OLD CANAL NEW KING

TRAVEL

This week I’m adding a few more pics of our trip on the Canal du Midi. I loved going in and out of the locks, and in one of them, you might be able to make out where are 3 in very quick succession in succession and it looks as if the boat coming downstream towards us was hanging in mid air!

It was amazing to see grass growing on the lock gate.

We were out on the boat for a couple of hours stopping off on the way back at a lochside cafe.

Being a Sunday night we assumed that there would be plenty of places to have our evening meal. We were wrong. We walked around the new – though it is hardly new now – part of town and finally found a fast food joint which was manned by a charming young man who used sign language and pictures of the meals he had on offer printed out on a plastic sheet.

The following morning we set off for home again.

HISTORY

George VI
By Bertram Park

As I mentioned last week poor George/Albert/Bertie had a bad stutter. He was also very shy and didn’t want to be king at all he’d not been expecting it – it was big brother’s job.

George was born in 1895 so may even have remembered great granny Queen Victoria and he was 41 when he had the throne thrust upon him. He wrote in his diary that he burst into tears. It was time to book the speech therapy lessons.

So moving on to George VI the family were at it again with all the name thingie. We know him as King George, but he was christened Albert, Frederick, Arthur, George and before he became king he was called Albert and Bertie to friends and family. So why I wonder did they decided to use his last name as king to make him King George? (And the littlest male heir we have now is also called George – I think someone should show them how to google names and see how many different ones there are).

I’ve since discovered that ‘the queen what I don’t like’ demanded the name Albert to offset the fact that George was born on December 14th, the day when ‘Dear Albert’ died.

THE ADD BREAK.

Here is the beginning of book 4 in the Amie series – Amie: Cut for Life. myBook.to/Amie4

“Oh, my God! It’s Amie! It’s Amie!” The shriek reverberated around the walls of the shopping mall, bouncing off the plate glass windows and echoing along the hall.

Amie froze in her tracks. The plastic shopping bags slipped out of her hands and slithered onto the floor. Was the voice referring to her? Had someone recognized her? Was it someone who knew her well? What was she going to say? How could she explain? What was worse, she could have sworn it was her mother’s voice. No, that wasn’t possible. Her parents were six thousand miles away, outside London. This was Johannesburg, South Africa, her mother wouldn’t be here. Would she?

“Now Mary, calm down, you’re imagining things. You know it’s not Amie. Amie’s gone.”

Still, Amie couldn’t move; she was riveted to the spot, she didn’t even dare turn round. The mannequins in the shop window peered sightlessly at her as she stared at the reflection in the glass. Her mother’s name was Mary. It was her mother. Here, just across the hallway. Hell!

“It’s only another girl who looks a little like Amie.” Her father’s voice wasn’t convincing and Amie could feel his eyes boring into the back of her head. Did he believe his daughter was standing only a few feet away? “Remember,” he continued, “you thought you saw her in Croydon shopping centre a few months ago. That wasn’t Amie either, just a girl who reminded you of her.”

“Let me just ask her Raymond, let me ask her …”

“No! You can’t go bothering people. There are millions of thirty-year-old girls with blonde hair all over the world. Come and sit down for a moment dear.”

Amie retrieved the bags off the floor, fumbling with stiff fingers to prevent dropping them a second time. She dithered, uncertain what to do. More than anything in the world she wanted to run to them, throw her arms wide open and tell them that yes, she was Amie, their daughter. She was alive; alive and well.

She shuffled over to a nearby bench and sat down as if needing to rearrange her packages. She didn’t have the strength to walk away, her legs felt like rubber and she was shaking from head to toe. She sensed movement behind and to her horror realised that her father was helping her mother to sit on the seat that backed on to the one Amie was occupying.

“Now don’t go getting yourself upset Mary. We’ll sit here a moment while you get your breath back, and then we’ll go upstairs to our room and have something stronger to calm you down.”

Her father was fussing like he always had throughout their forty odd years of marriage. If they were going upstairs, then they were staying here at the hotel that was part of the shopping complex. What was she going to do? It would be wonderful to talk to them, to feel her father’s arms around her, to comfort her mother. She could also find out what had happened to Samantha, her sister. Had she made it up with her husband Gerry, or was she now divorced? And what about Dean and baby Jade, her niece and nephew, how were they?

Mary Reynolds was weeping. It was tearing Amie apart at the seams. What was she going to do? What were the consequences if she told them she was still alive? Would it comfort them or cause them more pain? If she broke the imposed code of silence would her employers simply shut her up for good?

She leaned further forward and buried her head in the bag of underwear she’d just bought until she sensed them getting up from the bench. She counted twenty seconds before peeking behind her; they were heading for the hotel entrance. She would recognize her father’s upright figure anywhere and the particular way her mother walked, a kind of penguin waddle that had always made her and her sister laugh when they were small.

She clenched her fists around the shopping bags, took a big breath and made for the nearest exit. She needed to get back to the B & B where she was staying and consider her options. This was not a decision to be taken lightly and Amie was not known for making her mind up quickly. She had the uncanny knack of seeing problems from several angles all at the same time and needed space to process them.

Till next week, take care.

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MONSTERS AND MONARCHS

ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017Now on the first Monday of the month, I usually write about a book thing rather than my travels – such as they are. Right now I’m in the “Shall I, shan’t I?” stage regarding my next book. Do other writers suffer a sort of empty nest syndrome after launching their latest offering out into the world to meet the general public? (Not that Amie has gone anywhere she’s still lurking in the shadows!)

This time after the flurry of all the screaming and shrieking about the launch – delicately of course – I sat back and thought ‘what now?’ I was physically and emotionally drained. At that point, I heard a little voice from under the bed crying out to me. Don’t laugh! I’m a very sensitive person and I have these flashes occasionally. It was Horatio, begging to be let out.

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Back in the 1980s, I wrote several short stories for children which went out on the South African Broadcasting Service. They asked for more Horatio tales, but I had a miserly thought that instead of receiving a few Rand for every flighting I could add a few extra stories and have a whole book. Of course, this would sell millions overnight and I’d be off on my mega yacht in no time at all. I submitted a different series of stories about a witch to the SABC, completed Horatio and gave the manuscript to my then agent. I even produced what I now know is called swag to go with it.

I understand she tried Penguin in London who wrinkled their noses and that was that under the bed it went in South Africa, through 10 house moves, then packed into a cardboard box and flown to Spain and thrown under yet another bed, along with all those awards I shall never look at again.

So in my indecisive mood I decided to take action – not an easy feat getting under our bed the hydraulic lift thingie doesn’t work too well and I nearly sliced off an arm hoisting it out. Would you believe the two copies I have are typewritten on real, old-fashioned paper!

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Yes, that’s how long ago I wrote it. So now I’m labouring away, got an illustrator lined up and soon I will pluck up the courage to tell DH that the next offering will have pictures in it! I must just tell myself that I will not have a nervous breakdown trying to get it out for Xmas, or I’ll aim for Christmas 2018.

Since I’m already out there in 3 genres, what’s one more? I’m probably schizophrenic as it is, and it gives Amie a break for a couple of months.

HISTORY

Not only was Edward or David as he was called – they like things to be very complicated, downgraded to a Duke, the British royal family refused to be friends with him. He had broken the unwritten rules by saying he didn’t want to be a king anymore.

EDWARD viii

That was not on. If you are born a king or queen then you become a king or queen and you rule whether you like it or not and you stay ruling until you go to the big throne room in the sky.

The House of Windsor does not do this abdication thing and let the youngsters take over and have a go. In the UK the Heir Apparent might wait for years and years and years.

But there was no stopping Edward from making history and after a lot of fuss, his younger brother had to step in and take over.

THE BOASTING BIT

AMIE 1 AWARDS 18 OCT 2017

Just have to share with you that October was a great month with two really unexpected awards. Amie African Adventure was a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards in the Adventure category and a Finalist in the IAN awards in Literary Fiction.

And, Walking over Eggshells was a Finalist for First Non-Fiction in the IAN Awards, so I am very thrilled.

Till next week, take care.

CASTLE AND KINGS

CARCASSONE CASTLE

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!!

HISTORY NONSENSE

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.

EDWARD viii

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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.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

Worst Riding School - 2

 

Don’t forget my reader magnet which you can snaffle for free – short read myBook.to/WRS embarrassingly all true.  All books are wide except for the Amie series.   Until next week take care.

 

 

FRANCE AND FALSEHOODS

TRAVEL SECTION

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.

blonde wig

 

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.

HISTORY TWADDLE

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.” GEORGE v PLUS WIFE

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.

You can find them all here on my Web page – http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next week take care.

 

 

BIG TRIP AND BLURB

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.

steak house

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.

HISTORY

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.

PRINCE JOHN

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.

 

MY BOOKS

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

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

Till next time, take care.

 

MUSEUM AND MISCHIEF

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.

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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.

Photo: Marcin Konsek

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)

King_George_V_of_the_United_Kingdom_as_a_boy,_1870

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.

 

 

 

 

THE AD BREAK

Amie 4 is up on pre-order   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

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!

Amie 4 Front 100 dpi v8

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.

Till next time, take care.

DISTRACTIONS AND A DURBAR

If anyone is in any doubt about Singapore’s productivity, then this picture tells it all.

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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.

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The place was pretty crowded and we just ‘sticky beaked’ as DH calls it – I think that’s a northern expression for being nosey.

HISTORY NONSENSE

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.Delhi_Durbar,_1911

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.

So all I’m going to say is the Amie book 1 is still at $/£0.99 as an introduction to the series or free on KU   myBook.to/Amie1   also available on audio https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0725CYNYG

and book 4 is on pre-order now. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07545M9DB

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07545M9DB

Take it or leave it as you like, no pressure, they are not going away anytime soon.

Till next time, take care.