Winter break in the Gran Canaries, anyone?
Can't stand the cold? Neither can I.
In a month, I'll be on my way to the Gran Canaries, where I'll be spending the next three months in an attempt to avoid the British winter.
I'm not too fond of the cold, grey, or dampness accompanying November - March in the UK. I've been talking about moving somewhere warm to anyone who would listen for a decade. Turning 60 felt like just as good a reason as any actually to make it happen.
A flight I found for £28, combined with a two-bedroom in Las Palmas for under £700/month, made it a realistic option. It's in town and not near the beach but a 10-minute bus ride from the city centre.
I'm going on my own, although my partner Bob will come out for a couple of weeks in December. I have other friends that have booked for a month while I'm away so that I won't be entirely alone.
My Spanish is a little rusty. I took classes for a couple of years in my early teens, and I'm hoping my long term memory kicks in. Yo soy Suzanne. Dónde está el baño? (Where is the bathroom). It's a little scary going to a completely foreign place for a quarter of the year but also exciting. Friends who have taken similar leaps of faith assure me I’ll be fine. Frankly, I can't wait.
I've joined a few Facebook groups for digital nomads, where everyone looks around twelve. They post messages seeking rock-climbing 'buddies' which I am most certainly not. Where are the Rioja buddies, I wonder? Or Flamenco friends? I've already received emails from three older men (all 'widows') seeking 'companionship' in an ex-pats community in which I registered. I reported them for spamming, saving other older women from the hassle. I've met a few jazz musicians and hope to arrange a few gigs while I'm there.
Meanwhile, the random list of essentials I'm taking seems to grow longer every day: curlers, straighteners, my Gym Boss, wireless headphones, a microphone with various leads, a Kindle.
In my head, which is where it often stays, I have my routine all mapped out. Early morning exercise, work, vocal training, and conducting interviews as a result of a book commission with no specific deadline as of yet, learning Spanish. I have never been able to discipline myself to do this beyond a week or two. It's a slippery slope once I depart from the routine. Maybe the change of scenery will enable me to stick to my plan. Then again, maybe not.
For anyone seeking a break from the British winter, I'll be in Las Palmas until 2nd March with a bedroom to spare (bunk beds) from time to time. Be sure to check in with me first. The queue of interested short-term guests is growing.
Since last September, life has taken an exciting turn when my colleague Mark and I created 25 hours of video content that became Startup School for Seniors. A recent feature in The Telegraph generated over 300 enquiries and, as a result, we're running a two-week version of the eight-week course in November. It’s going to be fast-paced, intense and a learning experiment for us both. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Places have filled up quickly, and we're halfway towards a complete enrollment for the January cohort too.
I never considered myself a teacher, so it has come as a complete surprise that I can and do enjoy it. I suspect it's because I'm only able to teach what I know; in the same way, I can only write what I do and feel that the feedback has been positive.
Our 'students' are a very 'diverse' group. Some have PhDs, others with less than three 'O' levels. They are not the typecast older entrepreneur, usually profiled in the Telegraph or the Times, using their retirement pot to fund a fast scaling business; most would like the opportunity to get paid for something they enjoy. At the end of the course, we encourage them to make a video showcasing their business, and the variety strikes me and the enthusiasm they bring to the task. They are a joy to watch.
My usual pianist, the lovely and gorgeous George, has taken an extended leave of absence to accompany his partner to New Zealand. With one gig scheduled at the Green Note before my winter sojourn, I have been lucky to find a more than competent replacement, Paul Maguire.
Brought up in the West Country, Paul took piano lessons at an early age. Boosted by his father's record collection, the 50s was a time of enrichment musically above all in American jazz and blues.
As a teenager, he played in a New Orleans style band (at the time known as 'trad'), then a dance band and rock group (more American influenced). Then into a 50-year career as a pianist/arranger. He has worked extensively in the theatre, TV and radio, notably on the Two Ronnies (BBC TV) and West End shows. He is scarily good, can mimic the original arrangements, and I have had to relearn all my songs to keep up with him. If you've ever seen me perform, this will feel like an entirely new show.
A few tickets are available, and the venue takes sensible precautions requiring anyone attending to fill in a form attesting to their good health. It would be wonderful to see a few familiar faces.
That’s all for now. I expect to be posting more regularly when I'm away but then again, best-laid plans and all that...
Stay safe & well