Thursday, 6 May 2010

Viva España

Well, just got back from Spain.

Quite a strange week or so and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to a Mr. D. Holmes and family who rescued me at a service station to the tune of twenty pounds.

I left Guilsborough in such a hurry to get to Gloucester, where I was meeting up with Dad, Marilyn and Aunty Jean (whose birthday we were off to Spain for) that I left my purse behind. I always keep my tank full but this was the one time I hadn't. I realised the error of my ways when I got to the forecourt.

I had the sense to realise I'd left it behind before filling up, but dad was driving Jean down from Carlisle so couldn't help, and mum was over an hour away. I went to ask the manager of the service station for help and apparently they don't accept cheques (understandable), and they don't accept payments over the phone (far less understandable) - her only suggestion was to call the AA out as a breakdown!

I was totally gutted so went back to my car to panic. I was getting very upset, when a man came over and knocked on the window.

"Hello," he said, "did my son hear right - you've run out of petrol?"

His son had overheard my conversation with the Manager and told his dad, who came to the rescue and gave me petrol money! I exchanged him for a cheque and off I went on my way again :)

So thank you so very much to Mr. D. Holmes, and to his son for taking the trouble, it was hugely appreciated and restored my faith in the kindness of strangers :)

So that was the fiasco of my getting-there journey.

The fiasco of my getting back journey was also fun. I left Gloucester to drive back to Guilsborough yesterday and got as far as the corner shop just down the road when I stopped at a pedestrian crossing. Just as the amber light was flashing and I was easing my foot up off the clutch - BANG!

An extremely large RAV 4x4 slams into the back of me :op

The poor guy! He'd just driven out of the car wash behind and didn't stop in time. I grazed my knee slightly and the boot has an impressive dent in it (not a scratch on the 4x4 of course...) - but all very good natured and I parted with the joke 'nice bumping into you' :op

By the time I'd driven home, he'd already phoned his insurance and admitted responsibility so they're sending someone out to give an estimate next week and it should all be very straight-forward. First time it's happened to me, so a learning experience. I was a little shaken (as was he) but both myself and the car were in a fit state to continue.

I just really, really hope it doesn't write-off the car as I'm extremely fond of it, but it's old and been round the clock... won't know until next week but fingers crossed it'll be okay.

Anyway, in between those two dramas, Alicante was interesting. A bit of a British colonial encampment, but some gorgeous castles. Especially outstanding was Guadalest, a stunning medieval settlement right up in the rock face overlooking a deep green lake.

The Castle of Santa Bárbara in Alicante is also extremely impressive. You take a lift up the mountain to reach it and the surrounding views are breathtaking.

The weather was mostly glorious with a minor panic in Santa Pola on the penultimate day. We went there to hang out on the sea front and enjoy the ice-cream parlour (delicious bubblegum flavour blue ice-cream and one that tasted like halva were my favourites :op) but just as we arrived the sky went black and rain came crashing down.

Within fifteen minutes the water was up to the door of the car, the drains had burst their caps and it looked like we weren't going to get out in time. Hailstones and rain were forming a river of the roads and we followed a convoy of worried drivers up to higher ground.

Quite an adventure.

Also had a row of English and Irish bars around the corner that served great Sangria and a stack of BBQ ribs as long as my forearm. We certainly ate well and cooked a lovely meal on the second night which we ate on the roof as the sun went down. It was so nice to feel warm weather again - even got my suntan back! :)

The day we flew back there was a second volcanic eruption in Iceland but thankfully it didn't affect us. Rather a good thing it wasn't as bad as last time otherwise several thousands people might miss voting today :o/

Heading up the village hall to vote this evening with mum and Merrick, then off to the pub to see what happens.

Off to London tomorrow for the day to attend a meeting run by the ORS (of which I'm a member) to discuss how Operational Research can be better used to help the Voluntary Sector - something I have a few opinions on :) Hopefully also a chance to network.

Also got some good news - I have a second interview for a consultancy contract I applied for. Doing it over Skype next week, so fingers crossed I may have landed my first biggie since turning self-employed. Would be a huge boost but mustn't jinx it :)

Oh, and a strange 'thank you' e-mail today. I used to help out on a script writing forum, helping people format screen plays and work out dialogue and technical issues. One guy that I helped just sent me a note of thanks for some suggestions I made yonks back as the script is now on the verge of production with figures in the millions being banded about. Flattering that he thought of me and extremely exciting for him. Doesn't happen to many but I wish him the best of success and hope he'll let me know when it comes to the big screen (though these things can take years).

For my part I'm now eight chapters, 25,000 words, from the end of my second novel. The publisher of the first did indeed turn out to be a vanity publisher so I took that no further, but I have a game plan. This one is rather good, even if I do say so myself - much better composition than the first (which needs serious editorial work - about as many words losing as I still have to write on this one). I've got a particular agent I'd like to try so I'm spending the next couple of weeks finishing writing it, then I'm going to see where I can get with it. This one is the very best I can do I believe, so if it doesn't drum up interest then I should probably call it quits. I'm quietly confident though.

So I've got my bounce back. The past month has been rather a holiday and it's time to kick on with some work - try and earn a living.