Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

A very Merry Christmas to both my readers

A very Merry Christmas to you all.
(The William Herschel Telescope has a laser to measure atmospheric turbulence, in order to correct for it. But really, it’s very low powered and no danger to flying reindeer. Santa is quite safe.)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Chain Blog Post

 Patsy Collins talked me into joining the Writing Process Blog Tour. She's a novelist and short story writer. Her short story collection is currently available to download FREE from Amazon HERE

I'm supposed to answer four questions, so here goes.

  1. What am I working on? 
    I'm putting the finishing touches to an anthology of short stories for children. Technically, it's what Ursula Le Guin called a story suite. Rather than a bunch of random stories, the twelve stories in the book are interconnected: they all take place on the island of La Palma where I live, at specific places and specific dates in history, and they're all connected one way or another with the sky.
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
    There's the focus on La Palma, which is unusual, and a lot of my stories have a thread of science running through them. And of course every writer inevitably produces different work. Your values tend to leak all over the page like a nose-bleed - particularly the ones that go so deep that you didn't even know you had them.
  3. Why do I write what I do?  Like most writers, I write things I'd like to read. And in my case, I have a passion for the beautiful island I live on and the night sky (and La Palma has the best night sky in Europe).
  4. How does my writing process work? 
    It varies. Normally  I like to have the story pretty well planned before I start. For this last book, I was chasing a deadline in order to qualify for funding, so I often wrote whatever bit I had clear, and hoped that my subconscious would supply the next bit tomorrow. I was surprised how well it worked.

And next week the same questions will be answered by:
Roxanne Snopek writes feel-good redemption stories with quirky characters and happily-ever-afters. Her popular Three River Ranch e-book series, published by Entangled Bliss, is set in Montana, and contains swoon-worthy heroes, strong heroines and various four-footed characters. Learn more at www.roxannesnopek.ca/blog

Tony Thorne MBE
 is a slightly eccentric author of quirky, speculative fiction, best known for Tenerife Tall Tales. The .pdf of his Best Selling Author Plan is available for free for a limited time.

Monica J. O’Rourke has published more than one hundred short stories in magazines such as Postscripts, Nasty Piece of Work, Fangoria, Flesh & Blood, Nemonymous, and Brutarian and anthologies such as Horror for Good (for charity), The Mammoth Book of the Kama Sutra, and The Best of Horrorfind. She is the author of Poisoning Eros I and II, written with Wrath James White, Suffer the Flesh, and the collection, In the End, Only Darkness. Her latest novel, What Happens in the Darkness, is available from Sinister Grin Press. She works as a freelance editor, proofreader, and book coach. Find her on www.facebook.com/MonicaJORourke

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Early morning photography.

The Big Dipper over Santa Cruz de La Palma
I got up early to try to see comet ISON (which is low in the east just before dawn).

There was only one cloud in the starry sky.

Yup. Right in front of the comet.

Since I was up anyway, I decided that I may as well practise a bit of astro-photography. I need the practice after all. So here is the Big Dipper /Ursa Major and a big ferry arriving in Santa Cruz de La Palma. I think the main reason that the ferry is blurred is that it moved during the 30 second exposure.

And I took some photos of Mercury and Saturn. To be honest, I was hoping that to comet would pop out when I tweaked the exposure a little with Photoshop, but no such luck.

Mercury (top) and Saturn (bottom left) this morning. The faint star at the bottom right is about where I expected comet ISON to be, but it's a star in the constellation Libra.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The end of a long day.

Yesterday I had my first private customers. I got an email: "Our friend went on a cruise, and you were the guide for her excursion on La Palma. She says you're great. We're coming on Nov 10th, please can you tell us which excursion you'll be doing because we want to be on it." Obviously this did my ego no harm at all, but I can't control which bus I do, and I usually don't know until the same morning. After a lot of emails to and fro, they hired me and a taxi for the day. So I got as much money as usual, but I only had to keep two people happy. We overran on time, but nobody minded.

Eventually the taxi driver dropped us in town, because they wanted to see a particular shop which I had to go to anyway - they'd just mended my necklace. And then we walked back towards the port together. We parted at the stop for the shuttle bus, everybody happy with everybody and me somewhat richer, and I went to my car nearby.

 No car keys in my handbag. And then I remembered putting the car keys into my jacket pocket. And then I remembered putting the jacket in the back of the taxi. Spit!

So I needed to phone the taxi driver. And then I remembered putting my mobile phone in the other pocket of the jacket. OK, so there's still a few payphones around. But the taxi driver's number was a) on my mobile which I didn't have, b) on his business card which I didn't have so it had to be in the jacket too, and c) probably on another business card in my little album of business cards at home.

I contemplated my chances of getting either of the people at home to find this album, and then the card within the album, before I ran out of change for a pay phone. My heart sank.

OK, so the best people to help me get in contact with the taxi driver would be other tax drivers. I took the shuttle bus to the cruise ship (and my customers were very surprised to see me get on board the bus!) but there were no taxis there. So I too the shuttle bus back to town and went to the nearest taxi rank.

My luck changed. The first driver I approached said, "Santi? Yeah, he's my mate. I'll phone him for you." So he established that Santi had gone home out of town to eat and sleep, and his partner would be bringing the taxi back to the taxi rank in half an hour. Result! I wasn't a bit surprised that the "half hour" was 40 minutes, just very relieved to get my jacket back, and more relieved to have the phone and car keys again.

 I had several glasses of wine when I got home.

Friday, November 08, 2013


I went back to the dentist yesterday. Much better! I now have a temporary filling that hopefully won't need to come out. If all goes well, the dentist will put a permanent cover on it in three weeks. Meanwhile, it's sensitive to hot and cold, but doesn't hurt otherwise. The children's anthology is coming on nicely, too. I've started writing the last story in English, nine of the stories have been translated into Spanish and eight of the fourteen illustrations done. It's starting to feel much less overwhelming.

Friday, November 01, 2013


My tooth broke on Friday night. To begin with, I thought it was a piece of bone in the corned beef, but next morning I found that a quarter of my back molar had vanish, and the bit of "bone" had been about that size and shape so...

 Well it wasn't too bad living with it, but of course it needed attention. So I got an emergency appointment at the dentist. Seeing as I was being squeezed in, I had to wait an hour. Fair enough.

The moment the dentist started drilling (after the usual injection) it really HURT! This dentist has a system that if you need him to stop, you just hold up your hand. I tried to pull down a star. So he gave me another injection, and I waited a bit while he saw someone else, and we tried again. And the moment he started drilling, I tried to shove my hand through the ceiling again.

The dentist said, "I must be missing something. Let's do an x-ray." The Halloween gremlins had got into the computer, and it took three reboots to get it to talk to the x-ray machine. Then we took the x-ray and the dentist said, "Oh wow, that is deep. Look, the caries goes almost to the nerve. That's why it hurts, and that will be why the tooth broke. I think I can save the nerve, but we might not be able to finish today."

So this wound up with me having another two injections which weren't quite enough. That is, I wasn't trying to punch through the ceiling any more, but I was in (bearable) pain. So the dentist made most of his hole and said, "I can see you're suffering, but I can't give you any more anaesthetic - it's not safe." So he stuffed the hole with some sort of temporary paste which will deaden the nerve for the repeat performance next week. No kidding he couldn't give me more anaesthetic. I felt slightly drunk (without the high, dammit) for hours. So by the time you add in the long wait before the drilling and the siesta afterwards, there wasn't a whole lot of yesterday left. The paste was too big and I couldn't chew at all until a chunk broke off. Today will be better. It doesn't hurt and I can chew, as long as I'm careful.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Flow at Last

Ever since I started this book, I've been a bit frustrated that a good day's work was only 300-500 words. That's builds up quite nicely, of courses, especially with short children's stories, but I've written much faster in the past. And today I wrote just over 3,000 words. It's partly that I've finished the historical research, so I know what was happening around my protagonist, and that's a large part of the story, so it sort of flowed. I'll finish it tomorrow and re-read it on Sunday and find out if it's any good. It's already 4,400 words, so it'll probably want trimming. But I feel I've earned a glass of toffee rum.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A First World Tragedy

Wednesday was rather sad. I had an bus excursion with people from a cruise ship which went very well. They're clarly people of superior intelligence and taste, because they laughed at all my jokes. They really enjoyed the rum distillery, too. The owner was delighted with the sales and gave me a bottle of toffee rum as a thank you. I love toffee rum!

When I got home I left my bags on the table and went to switch the computer on. There was a CRASH from the kitchen. I went in to find my bag on the floor and toffee rum pouring out of the broken bottle. WAH! So this evening I bought myself a bottle of toffee rum from my tips, and I'm drinking a glass right now.

Friday, October 11, 2013


I haven't had an outbreak of doggerel for age. There was a gentle lentil Known to her friends as Yentil But she couldn't pay the rental On her dental cavity Her parents were judgmental, 'bout eviction detrimental Turned our gentle lentil mental. Now she's an intercontinental Split pea

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Eenie, meenie, minie...

Me. choosing between flavours of Greek yoghurt in the supermarket today, "Eenie, meenie, minie, BOTH!" I can't think why I never seem to lose weight...

Monday, October 07, 2013


This morning I got a call on my mobile and went out onto the balcony where there's better coverage. Of course, there were new cobwebs, same as most mornings. Unlike most mornings, there was a huge, high-up one. I saw the spider in the centre when it was about 4" from my nose. Obviously it would have been a much worse surprise 4" later.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Astrophotography Masters

The moon over the sea from La Venta viewpoint
I went to a free talk on astrophotography, which was part of the masterclass held in Los Cancajos this week by Astrolapalma. It was brilliant! The two teachers gave a talk each: Christoph Malin on light pollution, and Babak Tafreshi of The World At Night project. These guys are famous astrophotographers, and their photos and time lapse videos are stunning. And Babak likes my book, and Christoph REALLY likes my book. In fact, he told everyone how good it was and recommended that they buy it! And then he invited me to the photography session they were about to have for free!! I was beyond knackered, but I went. Of course I went! This is something like being invited to a jam session with Brian May. The weather was crap, and it took me a while to remember how to use the manual settings on the Pentax, so the photo isn't much cop. But I have had personalised advice on white balance, and maximising dynamic range from Babak. Wow!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sunrise and bad ankles.

Sunday was busy.

A remarkable number of the archeological sites on La Palma line up with astronomical calendar events: particularly sunrise or sunset at the solstice or equinox, and the rising and setting of the star Canopus. Since Sunday was the equinox, I went with a group of friends to one of these sites to see the sun rise behind the highest point of the island, the Roque de Los Muchachos. It meant leaving home at 7 am, but it was well worth it. Everyone else went up in a bus, but I was going to be guiding later, so I drove up in my own car. Of course I left a little late. Then I realised that although a bus is slower, they had a shorter journey. So I had to drive quite fast. I caught up with the bus in Los Andennes, which was cutting it pretty fine. And then we yomped along the path towards El Time until we reached Las Cabeceras de Izcagua. I'd have preferred a gentler pace, but the sun wasn't going to wait. We got there in time. There are three stone cairns lined up pointing at the Roque de Los Muchachos. Of course the sun had risen half an hour ago on the east of the island, but we watched the Muchachos (natural stone pillar that look like people if you use a lot of imagination) get too bright to look at as the sun rose right behind them. And then Ignacio, an expert from the university, said a very old prayer in a North African language to greet the sun. The hairs on the back of my neck rose. It sounded old, and totally not European. And then I had to go to work, so I left the group and showed two groups around GTC. And then I went to the Roque and hiked to the espigon - a spur which pokes out into the huge crater. That was probably a bad idea. I got some nice photos (I'll share them another day) but my ankle was a little achy when I started, and worse when I finished. It didn't hurt driving down the mountain, but as soon as I got home and tried walking - yeouch!. So my plans for this week are somewhat derailed.

Friday, September 06, 2013

The kitchen

So my son had his birthday party on Thursday. They're pretty easy to organise these days: tidy living room, provide nibbles, drinks and extra batteries for game console remotes, and shut the door. Half way through, supply pizza and birthday cake.

 Easy, right?

 Nah, that would be boring. 

I promised my on a special lunch. He'd been asking to try American-style biscuits for ages, so I'd rashly promised to do them. The morning vanished faster than expected, as mornings do, and I returned from the supermarket much later than planned. So I dumped the shopping in one corner of the supermarket and got cooking.

 As I'd expected, the biscuits themselves were simple enough (very like English scones) but the rolling out bit meant a lot of cleaning up before and after. By the time we sat down to eat it was 3 pm and the kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it. And there was the not-so-minor matter of the living room, which I've been ignoring in favour of writing for months. By the time we'd eaten, we had 40 minutes.

In the end we shoved everything in boxes and bags. Some wound up in the bedrooms, and some in the kitchen. By the time the first guests arrived, the kitchen was looking like a neat-freak's worst nightmare.

 So I left the boys to have fun and cleaned and tidied and cleaned and tidied and cleaned and tidied.

We had a phone call. "We'll be delivering your new mattress in about half an hour."

I had to say no. I wanted that mattress, but I had to declutter the route from the front door tot he bed before we could take it, and I had no time.  Besides, the only place to store the stuff temporarily would be the living room, which was full of happy teenagers.

So I cleaned and tidied until about 6 pm, when I produced pizza and cake. Then I cleaned and tidied some more.

Actually, by the time the guests left, the kitchen looked quite reasonable again.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Yay! My son's passed his resit exam, and he's through to the next year of school without any extra work to fit in. We've even done the paperwork. All that's left to do is the bus pass.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bad Stuff and Good Stuff

Stuff keeps happening around here.

The second edition has arrived. I'm glad I paid extra for the better paper, as the photos look much better. I just hope I get my money back.

We had a call from my son's old private teacher. Two of his classmates were having trouble with Tech Drawing. Please could my son join the class on Thursday afternoon and help? She'd pay him.

So on Thursday afternoon we set off (late of course). We got to the middle of the village and  my son said, “Oh no. Very sorry. I've left my notes on the table.”

So we went back, and I handed him the keys and stayed in  the car while he went in.

He was back in about 30 seconds with his folder. “Right. Let's go.”

“Keys love?”

He looked horrified. Yup, he'd left them in the house. So the car wasn't going anywhere. He felt terrible about it, but honestly, it's the sort of thing anyone could do.

So we walked up to the teacher's house which took about forty minutes. I need exercise anyway, right? And I tried to phone my husband to say, “When you get home, please stay in the house until I get there.” No reply.
I phoned his work  and got through on about the third attempt and confirmed that yes, he left at the usual time and should be home at about 5:10 pm. I kept trying his mobile and the house, but never got through.

I got home at 5:15 and found the car gone. Drat. By then I wanted to sit down, so I went to the village kiosk and had a coffee. When I got back to the house, the car was back. Great! But nobody answered the door.

My husband must have gone out again. At least he'd left a car door open, so I sat in the car and embroidered until 6:30, when my son got back.

He had the bright idea of leaving a note on the door while we went to the kiosk and had something to eat and drink. More unsuccessful attempts to phone. More embroidery.

It started to rain, so we went back and rang the doorbell. No luck.

Then we went to next door and made rather stilted conversation interspersed with attempts to phone until my husband finally answered at 7:55 pm. No, he hadn't seen the note on the door.


I was still depressed on Friday morning. I kept putting off my walk until 8pm, when I thought, “For pity's sake woman, just go do the 25 minute circuit before it gets dark.” So I headed up the hill just south of the village, and once I got going I felt  a bit more enthusiastic and went a little further to the infant school in teh next village up the hill

I quite often go past there on a walk. There's a house next to the school with two very friendly terriers and several colourful, ornamental windmills. There's a graja (a red-billed chough) that frequently hangs around, too. This time they were all there, and so was the owner of the house, an old man. So we got chatting. (Yes, typical Sheila.) The dogs are Niña and Tita, and the graja is completely tame and she's called Katana, and he's called Francisco, which seems appropriate, don't you think? And Katana posed for photos, although by then the light wasn't very good.

And Katana gave me an idea for one of the kids' stories about La Palma. Not a whole new story, you understand. Just a little extra twist on an existing idea

But writing time would be nice.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Books on sale.

I went to visit my friends in Franceses on Wednesday, and en route I left book on sale or return in Los Sauces (the librería Iriarte) and Barlovento (librería Barlovento.)

Then Friday was the open day for Garafía (the observatory is built in land ceded by Garafía Town Hall, so they get their own open day.) I worked as a guide in the morning doing the general explanation and showing the MAGIC telescope - sun beating down on top and concrete underneath, but nice people.

Once I finished, I sat in the residencia for a bit to cool off and rehydrate. Then instead of going home, I carried on down the Garafía side to distribute more books. So they're no on sale at La Zarza and Zarzita museum, Santo Domingo town hall, Turque Bazaar in Puntagorda and Librería Tijarafe. Oh, and I also stopped by the shop at El Time viewpoint to restock them.

I got home at 9 pm, very tired.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Don't read this if you're eating...

Are you eating? Because you'd probably prefer to read the next bit when you're not.

I made a big cake for my husband's belated birthday party which I'd planned to decorate with "Felicidades" in chocolate letters. Only I opened the packet of letters and found -

(You're not eating, are you?)

Maggots.  About 10 of them. Yuck!  Eugh! Gak!

I'm quite a bit less squeamish than average, but believe me, I was squeaming. So I shoved letters, maggots and packaging into a bag for later, and decorated the cake with white chocolate and pink sprinklies.  Even though neither the letters nor the maggots ever went anywhere near the cake, I didn't really enjoy it. And of course I couldn't tell anyone at the party because we were all eating.

Anyway, a couple of days later I had time to do something about it. I didn't have the receipt any more, so I wrote to the manufacturers and sent the whole packet back to them. I reasoned that they needed the details STAT to stop it happening again, and that the supermarket would only refund my money, whereas the manufacturer might be a bit more generous.
The picture shows how sorry they are. They also said, "Thank you thank you thank you for telling us. We're sending the wildlife to the lab to find out what happened."

I call that sincere. But I'm trying to lose weight, and cake mixtures and decorations aren't going to help, so I'll be giving quite a bit of it away.

Want some chocolate letters? Somehow I've gone off them, even now.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The second edition of "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe"

Yay!  I finally sent the second edition of "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe" off to the printers. The new version with have a more complete history section, details on a new telescope and an explanation of why we're all made of starstuff.

Now I can celebrate, and get on with my next project: an anthology of children's stories set on La Palma featuring our glorious night sky.

See what I mean?  Who wouldn't be inspired?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Isaac Newton's birthplace

Today we went to Isaac Newton's birthplace, Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire. It's a nice little manor house, mostly from the 17th century. In the field opposite, there's a horse with markings exactly like a Friesian cow. We nicknamed it the moo horse.

More to the point, the house has drawings scratched into the plaster walls by the young Isaac Newton.

Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day, premature and so weak that he wasn't expected to live. His mother said that he'd fit into a quart pot (and they have a quart pot on display so that you can see how small that is).  And the poor mite's father had died some months previously.

Young Isaac survived and went to school. Although his father had been illiterate, Isaac loved books.

He grew into a rather odd child, and very absent minded. Once, his mother sent him to market on a horse, and he forgot the poor horse and came home without it. Another time he let the sheep out, and his mother had to pay a hefty fine for the damage they did. The family were comfortably off, but it must have been a worry.

They never did get him interested in farming. He was always fiddling around with lenses and mirrors and prisms instead.

And famously, he sat under an apple tree one evening.  No, an apple didn't hit him on the head.  But he did see one fall, and it suddenly hit him that the force which pulls things towards the centre of the Earth had absolutely no reason to stop at the top of the atmosphere.

That's why the moon orbits the Earth.

That's why the Earth and all the other planets orbit the Sun

Who needs light bulbs when you've got apples?

The tree's still there.

I knew there wouldn't be any apples on it in July, so we popped to the village shop and bought our own.  And I sat under the tree and ate one.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Other Travellers

So we were driving along in Norfolk, when we found this in a little village.

There was no sign of The Doctor, just a little note on the door saying that photos were fine in exchange for a charity donation. What a good idea!

Luckily there were no darleks around.

Unless, of course, The Doctor had to wipe our memories for our own good, like he did with Donna Noble.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Going on holiday tomorrow

Well I did nearly all of it.

The cat is safely installed in a new cattery since the old one wasn't available.  Both the yearly and quarterly tax returns have been done. My son has a new passport.  We have B&Bs booked for the beginning and end of the holiday. I have told people who employ tour guides that I won't be on the island. I have interviewed Pedro Álvarez, the director of Grantecan, although I haven't written that up.  But I can do that on the laptop and all the rest of the second edition is in Dropbox for layout.  I've posted a book to a customer. I've researched prices
for minibuses and excursions down lava tubes for a group of geologists who are coming later, but needed the prices now. I have booked tentative dates for two groups for private guides immediately after we
get back. I've sorted out the kerfuffle over my son's school books. I've even managed to get to Puerto Naos with more books for a couple of shops which sold out, and to get paid for some sales in Santa Cruz.  Oh and I packed 
my suitcase.

Now that I write it all down, I'm not surprised that I'm tired.

Updates will be sporadic while I'm on holiday.  The laptop doesn't run blogger and wordpress too well, and Facebook is slower than an arthritic snail trying to charge through treacle.

Monday, July 01, 2013

"The Mammoth book of Time Travel SF"

The cover of "The Mammoth book of Time Travel SF"

I came home from delivering copies of "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe" to the other side of the island, and found my contributor's copies of "The Mammoth book of Time Travel SF" waiting outside the house. The last I'd heard about it was in December 2012, so I'd forgotten all about it. Obviously, this was a lovely surprise. And seeing the other authors in there was even nicer: Kage Baker, Michael Swanwick, Christopher Priest, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Robert Silverberg and Liz Williams. Oh my. I'm going to have great fun reading this! You can pre-order it here:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

General Relativity

After reading what Conservapedia had to say about E=mc2, I got curious as to what they'd say about general relativity

The theory of relativity has been repeatedly contradicted by experiments [snip] 
It is unlikely tenure or a Ph.D would be awarded to any critic of the theory.
Well the second sentence is true, at least for physics departments.  But according to Wikipedia,
The predictions of general relativity have been confirmed in all observations and experiments to date. 
And if that's not enough for you, consider this: the GPS system has to apply a correction to it's atomic clocks.  These clocks run slower by 7 microseconds per day (because they're moving fast) and faster by 45 microseconds per day (because they're farther from the Earth's gravity).  So the   GPS clocks are tweaked to compensate - if they were on the ground, they'd run 38 microseconds per day slow. (45-7=38)

38 microseconds doesn't sound like much, but without the relativistic tweak, GPS positions would drift off by about 10 km per day.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Have you heard of Conservapedia? It's like Wikipedia for US right-wingers, guaranteed to be their version of politically correct. The article on Einsein's famous formula, E=mc2, is interesting. It says,
In fact, no theory has successfully unified the laws governing mass (i.e., gravity) with the laws governing light (i.e., electromagnetism), and numerous attempts to derive E=mc² in general from first principles have failed. Political pressure,[2] however, has since made it impossible for anyone pursuing an academic career in science to even question the validity of this nonsensical equation. Simply put, E=mc² is liberal claptrap.
As I said, interesting. Are they saying that atomic bombs go BANG by some completely different mechanism, and it's pure coincidence that they produce the exact amount of energy predicted by E=mc2? Or are they saying that atomic bombs don't go BANG at all?

Personally, I think it would be rather difficult to produce a working atomic bomb by relying on "claptrap".

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Yes, it all went fine. And I'm slightly famous. And the photography in the videos really is very good indeed. Afterwards, most people went home, but I stayed until the last flight of the day so that I could do some shopping in the big city. Not that I did much, since I'm planning to lose weight over the summer, and I've learned to to buy too-small clothes and then attempt to diet into them. That way, I get frustrated and depressed and then reach for the chocolate to cheer myself up. So one blouse, one pair of trousers and some knickers. Plus M&S prawn cocktail crisps, a magazine and a couple of books. And now I must get back to work.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Escape to Las Palmas

The Canary Islands tourist board sent me an email asking if I'd mind an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to help promote the Canary Islands. Fly out on Sunday for a practice on Sunday afternoon, stay the night, appear the formal presentation on Monday morning and fly home. I'd never been to Gran Canaria. Did I mention all-expenses-paid? So I said yes first, and asked what they wanted me to do second. They said they'd explain once I got there. I'd only have to say a few words, and they were asking me because I was in the promotional video. (The one they filmed at the Roque in March.) Hmmm. Curiosity killed the tour guide. So I asked for the first flight out on Sunday, and the last flight home on Monday, in order to have some exploring and shopping time. Fine, a chauffeur would meet me at the airport. Chauffeur? This was getting better and better. It turned out to be a 4 star hotel, too. And even though it was only 10 am, they let me into the room. that meant that I could grab a shower before I set off to see the sights. The street map had a concentration of museums some distance away. I concluded that it had to be the historic city centre and set off. Las Palmas is quite a bit bigger than Santa Cruz de La Palma. It took well over an hour each way, but it was worth it. For one thing, I needed the exercise. For another, the old town is lovely. I even found a street market, complete with live folk music. I took lots of photos, and then found a bar in a side street for lunch. And walked back to the hotel. I just had time to drop things off at my room and comb my hair before we were collected for the rehearsal. It wasn't exactly difficult. They've created a video for each island, (good videos, too) which ends with, “We have a message for you. You must come here,” and for Gomera, they whistled it in Silbo. So at the end of the compilation video for all the islands, they want us to come out on stage, someone will whistle, “We have a message for you,” and then we it all together, “You must come here.” Four words. I think I can manage that. And now I have to go for my expenses-paid dinner with the other film stars. I could get used to this.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mother's Day

Most of Spain had Mother's Day two weeks ago. But the village I live in was the first place in Spain to celebrate Mother's Day (thanks to the local poet, Felix Duarte) and they've stuck to the date they originally had, the third Sunday in May. By and large my fellers don't do the flowers and chocolate routine, much less the champagne and diamonds routine, so I just bought myself a bottle of cream liqueur and a bar of posh chocolate. Then I lay on the sofa and persuaded my husband to waft me with the giant fan while my son fed me the chocolate. It was only five minutes, but it was great.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


This morning I showed a group around the GTC, and this afternoon I sold five books. Five!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trying to be a radio star

On Wednesday evening I went to the studios of Onda Cero to be interviewed about my book. I hope to be able to link to it soon, but it was fun.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Radio star

I'm going to be on the local radio: Onda Cero between 6 pm and 6:30 pm. I hope to post a link to it afterwards.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Almost stopped again

I got the first draft of the history section done, the first draft of the section about the KVA-60 telescope done, and the first and second drafts of the Stardust appendix done.

And then I got toothache.  Bad enough to slow me down, and to stop me writing at all on Wednesday and Thursday.

But now I have temporary fillings, and life is nicer.


Saturday, May 04, 2013

Working again

It took most of Wednesday to chill out, but on Thursday I went back to work on the book, and by last night I'd finished the first draft of the revised and enlarged history section.

Today I'm hoping to finish the first draft of the new appendix, "We are Stardust".

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Spanish government decided that I had to declare any overseas assets by the end of April.  Fair enough, although I thought that a 10,000€ minimum fine for not filing seemed a bit steep.

But the instructions were all in Spanish legalese.  I had to call banks in the UK for information, and even once I understood what I had to do, it didn't work. This was probably due to a configuration problem with my computer. The website provided instructions which I went through carefully.  It still didn't work. So I got my son to go through them too.  It still didn't work.  We tried a third time. It still didn't work.

Did I mention that there's a 10,000€ minimum fine for not doing this?

Yelling at the computer didn't work, so on Monday 29th I called my accountant. He wasn't sure what I had to do either, and said he'd get back to me. On Monday evening he said he still didn't know, but he'd found a friend who did.  By this time I was really stressed. Even after yoga class, I was still very stressed, and I slept very badly indeed.

So my accountant took me to see his friend on the morning of the last day for avoiding that 10,000€ minimum fine.  and his friend was another accountant and just going out.  He said he'd be back at 11:00.

By 11:30 I was just about climbing the walls, doing yoga breathing exercises to stop myself from throwing a public fit.

My accountant's friend came back at about noon, and didn't know all the details either.

I did some more deep breathing.

He did at least know rather more about it, it's just that I spent 11 years resident in Spain but paying UK taxes, because software engineers at the observatory were British Civil Servants.  "Just leave me the details, and I'll get it done."

Did I mention that there's a 10,000€ minimum fine for not doing this?  For me.  Not for the person who promised to do it.

But there was nothing else for it. I promised to find out what the annual interest was, and he promised to phone.

We did.

And it got done.

I still don't know how much I have to pay him, but I expect that it's less than 10,000€.  And now I can get back to work.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Well that was nice!

I got a rather mysterious phone call from one of the bookshops which sells my book.  The owner said that she'd sold one, and the other was stained, but I had to come and see what stained it.  "It's a surprise. And I must say, the customer's attitude surprised me."

Obviously that roused my curiosity, and I went.

My best guess was that the stain was from something like an insect that snuck in there and then got squished, and that the customer had been snooty about it.

The stain was actually quite faint, although I would be reluctant to sell it like that. Which is fine - I want a copy for myself anyway.  But the real surprise is that it was from a 10€ bank note.

Yes, he handed the note over to the shop keeper.  And she gave it to me.

This surprises me less that it would in many other places, but it's still very nice indeed.

So thank you, mystery customer and thank you Dimaro libería in San Pedro!

Monday, April 22, 2013


One of my friends is hugely pregnant.  She also has a very cute one-year-old.

Today it was almost 30 ºC, and the last day to get the paperwork done for quarterly tax returns (mandatory for all freelancers in Spain, including my friend.)  And the tax office has lots and lots of steps.  And her partner had to go out.

 In other words, she needed a little help.

So we went into town in her car (which has the baby seat) and found no parking spaces anywhere near the tax office except the disabled ones.  So we parked there for a moment while she got out and I got into the driver's seat. (Most Spanish car insurance covers any driver.)  Then I drove into town and parked on a meter near the post office. Me and His Cuteness went into the post office and sent off a book to a customer (thanks, Richard!) then headed back to the tax office where - Hallelujah! - I found a parking space close to the tax office. It was far too hot to wait in the car, so we went into a nearby bar and had cold drinks and played with the beermats until Mummy was done.

It meant that I didn't get any work done on the book, but I'd forgotten how much fun it is to play with a one year old.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fixing the Spanish economy, all by myself.

So I finally got my quarterly tax declaration in.  This year, for the first time, I have to pay I.G.I.C. (Canarian VAT).  After about 5 hours of extra paperwork (done by me) the government has netted an extra 17€.

That's 3.40€ per hour.

Does anyone think that 17€ will fix Spain's economy?

Mobile again!

Yay! We got the Yaris back.  It's so nice to be mobile again.  And it doesn't hurt to have transport with a working CD player, and which doesn't smell of petrol.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


And now the Berlingo's bust.  We have no working cars at all. [Update: it's the water pump.]

We're going to try to manage without a hire car for a few days, but if the Yaris isn't back by the weekend, I'll need one to go to work on Saturday.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Cake and a view

Working hard

Holy week was busy.  After months of very little guiding work, I had three days work at the Roque in a week, plus a trip to the dentist, plus starting work on my next book.

I was also running around the island distributing books. It made for long days, but there are compensations.  Like when I visited the viewpoint at El Time to see whether the shop would stock my book (they did).

In fact you can buy the book in lots of places now.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Canadian Stargazers

I got a couple of day's work looking after some Canadian visitors to the island. (Actually they're Americans who've lived in Canada for a long time.)  Nice people. They run a hotel called Trout Point Lodge in Nova Scotia, and they're hoping to start astrotourism over there.

They were staying in a hotel I wasn't previously aware of, the Hacienda de Abajo in Tazacorte. It's gorgeous - it's a converted  16th century manor house, on an estate which used to produce sugar cane. It looks really nice, something like a National Trust property.

This made for rather long days, though.  On Saturday morning I distributed copies of my books to shops in Los Cancajos and Mazo, then in the afternoon, I drove over to Tazacorte, left my van near the hotel, and got a lift back to the airport where I met my clients.  I went around with them in their hire car for the rest of the day. We looked at one of the country cottages for rent, then went down to the astronomical viewpoint at Fuencaliente to see the sunset followed by dinner at Casa del Volcan, followed by stargazing.  I finally got to see comet PanSTARRS!

But that meant we got back to their hotel at midnight, so I didn't get home until 1 am.

I was quite glad that they didn't want an early start on the Sunday.  I got there for 9 and we had a brief look around Santa Cruz before heading up to the observatory. They were suitably impressed by GTC and the view from the Roque itself.

Then we went down the Garafía side and ate at El Bernegal.  (Yum!)  And back to Tazacorte.

They had a meeting in Santa Cruz on Monday, and in the rush on Sunday morning I hadn't shown them where it was. So I met them briefly on Monday and showed them to their meeting.

And then I had to leave rather fast because the meeting was beginning, which made for a rather rushed goodbye.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Spanish books have arrived!

At last!

After literally missing the boat at Cadiz, 300 copies of the Spanish edition of my guide book to the observatory have arrived. Just when I'm really busy with guiding work at last.

So distributing it will be a bit of a challenge, but I'm delighted, obviously.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Car update.

The car is seriously ill and needs an engine transplant.  This is going to be slow and expensive.

Thank goodness we've got the van!  It's a bit slower, noisier and smellier, but it goes, and that's the main thing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I'm a star of the silver screen!

Making me look glamorous
My next day's work didn't quite go to plan either.

I'd agreed to be interviewed at the Roque. I wasn't sure what they were filming, but I had a book to promote, and if I couldn't promote the book, maybe I could promote the island.  At worst, I'd get some practice in at being a media whore. So I dutifully set off with a selection of my working clothes, as ordered.

I was driving through Los Andennes (most of the way up there) when something under the bonnet went BANG!-clatter-clatter-clatter.

Of course I pulled over.

Luckily my boss was right behind me and he gave me a lift.  And I phoned my husband about the car, and he said he'd look after it if I could get a lift down with my boss.

It turned out that they were filming an advert for La Palma as a tourist destination. I could get right behind that!

I'd been expecting a team of about 4 people, but there must have been at least 12 of them. I even got professional make-up and a professional hair dresser fussing over me.  That was fun.  The only catch was the clothes.

It's always warm and sunny in the Canary Islands, at least according to the tourist board, never mind what the thermometer's actually saying at 8,000ft in March. So I wore a T shirt when the cameras were rolling, and I borrowed a jacket every time they stopped. And I answered questions and smiled and tried to look natural in spite of the cameras practically poking up my nose.

Actually it was rather fun. I'm a little too fond of being the centre of attention, really.
Two cameras and a microphone isn't intimidating, honest!

Once they'd finished filming me and my boss, we waited around and suggested other good bits to film around the Roque.  And then my boss had to be interviewed on a radio program, which meant that he had to be somewhere with mobile phone coverage, not halfway down the mountain.  So we waited for that, and he finally drove me home for about 8pm.  Which made for a long day, even though it was great fun.

Meanwhile, my husband had taken the car to a workshop and then walked home.

And before you ask, no I don't know when it'll be on the telly.  In any case, these were subcontractors working for the Canarian tourist board.  They seemed pretty pleased with my work, but in theory the tourist board might veto it and it'll never be shown at all.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 18, 2013

I don't like Mondays

Here's what was supposed to happen this morning:
I was going to sleep until about 8, have  a leisurely breakfast, and leave for the Roque at about 9 to show a group of students from Suffolk university around the observatory until about 4pm. I've enjoyed the group in previous years, and since it's all day the money's nice too.  Besides, this year I was rather hoping to sell them some books.

Here's what actually happened:
I woke up at 6:45 am when I heard a dull thud from my son's bedroom, followed by "Owwwwww!"

Oddly enough, I thought I'd better investigate.

The poor lad had been getting out of bed, still dozy, when the alarm clock went off and made him jump. Somehow that made him fall.  Result - one broken bedside lamp and a very sore wrist.

So I got dressed, gulped down a coffee, and took him to the emergency room. There was no queue at all, but we hit the shift change.  Anyway, the first doctor examined him, and sent him off for an X-ray.  Then we came back to the emergency room and waited for the result to come back. I thought I might just make it to the Roque anyway. Then I thought again, and called my boss, and explained the situation.  He said he'd be able to get up there in time.

So we waited for the X-ray results.  And waited and waited, and waited.

Eventually they came back, and he didn't have a fracture.  So they put on a bandage instead, and told us to keep it dry.  No biggie.

We left the hospital at 10 am, just slightly too late for me to have made it to work.  Ah well, my son's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more important.

By then, the rest of his school timetable for the day would have been two hours of English (unnecessary, because his English is better than the teacher's), PE (I don't think so!) and artistic drawing, which would have been very tricky.  So we went to the optician's instead, which we've been meaning to fit in for a month.

Again, it could have been a lot worse.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My books missed the boat


The lorry with 300 copies of my guide book in Spanish "Una espectacular ventana al universo: guía del observatorio astrofisico del Roque de los Muchachos" arrived at Cadiz docks on Saturday 9th March, shortly after the boat to Tenerife left. And they sat on the docks waiting for the next boat until Thursday.

So they didn't make it in time for comet watching on the night of Saturday 16th, but then the comet watching was cancelled for bad weather anyway.

The books should arrive some time next week.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope Francisco

Update: This quote is a hoax.  I apologise for spreading it.

There's an interesting quote from Jorge Bergoglio (yup, the new pope) published in the newspaper Telam Argentina on June 4, 2007 flying around the internet in Spanish.

"Las mujers son naturalmente ineptas para ejercer cargos politicos." "El Orden natural y los hechos nos enseñan que el hombre es el ser politico por excelencia; las estricturas nos demuestran que la mujer siempre es el apoyo del hombre pensador u hacedor, pero nada más que eso."

"Women are naturally unfit for political office." "The natural order and facts teach us that man is the being political par excellence; scriptures show us that women is always the support the thinking man or maker, but nothing more than that."

What gets me is that the bishops and cardinals claim that the church does a lot of good in the world. I recently realised that most of the good (soup kitchens, passing on second hand clothes etc.) is done by women. The women don't "support the thinking man or maker", they do it all. At least in this village they do! And the credit grabbing and very real harm (lying about condoms and AIDS, hating on gays, protecting rapists etc.) is done by the all-male clergy, mostly the higher-up clergy.

Maybe that's his definition of "thinking and doing".

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A weekend break - part 2

Whenever I'm in El Hierro I tend to wake up early and go for a walk before breakfast, then meet up with my friend later. This time, I was tired enough to wake up late and stagger to meet her at 10 am, although my hip had improved enough that I could walk along the flat at almost normal speed.

My friend knew a couple of teenagers who are interested in astronomy, and wanted to meet me to talk about my book (very flattering!).  Besides, we were out of milk.  So the plan was to drive to Valverde, via the little shop in San Andres which opens on a Sunday morning.

And the exhaust fell off my friend's car.  The tube part separated from the silencer and started dragging along the ground.

So we had to go back to El Pinar.  Who minds a bit of black tea when it's with a good friend?

And we chatted and watched DVDs and chatted and did some painting with the little girl next door. It's years and years since I painted a duck, and I'd forgotten what fun it is, even though I'm a terrible artist.  Maybe it's fun partly because I'm so terrible - it takes all the pressure off. (And maybe I need to worry less about results in general.)

The little girl made up a story about the duck, along with the butterfly, bee and ladybird that she'd painted. It was a good story too.

And her parents offered me a lift into Valverde in the morning, seeing as my friend couldn't take me to the airport. Fantastic!  It looked like I'd have to hang around in Valverde for a bus to the airport, but there was one that would get me there in  time for my flight. Although it would mean a very early start.

And for once in out lives we went out to the bar for dinner, and met friends of my friend and had a great time.

It was only once I was back at the hotel, packing, that I realised I'd have to leave before reception opened at the hotel.


In the end, I left a note with my contact details explaining the situation, and promising a bank transfer as soon as they gave me a bill and an account number. I still felt very guilty as I left though.

The journey was uneventful, except that I only had to wait ten minutes in Valverde before I got a bus to the airport. Of course that meant a longer wait at the airport itself, but I checked in the suitcase immediately, which made life easier.

All the same, by the time I got home, I felt I needed a holiday.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A weekend break - part 1

La Restinga harbour

In January Binter had a special offer - make a booking in January for a flight in March, and get about 40% off. so I booked the flight to visit my friend on El Hierro. It was a little risky, because I couldn't change the dates at all. But still, 40%.

So I booked.

And then life got a bit complicated, what with bumping the car, and a party I didn't want to miss on Thursday night and my friend having to work this Saturday morning and so on. But I'd booked, so I went.

On Friday the flight from la Palma was delayed, so the connection in Tenerife was really, really tight. To my surprise, I managed to jog all the way from the plane to the new departure gate only to find that a) I'd hurt my hip by running and b) the flight to El Hierro was delayed too. In fact, when I limped painfully to the second plane I was greeted by the same air-hostess I'd ad on the first flight. Yup. Same plane. No wonder it was delayed! But ouch, getting up the stairs to the plane was unpleasant, and coming down again was worse.

Well, my friend collected me from El Hierro airport and took me to my hotel. They'd only reserved me a room on the third floor (and there's no lift).

So I asked for, and got, transferred to the first floor.

The hip continued so painful that I had to go and see a doctor. She gave me one of those examinations where the main diagnostic is to see what makes you scream. Then I got two injections, some pills, and instructions to rest. It worked. Chilling out with my friend got progressively less painful. My friend had to prepare for tour guiding so I went back to the hotel fairly early on Friday evening. Thanks to the injections, walking was less grim, but those stairs back at the hotel still weren't fun.

I was tired and crashed into bed at about 9 pm.

And I woke up at 11 pm. The bar just below was holding a party. No wonder they'd given me a room higher up! At that point I found that I'd left the power cable for the laptop at home. Now normally I do lots of creative writing when ever I'm on El Hierro - I think my muse loves getting away from the routine and chores - but that wasn't going to happen this trip. So I read, since sleep was impossible until the music stopped at 5 am.

So I spent most of Saturday morning (while my friend was working) asleep. Around 8 I got up and went out for breakfast (with the leg much better), then went back to bed. I got woken by the chambermaid who hadn't expected to find anyone still asleep at 12:30.

When my friend finished work, we went down to La Restinga for lunch.  I even managed a hobble around the harbour. Then we met friends and had a good chat until almost sunset, and went for a very good pizza in a local restaurant, followed by an early night.

Friday, March 01, 2013


I dropped my son off at his friend's house higher up the mountain, and decided to pop in and see a friend on the way home. As I braked and turned into my friend's driveway, the lady driving behind me failed to see my indicator (I'm sure I was indicating - I could hear it ticking) so she moved to overtake.


I'm sorry to say that we had a brief yell at each other, being human and upset.  And then we calmed down and went into my friends house and had a camomile tea to calm down some more and we filled in the paperwork.

It could all have been so much worse.

A nice sale

The Isaac Newton Group just ordered 20 copies of my book - the English version.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Really, really finished at last

The files for "Una ventana espectacular al universo" have been sent off to the printers. At last. They should be on sale in 10 - 14 days.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finished at last! Sort of.

On Thursday I sent the final corrections for the Spanish edition of the observatory book off for layout, and then we celebrated.

I spent the first half of Friday morning nursing a hangover, and then I went to the water mine to collect water. It's not really worth doing economically, but it's a nice little trip. There's something very relaxing about standing around in the woods filling up 5 litre bottles.

I only got back at 2:30, and the kitchen was still in a mess, so I took my son to the village kiosk for a leisurely lunch.

And I got home to an email pointing out some errors still in the book.

Not so finished after all then.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Rainbow clouds

The rainbow colours are caused by ice crystals in the cloud.
Last week I posted someone else's pictures of rainbow clouds on Facebook.  Today I stumbled across the pictures I took of the same effect on La Palma, coming down from the observatory in January 2012. The only thing I changed with photoshop was the size of the picture - no other tweaks, I promise.
The rainbow colours are caused by ice crystals in the cloud.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Trusting the driver

Today I showed a group of people from a conference round the MAGIC and GTC telescopes. I left my car at the residencia and got on their bus so that I could chat to them via the microphone as we drove along, which worked very well.  Then as we left GTC I realised that a) they were probably going to the Roque and b) my car was still at the residencia, about a kilometre away.

Oh well, I thought.  The exercise will do me good.  Then I thought it would be more fun to go to the Roque, since it's stunning and I haven't been up there for a while.

As it turned out, they hadn't planned to go there, but liked the idea. After all, it's almost a sin to go up as far as GTC ( 2,300 m and 200 or more hairpin bends) without going the extra half-kilometre to the Roque itself. So up we went.

Now the bus park at the Roque is rather interesting.  The bus backs in, with a decidedly attention grabbing drop to the left and behind the bus. You can hear the punters react, every time.

I now have a new bit of patter for these occasions. "Lady's and gentlemen, I have every confidence in our driver. He's done this several hundred times before, and I know for a fact that he's planning on going home tonight because he's got a family and everything."

It worked.  I heard nervous laughter coming from the back of the bus instead of the usual gasps and small screams. I think I'll be using it again.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


At long last I've finished the dang tax return!

Since I'm self employed, I have to fill in quarterly tax returns.  Normally they're quite simple:

Income: guiding
Expenses: social security, petrol
Profit: Why do I bother?

Only this quarter I published a book, didn't I? Layout and printing for two issues in English, ISBN, graphics, business cards, letter head, web site to sell books, ISBN for the Spanish version ... On the plus side, I've sold a story to Abyss and Apex, books @ 5€, 10€ 11.20€ and 12€, and finally been paid for guiding work done in March, July, August, September and October. Oh, and I've been paid for Spanish books I haven't delivered yet.

It wasn't easy.  I'm very glad that I've finished.

And here's a little something to relax anyone who's still struggling with a Spanish tax return:

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Preditors and Editors

Every year, the critters workshop hosts the Preditors & Editors™ Readers' Poll, which honours print & electronic publications published during 2012.  When somebody reminded me about it, I put nominated The Dodo Dragon and other stories in the anthologies category, but I had almost no time for publicity. I think I mentioned it on Facebook and one email group, and that was it - I had a book to finish.

To my astonishment, I came joint 13th.

Many thanks to the people who voted for me.

(And the Spanish version of A Breathtaking Window on the Universe , "Una espectacular ventana al universo" should be going tot eh printers in a week or so.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Back to work.

Once the pressure was off with the book, I collapsed in a bit of a heap. Since August, I've had two days off sick, but apart from that, the only day I haven't worked on the book was Christmas day, and I was cooking for a good bit of that.

And for the last week, I've been ignoring the housework almost completely.

So Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday were spent catching up on sleep, taking the Christmas decorations down, and scrubbing the kitchen. Today, I'll get back to work on the book, because it still needs finishing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Lucky with my friends.

I'm extremely lucky with my friends.

As soon as the printers said I'd have to get the book to them by Friday, the cavalry came over the hill. The friend who's been checking my translation kicked into high gear. the friend who'd polishing the Spanish worked right through the bank holiday - about 12 hours, I think. And the friend who's doing the layout almost kept pace with the other two.  OK, so I'm paying people and doing return favours, but this was way more than they'd signed up for.  Two of them said very similar things: "Well this book's your big dream, isn't it?".

Yes, it's my dream.  And they worked like it was theirs.

On Tuesday, when most people were back at work, I contacted the Tourist Board to ask how many books they wanted for Fitur (which would affect the amount I had t pay the printers in advance).  And I was told that her boss had changed his mind over the break, and he wasn't going to do a presentation on astrotourism, so he didn't want books there.

In one was this was marvellous.  I could take a break.  In another it was extremely embarrassing. People had worked like stink to help me.

It was so embarrassing that I briefly considered not telling people. But I wasn't going to lie to these people, even by omission. So I took a deep breath and picked up the phone.  And explained, ending with, "But I really do appreciate everything you've done just the same as if I still had the deadline."

Every time I got a long, loud silence.

Well, I say long.  I think it was about 5 seconds each time. Believe me, that's a long silence for a phone conversation, and longer when you're on tenterhooks.

And every time, the silence was followed by, "Don't worry about it."

I think the 5 seconds was the time it took to for my friends to work out that I didn't do it on purpose.

Yeah.  I'm very, very lucky with my friends.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Silent Running

The island's government, the Cabildo, have been extremely helpful with my book, "A Breathtaking Window on the Universe". Now, pretty please, they'd like copies of the Spanish edition in time  for the Fitur tourism fair in Madrid at the end of January.

I've talked to the printers, and that means they need the book delivered to them this week.


I'm going to be far too busy for blog posts until it's done.

See you later.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to my reader.

We had a comparatively quite new year's eve, but it was fun. At midnight, from my balcony, we could see five firework displays on La Palma, plus lots more on Tenerife and La Gomera.

I hope that 2013 is the year when you get what you go after.