Cool for the Summer

Ugh. UGH. I just glanced at the date and realised that in one month’s time I will be returning from my holiday. Which means in one month and one day, I will have nothing to look forward to except autumn, which is a tenuous thing to look forward to when a) this weather might last until October, and b) autumn is rarely as autumn-y as I’m expecting.

I mean, there are some other things to look forward to. It’s my birthday in September? I recently joined a cashback website and am interested to see if it makes me any cash? Life is actually pretty decent given that I’m living in a first-world country in a house with good plumbing? But still. I’m so excited for my holidayyyyyy that it’s hard to look past it. There will be (more) sun! There will be (non-Thames Estuary) sea! There will be tasty (not cooked by my mum or I) Greek food! Oh yeah I’m going to Greece what a surprise. Well I kind of have an excuse; a friend is celebrating her birthday in Zante, so I’m going to backpack from Corfu down to Kefalonia and then to Zante. It’s going to be My Family and Other Animals meets that time I went backpacking before. I’ve got extra packing cubes this time, and I know what I don’t need to take versus what I do. It really boils down to packing cubes.

Who else is going on holiday soon? Who has had a holiday recently? My uncle recently sent me photos of somewhere in the north of Scotland that apparently has its own micro-climate and I shit you not, I thought it was the Mediterranean. It wasn’t until I squinted at the mossy stone walls and distinctly rolling hills that I thought ‘could this actually be north of the boarder?’ I can’t remember the place’s name, but as soon as I remember it I’m adding it it the list (also: York, Malta, the Giant’s Causeway, Rome, Haworth in one of the Yorkshires where they Bronte sisters lived, Cornwall, eastern Greece, New Zealand).

I’m going to attempt a minor digital detox while I’m away, so fully expect some bullshit ramblings from me on my return about the joys of getting back to nature and interacting with other cultures. Maybe I’ll stay out there and avoid any potential crises and just finish dragonnovel underneath an olive tree or something. Use up my freedom of movement while I’ve still got it. Hm.

Lawrence Durrell in the Durrells 2016

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10 Things I Can Tell You About Dragonnovel

I’ve been working on my book most of the morning and I started writing a quick update for my patrons, but there are only two of those currently and one is a close relation, so I thought I might as well share it here. The text is still a bit too draft-y for me to share any substantial paragraphs in case I change them further along, but I realise I’ve been telling everyone I’ve been writing a book and refusing to say anything else, which is not conducive to people’s support of said book. So here are ten things I can confirm about dragonnovel!

  • I recently Googled ‘constitutional monarchy’ for fact-checking
  • Someone wears a pink dress
  • The book passes the Bechdel Test (I mean I’m at 17k words, the text should be able to pass a driving test by now)
  • Stained glass windows feature heavily
  • There is definitely a dragon
  • I have counted one (1) joke about a hangover
  • I have counted two-three (2-3) jokes about posh people
  • One paragraph includes the word ‘cerulean’
  • I think I might have borrowed UKIP’s policies for a plot point
  • A girl rows a boat

And, as a bonus:

  • The dragon is not a metaphor.

As another bonus: this spectacular cave formation and cerulean sea in Zante is what I was thinking of when I wrote the scene with the girl rowing a boat:

Light rock arch over vivid blue sea at Blue Caves, Zakynthos, Greece

I was aiming to get the final draft done before I go backpacking in the Ionian islands this August, but I think I might have to bring the trip forward. You know, for research.

If any of that picqued your interest, you can have a character named after your good self and read actual snippets of the story by supporting me on Patreon. Literally pledge a dollar and boom, a character bears your name. Or someone else’s name, I’m happy to leave that up to you. I’m basically offering you immortality. For about 74p! Cheaper than a past-it’s-best-before-date bagel.

Can you tell I’ve been editing?!

Would You Like that Gift Wrapped? A Question About Customer Service

I must say if I had known how well people would react to a blog about the perils of salad, I’d have opened up about IBS a lot earlier. Watch the cracked tiles for more anecdotes, I guess.

This week I have been wonderfully, amazingly busy packaging up Etsy orders, most of them for Valentine’s Day (or I presume they are, since they’ve nearly all been postcards with puns about the Greek gods) and I’ve also had some lovely feedback from customers – the sort of stuff that makes you smile and stand up a bit straighter. I try to offer the sort of service I’d like to experience myself, like lots of communication about processing times, cute packaging that makes a change from bills, and inexpensive postage. Essentially I’d like to be a more time-and-customer sensitive version of this:

Let me send you cinnamon sticks.

Anyway, I have been thinking about what makes good customer service and how everyone has different standards (the fact a bow wasn’t tied on the cellophane in that clip would have upset some people) and I was wondering if you guys have any horror stories or good experiences to share? In a shop the other day, the cashier complimented my purse but didn’t make eye contact, so it felt like he was trotting out a line more out of general politeness (and because his boss told him to) than because he actually gave a shit. In a ceramics studio in Zante, the proprietor served home made lemonade and gave my friend a free accessory because they were both artists.

Do you expect free lemonade? Do you expect eye contact? Do you secretly want lavender added to every bag ever?

Once More Unto the Rain and British News Channels

I’ve made it back to England in one piece – not even a in-suitcase breakage – and am remembering the art of removing Wellington boots. Should ‘Wellington’ be capitalised?

I’ve also been re-learning the TV news, which is different from BBC app news insofar as I can exit the app with a flick of my thumb but the scrolling news ribbon on TV keeps me captivated even if I’m so disgusted by the article I want to turn off.

Good move, PR people.

Apparently the big story here has been that David Cameron won’t pay the EU some money, which is interesting having just spent a month in a country which has possibly the best claim out of all of us to not give the EU any cash. It’s also been kind of a bummer coming back to ‘NO MORE IMMIGRANTS’ news stories. Mostly because every time an EU/immigration/foreign people story crops up in politics it gives the tabloid press half a leg to stand on… but also because it’s embarrassing that some British people moan and complain about immigration laws but quite happily a) enjoy EU travel benefits, b) don’t want the jobs that ‘the foreign people are taking when they come to the UK’ and c) love travelling to Europe, love the multiculturalism and fantasise about bringing cute locals home.

Maybe it’s old fashioned, but I feel awkward when people are hypocrites. Anyway, here’s a picture of Zakynthos to make everyone feel better about the rain. I accidentally published it as a post a minute ago… remind me to learn how to use a mobile phone.

Laganas Beach

It’s the post-tourist season beach at Laganas, which some of you may know from the popular BBC3 programme Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents, due to its popularity with party-going students. I’ve never made it down in the summer (I do not go on holiday to experience England with sun; Laganas is a lot like my local high street including a McDonald’s) but in October it was almost eerily quiet.

So Apparently ‘Kit Kat’ Isn’t One Word

I’m not sure if the stomach ache I have has been induced by the Kit Kat that was put in my milkshake earlier (who even puts a Kit Kat in a milkshake? You put in chocolate when someone orders a chocolate shake, and a Kit Kat if they order a Kit Kat shake) or if it’s because my recent email neglect has left me with forty-two messages to read, reply to and/or discard before I go on holiday this Friday.

I’m going to type really fast in case it’s the Kit Kat, because if it is then I need to cosy up to my bathroom, and if it’s the email thing then I also need to type really fast because my laptop is so overloaded with stuff that it can only stay on for a maximum of an hour and a half before something stops working. Over the past few weeks and months this has become an increasing problem so I’m going to ask for an external hard-drive for my birthday and stick everything on that. I’ve already used up two or three USBs siphoning off pictures and files that aren’t completely necessary to my computering existence, and I might delete Spotify because let’s face it, I can’t afford to stream its music any more than I can afford to buy the CDs I’m streaming – and God knows if I could then I wouldn’t be using a streaming service with a name that sounds like a ladies’ toiletry product.

Shh, little laptop. I know you have three userspaces and USBs full of extra gadgets because I have to type on a proper keyboard, and I know I’ve lost your left shift button but we’ve been through a lot together and damnit, I’m not upgrading you yet.

Anyway, I’m going on holiday on Friday, to the land of democracy and theatre, the Olympics and civilisation, kebabs and lesbians… Okay so I nicked the last bit out of an Have I Got News for You‘d piece on a Sun piece on “what the Greeks have done for us”, first published circa the recession. But I’m off to remember what it is to relax. Except my AS Level results come out while we’re there so I’ll be alternating sunbathing with nightmares about how I won’t ever finish my Politics or RS courses. (English is a done deal, as far as failure’s concerned, but even I couldn’t wrangle a career in writing with Language and Lit GCSEs, so if I can stick with it, I probably should. Then it’ll be just one more year until freedom monetary responsibility, the word’s shakiest career choice bar rock musicianship and the very real possibility of working in retail for the rest of my days.)

My stomach hurts again.

England Makes Your Tan Drown Itself in a Puddle.

Kalispera!

To those of you who were eagerly awaiting the mini-series ‘I’m Somewhere Hot and You’re Probably Not’ (let’s face it, all of you), I apologise; I pressed the wrong buttons in a fit of pre-holiday excitement. Everything in the series will, however, find its way into various blogs in the future. An upside of the site being static for a fortnight is that the Content Monster seems to have gotten bored and left us alone. That or it’s gone to Marbella for a break.

I can hear you all asking, “How was Greece, Francesca?” It was, in short, excellent. Efharisto to my extended family and everyone in Alykanas for the laughs.

Thank you also to Isobel for vandalising part of the shipwreck in Navagio Bay, one of my favourite places.

Now, on with the show. Remember I talked about a huge ten-years-of-My Chem celebration? Well, watch this place – and my Twitter. I’m going to need your help on it. Yes, you, who idly searched an MCR-related term and stumbled upon this site.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to celebrate a band whose members have such amazing t-shirt folding skills as Frank’s?

The Zante Diaries 2010 Part One

The Zante Diaries 2010

  Also known as ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Zakynthos’ or ‘What the Other Kids are Missing. Poor Dudes’.

Sunday 25th July 2010

  It is our second full day here and already I am at my wits’ end with Maxim. He snores, he steals my bed, puts my pen lids up his nose, throws damp towels at me while I’m asleep and turns the air conditioning down so far I wake up with frozen sunburn.

  I guess I could always throw him in the overly-choppy sea, but it might upset whoever he’s been mysteriously texting.

  Not much has changed here since last September; the sign on top of the Neraida restaurant is still about to fall down, we’re handed useless leaflets at every restaurant on the high street (I’m saving them for Ruby) and there aren’t many Germans.

  The Blue Bay Hotel, where some of us stayed last year, as well as a few shops, is closed. There’s a bar along the beach making up for it by blaring bad club music at half a billion decibels for twenty-four hours.

  They also still sell frappes.

Monday 26th July 2010

World History According to Kostas, Maître d’ of Neraida Restaurant

 

  • 2000 years ago, the Greeks were building and making art, the Egyptians were constructing pyramids.
  • 1000 years ago, the English had horses, castles and were on crusades, searching for the Holy Grail.
  • 500 years ago, the Spanish and Portuguese had ships had ships and were sailing the world.

 

  • 200 years ago, the Germans were picking fruit from trees.

  I will assume the Germans are once again on par with the Turks.

  Fact of the Day: Greeks will build a church anywhere, out of anything. Including remains of a temple to Artemis.

Tuesday 27th July 2010

  I write you from the larger of Zante’s two water parks. This one is in Sarakinado.

  I am enjoying a beverage made by Nestlé known as Café Zero. I thought I was buying moccacino frappe, whatever that is, they (the parents) reckoned it was ice cream and it’s turned out to be a mix of the two. I broke the straw with the exertion of sucking out the slush and am waiting for it to melt.

  Anyway, I like water parks about as much as I like Disneyland, Peter Pan’s, Phantasialand, etc. In fact, the only two ways it could get any worse would be if a) I was forced to go on anything other than lazy river, b) Mickey Mouse appeared. In a swimsuit.

  There is also Lady Gaga and Alexandra Burke blaring from a nearby snack bar stereo. It seems Simon Cowell has cracked Greece, his only challenge now is to get Nikos and his mates to cover Leona Lewis instead of the live Greek stuff in Neraida.

  It’s not all bad – I’ve had an amusing time people watching and debating various tattoos and swimsuits on various people. My favourite design so far has been a flower pattern up a girl’s ribcage that she will regret when she has kids.

  There is a statue in the park of a transgender mermaid on steroids and I think she is trying to take ‘masculine women’ to a whole different level. Or the architect was sexually confused.

  It rained this morning. I am not making this up. We were in Zakynthos Town/City, walking up to the remains of a fortress after crêpes and there were blobs of rain. It is still cloudy now.

  You know I hate cats? How the only feline animal I tolerate is Elizabeth’s cat Marmite because she’d never speak to me if I didn’t? Well, I made a friend today. Granted, it was only there for the crepes, but it looked Egyptian. Not fat. Almost sweet.

  I’m going to photograph the mer-it.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  ©Indifferent Ignorance 2010 This is not fiction. It may save your life one day.

Καλημέρα

Yasas. I wuldtranslate itintoGreek but I only have twenty-five minutes of Internet time left andhalf of it ismaking the space key and backspace work. I think I willnot bother editing it as an example of theHotel Valais’ crappy keyboards.

  I could tell you about the weather,but we allknow that Zakynthos, as an Ionian island, is HOT.I am sweating aswespeak. There was a powercut thismorning,which waseitherdue tothe strikes or the fact the generatorexplodeda week ago and no onebothered to fixit properly. We walked past and thought somelocals had started a barbeque,but alas… Itwas all Alykanas’ electricity going down the pan.

  Holidaysare a brillianttime to put everything into perspective,andI have suffered many a revelation since I’ve been here. When we getback I am finally sortingout the crap under my bed,knitting a scarf with my grandmother’s help (she doesn’t knowthis yet) and generally taking a Greekattitude toeverything…

 … If allelse fails, dance. There is always time for a coffee. Credit cards are the workof the devil.

 I have a confession: I haven’t video-blogged because I’ve been toolazy totalk. Instead I’mkeeping The Zante Diaries 2010, in honour ofabsent friends. I willpublish it on here, along with some photos and videos Ihave shot, over the coming weeks. Well, by Christmas.

  I was not pleased todiscover that a certain band had not aknowledgedtheirfans on a day dedicated to their awesomeness. That albumbetterbethebest bloody pieceofworksince fish and chips wereinvented. If not,well, I know karate. Gerard Way does not.

  Hope you’re all enjoyingbeing away from school,I have sent a few of you postcards. To the aforementioned absent friends, I didn’t bother. Figured you already knewabout the scenery…And Mum’s latest ventureis to bring you out here for herfiftieth, so you might get lucky after all?!

  Comment and tellme where you all are, what you’re doing andwhat the temperatureis, and I will bring you back Ouzo.

I don’t even have to mention the space bar.hereand. It’s thirty-odd degrees out effortthoughthe  can’tmakemean you  Thatdoesn’t  Only joking,I won’t get the comments until Friday evening at the earliest.