Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Competitions

I don't win competitions. Never. I don't win raffles either. I don't know that feeling of "OMG I have won!"

But I am good at coming second. This is my certificate for coming second in the Girls High Jump at my junior school in Singapore when I was nine. Given I was only 4 foot nothing at that stage you may think it was a miracle - mind you I think there were only three entries.


Amazing that I have so little from my past - no degree certificates, few photos, no saucepans (which I now miss terribly seeing them on Masterchef every week - they are using MY saucepans), but I still have this certificate.

At senior school I came second in the public speaking competition, and I won the David Renton prize for being good in all subjects but not good enough in any single one to win the subject prize.

You see the pattern here?

When I started writing, I entered writing competitions and would rarely get even an acknowledgment that they had received my sweated over prose. Most didn't answer, I was never told that the results were out, never told "Never mind, better luck next time".  So I gave up  on competitions.

Until the We Love Memoirs Facebook page  published information about a competition for travel writers, and undeterred by previous failure I decided to check it out. It is on Fred's Blog and the competition entry requirements are here  They didn't seem too difficult and each month a winner is picked for five months and wins US$50 and at the end, the overall winner gets US$300 which is a Lot of Money.

The last line for my entry came to me as I was feeding the goats and then all I had to do was to fill in the 900 word blank page before it, which I did over a few days, and nervously I submitted my entry together with the requested photo and short bio.

Well you could have knocked me over with a feather when within minutes I had an email reply thanking me for my entry, Saying "I love your story"and promising me the link when it was published in a week or so.

The link duly arrived as promised and if you want to read my entry it is here.

And then, out of nowhere, the announcement of the winner arrived in my inbox. I realised I could now start another one for April and scanned through the message:


"Find out who won the March competition

Many thanks to the 22 authors and writers who entered their travel stories in the first part of our 4th Annual Travel Stories Competition.

Each and every entry was brilliant and they covered such a wide spectrum of travel writing. Thank you all so much for getting involved.

As you can imagine, the selection of a winning story was extremely difficult, but ……..

MANY CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR MARCH WINNER"


and then it said

Lindsay de Feliz and her story Consequences.


You have no idea how I felt - amazing, fantastic, emotional, running around the living room announcing my success to the goats, geese, chickens and dogs. At last I had actually won something.

So any of you who love travel writing give it a go. I have already submitted my entry for this month, The overall competition runs until July 31st, 2018, so there are still another 4 opportunities to enter your 500-1000 word travel stories in the April, May, June, and July competitions.

Take the plunge and good luck!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Visitors galore

Since the beginning of the year, Wasp House has had many visitors.

First ones of the new year were Rosa and Catherine, American who lives in Sosua and Virginia and Canadian Brit who lives in Canada, with frequent trips to Sosua to visit her Dominican husband. Both always come laden with goodies and this time was no exception. I should point out that Danilo calls Rosa "Awesome" as she taught him the word, but surprise surprise he can't say it properly so he calls her Orso, which means Bear in English. Hence she is known as Bear.

They didn't stay for long, but we had a great time, even though they made me walk all the way to the village centre in the sun (crazy gringas).


The next visitor was a Danish orthopedic surgeon and his Dominican wife who came for the afternoon so that he could learn about the house buying process here from Danilo, and hot on their heels was Sandra from Canada, who I had come to know via Facebook and she was a fan of my books.

Sandra also came laden with amazing gifts for her four day stay and I was a little concerned as I knew she didn't like spiders so I was hoping that the tarantulas kept away. I was also concerned as Wasp House is not five star luxury, or even one star really. It is more like glamping - I did warn her!

Unfortunately it rained solidly for four days and Wasp House is not good in the rain, as it floods and feels damp. Plus there is little to do here in the rain. Poor Sandra did not have to put up with tarantulas, but she did get a nightly visit from our resident rat, and when a bat flew through the living room - that was it.  She had to cover herself up from top to toe!


Just after Sandra left I went to Santiago to talk to a group of communications students studying at PUCMM - the top university in the country. The talk was to be in English as it was as part of their English course and their professor, Melanie, was a friend of mine. Different expats had been invited to talk to them.


The students then had to make a television programme and a radio programme about their favourite speaker  - which was yours truly and so a few weeks later the students and Melanie with a few kids and the odd boyfriend and husband all descended on Wasp House.

Danilo took charge of Melanie's delightful children and kept them busy.


Following all the videoing, photographs and chatting we all headed up to eat goat in the local goat restaurant. Here are some of the students with Danilo and I sitting outside the restaurant.


And the final visitor was just a week ago.

Here she is en route with her chauffeur.


Zelda is a one year old Great Dane/German Shepherd cross whose owner had to  leave to return to the United States, so the delightful Easton, another friend, offered to drive her here to come and live with us. She has settled in beautifully and is adored by one and all.


Including the 17 year old cat, Zebedee.


And apart from all of these visitors I have been crazy busy with two major writing assignments which have now been submitted.

In addition I was a guest on a pod cast by Billy Atwell about facing your fears. If you want to listen to it and hear my voice it is here.

And last but by no means least, I met a lady called Madeline Sharples via a Facebook page called We Love Memoirs which is for people who love memoirs and who write them, and it is a fabulous group of people. I read Madeline's memoir, called Leaving the Hall Light On and was totally blown away by the story and her writing. She then was kind enough to read What About Your Saucepans? and asked me to write a guest post for her blog which you can read here.

If you would like to read Madeline's book you can buy it from Amazon in Kindle and paperback - I highly recommend it. This was my review on Amazon:

"This is a very hard book for me to write a review on. It is about a subject which I have no knowledge of – a bipolar son who commits suicide. I don’t know anyone well who suffers from bipolar or anyone close whose children have committed suicide so I could not identify with the author or the book. But OMG this was a brilliant book, one which I could not put down. Leaving the subject matter aside, which is heartbreaking, touching, tear jerking and emotional, it is the raw honestly of the writing which takes your breath away. I had no idea a memoir could be so honest, so stripped to the bones, so completely revealing without any glossing over the subject matter in order to just keep that little bit of privacy and secrecy. And that honesty makes this an amazing piece of writing, which I loved. It is peppered with photos which really help the reader to understand and then there are the poems. Personally, I have read many poems in memoirs, most of which I just skim over. But there is no skimming over these, and I have never read or appreciated such powerful poetry. Congratulations Madeline Sharples for a fabulous work of writing both prose and poetry."








Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Esneaky esnake

Yet another animal story.

A couple of weeks ago, Danilo comes into the house holding some weird thing in his hand and explains to me that it is a snake skin. Where there is a snake skin - there is a snake, so off he goes on a snake hunt. Or a neesk hunt as snake is neesk in Danilo English. He is naturally wearing special neesk hunting gear - pyjama bottoms and tennis shoes.


The snake skin was found next to the wall, which in true Dominican fashion, although it has been built has not be plastered nor finished on the top. And the snake was living in the wall as you can see when I was looking down from the top of the wall.


So Danilo's plan is to get the snake out of the wall and keep it in a snake house. These are Boa Constrictors who live in the woods next to the house and they kill the chickens. But we don't want to have to kill them, so it made sense to just keep it in captivity.

Next stage is to get it out of the wall, so armed with essential snake hunting tools consisting of an  oven glove and barbecue tongs the work begun.


The neesk did not appear to want to come out so a bigger hole had to be made.


He looked all warm and snuggly in there but eventually the barbecue tongs were put to use.


By this stage Danilo also had a T-shirt wrapped around his mouth and nose as (and I never knew  this) snakes estink to high heaven.


And there is snake. around six foot long Boa. He/she was then placed in a large metal drum with wood and blocks on the top so that it couldn't escape.


Two hours later snake had gone. Houdini snake. Now here we are a couple of weeks later and another snake is living in the wall. Apparently not the same one. This time it is staying there undisturbed!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Goosey goosey gander

Goodness over two months since I last blogged, where does the time go to.

Here is a swift update on campo life in the Feliz household since Christmas.

The new year got off to a bad start as I came downstairs on the morning of January 1 to find Meg, our oldest dog, dead on the floor. No idea what happened as she was fine when I went to bed - I assume a heart attack. RIP Meg who was a very faithful dog and well loved.


The rest of the dogs are all fine and doing well as are the goats.

However, Danilo decided he wanted geese. I said no, and as usual he took no notice of me and I should have realised something was up when he arrived home one day with Dwendy Saya. They each had a goose in a sack.


I must admit they did look pretty so he filled a big washing bowl with water and set them and the bowl down in the back garden below the balcony.


They seemed quite happy, didn't make too much noise but the peace was not to last long. The next morning they were not there so it was all hands to the pump to go on a goose chase. I should mention at this point that he did not pay for these geese. He was given them as the man had to get rid of them as they were so vicious. This was not mentioned until they disappeared and he was concerned about the whole neighbourhood being beaten up by geese.

Danilo and Saya went out hunting and luckily a neighbour caught them just before they made it onto the main road. Geese were duly returned and locked up under the balcony until we came up with a plan.  Danilo was going to build them a pen but in the end we decided to put them in the overgrown vegetable garden as that was already enclosed, so in there they went.

However it was obvious the washing bowl was no substitute for a pond, so we got them a paddling pool instead. Which they adored.


It took a whole 24 hours for them to puncture the paddling pool, so there was no choice but to build them a proper pond.


So now we have very happy geese. They are still very nasty geese, attack anyone who goes near them, not only by biting them (and their beaks have serrated edges) but also by smacking them hard with their wings. They are also very noisy and if anything moves, such as when the chickens and roosters fly down from the trees in the morning, they make one hell of a racket. No idea what the plan is for these geese - Danilo talks about getting them a female or two to breed more nasty geese.

Personally I am googling roast goose recipes for Christmas.



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Continuing story of the balcony and goats

Remember where we were with the balcony? It was yellow and green, but we ran out of yellow, so clever me used turmeric as that is yellow - but it turned red! So Danilo had a cunning plan. He painted it green with white stripes.


So now the balcony looked like a tennis court, or a ping pong table. By this stage I had given up caring what it looked like, and then we became aware of the nuclear missile launch by North Korea. "What on earth has that to do with our balcony?" you ask. Well here is the nuclear missile being wheeled out.


Spot the similarity?

So we had to change the floor as according to Danilo we might be mistaken for a Korean nuclear missile site. I did try explaining that geographically there was a slight difference between us and North Korea but the change had to be done. So back to red we went, and so far, red it has stayed.


Of course, the painting was done in what were brown flip flops.


Anyway balcony is now more or less finished and I love it. We just need some more furniture and plants and solar lights and it will be  perfect - until it falls down.

We do have some furniture - bar stools so that you can sit up, drink and look over the garden,


And this very interesting Dominican seat made out of the fibres in the leaves of the banana plant - so apparently it can be out in the rain. There are four depressions for people to sit in - and surprisingly it is comfortable, but you all have your backs to each other. So I assume it is for people who don't like each other, who don't want to talk to each other, or maybe it is a Whatsapp chair where people sit and chat away on their phones?



We have had a problem with El Criminal, the male goat who arrived a couple of months ago.


He would escape constantly, but would come to the back door, so I would go back to the paddock with him and prepare to open the gate, and then he would jump over the 4 foot tall barbed wire fence. When I went off on book tour, he would still escape but would make the rounds of the neighbours, eating all of their planted yuca and anything else he could find. So to save paying thousands of pesos in damages we bought more wire and increased the height of the fencing in the paddock to 6 feet tall. Did it work?


Yes, for 24 hours and then he would still escape. He would jump from a standing start - as if he had springs on his hooves. So, he had to go. Stepson number 2, Alberto came and collected him, and exchanged him for a pregnant lady goat called Chilli Pepper.


She is very cute, very tame and doesn't jump. Not sure when the baby or babies are due but it shouldn't be too long I don't think.

I hope you all had a good Christmas - here it was the traditional Dominican family Christmas with me cooking the supposedly traditional British Christmas dinner on 25th. However due to the oven not working (rats ate the insulation) we decided to have paella instead which you can cook on the top part of the stove rather than in the oven. Then a day before Christmas my  mum bought us a new stove which is fabulous but we stuck to the paella plan. Here we are all eating Christmas lunch, stepsons, dwendy, foster kids, granddaughter and of course Danilo.



Wishing you all the best for the New Year - who knows what delights (and disasters) it will have in store!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lindsay and Chivirico on tour

So off we went on book tour, Chivirico and I with 100 books in tow – some of the old one, “What About Your Saucepans? “ and some of the new one “Life After My Saucepans”.

Danilo had a case he was working on in Puerto Plata, so he was able to take us to Sosua in the car, where we set up at Midtown Bar and Restaurant.


It was lovely and we had a good corner spec where Chivirico set everything up. He was on commission of RD$50 per book sold so he was keen to make sure all went well.


The guests began to arrive although most seemed to want to see Chivirico rather than me!


And soon our little corner was full! Many of the guests were from the DR1 forum and it was great to meet them.


The food was lovely – look at the size of that prawn cocktail.


And they served amazing cheesecake.


Chivirico had never eaten cheesecake but that was quickly remedied.


What was even better is I met some new friends, lovely people and sold around 25 books.


We then moved on to Casa de Compai an amazing apartment complex owned by a friend of mine. It has recently been expanded to include 6 more beautiful one bedroomed one and a half bath apartments.


I should point out I took lots of photos to include in this blog, but Chiv was in charge of the camera and lots appear to have been inadvertently deleted!
Casa de Compai are apartments to die for. Beautifully fitted out, granite surfaces, fab beds, amazing bathrooms, piping hot water, all the mod cons you could ask for in the kitchen including full stoves with ovens, microwave, blender, coffee machine and a pool and flat screen tvs and and and... Plus the owner John Kumpel is a lovely guy as is his great dog Shadow!

Then it was off to Taberna El Conde for an amazing dinner, meeting more lovely people and selling more books. This is my favourite restaurant in Sosua - the food is to die for and it has a lovely ambiance.

The following day another friend, Meems, took Chiv off to play in the Pitch baseball batting cage in Sosua which he adored.The Pitch batting cage isa new addition to Sosua and is sponsored in part by the Pedro Martinez and Hermanos Fondacion. Not only is Pedro GOD, this is a wonderful thing for Sosua kids...and visitors.


Meanwhile I went to have my hair cut and coloured for the price of two books, by the amazing Julia who has a salon in Plaza Valentina in Sosua.


I am sure her camera is dodgy as not a wrinkle in sight but I loved the new hair cut and colour.


Then back to Midtown for a great lunch before we caught the 1.30 bus to Las Terrenas. RD$350 each which is around US$7 and a couple of dollars for the book bag and off we went on the four hour journey.  Chivirico spent the whole journey talking to the conductor (cobrador) and we talked about Christmas. He said he wanted Father Christmas to bring him a boogie which I eventually realized was a buggy. He also wanted a Samsung phone like mine – but a newer version. I explained that sometimes Santa Claus worked in mysterious ways and when we arrived in Las Terrenas, Dan was there to pick us up – in, guess what, a boogie! Chiv was beside himself and even more so when the next morning Dan took him for a long drive along the beach and even let him drive.

We spent the night at Dan and Manty’s guesthouse in Las Terrenas which is an amazing place and full of people from all over the world, mainly backpackers. It is large and feels just like home with a lovely massive terrace where people hang out, chatting, drinking, eating Manty’s amazing food, using the wifi, reading or watching TV.


We sold a couple of books there, then off to bed after Chiv had spent time with Dan.


 The next morning Chivirico hung out with Dan and I met my friend Helen for lunch and she took 15 books off my hand, buying 5 straight away and selling another 10 within 24 hours!

Then it was off to One Love Surf shack at 5pm for the final selling/signing event. Great bar/restaurant on the beach with a lovely laid back vibe and I got to sell and sign even more books and meet lots of great people. And guess what? Bahama and Harriet who came to visit a few months ago, when the baby goats were born, were there to say goodbye as they go back to the US soon. And Santa worked in mysterious ways when Bahama gave Chivirico a brand new Samsung phone. He will have to get it unlocked but I have never seen such a happy child.(Sorry it won't turn round!)


We caught the bus home at 6 am, meaning getting up at 5 am, and Chiv played with his phone all the way back. Danilo picked us up in Esperanza and by noon ish I was back in Wasp House with ecstatic dogs, cats and goats!

All in all a great time. Chivirico had a lovely time, I and he met old friends and made new ones, 61 books sold, we ate like Kings and Queens and stayed in lovely places. Now back to reality,

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Reminder I am on Spotlight Sunday tomorrow

Just a quick reminder that tomorrow I will be appearing on what is called Spotlight Sunday on a Facebook Group called We Love Memoirs. It is a lovely group of people from all around the world who enjoy reading memoirs and who also write them, although if you are a writer you cannot promote your work, apart from if you are invited to be in Spotlight Sunday. So on Sunday December 3, I will be on line on We Love Memoirs all day answering questions. People can ask whatever they like so it should be a fun day. If you want to join the page before then so you can ask me anything you like, just click the link above to join the site. We will start at 10 am Dominican time. Here are the other time zones: UK 2pm / CET 3pm / AKST 5am / PST 6am / MST 7am / CST 8am / EST 9am / AST 10am / UYT/GMT-3 11am / EET 4pm / GST/GMT+4 6pm / IST 7.30pm / MYT/GMT+8 10pm / HKT 10pm / JST 11pm / AWST 10pm / AEST 12am / ACDT 12.30am / NZDT 3am /


Following that, Chivirico and I will be getting ready for our book signing tour, starting in Sosua on Thursday 7, followed by Las Terrenas. I will post pictures the following week.

Now I must get back to sorting photographs for tomorrow to post during Spotlight Sunday. See you there!!