travel back in time

Tuesday 19th April 2005, Madrid, Spain

Well, you'll be happy to know (or you couldn't care less) that I've survived another stint of hard labour across the border in southern France. As you can see by the photo, Maria was pleased to see me.

My beautiful Maria!

Many of you have been asking about the work I've been doing, so I've uploaded a few photos of the house I was working on. There are a few pics in my previous update, and in the interest of keeping the file size of this page reasonable small (many of you have complained that with your slow connections it's difficult to view a page heavy with photos) I have posted the latest ones here.

Before I returned to Madrid, I did manage to make a flying visit to Marseilles, to see my brother and his family. My two teengae nieces and I spent all of Saturday in a shopping mall. I was going to say that I 'took them shopping' since I did buy each of them a little something, but the truth is that they took me, since I am under strict orders from Maria not to buy any clothes unless under the supervision of someone with some semblance of fashion sense. When a lovely pair of mustard coloured jeans caught my eye, the girls just rolled their eyes and pleaded "Oh Uncle Stephen, don't even think about it!" Maria would have been proud of them. The green and orange sweatshirt that I tried on had them both walking away in disgust, shaking their heads. But they did finally relent and allow me to buy a blue and grey striped long sleeved shirt and a pair of khaki trousers. I rewarded them generously with Haagen Daas.

When my time wasn't spent burning up the credit card with my nieces, I was playing pirates with my nephews. Flynn is mad keen on pirates, so when the family met me at the Marseilles train station, I was wearing my pirate eye patch and a big gold pirate earring. Flynn thought having a pirate for an uncle was just too much, as did the other commuters at the station, I reckon!

My nephew Flynn, the pirate menace.

Joseph and his singing pig, which sang 'My Girl' non-stop all weekend.

On Saturday, Maria and I jumped into our little rented Smart car and headed south to Andalucia. Our first stop was a trip down memory lane for me, a visit to the 150 year old stone farmhouse that I once christened Casa Del Sangria. When I left Chercos last summer, I never dreamt I'd be back, but then I never thought I'd still be in Spain almost nine months down the track! It was just a week after I left Chercos that I met Maria. Who would have thought?

Back at Casa Del Sangria.

The old house was still in the same condition as when I left it. Its English owners have been busy with other projects, and Casa Del Sangria has been left to bask in the sunshine. With memories of a month of sleeping on the hard concrete floor, I made sure we packed our queen size inflatable mattress, and the electric pump. The only flaw in that plan was that Casa Del Sangria for some reason now lacks the luxury of electricity, so Maria and I ended up sleeping on a sheet of cardboard on the floor! Nevertheless, a hundred little tea candles gave the farmhouse a romatic air, and we both slept soundly until being woken by the birds at about eight o'clock.

Breakfast on the deck, just like the old days, but with better company!

From Chercos we drove to Mojacar on the Mediterranean coast, and wound our way up the seaside road. The coastal town of Callabardina seemed like an appropriate place to stop for the night, and the next day we went on to Calpe to visit our friends Jon and Annabelle.

Once again, to minimize the file size of this page for those of you with painfully slow internet connections (aren't I thoughtful?) I've posted the rest of the photos from our weekend on a separate page. Click here to view the rest of the photos from our long weekend around Andalucia and the Mediterranean coast.

Orders for my new book "Of Walls and Men" have been coming in slowly... very slowly. It was due for release mid-April, and anybody with a calendar will know that mid-April is already upon us. I'm sad to report that the publication will not go ahead until there are sufficient orders to at least cover the cost of printing. I don't expect to make a million dollars from my books, but I'm not prepared to make a loss either. If you've been umm'ing and ah'ing about placing an order, now is the time to do so. If you were planning to wait until it is published, I'm afraid it can't work that way. I need the orders before I go to print.

I am happy to report that there are already three lucky winners from "THE SAVAGE FILES BIGGEST COMPETITION EVER". Jon and Annabelle from Calpe in Spain have scored themselves a great carry-on suitcase on wheels, just like the flight attendants use. Richard from Singapore will soon receive in the post his new Swiss Army Knife (there are still two more to be won!), and the biggest winner so far is Sebastian from Hannover in Germany, who walked away with twelve months free travel insurance, courtesy of World Nomads, the leaders in travel insurance tailor made for backpackers and independent travellers. There are still loads of great prizes to be won, so check out the competition for your chance to join the winners' circle!

The latest Savage Files book is on its way.
 Reserve your copy now!

For a description of my new book, and to place your order, go to my Book Preview page. Then click on the big bright red link at the top of this page to win some great prizes in my huge "Of Walls and Men" competition! See you in a couple of weeks!

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