Thursday, October 27, 2011

Tour guiding in the clouds

I got home from El Hierro on Sunday afternoon, and I had a tour guiding job on Monday morning. I was a little nervous, because it was a new route for me. What I should have worried about was that most of my passengers weren't native English speakers (I use very colloquial English on tour buses) and that, everywhere we went, my group would tend to get mixed up with groups from other buses.

 I coped! We went to Las Nieves church, La ConcepciĆ³n headland, and the Distiladera craft shop. And then we headed though the tunnel to the other side of the island, to La Cumbrecita, where you get a magnificent view of the Caldera de Taburiente.

 Well, you usually get a magnificent view. It's quite normal for the weather to change dramatically from one side of the island to the other, and usually the western side is drier and sunnier. Not Monday. We left the sunny east and came out of the tunnel to heavy cloud and drizzle. Me and the driver looked at each other, and said the Spanish equivalent of "Uh-oh!"

 But there wasn't a lot we could do about it. La Cumbrecita is very popular and the car park is rather small, so you have to book - especially buses. We had our slot, and there was no opportunity to change the order and hope the weather improved.

 So we went up to the car park - and we had to wait for a bus to leave before we could go up. By the time we got there, the rain had eased off to drizzle, and I said, "Well, I'm supposed to take you to the viewpoint, which is about 10 minutes walk away. I'm going anyway, because sometimes the weather changes very fast and the clouds part, and we can only hope."

 To my surprise, most of them followed me. And the clouds did part - just as we got to the viewpoint. And there was a magnificent rainbow too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


I'm on holiday in El Hierro again.  OK, so I'm now sitting on the flank of an active volcano, but there's not much to notice where I'm staying, except that the sea has gone green.  I suspect that this is stuff coming out of the undersea eruption, brought here by the ocean currents.  Anyway, I've gone off the idea of swimming in it. All the same, I'm having a great time with my friend, chilling out and getting plenty of gentle exercise to try to get fit after my operation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Illustration for "The Dodo Dragon."

My talented friend Merche Martin Morillo painted this lovely illustration for my story, "The Dodo Dragon." Isn't it great? It's going to be the basis for the front cover of my forthcoming ebook, "The Dodo Dragon and other stories," and another talented friend, Helen Bennet of, is going to do the layout.  We hope to have the book out in time for Christmas. I'm really looking forward to this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

English Breakfast at Last!

I finally got to eat English breakfast for dinner on Monday night. After the painful chocolate biscuits I didn't dare have a big helping, but I had a little of everything - an inch of sausage, half a rasher of bacon, half an egg, half a tomato, two mushrooms and a spoonful of beans. And then I filled up on pasta. It was lovely! And it didn't make me ill.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Isla Bonita Car Rally

Every year La Palma's big car rally goes past my front door. I usually find the first few cars exciting, the next few interesting, and the last fifty or so very noisy.  But then usually, they're racing from about 11 am to 5pm. This year, they were going to be snarling and roaring past my house until midnight on Friday, and again for most of Saturday. I really wasn't looking forward to that. In fact, given the way I'd been collapsing with exhaustion at 9:30 pm, the thought was almost unbearable. So I rather cheekily invited myself to a friend's house, and bless her, she said yes. I wound up staying most of Saturday too. Actually I had a great time. Not only did I get away from the noise, I got away from all the housework I'm not quite well enough to do, plus the housework that I can perfectly well do, but don't want to. And I got into a different environment, talked to new people and had a rest. Which is probably why I started a new story for the first time in months. Certainly the first time since my op. It's far too soon to know whether the story's any good, but in one way it doesn't matter. I wrote something!

Friday, October 07, 2011


It's now two weeks after my op, and I can start a little cautious experimenting with fat in my diet.  So I bought some luxury chocolate chip biscuits.

The first one was delicious, so I had another.  And another.  And a fourth.

And then I was doubled up for half an hour with a pain just below my ribs.  Obviously four is too many.

So the big English breakfast is looking rather unlikely.  But I can probably still have one chocolate biscuit.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Post Op: Saturday 24th

Saturday was boring until they set me free, just before lunch.

Rather rashly, I asked to go to the farmers' market in Mazo, partly to get some of my favourite bread, but mostly to see something outside the hospital before I had to stay home for a while.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Post Op: Friday

[WARNING!  If you're squeamish about medical details, this post might make you squeam.]

Well Friday was the day I thought I might just be able to go home.  Certainly I woke up feeling much more human.  Muzzy, and weak, but human.  I actually felt well enough to read fiction, as long as it was short.  The nurse took off the compression bandages of my legs, I got out of bed (with help) and managed to get to the loo and have a shower.  Wonderful!

Then I catnapped until the nurse came along and did things to my four sets of stitches - staples actually, and I read a bit more, and napped a bit more, and my husband visited and I dropped off to sleep again.

And I actually got some lunch.  The same dishwater soup and apple puree, but I didn't have much appetite anyway.

The surgeon came back and examined me, and said I could probably go home.  They did the paperwork and took out the drainage tube.

I was horrified when they did that.  Of course, if I'd actually thought it through, the exit hole was on the side of my waist, and the gallbladder used to be up under my ribs, just beneath my right breast - of course it had to be a long tube.  But watching this thing come out, more and more of it, came as a shock.  It didn't hurt a bit though.

They put a bandage on it, and told me how to look after myself at home for Saturday.  I got dressed and packed my bag.

My husband came to fetch me, and as I got out of bed I noticed a wet patch on my dress.  The pad on top of the drainage tube was soaked.

We called a nurse, who changed it, and said I'd better not go until she talked to the surgeon.  I said that sounded sensible.  So she phoned, and the unsurprising verdict was that I'd have to stay until morning.

I was disappointed, but I don't think I'd have felt safe going home.  And I was pretty hopeful it would be OK in the morning.

Dinner was a small helping fish and more apple puree for dessert.  I quite enjoyed it, but I didn't finish it.

And this time the sleeping pill stayed swallowed, and I went out like a light.