Devon’s Beautiful…. And One Rental Agent’s An Idiot

Thanks for your indulgence last week. There was supposed to be internet at our rental house in Devon, but there wasn’t. And even, as I’d also said, getting internet on our phones along that coast – near Woolacombe – turned out to be a major challenge.

The house wifi hadn’t just broken either. It had been down for some weeks, and the rental agent knew it, but had not told us. Although, when we arrived, in an email she claimed that she’d had.

Funny, we never got *that* email weeks before about the net being down. Oh, but we got the others looking for money, of course.

We’d never met her in person, and still haven’t – and we won’t, and why we won’t is something I will explain below.

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Unexpected Interruption

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


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. :-)

I Made Clauda “Lol”

Drove up to London yesterday and will be driving back to Wiltshire later. It will be a busy non-writing day overall. It’s shaping up as the sort of one I’m always of seriously two minds about, because a non-writing day is, fundamentally, a non-productive day in any novelist’s life.

Free Stock Photo: A cup of coffee with a stack of books.
Free Stock Photo: A cup of coffee with a stack of books.

But if you drop by regularly, you know I like if at all possible to find a few moments to post something every day. I like this site to be “alive,” and, as you also may know, sort of like a “daily journal”. In that sense, I feel this is worth sharing.

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CNN Urges One Thing, But Your State Department Urges The Opposite

Over the years, I’ve been to some “problematic” places. You may have been, too. We know most people one meets in the world are fine.

Enter CNN’s Anthony Bourdain. An American, he has just been to “back to Beirut.” He says he loves the city:

Screen capture of the CNN web site.
Screen capture of the CNN web site.

And it’s wonderful he loves it. Certainly he’s not alone. At one point, he even declares:

It’s a place I’ve described as the Rumsfeldian dream of what, best-case scenario, the neocon masterminds who thought up Iraq, imagined for the post-Saddam Middle East: a place Americans could wander safely [Note: emphasis mine]….

But is it really that? Images whizzing by of dinner dishes, attractive people smoking (and of course looking “cool” while doing so), clubbers, and assorted glamour gloss (even bomb damaged buildings are made to seem “trendy”) is to be expected: CNN wants us to watch and hold our attention. But especially relevant for some prospective destinations is obtaining hard information beyond its “thrills,” “hipness” and “happenin’ness.”

Because YOU are NOT being paid to go there.

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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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Layover From “Hell”?

When U.S. airspace was temporarily shut beginning on September 11, 2001, quite a few flights were diverted to Canada. Thousands of travelers were stranded for days. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the New York Times remembered Gander, Newfoundland’s “plane people”:

They’re called “the plane people” here because on Sept. 11, 2001, some 6,700 passengers on 38 planes descended on this piney little town of about 10,000 people on the northeastern end of Newfoundland….

Of course the suicide hijackings that destroyed much of lower Manhattan and killed 3,000 were wildly outside the norm. We know that. But the “diversion to Newfoundland” thing has happened since the beginnings of the transatlantic “jet age” in the later 1950s.

Nonetheless, the other day CNN (and it seems quite a lot of other media) reported this:

Screen capture of CNN web site.
Screen capture of CNN web site.

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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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The Cult Of The Naked Tourist

You may have heard about this band of thoughtful world travelers:

Screen capture yesterday of the BBC web site.
Screen capture yesterday of the BBC web site.

At least for once there wasn’t an American involved. Nor are they facing long prison terms. That BBC article goes on to explain:

They were jailed for three days, but their sentences were back-dated to reflect time already served.

Evidently snapping naked pics at tourist vistas has become “the thing” lately. Because there always has to be something. The respected British travel writer, the Independent’s Simon Calder, has also pointed out:

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