TANTRUMS AND TEMPERATURES.

While I am between countries I thought I would share some pictures of one of the local fiestas.

Each year many of the towns on the east coast (and I think along the south coast as well) have a 3 day festival celebrating the Moors and Christians. Now, in case you didn’t know Spain was invaded in 711 AD from North Africa by the Moors. They conquered most of it, except for the far north around Santiago de Compostela. Being a mainly Christian country that was not viewed too kindly by the Iberians and they battled to take back the conquered land. This was not accomplished until 1492 almost 800 years later.

The term Moors refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers.

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On day 1 at festival time, the Moors invade and take control of the town. On day 2 the Christians fight back and on day 3 they all march together in a big parade, usually lasting at least 3 hours.

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The costumes take your breath away. In a few towns they make or buy them, but mostly they are hired from huge centres for the festivities so they are different every year.

Benitachell M & C 2011 28

I found this utterly fascinating as in South Africa they are working so hard to bury their history, changing road names, re-branding to Africanisms and using the past only as a vehicle for blaming the state of the present.

A replacement road sign in Durban

Here in Spain they celebrate the diversity and most places you can see remnants of Moorish architecture and culture.

HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

Ferdinand 5

FERDINAND

Since last week I’ve discovered Alfonso was only 32 when he wanted to marry the 13 year old Isabella, but to her that was like, ancient!! The Queen can’t wait to get her married off and out of the way, while Dowager Mummy bleats her daughter is already betrothed to Ferdinand of Aragon. Isabella agrees with this, she’s madly in love with the dashing Ferdinand of Aragon and she’s not above throwing a real tantrum if she can’t marry him. Now that his brother was bumped off he’s the heir to the Aragon throne and quite a good catch.

To get out of this new betrothal to Alfonso of Portugal, Isabella turns to Don Frederick Admiral of Castile, father of Queen Joan of Aragon who is a man of great experience.  She feels that she can trust him.  And he comes up with a plan.

AFRICA FACTS

It’s a mistake to think that Africa is warm all the time. The summers are hot but it can get quite cold in winter. Of course, nothing like as cold as many places. Durban on the east coast is a subtropical climate and the temperature rarely drops below 9 degrees Centigrade. I never needed a coat there but I had several jerseys. The contrast between a hot day and a cooler night can feel so much more and it’s possible to shiver at 10 degrees Centigrade.

AERIAL BEACHFRONT
DURBAN BEACHFRONT

Johannesburg is 1,753 metres (5,751 ft) above sea level and Nairobi is pretty much the same at 1,795 metres. Even towns in Botswana are over 1,000 metres above sea level. As a child I always thought that the higher up you are the hotter it would be – closer to the sun aren’t you? Apparently, this is not the case as Mount Everest at 8,848 metres proves.

Visitors to Nairobi and Johannesburg will notice the oxygen levels are lower at these heights and will need to take things easy for the first few days.

joburg

JOHANNESBURG

Since I have little fashion sense, I don’t need to worry too much what Amie wears – usually cargo pants and t-shirt and good, sturdy boots. In book 4 these became more dangerous than she could ever have imagined.

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.

beatriz de 0bobadilla

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.

gold framed eyeglasses
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.

FB BANNER UPDATED SEPT 2017

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.

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

witchdoctor 2

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.

Fedinand 3

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.

witchdoctor 1

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.

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.

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.