Monthly Archives: June 2012

Reality bites on returning home…

So, back from a wonderful holiday in fabulously hot temperatures, relaxed and looking forward to upcoming events.  But nasty surprises awaited!

The day I got back, I learned a very old friend had died – someone I used to work for many years ago.  Then I discovered the article I’d been expecting to appear in a local glossy magazine hadn’t made it to the July issue.  There was no chance it would appear later as it marked an anniversary that fell in July.  Third rubbish thing that happened was that my email account was hacked.  Nightmare! The first I knew was that I kept getting phone calls and messages asking if I was all right.  It slowly emerged that everyone on my email address list had been told I was in Madrid, had been attacked and had no money.  The email purporting to come from me asked my family, friends and colleagues to send money.  I, of course, immediately sent out a message to everyone on my address list to inform them that this was simply a hoax.  And then I discovered I’d been locked out of my email account.  I changed the password only to find I was locked out again.  This happened twice more – I wasn’t happy as you can imagine and really quite scared about the repercussions. I went into my settings menu and changed some things around.  That worked!  Once back into my account I found that every single email I had ever received or sent (all neatly labelled in a really well organised filing system) – well, they had all gone.  Disappeared.  Stolen.  I emailed Google and they replied that they were gone forever, there was nothing I could do.  Almost on the point of hysteria now and I started getting all the emails I had sent people saying the previous email was a hoax, returned to my inbox, undelivered.  I soon saw why.  Every single one of my 600 odd email contacts had been corrupted.  The addresses all had an extra ‘on’ added to the name before the @ sign.  It took me until almost two in the morning to change them back again.

Why did this happen?  Well, I later discovered what I had done – on my return from holiday – jet-lagged and needing sleep, I had received a message from Gmail telling me they had upgraded their security system.  To make sure I was covered by this extra security I had to simply click a button…. I clicked!  I was hacked!

Days later I’m still livid.  What was the worst thing about this?  An elderly neighbour of mine received the appeal from ‘Madrid’ and didn’t know what to do – she asked her dear old husband’s advice.  He told her to quickly send me some money!  Fortunately she was one of the ones who did receive my message about the hoax before her address was corrupted.  I wonder how many other people are screwed over in this way?

The internet is a wonder and a joy, it gives us information at our fingertips and helps us communicate with our loved ones at the touch of a button – but when it goes wrong – it is a living nightmare.

And then I reminded myself – no-one was physically hurt and in a few weeks’ time it will be a thing of the past.  Lesson learned the hard way.

So, not a great welcome back to Blighty but we move on…

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Stepping off the merry-go-round

Sometimes the merry-go-round isn’t so merry.  It never hurts to jump off for a while and take stock.  So I’ve jumped off into a rather lovely place to sit and ruminate and ponder the meaning of life.

Currently in Palm Springs, California where the daily temperature averages 100 degrees in June.  Right now in the UK it’s freezing cold, rainy and windy and I’m grateful for the chance to take time out.

Palm Springs house with Mt. San Jacinto in background

It’s easy enough to get hung up on the things we haven’t got  when at home and in the thick of ‘life’ but it’s important to take a step back.  I realise I need to take my own advice and be a little more grateful for what I do have.

This has been a wonderful trip – starting out in San Francisco.  Although it’s my third time in the ‘sixties city of love’, I’ve seen and done things I’d not done before.  Like… walking across the Golden Gate Bridge.

Walking across the Golden Gate

It was freezing cold with a gale blowing across the Bay but so worth doing.

Leaving San Francisco on Highway 1, the coast road drove to Monterey briefly and then through Big Sur with some hair-raising hairpin bends we headed towards San Simeon.

Our destination was Hearst Castle, the opulent home of William Randolph Hearst, newspaper magnate and one of the most powerful men in America in the early days of the 20th century.  I expected lavish, I didn’t expect this huge eclectic collection of European treasures thrown together with no particular style.  But the place works – it’s outrageous but wonderful and the views are to die for.  His two swimming pools are lavish beyond words.

Hearst Castle outdoor pool                                         

The outdoor pool is sumptuous but the indoor pool – well,  I could imagine it belonging to a Roman emperor or small country dictator.

Hearst Castle indoor pool

The indoor pool is very deep and since many of Hearst’s celebrity Hollywood guests weren’t great swimmers, the staff were allowed to use the indoor pool.      Think I like the sound of the man.

Moving on from Hearst Castle the next day was the long drive to Palm Springs, some of it along the coast road – stopped in Santa Barbara for lunch.  Just as we remembered it but colder… really looking forward to the Palm Springs heat!

‘Stardust’ – our home for two weeks

Finally arrived in Palm Springs in the afternoon and were greeting at our rental home by Johanna.  It’s a stunning place – not Hearst Castle but very stylish.  It’s in the Movie Colony area of Palm Springs and is of the era but much remodelled.

So, here we are and now about to start our second week – I’m beginning to adjust to the time difference (been getting up at 5am or earlier every day) and I’m in that phase of navel gazing where I’m taking stock of life at the moment.  So it’s good to take time out…

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