Monthly Archives: May 2017

Eyes

Paul had always considered himself a brave person and up for any challenge.  His bravado amongst friends was what had got him to where he was on this wet Saturday in October.

At the pub just over a month ago Alison had brought up the subject of haunted houses. Paul had poo-pooed the idea of ghosts and had ridiculed what he called the gullibility of his friends. Danny, an ardent believer in anything and everything supernatural, had suggested that if Paul was so sure of his convictions he should spend the night in a haunted house he had recently read about on-line. One by one all the friends agreed that if Paul was so brave he should do just that.

Paul braved out the suggestions. He told his friends that he thought ghosts were nothing more than the result of vivid imaginations, and nothing supernatural at all. He laughed at their opinions telling them that everything they called supernatural could be explained by science.

Julia, egged on by the others,  had dragged out her mobile and found the Internet site for the house of which Danny had spoken. Someone suggested that she make Paul a reservation there for Halloween, and within minutes everyone had agreed to contribute to the night’s room cost. Paul shrugged and said that of course he would stay there all night. Julia made the booking.

Since that evening in the pub each of Paul’s friends had teased him about the upcoming night of fear in the haunted house’s most haunted bedroom.  Up to that afternoon and moreover at check in Paul hadn’t worried at all.

Now, in the room as he sat on the bed looking around as dusk descended he felt just a little apprehensive, but not enough to make him jumpy. The journey to the hotel had felt befallen with bad luck. First of all he lost his train ticket, which his friends had also bought for him, and had to buy another at a grossly inflated price. Once he’d bought the ticket the clerk advised him that the train he wanted to travel on had been cancelled.

When Paul eventually arrived at the station closest to the hotel the courtesy transfer car was nowhere to be seen. He had tried calling the hotel but each time the call dropped out before anyone answered at the other end. Finally he had taken the only taxi available and had to suffer the driver’s tales of horror all the way.  It was almost as if something was trying to stop him completing his challenge he thought then laughed at the idea.

When Paul checked in he was asked for his credit card number as a security deposit.  Scrabbling through his bag and wallet he couldn’t find his credit card, which was strange as he always put it back in his wallet after use.   Fortunately the receptionist believed him and accepted a lower  amount in cash.  With the receptionist’s help Paul immediately cancelled his card.

Finally the receptionist asked Paul to sign a disclaimer which released the owners of the hotel from any possible trauma Paul might experience during his stay. Clause number 13 included the possibility of accidental death.  He was relieved of his mobile phone and informed that should he stay the whole night in the room a full refund of the booking and the security deposit would be made withing 48 hours. He laughed at the idea of being scared out of the room, although he wasn’t very happy at having to give up his phone for the night.

Paul got up off the bed and pulled back the curtains to take a peek out at the wet night. It was raining but there was no wind. Apart from the torrential rain the night appeared relatively calm.  He left the curtains open and took in the almost rain-obliterated view for a few moments before making a small tour of the suite he was spending the night in.  Nothing about the room suggested supernatural to him. It was decorated in an old fashioned, turn of the last century, style with various odd pieces but he didn’t think it merited the reputation it had obtained.

For the challenge to be completed in full Paul had to stay in the room from the time he checked in, through the night, to breakfast the following morning. This meant eating alone from the room service menu. Paul was happy in his own company but once he had ordered and eaten the dinner he wasn’t sure how he could fill up the rest of his time in the room. There was no television, he didn’t have his phone and hadn’t thought to bring a book. At nine o’clock he decided to turn in.

Up to that point nothing spooky or supernatural had happened and Paul was sure he would get a good night’s sleep and leave in the morning feeling refreshed from the change.

Throwing his clothes onto the chair beside the bed he grabbed his toothbrush and toothpaste and wandered into the bathroom. He had decided he wouldn’t bother unpacking and that meant his toiletries stayed in his overnight bag too.

He switched on the bathroom light with the pull chord and half expected something to jump out at him or for someone to be looking back at him from the mirror.

He squeezed the toothpaste onto the toothbrush and started brushing. As he spat into the sink he looked down to make sure his aim was good and took the opportunity to make sure everything was comfortable in his boxers. Looking back up and into the mirror he saw a pair of red eyes over his shoulder just as the lights went out.  He laughed at the absurdity of it all.

“OK guys, cut it out. Red eyes, lights going out. Cliche: every one of them.” he said with another laugh, although this one more nervous than humourous. Staring into the mirror he noticed the eyes were moving towards him in the darkness.

“Bring it on…” he said as something cold touched his back…

13 eyes

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Laughter and tears

Last night was the Eurovision song contest, just in case you missed it.  I’d already watched the semi-finals during the week and was looking forward to a great show. Yes, folks, I really do enjoy it.  It’s been quite a n emotional watch for me over the last couple of years. Tony and I always watched it together, commenting and rolling eyes as necessary. Watching now I miss him and his comments (eye rolling).

During the show I was ‘chatting’ with Nick and Carla in the UK and Anna in Ireland via a whatsapp group we set up, and with Irene up in Bilbao. How amazing and satisfying that technology could bring us altogether. There was a general consensus on my favourite entry, and we agreed we should go to Portugal for next year’s competition. If we can get tickets will someone please come look after this lot?

I’d already ‘fallen in love’ with the song from Portugal during the semi final, so was cheering him on last night. I understood some of the lyrics as they were similar enough to Catalan and/or Spanish. The song includes the following lines “Tell them I lived to love you, before you I only existed.” and “listen to my prayer, I want you to return, to want me again. I know that I can’t love alone”.  I don’t think I need to explain more why I sobbed when the song won.

And here’s the link to youtube. With English translation. 

*********

Today it is exactly 13 years since we arrived in Vilanova to begin our new life. Another bittersweet day. Coming here was one of the best things we did, and I wouldn’t change that for all the money in the world, or anything else, but today is another reminder of how alone I am now.  Together we would have celebrated the last 13 years, alone I can only be grateful for the 11 and a half years we had here together. The last two years have not been as good.

Tony in car

This morning when I walked Franki (Cuddy wanted a day off) we passed a red Citroen Berlingo at the end of the road. The same make and colour as the car that brought us over here so long ago. Memories of that 18 hour journey flashed through my mind.  We came with the car fully loaded, including two of our London cats and Xali, our beloved Battersea boy. They’re all gone now. I am what remains.

There have been quite a few changes since that first day. we’ve had central heating installed, new doors and windows throughout, a new kitchen and of course improved the garden.

Top left is 2004, the other two are now. 

 

I’ve tried to keep busy doing things, but it doesn’t work. Anniversaries and celebratory days serve as painful reminders of what I no longer have. At least I know it won’t last forever for me either.

 

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House of TulStig

One of my students recently asked me for copies of my books, and something he could use to sell more copies for me.

While putting together the following poster I had a moment of realisation – some people spend their lives trying to get a book out of them; so far I’ve got 6 published (I’ve removed the follow up to Winner for now) with at least two more to come. They may not be from a huge publishing house like Penguin, but they are out there, and selling. The Magic of the Camino has been my most popular work so far selling all over the world.

Perhaps the same blood as Shakespeare does mean something after all. Yes seriously Wills is my cousin!

2017-5 house of TulStig Books Poster jpeg

 

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Citizen Me

Little by little I am getting everything together for my application for Spanish citizenship.

A little while ago Carla and Nick sent off the Police Check for legalising, after they had checked it out with a local solicitor.  That came back by DHL quickly enough.

Yesterday I was another step closer.  On a visit to Sitges I picked up the translations of my birth certificate and the UK Police Check.  I’d only emailed the copies a couple of days ago so was pleased they were translated so quickly, as some translations seem to take forever to get back.  And at a bargain price too.

2017 Traduccion for Citizenship 01

 

Once the certificate confirming I have passed the language exams I will organise getting the local police certificate, and get the empadronamiento (Proof of residence in VnG) and then will be ready to go to the registrar with my application…… poc a poc, as we say here.

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Wish

Eddy lay on his bed rubbing his eyes, still in disbelief.

Just moments before he had been sleeping, albeit fitfully. He had been woken by a rumbling that had entered his dream and shaken his bed. He couldn’t remember the dream but he could remember the shaking. It had felt like a train rushing past at high speed. Eddy thought that perhaps there had been an earthquake, but in deepest Essex?

Suddenly aware of a presence Eddy leaned over and turned on his bedside light.  He grabbed his glasses and as he settled them on the end of his nose his room came into clear view.

“Who the hell are you? How did you get in here? And what do you want? Jeez.”  The questions spilled from his mouth.

“You were dreaming.”  The strange man at the foot of the bed told him. “May I sit?” he asked gesturing to a chair to the side.

“So?” Eddy could feel his words were still slightly slurred having been woken so suddenly.  He wasn’t truly sure he was awake. With sarcasm in his voice he nodded, “Yes, feel free.”

“Thank you.” the man said and sat. He was dressed in a strange checked suit and was holding a small document case. He looked like a lawyer or solicitor but the suit said he wasn’t.  Eddy didn’t think he was a threat, unless the document case held a colt weston. “As I said, you were dreaming, and in your dream attracting.”

“Uh?” Eddy grunted. He took his glasses off and wiped them on the edge of his t-shirt before carefully replacing them on his nose.

The man leaned forward and started to explain. He told Eddy that he was creating an energy of attraction as he slept and dreamt, which had called him there from his dimension. He told Eddy that he was part of Eddy’s wish, of a deep desire he was manifesting while asleep.  He told Eddy that he was there to fulfill his wish.

Eddy pinched himself hard on the arm. “Ouch!” He exclaimed.

“You’re no longer dreaming, ” the man told Eddy. He had a voice that was deeply soothing and spoke slowly. “I think it was my arrival that woke you.”

“You’ve got to be shitting me,” Eddy couldn’t believe the situation.

“I am a most truthful one, and… would your mother approve of such language,” the man replied.

Eddy looked slightly embarrassed.  “But how can you…?” he asked.

“… complete your impossible wish?” the man finished his question.

“Yes,” Eddy now sat upright against his pillows. He truly was awake.

“That is for us to know. Your wish will be granted but afterwards you will not remember, but it will satisfy your yearnings. Will you trust me?” The man was standing holding out a hand to Eddy.

“But….” Eddy stammered. “How, where, and for starters what do I call you? say Aladdin and I’m out of here.”

“Desmond,” replied the man, allowing himself a gentle laugh. “Aladdin was a tale. I am real.”

“Desmond? Oh come on.” Eddy pulled his t-shirt down as he moved upwards against the pillows.

“Then call me Desi.” Desmond still held his hand out

“Desi, as in desire, this just gets more and more unbelievable.” Eddy shook his head.

“Inside you know it’s real and you know you created this, you know you called me. Please take my hand and we shall be off. If you have changed your mind tell me now and I shall return from whence I came, you’ll sleep and remember nothing, but your anxiety will remain.”  Desmond moved closer.

“But, I need…” Eddy began. He was going to say that he needed to dress before they went anywhere, but looking down he noticed he was already fully clothed. He looked up at Desmond.

“To save time I helped a little,” Desmond replied.

Eddy held out his hand and gingerly took Desmond’s in his. “Excellent, but Eddy,  you don’t need to hold your breath. Breathe and we will be on our way….”

07 wish

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On my plate

Last week we were invited to our good friends, Alex and Sam’s new place for dinner. We’d known them for a couple of months and had helped them move into their new place. They were friend’s of my brother’s who contacted us when they planned their move to the area. They had promised some good food, good wine and as ever amazing company and suggested that we get a cab there and back as we would probably be getting through quite a lot of their ‘wine-cupboard’, so we did.  We never like to arrive empty-handed for dinner or parties and this time was no exception. We grabbed a bottle of Aldi’s best cava and a box of those special sea-shell chocolates and set out.

On arrival Sam met us with cocktails he’d invented at a previous dinner party the two of them had given. They were quite the rocket fuel and half-jokingly I told Sam I hoped he wasn’t trying to get us drunk and engineer a foursome, a situation we had got embarrassingly caught up with before, happily not with these two. Not that they’re not attractive, it’s just I don’t like to feel coerced into group sex, and Alex was still a bit on the young side for me.

Steve joined Sam on the sofa as they discussed a recent project in which they’d both been interested. Feigning a very noticeable yawn, it wasn’t something I was interested in, I joined Alex in the kitchen for a moment.

“Something smells good,” I commented as I crossed the culinary threshold.

“That’ll be me,” Alex laughed turning round to give me a peck on the cheek. “Now get out and relax, everything is under control and I’ll be in in a minute.”

I took the hint and returned to the living room. Behind the sofa was a huge plate glass window with a view of the town and out over the ocean as far as the eye could see. I’d seen the view before when we were helping them to move in but with the darkness and twinkling lights of the town, and occasional ships passing the headland it looked spectacular. Out over the sea I could see the occasional flash of lightning.  The drizzle had started just before we arrived and was causing gentle cascades down the windows.

“Where’s Danny?” I asked. Normally their dog greeted everyone with overwhelming joy.

“She’s in her bed. Firstly because she’s wary of the coming storm, and secondly because we’re trying to keep her away from the table at mealtimes.” Sam explained.

“Awww, but it’s us and I miss her, can I go let her in?” I pleaded in my best whiney voice.

“Alex will have a fit, but it’s fine with me.” Sam said.

I crept past the kitchen into the side room. Danny was sitting there wagging her tail excitedly, but was clearly under orders that she was obeying not to move.

I went closer and on my haunches scragged her neck and back. She was in heaven. “Come on girl, tonight I’ve got you a get out of jail free pass.” I said as I encouraged her back to the living room to sit beside me on the other sofa.

At just that moment Alex came from the kitchen bearing a tray of delightfully smelling vol-au-vents. “I wondered how long it would be before she got in here.”

“I hope you’re referring to my furry friend here and not me,” I lisped back, to shared laughter.  I tipped my glass in salutation. Sam rushed to fill it. The cava we had brought was going down a treat.

“Danny, you’re a disgrace, but just for tonight you can stay.” Alex told the dog who almost leapt forward at the mention of her name to see what was on the tray that had just been left on the coffee table, “But none of those for you, young lady. Your diet isn’t over yet.”

I winked at Danny and helped myself to a couple of the tasty morsels, slipping half of one of them to her. “Tell on me and our lifelong friendship is over,” I whispered.

“I saw that,” Sam also whispered from the other sofa. “But it looks like you got away with it this time,” he nodded in Alex’s direction with a half wink.

“Starters in two minutes,” came a call from the kitchen. “Take your places for a gastronomic feast.”

We all got up to move and as we did so there was an almighty clap of thunder. Danny dashed past us all and cowered under the table. Although I loved a good storm, I hated how it affected some animals. I slipped onto the chair closest to the dog and stroked her head hoping to calm her some.

“I hope you like this,” Alex said laying an incredible salad before us. “I know it’s not quite the weather, but I figured you wouldn’t mind as it is a little different to the usual green salad as served at ‘Tate’s’.”  The reference was to a cafe we all used from time to time, that had probably the least imaginative menu, meaning salad was almost always a foregone conclusion there.

Once Alex had joined us, for a few moments all that could be heard was the clattering of knives and forks on the plates, and an occasional light rumble of thunder, though nothing like the thunderclap of a few moments before. Danny had her head pressed hard against my leg.  Conversation gradually started again as we talked about the town and the new opportunities we were all making the most of.

Once we’d finished Alex cleared the plates, refusing any help, and returned them to the kitchen. “The main will be ready in about five.” we were told.

Sam  recharged our glasses. We were now on a delicious Chablis, apparantly a good vintage bottle, as if I would ever be able to tell.

As promised the main course arrived about five minutes later.  Sam had joined Alex in the kitchen  for a moment to return with our plates which he served with a flourish. I looked down at my plate and my heart sank. On my plate was a piece of meat that I neither could nor wanted to identify.  I looked at Steve and got a mirrored expression back. I raised my eyebrows. He shrugged almost imperceptably.  I was sure we had told them we were vegetarian. We’d eaten together at Tate’s a few times; hadn’t they noticed? On my plate was a veritable nightmare. I had no idea of how to get out of this embarrassing situation. Trying to sneak it to Danny bit by bit was a possibility, but I couldn’t eat anything on the plate. It was all in contact with the meat.

Seconds later Alex followed Sam with two more plates. “You two look like you’ve lost a tenner and found sixpence,” he said smiling.

“Well…. ” I didn’t know what to say.

Alex looked at our plates and laughed. “Sam you got them the wrong way round,” he said.

I felt a glimmer of hope.

“Swap them over,” he told Sam, who obeyed swapping my plate for Steve’s and visa versa. Alex then placed a similar plate in front of Sam and one for himself.  “Shall we begin?” he suggested sitting down.

05 on my plate

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Inside My Home

My Home?  Still Our Home.  Always will be.
A place where inside I feel safe.  Safe to laugh, Safe to cry. Safe to be sad.
A place still full of love. I’ve never stopped and never will.
Never ‘inside my home’; always Inside OUR home.

IMG_20170303_133931_242

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