VIENNA AND A VICIOUS ANIMAL

TRAVEL

Now because I’ve decided we need more pictures in here, these are two statues in Vienna, but sadly I can’t tell you anything about them.

I thought I would be really mean and pop up a couple more pics of the scrumptious cakes they have in Vienna. Austria is renowned worldwide for its cakes and hot chocolate.

Saturday, we got up early and walked to Karlsplatz and got on the underground for a trip out of town to visit the Schönbrunn (beautiful spring) Palace.

IMG_4951

This is the tiny country cottage that Empress Maria Theresa inherited and then extended it a little (as you do). She enlarged it to 1,441 rooms in the Baroque style making it one of the most important monuments in Austria. It’s been the summer holiday home for the Habsburgs, and it’s very sad they couldn’t play on the beach or swim in the sea as Austria doesn’t have a seaside.

IMG_4952

These days, in fact since the mid 50’s they let any old people wander around it, so we were let in too. The palace reflects 300 years of history, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

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HISTORY

Over 500 years earlier in Spain, in the castle of Avila, the Dowager Queen constantly tells her young daughter “If your stepbrother Henry dies without heirs, then your younger brother Alfonso will be king.  If Alfonso dies, you, Isabella will become queen.”  This is a little daunting when you’re only 6, but the really scary thing is that the Dowager Queen is terrified that the new king is out to harm the little Princess Isabella. Don’t forget she is mad.Henry IV 6

So, she whisks the kids off to the lonely castle of Aravelo to keep them safe. Princess Isabella has lessons and, under instruction from her mother spends an awful lot of time praying. She spends hours and hours each day on her knees.  Court etiquette is rigid, it’s more nunnery than a royal court.

Aravelo castle 2

AFRICA FACTS

I thought that as all but one of my books is set in Africa I would try and include an interesting fact that you might not know.

Ask anyone which animal is the most dangerous in Africa and they will probably quote one of the Big 5 – lion, Cape buffalo, leopard, rhinoceros and elephant.

However, many local Africans living in rural areas will tell you it’s the Honey Badger.

nat-geo-disk.jpg

Many Africans will tell you they are the fiercest of all the animals. They’re not really badgers and though only 28 centimeters high, they’re notorious for their strength, ferocity, and toughness. They have been known to savagely and fearlessly attack almost any kind of animal when escape is impossible, even repelling lions. They will also attack horses, cattle and Cape Buffalo and their skin is so thick that bee stings and porcupine quills rarely penetrate it. When they attack they are virtually tireless and urban legend has it they will jump up and grab a large animal by the testicles and refuse to let go.

I scripted a video for National Geographic a few years ago, where a couple hand reared a cub before releasing it into the wild when it was old enough to fend for itself. It was one of the best projects I have ever worked on.

Finally, a quick reminder about my books with this advert.

WANTED READERS 27 MARCH 2018

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

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

 

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SISSI AND SADNESS

TRAVEL

So there we were in the Hofburg in Vienna where they have an amazing permanent exhibition about Elisabeth of Bavaria, born in 1837, she was the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary because she married Franz Joseph I.

SISSI WITH HAIR

She’d had a good childhood, but was horrified at 16 to be married off and then to live in a stuffy court full of rules and regulations. She was a bit of a rebel and fed up as she had nothing much to do. She had the mother in law from hell, the Archduchess Sophie who bossed her around and took over bringing up the children.

SSISSI'S BEDROOM

Sissi was very beautiful and her hair reached to the floor. She spent hours each day bathing, it took a whole day to wash her hair and exercising  – at 5 foot 8 inches, she weighed only 50 kg (110 pounds, 7 st 12 lbs) most of her life and cinched in her waist with corsets so it was only 19 inches in circumference. She had a pretty unhappy life and often went traveling. She was assassinated in Switzerland at the age of 61.

But the Hofburg had, even more, to offer which I’ll tell you about next week.

HISTORY

Now that we have come to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II of England to the throne, it doesn’t feel very historical after all.

The Princess and her husband Prince Philip were in Kenya on safari when the news came through. The press and paparazzi were asked to keep away from the bungalow she was staying in to give her some privacy – and they did! How times have changed.

TREETOPS KENYA

This is a modern photo taken from Trip Advisor.

Although King George died on 6th February, the new Queen was not told until the following day. An urgent telegram was sent to Government House in Nairobi but it could not be decoded because the keys to the safe holding the codebook were unavailable.

Before our Queen even ascended the throne (they place them well off the ground so they can be seen), she promised faithfully to serve her country as ‘long as I shall live.’  A promise, she has kept for 64 years making her the world’s longest reigning monarch.

ADD BREAK

These are a few of the topics I wrote scripts for in the past:

medicine, productivity, toothpaste, manufacturing telephones, photography, power stations, pollution at sea, and distance education, bakeries, banks, nation building, tourism, diets, meat, margarine, aluminium, marathons, birds, splitting the atom, HIV / AIDS, crime, what to do in an emergency, legal information, modern classical music, maths, English literature, top athletes, lifestyles, science, mining, court cases, mayoral keynote speeches, oceans, honey badgers, African wildlife, religion, literature, safety, electricity, behaviour modification, self employment and so on and so on and so on. Too many for me to remember.

So, I guess it’s not surprising that I’ve written books in 3 different genres, memoirs, comedy and the Amie series.

Apparently, an author who does this shoots themselves in the foot, but I think I sound like me in all my books – OK, boring!  In case you want to check them out this is the link to my website which describes them in more detail.

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next week, take care.

VIENNA AND VIEWS

TRAVEL

While on our bus tour, we got brief glimpses of the UNO village complex which houses several departments of the United Nations and the St Francis Assisi Church. I just wanted to backtrackIMG_4895 on that a little to show you the pictures of some of the stained glass windows in the Votive Church we’d seen earlier (stained glass windows must be one of the most beautiful sights ever, especially when the sun shines through them). And also a picture of this amazing contraption, which I guess they must use for cleaning the windows or getting up anywhere high? It has a lot more charm than the modern cherry-picker.

The next morning we walked into the central museum complex area as I wanted to take pics of the guys selling tickets for the various musical concerts. They were all dressed in period costume. To my surprise, they seemed a little reluctant to have their photos taken, but I persevered and there was nowhere for them to hide anyway!

HISTORY

Of course, we all know that princesses fall in love all the time but when Princess Elizabeth did, it was not at all popular. He was a Prince of course, but he didn’t have a kingdom or even a princedom anymore and his family was a bit strange as well.

PRINCE PHILIP

It was a big problem in those days, marrying other royals, they were all foreign!

The one Princess Elizabeth chose looked very handsome but had a decidedly dodgy family. His father had lost his throne and was no longer the King of Greece, all his sisters had married Germans and his mother was in a home for the insane.

But, on the other hand, he had lived in England and spoke the local lingo with a posh accent so maybe he would be OK.

qe !! MARRIAGE

In a blaze of publicity and a welcome respite from the drudgery of post-war life, the two married on 20th November 1947 in Westminster Abbey.

Now, this is something not many people know. Westminster is NOT an Abbey, though it is built on the site of an old abbey. It’s NOT even a cathedral. Its proper name is the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.  It’s the traditional venue for royal coronations and weddings, having the status of a Church of England, ‘Royal Peculiar’  – a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

THE NATURAL BREAK (A polite way of saying that here is where I talk about my books)

Amie Back Story v2.1

Each month I write a new chapter to the Amie backstories, featuring mostly her elder sister Samantha and Ben whom she first meets as her cameraman in Togodo.

Sam is an idiot and constantly getting into one scrape after another on her first trip abroad, while Ben is psyching himself in his rural village to become a man. This is a teaser from the first chapter and you can download the next 14 chapters for free from my monthly newsletter.

This is the link to click on. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

PART ONE

Battered and bruised, Amie sat shivering alone in the small prison cell. How had this happened? Where had it all gone wrong? She thought back to where she had come from, anything to take her mind off waiting for the next appalling meal to be shoved through the flap at the bottom of the door. It was always the same, a heap of maize meal porridge, a watery stew in which floated the odd suspect morsel of meat surrounded by pulpy vegetables. The only drink they’d offered her was water and she wasn’t too sure that was clean. Despite her revulsion, when her stomach began to rumble after the first couple of days, she could sense her strength beginning to ebb, and she devoured the food and drank every last drop.

How long had she been there? Days, weeks? If only she’d thought to scratch on the wall to mark the passing of time, but it was too late now.

She took in her surroundings. One lumpy, stained, foam mattress on the bare concrete floor, a bucket in the corner that was emptied only once a day, a window securely barred, too high for her to reach and look out. She could hear the everyday sounds from the nearby market, but no one knew she was there; no one was going to come and rescue her. She lived with the ever-present worry that at any moment she would hear footsteps echoing down the corridor outside coming to drag her outside to go and answer more questions.

All she had left were thoughts and memories of her former life in a warm and loving family thousands of miles away in England. She smiled as she remembered the times she and her sister had discussed their future lives, it had seemed so easy, so predictable, so planned and precise, so ordinary. She could see it so clearly as if it was yesterday.

SAM

“Amie, I need your help with my homework,” said Samantha, flinging open the door to her sister’s bedroom.

“Not again! If you didn’t spend so much time mooning over Gerry, you’d get twice as much done. And how am I supposed to help? You’re two years above me!”

Samantha ignored the comment and threw herself onto the bed. “It’s all right for you, it’s all too easy, you’ll romp through your exams.”

“Only because I work hard, and concentrate in class. I know what I want to do and where I’m going. I have it all planned out.” Amie sounded smug.

Her elder sister sighed. “I guess I’ll go the teaching route, it’ll fit in better with being a housewife and a mother. Though,” she added, “I have no intention of getting tied down too early. I want to travel and see the world first.”

BEN

Seven thousand miles further south sat another young person thinking about his future, a future which could not be more different to the one Amie faced. He scuffed his bare, black toes in the dust making swirling patterns, only to obliterate them and begin again. He hated to admit it: he was frightened. It was bad enough for the other boys, but he was the son of his father who was brother to the chief. They would expect more of him, he would possibly be the first one and he would not dare flinch, nor cry out however bad the pain was. He shuddered just to think about it. It was made even worse knowing that he was the youngest in the age regiment, and on his shoulders rested the standing of his family in the tribe.

Like the dust particles he was stirring, thoughts circled around Ben’s head. He was torn, halfway between the old world and the new. He was now part of the modern Africa. He lived in a house with a bathroom, hot and cold water flowed from the taps, and he slept in his own bed. He attended the best school in Apatu, run mostly by the local British expats who showed him pictures and videos of places on the other side of the world. He watched in awe as pictures of spaceships rocketed skywards, saw men walking on the moon, and listened as they explained how satellites orbited the earth too far above them to be seen. In many respects, he was receiving a similar education to Amie, but that is where the similarity ended.

He was familiar with the village where his family sent him for the holidays. When he was very small it was fun to throw off his shoes, run barefoot across the savannah and bathe naked in the shallow river. He’d follow his father’s cattle for long days under the blazing sun, occasionally screaming and chasing away the odd hyena or wild dog that came too close. He’d wave his long stick and jump up and down without getting too close. To his relief, not once did the predators come any nearer, but slunk off with their tails between their legs.

In his earlier years, he’d enjoyed the company of the other boys close in age, as they ran free as birds, ducking and diving under the lower hanging branches of the smaller thorn trees. They spent hours poking long sticks into the tall, red termite mounds, throwing stones at the weaver birds’ nests to bring them crashing down to the ground, much to the frustration of the males who shrieked with fury. Hours of hard work patiently weaving the strands of dry, yellow grass into the tightly knit balls precariously fixed to the very end of the thorn branches, lost because of the fecklessness of some nasty little boys running wild. He’d competed in the informal running races, mock fighting with sticks against the others, and sitting breathlessly at the feet of the local storyteller. The old man had told tales of past heroic deeds by members of their tribe, stories of how the majestic African animals lived on the plains and the legacy of the ancestral spirits who guarded the tribes-folk from beyond the grave.

Till next week, take care.

 

MY CHAT WITH VAL

This week I’m reposting a lovely interview I had with Valerie Poore.  She asked such interesting questions and I had to think quite hard to answer them. I’ve done a cut and paste from her blogger site as there is no facility to reblog.  So sadly, you can’t see the lovely picture of her barge in Rotterdam Harbour that Val has on her page. This is the link if you want to go and have a peep. https://vallypee.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/from-africa-to-amsterdam-meet-lucinda-e.html?spref=fb

From Africa to Amsterdam: meet Lucinda E Clarke

Posted: 27 Jan 2018 02:20 PM PST

It’s been a long time since I did a weberview here, so I’d like to offer a very warm welcome to Lucinda E Clarke, whose amazing books set in Africa have entertained me on many a long cold evening in Europe. 

DEE Friday morning market

Lucinda has written three full length memoirs, one humorous novel and a four book action adventure series. Apart from the humorous book, all her writing is set mainly in Africa, which is where she has lived most of her life. She now lives in Spain, but I can tell from her books her heart, like mine, still lives in the southern hemisphere. 

 set 1 of books
Lucinda’s memoirs and her humorous novel Unhappily Ever After

So Lucinda, I’m going to mix my questions up a bit, but they are all things I’ve been curious about since I started reading your memoir ‘Walking on Eggshells’

Firstly, then, I’ve read all your books (I think) and have enjoyed every one of them (I know), but which of your books have you most enjoyed writing?

Val, firstly thank you for the opportunity to talk about me, myself my books and my life – no one I meet in person is the slightest bit interested (sad eh? I don’t believe it! VP)

I most enjoyed writing the 4thbook in the Amie series “Amie: Cut for Life,” because I was beginning to feel like a proper author. I knew where I was going with it, even though I never map out of any of my books. It took longer than the others, but I believe the end product was the best. I think I’m getting a bit better with practice. Only another 50 or so to go and I should have cracked it.

Well,  I’ve just finished your Worst Riding School in the World, Parts 1 and 2 and I laughed my socks off, so I think you’ve more than cracked it if you can write both humour and drama so well! Anyway, I saw you mentioned how much you loved Botswana. Is that the country you have in mind when you are writing your Amie novels and how well did you get to know Botswana before you moved to South Africa?

I lived in Botswana for almost 3 years and it’s the real Africa. South Africa is more a first world infrastructure (shopping malls, high rises, excellent road network etc) dropped down in the middle of the African bush. There was none of that in Botswana, though we were beside ourselves when they opened the first cinema and a Spar shopping supermarket in Francistown, such luxury!

 ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017
Lucinda’s action adventure series set in Africa

I can imagine that. It sounds wonderful in your books, though. Can I ask which you find it easier to write: fact or fiction and why?

The fact is so much easier – you are simply recounting what happened, so the story is all mapped out in your head. You don’t get to page 149 and suddenly realize your heroine can’t come to the rescue because you’d put her in a wheelchair and left her in a prison three thousand miles away!

Haha, true, but fact has its own challenges, doesn’t it? Do you think your travels have helped you as a writer? If so, in what way?

Goodness yes! Despite the reviewer who told me I didn’t know what I was talking about (she had never been to Africa, but she had seen it on the television news). You get to meet people who have a different mindset, opinions, knowledge, education and you realize that everything you have been taught until then, was only from one point of view – possibly the media in your own country. Our thoughts are shaped by the propaganda we are fed. “Travel broadens the mind” is one of the truest sayings I’ve ever encountered.

I so agree with that. But how do you think living in Africa has influenced you and your writing?

I was just so incredibly lucky. Like you, I was far away from the suburban areas, living in the bush. My filming took me to chiefs’ kraals, witchdoctor’s huts, agricultural projects, schools, hospitals, local government – I could go on and on and on. I was so privileged to be welcomed to places where I would joke with my African crew “Look after me guys, I’m the only white person for miles and miles!” So many of the people I met touched my heart, so few possessions, so brave, so accepting and often bewildered by the fast-paced modern world that was trying to drag them into the mainstream.

One shoot I remember was when the African government official could not understand why the San (Bushmen) should be allowed to hunt and live as they had for centuries. No, the official policy was they must live in houses with running water and send the children to school and the men must get jobs. They had rounded them up and pushed them into this housing estate miles from anywhere and the San looked so miserable. It was so sad; they didn’t want to live what we call a conventional life.

 Crew shot 0345
Lucinda with an African chief

Strange how even Africans can totally misunderstand other Africans. Now, as writers we are always striving to improve, aren’t we? Is there anything you find difficult in the writing process, and if so, how are you trying to overcome it? (Sorry, this is a boring question, but I really am curious!)
There are some days when the words don’t come – onset of word retrieval or lack of. Other days I can’t type fast enough to keep up. I get twitchy if I don’t write for a couple of days, but then I’m writing up blogs, or the newsletter or commenting on social media or composing reviews. Basically, I love to write and that’s what was so wonderful about my work in the media. I would be bouncing out of bed screaming “Yeah! It’s Monday!” – although I’d probably worked right through the weekend as well!

I’m a workaholic and was heartbroken leaving the production work behind when we left South Africa. If I feel I’ve hit a brick wall in a book, I plough on, even though I might delete a whole lot later. I’m very disciplined having worked to deadlines so often, I occasionally have to tell myself that it’s not a train smash if I didn’t get 5,000 words done today – I am supposed to be retired after all.

My word, I’d be delirious to write even 1000 words every day. That’s amazing, but Lucinda, I know you’ve been writing for years; do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?

Oh yes, it was a report on the Sunday School class I was teaching (to win brownie points to get into teacher training). It was published in the church magazine, but I think I was the only one ever to read it, as I snaffled all the copies and took them home to read! I cringe when I think about it now.

Now you’re being too modest, I’m sure! Are you writing anything at the moment? Can you tell us what it is, and when it’s likely to be available?

I am currently writing book 5 in the Amie series. She’s the young English girl I uproot from the London suburbs and dump in Africa and then when war breaks out and the last evacuation plane takes off, she is left behind to survive as best she can. Since book 1 I have put her through all kinds of hell, and in this book, she gets mixed up in high-level international politics over mineral rights which are necessary for nuclear devices. I can’t give much more than that away at this stage but she is still under threat from the government forces who are using her. I hope to have it out sometime this year, but I’ve been so busy marketing I’ve neglected the writing side. I need an extra 6 hours a day!

Well, that sounds as if it’s going to be as unputdownable as the others! I won’t keep you any longer now, Lucinda, as I’m going to pack you off to your keyboard to get writing! Thank you so much for joining me here today. It’s been great to have you on my barge for a chat. At least it hasn’t been windy today so you haven’t had to cling to your cuppa.

 IMG_4617
The day I met Lucinda on her flying visit to Amsterdam. A meeting I enjoyed because I admire her immensely

For anyone interested in sampling some of Lucinda’s great books, click here for her Amazon author page.

Lucinda is also active on Facebook

And on Twitter

Have a good week allemaal. I’ll be back with all that’s wet and watery next time!

 

IT’S 2018!! SO …?

Firstly, I want to wish you all a fantastic 2018 with everything you would wish for – you can fill aspirations and resolutions in here ………… and that all those things you hope for yourself, your friends and your family in the coming 12 months will come true.

fireworks 2
PIC BY SEMNOZ

If you think about it, it’s all a bit of a daft hype isn’t it? The date changes and we all rush around starving ourselves to death, taking a deep breath and checking out the bank balance, or tapping away feverishly on the keyboard to complete that first/next book.

And all this because the date has changed and it’s not as if every culture even had the same timing either.

Standard_World_Time_Zones

Did you know over 200 years ago they were not afraid to mess with the British calendar?

The year 1752 began on January 1 (no great surprise there) but to align it to the one used on the continent they dropped the Julian calendar and adopted the Gregorian calendar which meant losing 11 days in the September – so Wednesday 2 September was followed by Thursday 14 September that year which came in at only 355 days.

Would I have been cross if my birthday fell in one of those 11 days – no birthday party and no presents – though I guess I could take a year off my age, because if the date of the day I was born on didn’t happen that year …?

Just for interest (I came across all this delightful information as I was changing over paper diaries) in the era for:

Byzantine the year begins on September 14 ushering in 6527

The Roman era will start on January 14 for the year 2771

While the Nabonasser year (please don’t ask) 2767 will commence on April 19th

The Japanese share January 1st with most of us, but they have already reached year 2678.

Finally, the Islamic New Year of 1440 will dawn on September 12th.

So, do not panic if you’ve broken or failed to achieve your New Year Resolutions by the middle of January 2018, you now have lots more dates to start all over again.

calendar

As usual, being so serious and level-headed I’m setting sensible, realistic goals for 2018.

Writing:- at least 5 words a day

House cleaning:- at least twice during 2018

Marketing:- 5 mins a day

Checking sales stats:- down to 549 times a day

Reading:- only one book a week

Leaving pc to do other things:- 20 minutes a day (that will include dressing, showering, eating, talking to DH etc, etc)

Talking: communicate with one other real, live human being who neither reads nor writes, once a month (that will be a tough one).

So, it’s none of this trekking off to the gym, walking up mountains, trying to touch my toes nonsense for me.

I’m already quite relaxed about my resolutions for 2018, and if I get a film contract, or a TV series or complete another book (Amie 5) it will be a bonus and I can reward myself with more cherry liquor chocolates.

That reminds me, I must check out the symptoms for chocolate poisoning. I’m knee deep in them here, not that I’m complaining – sheer bliss as the coffee jar is full as well.

WRS PRINT COPY

 

Final word, the paperback copies for The very Worst Riding School in the World have arrived.

That is part 1 and 2 – limited edition and never to be on open sale, but you might win one in a competition I’m having soon for my newsletter subscribers only. So if you would like to sign up, I’d love to have you.

http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

That’s DH being camera shy again.

Till next time, take care.

 

I JUST CAN’T GET IT LARGER!

How about a Christmas present for me? It won’t cost you more than a moment and very little effort. I’m asking all you FABULOUS people out there for a re-blog of this post (flatter them p 148 of How to Win Friends and Influence People).

You see I have been trying to build up my email list like, well forever. Everyone I know has thousands and thousands and thousands of names and I’ve struggled to reach even a limited number – (you may sigh here).  Now I know the fake news going around that the Big A is about to go bust is nonsense and that we will only be able to sell our books all by ourselves, but I do see it’s a very good idea to have a healthy mail list a little larger than your friends and family – and I have a very small family. I’m fed up with sending dozens of copies of my newsletter to DH and myself over and over again.  He’s now threatening to unsubscribe!

I am sending out my Christmas newsletter on Saturday, December 23rd and my subscribers will get a free copy of:

51-ano4yifl

Amie African Adventure which has done really well and won lots of awards from individual readers and international awards and 173 reviews (unless some have gone AWOL while I type this!)

And that’s not all. Subscribers will be able to download Part 2 of The very Worst Riding School in the World – which is only available from my newsletter and will NEVER be on general sale.

WRS Kindle Cover book 2 (1)

Part 1 is available free on the Big A and wide and is also free so you can grab that short read if you have got this far.

https://www.books2read.com/u/bw8May

And that’s not all!!  (Amazing isn’t it?)

There are now 12 chapters of the Amie back stories and these build up month by month to download for free.

Amie Back Story v2.1

Sam, Amie’s spoilt brat of a sister, is taking her first overseas holiday with boyfriend Gerri and they are getting into all sorts of trouble in Spain – he’s landed in jail and she’s spent several hours in the lift between floors. The other character who features is Ben, who was Amie’s cameraman in book 1, she meets up with him in book 2 and he plays a huge part in book 5 which is still in progress.  DH has designed this lovely cover for the backstories.

Oh, and before I forget there is also a bit of rubbish blurb from me and if you would like me to feature your book, then let me know by this Friday morning (it takes me hours to sort out the techie stuff on MailChimp).  I’m not sure whose twisted mind designed it all but if you know who it is, advise them to steer clear.  So I think my newsletter is really good value and it only goes out once a month, twice at most. OK, I’ve finished groveling now and it only remains to wish you all a Wonderful Christmas with friends and family or a good book (preferably mine 🙂 )  and a Happy, Healthy and Brilliant 2018.  With love from Lucinda.

 

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.