Sunday, 14 February 2016

Off the beaten track

Today we did something that I have wanted to do for years. We went on a buggy tour of the northern part of the island.

Fuerteventura is the perfect place for this. Away from the tourist resorts, it's effectively one big rock, a mix of extinct volcanoes and desert.

The great thing about the kids being the age they are now is that they are old enough to take part in and enjoy this sort of thing. So we hired two buggies and were two of five setting out on tour with our friendly Scottish guide.

These things are easy to drive and allowed on the road, so at first it was easy, sailing along the streets of Corralejo attracting envious glances from the holidaymakers. But soon we were out of the town, off road and tearing along all those dirty and dusty trails. We'd been warned we'd need glasses and bandanas, and they weren't wrong, The boys looked really cool in theirs I thought, whereas I looked a bit of a twat, but such is the way of things.

The whole trip was four hours with plenty of stops along the way. First off, on the site of an extinct volcano we stopped to feed the squirrels which the boys loved. Then it was on to various tiny villages and places well off the tourist bus trail. The buggies were a joy to drive, bouncing over the rocks, kicking up the dust, doing a few sneaky drifts when the guide wasn't looking. The boys absolutely loved it.

We stopped near El Cotillo on an absolutely beautiful beach where clear white sand was interspersed with large lumps of volcanic rock creating the most amazing rockfalls. And so on, back just before sunset absolutely caked in dust and dirt. I can't remember the last time I had so much fun getting so filthy. A good scrub down in the shower and then it was off into town for plenty of food and drink.

The whole day cost us €130 which compares very well with other days out you can have and I can quite honestly say it's an experience we'll all remember for the rest of our lives - and you can't put a value on that. If you ever come here, check out Corralejo Buggies, you won't regret it.

Just to note, my apologies if this blog is not up to standard formatting or editing wise, I am trying to do it on my tablet & am missing a lot of the functionality, plus everything is in Spanish - the site insists on sticking a .es on the end of the address! Hopefully some piccies will follow!

Behind a lovely old Windmill, these 
can be found all over Fuerteventura

Jamie in the sea at El Cotillo. He got very brave in the breakers - and soaked!

Team Daddy & Ollie ready for action!

Towards the end of the day it got a bit chilly on the North Coast run, but still all smiles from the kids!

Monday, 8 February 2016

Action Man!

Well, blog fans, you find me this evening in lovely Fuerteventura, enjoying a well earned two week break in the sun. Well deserved? A phrase you hear bandied about a lot, but in this case I feel justified. It's two years since our last visit and in that time I've written and published four novels! No mean feat, and a tiring one. So a couple of weeks rest and recreation is long overdue.

Not that I am being idle, no not me. Those of you who know me well might be labouring under the entirely false impression that I am spending this entire holiday lazing around by the pool, stirring only to waddle to one of the many English bars serving all day breakfasts (with real English Bacon), the bar for another beer, or down town for a massive mixed grill (hold the Canarian potatoes, please, I'm British so that'll be chips if you please).

Nothing could be further from the truth. When on holiday I spring into action, casting off my winter sloth from my ample frame and immersing myself into every activity going. That's not just Johnny Vegas style win the quiz at all costs behaviour as featured in Benidorm, but things that actually require some degree of sporting prowess.

And so it was, that I found myself proudly up on stage this evening receiving my winner's certificate to the tune of "We are the Champions" for my spectacular victory in today's main event, the darts competition.

I've never actually been that good at darts. It wasn't something I did that much of in the pub when I was younger. In those days I was primarily there in an attempt to meet women who I might be able to persuade to have sex with me at some point and darts in the White Horse didn't really cut much ice in the pulling stakes.

However, friends over the years have always tried to get me to join teams with compliments along the lines of "You've got the perfect physique for a darts player". That's very nice I think and shows what supportive friends I have. In fact it was the very same ones who encouraged me in my DJ'ng career when telling me "You've got the perfect face for radio". So anyway, when the opportunity came up today to join in the darts competition, I was all for it. I literally leapt out of the pool, cutting short my 1 length swim and headed for the darts area.

It was Killer darts that was being played, the one where you have to get a higher score than the person before you to not lose a life. There were about 12 people playing of various ages and abilities and I guess it would be unfair of me not to mention that I got a favourable draw. All the fat middle aged Jocky Wilson lookalikes (other than myself)were all in the other half of the draw. The three people immediately before me were a 7 year old girl who didn't speak any English, an 87 year old grandma with only one eye and a Scottish man with a white beard and a wooden leg who'd been on the San Miguel since the bar opened six hours earlier. By hook or by crook (which was no help in his case) somehow I managed to end up the winner. And having just been swimming, I didn't even have my contact lens in my left eye so I was as handicapped as the granny.

I was a bit knackered afterwards so I went for a bit of a siesta before we went out for our tea, but I am definitely getting the hang of this sporting lark. Iam going to up my game tomorrow and try my hand at something really physical. Like pool or table tennis. I tell ya, you won't recognise me when I get back. Who's this lean, mean fighting machine they'll say in the White Hart. Possibly. 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Making movies

One of the most common things I hear other authors say is that their ultimate dream is to see their books made into films. I should know, I've said it often enough myself.

Now much as we would all like to convince ourselves that we've written the best story ever in the history of the world, I think even the biggest fantasists would concede that it's unlikely that Spielberg's going to come on the blower any time soon. In my case, I could claim to have connections as I went to school with Sam Mendes. When I say I went to school with him, I mean that he was in the sixth form when I was some snotty, irritating 12 year old who he would be extremely unlikely to remember so it would be really pushing the boundaries of "the old school tie" to get him on board.

To date I have concentrated my efforts on putting out good quality. well written and edited novels that people want to read. Which it seems they do, which is very nice. Having written four in less than two years I do now find myself at a bit of a crossroads. It's not that I've got writer's block or I've run out of ideas, but I think I do need to give myself a little time for the creativity to return rather than putting out substandard work.

So I have been wondering what else I could do with my existing titles and I got to thinking about the whole movie idea again. Is it a pipe-dream, or something achievable in the modern world with all the tools at our disposal? After all I did it with the books. If I hadn't bypassed the archaic traditional publishing world, I'd never have got anywhere. I'd still be reading rejection letters from snooty editors. So I went down the independent route and have never looked back.

You may recall from a past blog entry when I referred to myself as "The Indie Man" how much I love all things Indie. From my taste in music from the 1980s onwards through books and films, I've always enjoyed rowing away from the crowd. Away from the mass produced fodder lapped up by the masses, there's real originality and creativity to be found. And to be fair, a lot of rubbish as well, but part of the fun is sorting the wheat from the chaff.

So if I can do it with books, why not films? I'm lucky enough to have the acquaintance of some of Bicester's up and coming talent (yes there is such a thing) who I've had dealings with on a number of projects - the most recent of which is that I write a regular column for their Bicester magazine. I may also soon be being interviewed by one of them live on his new TV chat show on That's Oxford (Freeview Channel 8). Watch this space. These lads have achieved a huge amount in the last few years, not only launching the magazine but also the Bicester radio station as well as involvement in numerous other film and media projects. I've been in discussion with them about the film idea and it seems we are on common ground. I won't go into great detail here, suffice to say that our skill sets complement perfectly and between us this could be something awesome.

Of course, making a film is not like publishing a book. The costs associated with that are minimal. Yes, I paid for cover designs and proofreading up front on them, but many self-published authors don't even do that. Pretty much anyone can publish a book at virtual zero expense these days. With a film it's somewhat different. Films cost money, even on a shoestring.

So if (and it's a big *IF*) this project ever gets off the ground it's going to need funding. But there are ways and means. We've all heard of crowdfunding, that's one avenue, but there are others than can be explored. I'm still looking into it. A film, even a low budget film, has to have a budget. Neither of us wants to put out something amateurish.

On the plus side, we've both got proven track records - myself with the book sales and reviews and my director with all the projects he's brought to fruition. We've got a good team on board. Will it happen? No idea, but I'm going to give it a good shot.

Where does one sell a film? Well, there are lots of avenues out there, just as there are for books. Amazon's equivalent of the Kindle store is Amazon instant video, but there are plenty more. And who's to say with the right media attention we can't get a local cinema to premiere it? Stranger things have happened and we already have plenty of contacts in the media.

I know it all sounds pie in the sky and there will probably be those out there who will pour scorn and say it will never happen. But if you don't try, you never find out and I have never been afraid to shoot for the stars. I'm off on holiday shortly so will have a few weeks to mull it over - when I get back, I'll start making some serious enquiries. I shall also get on with the not inconsiderable task of turning The Time Bubble from a novel into a script.

Coming soon to a cinema near you...?

Why have I chosen The Time Bubble? Well the others have some quite considerable budgetary constraints. For example, to make the Global Cooling we'd either have to wait five years for a decent snowfall or fly the whole production team to Norway. And I don't quite think even with the most enthusiastic investors in the world we would be able to afford that. The Time Bubble is set mostly in the current decade, using local locations and is the first book in the series. It just makes sense.

A quick footnote on an earlier blog entry. I mentioned we were seriously considering moving to Lincolnshire a few months ago. It seems now that this won't be happening - largely for family reasons. So this was one plan that didn't happen, but there was no harm looking into it. Rather than sitting around moaning about Bicester and doing nothing about it as many do, we gave the move some serious thought and consideration.

Ultimately it didn't happen, and maybe the film won't either, but if you don't make the effort to try and make them happen then they certainly won't. It's also vital to consider all the angles before you decide yay or nay or you may end up making the wrong decision. I know I'll only commit to this film if it absolutely ticks all the boxes - if it doesn't, then I'll have had the fun at least of looking into it and planning it, and there's no shame at all in not going ahead with a project or a move if it's not ultimately going to work out.

Time will tell, it always does. Spoken like a true time travel writer!