Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Homeward Bound

Last night we had intended to have a healthy stir fry for tea but changed our minds at the last minute and decided to go out for fish and chips instead.  We thought it would be a fitting tribute to our nan who would have been 100: the 29th July 1913 being her birthday. An oyster (ice-cream) may have been an even more fitting tribute but there were no ice-cream vans around.

Andrew drove us down to Shoreham (the place of my birth) where there are a few chippies. Andrew and Jane had fish and chips while I had a veggie spring roll and chips.

We then drove down to the lighthouse and sat in the car to eat them, staring out at the power station and the sea. It was just like when we were kids. In fact this was the very beach where Andrew fell off a breakwater  and broke his elbow when we were younger.  All rumours that I pushed him are completely unfounded and untrue.

When we got back home to Small Dole we had a pudding of arctic roll. This meant I could tick off another of my 'foodstuffs to eat while in the UK' list. Along with the dogs (Whiskey on my lap in the armchair for much of the time) we settled in front of the TV to watch a film. Andrew and Jane have Sky TV and one of the 'on demand' films was Snow White and the Hunter. An untaxing retelling of the classic Grimms fairy tale.

Today I was wide awake at around 6:00 am,  like I have been throughout this trip... probably an age thing. I woke with  bit of a sore throat so didn't move but relaxed in bed and read my book for another hour or so. There was no rush to do anything this morning as I didn't need to be at the airport until just after lunch and it was tipping it down all morning anyway.

Andrew and Jane dropped me off at the airport for an uneventful check in and flight. Amn't I lucky to have so many kind people to chauffer me round. (Huge thanks to each and every one of you).

On arrival in bcn, where yhe cgange in temperature was immediately noticeable,  I caught the train and bus home. It was a bit of a trek but not too tiresome with a good book to read. I arrived just before Julie dropped in when she had finished work and just in time for tea.

Ad slways I got a great reception from the kids who are sitting here eith me now. Even Tony was pleased to see me especially when I got the TV  going again.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Family day out.

Today Andrew, Jane and I have bern out snd about in Sussex shopping.
We started off in Burgess Hill, which I should have recognised at least part of, but didn't. Jane bought a couple of frocks, Andrew got a pair of shoes while I just got a bar of nougat (how's that pronounced, Sals?).
Then on to Haywards Heath, which I did recognise,  more or less. After a good look round tge 99p shop (got my farmhouse fruitcake :-D) we dropped into Greggs for a veggie pastie and a cuppa. Another of my favourites scored!
Finally we headed to Crawley and Asda,  where along with a few other goodies I got a couple of jars of store's own brand yeast extract - result!

This afternoon I have given Jane a masterclass in the art of making and baking muffins.  Happily they have turned out a treat. 

Sunday in Sussex.

Started the day yesterday with a delicious cooked breakfast at Pauline's. .. toast, hash browns, mushrooms, beans & egg. An excellent start to the day.

Andrew, Jane & Amy arrived just before eleven to pick me up and bring me back to Sussex. 

On the way back we stopped off at the Red Lion in Ashington for a roast lunch.  This was one of my original requests when I first booked my trip. 

After a second stop off at the supermarket,  where Andrew got his fingers shut in the car door (ouch; and nothing to do with me) we arrived back at theirs in Small Dole.

Late in the afternoon cousin Elaine arrived with husband Ian and son Darren. It had been well over 30 years since we had seen each other and the first time meeting her family. It was wonderful to catch up face to face and see her after so long. Jane's auntie Chris also turned up. She too has walked the Camino so we happily shared experiences. More family were invited/expected but didn't make it, which was a bit of a shame. 

Later on kerri and Annie also popped in and were treated to a reading from my upcoming children's book.

After another busy and fun day I fell into bed exhausted.  Today I am out and about with Jane and Andrew. ... once we all get up.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Pauline's Party

Yesterday after breakfast Carla and Nick dropped me off at Victoria Station from where I caught the train to Havant.

Arriving at Havant I was picked up by Pauline and taken to her home in Cowplain.

Around 2pm other guests started to arrive, and the party was soon in full swing in Pauline & Ashley's garden.

As I met, or was introduced to the new arrivals it was clear I had achieved some kind of fame/notoriety/reputation long before meeting most of them. Either Pauline had spoken about 'Mark from Barcelona' or people had seen me through Pauline's Facebook page.

Mid-afternoon the rain started but there were enough gazebos in the garden for everyone to shelter under, whilst a few took refuge in the conservatory. I settled on the garden chair swing wiyh Debbie and Hugh protected by its canopy.  Although the rain settled in for the afternoon it didn't dampen anyone's spirits.

As to be expected the food was excellent.  Pauline had even made 75 cupcakes;  25 of chocolate, strawberry and banana;  which went down a storm. (Pun intended).

Friday, 26 July 2013

Another great day.

Today I spent most if the day with my dear friend Andrea at her place in South Woodford.  I also met her dog Sooty for the first time who like her mum is a real sweetie.
Andrea made some delicious sausage rklls fod lunch at which we were joined by Ritu. Ritu is doing the illustrations for my book and it was great to meet her for the first timd too.
After lunch we took a walk out to the supermarket so I could get a couple of ingredients to make a lemon meringue pie for dinner.
After our walk Andrea was a bit nacked so we relaxed in the sitting room whilst Sooty snoozed on the floor. 
Arriving back at Carla and Nick's palace I set about making pudding as Carla ordered in a curry.
We have now just eaten and are slobbing on the sofa, all feeling a little stuffed.

London Friends

Had a great day yesterday in the West and East of London. 

I'm staying at Carla and Nick's palace in Chingford at the moment while I run around catching up with London chums.
Yesterday I met up first with Judith in Walthamstow.  I took the bus and was slightly horrified at the £2.40 fare for a ten minute journey. I arrived early just so I could have a look around one of my old stomping grounds.  Poundland and the 99p shops caught my eye of course but I resisted the temptation to shop shop shop.

Judith and I enjoyed a catch up in the local Costa Coffee place. As always I avoided the coffee. .. it's just not as good as at home. Judith is set for a visit to VnG next month and is preparing her daughter for her first trip abroad. Daughter excited,  mother stressed; especially as Judith is preparing a kids party for Tenelle this Sunday too for her birthday. 
My next appointment was with Michael M and Becky just off Oxford Street. Having not seen Becky for an age it was great to catch up and she's now planning a VnG trip too (next February when she'll be on half term.). Michael was his usual late and jolly self... and a joy to see as always.  He's planning his annual VnG visit for November. 

Nick joined us for a coffee before the two of us went off for a bit of shopping. Nick had to get a princess dress for daughter Frankie in the Disney store, where I am sure the assistant thought we were a couple ( Nick suggedted she thought he was my toy boy!?). We rounded off the afternoon with a quick drink in Old Compton Street... another old haunt. .. the Admiral Duncan. 

Returning back to Chingford we stopped off at Waitrose for a few provisions as I was cooking dinner... nachos dips for starters... stuffed Argentine courgettes for main with veggie sausages, new potatoes and spinach... bannoffee cheesecake for pudding. 

All in all a great day... and even the weather held out all day.

BTW...Anyone know the significance of eithrr if these pictures?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Animal Rescue

Yesterday evening we went to a gala dinner for an animal charity (AUDA) at a local restaurant and bar (La Fassina). Sadly we didn't get in. 

On arrival we were 'greeted' by a security guard (bouncer) who simply told us 'You can't go in there'. Perfect sales pitch, No? We told him we wanted tickets for the dinner. He told us to wait and called over a young woman who said she'd need to speak to another woman but thought that the event was already sold out. 
We sat and patiently waited (well we are English) for nearly half an hour. No one else approached us, despite there being many AUDA officials wandering around- they all had important name badges on. 

Finally we decided that as they didn't seem interested in our money we would go to the bar for a drink. Whilst ordering our drinks another security guard came over and said they could squeeze us in. No apology, no explanation, so we politely declined.

At no time did anyone check on us, or try to engage with us. It appeared they were all too busy having their photo-shoot pictures taken for something. Needless to say they didn't get out money, which is a shame for the animals they purport to want to help.
We did enjoy the evening at La Fassina, however, as Roger was playing again, and we settled down wit ha bottle of vermouth for the evening.


After having got to bed at around 1.30am I was aware at about 3.30 that R2 was crying intermittently. When I got up and checked on him I could tell his recurring urinary tract problem was back.

After another 20 minutes or so it was clear he was quite distressed (as was I!). I called the vet, bundled him into a carrier and set off to the clinic. 

After a couple of injections for the inflammation an antibiotics we were back home.

Another couple of hours later I heard him crying again an got up to check on him. His condition appeared to have worsened and not improved as it normally has after the injections. 

I called the vet again, a lovely girl called Lydia who was on-call this weekend, and she told me to bring him back. Whilst I waited she gave him a sedative and then said I should go for a walk or something while she investigated.

Half an hour later she called me to say he had a stone stuck in his urethra, and that it would take another half an hour or so before she would sort it.

Almost an hour later she called and I went back to pick him up. He was (and still is) quite drowsy, has a shaved bum an a catheter up one end and a collar on the other. He's obviously mush more comfortable and has eaten and drunk a little. Hopefully by tomorrow he'll be back on top form... in the meantime I shall continue to worry. I just hope we both get a good night's sleep tonight.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Final Furlong

For the last few days I have been concentrating on editing and proofing ' The Quest for The Magic Key', my first children's book. 

For the last two days I have been placing the illustrations and adding the legal bumf etc.

To be quite honest I am now getting quite excited -the pictures fit in really well and the book is coming together excellently.

Ritu is working on the final few illustrations and adding details (as described by the text) to some of the others. 

So here's a treat (well I hope so) - these are the main characters ni the book planning their first ever adventure together. 

Thank you to everyone who has given their opinions and suggestions after reading the first couple of chapters. Your help has been invaluable.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Another week is off and running ....

Sun's out, weather's warm, I'm on holiday (unemployed) - what could be better.

Integration back into the life of VnG is still taking its time - I am still preferring to stay in the garden and avoid the centre of town, but today when I was 'encouraged' to visit the centre because of an official appointment I saw A pilgrim wandering down the Rambla- complete with Rucksack, staff, and scallop shell. A smile jumped to my lips and eyes, and a little bit of envy in my head.

My self imposed home relaxation has meant that I have been able to pick up a 'new' book -I have staretd to read 'The Cathedral of the sea' by Ildefonso Falcones. I am really enjoying it even though it is really pushing my 'injustice' butttons...

Set in Barcelona, and the surrounding countryside of Catalonia, I love the way I 'know' the places mentioned, even though the story is from the 1300s.

I have also been working hard on my first children's novel. I am currently into the third edit, and am surprised that even this time round I am still finding the odd typo.  I am also working with Ritu to get the illustrations just right. We are working to an August publihsing date, and I can tell you this is my best effort yet.

On a similar matter at the moment there is 20% off all House of TulStig books at Lulu.com

Tomorrow the car is going in for a service, and to have the wing-mirror repaired. Hopefully it won't cost an armand a leg, but hey ho -It is what it is and I do love my car, which gets me all over without complaint.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Moving toward Normalcy

Now that can't be me saying that (heading) can it- Normalcy is never something I strive for ... difference is good.

What I am saying is that after having been out in the wilds of Spain once again and now having been home for over a week I am starting to settle back into life between four walls.

I have to say that this year I have additional help... being able to get up to the Lottie and escape to a relatively open and free space makes the feeling of 'lockdown' easier to manage. 

Since I've got back I've been up to the Lottie twice a week, and we are reaping the benefit from it. Everything is coming along really quickly now, and harvesting is a must each time I visit... Cucumbers, courgettes, cabbage, tomatoes, runner beans, French beans, lettuce, Swiss chard are the main crops at the moment, so loads of salad consumption here.

Here are a few pics to give an update of just how well everything is doing... to think that just a couple of months back this was all bare soil - isn't nature brilliant?!