Sunday, December 29, 2013

Suzy came home for Christmas, a special dinner party, Oli reporting on TVE, the story of this year’s Christmas and other things.


Shopping with Olivia and Suzy, it was great to be with both girls.
Hi again,

It’s Sunday, Suzy has gone and Christmas is over, at least the main part of it.  So let me tell you how it has been.

Last Sunday night Eladio and I drove to the airport to pick Suzy up.  She hadn’t been home since August and was coming to spend Christmas with us and would be at home for one full week.  Whilst Eladio was in the car outside I waited for her inside the terminal but there were so many people we missed each other and finally I found her outside.  The reunion was sweet and tearful; tears of joy.  We drove home where Olivia was waiting and the four of us would be reunited.  Oh how wonderful that feeling was.

Monday was a full day and I spent most of it with Suzy as I would all week, when she wasn’t out meeting her friends.  First we went to the hairdresser where Suzy would get a new hair cut to go with the new colour of her hair – darker and no longer red!  Then we went to the dentist for her dental appointment after which we made our way to Centro Oeste (shopping centre) where Olivia was waiting for us.  The picture illustrating this week’s post is of that moment.  It was lovely to be out shopping with both my girls.

I spent the afternoon cooking as that evening we were hosting a very special dinner.  It was for Mar and Mariano, a journalist couple we are very close to and their adopted eleven year old Chinese son San.  We have dinner with them every year at Christmas and it was our turn to host them again. San is very close to the girls as Suzy, and Olivia, sporadically, was his private teacher for many years.  Since Suzy left for London, Copi (a great friend of the girls since about the age of 3) has taken over as his private teacher.  So Copi came to dinner too.  Dave, another friend and spare teacher when Copi can’t make it came too, as did Juli a great friend of the girls.  There were 10 of us around the packed dinner table which looked like this before our guests who always arrive late, came.
The table laid for dinner on Monday night.
And this is a photo of all us at dinner. Sorry about the quality.  
Mar and Mariano and all our guests around the table at home on Monday night.

For the record I made chicken Waldorf salad for starters.  The main dish was baked hake with béarnaise potatoes and asparagus.  Pudding was simple: strawberries and cream.  Afterwards we gathered around the fireplace (lit for the first time this year) and caught up on how our year had been since we saw them last year.  The “kids” meanwhile “played” with San.  I just love this photo Juli took of them with him. 
The "kids" playing with San, from left to right: Copi, Suzy, Dave and Olivia
The next day of course was Christmas Eve which in Spain is even more important than Christmas Day.  Again I spent all day cooking, this time with the help of Fátima, although I had cooked and frozen part of the menu beforehand. 

I was so engrossed cooking that I missed a whatsapp from Olivia telling us she would be live on the TV at 12.15h reporting from Madrid Barajas airport on Spaniards, like Suzy, coming home for Christmas.  Thankfully I could watch the report later.  You can too if you click here and fast forward to 02.00.
Olivia reporting for TVE on Christmas Eve
It turned out that, as usual, I made far too much food. My family was very impressed with the table.  This is the picture Olivia took before we sat down and tucked in.
Our Christmas Eve table
The photo of all of us around the table was taken by Fátima who joined us for our Christmas Eve dinner, but I’m afraid it didn’t come out very well. 
The family on Christmas Eve
Christmas Day, the most important day for the English, finally came and we spent it as we always do.  We were up early for a formal family breakfast.  Whilst I was preparing the table the girls would have been opening their stockings. But the day only starts when we are sitting around the dining room table for breakfast – notice the girls always wear their pyjamas!
Breakfast on Christmas morning
The most awaited moment of the year; the opening of our presents, takes place right after breakfast where we all gather in the lounge around the Christmas tree for the most pleasant time of the year.  The dogs join us for the occasion and Christmas carols play in the background.  Before we started I asked the girls to take the customary photo of Eladio and I which has now become a tradition.  Norah got in the picture as you can see below!
Eladio and I on Christmas Day, just before opening the presents
We go for quantity more than quality, although this year I was told Father Christmas had been more generous than usual.  I certainly couldn’t complain and was as pleased as punch with the presents I bought for myself “from my Father and Eladio”: Marc Jacobs Daisy fragrance, a pair of gold earrings and the finest present of all a camel trench coat. 

After the wonderful present sharing, whilst everyone went off to enjoy their gifts, I of course had to start on the Christmas Day lunch.  The menu never varies and is always: a big roast capon with all the trimmings: sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts and gravy.  I got some help from Olivia who kindly pealed the carrots for me – well she did a bit more hahahaha.  Eladio caught us on camera and I love this photo of the two of us in harmony in the kitchen together on Christmas Day.
Cooking with Olivia on Christmas Day
Lunch was splendid.  I don’t have a photo of all of us around the table, but here is one of my Father waiting for us.  I think he enjoys Christmas as much as any of us and it’s amazing to think he has celebrated 94 in his life.  I look forward to many more with him.
My Father on Christmas Day just before lunch
We were lucky to have Fátima at home with us at Christmas this year, thus she did all the clearing away whilst the girls, Eladio and I retired to the lounge with the fire on and switched on the TV.  There wasn’t much on so finally we opted for hiring a film on cable TV which was not a good choice – it was about the fall of the Lehman Brothers Bank and we all fell asleep.  A walk was in order afterwards if we were to burn at least some of the enormous amount of calories we had consumed on Christmas Day.

Meanwhile in Montrondo, where Eladio’s brother José Antonio, his wife Dolores and their “children” Miguel, Sara and Juan were spending Christmas, it snowed.  This is a photo they sent us telling us that they were enjoying a real snowy day.  How great for them!
Snow in Montrondo on Christmas Day

The next day was Boxing Day.  It is not a holiday in Spain so Olivia had to work but as she doesn’t start until 1pm, there was time for shopping again with both girls.  It was more about returning goods than actual shopping.  But I must say I picked up a nice jumper at H+M and a great polka dot dress from Zara.
My new polka dot dress from Zara
Lunch was with Suzy at home and my Father and Eladio and of course, it being Boxing Day we had left overs.  We have been having left overs until yesterday actually after which I threw the rest away!  Suzy suggested watching The Sound of Music together in the afternoon and I couldn’t think of anything better to do with her on a Boxing Day afternoon, even if it meant sacrificing my walk!  We loved every minute of it and were joined by the dogs which lay on the sofas us by the fire and seemed to be just as happy as us.  The Sound of Music was part of my childhood as it was a part of my girls’ childhood and it is definitely my favourite film of all times. Suzy it was great watching it again with you on Boxing Day!

Friday was another very full day.  I had breakfast with Olivia after which I went into the office on several errands.  That evening an important event was happening at our house. The girls, or rather Suzy, had organized a sleep over pyjama party for their friends from the “manada” (herd).  There would be 11 for dinner and I think 9 of them stayed the night.  This is a photo of them having dinner that night.
The "manada" who came to the sleep over pyjama party on Friday night.
A big mention should be made here to Anita’s cake. Ana or Anita, who studied at University with Olivia at the UEM (Universidad Europea de Madrid) is turning into a professional cake maker in her spare time.  She brought two cakes to the “manada” dinner and here is a photo of her with Suzy holding both cakes.  The green one is a work of art I’m sure you agree.
Anita (right) who makes marvelous cakes.
Olivia had to miss the dinner, although she would join them all later, as the class from her school, St. Michael’s had organized a Christmas reunion in Madrid, funnily enough at Macadamia, where Yoigo had its Christmas party.  Here is a photo of all of them that I bagged from Facebook.  It was great to see them all together, Paula, Zeus, Tamara, Sonia, Virginia, etc and it took me back a few years remembering them when they were little children at school!
Oli's school reunion Christmas dinner on Friday night.
As the house was so full, Eladio and I decided to go out to dinner. After all it was Friday, the night we usually go out.  We decided on La Txitxarrería in Pozuelo where we happily chatted about this year’s Christmas so far, over a wonderful piece of steak (me) and fish stew (Eladio).
 
As the “manada” was still at home on Saturday morning, Eladio and I went out shopping to Gran Plaza 2 (shopping centre).  We were home at 2, just as the girls were leaving.  They promised they would be home by 3. Thus a late family lunch was in order.  I was very conscious that Suzy was leaving the next day and wanted to savour as much time with her together with the family before she left.  Thus I spent the afternoon lounging with the girls in the rooms before they got ready to go out again.

This morning, Sunday morning, I spent all my time with them again; watching Suzy pack and helping Olivia sort out her bathroom (hurray!).  We were to have the last lunch all together before taking Suzy to the airport.  Just before lunch I caught both girls on camera again, putting make up on. This is the result.
Suzy and Oli this  morning.
We had an early lunch and I made Russian pelmeni (sort of ravioli) at Suzy’s request.  Straight afterwards she had to say goodbye to Grandpa before we drove her to the airport.  There we met up with Chati, her friend and flat mate with whom she would be travelling back, her sister and Mother, both called Elena.  We saw the girls off until they finally disappeared behind security.  I’m not sure when we will next see Suzy, although I’m hoping she’ll be back in February for my birthday.  That remains to be seen, if not, London’s not that far and a trip can be organized any time really.

And that is the story of our Christmas so far. Of course we have New Year’s Eve to look forward to.  We will be travelling to León on Tuesday to spend that night with Eladio’s family and will be back the next day. But more about that next week, ok.

All that remains now is to wish you all a splendid 2014.  I only ask that 2014 be as good as 2013.  So, hoping for that, cheers till next week,


Masha
PS You can see all our Christmas photos here.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas parties, stomach bugs, preparing for our own Christmas, Suzy coming home and other stories.

 
Me with Baltasar, the "black" king at the Yoigo Childrens' party on Thursday
Good morning everyone,

How has your week been? Mine has been up and down, mostly due to stomach bugs, but more about that later. Let me start with last Sunday.

Sunday was the day the new direct high speed train railway line between Barcelona and Paris opened.  It was also the day Peter O’Toole died.  Does this talented and ironic and iconic British actor need any introduction?  He will be remembered most for his role as Lawrence of Arabia.  When Eladio and I visited Jordan we saw where part of the film was shot in the Wadi Rum Desert and where his desert hideaway was.  It was the perfect location for the film.
Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia
Finally last Sunday the technicians from Telefónica came to install optical fiber, i.e. superfast internet.  For that to happen we had to build a trench all the way across the garden to bury the cable.  This is what the trench looked like.  I was amazed to learn that optical fiber is the same size as one single piece of hair.  Imagine!
The trench in the garden to lay the cable for optical fiber
Unfortunately not all could be done in one day, so the technicians promised to come back on Monday.  And they did, but it wasn’t until the end of the day that finally we had between 60 and 105 megabyte speed. It certainly makes a difference.

I didn’t feel well on Monday and was still recovering from the stomach bug which started on the Saturday.  It was a good job it was a fasting day, although in any case I had no appetite for food.  In the morning I was at work on various errands and later in the day I started on preparations for our Christmas Eve dinner by making and freezing loads of croquettes and perushki (Russian meat pies). 

I felt worse as the day went on and Monday night was one of the worst in a long time with frequent bouts of diarrhea and then at about 5 in the morning I was suddenly attacked with cystitis, something the girls have always suffered but I had never had before.  I can tell you it is awful. Thankfully there were some pills in Suzy’s bathroom which after an hour or so did the trick and that awful burning feeling went away.

On Tuesday I was on the mend, although I didn’t feel 100%.  In fact I still don’t.  But I’m hoping I will by Christmas Eve.  Once again I went into the office.  There I was delighted to see how the marketing department had decorated the bus stop outside the office with Christmas greetings to all the employees which included a list of all our names. This is what it looked like.
The Yoigo bus stop wishing all employees a happy Christmas
It was a good job I felt better on Tuesday as I had a lunch appointment with my ex women colleagues from Nokia: Jill, Juana, Fátima and Susana.  We chose Aspen, a favourite of mine but also near where Fátima and Susana work.  It was great to see my ex colleagues again and so nice that we make the effort to keep in touch.
Lunch with the ex Nokia girls on Tuesday
That evening I had another Christmas event to attend, a cocktail party hosted by my PR agency, Ketchum, but frankly I just didn’t feel up to it.  Instead I stayed at home and watched the last episode (12) of season 3 of Homeland whilst Eladio was out teaching at the UNED University.  Of course I cannot include any spoilers here in case you haven’t watched the last episode.  All I can say is that it really surprised me and left with rather an empty feeling.

On Wednesday the big news was the death of the famous great train robber, Ronald Biggs.  The train robbery took place in the 60’s and is one of my first memories of news.  He was larger than life and escaped from prison and went to live in Brazil for many years until giving himself up to return to England where he said he was missing the British pint of beer. 
Ronald Biggs enjoying life in Brazil.
Wednesday night was the Yoigo employees party which I had organized at a fashionable venue in Madrid called Macadamia.  Wednesday was the first day I began to feel normal again so was able to eat and drink.  However the former gave me a dreadful headache that night, as it often does.  The party was a success and I heard later that many people stayed on until 4 in the morning. Not me, I headed home at around 1 in the morning.  Here is a photo of me enjoying the evening, or rather watching the young violinist, Pablo Violín performing for us.  He was just amazing.  At only 24 he is a permanent violinist with the orchestra at the Teatro Real (Madrid Royal Theatre) and in his spare time, plays at parties like ours. If you want to know what he sounds like, here is a clip of him on You Tube.
Watching and listening enraptured to Pablo Violin at the Yoigo employees Christmas party
You can see all the photos of the Yoigo employee party here.  I think it was one of the best to judge by many of the comments made to me by the staff.

Thursday saw me cooking again.  This time I was making the dessert for the annual Christmas dinner at home with Julio and Fátima who were coming on Friday night.  I decided to make fruit trifle, my absolute favourite dessert.  This is what it looked like.  Notice Elsa got in the picture too!
The trifle I made for dinner at home with Julio and Fátima - notice Elsa looking on!
On Thursday it was the Yoigo children’s party.  As always it took place at the offices or rather outside as each year the number of children coming increases. This year we had 170 children plus parents and grandparents of course.  This is the party they look forward to all year.  This year we had a show called ratatouille but also a donkey for them to ride and then the traditional 3 Kings.  I was enamoured with the donkey called “elegante” and which came from Zamora.  Here I am trying to get on it.  I finally made it with a bit of help.
I'm a rather big child! - Trying to get on the donkey at the Yoigo childrens' party on Thursday
The photo illustrating this week’s blog is of me with Baltasar, the “black” king, who is always my favourite.

I got home exhausted and very hungry as it was my fasting day.  So I ravished my single omelette and tomato before going to bed.  Eladio was out at his only Christmas party event, with the UNED University.

Friday was a busy day.  Finished with all the corporate Christmas events, finally I was able to concentrate on our own Christmas.  The house was decorated, I had bought most of the presents and prepared menus but still had to get some presents. So I invited Eladio to go Christmas shopping with me, not always a good idea as he keeps telling me not to spend too much at Christmas. He says that every year and I don’t take a blind piece of notice.  Actually I did all the shopping whilst he looked on.  It was my fasting day so I left him having lunch at the Corte Inglés cafeteria whilst I went in search of my present from him and my Father! It’s always like that.  They are dear men but have never had a clue about present buying.  I got myself a wonderful camel coat, a garment I have always wanted.

Finally on Friday I got Eladio to put the lights on the tree outside.  He had been putting it off for a while. He needed me to hold the ladder at one stage and I must have left the door open as later I found Norah in the kitchen gorging on one of the cheeses I had brought home as part of two of the lovely Christmas hampers I got.  I reckon Norah ate a whole half cheese!
Eladio at the top of the tree putting up the Christmas lights.
That evening Julio and Fátima were coming for dinner but first I had to do the weekly food shopping with Fátima (our home help with the same name as my best friend coming that night).  I was home just on time to put the finishing touches to our meal, or rather put the soup on and cook the fish and béarnaise potatoes.  Luckily the dessert was made.  But of course I had to lay the table too.  Apart from the best china, I put out crackers, party poppers and wonderful green gnomish style Christmas hats.

And here we are around the table with our Christmas hats.  It was a great dinner and a great tradition.  Our next meeting will be on 11th January for another annual tradition, dinner at Julio’s which the girls and my Father used to come to but no longer do or can.
Dinner at home on Friday night with Julio and Fátima
On Saturday, 21st December, Solstice, or the first day of winter, was unfortunate for Eladio.  We were going to get up early to drive to Montrondo to meet the builder and then go on to León to have lunch with the family and pick up the abuela (my mother-in-law) who would be spending Christmas with us.  Well, all that went out of the window, as Eladio woke up feeling sick and was sick at around 7 in the morning.  Upon his first bout he said he was ok and we could go but after his second he agreed we just couldn’t go.  The poor guy had a stomach bug like mine.  We are not sure whether it was a virus or food poisoning. Whatever, he spent most of the day in bed being sick and with a temperature.  I left him in bed to go out and buy the very last presents needed for Christmas as well as a lovely poinsettia which now graces our lounge. 

Miraculously he woke up this morning feeling fine.  Today is the lottery day, or rather the day of the big Christmas lottery called “El Gordo”.  Olivia has had to go to work as it is her TVE programme that will be covering part of the broadcast and the story of the winners.  We have 8 tickets between us which if any of them is a winning ticket could bring up to 40.000 euros each.  Who knows?  The Christmas lottery is Spaniards’ biggest Christmas tradition.  When I first came to live here I couldn’t understand why Eladio spent so much on the tickets when we were poor as church mice.  But now I do, and as I write I have the 8 tickets next to me and the TV on.  I am crossing my fingers we may win something. 

But of course my lottery winning today is having Suzy back for Christmas.  My darling daughter will be arriving tonight, late, from London.  The three of us, Eladio, Oli and I will be going to pick her up and I can imagine the tears of joy that we will shed when she arrives.  She will be here just for a week and we will have to share her with lots of people, but that’s ok.  Our own Christmas will be complete when she arrives. Welcome darling, I can’t wait to have you back.
 
So, all that remains for me to do now is to wish you all a wonderful Christmas.  Ours is looking good, nearly everything is ready.  Next week when I write it will be over, but of course there will be New Year’s Eve to look forward to.  Looking forward to something is the spice of life.  I’m sure you agree.

Cheers everyone,

Happy Christmas,

Masha

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The news from Nelson Mandela’s funeral, Pope Francis: Time Magazine’s person of the year, Christmas came to our home, k.o. on Saturday and other stories

Eladio by the Christmas tree just as I had finished decorating this week.
Hi everyone,

I last wrote on Tuesday of this week, later than usual owing to our trip to London.  But here I am again, on time, on Sunday.  It is a beautiful sunny day and life is good.  Eladio has just washed the dogs and we are now waiting for the technician to come and install optical fiber, I wonder if it will only take one session but I am so looking forward to high speed internet. 

On Tuesday, over breakfast with Olivia, we read that 2 Spanish journalists, Javier Espinosa from El Mundo and freelance photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, had been kidnapped in Syria back in September by a group related to Al Qaeda.  The paper was only revealing the news this week so as not to hinder negotiations with their captors. 
The two Spanish journalists kidnapped by Al Qaeda in Syria.  Javier Espinosa left, Ricardo Garcia right.
My heart goes out to them as it does to all people kidnapped around the world.  But perhaps because I work as a journalist and my daughter is one, this story has made a greater impact than usual. Plus of course they work for a newspaper we often read.  I hope things end well for them and that they will be home for Christmas, although that is very doubtful.

But of course the main news that day was about Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the biggest state funeral probably since Winston Churchill's in 1965.  Three pieces of news emanating from the event, possibly the biggest send off in history, had little to do with the man himself.  The first shock was a photo of Barack Obama shaking hands with his arch enemy, Raúl Castro of Cuba.  It must be said that at the funeral Mandela united all sorts of friends and enemies. There has been much criticism of the gesture but the Cuban leader shook off any importance by saying it was just a salute by civilized people.  That was possibly the photo that most illustrated news of the funeral the next day in the papers.
The unplanned handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro at Mandela's funeral
The photo that came close second was of Barack Obama, David Cameron and the Danish prime minister, the very beautiful Helle Thorning-Schmidt, taking a “selfie” with her smartphone whilst Michelle Obama looks away in disgust. 
The selfie between David Cameron, Barack Obama and the now more famous Danish premiere Helle Thorning-Schmidt which had Michelle Obama looking away in disgust.
If you have not yet heard the word “selfie”, it’s interesting to note that it’s the Oxford Dictionary's word of the year and means a photo taken at arm's length with a mobile phone later to be uploaded on social media.  The three of them, especially Obama, have been much criticized too for this “crass” behavior during the funeral.  I rather liked the fact that all three behaved like normal people and am sure Mandela wouldn’t have minded.  I, probably like the rest of the world excluding Denmark, did not even know the name of their lady premiere until this famous selfie on Tuesday.  So I read about her and was interested to learn that in Denmark she is nick named “Gucci Helle” for her love of luxury goods.  Also I didn’t know she was married to the former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock’s son.  At 46 the unconventional Helle Thorning-Schmidt was accused of using her sex appeal to win the elections in 2011 and is said to revel in attention, especially, it seems, admiring glances from flirtatious male statesmen like Barack Obama or David Cameron.  All that said, it must be very difficult to be a premiere when you are a beautiful woman.  It must have been easier for Margaret Thatcher, who I am sure would have thought the whole issue “crass” too like Michelle Obama.
The beautiful Danish premiere Helle Thorning.Schmidt who became more famous after the "selfie" at Mandela's funeral
It is a pity Obama will be remembered more for the selfie photo rather than for what I gather was a very inspiring speech at the funeral from the USA's first black president.  You can watch it here

On Tuesday I had lunch with my friends Julio and Fátima.  It was to be our annual Christmas lunch out.  At Christmas the three of us have three annual engagements, lunch out, dinner at our home and dinner at Julio’s.  So at El Buey (our favourite) in Boadilla on Tuesday we agreed on the dates for the other two engagements. As we are such close friends we also told each other what we wanted for Christmas!

In the afternoon, as on most afternoons, Eladio and I went for our daily walk with the dogs.  Here is a lovely photo I took of Eladio with Elsa (our labrador) and Norah (our beagle).
Eladio with our dogs Norah left and Elsa right on our walk on Tuesday
On Wednesday, my second fasting day of the week, there was more news from the Nelson Mandela funeral which shook the world.  This time it was about the sign language interpreter.  Apparently he turned out to be a fake.  So there he was standing next to the orators just playing with his hands rather than really interpreting for the blind.  You can read more about the story here.

For the records Wednesday was 11/12/13, a very attractive consecutive date I thought.  It was also the day Motorola announced its return to the Spanish market after having left it one year ago.  I was pleased with the news but rather annoyed that many of my ex colleagues had been fired a year ago for nothing.  Will some of them be hired again? I certainly hope so.

On Wednesday, Christmas came to our home.  Strictly speaking you should not decorate your home until 12 days before Christmas.  At home we used to put up the tree just a few days before, so I resist the temptation until I really begin to feel the Christmas spirit, which this year came about during our trip to London.  What really goes against the grain with me is decorating your home before the beginning of December or Christmas produce in the shops in October!

It took quite a while to decorate, most of which I did myself.  Of course Eladio brought up the decorations in the big box and set up the tree and the lights, but he left the rest to me. Whilst decorating, I put on Christmas carols to enhance the festive spirit and I lamented that neither girl was there to help me.  However I do know they appreciate the effort once it is all done.  Here is a panoramic photo of the lounge with some of the decorations.  You can see the rest of the photos here.
Christmas came to our home this week
On Wednesday too I was delighted to read that Pope Francis was named Time Magazine person of the year.
Pope Francis, this year's Time Magazine person of the year.
Edward Snowden was runner up.  The editor of the magazine, Nancy Gibbs said of Pope Francis that he had “pulled the papacy out of the palace and into the streets and that rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly”. I think that was rightly and very beautifully said.  If you know me you will know I am not a Catholic although I went to a Catholic school; you will know I am a sort of lax Christian but if one person in the world could make me believe again I am sure it would be this marvelous new pontiff. 

On Thursday I was busy with two important engagements that day that saw me very early in the morning at the hair dressers.  By midday I was at the first in the centre of Madrid at Club 567 in the elegant Velázquez Street.  I was meeting with my fellow jurors of the Premios Elocuent – prizes for the best personal communicators in Spain in over 12 categories.  We were to meet to cast our final votes.  The ceremony will take place in January at the Faculty of Communication at the Complutense University.  The project is quite ambitious.  There are two types of prizes – the pop ones voted by the public at large and the top ones voted by the jury.  So far over 8000 people have voted.

Meanwhile Suzy was working hard at the venue where she is the catering manager for Create Food and Party Design, at the iconic Oxo Tower.  This time of the year is the busiest with corporate Christmas events taking place there every day of this month.  Finally she sent us a photo of her working.  She pointed out she was equipped with a walkie-talkie to be in touch with security, the chefs and other personnel.  Doesn’t she look great?
Suzy busy at Oxo
In the evening I attended my own second corporate Christmas event, but as a guest I must add.  It was the annual management team dinner and this year would take place at a lovely restaurant in Madrid I hadn’t been to for many years.  We didn’t leave until nearly 2 in the morning which I commented to my colleagues was far too late for me who usually turns in at just past 21h.

Friday of course was Friday 13th. The only unlucky thing that happened that day was that it rained for the first time in a long time. Thus our walk was thwarted that afternoon. In the evening I went to do the food shopping with Fátima but was in a terrible rush to get back home on time to leave for the cinema with Eladio.  I had bought tickets for us to see the film about Lady Diana, “Diana”, played by the not as beautiful Naomi Watts and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.  The criticism was negative but I am sucker for stories of the Princess of the British hearts and am a great admirer of that wonderful, lonely, beautiful and sad woman.  The film or biopic as it is called focuses on the last two years of her life after divorcing Prince Charles and is mainly about the impossible relationship with the Pakistani heart and lung surgeon Hasnat Khan, who, apparently, has dismissed the film as a betrayal of their relationship. Be that as it may, both Eladio and I thoroughly enjoyed it and I shed a tear or two at the end, as I did when she died on 31st August 1997 so tragically in that Parisian tunnel followed by the paparazzi that never left her in peace in life or  in death.
I loved the film Diana we went to see on Friday night.
Afterwards we had dinner at Ginos as we often do on Friday evenings but something must have disagreed with me as early in the morning of Saturday I was as sick as a dog. When I’m ill the only good thing is that Eladio looks after me with utmost compassion.  He helped me through my sick bouts and gave me an injection of primperan so as not to be sick again.  So at about 09h I got up, had a shower and decided on a cup of tea for breakfast instead of coffee.  Unfortunately just one sip brought on two bouts of sickness again.  So all there was to do yesterday was to stay in bed as I felt so weak and lousy.  In a way yesterday was a completely K.O. day.  I spent all of it in bed only rising at 13h and 19h to have a cup of tea and piece of toast, the only food I had yesterday. Thankfully I wasn’t sick again and this morning I woke up feeling much stronger, although my stomach still feels a little woozy.  So Saturday’s plans for lunch in Madrid with José Antonio and Dolores and a visit to the Christmas Market at the Plaza Mayor had to go out of the window.  I was most annoyed. 

Thankfully today I feel better.  It will be a quiet day, no girls, Fátima has just left for her weekly break and as I write the Movistar technician is installing our new super-fast internet connection (optical fiber).

Olivia has been away all weekend with her group of friends commonly known as “la manada” (the herd) and I haven’t heard much from her.  They have gone to stay at a guest house all for themselves called Dalt La Figuera in a village called La Higuera a few kilometres away from Segovia. We look forward to seeing her again in the early evening.  I had hoped for some photos but none have been sent or posted, so here is a photo of the guest house as an alternative to record their weekend away.
The guest house (Dalt La Figuera) Olivia and her friends are staying at this weekend in Segovia.
Next week, the week before Christmas, will be busy.  I have two engagements on Tuesday and then on Wednesday and Thursday I am organizing the Yoigo Christmas parties for the employees and their children respectively.

Meanwhile I wish you all a great week ahead,

Cheers till next time,

Masha

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yoigo turns 7, Bradford Grammar School, Nelson Mandela dies, so to London and home again.


With Adela and Suzy in London (Borough Market)
Hi everyone,

I completely forgot to record that last Sunday Yoigo turned 7.  We launched on 1st December 2006 and it has been a roller coaster 7 years since then.  We were born as an unknown Swedish owned mobile phone operator in Spain.  Today we are the well-established 4th operator in Spain and can boast nearly 4 million customers.  It has been an amazing journey to where we are today and I am proud to be one of the founding members of that incredible team that created the company we are today.  In 2010 on the occasion of becoming the fastest European operator to reach profitability, I made this lovely video of our story.  The essentials of the story are still in place today and you can watch it here. This was the celebration photo we posted on our social media pages.  Translated it means: nobody wants to be asked how old they are.  But we do, we are 7 years old today. Happy birthday Yoigo! How could I have forgotten?
Yoigo was 7 last Sunday

On Sunday we had Juli for lunch.  Juli is Olivia and Suzy’s Colombian friend and I often think of him as the son I never had. For the occasion Fátima made her famous homemade pizza which we all adore.

We had news from Suzy that day from London.  After many years of dying her hair red, she had decided to dye it back to her natural colour – medium brown - and this is what she looked like.
Suzy dyed her hair back to her natural colour

Suzy is enjoying her life in London and that night she sent us photos of herself and friends skating at the outdoor rink by the Tower of London.  She said it was magical.  I bet it was.  I loved skating as a child but have never skated outdoors and have always wanted to.  So I was pleased to receive this photo of Suzy skating at such a wonderful location.
Suzy skating outdoors at the rink by the Tower of London

Monday, my first fasting day of the week, was spent sending all sorts of reports.  I had to send in my monthly PR reports in different formats to Stockholm and to the Board.  I also had to submit my PR plan for 2014 which I had been putting off.  But when I got down to it, it was ready in less than two hours.  

I was very frustrated with our internet connection that day as I had been downloading the video collection of the series called 24 since the Saturday before.  Believe it or not, it is still downloading today, one week later and will probably take another couple of days as the percentage reached right now is 87%.  We are desperately waiting for Telefónica to come and install optical fiber for which we have had to dig a trench in the garden for the wire to be laid.  They keep promising to come but no sign of them so far.  I am really looking forward to the 100 megabits speed they promise.  Hopefully when that happens I will be able to download TV series a lot faster than right now. Meanwhile Juan, my nephew, keeps me happy by sending me the latest episodes of Homeland.

On Tuesday it was one of our youngest nephew’s birthdays.  Mario, the second youngest, was 23.  Today he is a professional handball player and physical education teacher training student with a stunning girlfriend, a far cry from when he was a hyperactive loud toddler and the desperation of his Mother Pili.  Today she must be very proud of him.  Happy birthday Mario.

Mario was 23 last week.  Here he is fulfilling a dream, playing handball at the Barcelona stadium.
 On Wednesday, the second fasting day of the week, I had breakfast with Olivia and Miguel who had arrived on Tuesday night from Valencia to spend the rest of the week with my daughter. He brought with him the necklace she had bought for me in the Gili Islands at Meno in Indonesia.  It is a beautiful turquoise necklace I look forward to wearing.  Thank you darling.

I went into the office that day on various errands, quite a few in fact as I hadn’t been in for a while.  As usual I love greeting my colleagues.  The Yoigo staff is a great bunch of people.
 
On Thursday I received an email from the head of marketing at Bradford Grammar School (these days schools have marketing managers!). Bradford Grammar School (BGS) was the school where my Father taught languages (Russian, French and German) from the 60’s until he retired in the 80’s.  It was the best school in the area and plenty of our boyfriends were pupils there, our school, St. Joseph’s College being next door. She had written to ask permission to publish a post from my blog where I had written about my Father which apparently had been sent to her by a past pupil of my Father’s.  I was very “chuffed” to use the Yorkshire word for pleased and proud.  I reread the post I had written on his 90th birthday and found what I had written quite emotional.  You can read it here too.  The link to my post was published on the BGS website here.  I told my Father and I think he was pleased.  Also recently he received an email from another past pupil, Andrew B who learned Russian under him and went on to study it at Oxford.  I thought it was lovely that he had reached out to my Father after so many years.  He must have made a mark on him. I can proudly say my Father was a gifted teacher of languages who helped many bright BGS pupils go on to study the language at either Oxford or Cambridge, quite a feat for any teacher.
Bradford Grammar School where my Father taught for many years.
Thursday of course was a big day for me.  Finally the day had arrived when my sister-in-law Adela and I would be travelling to London.  I of course was going to see my older daughter Susana whom I hadn’t seen since August – the longest period we have ever been apart.  But I was also accompanying Adela who would be travelling on a plane and visiting London for the first time.  It was a big ordeal for her and I was determined she would enjoy every minute. Her daughter Marta and son in law Ministro drove her from León to the airport.  Eladio drove me and we met in the early evening at Terminal 1 where we were to catch the 19.30 Easy Jet flight to Gatwick. Here is a photo Eladio took of the two of us with our suitcases outside Barajas airport.
Adela and I ready to leave at Barajas Airport last Thursday
I warned Adela that travelling aboard and flying is only for the fittest and that it is like an obstacle race. She fully agreed as she took off her watch, boots and coat to go through security, queued behind the passport control and showed her boarding pass countless times.  Finally we were on the plane and even though I knew she was feeling nervous I preferred to ignore it to make her feel less so.  I touched her arm as we took off and once in the air she had a huge beam of a smile on her face.  She found the flight quite short and it is. No sooner were we airborne than we were preparing for landing.  Once again I touched her arm as landing took place and thankfully it was smooth.  Afterwards she said she loved the experience.  For me it was funny to be concentrating on every single “obstacle” of the journey as flying for me is as natural as breathing.  So as the plane landed I showed her how to be off the plane fast and to go ahead of the exiting passengers so as to be at the front of the queue of the passport control at arrival.  I warned her that the luggage would take some to arrive but actually it was fast.  Now we were at Gatwick, our next stage of the journey would be getting on the Gatwick Express to Victoria Station for which I had already bought the tickets online.  On the train we enjoyed two Spanish Iberian ham sandwiches we had bought at Barajas, as our dinner that night.  At Victoria Adela learned what an Oyster pass is as we bought one for her to use on the underground and topped up mine.  As I had warned my sister-in-law the worst thing about the underground when travelling with luggage are the steps, but we managed.  Soon we were at Paddington, our destination.  As we walked out onto the dark London streets, I guided her the 200 metres or so to our hotel, the Balmoral House Hotel where Eladio and I had stayed in the summer.  For me this little Bed and Breakfast in the centre of London is a home away from home. It is modest but cozy, warm and very clean.  Thankfully Adela liked it too and we were treated like house guests at this B&B run by an elderly Spanish couple and were welcomed at breakfast by Arancha from Tarragona and the other staff.
Adela outside our hotel.

We were shocked to learn on arrival that Nelson Mandela had just died as the story of his death was unfolding on the BBC at the reception of our hotel.  I could hardly believe it although of course he was 95 and very frail.  The whole world was to be united in mourning his death and flags the world over would be at half mast, as we would see them in London the next day. Nelson Mandela, often referred to by his Xhosa clan name, “Madiba or as Tata (Father) was South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon and led South Africa’s transition from white minority rule in the 90’s, after 27 years in prison for political activities. He was also a Nobel Peace Laureate and was one of the world’s most revered statesmen.  He will never be forgotten and the least I could do was pay tribute to him in my blog.  Rest in Peace Madiba.
RIP Nelson Mandela.  We mourn your death but celebrate your legacy.

We arrived too late that night to do anything other than unpack and go to bed.  But we were up early on Friday morning at 7 and on time for breakfast which we had each day at 07.30.  Here is a picture of Adela having breakfast on our first day.
Eladio having breakfast at our hotel on the first morning.

We were to meet Suzy at St. Paul’s at 11 so had plenty of time before that to go for a walk.  I took Adela to Hyde Park from where we would walk to Marble Arch, except that in the end we walked all the way around the huge park.  We were amazed to see people swimming at 08.30 in the morning in December in the freezing cold Serpentine Lake.  Here is a picture to prove what we saw. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and although Hyde Park is nicer in the summer it was still lovely and we thoroughly enjoyed our bracing walk.
People swimming in the freezing water of the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park at 08.30 on Friday morning.

With our Oyster passes we took the tube from Marble Arch to St. Paul’s where Suzy was over half an hour late.  But I forgave her as soon as I saw her and we had a mammoth hug.  We took her to have breakfast where we enjoyed a coffee and chocolate drink too before we hit the streets. 

First we sent shopping as Suzy was keen to spend some of her second salary on clothes.  We went into H+M where I bought her lots of garments.  I also bought a lovely cream coloured jersey dress for myself which I know was a great buy.

From St. Paul’s we crossed the street to walk across the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank where we would walk along the side past all the wonderful bridges until we reached Suzy’s work place, the Oxo Tower.
With Suzy on the Millennium Bridge on Friday morning.

But first we walked along the river in the other direction until we came to Borough Market.  The photo illustrating this post is of the three of us there.  Here at a stall we bought Christmas wreathes from a charity for underprivileged children, some of whom posed for a photo with us. 
At Borough Market on Friday morning.

From Borough Market in old London we made our way to Oxo where Suzy is the catering manager at Oxo 2 a popular events venue where she works for the London agency Create Food and Party Design.  I just had to take a photo of Suzy on the steps of Oxo 2 which has great views of the River Thames.
Suzy at the steps of Oxo 2 where she is the catering manager.

We went inside to see the venue and to meet some of her colleagues.  Their next party was starting at 19h and would end way past midnight, but they had to be there early to set everything up.  I took another photo of Suzy at Oxo 2 to remember what the venue is like and to record her working there.
Suzy in her element at her place of work at Oxo 2

We left Suzy in search of somewhere to eat and found it at the Riverside café where I had once been with Sandy, Susan and Adele.  Here I introduced Adela to England’s staple dish: fish and chips which she adored.  Well so did I of course.
Introducing Adela to fish and chips at the Riverside café on the Southbank

Afterwards on our way along the river side to Westminster, our next destination, we were in luck as there was a wonderful Christmas market with very enticing products on sale.  I would have loved to buy a real gingerbread house but of course couldn’t have carried it home so settled for pink and white coconut ice and walnut fudge bars to be enjoyed at Christmas. Not really able to explain what they were to Adela I said they were similar to Spanish “turrón”.
Adela at the Christmas market on the Southbank

At the Christmas market we met a very authentic Father Christmas who would only allow you to take a photo if you paid him 2 pounds.  I did so anyway only to find later he had put his hand on his face to spoil the photo. There were many very original “living statues” which made us laugh.  We carried on past the London Eye where there were huge queues to get on and of course looming ahead of us were the Houses of Parliament. 
Adela on Westminster Bridge on Friday afternoon

Here we crossed the very busy bridge and found a group of people following a Jesus like figure carrying a huge cross which if you looked hard you could see ran on wheels.  I got talking to him. He was called Eric and was from Florida. He and his group were preaching and Eric told me his whole mission was just to pray with me and to convert me.  I told him he didn’t need to convert me, just ease me out of my lax Christianity.  I must admit I felt a little moved.  Adela remarked that I talk to a lot of people in the street and I do, just like my Mother and brother.  She had seen me talk to the fat black waitress at the Riverside café, to the Father Christmas, to one of the living statues and now to Eric.  He was not to be the last person I would chat to, as it is very much in my nature to talk to people when I am travelling.  For me it’s part of the fun. 

Adela was in awe of Westminster, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  I took her all around Parliament Square and gave her a short history lesson in famous English people, including Churchill, Oliver Cromwell and Emily Pankhurst to whom we women owe many thanks for obtaining votes for women.
Just had to take this iconic photo

From Parliament Square we walked down Whitehall, past Downing Street which when I was a child you could walk right up to number 10.  Sadly that’s not so today and the entrance is heavily guarded by policemen armed to the teeth.  Thank you Osama Bin Laden and co.  By now it was 4 O’clock and dark but we were in luck again as by then we had reached the Whitehall entrance to the Royal Horse Guards Parade and actually witnessed the changing of the guard.

Suitably impressed we carried on until we reached Trafalgar Square, the next important place in London I wanted to show Adela. It was lovely to see the huge Christmas tree donated each year by the city of Oslo since 1947 as a token of the gratitude to the British for their support of Norway in the Second World War.  As I looked at it I reflected that my Father was one of those people the Norwegians were grateful to as he has a medal for being part of the British Naval efforts in liberating Norway.
Adela at Trafalgar Square with the Norwegian spruce behind her.

I had hoped to see South Africa house and the tributes being paid to Nelson Mandela but it was getting dark and we didn’t find it.  

From Trafalgar Square we walked through “Theatre Land” to Piccadilly Circus to see the famous cupid statue and of course the famous Christmas lights.  They were truly wonderful. The cupid statue was covered in a transparent bubble and inside fake snow was falling.  This is what it looked like.
Piccadilly Circus dressed up for Christmas.

The Christmas lights on the streets turning off from Piccadilly were amazing.  I remembered being taken to see the London lights when I was a child by my wonderful Aunty Gloria.  Her husband, my uncle Derek, would drive us all through the main streets to see them. And there I was with Adela some 50 years later seeing them again and remembering those times.
The lights at Christmas in London are spectacular

We walked along the regal Regent’s Street with its expensive branded shops until we reached Oxford Street which was just as beautifully decorated for the season.  By the time we reached Marble Arch our feet would no longer take us any further and there and then we took the tube back to Paddington to rest our aching bodies from so much walking.
Adela on Regents Street one of the most streets in London.  Great Xmas lights too.

In the evening we couldn’t meet up with Suzy for dinner as she would still be working at Oxo until the early hours, so at about 8pm we wandered out to the nearest street with shops and restaurants which was called London Street.  Here I was familiar with some of the restaurants from our visit in the summer.  Adela was not as enticed as I was with the Lebanese, Indian or Greek food on offer so we opted for an Italian restaurant and the food was ok.  We were in bed by 9.30 exhausted from the long day of walking and sightseeing and soon we were asleep in our ultra-comfortable and clean room number 3 at Balmoral House Hotel.

On Saturday after our early breakfast I suggested we walk towards Oxford Street, destination Marks and Spencers, via Maryleybone High Street so that Adela could see some of the ordinary London streets on our way.  We were to be lucky with the weather as we were throughout our stay as it only rained once and very shortly, the temperatures were not too low and the sun made its appearance several times. It was quite a walk, nearly an hour but we were on form from so much walking the day before.  The window dressing on Oxford Street was quite something, especially at Selfridges.  Having watched the TV series Mr. Selfridge I knew the story of the beginnings of the company and how important window dressing was to its success.
The window dressing at Selfridges on Oxford Street was out of this world.

We arrived just as the M+S flagship store opened and here we shopped to our heart’s content until Suzy arrived at about 11 o’clock when we had a break for her to have breakfast.  The three of us continued shopping until we realized we had so many bags, the only option being to take a cab to our hotel to leave them there which is what we did.
Shopping madly at Marks and Spencers

Taking a London cab was part of Adela’s London experience but the truth is the three of us enjoyed it equally.  We left the piles of M+S shopping in our room and were soon out on the street again, this time to Paddington Underground Station to take the tube to Covent Garden another destination I wanted to show Adela.
Suzy in a black cab with us in London on Saturday

And wow was Covent Garden full that Christmassy Saturday morning.  But it was fun and there was lots to see.  I was eager to see if anyone was singing or playing an instrument down the steps by the outdoor cafeteria and we were in luck, four people were playing a jolly song on the fiddle and people from the public were dancing.  Gosh there is so much life going on at Covent Garden.
Adela at Covent Garden on Saturday morning.  It was very busy.

From Covent Garden we walked to Holborn Underground Station to catch the tube to St. Paul’s from where we would walk across the Blackfriars Bridge to Oxo.
The Oxo Tower on the River Thames where Suzy works and where we had lunch on Saturday

Here I had booked a table for lunch at The Oxo Tower Restaurant on the top floor which is run by Harvey Nichols. Here we had a splendid lunch, I mean really wonderful as the restaurant offers true “fine dining”.
Lunch at the Oxo Tower Restaurant was splendid (I'm wearing the jumper dress I bought at H+M in St. Paul's)

Soon Suzy had to leave us to start work on the 2nd floor, so we finished our lunch, paid and left and made our way again along the South Bank.  We went past the Christmas market again, crossed Westminster Bridge, passed Parliament Square and walked up Whitehall until we got to Trafalgar Square.  From Trafalgar I walked Adela up the Mall towards Buckingham Palace which she was to see in the dark as at 4 of course the sun sets in London at this time of year.
Adela outside Buckingham Palace on Saturday afternoon

We were quite tired by the time we reached Buckingham Palace so we walked to what I thought would be the nearest tube station at Victoria.  From here we took the tube to Paddington and went back to our hotel.  We were to rest in our room until we would meet Suzy again. That night, our last night, at 21.30h I would be inviting Adela, Suzy, her boyfriend Gabor and friend Chati to dinner at The Fish Works, a lovely restaurant on Maryleybone High Street where we had been in the summer.  However at around 7pm Suzy rang to say she had been allowed to leave work early and could meet us at 8pm. So we got ready quickly and walked for the second time that day to Maryleybone High Street.  Here we met Suzy outside The Fish Works and went to have a drink at a nearby pub whilst waiting for Gabor and Chati.  Adela treated us to a delicious raspberry mojito.  As the wait seemed to be quite long we decided to walk to Bond Street Tube station to meet Gabor and Chati off the tube and walk back together to the restaurant.

So what did we eat at the Fish restaurant you may be wondering?  Fish and chips was my choice as it was Gabor’s and Chati’s.  I hardly had any photos of Suzy and I of this trip so here was our chance and I asked Chati to take one of us.  This is it. 
Suzy and I at The Fish Works on Saturday night

Then of course we had to have a photo taken of all 5 of us which our waitress kindly took.  Here we are enjoying our last meal together at The Fish Works.
Dinner at The Fish Works on Saturday night. From left to right: Gabor, Suzy, me, Adela, Chati

After dinner we said our goodbyes, although Suzy would be coming to see us off at Victoria station the next morning.  Adela and I once again walked back to our hotel and were in bed at 11.30, rather late for us.  It is impossible to calculate the kilometres we had walked that day and the day before but it could have been at least 10km each day.  I was feeling the strain in my legs which thankfully when I woke up on Sunday morning had gone.

We had our last breakfast at the Balmoral House Hotel and said goodbye to our friendly waitresses.  Our final task was to pack, or rather to try and get all our purchases into our suitcases.  Adela managed hers, but mine looked impossible.  I was going to leave the feather pillow I had brought with me behind but Adela said no way, managed to get it into her suitcase and then did the heroic feat of shutting mine.  To do so I literally had to stand on it. Here is a photo of Adela performing what seemed to be an impossible task.  Well she did, you are a champion!
Adela closing my suitcase, no easy feat
We decided to take a cab with our heavy cases to Victoria and leave them at left luggage so that we could spend our final hours free of it.  Thus we walked out of the station empty handed and made our way once again to the nearby Buckingham Palace so that Adela could see it in daylight.  I also wanted to show her St. James’ park which is across the road from the Palace.  Here we enjoyed feeding the ducks and walking in the cold air.  It was a sunny morning and the views from the bridge on the lake of the palace were fabulous.  A nice Brazilian couple who were on honeymoon in London took this photo of the two of us.
On the bridge on the lake at St. James' park with Buckingham Palace behind us on Sunday morning.

Once again we were in luck as just after taking that photo we spied the Royal Horse Guards coming down the Mall from Buckingham Palace on route to the Horse Guards’ Parade for the changing of the guard. This time we were to see the full performance at bird’s eye view.
The Changing of the Guards at Horse Guards Parade on Sunday morning.
After watching this wonderful piece of pageantry it was time to walk back to Victoria Station where we meeting Suzy at 11 to say goodbye before getting the Gatwick Express on time to catch our 15.30 Easy Jet flight.  Suzy was late again but we waited for her until she arrived at 11.45.  We said our goodbyes outside the station and I asked Adela to take a final photo of the two of us which you can see below.
With Suzy at Victoria Station on Sunday morning just before we said goodbye.
She accompanied us to left luggage to recover our suitcases and we walked together to the platform to say our final goodbye. I will be seeing her again when she comes home on 22nd December so the goodbye was not too painful.  All in all it was wonderful to see her happy and flourishing in London.  Love you darling.

We arrived at Gatwick at 13.15 and the obstacle race to the plane was quite painless with short queues so by about 14h with our duty free purchases made, we were sitting down to lunch at Caviar House.  Here I had my favourite meal, crab salad and Adela enjoyed a prawn salad. 

The flight home was uneventful and Adela enjoyed the experience again.  We arrived in Madrid 15 minutes early and our baggage was there in a jiffy.  In fact we were outside waiting for Marta, Ministro and Eladio much earlier than they had planned. We said our goodbyes as they drove off to Ponferrada.  Then I got into our comfortable car and was driven home by the best husband in the world.

Eladio meanwhile had just come back from a short weekend in Montrondo with José Antonio the brother who lives in Madrid.  There they were joined by their Mother, Adela's husband Primo, their brother Isidro and his wife Yoli and their sister Pili and her husband Andrés.  Both Adela and Primo, Pili and Andrés are very excited about the building of their new houses in Montrondo. Whilst we were in London Eladio sent me this photo of all of them outside the house that is being built for Adela and Primo.  Of course we would have loved to have been with them but far preferred out trip to London:-)
The picture Eladio sent me from Montrondo whilst we were in London.

 It was great to see my Father, Olivia, Fátima and the dogs and there was time for unpacking, the handing out of various presents and even time to enjoy a frugal dinner with Eladio.  Afterwards I got into bed feeling happy but thoroughly exhausted.

I had a great night’s sleep as there no bed better than one’s own. I woke up on Monday to be faced with a fasting day but I got through it fine.  Yesterday Monday was a calm and quiet day where I got up to speed with my work and settled in at home again.

Of note whilst I was away, apart from Nelson Mandela’s death and the continued demonstrations in Kiev, I had missed the World Cup Draw on Friday.  So I was eager to find out which teams Spain, the reigning champions, would have to confront and found out they were Holland, Chile and Australia.  In fact the first match will be against Holland. It’s quite funny as the final of the last world cup in South Africa was precisely against the Dutch who played dirty as far as I remember.  England doesn’t have an easy group either and will have to play against Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica.  Most people think Spain will get through the first round but will probably not go on to win.  Which country are you laying your bets on to win?  I think it will be the host country Brazil but that remains to be seen.

And now it is Tuesday and I am home again. The week will be relatively quiet.  Today I have a lunch with my great friends Julio and Fátima and on Thursday I have two engagements. The following week will be crazy though with the Yoigo Christmas parties happening on Wednesday and Thursday.  So I think this week we will put up the Christmas decorations.  That is a task we used to do with the girls but Suzy is not here and Olivia will not be that interested. So Eladio and I shall create the Christmas spirit alone as always.  Well he will bring everything up and I shall do the decorating. I look forward to that.

So my friends, I have come to the end of this post and all that remains is for me to wish you all a great week.  By the way you can see the full collection of the photos of our trip to London here.

Cheers till next week

Masha