Thursday, April 29, 2010

Stress Monkey

Upon my return I was pleased to see my house standing and the Cat alive. The garden has grown interesting sets of weeds, the bindweed and brambles took advantage of my absence, I have been gradually thinning their numbers every time I go out for a smoke. Bwahahaha. The Pond of Amphibian Filth and Depravity is now a nursery with lots and lots of tadpoles which I am well pleased about. I'm fond of frogs, as is the Cat, but for different reasons.

I'm gradually wading through the mounds of laundry and post. Unhappily, while I was doing the latter it came to my attention that my bank had fucked up and there was fresh air blowing through it. Therefore on my first full day back I spent the afternoon shouting at them to rectify their cock-up. Which quite frankly, I could have done without.

Yesterday, was a stress day of monumental proportions. I lost 7 hours trying to sort out a problem with my primary e-mail account. It's a web based e-mail account that since I bought my laptop has been 'interesting' as it does not do what it says on the tin. My most unhappy moment came when I finally got through to the help desk in India (after many goes in the telephone spaghetti junction which is Richard Branson's idea of IT support) to be told that the Help Desk does not support Ms Outlook Express. As I am running the full Outlook, apparently this means they are completely unable to assist. People, I was not a Happy Bunny. Especially, seeing as after all of that they're going to charge me 50p a min and it took me 5 goes to get that slap in the face. I've patched the problem so far, and I'm hoping that bribery and corruption will mean that a friend of mine will have a look at the problem and fix it later this week.

Today has been far more pleasant. I had a bit of a lie-in and have been re-assessing my plans for World Domination. I've got to get a few more irons in the fire, so I've been having a look at other fires to poke. We'll see what happens.

Apart from that, I still don't feel here yet. It takes me about a week to make the cultural transition. But I've done this many times before and I know how the song goes, it's just a question of going with the flow.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I'm Baaack!

Yes, it's true. Boy and I made it back, safe and sound. Considering the title of this blog is 'journeying', I quite hate, loathe and detest flying. It is the most singularly uncomfortable ways of travelling. I hate the whole procedure from start to finish. From the security checks, immigration and customs, and the actual flying part most of all. I suppose had we flown First Class, my experience would be slightly different. Were I actually able to adopt a pretzel shape to sleep, had the small baby actual slept or shut up, had the food been at all palatable, I might have thought differently of the experience.

Despite that, British Airways got us home to Merrie Ingerland in one piece.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yipeee!

I crawled out of bed at the crack of Dawn to read on the BA website that UK airspace is open again. Woo hoo!

Thank you to all the deities that were prayed to.

We're going to celebrate by going to The Bush to feed mosquitos.

Yay!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Stress!

I've run out of optimism today. The English airports are still shut. It's Tuesday. We're supposed to fly out Sunday and yes, we have time, but as each day goes by it becomes more and more worrying.

My Father #1 says what we need is the weather to change. The ash is hanging around thanks to a high weather system hanging around. I never thought I'd see the day when I'd be praying for bad weather. A low pressure system will change the way the winds flow and move the ash off England and into the Atlantic.

Boy's school has been fantastic. They've e-mail through revision work and have been in e-mail contact with him about his coursework due this morning and the end of the week. He's been cracking on with it, with no nagging from me. He did have an IT blip, but an e-mail got their IT department to sort it out.

The stress of this is seeing me outside more often puffing away. I'm continuing to write and am getting nowhere at the moment. I'm going to curl up with a crap book and sulk.

Please pray to your favourite deity to get the weather to change. I want to come home now.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Opportunities

This has been one of the situations where I believe I am one lucky woman. Boy and I are continue to chill in Trinidad. UK airports are still being cagey about flights and I am grateful we are not one of the many thousands camped in airports around the world. We are comfortable and happy hanging out with my family.

It does mean Boy will miss a week of school. But bless him, he's been cracking on with his revision and got his coursework sorted while we've been here. In the next 4 or 5 weeks he'll begin his exams and thus, move into the next stage of his education. It's no bad thing that he's had 3 weeks of doing very little. Hopefully, he'll hit the ground running upon our return...or rather... given he is a teenager...he'll hit the ground in a slouching slope.

I've been cracking on with my writing and now have quite a promising project. Time will tell whether it will turn into the novel it can be, but we'll see. Up until now, the majority of my work has been short stories. I liken the difference between writing a short story and a novel to dating and marriage. A short story is like a date, you go out, hang around for a while and then it's done. A novel on the other hand, is a long-term committment that you need to be prepared for rough times as well as the good. My problem is I haven't come up with a project I'm willing to commit the years needed to see it through to the bitter end. So we'll see.

Being here means extra opportunities to soak in the sun, see more relatives - I seem to be related, one way or another to most people in Trinidad, eat more fantastic local fare (hello cornflakes upon my return) and annoy my brother and his family. The only downside is I'm fast running out of cigarette papers and yes, I can smoke ready-mades, I just don't enjoy them. A fact which has my brother crowing. We'll see if I can stretch out what I've got left. No Dave, you needn't remind me it's an opportunity to quit. I'm not ready yet.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Quick Update

Thanks to the efforts of my SIL to find me a human being to talk to, our flights have now been re-booked for next week Sunday. All being well, we'll rock up to LGW on Monday morning. Yeah, right. At this point I'm just being tentatively optimistic.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Grounded

So much for best laid plans. Thanks to the Icelandic eruption, the UK skies are currently filled with volcanic ash. All UK air traffic is grounded. To any people grounded and grumbling, flying through a volcanic ash cloud leads to 'oh shit, the engines have shut down' shortly followed by 'mayday, mayday...we're all going to diiiiiee', a long plummet and a short stop. The two aircraft who flew through the ash in Jakarta in 1982 were bloody lucky, I don't really fancy the experience myself. As you may remember I'm not a huge fan of fair ground rides. Plummetting would really ruin my day.

Having said all of that, here we are in Trinidad, probably for at least another couple of days extra. I'm very lucky. I'm staying with my family who are showing some reluctance to let us go anyway. I'm thinking of the people who are in hotels, airports etc. I don't have an employer breathing down my neck. Boy does have school and he may end up missing a day, but it's not life-threatening. So, we'll chill out a bit longer, continue to eat fantastic local fare, hug my Niece and Nephew, hang out with the rellies. Oh the hardship.

It rained yesterday. Today, we've got up to an overcast sky and damp ground. It's a very welcome sight. This has been one of the hardest Dry Seasons in years and the earth is desperate for the moisture. As it has been a gentle rain, rather than a downpour, it will soften the scorched soil and then absorb the rain, rather than run straight off the land and into the rivers. I love tropical rain. I can sit outside and watch it fall from the sky for hours.

All in all, I'm a happy bunny. The break has been fantastic for me. It's been an injection of energy that I've desperately needed. I'm looking forward to getting back to Norwich and stuck into World Domination. That I have to wait a couple of days extra is neither here nor there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday in the Tropics

It's Monday morning. Nephew has gone off to school, SIL and Brother are off to work. Boy and I are kicking about. After a fairly busy few days it's no bad thing. I don't know about Boy, but the chance to get my breath back is welcome.

We went to my Brother's estate in Mayaro. It's fantastic out there, rural Trinidad in all it's dry and dusty magnificence. This has been a hard dry season. There have been bush fires burning for days, they fill the valleys with ash and thick blue smoke that plays havoc with sinuses. Even the mozzies have been scarce, though I haven't missed their presence particularly. They love foreign flesh. Despite the dry conditions, we still saw lots of local wildlife ranging from tarantulas to tocans, wild parrots and woodpeckers. My brother took me for a quick walk in the bush to inspect a tract of land being cleared for planting. He grows hardwoods. He and I are opposites in many ways. He has a work ethic that would have many Protestants hanging their heads in shame. Whereas I can do nothing happily for days on end. He will sit down for the two minutes required to plan his To Do List and then he's up and doing. I'm so proud of what he and SIL have achieved. They've worked so hard to build the life they have today.

On Saturday morning, SIL took us to a shopping mall. Joy is a shoe shop. I have small feet. In the UK, I'm a 3.5 which is technically a children's size, which makes shopping for grown up shoes a bit of a nightmare. I went a bit mad and bought 4 pairs of shoes. I must admit, I'm thinking of going back for a few more. Fortunately, I have space in my luggage.

In the evening, we headed up to the Beach House on the North Coast. A word of warning, don't play cards with my family, they will end up wiping the floor with you. Boy and I had our arses handed to us with a cherry on top. Yesterday, after breakfast we headed down to the beach. The tropical sun, in a few days has given me the colour that I worked all summer in my garden. I'm slathering up well with sunscreen.

These are our last few days here and we still have quite a few people to catch up with. Two weeks just isn't long enough. It's been so good for us to be here. Three years is far too long to be away.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ah Feelin Hot, Hot, Hot

If you are reading this huddled around fire, wrapped up under layers of clothing, my apologies. Perhaps you should come back in two weeks time.

The average temp in Trinidad at the moment, the height of the Dry Season, it's 36'C. I'm writing this wearing a skimpy top and a pair of denim shorts, with my hair tied up, off the back of my neck. I do wish my family would have fed the mosquitos before we arrived. They smelt foreign blood and said 'Om nom nom'. I could play connect the dots on my legs and make a Picasso painting. Today, I was smarter and slathered on the repellant. It's certainly repelling me.

The last few days have been spent on the move. On Sunday evening we went to the Blue Range reunion. Blue Range was the area my brother grew up. As I arrived 10 years later, I missed most of their escapades. But the old crew, now all middle aged with familial and economic responsibilities, got to relive the good ole days. The way they grew up, with the only rule of Be Home by Dark, is a fond and distant memory. They talked about roaming around the neighbourhood, picking fruit from trees, making toys from sticks and playing pranks on each other could never be recreated now. It's a victim of a more health and safety culture. It's a wonder any of them survived. They drank water from outside taps, ate fruit straight from the tree they picked by climbing up unsupervised and without safety gear. They entertained and fought without adult supervision and being told to 'play nice'. They learnt to sort their own problems out, to shrug off their hurts and to have fun.

I had a fantastic time. I was able to sit away from most of the crowd, but I still had company and was able to chat and dance and drink to my heart's content. The bar was free. I had 2 rum punches to start with and then moved on to the rum and cokes. The barman had a very light hand to start with at the end of the evening, one of my brother's partners in crime was returning to me with a drink that looked like weak tea. I swear there was only a teaspoon of coke. Needless to say, I did my usual drunk texting when I got home. When will I learn?

Yesterday, I crawled out of bed at 6.30 (that's am, apparently there are two 6 o'clocks in the day, I'm not impressed). I was not feeling very well. I had a smoke, a coffee and a couple of large glasses of water. I went back to bed for an hour and a half. When I got up, my brother offered a trip to the beach which I accepted. I figured it was kill or cure. I'm glad we did. It was great to see my family's old beach house. The Rock is still there in all it's glory. Boy and I slathered up and hit the beach for a couple of hours. We still are a whiter shade of pale, so we need to be very careful in the intense sunshine. Getting sun burnt here will not be any fun what so ever.

Last night, there was more socialising. Fantastic food, good company. I did not drink. I could not face it.

Thankfully, my Brother and SIL have to work, so Boy and I have a day of rest. I have a sore throat which I'm not impressed with, you know how good I am at being sick; and I'm still feeling washed out by the travelling. It's great hanging out with my Dad, Niece and Nephew today; we are just chilling. We will be off to Mayaro, to my brother's estate in the rural south of Trinidad for a few days. Bush, as they say here. Proper rainforest. Though there's not much rain at the moment. There has been a 55 day gap between rainfalls and everything is tinder dry. The hills behind my brother's house are burning night and day.

Right, my 4 year old Niece has completely run out of patience with me blogging. I'm off to compare nail polish.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Rambling Roses

My apologies for slow blog day. Boy and I are now back in Trinidad for two weeks. I've been doing my impression of a Stress Bunny, while Boy has been doing his impression of Calm in the Middle of Tornado. He's very good at it.

Our journey began at midnight Saturday morning. We took a National Express coach down to London Gatwick. Next time, I'll find another way to travel down. It took 6 hours to get from Norwich to LGW. For those not native to British shores or conversant with English geography. It's a 2 and a half hour drive. It was cold, the seats were hard and every time I managed to find a comfortable enough position to doze off in, we'd stop. My impression of a pretzel for 6 hours means upon my return I will be visiting the osteopath.

Once we got to Gatwick and the right terminal. Note to Self: read the damn instructions. We booked ourselves in and then I had my final fag. I'd brought some nicotteine lozenges in case of emergency melt-down. Of course, once we'd left the house I started remembering the things I forgot to pack. Duty Free became a slightly more expensive experience than I had intended. The perfume shop was disappointing. I was strict with myself and only packed 2 fragrances. It was a battle to choose which, in the end I settled on Dior Addict 2 and my favourite, favourite Tom Ford Black Orchid: Voile de Fleur.

Flying British Airways is a far more pleasant experience than XL.Com ever was. The check-in is now all automated, which really did throw me. Thankfully, Boy is a child of the Digital Age and can follow on-screen instructions. The seats were a damn sight more comfortable than the coach and reclined further than 2 degrees. The flight left on time and no one was surprised. The food was more than edible, the service chirpy and prompt.

When we were in the airport, in Costas I was waiting for the Polish Barrista to deliver my cappuccino and made a comment to a guy waiting next to me. He had a nice smile and a very North London accent. We exchanged witty banter and parted upon receipt of hot caffinated beverages. On the plane, we laughed when we sat down next to each other. He and his wife and two girls were going to St Lucia. After take off, he swapped seats with his eldest girl and she and I became fast friends. I napped most of the flight. Whenever I woke up, her bright blue eyes would light up and she chatted ten to the dozen. Bless her heart, she was terrified when it came to the landing. Long time readers will remember it's not my favourite part of flying anyway. Having to talk her down was great, it took her mind off of things and I could pretend to be big and brave. Unfortunately, we won't be coming back on the same flight together. This is one of the joys of journeying, you make instant friends, without the usual societal constraints.

When we got to Piarco Internation, Port of Spain, I'd had quite enough. I was tired, grumpy and when the end was in sight: gasping for a fag. Trinidadian officialdom has two speeds: dead slow and stop. If you make the mistake of complaining about the dead slow, they automatically switch to stop. We all know that patience is not one of my virtues, but I gritted my teeth and common sense prevailed.

I can't impart the joy of clearing the exit and lighting up. That head rush was salivatingly fantastic.

It is so good to be with my father, my brother and his family. Three years is much too long. Much too long. Nephew is now taller than me and Niece is just soooo unbelievable cute. I have got the anti-smoking lecture (which I was dreading), but they're now just letting me get on with it. They are so chuffed to see Boy. He gets to be the oldest child around, as he's usually the youngest, he revels in the experience. Nephew thinks he's so cool with all his piercings.

Given we had 24 hours of travelling, I don't feel too bad. The temperature is 35'C and it's bliss. Being warm without piles of clothing, it's a luxury. This is the first time my legs have seen sunshine in over 6 months. I'm being teased for their incredible whiteness. It's good to be in shorts.

Anyway, I hope you are have a great Easter. I won't be able to put any pictures up until I get home, but I will bore you to death with my holiday snaps. I promise.