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.