October is a month of ripe fruit, fattening olives and a second-blooming of flowers. All the pot plants flower through into winter, lasting all year with a bit of tender care. Geraniums all-year round is a treat I didn’t expect when we first moved here. The mint has got a new burst of energy too. All around the valley, fruit is ripening, going over and falling… the birds love it, and we love it too as it gives us a chance to see birds we would not normally spot.
5 to remember engordante – fattening todo el año – all-year round no esperaba – I didn’t expect también – too/also que no haría normalmente – we would not normally
Quite what magic of light and chemistry takes place to produce a sunset as varied as this I don’t know. It changes from moment to moment, at one end of the valley the sky is pale pink. Look to the other end of the valley and it is that vivid orange colour, like the jelly inside a Jaffa Cake.
5 to remember la magia – the magic la química – the chemistry tan variados como – as varied as de momento a momento – from moment to moment la jalea – the jelly
What does September mean to me? A crisp bite of apple, blue sky every day, golden weeds blowing in the warm breeze, more tomatoes than we know what to do with, hot sun and deep shadows, new growth sprouting from the most improbable places. In England, September brings the first breath of autumn. Here in the valley, September is my favourite month… still green, still verdant, sunshine warm on my skin, and tomato salad.
5 to remember ¿qué? – what? aquí – here improbable – improbable/unlikely todavía – still/yet/as yet verdeante – verdant
Some days we can have had all kinds of weather in one day. In the morning, strong February sunshine coupled with a breeze to dry the earth after last night’s shower. We don’t complain at the overnight rain, it is welcome rain for the farmers. Driving through the olive grove, half a dozen pied wagtails bounced ahead of me, scattering and re-forming in their group as if waiting for me to reach them before bouncing ahead again up the track. Why don’t they scatter to the side, between the trees, where I will not follow? Then the afternoon. First the odd white cloud, then grey clouds, then dark grey clouds, more wind and a distant rumble of thunder. Dark enough to make us turn on the lights inside the house. Then the hail arrived, only the second time I have seen hail here. Hailstones as big as sultanas, bouncing off the terrace, sinking into the water of the pool, nestling into the folds of potted aloe vera.
After ten minutes of hail, the valley looks as if it has been dusted with snow and the sky is as dark as night. There is a breather between the first and second hailstorms, then the clouds pass and the sun re-appears. For a while, the valley has a split personality: dark at one end, sunny at the other. Half an hour later it is as if it never happened, 90% of the hail has melted. Just the odd white sultana remains, nestled in a cold corner; evidence of the multiple personalities of today’s weather. That evening, the sunset was the colour of Seville oranges.
5 to remember todo tipo de – all kinds of excepto – except media docena – half a dozen un estruendo – a rumble el granizo – the hailstones
This little friend appeared silently last night on the wall of the sitting room. He was completely unphased by us, occasionally moving slightly, flicking his tail. Two nights previously we saw a baby gecko, about 4cm long. Similar colouring, pale blush pink. Interestingly, the gecko positioned himself above a floor-standing lamp: lying in wait for moths?
5 to remember un/a amigo/a – a friend [male/female] silenciosamente – silently de vez en cuando – occasionally ligeramente – slightly previamente – previously
When an e-mail dropped into my Inbox, it was easy to answer the questions:-
Did I fancy a day trip to San Pedro de Alcantara, near Marbella? Yes.
Could I talk about my novel, and about adoption? Yes.
Was it okay to speak in English, not Spanish. Bueno? Absolutely, yes! I was thrilled to be asked to appear on The Book Show, the weekly book discussion programme on Spain’s biggest English language radio station for ex-pats. The Book Show is broadcast every Thursday evening in Spain by Talk Radio Europe to half a million listeners. I really enjoyed chatting with presenter Hannah Murray [below] who explained the personal appeal which Ignoring Gravity has for her, she has two friends who were adopted, with differing experiences: one had a happy childhood, the other experienced a rockier road.
These friendships gave Hannah a key insight into the adoption storyline of Ignoring Gravity and she asked me some really interesting questions. To listen to my interview, click below.
I guess 80% of the conversation at the Cómpeta Book Group in Spain earlier this week was about Ignoring Gravity, I was the guest speaker, but I loved talking books with other book lovers. I came away with more books to add to my own To-Read list – A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. Most of all, I was impressed with the Group members’ analysis of Ignoring Gravity and their curiosity about how the story evolved. As often happens when I talk about Ignoring Gravity and the immensely complex subject that is adoption, I meet more people touched by adoption itself. The conversation about books continued at dinner and one member told me the story of a friend of a friend. This retired lady recently received contact from the daughter she gave up for adoption in the Sixties. She had told no-one about her pregnancy, at the time, or since. Her husband, her children: no-one else knew. What could have been a traumatic reunion turned into a positive family occasion. The similarities between the birth mother and her daughter – both physical likeness and musical ability – were breath-taking to the observers.
I found the experience of that teenage girl in the Sixties very moving: dealing with her dilemma, alone; living through her pregnancy, alone; taking the decision to give her child away, alone; facing every day since giving birth, alone. And I was amazed at the parallels with Ignoring Gravity and with book two in the series which I am currently writing. Connectedness features a teenage art student who, finding herself pregnant, also deals with her situation alone.
Thanks to the members of the Cómpeta Book Group for such a friendly welcome and lively discussion. What a beautiful part of the world to live in. This was the view from our hotel balcony the morning after. If your book group would like to feature Ignoring Gravity, click here for a Reading Group Guide suggesting topics for discussion.
If you would like me to visit your Book Group, please use the Contact Form here.