Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Well, I've recovered enough to do useful things in the space between naps. Like tell you the traditional Scottish cure for a heavy cold.

You will need:
One hat
One four-poster bed
One bottle of whisky

1) Put hat on a post at the foot of the bed.
2) Crawl into the bed.
3) Drink whisky until the hat moves.

Your cold will not trouble you for the rest of the day. And you won't be thinking about the cold next morning either. You'll be thinking about your hangover.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I don't know why people say they've got the flu. The flu's got me. In steel-hard talons.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Nearly Christmas already

I spent a good bit of the afternoon asleep. Then this evening I designed the Christmas card I'm going to send out to friends. I try to get the international cards in the post on December 1st, but I rarely manage it.

Only a month to Christmas, my goodness!

70,000 reasons to celebrate

I promised myself I'd get the novel up to 70,000 words before I stopped for Christmas, and I did.
So last night I went out with my friends to celebrate. We found a new restaurant in town that was very good, and stayed until about midnight.

This morning I feel a bit rough, but I made a rum cake, mostly as an excuse to put the candles on. If I don't pat mysaelf on hte back, who will?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


It's been raining a lot lately.

Yesterday the Classroom assistants had a meeting in Santa Cruz, so I decided to do my errands in town and see my old collegues when they broke for coffee.

In spite of the Canaries's reputation for endless sunshine, it poured. The first thing I bought was an umbrella. Then I had breakfast and went to the bank. I met Helen, who was also in town since Theresa was at the meeting, and we did some paperwork for her bank account and driving license.

It was still raining, and you can only drink so much coffee in bars, so we squelched up the hill to see my friend Ana, whom I'd been neglecting, and then squlched right across the top end of town to the bar near the teacher's centre.

We timed it just right, and I had a happy fifteen minutes catching up with old friends, plus collecting Theresa's signature for yet more paperwork.

At that point, Helen agreed with me that it didn't really make sense for her to stay soggily in town, so she came back with me (via the gestoría and post office, just in time to tidy up the kitchen (bless her) while I fetched my son from school. By the time I got back, Theresa was there too, and we all had lunch.

Today the rain is easing off, and I caught this shot of a rainbow over the ridge int he centre of the island.

Oh, and the novel's at 69,800 words.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Basic Qualification for Writers

An email friend pointed me at an article at

"In essence, 77% of UK readers reread books they like. Compare that to the US where the average reader only reads four books a year, and one of every four Americans admits to not reading anything in the last year. They don't just read UK material, either. The list of the most reread books follows the article to include many US authors.

According to another report from the Jenkins Group, 33 percent of American high school graduates do not read another book once they leave school. The same for 42 percent of college graduates. Fifty-seven percent of books, per the same report, are not read to the end.

However...80 percent of Americans want to write a book."


Have you ever heard of a professional musician that never listens to music, or a chef that only eats at McDonalds?

If you want to write you're going to have to read, and read voraciously. I'm currently reading:

"R is for Ricochet" by Sue Grafton (re-reading it, actually).
"Cities of te Red Night" by William Burroughs
"Writing Crime Fiction" by Lesley Grant-Adamson
and a bunch of old New Scientist magazines that a friend gave me.

Oh, and my own novel's reached 69,000 words.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Life's been rather boring lately. All I seem to do is work: if it's not the novel, it's polishing a guide for the Tourist Office or - horror of horrors - housework.

But last night I went to a belated San Martin party. They promised me that some of the chestnuts had maggots, but I only found one. It wasn't a particularly exciting party, but the company was good and the magician was great. He was showing the kids (and me!) how to do some of the more simple tricks.

And the novel's up to 68,555 words.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Free Rice

Like most writers, I've always loved words. Here's a free game where every correct answer donates food to the world's hungry.

There are 50 levels, but I've never got past 49.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A huge ship

We often get cruise ships visiting Santa Cruz. Today we had a particularly huge one, the Navigator of the Seas. Apparently it holds 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew.

So the Santa Cruz's population went up by around 15% while it was in port.

And the novel's got to 66,024 words. I do love seeing another thousand roll up.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet More Paperwork

H&T have a Spanish lesson in town in Fridays, so I met them afterwards, and we went to the Police Station to get something called Certificado de Ciudano de la Comunidad Europeo or something similar. Basically it means they're EU citizens, and they needed it to get Spanish driving leceses. It took the rest of the morning, but we succeeded. The only real problem was that my body had mysteriously flat batteries, and it was a real effort to walk even short distances.

Then they came for lunch. I cooked the easiest thing I could think of,a nd then rather rudely went for a siesta while they washed up and supervised my son's homework.

They'd brought a game for my son as a thankyou for loaning his Mummy the day before. So once the dreaded homework was out of the way, they all had a good time playing together.

And I managed to drag myself to the computer for my usual 200 word stint. So the novel's up to 65,402 words.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Garafia again

This morning I went to Garafía to help H&T with paperwork again; this time paying the annual bills for the house and getting a fresh certificate that they live there. So I dropped my son off at school, and carried straight on to Franceses. For once I got there well before ten, and we had time for a cup of tea before we set off for the town hall in Santo Domingo in good time.


The road was only blocked by a digger that had fallen on its side. My first thought was that I didn't have time to go all the way back to Barlovento to take the old road to Santo Domingo. But we worked it out, and decided we could just about do it.

The trouble is that the old road is full of blind bends, and frequently only one car wide. And we were in a hurry, so I went as fast as I could (which wasn't very) and saw nothing of the spectacular scenery.

We got to the town hall, and went upstairs for the certificados de empadronamientos which basically says that they live in Franceses. Success. WE went to the planning office to ask if they had permisison for their bathroom roof yet. Nope. And we went downstairs to pay.

We paid for the certificados easily enough, but the woman who does the bills was on her break and we were out of time.

So I popped to the loo before we went back.

And while I was in there, the woman who does the bills came back.

Well I didn't really have time, but I did have a back up in place in case my son got out of school before I got back. And it would only be five minutes, right?


Just befcause they bought the house in March, it doesn't mean that the Town Hall has them registered as the owners yet. Thank goodness I was there, because Helen's Spanish really isn't up to this sort of thing yet. We paid the bill -- 16€.

That seemed very cheap, even for Garafia. So I asked whether it included water and rubbish collection.

No it didn't. Did we want to pay that?


After some fiddling about, we got it clear that the previous owner still had land in Garafia, but not a house, so it was logical that Helen pay the water and rubbish too.

By the time we got it all sorted out, it was very late. But Helen had a great idea? If the road was stil blocked (and it was) instead of taking her home, why not drop her off near Theresa's work. It would save a good half hour.

So we did that. And I was only five minutes late for my son.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sir Carlos, Knight of the Shining Gas Bottle

My friend Norma lives in a converted water mill. She has a terrific view and low rent, because you can't park anywhere near the place. You leave your car near the football stadium and walk up a very steep track for about ten minutes. The first half is steps, which are slightly steeper than the stairs in my house.

It's a marvellous house if you want to get fit. It's also a very nice house for a musician, because you don't have many neighbours, and as I said, the rent is cheap.

It's a dreadful house when you live alone and you have flu. Norma has flu. On Friday she told me she had real trouble getting home with the shopping. In the early hours of Saturday morning she had a plumbing failure and a flooded kitchen and living room. As you might imagine, but then she was feeling pretty uncheerful.

The water heating is electric, but the cooker is gas. On Saturday her gas bottle ran out. She has no microwave, or camping stove. Not even an electric kettle or toaster. So no gas means no hot food and no hot drinks. And a full gas bottle weighs about 40 kilos (88lbs). So my lovely husband took one up for her.

And here's the embarassing bit. He was carrying 40kg of gas bottle, and I had my little handbag, and I couldn't keep up with him. I arrived about three minutes later, gasping, to find the gas bottles switched and the kettle on. That man is well fit.

And then we zig-zagged down that steep, bumpy path in the late dusk, which felt rather adventurous. But we left Norma feeling much happier.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A party at last

We went to a late kids' halloween party yesterday. It was fun, and as it turned out, the start of a new romance.

I had planned to spend most of today catching up on very overdue housework. All I actually did was the ironing. And a bit more of the novel. I'm now at 64,309 words.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saints Day

In Spain people decorate the tombs of their relatives on All Saints Day (November 1st) . Here's a couple of photos of our local cemetery.

For the last three days I've concentrated on giving a short story a major edit ready for an anthology deadline. In the end I wrote 3,000 new words in three days. Now I'm shattered and the house is a mess, but I'm pleased with the story. So no progress on the novel. Still at 63,287 words.