Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Operation Colombia (with ALL the family)

I've just handed in an edited draft of Spray Painted Bananas to my agent and I'm now leaving the country so she can't hand it back!

Destination: Colombia
Mission: To bond with Colombian family and make happy memories.
Participants: Just me. And my Mum. Dad. Auntie. Uncle. Oh and husband, although he's on another flight which will take him on the scenic route. Bad luck husband.
Profile and Travel History:
MUM: A keen walker, she is often found on the Camino de Santiago, Spain. She likes to recall her trip to Morrocco in the 70s. I like to tease her about it.
Hopes: To see a Capybara
Fears:  She has packed all the wrong clothes
DAD:  A keen walker, with exceptionally long legs, he is also often on the Camino de Santiago, where he is known to have once lost a shoe. He visited China on business during the 90s, bringing back gifts of faux designer t-shirts, and there is photographic evidence that he has also been to Mexico.  
Hopes: To see Cartagena de Las Indias
Fear: Altitude sickness

Mum, Dad, Auntie on the Camino de Santiago - photo by Uncle
AUNTIE: Another regular on the Camino de Santiago. She recently travelled to Nepal to visit her daughter where she did paragliding (RESPECT), rode an elephant and slept in a rat infested hostel. On her return, she discovered she had contracted the travel bug.
Hopes: To Ride a Horse
Fears:  Riding a Horse

Adventurous Uncle and Auntie in Nepal
UNCLE: Ditto Camino de Santiago. He always boasts the best equipment for every climate and is the most likely to have researched our upcoming destination. He also journeyed to Nepal to visit said daughter, did paragliding (RESPECT), rode an elephant and slept in a rat infested hostel.
Hopes: To see glorious countryside
Fears: Mosquitoes and getting kidnapped.

Amazing Backpacking Days with Rachel Surtees!
As for me, this will be my third trip to Colombia. The first time I went as a backpacker, the second time to meet my future parents-in-law and now as confirmed daughter-in-law bringing four member of the family! What could possibly go wrong?

Hopes: That everyone has a great time!
Fears: Being unable to say 'no' to street hawkers, my Dad talking proudly about the conquistadors... and anyone falling off a horse!  


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Guest Blog: One Week in Hampshire

“It’s a lifestyle and humour blog,” Emily said. I couldn’t survive my lifestyle without a good dollop of humour, so here’s a flavour of a typical week.
We have pets. Specifically: two sheep, six hens, two cats and an injured rook who might as well be a pet, the amount of time she hangs around under the bird feeder. I also have a husband and two children who occasionally need feeding, but I’m wary of classing them as pets. Only this morning a thrush decided to smack into the window and lay stunned for so long I thought she wanted to join us, to recuperate in a cardboard box lined with straw and be fed jam sandwiches by a well-meaning three-year-old

Last week we wormed the hens. This involves donning rubber gloves and mask (I fancied myself as Hotlips about to assist Hawkeye in M*A*S*H) and mixing some powder with olive oil so it sticks to their feed. For a whole week. That done, one of them was still looking poorly so I brought her into the house: it’s no fun being ill if you have to stand outside in subzero windchill.

Eschewing the vet, who will wring a hen’s neck as soon as you turn up rather than charge you for a cure that’s more then they’re worth, I diagnosed from my Hen Bible. Happy to report she is much perkier and will soon rejoin her sisters outside. Now the medicine is kicking in I no longer have to clear up hen diarrhoea (sorry) sixteen times a day. Until Release Date we have cat vs. chicken traffic control measures.

Ah - the cats. You may not know, but we were recently colonised by builders for ten months. Their HQ was in the utility room, right by the cat flap. My shy (terrified) cats were too scared to dart past them, so took to pooing upstairs on the landing carpet when we weren’t looking. Every day. Even when we left another door open for them. I’m now trying to re-house-train ancient cats, after scrubbing the carpet with a foaming disinfectant in the hope it would smell less like a litter tray (actually, now more like a morgue, but you can’t have everything).
The endless winter doesn’t help. I caved recently and bought a load of seasoned logs, after my husband had spent three freezing weekends sawing wood that won’t burn because it’s soaked up all this sodding weather. It says something about our children that my husband would rather saw wood and get hypothermia than spend the weekend playing with them inside.
Oh, and I’m also trying to finish my novel. It contains elements of farce. Can’t imagine where I get the material.


Isabel Rogers used to work in the City, then lived for a decade in the Scottish Highlands before being tempted back south. She is nearing the end of her second novel (the first got an agent, was unbearably exciting for a moment and then … nothing). Her poetry has been published in various literary magazines. She blogs at isabelrogers.org and is on Twitter as @Isabelwriter.

Isabel attended my Blog Workshop in October.