Friday, August 27, 2010


As usual, I seem to be drowning in small-but-urgent things to do.

My friends in the north of the island have been adopted by an abandoned kitten. This is not much of a problem, except that a) they'd just booked a holiday and b) there's no catching the kitten to take it to the cattery and c) the neighbours are away too. So it's cancel the holiday (and they're exhausted), leave the weeks-old kitten to fend for itself, or I do it. Wonderful, it's over an hour's drive each way. But I'll only need to do it alternate days, and that'll be less tiring then the insomnia if I don't.

I got a small travel writing gig which I want to finish this week. So that meant a trip to Puerto Naos on the other side of the island, one of the few spots I don't often go (because there's another good beach just 10 minutes away).

So then the car brakes started squealing. Have I mentioned that this island is covered in twisty, steep mountain roads? Exactly the sort of place where squealing brakes takes all the fun out of travel.

So my husband spent the evening changing the brake pads or trying to.

It turned out that the last time I had the tyres changed, the workshop put the lug nuts on far, far too tightly. By the time Carlos got them off, most of them had broken threads. So it was rather late when he took the old brake pads with him to buy new ones (to get the exact model) and when the first two places were out of that kind of brake pad, everywhere else was shut. All he got was replacement lug nuts.

But he announced that the car was OK to drive.

I said, "Are you sure? I mean, my life insurance cover expired, you know."

But he was sure. Just as long as I took it easy.

So I went to see my friends in the north of the island the next day, driving s l o w l y and got nice clear instructions on cat sitting. In the evening, Carlos went to get brake pads from a shop that had ordered them in specially.

Wrong pads - they fit the current model of Toyota Yaris, not mine.

So yesterday I went to the other side of the island for my travel writing, driving s l o w l y , got my info, saw friends, and had fun. I particularly liked digging the first bit of the canal from one side of the island to the other, along with a five-year-old.

This morning the right kind of brake pads have arrived, and Carlos should finish the job. He'd better, because I'm absolutely NOT taking that car up to the observatory with dodgy brakes. For pity's sake, I have to drive back down about 6,500 ft to get home!

All good fun.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Paperwork Dragons

I should have done it years ago, but better late than never.

I've finally started the process of getting my English university degree registered in Spain. Actually progress to date consists of going to the government offices this morning and asking what I have to do. So far it's not as bad as I feared. If my subject (mechanical engineering) is on the list of EU professions covered by the 2005 agreement, I have to fill in a short form. If it isn't, I have to fill in a longer form and pay 91€. Either way, I'll need a sworn translation of the degree certificate. Ouch! That'll be about 100€ for perhaps 30 words! It's all the more painful because I could de a perfectly accurate translation myself in about ten minutes.

It took me a while to realise why sworn translations are so expensive. It's not so much the accuracy you're paying for. You pay them to take responsibility. The fees are so high that only an idiot would jeopardise their career for a bribe, so the government knows they can trust the translation.

Anyway, as my on says, it's a heck of a lot cheaper and faster than studying for another degree in Spain.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Superman's big sister sells fiction

Yesterday was a great day. In the morning I did my usual guiding job around Grantecan. It's particularly nice to show people around at the weekend. Since there's no engineering work going on, the duty engineer has time to do things like move the telescope. Yesterday, he took the brakes off in azimuth (the bit that goes round like a merry-go-round) and asked who wanted to move over 400 tonnes of telescope by hand.

None of the tourists took him up on it, so I had a go. It took a while to get it moving, because 400 tonnes means a lot of inertia. But the same inertia meant that once I stopped pushing, it carried on for over a metre by itself.

I felt like Superman's big sister!

And then when I got home and read my email, I found that Wily Writers had bought my story "Unreal Estate" for their issue on Urban fantasy – strong female protagonist. I believe it'll be out in September. Watch this space!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A grubby house

First it was a tum lurgy, and then I worked three days up the mountain instead of the usual two, and then it was a cough and sore throat.

One way and another, I've hardly done any writing and the house is grubby. And now I've got a friend staying, so I'm far too busy having fun to do any housework.