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.