Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On TV tonight.

Just had TV Canarias on the phone. They say I'll be on TV tonight at 10:30 pm in "Canarias, Mi Mundo." With a bit of luck, they're right this time.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Busy, busy

I've been burning the candle both ends lately, and not for fun.

I'm on a course to become a tour guide, specializing in astronomy. Of course I've been working as a tour guide at the observatory for a couple of years, and I love it, so the course is just what I want. The tricky part is making the time. It's three separate weeks (on in March, one in April and one in May) and each week is pretty intense: lectures from 4 pm - 9 pm Monday to Friday (that's 5 hours, all in Spanish), plus practical activities on Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening. Later one, there's a couple of overnight activities. Well, astronomy usually happens at night, doesn't it? And I was rather startled to find that the practical activites involve fairly strenuous hiking. I hadn't realised that some hiking firms offer night-time hikes with added stargazing. Fine. Great idea. It's just that I'm worried that I'm not fit enough.

While I was at the course on Monday, TV Canaria phoned to say that I'd be in "Canarias, Mi Mundo" late on Tuesday night - the bit they'd filmed of me at the beginning of the month. I was surprised that it was so soon, but this started a flurry of activity, with my husband preparing to record it and me telling the world I was going to be on.

Although I was rather tired, I stayed up to watch the programme. And I wasn't in it.

It was a bad time to miss sleep, because yesterday I had a guiding job in the morning as well. I left home at 8:15, showed one group around the Liverpool telescope, and two more around the Herschel. I got home at 2:45, very glad that I'd grabbed a pizza on the way, because I had to eat, shower and leave by 3:30. And then I had my five hours of lectures in Spanish. I was half dead by the end of that.

And this afternoon I have more to come.

Monday, March 07, 2011

A Carnival costume

My son fancied a Ghostbusters costume for Carnival. We borrowed a backpack sulphur duster, which I cleaned out on Thursday, and I bought white overalls (which my husband can use later). On Thursday evening, my husband and son sprayed the backpack black, while I got a Ghostbusters logo off the internet and ironed two copies of it onto the overalls, and printed another two onto sticky labels to go on the back pack.

Very quick (apart from washing the dang sulphur out!) easy and cheap, and it was very effective. He wore it to the school's carnival party on Friday, and we filled it with talc for Los Indianos tonight, and we got lots of positive comments.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Filming, part 3: The road to the Roque

Wednesday was the last day of filming, but would be the first to be broadcast. I set off a little early, so I'd have time for a relaxing coffee at the residencia, the observatory's private hotel, before meeting the film crew.

In Velhoco, I had to swerve around a dog lying on the road. I ahd a bad feeling about it, so I parked, and went back to look.

The dog lay there gasping, pleading with his eyes.

Obviously it had been hit by a car. I didn't really have time, but I started knocking on doors, trying to find the owner. Since it was 8:50 am, most people were out.

At perhaps the seventh door, a woman answered. I told her there was an injured dog lying in the road.

She shrugged. "I haven't got a dog." The obvious inference was, "and I couldn't care less."

I knocked on more doors, which stayed shut. Finally I got another answer, a man who said he didn't have a dog either. And clearly he couldn't care less.

I knocked on more doors. I was beginning to really worry about the dog and the time, when I heard someone lamenting loudly, so I went back to the dog.

It was a young man, perhaps twenty years old. I asked, "Is it your dog?"

He yelled, "Are you the bitch who hit him?"

That hurt. "No, he was lying there and I stopped to find the owner."

"Well help me get him to the vet."

"I have to get to work."

"Well there's no point stopping if you won't help! Why didn't you take him to the vet straight away?"

Perhaps I should have, but before I could reply, the poor dog stopped breathing. I wished I'd stayed with him and at least stroked his head for his last few minutes.

So we moved the dog to the grass verge, and the young man started yelling and kicking at an abandoned car.

I started to get really worried that he was going to hit me.

So I said, "I'm really sorry about your dog," got back in my car and drove off.

I felt pretty shaky after that, but I didn't have time to stop and calm down until I got to the observatory an hour later, where I burst into tears.

But you know what? I think I liked the young man better than the people who didn't care at all. He's probably quite nice when he isn't in shock.

Filming part 4: The observatory

I arrived feeling very upset (see previous episode), but I had to calm myself down and get on with it. I had to get to the heliport by 11:45 to meet a group of tourists, and there was a lot of filming to do before then. Luckily, several people people were kind and helped me pull myself together.

So we filmed in the residencia for a bit. Then the TV people wanted somewhere you got a good view of all the telescopes - not the helipad, because we were going there later. So I took them up to the viewpoint at the Roque de los Muchachos, the highest point on the island.

I don't get up there nearly as much as I'd like, because I'm usually in too much of a hurry. Once I got up there, I found myself promising to do it more often. It wasn't a struggle to smile any more. So they filmed me saying hello to the "muchachos" - a rock formation that looks vaguely like a group of boys, and they filmed me with the telescopes behind me, and they filmed the view.

Then we went down to the Italian telescope, the Galileo, so they could film my husband. They asked him how we met, and he had to stop talking because he had a lump in his throat and a tear in his eye. After sixteen years of marriage!

And then we had to dash down to the heliport, to meet a group of tourists. I gave them the usual speech on why the observatory is here, (which the TV people didn't film much of) and we went off to Grantecan. The TV people didn't seem to film much of that either, although they did take quite a few shots of the inside of the telescope. I didn't mind, I was busy looking after the tourists.

When the tour finished and the tourists left, we finally filmed what will be the opening shots. I might have known.

Once they'd finished, the adrenaline left too. I drove home and collapsed into bed for hours.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Filming, part 2: Llano de los Jables

The cloud waterfall

Shortly before sunset I met the TV crew again at Llano de los Jables, at about 1,850 m (6,000 ft) with a group of friends who'd volunteered to come along at short notice (because the TV crew changed the date from Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday and back to Tuesday while they sorted out their complicated schedule.)

I spent the afternoon baking a chocolate cake, because I wanted to thank people for coming. The traditional thing here is to take Spanish omelette, but I always find that chocolate cake is more popular. And I'd a feeling it was going to be cold up on the ridge, so I made a flask of hot chocolate too.

The golden light at the end of the day was beautiful, and the cloud waterfall was stunning. When I got there, Carmelo was setting up the telescope. So they filmed me saying hello to everyone, and then we waited for it to get really dark.

I'd worried that it would be cloudy, but it was a beautiful, clear night, with a million stars. The catch was that it got colder and colder. The chocolate cake and hot chocolate were very well appreciated, although I could have used a lot more hot chocolate.

After that, filming became harder work. Of course, they had to use a spotlight on the camera to be able to film anything, so looking at the camera felt like being interrogated by the secret police, and I couldn't see anything else at all for several minutes after I looked away.

A Dutch family happened to be up at the viewpoint. The children's grandfather had just died, and they were little enough to believe that he was a star now, and they'd got it into their heads that he was the brightest star, Sirius. So we had to let them have a look at Sirius through the telescope, didn't we? And they got filmed doing it. I exclaimed over constellations I couldn't see for the spotlight, and got filmed doing it. We all started pogo jumping to keep warm, and got filmed doing it. And then Merche did her best ET impersonation, "Phone home!" and we all got filmed creasing up.

And then we all went home to our nice warm houses.

Carmelo setting up his telescope

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Filming, part 1: Los Tilos

Me and Helen

On Tuesday I met Helen and the TV crew at Los Tilos. I'd planned to get there good and early, but by the time I'd found my makeup and put it on (I don't usually bother) and got dressed right it was all a bit last minute. So instead of getting there early, I arrived one minute late.

Laura, the director

Helen was already talking to the director, Laura, who'd I'd talked to by phone, and we had coffee while she told me what she wanted to do, and I showed her the magazines and anthologies with my stories that she'd asked me to bring. She rather liked, "The Appliance of Science", which is a bunch of sentient domestic appliances acting daft during Carnival.

She wanted to start the programme segment with me at the Roque, which wasn't going to get filmed until the next day. And please would I wear the same clothes for all the filming, today and tomorrow.

Next thing I knew, I was miked up and walking along the same bit of path about five times, talking to the camera like Shirley Valentine. "And now we're down at sea-level, at Los Tilos, and it's much warmer here..."

Eventually I got it right, and then I had to walk along the same bit of path a couple more times, while I was filmed from the back.

And then they filmed me at a table at the bar, supposedly writing fiction. And then they got me to talk about my stories for a bit - so I really hope at least some of it stays in.

After that, Helen, who had been watching the whole thing, "arrived". I introduced her to the camera, and we discussed the layout for the e-book. (I really, really hope that bit stays in!)

And then we went for a walk in the woods, going up and down the same bit of path multiple times, talking about how my Dad loved Los Tilos.

And suddenly it was 1:30, and I had to dash home.

Rather an interestng morning, really.
Me with Javier, the cameraman