As we walked (well DH walked, I staggered) over the dry, grassy moat and the bridge to buy our entry tickets, I thought the castle was in a remarkably good condition considering it had been assembled in the XII century. It was built by the Trencavel family who added a bit more to it in the following century. Showing off how rich they were no doubt.
An interesting family they turned a blind eye to the Cathars, who’d developed their own version of religion and so the Pope of the day declared a crusade under Simon de Montford who laid siege to the city.
After all that was over, the town was declared French and they thought the castle would be very useful in manning the Franco/Spanish border. Which turned not to be such a good idea as someone went and moved the border further south. Now, Carcassone was several miles inside France. After all that effort!!
Now while George had 5 sons, one as I’ve said was locked away so you’ve probably heard about the two eldest Edward and George – though Edward was called David, just to be confusing.
Mind he had a fair few to choose from – Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David. I think it must be a royal thing no one in his right mind would want that many names surely?
David aka Edward got about a bit. He liked to party and sometimes these were quite scandalous occasions. The Prince was accused of all kinds of bad behaviour, and one lecture I attended on his life, suggested he liked to wear nappies and get beaten. (There goes my knighthood!)
File:Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13538, Edward Herzog von Windsor.jpg
He’d only been king a few months (his father George V had died in the meantime, so it was Ok for him to become king) when he asked a lady called Mrs Wallace Simpson to marry him and this shocked the whole nation.
THE EMBARRASSING BIT
Yes, here is where I mention my books, though I have far more fun writing about the other stuff on my blog.
I have 8 out so far, in 3 different genres which only goes to prove I’m a bit schizophrenic I guess. Memoirs x 3 – Humour x 1 – Adventure/thriller/spy x 4.
Well, it’s a whole month already since my birthday, but I promised I would share my adventures with you as it was a bitter/sweet experience.
I’d been waiting in great excitement for the big moment when DH would ask me what I’d like as a present and I had my answer all ready.
I wanted proper publicity photos, taken at one of those places which provided the wigs, the warpaint, and the Photoshop experts. I would then burst forth onto Facebook and other places with my long, golden locks flowing over my shoulders looking 25 years old with ‘go to bed’ eyes the size of flying saucers.
It was not to be. Instead, he waved the bed and breakfast booking for 3 nights in Carcassone. This would have been my second choice and I was looking forward to visiting the medieval walled city in south-west France.
We set off in the car very early in the morning and after a few hours realized we were in France. We’d stayed on the motorway (the tolls were horrendous) but it cut the journey by hours. We whipped round the Pyrenees and reached Carcassone in the late afternoon. We had a bit of a battle with the GPS as it insisted on trying to take us down a pedestrian street to the B&B. Later, we discovered that everyone else drove down these walk only streets! We found a teeny, weeny parking place right outside the door, but by the time DH had maneuvered the Tank (that’s what I call his truck thingie) into the minute space there wasn’t room to put tissue paper between the bumpers.
The B&B was lovely, though by the time I’d climbed the 3 flights of tiny, windy stairs I was exhausted.
Now to my mind, a castle is in a town right? Not in Carcassone. The town is one side of the river and the castle is on the other, very strange I thought. The first evening we took a gentle stroll into the town, and had a highly priced coffee.
We also popped into a church and had a look round.
Next morning we planned to go to the castle, but I began to have my doubts – and this is where the bitter part comes in. It was perched somewhere up in the clouds!! DH goes mountain walking in the winter, and it was no problem for him. I, on the other hand, see no necessity to walk farther than from the front door to the car.
I huffed and puffed up this HUGE hill – honestly nearer to a mountain – with not a coffee shop open until finally, we got to the top. Imagine my fury when I saw a car park right next to the castle! I was totally exhausted by the time we made it up there, and it didn’t look as if there was any public transport going back down either! I’d not planned a workout on my special day. I was too tired to take photos of the steepest bit. More next week.
Now George V was probably a little worried about keeping his seat on the throne. Not only had his cousin Tsar Nicholas of Russia been cruelly disposed of, Kaiser Willhelm II of Germany also got the boot. George and his wife May had 5 sons and a daughter and he is quoted as saying “My father was frightened of his mother, I was frightened of my father, and I am damned well going to see to it that my children are frightened of me.”
See, I told you he wasn’t a very nice person. His sons were quite terrified of him. Yet, and this is a spin doctor’s dream – on his father’s death he wrote in his diary “I have lost my best friend and the best of fathers … I never had a [cross] word with him in my life. I am heart-broken and overwhelmed with grief but God will help me in my responsibilities and darling May will be my comfort as she has always been. May God give me strength and guidance in the heavy task which has fallen on me.” Somebody’s telling porkies! (London Cockney rhyming slang – pork pies = lies).
THE ADD BREAK
By the time you read this Amie: Cut for Life book 4 will be off the pre-order and you can take a peep in the look inside. Book one is also available in audio.
The Big Trip was nearly over and even though I love our little rabbit hutch, I was still not ready to go home after 2 months. I adored the warm climate in Singapore and I was not looking forward to February in Spain.
For our last meal we went back to our roots and had huge steaks in the Black Angus Steakhouse – though to be honest, since we left South Africa I’ve yet to have as good a steak as we ate there. The steak was OK, the price was horrendous!
Then it was off to the airport – as smart, clean and efficient as the rest of the country and we were on our way home.
Our next trip would be seven months later, but that’s for next time.
I really have my doubts about this king, George V. I read that two months after the end of the war, the King’s youngest son, John died at the age of 13 after a lifetime of ill health.
George was informed of his death by Queen Mary, who wrote, “[John] had been a great anxiety to us for many years … The first break in the family circle is hard to bear but people have been so kind & sympathetic & this has helped us much.”
This poor little prince who suffered from epilepsy was hidden away from the public and ignored by the rest of the family. It was thought he was autistic and they didn’t want him to embarrass them in public. Prince Edward, who was eleven years older than his brother and had hardly known John, saw his death as “little more than a regrettable nuisance.”
That is so terribly sad.
I’ve decided this week I won’t tell you I write books and I’m trying to sell them and I want new readers to sign up for my newsletter http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf and buy my latest brilliant book on the last few days of its pre-order so I’m not going to put the link in for that either. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB
Now I’ll post general pictures of Singapore here as we spent a whole afternoon in the National Museum of Singapore and I don’t think you were allowed to take pictures in there. Honestly, these places have come a long way since I was dragged around them as a child.
We followed the exhibits which told the story of Singapore from pre-historic times to the present day. It’s amazing how quickly it was developed from a small area covered in jungle with a population living in poverty to one of the most successful and thriving countries in the world.
It was accomplished under a dictatorship, but then general elections were called and the People’s Action Party has won every election since 1959. The dominance of the ruling party, coupled with a low level of press freedom and restrictions on civil liberties and political rights has led to Singapore being classified by some as a semi-authoritarian regime.
I can’t comment on that, but comparing it to a communist country like Vietnam, the people here appeared happy and relaxed unlike those in Ho Chi Min City and, this is one regime where they have drastically improved the lives of their people as far as I could see – unlike most dictatorships which only enrich themselves.
HISTORY – A TRUE BIT (for a change)
Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth yes? Well, it has come to light that it was not the British government who refused to give sanctuary to the Tsar of Russia and his family, the British Secret service was planning a rescue when the King himself went back on his promise to help them. Consequently, they were murdered in the most brutal fashion and not once did George V show any remorse. Thus, he is one of my least favourite kings and I suggest you don’t like him either.
And you can get it cheap at only $/£ 0.99 but the day after it will go up to $/£ 1,596.98 – so if you grab it now, it’s a huge bargain!
Once again Amie finds herself in hot water.
They told Amie it was a simple look, listen and report back mission, but from the beginning, everything went wrong. She is stalked across borders, the aid workers act suspiciously, she’s assaulted, and abandoned in a rural African hut miles from anywhere. What has happened to her partner Simon and can she trust the charismatic Frenchman who befriends her? The discovery of an ancient tribal tradition and a group of young children to rescue, test her skills to the limit. For the first time, she is prepared to kill to protect the innocent caught up in an international sex trade.
If anyone is in any doubt about Singapore’s productivity, then this picture tells it all.
No blurb about Singapore would be complete without a picture of their national symbol. The Merlion – the body of a fish to remember it was once a small fishing village and the head of a lion which represents Singapore’s original name—Singapura – meaning “lion city” and stands on Santosa Island. (That’s me on the Wishing Steps in case you weren’t sure which was which).
When we arrived there I was blown away. Again, spotlessly clean and a paradise for those who live in a small area.
Within the complex apart from Universal Studios there was an aquarium, Funland, restaurants, shops and a hotel. I couldn’t resist this photo taken in the foyer.
The place was pretty crowded and we just ‘sticky beaked’ as DH calls it – I think that’s a northern expression for being nosey.
So, George V ascended the throne in 1910 or somewhere around that time, in my version of history, you may have noticed that dates are not very important. And it looked as if he got around a bit (don’t they all?) as he hopped over to India to attend a Durbar. This was all to do with being the Emperor of India – I suspect they never asked the Indians if they minded. Anyhow there was a big bash held in Delhi every time there was a new Emperor and this was the third one they’d had. Here is a picture of the great event and you can clearly see a close-up of them sitting on the dais in the middle.
Do I really have to do this embarrassing bit? I’m a bit weird, because if I read the proper advertising hype ‘like wot it shud be done’ – Buy now! Last few seconds on sale! Grab yours now while you can! And so on and so on and so on – my automatic response is “Shan’t! I will not be coerced, forced, persuaded or enticed. I can promise you that the door to door salesmen never knew what had hit them by the time they fled down our front path.
I had a dream last night, not as earth shattering as Martin Luther King,
I’m not that famous and important, and frankly although I was standing on a stage too, no one was listening to me. Sad isn’t it?
Now most of us might dream of receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature and then being interviewed on a national Breakfast Show, simpering as the interviewer gushed about our brilliant book – right?
Well, my dream wasn’t like that. The stage morphed into a television studio and my interview went something like this:
INT: So, I understand Lucinda that hardly anyone bought your new book?
ME: Well a few did …
INT: Looking at this pre-order number on Amazon, well it’s a disgrace.
ME: I have at least 3 fans! I’m sure they ordered one and DH promised he would …
INT: I presume you told people about it?
ME: Oh yes, I twittered and popped it on a couple of Facebook pages, but we’re always told not to spam, ‘cos then people won’t like us. So it’s difficult …
INT: Other writers manage to do it. Look at JK Rowling and that 50 shades woman, they got thousands of sales.
ME: But they weren’t indies and they …
INT: Is that your excuse? Haven’t you studied those self-help books on how those authors sold 80,000 copies in 10 minutes?
ME: Yes, but most of those were self-help books, mostly about how to sell books!
INT: That’s an answer I’ve heard so many times before. Don’t you have a product page on Facebook?
ME; Oh yes, two, one for Amie and one for my memoirs, but I can’t seem to get them to behave like my author page and …
INT: And you sent copies to all the major newspapers with a press release?
ME: Well no I haven’t done that yet …
INT: And Princes Harry and William?
ME: You’ve got to be kidding! I don’t even know their postal addresses. But I did get a street team together – but it turns out they were mostly an older generation and not many were on social media.
INT: Have you told anyone what it’s about?
ME: Well that’s a bit difficult you see, as it’s a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain. I don’t want to give the storyline away as …
INT: Well I’ve heard of some reasons in my time but that one is the weirdest.
ME: I can tell them it’s set in Africa and Amie is a fully fledged, albeit a reluctant spy. There are lots of twists and turns and page-turning surprises. And, there is some love interest there too.
INT: Lots of steamy sex scenes?
ME: Er, no, I’m not good at writing sex scenes I get the giggles.
INT: Well there’s your answer then.
ME: That’s not fair! When did Jeffrey Archer or James Patterson insert steamy stuff into their books!
INT: They are household names and you’re not.
ME: You don’t have to keep reminding me. A few years ago I was …
INT: If there is anyone out there who is deranged enough to pick up Lucinda’s, uh, latest scribbling – what’s it called again?
ME: Amie: Cut for Life. It’s book 4 in the Amie in Africa adventure/thriller series.
At this point, I hold up the paperback book to the camera but it zooms away and focuses on the interviewer who smiles sweetly and says:
INT: Now our next interview is about a subject that’s only talked about behind closed doors, but affects thousands of young women even here in Britain today. For whatever reasons, family honour, ancient tribal custom, or an attempt to keep women from straying from their husbands by destroying any enjoyment in sex. I’m talking about female circumcision and my next guest is …
At this point I am forcibly removed from my chair and booted out the back door while trying to shout out, ‘but that’s exactly what Amie faces in Cut for Life!’
And then I wake up.
Amie Cut for Life is up on pre-order on Amazon for the exorbitant price of $/£0.99 and will be released on September 30th – in case you’re inclined to go and have a look, or you could mention it to someone? I can but dream!! myBook.to/Amie4
I need counseling, I do. I was very reluctant to leave my work in South Africa and retire – circumstances dictated it and was the head over heart thing and we were sensible. When your domestic cleaner is shot on your front lawn and the perpetrator WALKS away having relieved her of less than £5 in cash and a bank card he had no pin for, we recognized the writing on the wall.
Well at first the novelty of sitting leisurely over breakfast began to pall and in a couple of months, I was bored out of my mind. We moved north, so that occupied me for a while and then I got bored again. I taught myself power point and gave a few historical lectures and talks and then I decided to write a book, well finish off a manuscript.
Why did I ever do that! Before I knew it I was on the merry-go-round to blogs and Facebook and Twitter and all the paraphernalia that entails. The upside I met a lot of great people and made some good friends and I was bowled over by how kind and friendly everyone was. I’ve been lucky so far in that I’ve only met a couple of cyber bullies and lost one dear friend I still miss terribly.
I sweated for weeks trying to work out how to use MailChimp, Bookfunnel and WordPress – again wonderful people came to my rescue.
I signed up for lots of blogs from experts on how to sell, how not to sell, how to build mailing lists, how not to alienate readers, give out free books, never give out free books, don’t spam, announce your book on every channel, people have to see it 7 times before they buy. Sign up for this course, you’ll hit the NYT list overnight – no that course is £800 down the drain, try this one for only £799.
I researched different promo sights, asked for advice and shared what I had learned with others. Give it all time to grow I was told. Time! At my age! By the time I let all this filter through to huge sales I’ll be pushing up the daisies – one of the reasons I have not even considered looking for an agent or publisher – and anyway I like being in control of my work. I wanted to cry when I saw what traditional publishers had chosen for the cover of my book.
The bottom line is I’m now working as hard as I ever did running my own production company and I don’t seem able to stop. Apart from reading and entertaining DH and a weeny bit of socializing, during which I’m groveling under the table checking my sales figures, puzzled as to why I’m met with blank stares when I bounce in and cry “I’ve got a BookBub!” – I can’t settle. If I’m not writing or pounding the keyboard I might do a little house cleaning, and watch DH as he dons his boots and gardening gloves to tend to our four window boxes. Most of the rubbish on television doesn’t grab me much either and I’m usually tweeting as the pictures on the screen flash past. The only time I concentrate is when they show foreign language films and I have to read the subtitles. If you took my lap top away I’d be prowling around the house, fingers wiggling searching for the keys, ideas crowding through my head screaming to get out.
I guess I’m just a lost cause and there’s no cure for it.
Guess I should mention that Amie 4 is up on pre-order
Anyway, having had a moan I feel a lot better now.
Oh, if you’re wondering why I’ve included totally inappropriate pictures of African wildlife – it’s because I’ve read three blogs this week warning about prosecutions for using uncopyrighted material, and these are my own pictures and I’m not planning on taking myself to court anytime soon.