Sunday, December 31, 2006

Normal service to be resumed

Hey Folks!!

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...."

More anon.

- Sean

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Jerry Bruckheimer improves lives

So, the nicest lady in the world works in the bread shop down the road. We were 'talking' last week (as much as you can with a vocab of 50 words) and it turns out she's from Brazil; she said Brazil was beautiful.

Now, I only understood this because of CSI Miami. It has a loopy coroner, who oohs and aahs over the slaughtered, calling them sweetie and darling all the time. She says 'Hey beautiful' a lot (I'm not sure I'd be entirely happy leaving her unsupervised with a corpse; just a smidge too affectionate) and beautiful is always subtitled as lindo which is the word the nice Brazilian lady used about Brazil.

And yesterday, when Sean and Shona arrived (yay!) we went to hang out in the bread shop (cum cafe). Mrs Brazil took one look at Sean and asked "irmao?". Which brings me straight back to CSI Miami: the guy from NYPD Blue marries a terminally ill model (or something) whose brother works in the lab. They spent weeks saying brother - "my brother... your brother... see the brother clean up the crime scene..." yep, I recognised that word right off the bat.

Which brings me properly to Sean and Shona - they're here! Spent yesterday catching up - you should hear what they didn't tell you about Hong Kong. And I got yet more Christmas presents, including the coolest stove-top espresso maker. It watched its first Madeiran dawn this morning :)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Stephen's Day

Had a fab evening with the Codebreakers. They said I was to 'sing for my supper', so I read Gilt to them (the short story that won the Fish-Knife award). They seemed to like it, although they couldn't fathom why I bothered to translate latin words, or explain things like grisaille or de casibus - they couldn't imagine anyone not knowing such things. On behalf of the rest of the known world, I tried to set the record straight.

Stunning day today - I'm hoping the weather holds for the folks arriving tomorrow. Which reminds me, I should probably go and clean something...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Oh Happy Day!

What a lovely day! I woke super-early, and was up sipping coffee-with-coffee-liqueur by the first family phone call. Later in the morning the folk in Dublin conglomerated, and we had an hour's session on webcam featuring the opening of the presents (their presents, as I had opened mine with coffee, accompanied by John Denver and The Muppets: A Christmas Together). They opened some red wine; I sipped some cava; cherubic Jack looked... well, cherubic, and darling Molly kept hugging the laptop, which meant that we were disconnected a couple of times. Too cute!!

I'm wearing one of Mom's presents (no, not the table runners, although they are tempting in a kinda sparkly and sheer way - the jumper). I was right about the Columbo box set - the first four series! Steven Spielberg directed this morning's episode - fabulous! AND my nephew and niece got me the first 3 series of Murder, She Wrote. Er, that would mean I have over 200 hours of tv to watch.

What a trial :)

So the cava is finished, and I've had my afternoon nap. About to head into the Codebreakers for dinner. There had been an intention to do some writing, but I've decided to take the day off.

So far so great! Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good afternoon.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas the night before Christmas...

It was a really still, quiet day today - more like New Year's Day than Christmas Eve. Funchal closes up shop at lunchtime, so there's none of that manic last-minute desperation you usually find in cities.

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

Medicinal Purposes

The up-side of having a manky head cold is that you get to lay into your mother's brandy in the hope that it'll clear your head enough to do some sensible editing.

I adore rationalisations.

And now the work begins...

So I spent yesterday thinking it was Thursday, for no particular reason. I've figured out the days now, but it means that I have some catching up to do.

I'm trying to get a few chapters of the first book ready for the New Year. Boy oh boy, nothing gets you into super-critical mode better than knowing a literary agent is going to be reading your work.

At least I did some shopping. I have enough supplies to ensure that the changeover from coffee to wine will be seamless throughout the holiday season.

Best of luck for those braving Heathrow today, especially Sara :)

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bestest card ever

Gorgeous day here; just about to do my beer-in-the-sunshine thing out on the terrace.

This year's award for best Christmas card goes to Maggie for her 3D sparkly model of wonder.

I haven't even sent e-cards yet this year...
I totally suck.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Planning for Christmas

There's a fleet of people cleaning the windows with power hoses - it kind of feels like being inside a car wash.

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.

Shame :)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sleep #2

The great thing about getting up in the middle of the night to see people off to their absurdly early flight is that you're guaranteed an afternoon nap the following day.

Back to bed now :)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Mom's blog

I'm just about to leave Madeira, having visited my charming daughter for a few weeks, and thought I should do a little blog for my other offspring. We've had marvellous weather, great meals, hilarious fun and some experiences that we can't share with you!

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

Weekend round up

I went to Canico on Saturday to post off the family's Christmas presents, only to learn that post offices are closed on Saturdays. Had a lovely aftenoon: took the presents around for a beer, a stroll and a spot of lunch. Will try again today :)

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

Cable antics and holiday snaps

The German Porn Man plot thickens...

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:
  1. Life-size nativity scene, which brought to mind that great scene with Kevin Bacon in Diner.
  2. Massive piggy with melon - no idea.
  3. Buffy-style stake made from laurel wood; they cook scrummy kebabs called espedata on them. The scent of laurel infuses the meat - fabulous.
  4. Chocolate martini. Through an elaborate charade routine, I convinced a waitress who spoke no English to make one for me.
  5. View from the room.
  6. Mom shkittering.
  7. A moment when we had hijacked a bear from one of the Christmas displays.
  8. Mom being a sweetie.
  9. Fabulous vodka & lemon cocktail - I lived on these. Yum!

It was a really beautiful setting :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

The results are out...

Remember those 4 guys pootling outside the apartment the other day? It would seem they´ve managed to de-broadband the building. Looking into that today. In the interim, I´m ensconced in a little art shop down the road.

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

Pamper day

Okay, still in the hotel in the north coast - photos to be posted tomorrow. It´s fair to say that the place isn´t exactly busy: mom and I spent the morning playing in the pool, jacuzzi, sauna and turkish bath and never saw another soul.

Pretty heavenly actually.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fun in Funchal

We saw Santa!!

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

Ladies with ladies' names

My spidey senses tell me we're inching closer to Mom writing a blog. Baby steps...

So we're off to be ladies for the day - haircuts, lunch in town, maybe a cocktail.

Another gruelling Monday.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Son of a preacher man...

Well, Mom was going to do a guest blog today, but she's stretched out on the sofa guffawing over the first issue of Preacher, so it's me again.

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

Morning of mayhem

So, the fridge-that-time-forgot was being replaced today, which coincided with 4 cable guys arriving to do something or other. Landlord was standing in my bath fixing the shower when Landlady exploded into the apartment very upset (I just leave the door open on days like this). German Porn Man and his wife (who knew!) had shouted at her and had threatened to phone their lawyer about the cable folk.

So I got her some lemon juice (which helps some medical condition that I haven't translated yet) and sat her down. A long spiel ensued, during which we got to hear tonnes of gossip about GPM: he can't go back to Germany 'for some reason'; he was about to be deported when he married a Madeiran to stay in the country; he poisoned the little dog across the road because it barked; he poisoned the water tank on the roof and three sets of neighbours moved out; he put a burning something-or-other under someone's door when they were having a party and literally smoked them out... And this week, he scratched the full length of someone's nice gold mercedes because he didn't like where she parked.

Just plain nuts.

Mom and I were enthralled (I'm in the building next door, and so am not on GPM's Kill list yet). There was such commotion, Mrs Codebreaker came in to see if I was okay, and she added more key details. I've asked her to use her Bletchley Park contacts to find out more about his shady past.

As soon as the shower was fixed we fled for beer. We were puzzling over a cryptic crossword clue when Mr Codebreaker wandered by and solved it in 0.15 seconds.

And so order came to be restored to the world :)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Decorate good times, come on...

Haven't achieved a tremendous amount today, but the Christmas decorations are up.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Cheer

Despite trying not to give stuff from Amazon, man do I love receiving stuff from them!

Opened the latest cardboard box to arrive, which has two packages giftwrapped so purdy-like. I have a sneaking suspicion one might contain series 1-4 of Columbo - Ray Milland, Leonard Nimoy, Donald Pleasence, Johnny Cash... everybody guest stars!

Boy am I going to do so very little this Christmas.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Shop # 1

We braved the Christmas crowds in Funchal today - managed an hour or so before mom and I claimed sanctuary in a cafe with brandy and beer respectively. There will be one further attempt before I resort to Amazon.

Mom caught an amazing sky moment yesterday. Clever lady :)

Friday, December 01, 2006

Final blog from Hong Kong

Well its been a couple of days since you heard from us and this will probably be the end of it since we are going back to Dublin tomorrow evening.

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!

When Shamus attack...

Like I said, keeping the purdy whales in a big swimming pool is not the cleverest idea.

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.

Road Trip: An Arthurian Tale in Michigan

Day in the life November 22nd-23rd.

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!!