Friday, 31 August 2012

A Rhyme for the day

TODAY: (apologies to Real Poets)

I woke in a good mood
started with a breakfast of good food
Walked the dogs in the morning cool
Didn't check mail for ages to break the rule
Down to Cubelles to ensure the cats were fed
Shared a drink and chat with Sue to clear my head
Shopped in Lidl, stocked up on food, money well spent
E-mailed and Whatsapped with a friend in Kent
Read my new book
Gave the TV a look
Cooked and ate dinner
Now that meal won't get me thinner
Sent out the month's TulStig News
Hope it'll stop some friends from getting the blues
more TV to end the day
a call from dear friends that are on their way
So soon to bed as tomorrow's a big one
Friends gonna arrive another weekend of fun.

All this makes me one happy lucky chap
but luck doesn't just land in your lap
I've enjoyed getting here by honest hard work
responsibility I'll never shirk
and before I stop and turn off the light
I'll simply wish you a dream-filled and perfect night.
And don't forget tonight's moon is blue
a rare event, lucky for me and lucky for you.


Thursday, 30 August 2012

A story of the day...

What a day, What a wonderful day.

This morning I had a phone call from two friends I made on my last Camino: Lennie and Jan from Holland. They were in Austria and fed up with the rain so asked if they could come stay for a few days. They are currently on their way by car, ETA sometime this weekend.

My next job of the morning was my daily trip to feed Dominic, Denzel and Doris -my current charges.  Whilst with them I spent some 'me' time reading.

Next shopping, and when I came out of the supermarket it was raining cats and dogs - a blessed relief - which has continued on and off all day. Hopefully it'll stop before Lennie and Jan get here.

MY ongoing promotion of 'The Magic of the Camino' is paying dividends. I now have 94 likes for my 'Facebook' Magic of the Camino Page, and sales are up on last month.

I've even spent some time writing for my new project, which is currently without a title. Yesterday I introduced 'The Guardian' today let me introduce Erasmus:

Some of you may recognise him as R2 one of our twins, but don't be fooled he is also Erasmus, a cat of incredible intelligence and a travelling companion for uncle Vern!


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Gardening and the guardian, plus...

I love our garden even when it surprises me with critter like the one above, which is actually bigger in real life than in the picture. IT jumped a bit when I took the photo causing a girlie scream to burst from my lips -well I was up close and personal! It is truly beautiful, but scary at the same time. Fortunately the cats haven't noticed it, or they have and are staying well clear- whichever that's good. 

Today I have been pondering on my next writing 'assignment'. I have been unsure whether to start on the children's book that has been bouncing round in my head for a while, or to set to with my next true Camino adventure.  Well as often happens the universe took a hand in my decision:
First of all in an e-mail conversation with Nick he made it clear which I should be writing next.  Then I got an e-mail from someone who is interested in doing the illustrations for the children's book (the last one didn't work out!) - so I sat down and thought about a plot outline and had it down on paper in no time. Even my little garden friend at the top of the page make an appearance -he's a semi-baddie who is a guardian.
As for the basic story:

A has been entrusted with a secret, or at least with the essence of a secret, by his great uncle Vern, who has mysteriously disappeared. A believes he knows where and why. 

It is down to A to convince his brothers and cousins to work together and help him find the parts of the key which when fitted together will open the chest which holds the book of REAL magic.

The book of REAL magic holds the knowledge to reshape the Earth's future, and reset the balance that has for too long been missing.

Whilst collecting the parts of the key A and his band of adventurers encounter all manner of special beings who can either help them in their quest or stop them in their tracks. 

Interested? I am and it would seem my muse is ready to work again......

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

Got no time to worry - oops breaching copyright here, so I'll just post this:

SO why did we have lazy Sunday afternoon? - cos we had lunch on the seafront and then a siesta for nearly two hours. Isn't life a blast!!

Lunch on the seafront was at:

Vila Tapa. Bar Taperia

Paseo Del Carme,13. Vilanova i la Geltru.

Tel: 938156559

 It's a small place right next door to Cafe de les Artes, our favourite place to relax on a Sunday morning, or any other time come to that! And here's Tony with a bottle of fizzy water, whilst I'm on my usual pre-lunch tipple of vermouth.

We weren't sure there would be much for us, but had been recommended, via Julie, by JanWillem -our 'Energy-healer vet friend.

The restaurant has a full tapas menu and a Free Buffet - now that doesn't mean you don't pay it means you just help yourself to what you want.

We checked out the buffet and had a selection of salad items, all nicely presented and tasty enough. The hot food, though, was almost exclusively fishy and meaty. We did manage to get some grilled mushrooms and some sauté potatoes, but sadly neither were very hot.  The chilled red wine, on the other hand, was well chilled and perfect for a Sunday lunch on the seafront.
The deserts on the buffet were pretty much generic, with a selection of fruits and sliced gateaux. Nice enough but not heart topping -and yes I did have two helpings!
The staff were a mixed bag to say the least. The first waiter we met was very pleasant, but made it plain that he thought we were tourists. The Chinese woman who appeared to own the place stood around with a face like thunder, and the waitress who appeared to be in charge needed a new pair of trousers -hers were quite inappropriate. 

Will we eat there again- unlikely - but I'm sure if you eat meat, or fish especially, it would be a good place to eat. One of my ex-students was there- so maybe that was a recommendation.
WE did enjoy our lunch sitting in the open, on the first cooler day we've had in an age, but felt a little short changed again -yep a 'veggie-whinge'.
The bill came to just under 40€, which wouldn't have been bad if the choice for us had been better. I was a tad annoyed though that the menu price did not include IVA (value added tax) so ended up paying more than we thought. At the end of this month IVA is being hiked by the government which will make this even less of a place we will plan to go back to.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Techno, Techno, Techno

No limit -  2 unlimited

Thought I'd start things off slightly differently - We loved this song back in the day, and as I get techno advanced I was thinking of it again today.

As many of you will remember I was a little panicked a while back when I got my first android phone- well of course, just like everyone else, I love it now. My latest addition to the phone, thanks to advice from Julie, is VIBER - A free programme for making free calls and texts (SMS) mobile to mobile all across the world. SO if you haven't got it yet, but have an android, i-phone, windows phone, blackberry go to your phone download store (I use Play store) and download it and we can chat for NOTHING!! A a back up I also have WhatsApp, but this is just free texts (SMS) internationally- which is a great back up service and something I used loads whilst on the Camino back in June. 

 So that was the phone techno'd.

I've been looking around for an Internet hosting site as I want to set up a professional site for House of Tulstig' and upgrade ''. I think I've got that sorted now, but it's all so complicated with so much jargon I have to look up so many things.

As well as getting a new website host I downloaded a new website creation programme which I've spent the last few days messing around with. Frustration has been followed by 'Ahh' moments as things fall into place in my head -Still not quite got the hang of it all yet but getting there.

One way I want to improve the websites is to get moving images on them -Flash programmes. So 've been checking into those too. I think I've found a pretty simple to use one ofn the web and during the wek will have a go on its test software.

So all in all watch this space for a new 'House of TulStig' and '' with new features. I may even give our personal site a complete overhaul.

Thursday, 23 August 2012


A quick update this evening.

I have just finished the uploads necessary to complete my second novel -'Take Two'.

The book follows the story of some of the characters who we first met in 'Winner' -I say we as it was also in this book that the characters introduced themselves to me, one by one.

I have loved the writing process again, and am happy, more than happy, with the finished product.

I am now waiting for the proof copy of the book to arrive (hopefully within 7 days) and once I've proofed it I shall make it available for general sale on just like the others.

So if you've been waiting to catch up with Joey and Vick, Gisela, Lucy and some of the other characters your wait will not be much longer. However, be warned not everyone made it to the second book!!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Writing and stuff

This week I have committed to working for the next four days on my writing and related things. I am doing this within a group of other like-minded people. The inspiration being created in the group is motivating and, well, inspirational! 
Even before the commitment started (Today) I got into it all-
  • Organising and editing 'Winner' ready for an E-book -TICK
  • Setting up a page for House of TulStig' on Facebook.  - TICK

Today I planned
  • to edit at least 150 pages of Take Two. I ended up doing over 200 pages -just over 80 or so to go now - TICK
  • to do some research into a 'House of TulStig' website.  TICK

I even signed up with a web-hosting company and now have '' as a an additional domain to '' - stepping outside my comfort zone now- and have been trying to set up the site- well outside my comfort zone now - After a few hours of messing around I set it aside before getting too frustrated. I did manage to set up an e-mail address for the site ( - if you want to give it as test for me?) -As for the rest Ill be approaching it bit by bit, so if you've any tips just let me know....

Feeling kinda pleased with myself for goals reached, but less comfortable about the website -stuff.. Never mind tomorrow's another day.

Sunday, 19 August 2012


We've had a bit of fun today checking out the details for our cruise in September.
We fly to Venice on the 15th of September and will be staying in the Hotel Marte for one night.
The next day we board the Costa Favolosa -now there's a name to conjure with -So Jules and Sandy.

We've had a look at the excursions and been checking out the  places we can visit. I am so looking forward to going to Olympia. Just seeing the pictures on the PC I have a feeling it's somewhere I know. Then there's Ephesus, and Istanbul and Dubrovnik. Oh what a fine time we are going to have- TulStig cruising again.

And whilst we are away we know that our animals will be in safe hands as Janey and Amy will be housesitting.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

New, new, new experiences...

As part of our regular 'trying out new restaurants' last night we went off, with the wonderful Julie, to the new Indian restaurant at the bottom of the Rambla - The Taj Mahal.

We started with another new experience with pre-dinner drinks in a bar we hadn't used before on the Passeo Maritim - Envy.

The Indian restaurant has only been open a short while, and when we arrived we noticed the manager (owner?) was the same as the Indian restaurant that used to be in the centre of town.

The restaurant has a varied menu including pizzas and Spanish style dishes with a rather limited Indian listing, which was a little disappointing.

We started with pakora and samosas, followed by vegetable biryani and cheese nan, with lentil dahl. Whilst we were eating the chef came out to chat with us, telling us that he likes cooking for English customers as we know what curry is all about.
The food was good and the service fair and the price excellent -the three of us were full, and had a good bottle of wine all for under €40. We will go back, but with the limited choice on the menu may not be super-regular visitors.

After dinner we tried yet another new place - Sa Caleta - a new cocktail bar on the seafront- and had cocktails before returning home. now this is a place we will be returning to. The cocktails were fun and scrummy and the service excellent.

Friday, 17 August 2012

An outing with the Oliver-Diazs

John and Olga and family (The Oliver-Diazs from Sevenoaks in Kent) have been back in Olga's native Gava for the past two and a half weeks (a few more days still to go on their hols). They came to Tony's big do at the beginning of the month, and having just visited family down in Valencia they suggested we meet up yesterday., so we arranged to meet in Sitges under the church on the Passeo Maritime at seven o'clock.

We arrived in good time- Oh so English and settled down on one of the benches in the semi-shade. Just before seven Olga called to say they were on their way, but were slightly late.

Ten minutes later  she called again and I gave directions n how to find us.
Ten minutes later she called again to say which church? Now Sitges church is extremely famous in this region and iconic- it appears on almost everything out of Sitges.  Olga, however, had found a different church right on the northern edge of Sitges and was clearly lost. Interestingly we had been to the Sitges church a few years back with them, and Olga being from Gava, just up the coast, we were sure she would know how to find it, especially as she could easily ask for directions, speaking the local lingo!
A goodly few minutes later she called again to say John had gone off in the car to park and that she was coming soon
8.15 and a flustered Olga (kids, William and Monica. in tow) arrived. She explained roughly where John was and I set off with Wills in search.
Finding John wasn't too difficult but he had no idea where he had parked, but had taken a photo on his phone of the road name. I didn't recognise it but asked someone and soon we were back at their car, and on our way to a better parking place nearer to where we were then going to meet Tony, Olga and Monica - Cafe Montroig.
After all the kerfuffle we had a relaxing drink in Montroig - Tony and I have really got into Vermouth a  a pre-dinner drink. afterwards we went next door to 'Vikingos' for dinner.  Wills and I went for Pizzas, Monica and Tony went to Pasta, John had Sepia a la Plancha, and Olga had Bacalao in an Alioli sauce. All washed down with Sangria. After we all had ice-cream deserts before taking a last drink in the Sports bar on the seafront, where the Oliver-Diaz family delighted in watching the sights of Sitges passing along the Passeo.
So, despite a  false start we had a wonderful evening.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Books, Books, Books.

Just today I had some really good news after a recent health scare, the details of which I'll not bore you with, except to say that today the Doctor confirmed things are pretty much OK. 
Whenever I have to go to the Doc's I always take a book with me. Today was no exception, and I got so engrossed in the fast moving plot that I actually hoped the Dr wouldn't call me too soon, especially as I was sitting reading in an air-conditioned waiting room. (It may also have been a bit of 'denial' but I don't think so)

The book in question was 'You're Next' by Greg Hurwitz. It was the first book I had read by him, and I have to admit to it benig the best thriller I have read in an age. A fast plot that had me turning the pages just as fast, with no real idea of where the drama was going to take me. All too often I've worke out hte plot or the ending and am disappointed but this time I was keep reading to the last- no page scanning either, I read word for word what Hurwitz had written.
Now if any of my books are ever that good I'd have to retire on a high.

And talking of my books I have today started the process to publish 'Take Two'- I have requested and been given an ISBN, and have a mock up of the book itself. I have finished the first edit, including the corrections etc on the laptop, and am now going to reprint it once more to read and re-edit. This should take me a few days and hopefully I will publish sometime next week. This will get me a proof copy soon-after, followed by a release date.

IN addition I have started the process to release 'Winner' as an e-book.

And finally on the subject of books I have had 28 entries for the prize draw, announced on yesterday's blog, and 'The Magic of the Camino' page on Facebook now has 76 'likes'. If it gets to 100 I shall be offering another copy free, or may even offer one of my novels as a choice of prizes.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Prizes - Free giveaways

With the Magic of the Camino having sold over 100 copies so far this summer I am offering a free copy of the book or a selection of 'The Magic of the Camino' goodies as a celebratory give-away.
To enter the draw and win all you have to do is:

  1. ON Facebook 'Like' The Magic of the Camino page .    
  2.  Already 'Liked' the page then like the photo of Jane and I celebrating our first arrival in Santiago.                           .
  3. Retweet today's tweet on Twitter (This Tweet will be repeated during the coming days)  - 100 copies sold - ReTweet to enter draw for free copy (or Magic goodies) - to be drawn 12.09.2012.                                                                                                                                        .
  4.  Buy a copy of any of my books (e-book or paperback) for yourself or for a friend at and send me a copy of the 'e-mail reply'.

The draw will take place on 12th September - the anniversary of our first arrival in Santiago in 2010.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Food, Take Two and 'Magic'

We’ve been having a relaxing day here in VnG.
After walking Cuddy and Xali a little later than normal and answering e-mails and other messages I did very little until we went off to catch the bus for the seafront and another restaurant adventure.
Today we had lunch in the sunshine in one of the many restaurants on the seafront.


Restaurante Cuckoos;  Passeig del Carme, 12 (Paseo marítimo) Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona 08800


Some of you may remember it as 'The Blue Room' where we adjourned for drinks after our wedding reception. Since then it has changed hands and attempted to go 'up-market'. 

We were pleased to see Toni, the waiter we know well as he has been working there since we have been living here (8 years and more) who took our order:


Mixed salad (no tuna)

Spaghetti Pomodoro for Tony 

Vegetable Lasagne for me

with a plate of chips 

and a bottle of Rioja chilled.


We asked for everything at the same time except the wine which we wanted 'tout suite' 

The wine arrived swiftly by the salad, the chips and two plates. We were pleased to see the chips were home-made and chunky. The salad was served with optional balsamic and oil. Nice touches. A few minutes later Tony's spaghetti arrived. But no sign of my lasagne for at least ten minutes. Then when it did arrive the plate was too hot to touch, but the lasagne was cold- Freezer to Microwave methinks! I called one of the waiters over and told him 'OK' he said and whisked it away- no apology or other comment. "I bet it comes back too scalding to eat next" I suggested to Tony and sure enough it did. 

Looking round the terrace I had noticed that the waiters were quite disorganised and at points three were serving one table while another table waited. The owner was working hands-on, but wasn't in control of the whole scene. 

Neither of us had the 'ganas' for desserts but decide to check out the dessert menu anyway. Now one of my 'bugbears' is restaurants that simply offer frozen desserts from a pre-bought menu in plastic tubs- an yes that is what the menu consisted of. There did appear to be a couple of home made dishes, but I was disappointed at the lack of imagination.  Which kind of sums up the meal- Two vegetarian options -both pasta, terrace laid out like a Butlins canteen and deserts pre-bought. 

The whole meal cost just under 35€ - which wouldn't normally have been a bad price, however I was a bit miffed to have been charged 2€ for two rolls that we hadn't ordered and didn't even want. So yes I did bring them home! 

Whatever let's end on a positive. The wine was really good and the company of course, and we did in fact enjoy our lunch out, something that we haven't been doing half enough!!  



This week I've been dead busy with catching up with 'Take Two'. Each afternoon I sat down at the laptop and wrote or edited and am pleased to say that it is now finished. I have yet to re-edit it and add all the other texts 'acknowledgements, dedication etc' but hopefully will get all that done this week. I shall then upload it to the publishers, and hopefully get a proof copy within ten days. I shall check this carefully when it arrives - something I failed to do with 'Winner' and regret missing so many typos etc, eventually releasing it for sale soon-after.  Want a copy? watch this space....



 In the next few days I am going to be announcing a 'The Magic of the Camino' competition. This is because I have now sold over 100 copies. Maybe not what Amazon best-seller list stuff is made of, but so many more than I ever dreamed of. When I set out I had hoped to sell around 50, I am thrilled to have doubled that. Promoting through Facebook and Twitter has clearly helped. My next Goal is to get 100 likes for my 'Magic of the Camino' Page on Facebook -so if you can help me do this I'll be most grateful. Many of the sales have been in the USA and Australia, and quite a few e-books as well as paperbacks.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Early warning

I know I've not been around this week, lots going on but I've not had the ganas to blog.
Tomorrow I will be back with a new rrstsurant review and 'House of Tulstig' news.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Surprise Surprise

Well, yesterday's surprise celebration eventually went off without a hitch.
We started off with a wander round the Fair. Andrew an I went through the 'Crazy House' which was a good giggle ad fed our inner kids!
Arriving at the cafe where we were meeting for drinks Tony's face was a picture- He just couldn't work out why sally and Michael were sitting there, until Olga and John and the kid poke their head round the corner, then when Julie, June, Sue, Christine and Jordi appeared too he got the message.
WE had a really good evening, and when we moved just down the Paseo to the restaurant (Pica Tapa) with the Birthday Balloons and sang a chorus of 'Happy Birthday' the whole restaurant joined in too, clapping and singing along with us. I'm not sure if Tony was touched but I was -isn't VnG a happy place to be.
After dinner some of us returned to the fair, and The Oliver Diaz Family along with Sally and Michael went on the carousel as we watched pulling face and making various hand signals to them!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Birthday dinner for my man

Last night we went out to dinner with our dearest friend Julie.  Tony wanted to try a restaurant that we'd only visited once before on the main Rambla here in VnG - Gilda. It's right next door to where the old Cocktail bar used to be for those of you that know our town.  

Telf: 938935735

We each chose to try the 'Menu del dia'. All except one of the five starters was vegetarian, and for main course we could chose any Pizza from the main menu or one of the other choices, two of the others also being vegetarian.
To start we all had paparadella in a four cheese sauce. Thinking as it was the menu the portion would only be small we tucked into the home-made bread rolls before it arrived, only to find the portions were huge. We each followed this with pizzas of our choice- which again were huge.  There were five choices for dessert, but thinking that the ice-cream would be the smallest option we each went for that. It was chocolate ice-cream and had the delightful strong flavour of chocolate truffles. Coffee and Limoncello liqueur were also included in the menu del dia price of 12.50€ which I think you'll agree is amazing value for money.With a bottle of the house white wine, which was very drinkable -slightly fruity yet dry enough to please Julie the bill came to less than 45€ for the three of us!!

We had a table in the courtyard at the back of the restaurant which was the perfect spot on such a hot night. The background music was mellow and not too loud to be invasive, and the service from the waiters and owners friendly and helpful.

To say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves is an understatement. Julie is always great company and we chatted easily all evening before She jumped on her scooter bound for Cubelles and we walked back up the hill.

On arriving near our barrio I rushed ahead and got Cuddy and Xali for a run around in the park in the cool midnight air. They both loved the additional outing, which for us was the perfect end to a perfect evening.

Later today I am off to the airport to pick up Jane and the whole scene will be played out once more in a different restaurant -most probably Oganquit -but for those details I will keep you hanging on until tomorrow.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

60th Birthday Celebrations - DAY ONE

Today is Tony's 60th Birthday. Over the past week cards have been arriving and I have hidden them for him to open this morning -so that was the first ritual of the day, as we had breakfast. The cards have taken up residence for the next few days on top of the TV cabinet. Just above his one of his presents from me- A barometer/thermometer/clock thingy.

Around lunchtime he had an aborted Skype call from his family - aborted as the signal wasn't strong enough for some reason. Then nephew Andrew stepped up and brought a laptop in and the call was back on, just much later. Tony was thrilled to see and talk to his mum, as she was to see and talk to him.

Thsi evening we are out to dinner with Julie in town, which will be a quiet affair, but hopefully an enjoyable one....