Why is it never that easy(…jet)?

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People at airports are just not normal.  I don’t know what happens, but something definitely short circuits in their brains somewhere.  Some how everyone forgets to act like human beings and instead become rude, ignorant, ill-mannered, inconsiderate imbeciles who are all absolutely convinced that rushing to the gate as soon as it is posted on the boards will a) make the plane leave more quickly, and b) ensure they get “a good seat.”  In reality, a) it will be a miracle if the plane actually leaves on time, let alone early and b) everyone has a ticket and therefore everyone has a seat.  All seats are exactly the same, except the first row, which have extra leg room, but unfortunately are already occupied by disabled passengers and their various hangers on.  If you are last on, they won’t make you sit on the wing or stand in the isle for the duration of the flight.

I’m not made of money, so unfortunately I don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to airlines.  My default option is always Easyjet.  They are less expensive (they used to be cheap, but sadly prices are creeping up and up), and are marginally better than Ryanair, who I am sure get passengers mixed up with livestock on a regular basis and will therefore NEVER get my business.

 The thing is; I know for a fact that everyone else on an Easyjet flight has also chosen to fly with them for exactly the same reason – budget, no frills, flying bus type airline who don’t charge you for carrying hand luggage.  As long as your bag fits into that stupid cage thing and you can carry it, you could be transporting gold bullion for all Easyjet care.  So this being the case, I am always truly amazed by the snobbishness adopted by the fools that have paid the extra £20 or whatever it is to get “Speedy Boarding.”  They stand in their special queue like Lords of all they survey, looking down their noses at the peasants that didn’t opt for the special upgrade.  In reality all you get is the ability to get on the plane 1st.  If there are 40 people with speedy boarding, you can still be at the back of the queue, so it kind of defeats the object for me.

Anyhow, leaving Alicantelast night, the gate staff informed us that there were too many passengers with hand luggage only.  There would not be enough room in the cabin for everybody’s bags and so they asked for volunteers to have their hand luggage transferred to the hold.  In return for this favour, we were allowed to jump the queue – in front of the speedy boarders.  Well, that was good enough for me.  I was the 1st to volunteer.  (See I am also slightly less humane at airports…. Perhaps it’s the aviation fuel?  Who knows!)

So there I was, at the front of the queue making my way down the tunnel feeling a bit smug.  I handed my bag to the ground crew and got on the plane.  I’ve never been faced with an empty plane before.  All that choice!  Ignoring the temptation of grabbing a row at the front (behind the extra leg room seats which are already full), I made my way to my usual seat; last row on the left – window seat, and settled down to read my kindle.  Of course I wasn’t actually reading.  Instead I was sending out hostile vibes in the hope that nobody would sit next to me.  Sadly, it wasn’t to be.  Despite the fact there were numerous empty seats elsewhere, two chaps came and sat next to me.  I scowled heavily at my kindle and made a few huffing noises.  Not that it ever makes any difference.  It didn’t this time either.  (More non-human behaviour!  What’s going on?)

So I settled in to the flight, leaning at a strange angle so as not to disrupt the guy sitting next to me.  I paid the customary €5 (yes that’s €5) for a soggy cheese and ham toasty.  The chaps next to me dole out €35 on toasties, bacon roles and ……CHAMPAGNE!  I know!  I told you airports make people crazy.  Not only is no sandwich in the world actually worth €5 but why on God’s earth would anyone in their right mind buyChampagneon an Easyjet flight?  Incredulously, they finish one bottle and promptly order another.  I decided that there were only a few plausible explanations for such bizarre behaviour.  A) They have been overcome by aviation fuel and are no longer in charge of their faculties.  B)  They do not realise that you can change €s back into £s.  C)  They are criminals and are spending their ill-gotten gains.  There can be no other reasonable explanations since “having more money than sense,” is disqualified by the virtue of the fact that this is taking place on board an Easyjet flight.

So they finish their champagne and settle down for a little nap.  This turned into a deep sleep accompanied by a cacophony of snores and the use of my shoulder/upper arm as a pillow.  I was not amused.

When we finally arrive at Gatwick – an hour later than scheduled due to a heavy head wind, naturally we taxi to the furthest possible gate.  I was faced with a 45 minute trek to the main terminal where I remembered that I’d put my carryon in the hold and had to go to baggage reclaim.  In the back of my head I was busy reassuring myself that since my bag was one of the last on, it would be one of the first off.  Sadly no.  It was THE very last bag off.  Grrr.  Cue more non amusement.

Finally I retrieved my bag and made my way to the car hire desk (the reason I am car-less is sadly another story involving my git of a brother and a write-off).  When I got there, the damned desk was closed, with a small sign instructing me to take to train to the other terminal where the office was manned 24hrs.  Just brilliant. 

I get on the stupid train.  I get off the stupid train.  I followed the signs to the car hire desks which took me outside to a balmy 4˚c (!!!!) at which point the signs just stopped.  Eventually I found a dingy looking taxi hut and a Rab C Nesbitt look-alike who pointed me down the 3 story ramp (lifts were out of order) and grunted something about it being at the end of the road.

Eventually, nearly an hour after the plane touched down I found the bloody car hire.  I was discourteous beyond comprehension in answering “NO,” when barraged by offers of upgrades, damage waivers, and fuel policies.  I was finally directed to my car – which by the way is the world smallest car, a Hyundai i10, and sank into the seat at gone 1am.

I don’t really remember the drive to my Mum’s house, suffice to say, I must have driven like a woman possessed since I made in well under an hour.  I collapsed into bed, trying to ignore the fact I would have less than 4 hours sleep followed by a 3 hour drive to the office.

As I’m typing now, words are blurry and I have developed dyslexic typing fingers – a sure sign that I should wrap this up.

Though my bank balance determines that Easyjet will still be my airline of choice, I think next time I will sit serenely in the departure lounge and just wait my turn.  Karma is a bitch and my smugness and lack of humanity was spat back in my face in no uncertain terms: a squished up 3 hour plane ride, last luggage, closed car hire desk and sleep deprivation.  That’ll teach me. 

Let the smug speedy boarders remain smug, I’m really quite happy as I am – last to board, last to get off, yet remarkably usually the 1st to leave the damned airport.

She saw that coming! Visions of Heat (Psy-Changeling #2) Review

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Visions of Heat (Psy-Changeling, #2)Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous – aching need… exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D’Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar’s instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating, and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith’s sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced – and keep her from Vaughn..

A brilliant second book. This series is definitely growing on me. As with he first, the world building is just excellent. I liked the way Singh has developed the over arching plot about the Silence protocol and the NetMind. This book shows you more of how Psy society works and reveals just how atrocious the Council really is.

Faith seems to be in more physical danger than Sascha ever was in Slave to Sensation because her gift is so valuable. That’s “money” valuable because business is something the Psy understand more than anyone and they just can’t have a powerful Psy like Faith defecting. The sexual tension between Faith and Vaughn is outstanding. Faith is a lot less accepting of the new emotions she feels and has been conditioned to think her mind will break, making some of their encounters a lot more difficult than for Lucas and Sascha in the first book.

There are new discoveries about the Netmind throughout the story which add to the mystery of this world and also show us that things are not quite as they seem… leading us nicely to the rest of the series. I for one can’t wait!

View all my reviews

El Donkey Shedo – just a bit of fun

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My friends have had a lovely covered recreation area built at their villa.  It comes complete with tiled seats (topped with the infamous cushions), dart board, eating area and lighting – including the mandatory candle in a wine bottle.  It has walls on two sides and a sloping roof complete with beam like “vegas,” and originally it had 3 windows on one side.  I say windows, but really they were just openings.  Sadly the windows had to go as Spanish planning laws are just weird.  They could have built an 8 foot wall.  They could have built a 2 foot wall.  No problema.  Unfortunately, the openings counted as windows and the owner of the almond grove next door didn’t like it.  As it turns out, he’s done them a favour because now the “windows” have been bricked up and morcemed over, they add a nice feature to the room as they are slightly recessed and the red bricks used to form the window sills are still there.

It really is a lovely use of space and I for one can’t wait for the weather to warm up so we can all pile round there and use it.  When my friends shared some pictures of said space with their family, their grandson piped up and said “why have you built a donkey shed?!”  Of course a legend was born.  Especially now since the “windows” have gone and the recesses look even more like stable doors.

My friend’s wanted a sign for their new donkey shed.  I know them well enough that a completely traditional sign wouldn’t be their thing, so I created something a bit different for them.  I used a old roofing tile to add a hint of “rustico” to the proceedings and set to work with my acrylics.  The “official” opening is in a few weeks time, but here’s my contribution.  Literal translation reads “The Donkey Shed.” Hope you like it.

A literary update: Breeds, Psy-Changeling and a cold shower!

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It seems I’ve been away for a long time, and I can only aplogise.  There are a few projects in the offing, which unfortunately have not been signed sealed and delivered yet, so whilst I’ve been busy, I still can’t officially update you all.  Sorry!  Anyway – more of all that later.

Whilst being busy with my projects, I (of course) have still found time to read.  I became slightly obsessed with Lora Leigh’s “Breed” series.  It really is a fantastic read – a delve into a world of genetic experiments, a new race fighting for survival, a genetics council that will do anything to silence them and the new life the breeds are trying to carve out for themselves.  I know, I know.  It all seems a little bit far fetched, but trust me it’s not.  With the advancements in modern science turning out amazing discoveries on a near daily basis, the whole premise for the Breeds’ world is not really that hard to imagine.  The way in which you are brought into the story is really very clever.  The breeds world builds up around you in a completely plausible way and emotional buy in is a given.  What I should add though, is that while there is some genuinely brilliant story telling and world building in this series, it is definitely NOT for the faint hearted.  If hotness was measured on a scale of 1 -10, this series would probably score a 100.  If it was ranked on books you would lend to your mother, this would rank on the “pretend you’ve never even heard of it” end of the scale.  With my mother in mind, I haven’t written individual reviews of the books (there are over 20), just in case she gets internet savvy and finds this blog!  I was trying to describe the series to a friend without embarassing myself.  In the end, I decided this was best:  “If these books were films, they’d be the kind you’d find on the top shelf.  With a special cover blocking out the naughty bits.  In a special shop.  In a part of town you never knew existed.”  Having said all that, it still deserves a mention since it’s a brilliant story.  If you’re not easily offended, give it a go!

Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)Moving swiftly on, I’ve just started a new Nalini Singh series called “Psy Changeling.”  More sedate than “Breeds,” but still a brilliantly written story.  It is a fantasy/futuristic look at a high-tech world divided by races. A world inhabited by changelings (shape-shifters), humans, and the Psy (highly evolved beings who have subjugated their emotions and conscience). What makes this series stand out from other paranormal series on the market is Singh’s ability to clearly define the emotional and psychological differences in each of these species; each acting according to the tenants and emotional strictures that define who they are. What makes the series even more powerful is that while each book gives us a look at a different hero and heroine it also delves even deeper into the psyche of the individual species, their motives, strengths, and weaknesses. Her books aren’t about informational downloading, instead, she lets the characters reveal the form and function of the world she has created with mystery, drama, action, and romance. Each book is a taut and exciting suspense as well as an unveiling of the individual characters and their communities. Word by word, chapter by chapter, book by book this fantastical world unfolds and captures the imagination.  You can read my full review here.

Happy reading everyone!

 

Sew many memories

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The weekend just gone saw me celebrate my 32nd birthday.  Not being 21 any more and proving that we really are the sophicates we profess to be there was no late night raving.  Instead I had a weekend full of lovely meals out with friends and a few Cacique con Coca-Cola Lites to wash it all down with.

Saturday night was the official celebration and was spent with a group of friends at our local hostal/restaurant in Albanchez.  The food was brilliant – I opted for an Ox steak, but I think something may be lost in translation because I’m sure it’s just a traditional fillet steak.  Either way it was completely yummy.  The company was even better than the food and a good time (I think) was had by all.

Desert was provided in the form of a birthday cake made by friend Melissa.  As you can see, given the theme, I think she knows me too well!  Under all that fantastic icing was a beautiful Madeira cake.

I realise this is not the best picture I’ve ever taken, but apart from my onesie/monkey suit (which is truly an awesome present) this is one of the best presents I’ve ever had.  It is just a plain table cloth, but the idea is to use it to remember special occasions.  You bring it out on high days and holidays and get your friends and family to write messages on it.  Then you embroider over the writing in different colours for different events.  It can go on and on and each time you lay it out on your table you are reminded of good times past.  A brilliant idea from my friend Sam and something I intend to treasure forever.  I can’t wait to fill it up with memories – as you can see, I’ve already started embroidering the messages from last weekend.  Good times.

So there you have it – if you’re stuck for an imaginative present, give a table cloth and help preserve precious memories

Hurrah! I’m not the only mal-coordinated person out there

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I read several other blogs but this entry from Deidra Alexander REALLY made me laugh (and offer up a prayer of thanks that these things don’t just happened to me.  If you need proof of how incapable I am re-read this)  Check out Deidra’s blog:  Tangled in My Own Clothes?.

Its a small world after all – my family tree

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Through the miracle that is the internet, I have discovered an extended family that reaches all four corners of the world (literally).  Many moons ago, I was contacted by my cousin Rosemary (well, technically she’s my Dad’s cousin) through “genes reunited.”  Remember “friends reunited?”  Genes reunited was a spin off.

Nowadays everyone who’s everyone is on Facebook, so I’m not even sure if the “reunited” sites are even still going.  Yesterday cousin Rosemary posted something I “liked.”  Another lady called Jo Weems also liked it.  It turns out we’re fourth cousins!  How amazing is that?  A lady who lives in Arizona whom I’ve never even heard of is actually my cousin!  Now I don’t profess to be an expert or anything – that’s Rosemary’s job.  She’s put an inordinate amount of work into tracing our family tree and thanks to her, I know who my ancestors are right the way back to the mid 1700’s.  We (Gow’s, Laurie’s and Urquhart’s) originated in Scotland, but nowadays I can find relatives in UK, USA, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

Anyone interested in Rosemary’s journey through our family tree should check out her blog.  It’s amazing what you can discover if you put your mind to it;  it really is a small world after all!

Girls don’t do cars

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Now I know all the feminists out there will disagree.  Listen, I can change a tyre, check the oil, change light bulbs, I even fitted a new bumper once.  What  I discovered today though is that I definitely cannot bump start a car by myself.  Trust me; I learnt the hard way!

So this morning the car wouldn’t start.  This has happened a few times recently so I wasn’t unduly worried.  We live on a hill and it’s easy enough to bump started once you get the car going.  Since my husband hadn’t had a good night’s sleep (apparently someone snoring… not sure who that was.. eh hem), I thought I’d do the decent thing and leave him to snooze.  I’m a big girl – how difficult can it be to bump start a car on your own?  I’ve done it before; easy peasy…. Or so I thought.

I managed to roll the car off the driveway on to the unadopted road we live on.  I even managed to get it pointing the right way.  I was really pleased with myself.  So I start pushing it down the road with the intention of getting it to the point where the hill starts, jumping in and hey presto – bump starting the car.  Doesn’t sound so difficult and I’ve watched my husband do it numerous times.

What I forgot to add into my “how hard can it be” calculations was that I am one of the most malcoordinated people I know. So there I am pushing the car to the brink of the hill and attempting to jump in.  Unfortunately, I’d pushed it a bit too far down the road so the car started gathering speed and I still hadn’t jumped in.  I tried, I promise I really tried to jump in but being the moron that I am, it didn’t go according to plan.  No.  Not at all.  Instead of the smooth entry I was hoping for, my foot got stuck under the pedals at the wrong angle meaning that I couldn’t haul myself in in the way I wanted.  I was left trying to run with the car on one leg.  Speed hopping whilst trying to steer a runaway car is apparently not my forte.  As the car gathered speed my speed hopping faltered and turned in to just being speedily dragged down the road for a couple of hundred yards instead.  “This is it,” I thought, “I’m going to die.”

Now people say that when they have a near death experience their whole life rushes before their eyes and they see bright lights.  I can confirm that it is not true.  What actually happens is that you think “if this doesn’t kill me, my husband will when I get in,” and “I wonder whether the council will mind if I plough through their Cyprus trees?”

Whilst contemplating how to tell me husband that not only have I totaled the car, I have lost a leg in the process I had an epiphany.  The handbrake!  So, whilst still trying to speed hop and steer the car I yanked the handbrake on and hoped the road plateauing would do the rest.  Thankfully I came to a clumsy stop outside a neighbour’s house, albeit at a strange angle, and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  There was pain screaming up my hopping leg, but I was still alive.

Much to my embarrassment, my ordeal had not gone unnoticed.  No, I’d come to a stop right outside some building work where my 5 foot nothing Brummie friend came careering out of the driveway, effing and jeffing and asking what in the hell I thought I was doing.  She thought I’d possibly had some sort of fit and fallen out of the car.  When I explained I was trying to bump start the car she fell about laughing.  Once she’d picked herself back up of the floor, she got out her jump leads and asked whether they might have been a safer option.  I couldn’t have been more grateful!

So, with the car now started I went off to run my errands.  I refused to look at my leg which was now agony since I thought that if I stopped to look I might not make it back to the house.

Finally I made it home.  All my plans of not waking my husband up went by the wayside as, with my bottom lip wobbling, I told him of my “little accident.”  He was not amused.  The anger soon dissipated though when I took my trousers and sock off to inspect my leg.  I had some nasty looking grazes on my knee and down my shin.  I also managed to lose some of my toenail and possibly the tip of my big toe.  I’m hoping he’ll ignore the fact I was wearing his sports socks and crocs at the time!

So there we have it.  The embarrassing story of why girls (well, this girl at least) shouldn’t do cars.  Next time… well let’s face it, there won’t be another time – I’ll get someone else to do it!

Happy motoring everyone!

 

Share your travel stories

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Bucket List Publications - Accepting Submissions!

 

I don’t just write a blog, I read about what other people are up to too.  One of my favourite blogs is asking for travel story submissions.  What a brilliant way of sharing stories and collaborating with others to tell our travel tales.  Anyone wanting to write or has already written about their travel adventures, extreme adventure, top tourist destinations or bucket list adventures should check out this post over at Lesley Carter’s blog.

Happy writing everyone!

Click Bucket List Publications – Accepting Submissions! to read more about it.

Dance the Bright Flamenco

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“Dance the bright flamenco.   Let the music ring.   Dance around with graceful steps and move to the Spanish beat.  Red silk roses pinned in precious hair and glossy gowns fly as you throw your hands up and dance, just dance the bright flamenco.”

Here’s the final installation of my Flamenco triptych.  I must admit to feeling a bit sorry that the project is finished.  I have other ideas in the pipeline, but nothing to start straight away…. Hmmm.  What to do! What to do!

Anyway, I digress – I hope you like it?  Feel free to look at the others in the series here.

 

Flamenco 3, completed in watercolour January 2012