Sunday, December 31, 2006
Apologies for the radio silence. Normal service will be resumed tomorrow, when Sean and Shona get off the island.
Much fun so far. Swimming. Eating. Drinkies. Pao de Cac.
And of course: Beyonce!
"To the left, to the left...."
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Sunday, December 24, 2006
The islands across the water at the end of my road were a myriad of blues this morning. Often you can't see them at all; they seem to come and go as they please.
The codebreakers came in for wine and Carols from King's; their radio reception is poor, so they took me up on the offer of listening via the Beeb website. I find it strange that people who worked alongside Alan Turing and the Colossus would be so wary of a laptop, but there you go. Mr C went up to King's College in 1943, and hearing the service evokes a whole lot of emotions and memories for him and Mrs C. It was a lovely afternoon.
And so on to Christmas Eve evening...
Being the youngest in the family has its pros and cons. I loved being the youngest on Christmas Eve, because it meant that I was the one to light the Christmas Candle, which burned in the window all evening.
My niece Molly is a couple of minutes younger than her brother Jack, so she's in charge in Dublin tonight.
Remember, never leave candles or 17-month old kidlets unattended.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Mrs Codebreaker was in (bearing avocados) to discuss the Christmas meal. My big idea was that I'd make my Baileys White Chocolate Mousse, and invite Mr & Mrs C in for dessert. Somehow this has changed to me going in to them for the whole xmas dinner. Apparently there's nothing I can do to help.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The greatest asset I think for this island is the people - they add more to the charm of the place than anything else. Their friendliness and help when one is trying to stumble through a Portuguese sentence is remarkable.
Now of course, visiting a daughter can be a risky business, especially when one has just acquired the title of author. I have to keep on my toes now going around with a celebrity!! Course that's easy to do, when one is sipping martinis, wine, and anything else you care to mention - you eventually end up in a hazy glow.
Anyway, I've sort of managed to live with the success while keeping my head down and my ear to the ground. One shudders to think what life will be like for Orlaith when she hits the big time. We'll have an egg-head on our hands, but I've dealt with that before!!!
Monday, December 18, 2006
Had a funny Saturday evening: me and a florist running up and down the street on our mobiles, trying to say enough words in the other's language to communicate our position. I really should make more of an effort to learn Portuguese.
Thanks for the gorgeous flowers Sean and Shona!
Did some tidying up of the blog - added in photos from last week, and posted the last blog from Hong Kong, which I found loitering in the draft folder. That's one area of my life that is neat!
Saturday, December 16, 2006
So it turns out the 4 cable guys never moved or touched a cable last week (hrumph - they earned their wages that day). When Landlady contacted them, they said "Wasn't there a German going around cutting cables that day?"
Which led to more gossip on GPM: he didn't like the position of some streetlight opposite the building, and kept cutting the cable; twelve years ago he had a big fight with a resident here, went up on the roof and poisoned his water supply; and this very week he's been messing around on the roof again...
So Internet Man came over last night, and checked the connections outside. He was suspicious of tampering. They're sending out someone with a special machine. Dun dun dunnnnn...
Photos from our trip to Porto Moniz:
- Life-size nativity scene, which brought to mind that great scene with Kevin Bacon in Diner.
- Massive piggy with melon - no idea.
- Buffy-style stake made from laurel wood; they cook scrummy kebabs called espedata on them. The scent of laurel infuses the meat - fabulous.
- Chocolate martini. Through an elaborate charade routine, I convinced a waitress who spoke no English to make one for me.
- View from the room.
- Mom shkittering.
- A moment when we had hijacked a bear from one of the Christmas displays.
- Mom being a sweetie.
- Fabulous vodka & lemon cocktail - I lived on these. Yum!
It was a really beautiful setting :)
Friday, December 15, 2006
Well the results of the short story competition are out, and I´m getting a fish knife!! I am thrilled to bits. Surprised, and thrilled. Yippee!!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Pretty heavenly actually.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Well, the day was filled with more than that, but broadband went down the second I was pressing ´publish´eight hours ago. Now I´m in the lobby of a hotel on the north coast of the island, and the memory of Santa is all that remains...
We saw him again later on in the day, doing a three-point turn in the main street. Everyone was pretty laid back about it. Ho ho ho.
Days later: photos added, including me trying one of mom's ciggies...
Monday, December 11, 2006
Friday, December 08, 2006
You can always tell if someone's going to love the whole Preacher series: you just give them the first page and see how they respond. People are either highly offended by the language, content and general sensibility, or else they find it hysterical. Not much room for grey. Mom loved it.
It seems HBO is backing a production of the entire series. I wonder how much interest the US censors will take; Preacher makes The Sopranos look kinda like The Smurfs...
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
We had a great night in 'Happy Valley' at the races the other night. Obviously didn't win a bean, but enjoyed it all the same. It's quite bizarre being at a very lush race-course in the middle of Hong Kong. Anyway it's a must-do if you visit. The other thing which you have to do while in HK is have a massage or two if you have time. We managed two sessions. Can I tell you my knee-caps have never been so well massaged before...ever. The rest of me is pretty relaxed too!
The other highlight was eating in a 'private kitchen'. This was basically a room with about four tables at the back of this tiny shop open onto the street. They were selling everything from fake handbags (not very goods ones!) to toilet paper in the shop and serving the most delicious thai food in the back. Orlaith the food was so cheap, it was like stealing!
I reckon it's post-traumatic stress from having to star in Shamu the yankee doodle whale.
One of my fish has 'made the transition'. Little Stumpy is alive and well, and now has a new friend.
Thanksgiving. To talk about Thanksgiving day we must first start with the day before, which is the busiest Bar night here in the States. Thanksgiving is always on the 3rd Thursday of November, which means you don't have to work the next morning so you can put on a good drunk before you have to see your family the next day. Wednesday night is the night me and my friends get together each week and drink anyways so it works out really good.
Anyway after work we all meet up at our hangout. The bartender is a friend and we can drink all night for a few bucks. So we drink and talk about how lousy our week had been. Mine had been pretty good having shot a 7pt. Buck earlier that week so I had to tell the story over and over.
After having enough beer it was time to go home and sit in the Hot tub and have a couple more beers. After the Tub, it's time to see if the wife is feeling frisky, I brush my teeth and head to bed and notice the wife had already passed out, With nothing to be thankful for I lay down. Then I forget a friend from Chicago wants to crash at my house for the weekend, so I have to get up and unlock the door. Now it's time for bed. Wake up around 8 A.M., with the wife snoozing away, I lay there trying to let the wife sleep. 9 A.M. the wife stirs and wakes, and after rolling around the sack we get up being much more thankful. Walkout to the living room to see my friend Joe and our dog Chyla curled upon the couch.
So we get the coffee brewing and the bacon cooking, then it's out to the tub with the coffee, This is normally a weekend treat, so lounging on a Thursday morning is all the better. After the tub it's time for some bacon and eggs, another weekend treat. Being Thankful for my full belly it's time lounge on the couch and watch Football (The American kind). On a normal Thanksgiving day I have to make 2-3 stops with a Turkey meal at each, But this year we only have 1 stop which is great.
Anyway after showers we head off to dad's for the meal. Instead of the normal turkey we are having steaks and chicken on the grill. My stepmom has MS and is not supposed to live out the month, so the big meal was not such a good thing. Anyways she seems happy to see us, which makes the day a little better. We drink some beers with dad and watch our Football team lose again then it's time to go deer hunting. I won't go into the ins and outs of deer hunting, because this is already getting long. Anyways my wife goes out to her treestand, Joe and me sit in my dad's stand and my dad sits on the ground.
So, deer hunting you just sit there until the unlucky animal walks underneath your stand and you shoot it. Well it's not quite that easy, anyway Denise is the only one that sees anything and it doesn't come in close enough to get a shot. So when it gets dark we say goodbye to Dad and it's time to start drinking with the food fully settled. We go home, get comfortable and drink, drink and do some more drinking, about 11 PM after 2 1/2 bottles ofwine, the wife heads to bead and me and Joe watch Old School for some laughs, after that it's time for bed myself, another Thanksgiving in the books.
Oh I forgot to mention the Filming, I'm currently making a movie, kinda a cross between The Postman and 9 1/2 weeks, anyway in between watching Football and showers we filmed a scene with the deer I shot earlier inthe week. Just a short scene with me dragging it down the hill.
A boy, a girl, a slaughtered carcass... thanks Art!!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Big news today is that the tree outside my window got a trim - it's a whole new world.
We're at the Codebreakers this evening. Mrs C said it would be "light fare, with plenty of booze and conversation".
Great, that'll be a shocking change.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Anyhoo, the cool bit was that Mom was spotted, like a genuine celebrity. We went in to a café to order beer & brandy, and she asked if they had any Courvoisier or Hennessey and the owner piped up "No, and we've no campari either".
She figured it was a normal thing to say to anyone over the age of twelve, but I reckon otherwise. I think she's becoming 'the Campari lady'...
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Shona's rarely happier than when she can have a good "root" around MUJI, her favourite "no brand IS our brand" store. In Hong Kong, they have a big one, and the news of the day is that Shona found new pens. You may be lucky enough to get one in the Chimney, but I wouldn't count on it.
In case anyone's feeling sorry for Michael and Maria and the childer, stuck out here in HK far away from the freezing rain at home, here's the view they wake up to every day.
Just out the window and to the left is the outdoor pool, where Sean has passed an hour or two this morning. Although its about 24 degrees here, its too cold for the locals to be swimming in the outdoor pool, so Sean is a happy camper!
Bye for now.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Apologies, but the usual service is now being interrupted by Sean (Orlaith's brother) and Shona (Orlaith's friend and Sean's girlfriend of many a year). Orlaith asked us to blog - as we're on a trip to Hong Kong to celebrate Shona's Special Birthday (she turned 40 with some style and pizazz last weekend, Go Shona!) .
Anyway, Shona got a surprise present of a trip to Hong Kong to spend a week and a bit with Michael, Maria, Finn and Milo. Michael's her brother, married to Maria, with two delightful small people that they made.
We arrived here last Friday, and stayed in a luvly hotel Friday and Saturday night. If we uploaded this properly, then you should see the big round bath they gave us in our room!!
We went sailing on Sunday. Absolutely fan-tastic -thanks to Michael for organising and Peter for taking us out on his boat and being a top host.
Now we're staying with MMF&M, and are chilling out and enjoying HK. I think that's enough for an initial Hello!!
More anon. Thanks for listening.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
In other news, Mom has found the perfect consulate substitute. Cigarettes are so cheap here it would tempt anyone to take up smoking just to save money!
We spent much of the afternoon chatting over wine in a local restaurant. When they came to close up the owner said we could stay as long as we liked, which we did. Then home for a nap, followed by the arrival of Mrs Codebreaker bearing avocados. I am so spoiled...
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Geez, the things Martha Stewart doesn't tell you about...
In other news, the codebreakers popped in to meet mom. Mr C wanted to take his rubbish downstairs before he got settled, and asked if he'd take ours. Well I said "no no don't be silly", but mom eagerly pushed me into the kitchen to get the bagged rubbish. So when I gave the eighty-something year old man a single small bag, mom chirped up with "the kitchen bin needs emptying too" and pushed me back in to prepare a second bag for him.
It could only have been worse if he'd suffered a heart attack on the way.
Needless to say, I quickly opened a bottle of vinho verde for us all and ensured everyone was well rested before they made any further movements!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Friday, November 17, 2006
Mom was especially excited. She plays it cool though...
Thursday, November 16, 2006
And so, in that vein...
The pawny was down all afternoon, and the place was fierce shlowny. The old wan is a dooshie little thing, but had a great lip on her for drink, so we had a gwall of wine, and then had wagons more. It's fair to say she wasn't far off rotto. We razzed each other loads, and then she had a good stroke so we vamped across the road for dinner. We had great taspy on us, and caused ructions in the restaurant - it was great hack. She's getting used to having her steamers indoors here, which is a change from Dublin. Anyway, she was flahed-out pretty early. Today she's had a gander around doing her traditional knawvshawling. She's cut the tripes out of me already regarding a variety of transgressions, involving the fridge, towels, coffee, bed, hangers etc., and she gave me down the banks for not having an extractor fan.
Still, it's me daza to have her here!
Pawny = rain; shlowny = slippery; old wan = mother; dooshie = small & neat; have a great lip for = desire; gwall = large quantity; wagons = loads; rotto = intoxicated; razzed = teased; good stroke = appetite; vamped = walked; taspy = high spirits; ructions = uproar; hack = fun; steamers = cigarettes; flahed-out = exhausted; gander = inspection; knawvshawling = fault-finding; cut the tripes = criticise severly; gave me down the banks = reprimanded; me daza = very pleasant!!
I couldn't work in 'scuttling' which means to smoke the butt-ends of cigarrettes, but what a verb!
So basically, all's going extremely well. Mom's somewhere around doing her famous Gollum impersonation. Adorable!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
90 minutes is coincidentally the amount of 'tidy up' time I figured I needed.
There's a certain symmetry to that...
Apparently it would have contained something about ovicide, genocide (he's finishing a book on Rwanda) and being hungover (the kind of hangover where as a hostess, all you can do is put plenty of food within reach throughout the day and leave them to it). It was a very laid back day, ending with a spectacular lightning storm.
Ovicide - that's the killing of sheep. I didn't ask too many questions...
Monday, November 13, 2006
The weekend was gorgeous, filled with wine and conversation (shock horror). I still managed to get some writing done, although my 'daily word count target' is at an all-time high. Need to churn out a couple of scenes and bring it back down again.
But first some yoga. I often wonder if it's deliberately orchestrated to suck you in to practicing for life; you stop doing it for a week and joints and bones start creaking. Well, at least the session ends with a nap - er, I mean a meditative relaxation period.
And then Reid's for cocktails this evening. It certainly is a tough life :)
Friday, November 10, 2006
You may have heard about the main industries of Madeira being wine, wicker baskets, or as hosts for massive cruise ships. Whilst no doubt important contributors to the island's GNP, they appear to have forgotten the massive work being undertaken by the population in gearing up for Christmas - especially the light decorations. I can only imagine the countless unswept streets, poorly maintained Levadas and the general lack of untidyness that is currently being endured by the proud Madeiran nation as they attempt to outdo last year's light extravaganza. In this noble aim, every available hand - and let's be clear, only male hands are deemed safe enough for this important job, for this onerous task is too important to be left to the weaker sex. And no one with even an elementary knowledge of Madeiran history needs to be reminded of the great light disaster of 1972, when the fair maidens of Madeira electrocuted all single men between the ages of 18-35, a disaster from which the island is still recovering - has been called upon to wear yellow safety jackets, receive basic health and safety training in ladded ascending/descending techniques and complete a course in the subtleties of colour co-ordinattion kindly sponsored by the Dulux corporation, this year's generous sponsor of the newly named "Dulux Festival of Colour and Light".
It will be a spectacular to beold!
(Copyright Martin Samuel 2006)