PACKING AND A PROPOSAL

TRAVEL

Earlier This year DH and I went to Prague for a few nights. Another venue to tick off the bucket list. There are so many places I want to see and time is running out – not to mention that the money has already run out.

I’d been fantasising about spending a week there as so many people had told us it was so pretty, but DH found a ridiculously cheap four-day trip which included flights and hotel. I honestly don’t know how they can offer so much for comparatively little money.

Having quickly checked there was no revolution brewing, or recent invasion, I rushed off to pack my suitcase.

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Photo by Tranmautritam on Pexels.com

Considering I’m a dummy when it comes to techie stuff, I’m an expert on organising. I have a file of lists on my laptop – equipment to pack for hot, cold, warm and in-between weather. It cross checks with lists for a weekend, four to five days and longer trips.

What is more, it’s colour coded too. (Yes, I can hear your gasps of admiration from here)

Orange donates what I will carry in my handbag, pockets etc.

Blue donates what goes into the big suitcase

Green is for the contents in the carry- on bag.

And there is a sub total in purple for all the things that need to go into that little plastic zip-lock bag I will waggle at the customs men.

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Photo by Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels.com

On our last few trips I’ve been pulled over every time for extra surveillance. I’ve no idea why and I could get paranoid about it. I’ve stared very hard into the mirror and honestly I don’t think I look like a drug dealer or any kind of criminal come to that.

As I pack, I cross off each item on the list only highlighting stuff that gets put in last minute.

In the meantime, DH casually throws a few things into his case and gives me one of ‘those’ looks and he’s ready to go.

So, next Monday we will set off for Prague.

HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

order of Calatrava

There is a lot of fuss about who should be the next king, with everyone taking sides. The next marriage proposal for Isabella is Don Pedro Giron – he would be politically perfect for one faction. He is old, and revolting and once slobbered all over Isabella’s mother – that is conveniently forgotten.

 

Pope Paul II

There could still be a small problem, as Don Pedro is the Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava and sworn to celibacy, but everyone knows he’s a notorious lecher. He’s also considered vindictive and vain. It will require a dispensation from the Pope too. But that arrives just in time as the marriage is organised with indecent haste. How is poor Isabella going to get out of this one?

Pic above is the order of Calatrava and the one on the right the pope at that time.

AFRICA FACTS

When we started traveling and living overseas in the 1970’s things were very different.

There was no internet – so no Skype, no FaceTime, no WhatsApp and no emails. Communication was by mail – real old fashioned letters composed on real paper with a real pen and folded into envelopes – followed by a trip to the post office, to buy stamps and pop the envelope in the box. Then you had to wait.

Sometimes the letters would not be delivered, or take 3 – 4 weeks in each direction. Questions asking how you were recovering from the flu were so out of date you’d forgotten having had the flu.

Phone calls were astronomically expensive and you had to book them in advance. To make sure the family were at home to take the call, you needed to write weeks in advance and wait for the return letter to arrange the time.

Few of us had phones in the house. So, that often meant a trip to the office to make the call.

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This map might give you some idea of distances.

It was difficult for family at home to see how big the grandchildren had grown and often birthday and Christmas gifts were aimed at a lower age group.

Most of us got to go home for a couple of weeks every year, others only got leave every two years. While it was great to see friends and family it didn’t take long to realise you were no longer on the same page – as Amie found out on her trip back home.  (to be continued)

AMIE series BLACK FRIDAY 2 X 99C 24 NOV 2017

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

Till next time, take care.

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GOODBYE AND GLASSES

TRAVEL

Now you probably think that DH (Dear Husband) and I go globetrotting all the time.  No, sadly that is not true at all. We manage to get away maybe once or twice a year. If I could, I’d be exploring new places at least 50% of the time.

This week the last few pictures of Vienna (of course, since DH is social media shy I can’t use any that show him).

This first is the hotel we stayed at – highly recommended – and I was particularly impressed to learn that during World War II it was used as lodgings for the German high command. Hedda Hopper the gossip columnist also stayed there. Of course, I had to play the mental history game – imagining I was there at the time.

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And a couple of side streets and a restaurant where we had a typical Austrian meal. I think the Austrians have their cuisine just right. I was very sad to say goodbye to Vienna as I really loved the city.

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HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

About time we talked about Isabella herself. She’s now at the court and life is much better. Beatriz Fernandez de Bobadilla becomes a maid of honour and a friend to Isabella – a very important servant who helped to change the face of the whole world.  I’ll come back to her later and you’ll find out how.

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This picture is a little fuzzy as she refused to sit still while I photographed her.

But the dowager Queen (Isabella’s mother who is a bit, no a lot, over the edge) does not behave well at court, and the King sends her back to Arevalo, probably to Isabella’s relief.

Alfonso V Portugal

 

Isabella turns 13 years old a ripe age for marriage in those days and the Queen’s brother, King Alfonso V of Portugal, asks for her hand in marriage. The year is now 1464. He looks a heck of a lot older than 13 doesn’t he? And to be quite honest she’s not thrilled at all. Not too cuddly with in all that armour and he  doesn’t look as if he has much of a sense of humour.

 

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 3

We had been filming in a rural village where they had recently installed electricity and the local sangoma (witch doctor) acted as a spokesperson on camera. I hesitantly asked her if she would throw the bones for me. She agreed and I returned a few days later and sat in her hut on the floor. She lit incense sticks and threw a mixture of objects onto a grass mat and chanted. There were some small animal bones, together with Coke bottle tops, half a clothes peg, scraps of material and glass and pieces of painted wood.

After quite some time she said “Take care driving as there is danger. Also, your eldest daughter will need to buy glasses.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was sceptical but kept my speed down to 30 kilometres an hour for days. Possibly as I was driving so slowly the police pulled me over and noticed my rather bald tyres. They said I would hear from them. I didn’t, so missed the time to pay the fine, also the date to appear in court for non-payment and so they issued a warrant for my arrest. (I had to admit it eventually that I’m a criminal).  It all got sorted but gave me a hell of a scare.

And, within a year my eldest daughter was prescribed glasses despite having had 20-20 vision up until then.

So, I would never, ever discount what the sangomas say – just in case. There is still much we don’t understand.

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Ouma Adede the sangoma appears in all the Amie books, with cryptic messages for her which come true but not in the way Amie expects.

myBook.to/Amie1   At the moment they are all in KU so you can read them for free.

Till next time, take care.

MEET LUCINDA E CLARKE

Yes, this is me! I just wanted to share the graphics that Melanie P Smith put together for me when it was my turn in the ‘A Reader Recommends’ promo. I was just blown away.

me 1

me 2

me 3

me 4

me 6

me5

A few handy links.

Web page – http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

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

Till next time, take care.

COLUMNS AND CURSES

TRAVEL

We had a guide while touring the Parliament building in Vienna.

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I noticed there was not a lot of furniture around – but maybe there isn’t an IKEA in Vienna?

This is where the 183 members of the National Council meet – I thought it great that we were even encouraged to take photographs. It’s really difficult to get inside the Houses of Parliament in London.

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The Federal Parliamentary assembly has naked ladies propping up the pillars. I do hope that the members, while sitting listening to long boring speeches, don’t let their minds wander to other more enjoyable pastimes.

HISTORY

Isabel young

Now life becomes exciting for Isabella. She is no longer under Mummy’s control but that of the king, and she will finish her education at court.  Alfonso is put under the care of a tutor and Isabella becomes part of the Queen’s household.

The princess has plenty to eat, lives in a castle adorned with gold and silver and has lessons in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, maths, art, chess, dancing, embroidery and music.  She lives a relaxed lifestyle, except for the fact that Henry will not allow her to leave Segovia.  However, she is astute enough to have full knowledge of what is going on in the kingdom, the court is a hotbed of intrigue.

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 2

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A lot depends on the financial status of the family of a sangoma (witch doctor) and how long they have been practising their craft, but many have ordinary, everyday jobs as well. I met them in the health department, working in shops and even road sweeping. Generally, they are treated with a lot of respect by the community, and are partially feared for the powers they have.

It may surprise many to learn that even professionals such as medical doctors (even those trained overseas), teachers, politicians, just about anyone, will consult sangomas for potions to make someone fall in love with them, put spells on those they don’t like, to protect them against enemies or for good crops or successful business deals.

I named my witch doctor in the Amie series as Ouma Adede – Ouma is a respectful term used by Afrikaners which literally means grandmother but is often used as a respectful address to the elderly.

The Amie series  has been translated into Spanish and other languages are in production.

Till next time, take care.

PARLIAMENT AND POTIONS

TRAVEL

We had booked a tour of the Parliament building in Vienna and the MP’s were kind enough to leave the building so we could go and have a good gawk at it.

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It’s a very imposing building (I’m convinced I was Christopher Wren in a former life, I love gazing at architecture).

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I just love that sign telling you where you will find missing children! There didn’t seem to be any around to claim though.

HISTORY (WELL KIND OF)

Now that Carlos of Aragon is dead, busy haunting the streets of Barcelona, his younger brother Ferdinand is heir to the throne. We can forget about all the girl children, because under Salic law women cannot ascend the throne in Aragon.

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This is Ferdinand, but I couldn’t find a picture of him before he got a crown.

Isabella, still controlled by her mad mother spends most of her days praying, but Mummy is now really furious as King  Henry’s wife Joan (miraculously) produces a daughter and so Isabella and her elder brother Alphonso are a step further away from the throne to rule Castile. She is not a happy bunny.

Then, King Henry, summons Prince Alfonso and Princess Isabella to attend court at Segovia, probably so Henry can keep an eye on them. Isabella is now 11 years old and Alfonso 9.

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 1

Tribal medicine and herbal cures are still alive and well even in the cities in South Africa. You can often see the witch doctors (both men and women) also called sangomas, as they are often dressed more traditionally and are liberally adorned with beads, charms to ward off bad luck and have chicken bladders in their hair.

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On two occasions I was told by the sangomas themselves that they woke in the night and followed a voice telling them to leave their homes and walk. They had no idea where they were going but followed paths and roads until they finally arrived – often after days – at the home where they were expected. In each case their host or hostess was an experienced witch doctor who told them they had been chosen to carry on the profession and taught them everything they knew. In both cases the newly trained returned to their home villages to practice.

(More next week)

Amie makes friends with Ouma Adede the best known and most powerful sangoma in Apatu – and I based her on my meetings with the witchdoctors I met and talked to.

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Till next time, take care.

 

RATHAUS AND (W)RITING

TRAVEL (VIENNA)

After we left the Vienna Experience exhibition we spent several minutes standing on the pavement discussing which way to go – I won’t go as far as arguing exactly but it got heated. Want to know who won? DH, nauseatingly he was right. We spent time meandering the streets getting a feel for the place – to me the vibes screamed music, history and art – quite heavenly.

This building is the front of the State Opera house.

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They offer free tours and we left it to the last day to go round it – sadly it was closed on that day.

So, we headed off to the Town hall or Rathaus (the name in German) instead. I know it’s silly but I kept imagining scenes similar to the Pied Piper of Hamlyn – how we often think about politicians?

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I’m not sure we were supposed to go inside but there were no notices telling us not to and we were very good and didn’t vandalise anything or scrawl graffiti on the walls either. It was a veritable maze with several wide staircases covered in red carpet over the marble floors.

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HISTORY

When Joan Henriquez Ferdinand’s mummy hears of the intended betrothal of her stepson Prince Carlos with Isabella, she is furious because she is all for the marriage between her darling Ferdinand and Isabella. But all is not lost because Carlos is now locked up by his Daddy the king and is languishing in jail. Not the best place for a royal to get married, even in those days.

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King John is forced to release his son, but shortly after, Carlos dies in rather suspicious circumstances. It’s said that his ghost still walks the streets of Barcelona.

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And it gets worse. Living quietly in Olite, Blanche [Henry’s ex wife the one he had before Joan Henriquez] is now very scared. On Carlos’ death, she has inherited Navarre. She is still imprisoned by her own family, in general she has a very sad life. She also dies under suspicious circumstances at the age of 40.  Like Carlos, she was probably poisoned. What dangerous times, better to be a peasant I think.

AFRICAN FACTS

When we first started filming in the rural areas around Johannesburg, it was easy. The local people were so friendly and helpful. If we asked them to cry they wailed loudly enough to be heard in London. If we asked them to laugh they cackled till we begged them to stop.

But, somewhere word got out that in Hollywood, actors were paid obscene amounts of money, and they began to demand payment. Sadly, our budget did not stretch to this and we were at a loss as to what to do. Until someone hit on the idea to ‘pay’ them in plastic buckets and bowls.

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It worked! We got our footage and they walked off with brightly coloured plastic ware and everyone was happy.

Later, when I was running my own company in KwaZulu Natal I handed out lollipops for appearing in my movies. The idea was to give them to the children, but the grown-ups were having none of that and queued up to get theirs as well. It led to lots of laughs and some amazing footage.

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This picture is not a mock-up, this lady was having her first lesson in learning to write.

all books day 5 group promo May 2018

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

Till next time, take care.

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.

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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