The One where BB didn’t go traveling 

Surprise surprise! Spain rolled out another puente and I have… done nothing.

Well, I suppose that’s not entirely true. It would be better put to say that I went nowhere. Five days is a long break for those of us sent to work as auxiliares in Spain (you Frenchies get off far too lightly with your half-terms and two-week Easter holidays), and I’d normally jump at the chance to go off adventuring, taking my time to explore sunny Tarifa,  scale the Silver Road to Oviedo or revisit Granada the magnificent… but rather than continue to empty my earnings on solitary adventures, I’ve decided to sit this one out. Financial motivations aside, I could do with a break.

The amount of traveling I’ve already done is frankly obscene

One of my principal aims when I came out here was to finish my novel, now in its fifth incarnation in its sixteen-year existence. I hadn’t banked on a thirty-hour week, of course, and naturally after a three chapter streak in my first week back in September, it’s progressed at a dismal rate ever since. I’ve amended that this weekend with another two twenty-page chapters pumped out of the works, which is still more than I managed in my gap year (where I had similar intentions) which just goes to show that being busy is good for motivation, but being too busy is fatal.

If only I had the same ethic for my unborn TLRP…!

Having finished the fourth rewrite in early 2014 – bang in the middle of summative season, would you believe it – I might have been content to leave it there for a while and focus on my studies. Fat chance. It’s hard to simply ignore an entire world that’s been buzzing away in your head since you were five, and I might point out that it’s a world that’s undergone substantial growth since then. After Amman sucked me dry, returning to live in Spain inspired me anew, as I knew it would, and my mind’s been feverish with new ideas… whenever I’m not in the classroom, that is.

But the principal factor in this rewrite is the most crucial of all, and that’s the rebirth – at last – of my taste in reading. As with walking, talking, swimming, cycling and just about everything else in my life, I was a very late starter, picking up my first book about a year after everyone else, but when I discovered reading my appetite was insatiable and I made up for lost time like a demon. My little blue ‘Books to Take Home’ record from primary school is proof enough of that. I was on a book every two days at least, back then.

So what happened? I guess I burnt out, like so many nights out, because at about nine or ten I gave up the ghost and stopped reading altogether. That it coincided with my brother getting a GameCube for Christmas is probably more than coincidence – an early obsession with videogaming was probably the executioner – but it wouldn’t surprise me if the two reasons went hand in hand.

What can I say, I’m easily hooked. Or rather, I certainly was then. But there’s a newer, healthier craze on the block now, and it comes in paper and eBook format. Since Jordan, where it really kicked off, for obvious reasons – escapism in its rawest form – I’ve been on a book a week and it’s been doing wonders for my writing, as well as my psyche. I have a heck of a lot to thank Mr Quatermain for, at the very least. But I’ll come on to that in another blog post.

I also owe it to Durham’s International Office for loaning me an iPad for my part-time job as an official Year Abroad Blogger for the university. Were it not for iBooks, this renaissance may never have got started in the first place. As it is, there’s a treasure trove of free reading material, including most of the works of my favourite Afrocentric, Mr Henry Rider Haggard. Some people might have scoffed at the iPad freebie idea and planned to sell it on when they were done. Not me. In a curious twist of fate, this little futuristic gizmo has reacquainted me with the truth and I’m not letting it go for zip.

So! Any plans I had for this weekend, up to and including exploring the Asturias, coasting Tarifa, Carnaval-dodging in Salamanca and searching for my long-lost family in Castilla La Mancha were all put on hold this weekend. I’ve let all of five days slip through my fingers, which is a shame, but Spain’s not going anywhere, and I’ll be back. Besides, I’ve my own reasons for saving. My last sortie into Portugal set me back at least 200€ after all of that nonsense over the missing bus and those two errant BlaBlaCars, and I’d rather spend that on something more worthwhile.

Instead, I have been reading and writing all weekend. I finished Child of Storm and Allan’s Wife and have now moved on to The Boy Slaves, also set in Africa, but not a Haggard novel this time. I’ve been keeping a quote diary on the side, excising all of the best lines from every book I read. I might see if I can get them framed or something like that. In the meantime, they’re ready fuel for a lesson plan or two. I’m not nearly pretentious enough to leave you with a quote, so instead I’ll leave you with a question (which, in some senses, is just as bad)…

When was the last time a book changed your life? BB x

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