Friday, 28 September 2007

Bookish Tag from JJ

Total number of books...

Oh Dear. Do I really care to admit to this one? Before I moved to Spain I sold around 2,000 books and took around 200 with me. In Spain I acquired more and refused to part with them (they were mostly replacements from the second-hand English Bookshop in Torremolinos!). Looking around the office and not counting the four fully laden bookcases around the house, there’s about 2,500 here now.

They are reasonably organised into categories:

Literary Criticism/Philosophy
Big Books with Gorgeous Photos with titles like Earth
Layman’s Science books on Chaos Theory, Space, Physics etc.
Primary Teaching Text books and Materials in 15 subjects!
Atlases and Maps/Geography
Auto/biographical Non-Fiction
Creative Writing handbooks and teaching materials
Language Dictionaries (I think I must collect these)
Children’s Literature
Grammar and Phonetics text books
Religious Philosophy
Arts & Crafts/Woodwork/Gardening/Origami

Plus every copy of Mslexia and over 10 years’ worth of Writing Magazine, various climbing magazines (in French for some strange reason), and now *hangs head in shame* Horse & Rider and Your Horse

Last book read... (finished?)

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo. I loved this novel in broken English that takes a look at cultural differences and language).

But currently reading Horseshoes and Holy Water by Mefo Phillips (two mad sisters travel from England to Spain on their horses), The Stories of Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende (and Cuentos de Eva Luna alongside it). And will be reading 12 children’s novels and Il Pentamorene which you can find at Sur la Lune.

Last book bought...

...naughty girl here bought 4 in one hit. Last purchase was made in a bookstore in Malaga (in the libreria). I got;

Déjame ue te cuente by Jorge Bucay – a novel – “The stories that taught me to live” (Los cuentos que me enseñaron a vivir).

Teoria del Majaron by Alfonso Vazquez – a look at the lifestyle and traditions of Malagueñan life from the perspective of the Majaron

Diccionario Del Habla Malagueña documentado por Enrique Del Pino – a dialect dictionary Spanish-Malaga

Los cuentos de Eva Lune by Isabelle Allende – as an exercise to see if it’s any different reading her in her own language and not in translation. Have feeling I will need more than a Malagueñan dictionary for this one!

5 Meaningful books...

Oh God! It’s like Desert Island Discs. Where to begin? Which to choose and which to leave out? Only 5?!!! Okay Okay! I’m having trouble deciding what Meaningful means so am going for the first ones that spring to mind.

In no particular order…

Watership Down by Richard Adams. It was the first really thick book I ever got through. I stubbornly read it when I was 9 despite being told it would be too difficult. I loved every page of it. It was adventure, life, survival, love, spiritual, funny… And I was uprooted as a child and it made me realise it was okay to change where and how you live.

Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn. Powerful children’s novel which moved me and educated me, and made me want to move people with words in the same way. Still no idea if it is a true story or a made up one? Any info gratefully received!

The Dhammapada and The Tao de Ching have equally been influential in my life. I try hard to aspect the wisdom of these two ancient texts and have found them to be a great comfort over the past 20 years.

Dibs in Search of Self by Virginia M. Axline – a true story about a special boy who goes from being a child who refuses to speak to a well-balanced adult genius. I had a few issues growing up (don’t we all) but this book helped me to see that it was up to us to take responsibility for our own predicaments, and that it was okay to be helped by really lovely people.

J. Krishnamurti: A Biography Pupul Jayakar – what it says; a biography of Krishnamurti (not to be confused with the Hari Krishna movement!). He was an amazing individual who was highly spiritual and travelled the world giving talks. His own books are devilishly difficult and I find myself with an understanding that evaporates the moment I stop reading.

My favourite episode in the book is where Pupul, the author, is with two friends, travelling with Krishnamurti in car. They are on country, mountainous roads in India somewhere I think, and they are discussing how much their ‘awareness’ has developed. They tell Krishnamurti excitedly that they feel everything now. And then, BANG! They hit a deer in the road full on. And Krishnamurti says quietly from the passenger seat, “Ah yes, I see how much your awareness has developed!”

Books are important to me but I am coming to understand that it’s the fact that they communicate with me that makes me love them. Each one has its own voice from the dry academic to the hilarious and mischievous Bill Bryson.
They teach me, unnerve me, make me laugh, cry, shout, giggle, and sigh. Some stay with you for a life-time, others pass through once and once is enough!
Books can't replace people but when there's no one around to chat to, they are a comforting voice in my ear.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

The Benefit of Research

Finished for the Day

It wasn't a holiday. Before I went I also insisted, "This is NOT a holiday! It's a research Trip. But did they believe me? I packed note-books and pens in with my bikini and riding hat. A box of paints nestled in amongst the gaiters, and a copy of A Concise Dictionary of Chinese-English For Lovers by Xiaolu Guo was suitably protected by a beach towel. It was a novel I would race through over the first days.

And I arrived in Spain.

Casas Blancas

To a little hotel in Mijas Pueblo.

And I was home again. *Big Sighs*

So for the first four days I rode Andalucian horses across the hills and galloped along the dried out river bed, and in the evening I found myself filled with words and sounds and images I wanted to capture.

So I wrote. And wrote and wrote and wrote. And now I now where I'm going! With the novel at least!

I think I was sceptical before leaving the UK that I would actually do any writing but I was wrong. And I can't pinpoint what it was exactly that got the words flowing again. Perhaps it was the warm salted air drifting inland off the Med, or the brilliance of the sun on white-washed houses edged in yellow, caressing my skin as I walked around town. It may have been the sound of Andaluz, dialect slowly emerging from the depths of my mind. But it might have had something to do with being in the car with my friend, a local woman, who drove along winding mountain roads, steering round bends with her knees to blaringly loud Spanish Rap that frightened me beyond measure. I thought, "I'm go to die on the Mijas Road in car and my book will never be finished!"

So I gathered materials for my research...

Our first house in Spain

Cooking Sardines on the Boat

Could this be the reason I was 2.5kg over and had to pay 18 Euros?!

On I go with the novel which is evolving each day, with every new thing I remember; cultural differences, the beauty of Andaluz 'speak', that feeling of really being alive I have in Spain, the people so open and friendly... the music, the horses.... Christ, I could write a book about it ;-)


Teaching starts up next week and I shall be walking that old tightrope between work, study and family. And riding. Un doble Humph!!!


And of course I went to the Beach!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Ole ole ole

Don´t know where to start really, and am on my way to the beach to do some writing, so won´t stay long here, but...


What hard work it´s been to keep up with my friends in their language. I found them one by one, and the first day was a nightmare of trying to understand. Every so often I just gave up and went quiet, and Celia would look at me with that look that says, I understand... the translator in your head just blew a gasket!

Yesterday I took a train and went up into the mountains to find another friend who is living in the campo. Now that was interesting! That has to go in the novel. Photos will be posted when I get home. Brace yourselves!!! I was just pleased I managed to get there with a change of train involved. How clever am I???

What else. Hubby sounds like he missed me. I do hope they are all getting on alright while I´m out here catching up with everyone. GUILT! ARGH!!!

Right - better go the beach then... it is such a hard life!

Oh yes, and I AM working my backside off. Even spent two hours in a bookshop researching stuff in MALAGA.

Venga muchachos - es me voy ya!

p.s. It´s 30 C here and blue skies all round. Mountains behind me - sea infront. Ah que me encanta esta costa.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Adios y hasta pronto!

I am going to Spain. OMG. The time is upon me! (It's gone over soooo fast).

I am taking my costochondritis with me, alas, but not going to be put off by constant pain and nausea (I'm such a trooper don't you think!!!).

Other things I am taking include:

- sexy notebook
- pens and paper
- water colour paints
- horse anatomy colouring book (why? why not?!)

So am currently trying to decide between wheelie suitcase (small) and rucksack (bigger). I think the rucksack is going to win cos I might buy things (hmmm, shopping...) and will need space for stuff, eh! Obviously I'll buy cheap stuff as have spent most of my money on flights, apartment and er... horse riding - Oops.

So will be busily making TONS of notes on NOVEL and working REALLY REALLY hard. I won't be sunning myself on the beach unless it is in order to write about it, or course. The apartment is a few doors down from where I used to live too, so how is that for forward planning. It'll be perfick!

Am secretly getting quite nervous/excited about riding bit of holiday, but had a crackin' jumping lesson yesterday and apart from horrific pains in ribs and upper torso, I was ok. Oh dear.

So hasta luego. I shall have to practise some Spanish but have run out of time. I watched Volver the other night and that was fab but thank Christ for subtitles. Worried? Preocupado? Yo? I'll be fine, just fine :)

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Freak Accidents, Driving on the Pavement, and Sexy Notebooks, in no particular order!

Would you just look at what landed in my toe!!! And er... before we go any further, apologies for the poor quality of images but hubby has swiped the camera and taken it to Italy to take pics of mountains, so left with 2 megapixel camera on my phone (still - not bad for a phone all said and done!)

Shard of Glass

I was squeezing into a gap filled with picture frames (waiting to be hung since we moved in 6 years ago) and my huge arse managed to break the thin glass on a poster sized affair. I watched in slow motion as the glass sliced through the air in swift silence and then went through my foot with equal ease. Quite a lot of blood for such a small hole - but deep my darlings - deep so that the blood came out that gorgeous crimson colour. Great colour for wine and soft furnishings, but not so great on socks, skin, and cream carpets.

Maybe the fact that it didn't hurt is due to the copious amounts of pain killers I'm taking for the old costochondritis, and may I just say what a difference a doctor can make - or not as the case may be. Doc number one all those weeks ago was fab. He listened and appeared to have all the time in the world even though I know he was on the same time starved schedule of doctor number two. He poked me with care. He expressed sympathy with said pain that ensued. He could put Bupa to shame. Doctor number two was crap (on Monday). She made me feel like an NHS patient that deserved to be pushed and rushed. Same diagnosis, whole different ball game. She could do with reviewing her bedside manner a tad, methinks. She poked with venom and informed me that my 5 minutes was up and if I wanted an answer to another question I needed to make another appointment! I was ushered out the door with the words, "So can I keep running?" left hanging in the air. So I went home and ran. Ouch.

But it's not all bad. We have a new kettle that glows in the dark. I am such a sucker for lighty up things and I know it's bad for the environment but it's a low energy jobbie and says so on the box. It glows blue for 'on' and red for 'boiling'. It is most cool!


I found the perfect note-book to take on my research trip. It's a little leather bound affair as you can see below, and even has a little pocket in the back for... for... for something! Notes perhaps! I'm going to fill it with inspiring bits and pieces from my research trip. I love note-books. And it was only £4.99 which is cheap for a little leather bound beauty designed for water-colour sketches. Am going to take my water-colour mini travel kit that Amanda bought me too, with the tiny fold-away brush.

Last but not least, have been hacking out to get experience in for Spain next week. Yesterday I did a 2 hour hack and got to gallop on the beach and then canter through the pine woods. It was like, totally awesome, dudes and dudettes!!! I learned loads too, not least that horses can leap, yes, leap, sideways onto the pavement if a truck makes enough noise on its way past! I learned to be more aware and luckily no one was using the pavement at the time. The next time a big truck came trundling along I was there with lots of leg, kind words of reassurance and lots of pats. He was fine after that, until we met a wheelie bin!

A big thank you to the kind lady who passed me my riding crop back at the level crossing after I dropped it! I don't know - these bloody novices eh! Can't take us anywhere!

Monday, 3 September 2007

10st 6lbs, 0 fags, 0.54 miles, 10 lengths

Well well well. It's been a funny old week this end. It was, all of a sudden, the last week before school, and then much as I intended to get done, it was over. Time, eh. Still can't get my head around it after 37+ years of the stuff.

So hubby went off gallivanting with his mates. Sends me regular pics of the latest mountain he's just climbed. For example:

It does, admittedly, look rather lush, but also looks a bit terrifying to me, so not at all upset at missing out on that one! (Although I've never been to Italy)

Back here in Blighty, it's been a case of ironing school uniforms, learning to tie a tie (hmm - and with no man in the house - how brilliant am I?!), writing names in tiny black pumps, and erm... not really doing any writing at all. Oh dear.

Riding is going well though ;-) Have now progressed to the point where the horse is getting a nice outline, is tracking under well, and does the paces I want when I want them. (And I know what these things are which is even more progress!) Still got miles to go, but at least I'm still loving it.

What else? The costochondritis (or Tietze's disease - 'cos it gets on your tits?! ha ha!) is back with a vengeance. All that running. Ouch and ouch again. Last night it was full on - elephant sitting on chest, short of breath, pain to touch the sternum, agony on coughing... the works really. And the old anti-inflammatories worked after a day so going back to quacks to find out more (as opposed to self-doctoring using the internet which probably isn't the best, I know).

So all's well after a fashion. Not writing a bean though which is bad. Very Bad. I am bad bad bad.

I am reading. Does that count?

I am getting ready to go on a research trip. Does that count?

I am letting the ideas fester like that expensive cheese with the dodgy blue veins. Does that count?

Does anyone even give a toss?!!!