Monday, September 29, 2008

New experiences

Last night I finally got to see the dancing horses (caballos fufo) during the fiesta in Tazacorte. I wanted to get photos, so I made sure I charged up the camera battery, and tookthe full kit. When I got there, I found that the horses were dancing in pretty dark streets, and that they move really fast. So I was really pleased that I'd brought along my big flash gun, the one nicknamed "the tactical nuke."

I put it onthe camera, but it wouldn't switch on.

No batteries.

*head-desk* *head-desk* *head-desk* *head-desk* !

So I went in for creative use of blur!

The photos are on my blog at

The other new experience was my first ever yoga class tonight. It's much harder work than it looks! But I had a nice surprise.

Some months ago, a friend tried to teach me the yoga salutation to the sun, and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't even do it badly. My spine was too stiff, my arms too weak to lift my upper body off the ground, and my hamstrings too short. So I settled for doing a few gentle stretches a day. And for the last six weeks or so, I've been spending a couple of minutes a day lifting weights to strenghten my arms. Yesterday I noticed that I've got tiny biceps for the first time in years.

And tonight I could do the salutation to the sun! OK, I did it badly, because my hamstrings are still too short, and by the time we finished, my biceps were trembling. But I did it!

Friday, September 26, 2008

OK, you can lock me up now...

After three weeks of being responsible, helping friends (which I was glad to do, don't get me wrong) and bashing on with the current translation, something snapped yesterday morning. So I went out. I told myself I was getting material for the blog, but to be honest, what's the point in living on a paradise island, and then spending all day in the house?

So I went to Belamaco cave, The old windmill in Mazo, and Salemera beach where I photographed the rubbish bins (trash cans in American English). I think it really must be time for the kindly men in white coats to take me away for a nice, long rest.

Actually I did take some normal shots too. The Salemera ones are on the blog about La Palma. But this is my favourite!

It was bound to happen sooner or later. An intelligent woman can only sweep the stairs so many times before she flips.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pink Floyd

In 1985, a year after I started my first job, I bought myself a house. I could only afford it because unemployment locally was so high that half the town was trying to move away. In fact my mortgage payments on the house in Shotton were slightly less than rent on a bedsit in neighbouring Chester. The catch, of course, was that the bedsit was furnished and the house wasn't.

It was a stretch to find money for furniture, but I'd been brought up with a healthy respect for the power of compound interest, and I was determined not to acquire big debts. So I knew exactly when the billing period of my credit card ended each month,and how much I could spend and still pay it off in full at the end of the period. For over a month, I sat on a rickety tea-chest, because I didn't have a chair. But I was saving for my future, so I knew it was worth it.

One day, driving home, the radio program had a segment about people who'd got thousands of pounds into debt, furnishing their holiday homes. Not the place they lived most of the time, their holiday homes. And not a couple of hundred quid either. Thousands. And the tone of the programme implied that I was supposed to feel sorry for these rich idiots.

I switched over to to the tape player, without looking to see which tape it was, just to shut up the radio.

And it was The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. "Money, it's a hit. Don't give me that do good, good bullshit. I'm in the two car, caviare, four star travelling section..."

I laughed so hard I had to pull over.

R.I.P. Richard Wright, keyboard player for Pink Floyd.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

Friday morning went on helping Helen and Theresa with paperwork, which gave us all chance to catch up on the chatting.

A friend of mine's gone to work on another island. Since she was leaving on the Sunday afternoon ferry, she stayed with us on Saturday night and on Sunday we hosted a small leaving party at lunchtime. Helen and Theresa promised to bake a cake, which they did. Shame they left it at home! But I think everyone was so stuffed with quiche, roast port and salad that nobody would have had much space anyway.

I'm going to miss my friend, but she's not so very far away really. Hopefully she'll be back fairly frequently, and we can go and visit her sometimes, too.

I also started a jumper I'm going to knit for my son with multicoloured wool we bought in El Hierro.

And the last couple of days have been busy with lots of little things. I've posted off the hats to Save the Children (see Little Woolly Hats) , baby clothes to my new great-nephew (see The Things Great Aunties Do) , and a story to Woman's Weekly (fingers crossed!) . I've bought some storage boxes and tidied up the living room, updated the Ruido website, taken my son to the dentist, carried on witht he translation, bought new tyres for the car, and re-written "Agent Hammer".


Maybe I'll have time for a little fun tomorrow. I think I should go and see something I can put in the blog about La Palma. Which is going really well, by the way. I'm now up to an average of 60 visitors a day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Little Woolly Hats

The other lot of knitting I've been doing lately is little woolly hats for Save the Children's Knit One, Save One campaign. (Another link for USA)

Newborn babies lose a lot of heat from their heads. In colder countries, poor babies can lose so much heat that they get pneumonia - and at that point there's no money for a doctor or medicines. Pneumonia still kills around 2 million children a year.

And in many cases, all it takes to save them is a little woolly hat. I'm a rather slow knitter, but each hat took me well under two hours.

If you want to knit one, the campaign's on until October 21st, so you've got plenty of time. You can use any pattern for a newborn, or the one at

And then please tell the politicians what you think of babies dying for lack of an ounce of wool!

The Things Great Aunties Do

I haven't managed to meet little Saul yet, and I'm not sure when I'll be able to do so. But in the mean time, I've been knitting for him. Actually, did the hat and bootees before we went to El Hierro, and I did most of the little jacket while we were on El Hierro, but I only just got the buttons and finished things off.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well the Large Hadron Collider is finally up and running. I'm used to big science facilities, but man, it's huge.

Of course some people got the idea that it was dangerous. My favourite is at, by a guy that reckons that the LHC is solely designed by the masons (scientists are exactly the same as masons) to disrupt the Van Allen belt and allow Satan to come back.

I find it interesting that none of the doom-mongers seem to consider the possibility that CERN scientists aren't likely to be suicidal. Not all of them. I mean, come on! And I think Stephen Hawking knows a bit more about black holes than I do. Although come to think of it, there are any number of politicians and oil barons who know far more about global warming in ten minutes than professional climate scientists who've been at it every working day for twenty years, right?

But for those who are still worried, here's a couple of websites.

Has the LHC destroyed the earth?

And the CERN webcam - so you can see whether it's still there.

Alternatively, you could just boogie on with REM.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

R.I.P. Florian Goebel

Florien was the project manager for MAGIC II, the second of the huge Cherenkov telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos. The telescope was due to be inaugurated next week, on the 19th. That's been delayed now, because somehow he fell from the prime focus tower in the dark last night. The tower is about ten metres (33ft) high, and Florien's dead.

I only ever had one conversation with him. He must have been very busy, but he took time out to help me with a magazine article. I always think that's the acid test of character: how you treat people who are of no possible use to you.

My husband worked for him for three weeks, fitting mirror segments to MAGIC II, and said several times how nice he was.

My sincere sympathies to his family.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The End of the World

Isn't it funny how, as soon as you don't have to do something, it becomes appealing again. Like blogging.

El Hierro used to be the end of the world, and so the zero meridian went through the west of the island, before it moved to Greenwich. On Thursday we went to see it. It really does feel like the end of the world. The whole island's rather dry, and this is the drier end of it, so there's no trees or grass, just scrubby little bushes. The B road turns into an unclassified road and then a dirt track. Then we had to park and walk a mile. No houses in sight. The mobile phone had no signal. As we arrived, a couple of people were just leaving in a 4x4, and that was the only other car we saw the whole time.

The monument itself is modest – just a block of concrete with half an iron globe poking out of it. But it was amazing to think that we were the most westerly of the 497,000,000 people in the EU.

The local tourist office will give you a certificate to say you've been, but they'd run out. So they promised to post it to us!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Home Sweet Home

El Hierro was nice. We went out and did things about half the time, and just lounged near the pool for the rest. We saw the giant lizards and the end of the world, and quite a lot of scenery. It was just what I needed, and I feel really relaxed.

In fact normal service will be resumed when I damn well feel like it, and not before.