Ecuador 1994 – Part Fourteen

17th August – Wednesday

Dad’s alarm woke us at 4.45 as it had not been reset from the previous morning. After looking on the bedside table and all over the floor he exclaimed, “Ah, there it is!” and turned it off. It was on his wrist!

After breakfast at Jimmy’s we headed down to Turtle bay. We found some bemusing tracks, but a little detective work led us to believe that they belonged to crabs which were hiding in holes in the sand. We soon saw one leave its hole and scuttle across the sand only to be caught by Oli. My brother soon regretted his catch as it nipped his finger, drawing blood. A bit further along the beach we came across a semi-spherical object about 9″ in diameter. It was slightly yellow in colour and had a hole through its centre which was grey around its edges. “What’s that?” asked Oli. “Well, it’s some sort of sea anemone” explained Dad. Turning it over revealed that it was the top cut off a boat’s fender!

We found the tree under which we had sat three days earlier. I went for a swim while Oli lazed and Dad read Mark Twain. I found an occupied crab hole at the far end of the beach and, determined to photograph the crab leaving its hole, fetched the camera and sat writing up these notes while I waited. No luck.

lava gull_IMG_9382The woods at the back of the beach allowed me to get some good photographs of a heron and a lava gull. There are only 400 lava gulls left in the world – all on the Galápagos. Returning to the crab hole only served in bringing me the chance to photograph a pelican which was, stupidly, fishing leaves out of the water and spitting them out.

Oli and I went for a stroll up the peninsular and found a colony of marine iguanas. We tried to find a route through the mangroves. Oli succeeded. I failed and returned to the beach. Dad went for a walk on the peninsular and returned before Oli.

BoobyWe went back to the west end café for a late lunch at 2.30. Oli and I tried the arroz marinero again while Dad tried the sopa marinero. None of it was very good but it served a purpose. No postres, so we had a lousy chocolate bar each from a shop and returned to the cabin. I went up to the bookshop and surprise, Alexandra actually had the book ready for me! I had intended to go back to Turtle Bay to explore where Oli had been. He’d seen many more iguanas, a seal and had actually got really close to some blue footed boobies. I would very much have liked to photograph these birds close up. In the end I decided to go and buy a postcard of one, and also bought a card showing a frigate bird with its sack inflated. I spent the rest of the afternoon writing up these notes on Jimmy’s patio.

Fresh fish was served to us at Jimmy’s at 7 o’clock sharp. It was excellent once more, but the beer was cack, so Dad, anticipating this, bought a bottle of Chilean white wine. It was also cack but was made more palatable by adding ice. After dinner we were invited to share a celebratory chocolate cake with Jill, a retired schoolteacher from Cincinnati, Ohio. She was celebrating 6 years in South America. She brought along her 19 year old friend from Quito, Pauline who only looked about 12. She was a seamstress. The cake was excellent and the conversation was very interesting. We learnt about the largest cashew tree in the world which is in Natal in Brazil. Also, that each upside down, pear shaped fruit produces only a single nut. That’s why they’re so expensive.

Previous episodes: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve | Fourteen

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Ecuador 1994 – Part Thirteen

16th August – Tuesday

iguana 01We got up at 4.45 and were ready for the bus at five. At 5.30 it still hadn’t come, so I walked across the road for a coffee with Jimmy. The others stayed in the room. The bus turned up at 5.45 and did a tour of Puerto Ayura picking up the other passengers. On the way to the ferry point in the north of the Isla Santa Cruz we made the acquaintance of three Californian children and their mother. The kids were called David, Rachel and Sacha. The mother was called Mom. We got to the ferry point at around seven o’clock and were taken straight out to the boat, the Viking, in an inflatable dinghy.

pelican 01It took three hours to get to Isla Bartolomé, passing the islands of Daphne Major and Minor soon after leaving. we saw lots of frigate birds and blue footed boobies around the boat during this part of the voyage. About half way between the Daphnes and Bartolomé, which is a small island off the coast of the much larger Isla Santiago, we were joined by some dolphins. They took great delight in swimming just under the bow of the Viking, making occasional leaps out of the water, and sometimes turning on their backs. Some of them had large scratches on their backs, presumably from getting just a little too close to the boats. Sea lions posed within a few yards of the boat. Sometimes they would swim fast alongside the boat, just like the dolphins, but most of the time they would just float on their backs and wave their flippers at us.

BartoloméOn arrival at Bartolomé, our guide, Franklyn, took us ashore at a small jetty. There were lots of red crabs around the landing area and a few sea lions. Dad was very seasick. He had stayed below with the engine fumes and with no view of the horizon for the entire trip despite our sound advice to join us on deck.

Oli and I had been up on deck with the American family. Apart from the excitement of the dolphin episode, we had also been served breakfast by Franklyn and had been well entertained by the jokes and songs of the children. We contributed a few of our own. They liked the one about the aeroplane engines breaking down. I taught them My friend Billy and Mom didn’t mind too much. They proceeded to tell Oli and I a few mildly dirty jokes.

Frankly took us up to the 110m summit of the island. Most of the way there were wooden steps and platforms. The landscape was laval but there were cacti growing and locusts and lava lizards in abundance. Franklyn showed us the two types of lava. One had reached c.1200°C and was very solid, the other had only reached 800°C and was aerated. There was a great view from the top where we found a survey pillar. I showed Oli a ground mark which is used to check the position of the pillar. We could see a couple of sandy beaches on the island and Franklyn said that we’d be going there next for some swimming with the penguins and sea lions.

On the way down the frigate birds came close enough to attempt some photography. I won’t know how successful I’ve been until we see the results, but I was trying to capture the silhouette of their glide, and the deflated red sacks of the males. We could also see some Galápagos [Humboldt] penguins swimming in the crystal clear sea below us. These are by far the most northerly penguins.

Dad had stayed at the bottom of the hill and was feeling a little better after the administrations of several sympathetic passers by.

The beach was only a few hundred yards away. Oli and I dived off the boat and swam ashore. The snorkelling was fantastic. I saw shoals of large (18″ – 2’) blue and yellow fish, cigar shaped fish with yellow, longitudinal stripes, yellow zebra fish, and black fish with yellow and orange fins. There were two types of sea urchins, one with spines and one with chimney or finger looking spines. David found a “sand dollar” which is a sea urchin which is flat, round and about 5″ diameter. When it is alive it has a star-shaped formation of very short, fine spines on its yellow top side.

I made the mistake of lending my snorkel and mask to a New York couple who couldn’t get used to the snorkel, so separated it from the mask. Unfortunately, they didn’t notice the small piece of rubber which kept the two parts together. Later Dad felt more able, so went snorkelling for a while. I swam back to the boat for a T-shirt to protect myself from the sun. As I swam back to the beach, the rest of the party left in the inflatable for the Viking. I asked Oli to throw me the snorkel, which he did. It landed a few yards short and immediately started sinking. I dived after it, caught hold of the snorkel, and surfaced. Unfortunately, the mask continued its journey to the bottom. David helped me look for it, but to no avail. I borrowed his mask, and, with my snorkel, continued to look while the rest went aboard for lunch. Eventually, I saw my goggles, dived down 10-12 feet to get them, and surfaced, blowing my snorkel clear. When I recovered my breath, I realised that humboldt penguinsI had blown my snorkel tube out completely and was left with two pairs of goggles and a mouthpiece. “Time for lunch”, I thought. The goggles are the expensive component and a tube is hardly worth looking for.

Lunch was meat stew and rice. Following lunch we departed for Isla Santa Cruz. It is worth mentioning the amazing antics of the sea lions and penguins. Whilst we were swimming in the bay, these creatures were swimming amongst us. They were coming so close to us, and really showing off. One penguin swam past Oli about a foot in front of him. We thought it was making an attempt to peck off his serpiente de pantalones!

The sea was much rougher on the way back. Dad took our advice and sat on the foredeck in the fresh air with a full view of the horizon. He didn’t get sick, but got cold, wet and sunburnt about the legs instead. Oli and I sat right on the bow most of the way back, hoping for more excitement with the dolphins. The waves provided us with ample excitement. Sometimes we’d be violently splashed as we plunged off a peak into a trough, and from time to time we’d actually be knee deep in the Pacific, only to be hauled back into the air as the Viking rose on the next wave. We saw no dolphins, but we did see several sea lions.

As we approached the Daphnes the engine gave out, and the crew spent the next ½ hour fixing it. During this break Dad bet me a Greenfield Research pen to an ASK Group pen that Daphne Major had two cones. Although it looked like a single cone to me, a read of the guide the following day proved him to be correct.

We came into harbour at 6 o’clock at the same time as a small fishing boat. This gave us the opportunity to photograph the pelicans and boobies which were following the boat in hope of an easy supper. The journey back across the island in the dark was very forgettable, so I can’t possibly describe it.

After taking showers we put faith in Oli’s choice of restaurant once more and went to one just 50 yards down the road. This time his judgement was good. We each had a steak. Mine was covered in pineapple sauce. The others had mushroom sauce. Oli and I had helado mixta to follow. We were in bed by 9.25, and Oli and Dad were asleep by 9.30.


Previous episodes: One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Eight | Nine | Ten | Eleven | Twelve

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One old man and his bike go to Rome

Via Francigena

This is my old friend, Adge, doing something quite remarkable.

Follow his progress.

Cycling the Via Francigena

Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.

Charles M. Schulz

So, I suppose you might be thinking why cycle from Canterbury to Rome? I’m not sure I have a reasonable answer other than, why not?

I am cycling along the Via Francigena which is a recognised Pilgrims route, first undertaken by (and don’t laugh!) Sigeric the Serious who made the pilgrimage to Rome in order to receive his Pallium (or vestment) circa 990. I first came across the Via Francigena on holiday in Italy, last year, and the idea of a walk or a cycle along the same route was subsequently conceived (I was sober at the time!).

The Via Francigena is well documented route and there are numerous websites and books that offer a far better description than I ever could. Suffice it to say it’s a journey of around 2,000kms and should take…

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Trumpet Blowing. And Why Not?

Ladies and gentlemen, you know me by now. I am not especially proficient at blowing my own trumpet. But seeing as I have a book to promote, I thought it prudent to at least let you know that I̵…

Source: Trumpet Blowing. And Why Not?

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Swanwick a highlight in many a writer’s year!

This is a really good report of the wonderful week at Swanwick, written by Ann Perrin who was returning after an absence of many years. I was a first-timer this year. It is obvious that we shared a high level of enjoyment during that magical seven days.

Ann Perrin

Swanwick WritersSummer School is the oldest residential writers’ conference in the world.

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They say never go back and I have not attended Swanwick Writer’s Summer School for about 25 years, when I went for two years in succession. This year I decided to go back. It was then that I suddenly recalled my first lecture all those years ago.  The wonderful Margaret Thompson Davis, an inspiring novelist and author of hundreds of short stories. She had written crime novels and a saga based on her own childhood experience of living in Glasgow which was transformed into a stage production too.

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The late Michael Legat was there that year too. I gather he also served on the committee for several years. Michael was a complete authority on the way into publishing. He would tell you absolutely anything…

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Wonderful Writers’ Summer School at Swanwick

TW3 – That Was The Week That Was!

For many years, my father, Tony Greenfield, has been attending the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire. He raves about it and has implored me to accompany him on many occasions. Unfortunately, I am usually otherwise occupied with family holidays of the beach-and-pool variety. This year, circumstances allowed me to pitch up to Swanwick as a first-timer, or “white-badger.” For those who are puzzled and thinking that I may have transformed myself into an albino nocturnal creature, I can explain that experienced delegates wear yellow badges and virgins, like myself, wear white badges.

My Dad is infirm with Parkinson’s disease and his sight is failing. I knew that I would need to look after him but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment or full participation. My new friends at Swanwick were all very kind and helped whenever and wherever they could.

When I arrived on Saturday afternoon and had assembled my Dad’s motorised scooter, settled ourselves in to our assigned accommodation, and attended the Chairman’s Welcome, I went along to the welcome for white-badgers.

LawnI confess that I was quite nervous and over-awed. There were so many experienced authors, poets, journalists, playwrights and people of many other talents around and I am just a very novice novelist. I couldn’t believe how quickly I was put at my ease by these amazing people. Swanwick is really well organised by the magnificent committee. Ambassadors are appointed who are very approachable and helpful. Not only that, but I soon found that almost everyone was helpful and genuinely interested in MY work and ambitions.

The week consists specialist and short courses, workshops and one-to-one sessions with established experts. Each evening, there is an invited keynote speaker followed by entertainment which is all pretty much self-made and, again, very well organised.

On the first morning, Sunday, I went along to my choice of four-part short course which was “Short Stories” led by Linda Lewis. She really knows what she is talking about and was able to impart lots of useful information about how we should set about earning some money from publishing our short stories in women’s magazines. This was followed by a two-part course on “Connecting with an audience,” delivered by poet, Joy France.

And so the fun-packed and information-filled week went on. I won’t bore you with a journal of all the sessions that I attended. You need to come along next year (12-18 August 2017) to find out for yourselves. But here are my highlights.

Michael Jecks

Michael Jecks

The evening speakers (see a list here) were all magnificent and awe-inspiring. I wouldn’t have missed any of them for the world. However, one, in particular, stood out for me. That was Michael Jecks, author of 42 medieval crime fiction novels.

Yes! FORTY TWO!

He told us his own story. He talked to us on the level as if we were his equals, which I realise I most certainly am not. But he made us believe that we could also achieve as he has. What made the evening extra special was that he sat and chatted and laughed with me for almost two hours. He offered me a lot of good advice, we shared a few amusing anecdotes about our time spent working in the IT industry, and he made me really start to believe in my own potential as a writer. I was relaxed in his company. He genuinely wants to help up-coming authors. He is a humble man and a thoroughly nice chap.

KiltOther highlights?

  1. Joy France turned my belief that I am a rubbish poet, which was instilled in me by my prep school English teacher, on its head. I CAN write decent poetry if I follow her advice and that of Alison Chisholm.
  2. Veronica Bright introduced me to the world of flash fiction, Something that I have ignored until now. I didn’t think that I could do it, but I DID!
  3. Award-winning scriptwriter, Katie White, pressed me into performing in a five-minute playlet written by Terry Baldock. It was the first time that I’d acted for over thirty years and it was a lot of fun.
  4. There was a “Heroes and Villains” fancy dress disco on Monday evening. I improvised a passable Indiana Jones outfit which scored a hit with some of those present.
  5. Thursday evening closed with a Dregs Party, to which everyone took their remaining stock of booze to share. This was followed by the Last Night Disco. Some people dressed for the occasion. Myself and John Lamont wore our kilts. For those who are interested, my tartan is Hunting Chisholm.

All in all, it was a thoroughly interesting, entertaining and informative week. I am motivated to write more and to write more diversely.

I shall certainly return to Swanwick and I massively recommend it to all aspiring and experienced writers.

#weekendcoffeshare

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Silver’s Book Reviews – “The Iron Pendulum,” by Eloise De Sousa

Great review.
I’ve read this book too and it is a racket! A must read

Silver Threading ~ Fairy Whisperer ~

  • Title:  The Iron Pendulum
  • Author: Eloise De Sousa
  • Print Length: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Lulu.com
  • Publication Date: June 26, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1326689983
  • ISBN-13: 9781326689988
  • ASIN: B01HYFLBII
  • Formats: Paperback and Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Murder Mystery

In the Author’s Words:

“Julia Webster and Hugo del Fuego are missing from their third-floor apartment in Bagley. The grisly display discovered in their home leaves Detectives Perkins and Jones with little evidence to follow and, as more remains turn up, the pressure mounts to find the killer. Time is the key element in solving a case riddled with dead ends and a strange family hiding its true evil behind the façade of money and power. Can they unravel the secrets hidden behind the closed doors and will it be enough to solve the case and rescue the couple in time?”

My Recommendation:

*The author provided…

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