmas

On Christmas Eve, in the morning Eladio and I took the “abuelos” (my Father and Eladio’s Mother) to see the Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor. My “secret agenda” was to buy some fun wigs for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The Plaza Mayor at Christmas holds a market every year where you can buy all sorts of Christmas objects, mostly Christmas trees and Nativity figures but also lots of joke objects.

The abuelos didn’t buy anything but I had a grand time getting wigs, Christmas earrings that light up and a climbing Father Christmas that only up ended working once.

We also had time for tapas in an old fashioned bar in the Plaza where we were served Sangría, calamares and patatas bravas – delicious.

Eladio and I couldn’t resist trying our wigs on before leaving for home.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Casa Paco, Alex and Diana

Hi again

Now it’s nearing Christmas our social calendar is getting fuller by the day and yesterday was dinner with Alexander  and his beautiful fiancée, Diana. You may have read about them in previous posts. Alex and Diana are a German couple we met at Andy and Amanda’s wedding more than a year ago. Alex is posted here in Spain and is the Finance Manager for the same company as Andy, a distributor called Arvato Services Ibérica. And Diana, amazingly enough, is a brain surgeon; actually the only one I have ever known. Diana is working in a Psychiatric clinic in Cologne but is hoping to move to Spain next year. Meanwhile she is learning Spanish fast.

Alex lives bang in the centre of Madrid, right next to the Plaza Mayor and we had agreed to have dinner at Casa Paco round the corner from his house in the Plaza de la Puerta Cerrada. Casa Paco is a typical Madrid tavern house where, according to Alex, they serve the best fillet steak in Spain. We tried and I think he may be right.

We had quite a lot to drink too and ended up having conversations with the waiters about the traffic on Madrid’s outer ring road, the M40 and with a very exotic lady on the table next door about being fined in Germany if you spat on the road. This lady, hearing us alternate between German, Spanish and English spent her whole dinner listening to our conversation and butting in with the most strange comments. Diana diagnosed her as mentally disturbed!!!

The evening fnished with a glass of cava and chocolates at Alex’s delightful flat on the Cava Baja. I must say after such a great evening, I had my best night’s sleep in a long time and slept this morning till after 11. So maybe we should go to Casa Paco for dinner more often.

More news on our daily life next week when it will be Christmas.

All the best till then


Encounter with the Oreja de Van Gogh

My beautiful daughters with Amaya the singer.


The Oreja de Van Gogh - Van Gogh's Ear in English and yes it’s the name of a group - played at my company's party.

My daughters, Susi and Oli were hostesses at the event and absolutely adore this group – so do I actually. So I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of meeting them or having photos taken.

Right after the concert and still backstage I asked their manager if we could have some photos for my blog. Gustavo said there was no problem and invited us all into the groups’s dressing room. Luckily Rafa Gómez, my photographer and personal friend was there and could take the pictures. And here they are, one of the group of us and one my girls and Amaya, the singer.

It was fun talking to the group too. They are from the most beautiful city in Spain, San Sebastián. They have just won a Grammy award for their album “Guapa”.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Olivia came home and Christmas came to El Bosque

Hello again

Oli arrived home last night but we didn’t see her until late this morning as her boyfriend, José Luis, went to pick her up and they went straight to a party at a friend’s house where Susi was already there.

So at about midday I saw a vision appear from Olivia’s room: my beautiful daughter, sleepy eyed and somewhat afflicted with an English cold walking towards me. The hug was so so warm and long awaited. We had seen her about 3 weeks ago at Amanda’s house in England but even so have missed her so much.

There was a lot of catching up to do today and we had a big family lunch together – 7 of us, like old times. Oli has brought an arsenal of English chocolate bars, very much appreciated, but oh so fattening.

And then Susi suggested it was a good day to put up the Christmas decorations and we all immediately agreed. Normally we don’t do so in this house until a few days before Christmas but somehow today felt right, the day of Oli’s return. Also this will be our first Christmas in the new house which we have been looking forward to so much.

And here is our little tree all decorated but looking a little small in this big new house. Eladio has also put the outdoor lights on the most perfect looking fir tree just outside the front door. And, of course, as tradition dictates, we put on the tape of English Christmas carols, as we have done since we first got married, some 23 years ago.

Happy Christmas everyone.

Love Masha

Lunch at Jill + Paco's

Zenaida and Tapani

Susana and I
Hiya again,

Yesterday, that is Saturday, we had a lunch date at Jill and Paco’s house in Madrid and it turned out to be the first of our Christmas festivities this year.

Zenaida and Tapani were invited, as well as Susana Diaz Abarca and so were Ana and Tommy except that Ana mixed up the dates and thought the lunch was today and so never made it, unfortunately. So it was a real Nokia get together of HR and Comms with Legal missing.

Susana brought her two little boys, Pablo and David who had a grand time playing with Jill and Paco’s kids, Jacob and Isaac (or Jillón as he is called because of his golden locks which are so much like his Mother’s). Had the lunch date been next Saturday Zenaida and Tapani may well have been able to bring their baby daugther, Nereia who is due to be born this week.

Jill and Paco live in an attic flat in the middle of Madrid with a surrounding terrace which gives them an ideal view of Madrid roof tops. Paco, who is quite a decorator, also designed something I have never seen before; a window framed like a picture in the middle of their lounge. Quite spectacular!

Lunch started at about 14.30 and we got home at about 21.30, so as you can imagine the whole event was taken very leisurely. Paco gave me a glass of pacharán after lunch in a huge globe type glass where I think he fitted nearly half the bottle of pacharán. This really has been a week of drinking.

Yesterday’s lunch was really the start of our Christmas festivities. Jill’s flat was full of Christmas decorations, the pièce de resistance being the candy house her Mother had made for her grandsons; except that there was not much candy left on it.

As my camera has gone a bit caput, there are really two decent pictures one of Zenaida and Tapani and the other of Susana and me – before the pacharán came along!

Happy Christmas girls and thanks Paco and Jill for such a lovely lunch.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An afternoon and evening with Finns and Swedes and back to Midnight Rose!

Hello again midweek,

Yesterday was one of those very rare occasions I drank quite heavily and today I am paying the consequences. It was the fault of the Finns and their Independence Day. And how was that I’m sure you want to know?

Do any of you ever bother these days to look in your pigeon hole to see if you have any written correspondence? Well, I hardly ever do because most of it’s junk mail. But yesterday I did look because I was waiting to receive some photos and lo and behold at 13.45 I opened an invitation from the Finnish Embassy in Madrid to a reception at the Ambassador’s private residence on the occasion of the Finnish day of Independence (actually today but it was celebrated yesterday) to be held that very same day at 14.30. I thought, I’d love to go but here I am dressed in jeans, not quite the right attire so I decided there and then to rush home, get changed in 5 mins (and I did it thanks to some help from Susi) and order a taxi to take me to the very posh Embassy residence in Puerta de Hierro. And, amazingly enough I actually got there, all dolled up, by 14.45.

You may wonder why I was invited to the Finnish Embassy. The answer is quite easy, the company I work for is of Finno Swedish origin.

And that’s where all the drinking started. met some old friends from my Nokia days from the Finnish Chamber of Commerce – hi there Tapani (Lankinen) and Paula (Strand). I also got to meet the very blue eyed Swedish Ambassador, Anders Rönquist and the lady Finnish Ambassador, Maija Lähteenmäki, the very young Finnish First Secretary, Teemu Turunen as well as a host of Finns whose names are equally unpronounceable. We got given things like meatballs in the cocktail and I very diplomatically asked whether they came from Ikea, but apparently they didn’t. And, then along came Pentti Tolonen, a colleague of mine from Nokia Networks and now a days, the Nokia Country Manager. He was as sweet as ever. It was funny listening to his conversation with my new boss, the former being a supplier and the latter a customer. I must say it’s a novelty for me being a customer!!

Suddenly it was about 4 o’clock and a group of Finns from the Embassy all suggested we go to Midnight rose for drinks. They said it was the “in” place to be seen at. Well I knew that didn’t I so didn’t need much persuading.

And suddenly we were there and that’s when the caiparinhos and mojitos started flowing as well as something gorgeous called “Cosmopolitan”. I think I told my life story to a delightful blonde girl called Anna Terakivi- a young internee from the Embassy who reminded me of my daughters. Anna it was lovely talking to you. Actually it was another girl called Viivi Pitkänen who organised most of the night. Viivi is obviously very much acquainted with Madrid night life and lives near Plaza Santa Ana so she knew all the places to take us. The party grew smaller and we ended up in a group of 5 with Viivi leading us on. There was also a chap called Vesku, Pentti's friend in that group of 5. I had not drunk so much in probably 10 years. But actually I was surprised to see how well I took my drink. Luckily I knew today was a national holiday so I would have time to sleep off any possible hangover.

Viivi then took us for a tapas dinner at a very recommendable place called Alberto where we had the usual: tortilla, pimientos de padrón, chorizo, all washed down with a very rich Rioja. And they were all smoking non stop and last night I was so tempted to smoke just one. BUT I DIDN’T

And from there we went dancing. Yes, Anne, if you are reading this, I did go dancing. And guess what music we danced to? To Abba of course, Dancing Queen, Mamma Mía and the lot. What fun but towards the end of the evening I began to feel a bit like Cinderella and suddenly began to feel a little guilty. As I couldn’t order a carriage, I got Yellow Taxi to send out a car. And that was the end of the evening. Short but so very intense and good fun.

Thanks you Finns and Swedes for such a great night out. And Happy Independence Day which is actually today not yesterday.

Cheers till the weekend


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Midnight Rose and I met Il Divo

That's me leading the Q+A session at a press conference at Midnight Rose - I look so intense.

(The Me by Melia hotel, Midnight Rose and the Penthouse terrace at the top - the tower is their main suite)

(Urs Bühler, me, Carlos Marín (the best looking) and David Miller)

(And here with the Spaniard Carlos Marín - I would say divine)
Hi again,

Midnight Rose is one of those special places in life. My events agency, Mi Querido Watson - -proposed it to me for the press conference for my company. It’s part of the old Reina Victoria Hotel in the Plaza Santa Ana in downtown Madrid. The old hotel whose façade has remained intact has been completely renovated inside to contain a fabulous new hotel, ME by Meliá, the Midnight Rose restaurant and bar and best of all, the Penthouse, the amazing terrace on top of the building which has incredible views of Madrid, plus all sorts of novelties, such as chill out beds.

I have now had the privilege of eating there a few times, once for the tasting, once for the actual event and once to take out my Swedish colleagues the night before the event. And finally last night I took Eladio there for dinner, as a treat from the owners. The food is amazing too.

And, yes, it’s true, I also met Il Divo there ( It was on the day of the event, last Thursday, I wanted to show my Yoigo colleagues the Penthouse before all the press arrived, for them to get familiar with the place. So up we went in the lift and who did we find on the terrace doing a photo shoot for Hola, but the Il Divo group. One was missing but I got to meet the Spaniard (Carlos Marín), the Swiss guy (Urs Bühler) and the lovely American (David Miller). I told them, truthfully, that they had been my Christmas present to a lot of people last year and they laughed and said how nice as most people told them they bought their music for their grandparents. They told me they had just released a new album called Siempre. So I think that will be an absolute must on my Christmas gift list this year.


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Those pretty people who can they be?

Hi again

Yesterday I dragged Eladio to The Phone House Christmas party at Moma in Madrid. We didn't stay very long as it was so loud and we didn't know anyone. However I must congratulate the organisers on the wonderful idea of giving out all the guests wigs and party glasses.

This is how they looked on us this morning.

More news tomorrow.