You might just be able to distinguish the dog-collar in this photo if you look hard enough. It was probably taken on a Sunday and Pa still hadn't changed into mufti to do the gardening.
The only one missing from this family portrait is one brother - perhaps he was away at Uni or wielding the camera, though Pa was quite nifty at setting a timer and nipping round to get into the picture.
Pa didn't leave us any money - he had none to leave - but his legacy to me was a love of words. When I was at college I got a letter every week. Mum's were short and sweet and handwritten - you could sense her thinking "What else can I tell Lizzie now?" but Pa's were thumped out on his old upright typewriter and his personality lifted from the page to envelop me in thoughts of home. The letter was always single-spaced on one side of a sheet of foolscap - sometimes two, if I was lucky - while on the reverse were his old sermons. Pa never threw paper away if it could be re-used.
   I even read those sermons  because he knew how to string words together and they were never boring,, though the sheets he had recycled were seldom consecutive - and the force with which he had bashed the typewriter keys was evident in the way the full stops broke clear through to the other side. He used to do the same with the Gestetner sheets for the Parish Magazine.
   The Rectory shelves were full of books and if I asked what a word meant we would look it up together in the "Enc Brit". Did you have a set of those Encyclopaedia Brittannica? Gold tooled red binding on a set of about 24 books, and we even had a special bookcase to go with them. They must have cost a fortune, no doubt on the "Never-never" but we got our money's worth out of them. I've even written them into a book of my own!, Once Id found a word and its meaning, Pa would explain how it was derived from the Latin or Greek or Hebrew. I did only a term on Latin but I can still use what Pa taught me to understand a new word.

And the reason for all this retrospection is simple - yesterday was his birthday. He was born in 1905 and he lived to be 90.
Happy Birthday PA. I love you.

PS. I still wander round a stationery shop like an addict after a fix, and I have paper that's decades old waiting to be used. He'd be proud of me.



Having decided to unclog my brain by leaving the apartment, I headed for Iceland - the supermarket, that is, not the country. We do 99% of our shopping in Spanish shops, but there are times when we just have to have a taste of home, and as the OH has announced it's time to make his annual Steak and Kidney Pudding, we need suet.
Inside the shop I grabbed a basket and headed for the bargain freezers to see what's on offer this week. Birds Eye Frozen Fish Fillets in two varieties, reduced from 6 euros something to 2.95 - they'll do for an emergency, I thought, and then I looked at the notice on the freezer.
Perhaps I should explain that any imported goods are required by law to display their ingredients in Spanish, so the importers must get someone to translate and make stickers - (which they usually put right over the cooking instructions.)
Iceland go a step further for the sake of their Spanish customers, and  also label the freezer in two languages. This is a great idea as long as the person doing the translation actually speaks Spanish and isn't simply working from a dictionary.
"Fish in Breadcrumbs" becomes "Pescado Empanada" which is correct, but "Battered Cod" was translated as "Pescado Maltratada"! Ill-treated fish?
I giggled all the way to the suet shelf.



I've had a bad few days struggling with my re-write of A Volcanic Race, and I think it's time to STOP, step back and think about the entire concept.

My daughter has been reading he first twelve chapters and says I have made Tomboro a much stronger character, so we're going to sit down over a coffee this afternoon and thrash out some strategy for the rest of the book.

It doesn't help that I'm not feeling well - pain and depression and lack of sleep tend to dull the creative urge - but a blood test next week may throw some light on my raft of symptoms and by association, on my book..

So instead of bashing away at chapter after chapter, I am going to take a long hard look at the second half of my book and decide what major changes to make.Maybe I even need to write something else, something new completely from scratch, to re-awaken my creative rather than my editorial side.

One spooky thing did happen when I was on my walk yesterday - I saw this notice to Loro Parque. They've acquired a pair of sea-lions and one of them is called Khali = so is one of my characters! Is this an omen?

Does anyone else get this feeling of staleness after working on the same book for so long? How do you deal with it?



In the shower this morning I was thinking that I should put my list of submissions into some kind of order, and was wondering whether to sort them by date or alphabetically. Then while I was rinsing my hair, my mind wandered onto the definition of the word ‘submission’.
As writers we submit our manuscripts to agents and publishers and competitions, sending out work we have laboured over, sworn over, sweated blood over, to be judged by strangers. The word 'submission', like so many in the English language, has more than one meaning, some with unfortunate connotations.
I look it up in the dictionary: "Submission – the act of referring a document for consideration."
Yes, that’s what we do, I can live with that definition, thank you.
But of course my eye is drawn further down the page; "Submission – the act of being subject to another."
That is quite a different matter and I don't like that meaning at all, but when we get a rejection, that’s how it feels - someone else has the upper hand in our lives - not pleasant at all.
So, rather like probing a sore tooth, I go to the Thesaurus.:"To submit – to acquiesce, to capitulate, to throw in the sponge, to endure." It gets worse and worse and I am getting more depressed by the minute.
But hang on – this is better: "To submit – to advance, to assert, to propose." Okay - that's what I did two months ago, and although I am still waiting for an answer (with fading hopes) I shall remain positive. If that agent doesn't want my novel  I shall remain assertive and carry on submitting it, advancing it, proposing it - and the next agent will love it - or the next ,,,



A bit of a shock
WOW! I was searching Google for information on California pepper trees, because I have been trying to propagate some seeds and nothing has worked so far. I went into images and clicked on the photo in the top right corner - and got my own blog from May last year! How about that!

The reason I'm trying to grow the seeds is to make a bonsai, but it seems my best option is either to find a baby growing wild or take a cutting, so if you see me out on the rough ground looking furtive you will know what I'm up to.

I also wanted to identify this plant that is looking at its magnificent best right now on a roundabout at Parque la Reina.
The Christmas decorations have gone and this appears - great, isn't it?
I have looked up 'succulents' but can't find out what it is, so if anyone can tell me I would be grateful.
It bears some resemblance to a house-leek, but it's around fifteen feet tall, and the flower spike gets so heavy that it bends over and will eventually touch the ground.

As far as I know it's not a variety of Tajinaste. These flowers, for which Tenerife is famous, only grow at certain altitudes, and they have tall spikes of pink flowers that don't bend.

People go on hikes just to look at them - I wish my hips were up to the challenge.



As this is my first post of 2013 I thought I should attempt to make it a serious one.
A couple of years ago the Cabildo finally decided to improve the road that runs through Parque de la Reina, which involved straightening its serpentine course and levelling the humps, but there was a snag - some old houses were in the way.
The occupants were offered apartments which they quite understandably refused, and after some years and a lot of wrangling, the road near our block was completed with a massive hump in the middle and the houses stayed. This makes crossing to the Supermarket like dicing with death, but what is life without risk?
Anyway, today I approached this hump behind a cyclist who had to stand on his pedals to get over it, and I was so entranced by his bum that I didn't mind waiting. In the rear of his white shorts was a black padded patch - in the shape of a heart.! ...Bless.
I couldn't take a photo for obvious reasons, so the above picture is a free stock image which I found after Googling 'Men in cycle shorts' Would you believe there are twelve pages of photos? I am no doubt now on a list of internet porn surfers.

I have had two short stories issued in an online magazine called Running Out Of Ink, which publishes eight short stories a month - all free to download and read. Check it out - it's not fame and fortune, but it is recognition at last!
http://www.runningoutofink.com  One story is in December's issue and one this month.

It being a new year, I had to sign in rather than just log on to my blog, and there's this page of stuff I never see otherwise. Apparently since I started blogging late in 2011 I have posted 190 blogs and have attracted 9273 page views! That's 48.8 per post, if my long division is correct.
And there I was wondering whether to give up due to lack of support.