Friday, March 31, 2006



Yes, it's true. We have finally sold our house. It happened very quickly, from one day to the other. We had 3 visits on Wednesday afternoon and these people were the third. They didn't look particularly intersted but then in the evening the agency rang with an offer from them which was below the asking price. We didn't accept it but then they rang the next day to come and see the house again, this time with their kids and the Grandmother. The visit was quick and again we thought they didn't really like it but they did because an hour after they left yesterday, the agency rang to say that they wanted the house and were prepared to pay the asking price. They also wanted to sign the contract today Friday to which, of course, we agreed. Amazingly we signed it this afternoon.

We now have 2 months to find and move into a new house. Unfortunately 2 of the houses on our finalists' list are now no longer viable. So we shall be revisiting the others and seeing a few more too.

The nicest part of the operation is removing the For Sale signs which Susi and I did this afternoon. And here are the pictures to prove it.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Volver - "Coming Back"

On Saturday night we went to see Pedro Almodóvar’s latest film, Volver. I love Spanish films but somehow, I have always been a bit skeptical about him – until yesterday. Some of that maybe because I love the main actress, Penelope Cruz, but not all. The story, set in the area where he was brought up, Castilla la Mancha, is the story of three generations of women (remember Pedro Almódovar’s films nearly always have women as their main characters). It is a mixture of comedy and drama – amazing drama, including incest and murder and you never quite know whether to laugh or to cry. Penelope as Raimunda is the essence of joy but always on the point of tears. Such a strong and beautiful character. Also Carmen Maura who lets herself be portrayed as she really is, mid sixties, no makeup and looking old and unattractive. Quite different from the screen Carmen Maura we thought we knew.

This is an essentially Spanish film which hovers from the traditional Spanish villages of Almodóvar’s Castilla la Mancha, to the poorer outskirts of Madrid today and will not leave anyone untouched by its magic.

I am now going to add this to my list of favourite films ever.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Fathers' Day Bank Holiday

Hello again

I had just started work again and one week later it was Bank Holiday. So I am writing from home in my pyjamas at nearly midday (but you are not getting that photo!). Well, we’ve had a very busy weekend with lots of socializing.

Susi went off to Benidorm with Carolina to see her best (childhood) friend Copito who has recently gone to live there. Actually 40% of Madrid’s population left the city for the bank holiday and most of them probably went to the coast. But they all went to bad weather as we have had rain ALL weekend. But that’s very much needed as Spain is in the throes of a very threatening drought.

Oli stayed behind to finish off a work project filming Madrid’s road works. We’ve hardly seen her all weekend.

My bank holiday started on Friday night with dinner with Marta (a very good friend - link to her blog is on mine) at the Vaca Argentina. As you may have guessed by now, it is one of my favourite restaurants. Marta and I met at Nokia and drank many morning coffees together there, so we had lots to talk about and catch up on. She gave me a beautiful ring she had made. Thanks darling. We must do this again.

On Saturday we had people for dinner: Eladio’s colleagues from his time in Local Education. We were 9 for dinner, Víctor and Mariluz, Juanjo and Justi, Roberto and Maricarmen, my Father and ourselves. As for all our dinner parties, I went all out in the preparations and spent from about 2.30 to 9 cooking and preparing. So what did I make: Cream of lobster soup (real ingredients and no cheating), a Tex-Mex second course consisting of fajitas with chili con carne, guacamole, nachos and sour cream. The desert was "la pièce de la resistance", English sherry trifle and here I did cheat with nearly everything but I don’t think anyone noticed except Eladio but I told him to keep quiet (I actually used stronger words but they wouldn’t go down well here on my blog would they?). They stayed till after 2 in the morning so the next day I was pretty much exhausted with a bit of a hangover as I had drunk too much wine as usual!! A big thank you here to my Father who did nearly all the washing up!!

Yesterday, San José, was Eladio’s beloved brother, José Antonio’s birthday and we were invited to their house for lunch. It’s always funny going to their house in Calle Francisco Silvela because we used to live there too and it’s like going down memory lane. But we really did go down memory lane yesterday as we went for a walk in the Retiro park first. The Retiro Park is Madrid’s Hyde Park or Central Park and is always full of people from everywhere, lots of side shows and is often called the Lung of Madrid. It was real memory lane because when we lived in Francisco Silvela (18 years ago!!!) we used to go every Sunday morning with the girls and so yesterday we had many memories to relive. We went purposely on the very same route, parking where we always used to park, past the kiosk where we used to buy them sweets, past the ducks we used to throw bread to, past the puppet theatre and then on to the same cafeteria we always used to have a coffee at. Lovely!

Today we are just relaxing with the newspapers. There will be no cooking, thank God but probably some ironing to catch up on (loads actually). A nice quiet day at home with the family.

And tomorrow, back to my exciting new project ……………

PS the picture is of Eladio, myself and my Father at the Retiro.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back to the world of work. Tired but happy!

Hiya again

Well we had a great time at the weekend by the beach. Great is relative really, cos, out of 3 days, 2 were spent packing, travelling and cleaning - yes cleaning because the flat had been more or less empty since August. However the day in between was lovely and the walks on the beach and dinner out more than compensated the rest.

So I came back on Sunday mentally refreshed and ready to return to the world of work as in the grindstone. I haven't worked since October, so I am quite out of practice. But actually it is not a grindstone at all. The UEM is very modern and is a typical English or American campus type University, set in lush lawns with lakes, bridges and beautiful surroundings. The big advantage is that it is so close to home. You are surrounded by the bustle of young people which is very uplifting. Also, the atmosphere is quite cultural and international with lots of things going on. The first day I came across an English book exchange bazaar with each book costing 1 euro!! Of course, I came home with at least 10 books.

Apart from people from marketing and communication, I've made friends with the coffee lady, Chus (very important contact), an American teacher called Wendy (in charge of the book bazaar) and Fatima's friend, Birgit Strotmann, a German lady who is head of Languages here and whose English is perfect (nice to have a friend to have coffee with).

The only person I haven't seen here yet is my daughter Olivia who studies at the UEM and is in the same building as me. I don't think she wants to see me either as she finds the whole situation a bit embarrassing.

As to my first task, setting in motion the Doctor Honoris Causa event, it's working out a lot lot easier than I thought. The most attractive thing about it is the novelty; doing something I've never done before. So, yes, after 4 days, the balance is tired, but happy with life.

More news next week .......


Thursday, March 09, 2006

New project and off to the seaside

Hello my friends

I have a small piece of good news to share with you which I'm sure you will be happy to hear. From next Monday until the end of June I will be working freelance for the Universidad Europea de Madrid on various communications projects, the main one being the Doctor Honoris Causa for Mario Vargas Llosa at the end of April. A big plus here is that the University is just a 5 or 10 minute drive from home.

So as I know I am going to be incredibly busy from now on, we've decided to go to our flat at the seaside tomorrow in Santa Pola (Alicante). I've looked up the weather forecast and it will be sunny with temperatures of 20º all weekend. I just can't wait for our first walk on the beach and the sea breeze in our faces, not to mention a lovely rice dish at our favourite restauant near Elche (arroz a banda - much better than Paella I can tell you!).

The photos are of the view from our terrace.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The first signs of Spring

Hello again

Now the snow has gone and the temperatures are climbing it seems Spring may be on its way. Actually there are less than 3 weeks to go.

When I saw this new row of purple crocuses this morning in the garden I couldn't help taking a shot for my blog.

So for all of you out there suffering the cold (except Juana and Oscar in sunny Mexico City), these flowers should cheer you up. They certainly did me.


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Playing Cupid

Hiya again,

Last night we went to an Indian restaurant in Madrid (The Ganges) with some friends. The hidden agenda was that we were playing cupid for a very good friend of mine. An attractive single man was invited but he didn't know he was on a blind date! What fun!

So how did it work out? Difficult to tell really. I know "she" liked "him" who is gorgeous looking and very eligible but I have no idea what he thought. The unlucky thing was the seating as they ended up at opposite ends of the table!! I shall obviously have to practice at being a better cupid.

On the bright side though, we have all agreed to go out again, this time to the theatre.

The picture is of me just before we left home. I think I have that "I'm cooking something look".

PS Sorry no names

Friday, March 03, 2006

New look

Hiya again

So today we went to the hairdressers, Susi, Oli and me. It was time for tending to my dark roots (oh age, what a terrible thing!) and the girls needed highlights and a new cut.

We went separately as I had an appointment at the clinic (routine stuff) and they had a lunch date. So we only saw eachother after lunch. My new look was not very new, just got rid of some of the layers and back to my previous look (someone once said like Nancy Reagan who apparently never changed her hairstyle in 40 years!! ugh!). Oli's did change though; lighter highlights and a FRINGE!! She looks great. Then Oli said, "be prepared for Susi" and I thought "Oh my God, what has she done, turned it orange or what?". I was prepared for the worst (could it be worse than the cockerel style she had for Amanda's wedding?) and actually it wasn't that bad: short and all over the place. Oli told me she'd asked the hairdresser to do somehing "crazy".

For you to get a better idea, here we are, the 3 of us sitting on Oli's bed posing for the camara and for my blog.