30/04/2013

ZUMO & ZIMMER FRAMES


ZUMO = juice,  ZUMO DE NARANJA – orange juice. 
We had to be up early this morning to get our breakfast out of the way before a Skype conference with the RBL in Spain - the noise of my juicer in the background would have been too much!
 If you saw my P for Poppies Post on April 18th you will know that we are members of the RBL Tenerife Branch. Our two Case Workers needed a training update, and Skype is a much better option than a trip to the Peninsula. It’s also cheap, whereas tickets and accommodation would make a large hole in the branch budget. Isn’t technology wonderful?

And to add ZEST to my day, Jean brought me a whole carrier-bag full of fresh lemons. More Lemon Curd? – (see my recipe page for how to make it.)

ZAP ZONE! A friend asked last night if we had ever eaten at the Atlantido Restaurante in Las Galletas. We had, but it’s gone now. ZAPPED by over-ZEALOUS bureaucracy. Demolished. RaZed to the beach. Another victim of the Spanish law PLAN DE COSTAS that says any building too near the sea must go.
Although the food was good and the view amaZing, it had probably been built illegally. 
The same cannot be said of some of the little cottages that this Draconian law has deemed unnecessary – those were people’s homes, built decades before the tin gods in Spain moved the goal-posts.
Look up "Tenerife village demolished" on Google images and weep.


ZIMMER FRAMES have you noticed you hardly ever see one these days? People go straight from walking sticks to those motoriZed wheelchairs that ZOOM along the pavements as if they own them, ZIPPING in and out of innocent pedestrians and mowing down small children. 
I thought these vehicles were supposed to be speed-restricted? I reckon some of them have been souped up.

ZENITH = above a trailer in an unofficial depot near us is this Z-car - it's been there a good while. Z at the end of its registration number means it’s about 25 years old. The owner must hold it very dear to go to these lengths to deter thieves.



29/04/2013

YO!


YO in Spanish means ‘I’, Y means 'and', and YA means ‘right now’. Therefore “Yo y tu ya?” could be a (rather direct) invitation, no?
Probably not, but I do love playing with languages. 

And there's another thing - if the past tense of 'slide' is 'slid', why isn't the past tense of 'glide' 'glid'? It's a puzzle.

YALDING LEES is near Maidstone in Kent, and as I set my novel Helter-Skelter in that area, I found it during my research, because Yalding Lees was, until the 1950s, one of the many traditional stopping places for gypsies.
Yalding itself is a pretty village, and the Lees now a sought-after location – just as it was in the last century for the travelling families who kept the Garden of England supplied with labour until the introduction of mechanised fruit-picking.



Hops equal beer, and England wouldn't be the same without its beer, would it?









YUCCA there is a row of yuccas outside our building’s garage, and when they’re in flower they look lovely. I haven’t YET worked out which part of the plant one can buy in the vegetable shop and use to thicken a stew - perhaps both the fruit and the root?


27/04/2013

X or SWALK


X is the only way one of Albie’s fellow soldiers can sign his name.
 I was surprised to discover how many young men only learned the three Rs when they joined the Army.
Here's an excerpt from my Novel Helter-Skelter:-
….it turned out he was upset because he’d been put on a charge for walking through a door marked “Authorised Personnel Only”.
“What did you do that for, you stupid Paddy git?” Thompson demanded.
O’Brien ran his huge navvy’s hand over his recently shorn scalp and muttered, “Can’t fecking read, can I?” He wasn’t the only recruit who’d missed out on the three Rs, but he was probably the only one to have private tuition from his entire hut to back up the army’s crash course…..

 X = a kiss, with which many a homesick soldier sealed his letters home SWALK. Strangely my Spanish friends tell me they don’t use an X – they simply write “besos” .










XYLOSE =  It is my usual bedtime wind-down to do a Cryptic Crossword – and this word cropped up so I thought I’d use it today. According to the clue in the  crossword it is SWEET AND SUGARY but the dictionary definition is much more complex:
XYLOSE is a white crystalline dextrorotatory sugar found in the form of xylan in wood and straw. It is extracted by hydrolysis with acids and used in dyeing, tanning, and in foods for diabetics. Formula: C5H10O5.
So now we all know.

A photo of Canada for no real reason other than I am missing my Canadian son. xxxx


26/04/2013

WALTER, WATER & WAR


I HOPE my choice of an icon doesn't indicate that my novel is fated to sink without trace!

WALTER – Wally is a playground bully whom Albie defeats in a scrap when he is much smaller than Wally, and then beats him again in a more adult fight on the pier. 
Wally is not a good loser, and when they end up in the same regiment, the Germans are not the only enemy Albie must be WARY of. Walter is after revenge.

WAR – As you must have gathered by now, the third part of Helter-Skelter sees our hero Albie going off to WAR, together with his best friend Bert. WW2 has been WRITTEN about thousands of times, but I WISH there was more information about those first few months before the invasion of Denmark and Norway. I found enough detail eventually to WEAVE into my story, but it was a WEARY search.

This is a stock photo - I wish I looked this young!














WATER WE are an island. 785 square kilometres of volcanic rock surrounded by the Altantic Ocean, which contains untold millions of litres of salt water. Yet the only fresh WATER  we have is condensed from the clouds by the Canarian pines in the forest on Mount Teide, and from melted snow. It is stored in natural underground chambers, some of which can be visited with a guide, but others contain toxic fumes that only a few years ago killed six hikers who thought they'd take an unauthorised look past the fence.

These islands are unforgiving the the unwary.







But we can still buy an eight litre bottle of pure drinking water for a euro.


WELCOME I must extend a heart welcome to the 20 new people who have joined my ‘followers’ this month, and hope you will continue to visit me when the excitement – or ennui –of the A-Z Challenge has worn off.

If I don't visit you all in return eventually it will not be from lack of interest, I assure you. It will be because either you haven't got a blog or a website, of you have chosen not to let me know what it is.

25/04/2013

VANS, VOLCANOES & VERY HOT CHILLIS



VERY HOT CHILLIS - my OH does like his chilli plants, and these pencil chillis have just ripened in the past few days. Fancy one?

VEHICLE – In May 1940 Albie and his depleted squad destroy a German tank, losing two more of their own men in the process. After a brief roadside burial they know they have to move fast – the explosion will have attracted attention – but they have no transport.

Thompson turned to Albie and asked, “What now, Corp?” thereby acknowledging that, with the Sergeant dead, they were under Albie’s orders; “Shall we catch up with the others?”
“They’re miles away by now,” Green commented sourly, “And we got no transport.”
“Would this do?” asked Darby, pushing open the shed door, and they crowded inside to stare at the strangest vehicle any of them had ever seen.
            If it had ever been a thing of beauty, the evidence now lay under layers of mud and chicken droppings. A topless, backless box of a cab perched behind the engine, there were no bumpers or headlights, and the open back had obviously been created by taking a saw to whatever bodywork had originally been there. When Paddy rubbed the paintwork of the door with his sleeve they read ‘Marc’s Glaces’ – their new vehicle had started life as an ice-cream VAN.

 We know they reach Dunkirk because Helter-Skelter opens with them on the beach (see my C blog for a snippet) but the full story of their perilous journey through the last stretch of France to get there is at the end of my novel. I think the idea of the ice-cream van lightens the story just a tad.
Imagine something like this but a lot less cared-for!

VILLAFLOR is the highest village in Tenerife, 1400 metres above sea level, but many a clapped-out old van still climbs the precipitous winding road that is its only access. Getting stuck behind one of those is only one of the hazards - in the winter Villaflor is sometimes cut off by snow.
Around 2000 people inhabit this peaceful 16th century village, living mainly by agriculture and viticulture – the wine is lovely.

Its most famous son was Hermano Pedro, Tenerife’s only official saint, whose cave hermitage is at the other extreme - almost at sea level near El Medano, in a VERY noisy position right next to the airport. The airport authorities wanted this place of pilgrimage closed for security reasons, but everyone said NO! Quite right too – Pedro was there first - but sometimes the planes take off to the west and if you're standing outside the cave the noise is tremendous - I love it!


Living so near to a VOLCANO we claim to be blasé about volcanic activity, but when we see clouds that resemble smoke issuing from a chimney, we do wonder ………

24/04/2013

URGENT! - missed the post!

UNLESS I get my finger out I shall have failed in the last stretch of the A-Z Challenge. It was only because I was reading other blogs that I realised somewhere along the line I have lost track.
Of course it could be because I have had absolutely no inspiration for the letter U.

USELESS -As you will know if you've been following my ramblings, I am in the middle of a rewrite, and my brain has be totally USELESS today. Typing errors on every line - and my fingers used to spell so beautifully - so if I don't pull my socks up the book will come to a grinding halt.












UK There are many advantages to living in Tenerife. The climate is kinder on arthritic joints, for one thing – we know of one man who arrived here on crutches and within months was teaching badminton again. The cost of living is lower, as long as you go native and don’t do all your shopping in stores that import everything from the UK. We have fleeces but no winter coats, we don’t even possess wellies, and the beer and wine is cheap.
The downside is that we left friends and family behind – it is ironic that the first long word we learned from our flash cards was desgraciademente = UNFORTUNATELY. The space we left in the UK has filled up now, of course. Friends are pleased to see us when we go over, but we don’t share the minutӕ of daily life in common any more, and those friendships are fading.
We left six children there too, and four grandchildren. Since then three more grandchildren have been born and are growing up without us. So when people ask, “Do you regret moving?” obviously expecting the answer to be “No”, we tell them this - if we had the money we would go back. Our hearts are still there.

UNSOLD. 
There is a veritable rash of unsold apartments everywhere we go. “¡Oportunidad!” the posters scream from the balconies. We know it means another family has lost the battle to pay their mortgage. It also means that our property had lost value and we are unable to raise enough to return the the UK.

UNEMPLOYMENT in Spain is around 26% - in Tenerife it’s worse, and el paro (dole) doesn’t cover the mortgage for long. No wonder the camp-sites and caves are filling up. Out by the basura at night, it’s not just tramps you see dumpster-diving for food, or clothes, or anything that might raise a euro or two at the Sunday flea-market.


and for those who appreciate a laugh - here is a photo I took yesterday in Las Gattetas.


23/04/2013

TELL ME A STORY, PA


  “TELL ME A STORY” 
I remember asking my father that. I wish I could also remember the stories he made up for me and my brother, but they are lost in the mists of  TIME. One legacy I do have though - he passed on to me his vivid imagination.

Here he is - my PA x










Perhaps earliest man sat in his cave telling stories and the cave paintings we see are simply illustrations? I wonder if they finished their TALES by saying, “THE END”?













At the start of Part 3 of Helter-Skelter I tell the story of Albie at TRAINING CAMP, learning to drive an Army TRUCK, and of what happens when his old enemy from his schooldays TURNS UP in the same regiment.
 Strange as it may seems, records are reticent about the kinds of shennanigans soldiers in training indulged in, but with some input from the OH about his National Service my imagination has had free rein.


  

TEIDE is the TALLEST mountain in the Canary Islands and the Spanish Peninsula. It measures 3718 metres which is over two miles. I know at least two people who joined the “Mile High Club” without leaving the ground, though where they found the energy is a mystery, because the air is very thin.
It can also be very cold – I have been up there in the snow – but there are barbecue areas where local people go all year round. 


You can take a cable car to the top when it’s not too windy, and if you get a permit in advance you can climb the final 200 metres to breathe the sulphurous fumes. Mount Teide might be dormant but it’s not dead.

TREES – The jacarandas flowered in our village last week just in TIME for your photographic TREAT of the day.



22/04/2013

SEX, SUN, SEA & STORM


 – and now that I have your attention, ~I will start off with a taster from my novel Helter-Skelter – a description of the beginning of the STORM in 1935 that changes Albie’s future.

One night, after a blustery day earning a few shillings rolling barrels into the pub, Albie was woken by his window rattling in its frame. He got up to see the trees being blown practically horizontal and waves crashing clear over the promenade to batter the road. A dreadful moaning sound built up and up – he had never heard anything like it. He went downstairs to make sure all was secure, but George had beaten him to it and the kettle was already on the hob. Albie was about to take a cup up to Dot when she appeared in the kitchen, clutching her dressing-gown closed as it afraid the howling wind would snatch it away.
“A body can’t sleep with that racket going on, and I’ll feel safer downstairs.”

Would you go downstairs for a cuppa in these circumstances, or pull the covers over your head and pray?


SEX – we all know that this is one reason a lot of folk come to Tenerife - drinking SANGRIA in the SUN lying on the SAND beside the SEA tends to dull people’s perceptions and SENSE of discretion – but there are many more visitors who come for the SCENERY and the food, both of which are SIMPLY STUNNING.






STRELITZIA REGINAE – I took this photo on my walk yesterday – the SPANISH call it Estrelitsa, but they simply cannot pronounce any word that begins with an S without adding an E first!
We see holiday-makers clutching these flowers at the airport – I have never asked if they are actually allowed to take them on board, but I would imagine there are some airlines (naming no names) who would charge extra.