Tuesday, September 30, 2008


My belongings are out of long-term storage. Friday, they bid farewell to Madeira and set sail for me! I dare to dream that I'll be unpacked by Christmas.

Obviously, my popcorn maker isn't in Madeira. Who would be bat-crazy enough to leave such a treasure behind? No, that stayed by my side throughout (and indeed, expired, and was promptly reincarnated).

Apart from organising Madeiran things, today has been all about writing: screenplay work, where words are punchy and concise and waffle-free. Not at all usual for me.

Okay yes, there was a sauna, but that was during an approved break time. And it was for medicinal purposes (cough cough).

Anyhoo, while we're on the subject of stuff, these people buy unclaimed cargo & baggage by the truckload to sell on. Interesting to see what kind of things have been left behind over the years - engagement ring, guidance system for an F16 jet, 40-carat emerald, shrunken head...

No mention of a popcorn maker.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday Heaven

I've settled in Baltimore, which is about as pretty a place as you could be. Especially at sunset.

Idyllic day: leisurely breakfast & writing; then a walk around the cliffs by the Beacon (yes, it does exactly what it says on the tin; see below) - also known as Lot's Wife. The afternoon found me idling over the crosaire with a sunshiney pint.

All very treaty.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Plumbing, Rats and Great Design

Back in the land of broadband - praise!! Several moons have waxed and waned, but at last I've settled and unpacked. More about interim life in time, but first...

So, this morning, two plumbers arrived to investigate a sluggish drain condition I'd inherited. The drain covers in the back garden were opened up, and pipey tools of various lengths appeared. Now, 90% of plumbing problems seem to be caused by those plastic hang-off-the-side-of-the-loo fresheners, so I was expecting one of those.

Instead, they brought up an entire landslide: piles of rock, sand, earth. It became clear why my petite tub of drain unblocker had been unsuccessful. The Head Plumber said that when the houses were built, some pipe hadn't been sealed up; the underground landslide was a situation years in the making.

As he hefted out another pile of gravelly slush, Head Plumber started back: at first he thought he'd got an electric shock, but there were two little cuts in his finger. Two little incisor-type cuts. And then it made sense how all the gunk got into the drains in the first place.

Rats, burrowing.

Tetanus. Leptospirosis. Bubonic plague. Differential diagnoses from House M.D. filled the air...

I remembered seeing a first aid kit when I moved in; it probably wouldn't have anything for rabies, but I fetched it anyway. It contained two safety pins and a single latex glove. Not the most rigorously maintained of emergency supplies...

We resorted to Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream. Wearing the remaining latex glove, Head Plumber finished clearing and assessed the unsealed pipe. "You wouldn't have an empty whiskey bottle in the house?" I brought out my recycling: we tried out a passata bottle, and some wine bottles, but they were all too skinny. You needed something broader, something chunkier...

Something Absolut.

I went to the freezer, got my trusty bottle of Absolut Citron, decanted it with a twang of regret.

Blessed thing fit like a glove.