You're getting better in no time, I see. The pattern is quite cool, and the gradient is, too. I believe the next step you should try and make would be making a somewhat more consistent background - it may not be easy, but it really pays off.
Yup, you should try variations that can help you fill the background. Some examples are linear, spherical, julian (with negative julian_power value). Try them out! Anyhow, the black background is nice on this one.
Yeah, practically neighbours. I live in the middle of Italy (I'm from Rome), so I'm probably closer to B&E (on airline) than France or confining countries!