Monday, August 31, 2009

Unlucky for some

I've sent out 13 submissions in August, which is a record.

Now some peeple will tell you that 13 is an unlucky number, but I've noticed that the more submissions I send off, the luckier I get. In fact, on average I get one sale for every ten submissions.

August isn't quite over yet. Maybe 14 submissions would be even luckier.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


I have a head cold, and so does my son. 'Snot much fun.

On the other hand, I've been a good girl and sent off five submissions in one day. They're all flash fiction, so they won't make me rich, but at least I've done something about my writing career.

Friday, August 28, 2009


I've felt lethargic for a couple of days now. It's a real effort to even do five minutes yoga in the mornings (instead of the usual 10 minutes). I don't want to clean the house (no surprise there) or write (unusual) or anything much.

I can't even be bothered to blog any more.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The rest of the holiday

The holiday carried on being great. My niece got good A level results, so we went out and celebrated with a delicious Indian meal. Then we had a day's shopping in Norwich, followed by a delicious Chinese buffet (an early birthday party for my son). Then we had a yummy barbecue in my brother's garden and an even yummier traditional Sunday dinner. All the above were washed down by slightly too much alcohol, which was also great fun.

And then we had the long drive home, followed by an uneventful flight.

Only I seem to have left my waistline behind in the UK.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We went off into Aldeburgh with my brother and family yesterday. Gorgeous fish and chips on the sea front, and a nice stroll down to the statue and back. Then home for afternoon tea, with a mean lemon drizzle cake.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Yay! We're in England

I finally managed to organise our trip back to the UK to see my brother and family. The plan was to fly on Monday 17th.

The website was down, so I booked over the phone. When the promised confirmation email didn't arrive, I got twitchy and phoned up Thomson. It's a busy time of year, so I was kept on hold for ages - and this was an international call. When I finally got through, the pleasant young man said that, yes, I was booked all right, and they'd send me an email, but meanwhile here was my booking reference which was all I'd need to check in.

The confirmation email still didn't arrive, but it didn't seem worth another long international call. We just went to the airport on Monday evening.

That was the first we heard that there was a problem with the flight.

The Thomson plane had left the UK very late, due to a problem with one of the runways at Manchester, so the crew ran out working hours and had to spend the night on La Palma.

That sort of stuff happens, and it clearly wasn't Thomson's fault, but I did wonder why they bothered taking a contact phone number and email when they didn't tell us this sort of thing.

Anyway, we had to book in, but keep our suitcases. So we queued, and I gave the booking reference, and they had my husband's name wrong.

Luckily the checkin clerk has known us both for years, and he managed to sort it out. But this is why I wanted a confirmation email - to check for this sort of thing good and early.

Then Thomson put us all up in the Taburiente in Cancajos, which is very nice.

We arrived at the room, and couldn't get the lights to turn on. I was in something of a hurry to find the loo, so I went exploring in the dark. I walked through a dark doorway and
the dark doorway turned out to be a full-length mirror. I felt really stupid.

I also got a lovely bump on my forehead. But then I found the loo and did what I had to do. And then I went down to reception and told them about the power cut in our room.

They said that the key card had to be kept in it's little pouch by the door to make the lights work.

We went back up and tried it. It worked. Good system. you don't lose the card, and they don't have to pay for lights burning in an empty room. But it left me feeling stupid again.

We also had a really annoying whine in there, which seemed to be coming from the smoke alarm. So on our way down for dinner, we mentioned this to reception. Maybe it was the low battery alarm?

Dinner was a great buffet, and much, much better than cooking myself. By the time we'd finished, we were pretty tired. So we stopped by at reception to ask if there was any news about the noise in our room, rather than going up to check and possibly having to come down again.

They said the maintenence guy would meet us at the room.

He did. He's noticed the noise himself when he was making up the third bed, and it seemed to be coming from one of the suitcases.

I checked. so it did. So I opened the suitcase and found that my alarm clock had got into a funny state, presumably from a odd combination of buttons being pressed. Turning the alarm off made no difference. I had to take the battery out to make it stop.

So I felt stupid for the third time in as many hours.

I set the alarm, had a shower, and we went to bed. As usual when I've got a plane to catch, I didn't sleep too well.

It was a rude shock when I woke up at 7:35, especially since I thought I'd set the alarm for 6:50. We had just twenty-five minutes to get to reception to check out. Obviously breakfast was a lost cause.

We ran around throwing stuff into suitcases, and made it downstairs for 7:50. Yippee, no checkout queue. So we checked out and had time for breakfast after all.

This was a good thing because the breakfast was another great buffet.

We were bussed to the airport at 8:30 on Tuesday. We finally flew at
11:30 and arrived at Manchester before 4pm. Then we collected the
hire car, just in time for the Manchester rush hour.

So we stopped for dinner in a pub that looked pretty good. It was good, and cheap, and we had a great conversation with a couple that were thinking of moving to Portugal, and wanted to hear my experiences of emigrating to Spain. You know how sometimes you just click with people?

We set off on a road across the Pennines towards Sheffield that looked
good on the map, but was very slow. And then there were vast
quantities of roadworks on the M1. We finally arrived at my brother's
house at 2 am!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Yesterday I went to see my friends in Franceses for lunch.

On the way there I decided that if other people can give names to their cars, I can have a pet name for my laptop. So it's called Tiddles. And yes, Tiddles came to Franceses, too.

(So what do you expect of a woman who talks to imaginary hamsters?)

We had a great chat and a delicious lunch, and another great chat. We had a good laugh at the American republican who claimed that "Steven Hawking wouldn't have stood a chance if he'd been born in Britain," which is a pretty odd thing to say of a man who was born in Britain (Oxford) and has lived there all his life.

And then we went to see the big craft fair at Barlovento. I got a couple of Christmas presents, plus cheese and jam and a decoration for the living room.

It wa a great day, but I was pretty tired when I got home.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A new toy

Yippee! I've spent some of my money from translation on a new mini-laptop. I'm not sure it's big enough to be allowed out on its own at 25 x16x3 cm / 10"x6"x1" It's small enough to fit in a big handbag (a purse on the other side of the pond). It'll take me a while to get used to it, but I'm hoping it'll boost my productivity. Certainly it'll be going with me to the UK next week.

I'll be spending time installing stuff, especially since it's a flavour of Linux I haven't come across before. But for 85€ cheaper, and more reliable software, I don't mind piddling about a bit, looking for extensions to open office and GIMP.

I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.

Friday, August 07, 2009

What's a Few Tentacles Between Friends?


Volume 2 of Cthulhu Unbound is now on sale, featuring my story "What's a Few Tentacles Between Friends?"

I was about ready for some good news after the fire.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Tired and relieved

Car workshop, Los Canarios, Fuencaliente

The fire's under control at long last.

The La Palma blog's been going crazy with traffic, as people tried to find out what was happening here. So I started to feel a bit like a lighthouse-keeper -- you know, responsible -- and on Monday I went out for another look at the fire.

The road was open and I got to Fuencaliente. It's in better shape than I expected, although some houses are completely burnt out, even though the house next door is frequently fine. I think it must be the result of the strong gusts coming from every direction, early on Saturday morning.

I stopped at the petrol station and had an ice-cream, while I thought about lighthouse-keepers and ghouls, and wondered which I was.

And I saw a lizard scampering among the ashes. Goodness knows how it survived, but it cheered me up.

I headed for the Princess Hotel, to check it looked OK, but it was getting late. I was hungry, I knew my son would be hungry, so I settled for seeing it from a distance, and set off home by a different route.

BBC Radio 5 Live phoned me, to ask about the fire. They'd got my details via the photos I'd sent to the BBC website. So I told them what I knew, and they said they might want to interview me live at about 6 pm.

I said, "Great" and carried on home. I was quite prepared for them to cancel if something else came up.

At Tigalate, I had to detour because the road was still closed. And the fire was still burning, although it was much, much smaller. I took some photos of the helicopters dumping water on it.

When I got home I cooked, ate, and updated the La Palma blog yet again. Then I warned my son about the probably phone interview, and made sure that I'd been to the loo and had water handy, and my son was ready to intercept any potentially noisy arrivals.

And yes, I wound up live on national radio. It was all a bit of a blur, but late, when I found it at (I'm 1 hour and 41 minutes into into the programme) I felt I hadn't done too badly at all.

Altogether I wrote 9 updates to the La Palma blog in three days, and now that I've stopped, I feel really tired. And surprise, surprise, I'm rather behind with the domestic stuff.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I finished the dratted translation on Friday lunchtime, and went to pick up my son. He'd had a good time, although he was rather sunburned and keen to get home.

I scarcely had time to get the washing machine on before I heard that my niece was over from Tenerife, and she'd brought my great nephew with her. So tired or not, I went to the family party, where I found that little Joel was tireder than me, but still adorable.

And on Saturday, I woke to the news that La Palma was on fire. We had the wind off the Sahara, meaning the weather was hot, dry and windy, and some absolute genius at a village fiesta set of fireworks anyway. The fire started at 11 pm at Tigalate, on the boarder between Fuencaliente and Mazo. In the early hours, about 4,000 people had to be evacuated. It's not clear how many homes have burned down. I've heard both "a dozen" and "dozens".

So I spent most of Saturday morning glued to the local news, and never got the shopping done. The weather continued really hot. Up on the ridge where the fire was worst, it was 40ºC (that's 104ºF) with gusts of wind up to 70 km/h (43 mph) coming from every which way. It was so bad that they had to pull the ground fire fighters back and just rely on the planes.

I wrote a post on the La Palma blog about it.

Then my friend arrived from El Hierro on Saturday lunchtime. We had lunch and chatted and had a siesta and chatted and watched more news, so I updated the blog, and chatted until bed time. Then I saw a friend had photos of the fire, so I updated the blog again. I might not have bothered if I'd only been getting the usual traffic, but I got five times as much as usual.

In the morning it was a bit cooler, thank goodness, and we were glued to the news again, until I updated the blog. After my friend left, I went to see how close I could get to the fire. Yup, I took these photos myself. I put them on the blog and emailed a couple to the BBC. Then they phoned me up asking for details. I might be on the news in the UK tonight. I also got an email from channel four, saying they'd found the blog and could they interview me by phone for the news? Unfortunately the email was quite old when I got it, so I think I missed my chance there. Mind you, I think they'd have preferred someone whose house was in danger, and I felt quite safe.

And now it's much cooler, and the sky's cloudy with no sign of the huge plume of smoke, and I'm begining to hope they've got it all under control, at last.