PANDAS AND PLANTS

TRAVEL

Now you may remember that Austria, with its capital Vienna, does not have a coastline, so sadly the Habsburg royal family could not have a seaside cottage.

But, nothing daunted, they decided to have another attraction instead. Can you guess what it is? A zoo! As the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I set it up in 1752 it’s the oldest continually operating zoo in the world.

We loved it and spent lots of time there particularly as they have giant pandas.

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The lady panda is called Yang Yang and there are three males Long Hui, Fu Long, and Fu Hu. What a lucky lady! And she must be a happy panda as in August 2007 Fu Long was born the first by natural insemination – and then 3 years later Fu Hu was born by natural mating. Yet another baby Fu Bao arrived in 2013 and then twins Fu Feng and Fu Ban.

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They were quite difficult to see, as they liked hiding in the leaves and DH tried to convince me that unless I was waving particularly nice bamboo leaves at them they wouldn’t wake up and come over for a chat.

HISTORY

The Dowager Queen, little Princess Isabella’s mother is sure that King Henry is out to get her children, she is quite paranoid about it, so she whips the two youngest off to another dark, damp and drafty castle in Aravelo to keep them safe.

Aravelo castle 2

The 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. Her mother is so cruel she won’t even let her meet up with friends at the local shopping mall.

AFRICA FACTS

Last time I left off as we were filming in deep rural Africa on a project that was excavating the Devil’s Claw. A pharmaceutical company in Germany had tested the root and found it had benefits for arthritis so they ordered supplies from this rural community.

I accompanied the women who scoured the ground then pounced and dug up a root, taking only part of it before covering it over with soil again to continue growing – very ecological and sustainable. What astounded me is they seemed to know exactly where the roots are – the dry, sandy surface of the ground gave no indication that a root would be in exactly that place yet each time there it was a couple of inches below the surface.

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Not only had they prepared an ‘interesting’ lunch in the village hall for me and the crew they had also written and produced a play for us to shoot. A local villager consulted the witch doctor who (not surprisingly) prescribed Devil’s Claw for all his ailments. When we left they handed us bags full of roots, which DH tried later following the precise instructions, but from the look on his face, it didn’t taste nice at all.

All my books (except Unhappily Ever After my Fairyland comedy) are set in Africa which must be the most fascinating continent on earth.

AMIE 1 JAN 28 2018

You can find them all on my author page:

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

or my web page: http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next time, 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.

A SPANISH EPIPHANY

While most of us are taking down the Christmas decorations, here in Spain they are still celebrating. Sunday 6th is the Epiphany when the Magi or 3 Kings arrived to worship the baby Jesus and it’s the night before this that little Spaniards get their paws on the seasonal presents.

In towns all over Spain, they re-enact the scene and it changes a little each year. We live between two small towns so it’s sometimes difficult to decide which fiesta to attend, but we decided to make for the sea this year – we’ll go to the inland one next year.

I feel a bit guilty about this pic but I couldn’t resist it – not so easy to get on your donkey in a long cloak.

 

The inn on the beach was full, but the angel was there to watch over them, while the shepherds took shelter next to the bushes.

Since I was racing around trying to get the shots, I didn’t see the 3 Kings, who’d trekked across the beach to meet Herod, but this year the entertainment did not feature any belly dancing (and I don’t blame them, their goosebumps were the size of molehills the other year).

They were replaced by two juggling uni-cyclists and a fire-eating stilt walker.

The lovely thing about all the fiestas is the whole family takes part, and no one worries about being brained by the little hard-boiled sweets the Kings fling out of their chariot – one town ordered 6 tons of them this year after running out last year when they only ordered 4 tons). They rain down in handfuls of confetti-like killer hailstones and I failed to take an in-focus shot of the children racing in all directions gathering as many as they could. I groveled for a couple so I could share them with you.

The procession winds its way around the town, up and down the narrow streets as it gets dark.

Yes, it’s a real baby! I’m told it’s the most recently born in the village. This year he or she was very well behaved, not even squawking when they turned the floodlights on full blast and let the fireworks off. In total 3 sets of fireworks.

One year when the 3 Kings arrived the baby had been whipped away, possibly to be fed or have its nappy changed.

The same can’t be said for the camel though, it was definitely spoiling for a fight. I am terribly curious as to what was in the sack labeled ‘Produce of Brazil.’

Finally, the Kings took over the stable area, as the Holy Family made a quick exit at the rear, and settled down to dish out the presents.

It was all a bit much for this little one, would they ever call out her name to get a present? Sadly her parents were probably well organized and delivered her present early, so it’s right at the back of the van and will be one of the last to come out.

Just a reminder that if you would like a copy of the first in the Amie series – Amie: African Adventure, then all you have to do is sign up to my newsletter and I’ll be posting the link again in my next issue at the end of the month. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

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Amie reluctantly accompanies her husband when his work takes him to Africa, but a civil war breaks out and when the last plane evacuating all the foreigners takes off, she is left behind to survive any way she can.Amie Back Story v2.1

And you also get the Amie backstories for free, serialized each month. Some of the characters you can meet appear in important roles in book 5 which is a work in progress.

Till next time, take care.

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:

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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.

 

FRANCE AND A FAREWELL

TRAVEL STUFF

So there we were in Carcassonne, and we’d ‘done’ the castle what was next? Back at the B & B we discovered that our landlady had left a bottle of wine in our room, which was a nice touch, I guess she saw the birthday cards on the dresser.

Sunday we decided to visit the cathedral, but we should have gone earlier as a service was about to begin and the place was packed. We noticed no less than 3 beggars sitting outside but did not see anyone give them anything.

Coffee in the square followed, but all the shops were shut which surprised me, I remember them being open on Sundays in France. After a cup of very mediocre coffee at an exorbitant price, we wandered down to the canal to book our boat trip. (And I know Val has been waiting for this).

Carcassonne lies on the Canal du Midi which is the 240 kilometre long canal that joins the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean, considered at the time to be one of the greatest construction works of the 17th century. It was one of my favourite kings, Louise XIV who got things moving. The canal was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1996.

Now for those techie people, I mined these facts off Google. The total rise is 57.18 metres, and the summit level is 189.43 metres. It’s 2 metres deep and 20 metres wide on the surface but only 10 metres on the canal bed. I guess that means it’s best to stay in the middle?

HISTORY

Ex Edward VIII now the Duke of Windsor, only came home again to Britain after he passed on when the Royals attended his funeral.

 

grave of Edward VIII

He died in Paris, but before we say goodbye to him a bit of trivia. Edward VIII is the fourth longest-lived British Monarch, a total of 28,463 days. Well, of course, I had to get my calculator out to find out just how old he was when he died, and that’s your homework for this week!

By now his brother sat on the throne, not all the time you understand, there were times when he got up and walked around for a while. He didn’t want to be king, for a start he stuttered badly and that’s not good as kings are supposed to give very long speeches.

PIC of FUNERAL from the BBC.

EMBARRASSING NATURAL BREAK

Apart from DH (and he has a tendency to grunt when shown), there is no one to share this with except you, a lovely review I got from Book Viral for Amie African Adventure.

A powerful and riveting adventure set against a background of violent upheaval, Amie African Adventure proves a masterfully penned novel with just the right mix of suspense and plot. Matching storytelling grace with a story truly worth the telling, Clarke’s novel is explosively authentic and she’s not an author to skip on social commentary. In fact, far from it; but she makes her points without too much breast-beating, with a tender regard for her characters that gives her storytelling a natural gravitas thoroughly suited to unfolding events. We feel Amie’s angst and her character is carefully observed, Clarke’s dialogue is timely and authentic whilst tension and suspense are always to the fore as she navigates the complexities of her plot. It’s the necessity of circumstances which dictate the choices Amie makes and readers will react with varying degrees of outrage, anger and concern as they hope for a better future for her. Most importantly, it all makes for an enthralling read that keeps the pages turning at a feverish pace whilst setting the tone for an exciting new series.

For readers who appreciate a well written, intelligent and engrossing adventure story Amie African Adventure proves a must read and is recommended without reservation.

Buy link myBook.to/Amie1

Till next week, take care.

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.

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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.