Unexpected Interruption

We are on a short break in Devon. Problem is the rental house doesn’t have the promised internet.

Arrgh!

And getting mobile net on the phone in this rural coastal area is unpredictable at best. I’m sitting outside a shop right now, and just had a pile of emails come thru! I was able to check Twitter as well finally.

You feel so lost without the net nowadays. I’m seeing if anything can be done. If not, well, I’ll get lots of writing done on my down time.

Hopefully, all will be back to normal next weekend. If not before, see you then. :-)

Destination Bulgaria

And people wonder from where novelists get material? The ex-husband of a friend of my wife’s is buying a house in Bulgaria. He’s planning to move there permanently (it’s not a holiday home) in early August.

It’s “Melvin.” Naturally, relocating to Ukraine didn’t happen. Now, out of the blue, it’s Bulgaria.

Screen capture of Wikipedia.
Screen capture of Wikipedia.

I bumped into “Melvin” yesterday during a post-cat-sitting stopover at our girlfriend’s house. That girlfriend and her new husband are VERY GENEROUSLY letting “Melvin” flop there until he moves abroad. But I wouldn’t be surprised if when the time comes she drives him to the airport to make sure he actually leaves the country.

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“Foolish, Mr. Bond”

He is in Austria with his son, to see the Austrian Grand Prix.

She is with her daughter – recently turned 18 – on a long weekend in Split, Croatia.

Jet setters.

What we all do for friends, eh?:

Same cat. Using the top of the wine cooler, he likes sitting next to you at the kitchen island.
Using the top of the wine cooler, this one likes sitting next to you at the kitchen island.

Someone had to watch their cats, so we’re staying in their house.

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An 18th Birthday Party

Sixteen years ago, in the middle of our wedding vows in a nearly silent church in north London – assisted unwittingly by my Italian-German aunt, who had kept giving her sweets – the 2 year old had loudly demanded of her mother, “Mummy, I need to poo!”

It didn’t make the wedding video, which was her Danish mother’s greatest fear.

That mum has now been a close friend of my wife’s for nearly 20 years; and she has become my friend, too.

And that toddler – whose father is English – who yelled at our wedding about needing to “poo” has just turned 18. Last night her bash was held in a hotel function room in Bristol.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a present with happy birthday text.

She’s now also about 5 ft 10 and (we noticed as we studied her among her friends) resembles Taylor Swift. We hadn’t spotted that previously. And we would never say it to her because we don’t know how that might be received. ;-)

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A Stranger’s Funeral

Last weekend, at Mass the priest had announced a funeral service would take place on Wednesday at lunchtime. He also explained that the deceased would have only a small contingent of family and friends present. What really caught my attention was when he observed if any of us in the faceless congregation could make it, it would be appreciated.

When he said that, I made a mental note: if I could, I would be there. I awoke yesterday morning and remembered it. Working at home as I do, there was really no excuse not to go.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cross.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a cross.

As you may know, Roman Catholicism and I have had a bit of a “complicated” relationship over the years, and my books reflect that. I packed the novel-writing away for all of an hour or so. As I closed the front door, I reflected on the fact that I could not recall ever before having been to the funeral Mass for a total stranger.

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Tourist Survey Submitted

I received an auto-email from English Heritage. They wanted to know what I thought of Stonehenge. The survey, they noted, would take only a few minutes:

Screen capture of English Heritage email.
Screen capture of English Heritage email.

As we know, Stonehenge is a site of sublime importance; it allows us a peek into our pre-history. It has baffled, fascinated, and intrigued countless generations. Unknown numbers of people have over the centuries devoted their lives to the study of it and still do.

The world famous stone circle, at Stonehenge. [Photo by me, 2015.]
The world famous stone circle, at Stonehenge. [Photo by me, 2015.]

And I was supposed to provide a couple of pages of quickie feedback? Okay, fine:

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“Darling, he’s written about us!”

Happy 1st of June. And we didn’t meet them halfway. We went to them. Yesterday, we drove to Christchurch (about an hour and a half away) to visit with a former neighbor couple there.

In a sense, it felt like “going home.” The town is much the same. And the house we’d owned for a decade until 2013 – well, there it stood. (They aren’t huge fans of the people who’ve bought it. We’ve never laid eyes on them and still haven’t.)

The husband (he’s about my father’s age) and I were alone at one point and chatting. He told me they were in Tenerife, in their flat (in the end, they didn’t sell it), and his Mrs. was sitting in the lounge reading Frontiers. “Across the room,” he said to me, “I hear this laugh, and she looks at me, points out a page, and says, ‘What did he do?! That’s me! The so and so! Darling, he’s written about us!'”

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a blank frame with drawing tools.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a blank frame with drawing tools.

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“Mrs. Hall-Surrey” Sees “Herself”

Well, our former Christchurch neighbo(u)rs are back in England from Tenerife. The Mrs. half of the couple surprised us with a phone call last night. We’re all going to meet for lunch in the near future, roughly halfway between here in Wiltshire and where they live 6 doors away from our old house in Christchurch.

During our short chat, she said she’d finished Frontiers a few weeks ago. Shameless plug from me here: She said she liked Frontiers even better than Passports. She also declared she can’t wait for the next book to see what else could possibly happen.

So, uh, no rising high expectations there for me to meet!

Christchurch. [Screen capture of Wikipedia by me, 2015.]
Christchurch. [Screen capture of Wikipedia by me, 2015.]

She loved that I wrote about Christchurch again. In Passports, I’d just dropped in a quick mention. But in Frontiers, I decided to go all out: I filled a chapter.

And she did indeed figure it out. She saw “herself” on the pages. A first-class person and good sport, she is greatly flattered I used her and her husband as the basis for Englishwoman “Natalie Hall-Surrey’s” parents….

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The Morning After

Had a Friday night with friends in Bristol. Awoke to this view this morning:

View of Bristol, England. [Photo by me, 2015.]
View of Bristol, England. [Photo by me, 2015.]
Last evening, I vaguely recall a dinner that included pleasant amounts of Prosecco (enjoying it while it’s still available!), white wine, and Port.

Hey, look what I found in their kitchen early this morning:

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The Lovely Canines In Our Lives

Our friends’ 11 year old female black labrador collapsed the other day. They got her to the vet. But before the vet could do anything, she was gone.

Hearing that sad news, I immediately thought of her as a puppy on a 2005 Isles of Scilly holiday she’d been on with us all. Funny how on hearing such bad news one instantly recalls that sort of thing. I have photos of her on a PC in America during that trip. She was an absolute little star.

Our own 10 year old hound (half English springer spaniel/ half labrador: a “springador“) is now living with my in-laws in London. We’ve moved and traveled so much in recent years, they had him for months at a time and eventually just took him in “semi-permanently.” Although he has been twice to France on holidays with us, that is the extent of his foreign travel; he couldn’t be packed up like cargo flown back and forth repeatedly to America with us: we wouldn’t have ever subjected him to that “treatment.” (I’ve read Air France allows dogs in the cabin, but they can’t be more than 10 kilos. We have thought, hmm, maybe a strict, pre-flight diet? ;-) )

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