OLD CANAL NEW KING

TRAVEL

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

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

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

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

The following morning we set off for home again.

HISTORY

George VI
By Bertram Park

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

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

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

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

THE ADD BREAK.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Till next week, take care.

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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.

RIVERS AND RAIN

By now you must be wondering if we saw anything else besides temples on the Big Trip. Not a lot, although we had asked for a cultural tour. Our guide took us to a huge open area stretching for miles covered with crumbling temples which a long time ago must have been a vast city, but what excited him the most was this Buddha’s head in a tree. I’m still trying to work out which was there first.

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We were almost at the end of the guided part of our tour, and it culminated in a fabulous river cruise  on the Chao Phraya River back to Bangkok.

I’m not sure if you can see it too well, but they were building another huge Buddha statue on the banks of the river. I was curious to know if maybe wealthy families funded such structures, as they did in Europe for the church as a ticket into heaven, but I suspect not. If anyone knows, please share it.

Now we were our own, time for the fun to begin!

ADVERT BIT

Just an update to let you know I am nearing the end of the first draft of Amie book 4. Not sure of the title yet but I think it will have the word revenge in it – she’s got so feisty and a lot braver.

HISTORY BIT

Now I promised to tell you why Queen Vic was so cross with her eldest son, in fact cross is putting it mildly, she never forgave him. You see the prince had been so regimented that when he finally got permission to go to university, even under strict controls, he met a lady. Well I won’t describe what dastardly details he got up to, I expect he tickled her ankle or something obscene like that, but when mummy heard about it she sent Albert to have a little word, or a big word if you like.

BERTIE YOUTH

Sadly, it was no one’s particular fault, but it rained that day and Prince Albert got very wet. (He refused to talk indoors as he thought he saw a reporter from The Mirror behind one of the oak trees).

ALBERT 2

Albert not looking well.

And you can guess the result can’t you – he went back to Windsor and very inconsiderably died, thus leaving Victoria inconsolable – and it was all Bertie’s fault.

Till next week. – to be continued.

SECOND WARNING FOR THE FAINT HEARTED – AND WILLIAM OF THE DRUNKEN BRAWL

SECOND WARNING:  If you think the other week’s picture of the little, furry dead things with tails for sale in the market was bad – worse is to come in this blog. So close your eyes when the pictures come up or you may never drink again.

I know our guides came for us at 8.30 each morning but if felt more like dawn, as this was now day 16 and frankly we were knackered. We’d not had a rest at all, no weekend off and all the temples we had seen were now just floating before my eyes one after the other.

Back to the river, and while we spotted a few other tourists all cramming into one boat, we had a forty-seater all to ourselves. Guess that’s how the other half live? It was two hours up the river, according to my daily diary, until we pulled up on the left bank and our guide strode off leaving me to negotiate some rather slippery floating planks which had no intention of either keeping still or meeting each other.

We had arrived at the Pak Ou Caves. We guessed these caves were holy in some way as you can only reach them by going up some very steep steps and the nooks, crannies and shelves were all wall to wall Buddha statues, most of them quite small. Our guide explained that every family member places his or her own statue in the cave. There are thousands and thousands of them. Some are quite old and damaged, while others are obviously new.

They show all the different positions – meditation, teaching, peace, rain, and reclining (nirvana). It was difficult to feel we were in a holy place as there were other tourists there and a couple of locals selling souvenirs.

You could go up even higher into the top caves. I took one look and declined – being the #1 coward that I am – but DH hopped out of sight, after giving me a very condescending look. He was back a few minutes later after he saw just how many steps he would have to climb.

We boarded the boat again and were ferried across the river to have lunch on a floating restaurant (boat on water tied to the bank) and then it was off to other rural villages – Ban Xanghai and Ban Xangkhong. Here, I suspect the locals engage in papermaking, silk weavings and wine making mostly to sell to the tourists. Close your eyes now if you are of a nervous disposition.

We fell into bed that night and I set the alarm for 5.30 am. Tell you why next time.

What more can I tell you about William IV? He was known as the sailor king. Well I guess he never expected to be king as he was the third eldest boy born to George III and Queen Charlotte. So he was allowed to join the navy as a midshipman when he was only 13 years old, although Mum and Dad insisted a tutor went with him which spoiled the fun a bit.

malta

But he got about and was arrested in Malta after a drunken brawl. Of course they let him go immediately  they realized who he was. It’s always who you know right?

Quick tip:- Walking over Eggshells is due for a promo on Thursday at $/£0.99 which is probably a bit silly me telling you that now, as no one is going to buy it for the next few days, but then remember, only my blog and FB page readers will know that.

Here are the links to Amazon and it’s also available on Nook, Kobo and Apple. (Smart pic with the silver medal on).

woe-ver9-1-silver-award-front-cover-75dpi-jpg-small-for-kindle

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8HSNDW

I’m writing an extra blog this week with more news. Take care and thank you for reading.

BACK EAST AND GEORGE IV

I’ve digressed a couple of times from The Big Trip as other things popped up in my humdrum life, but I hate to leave loose ends – so onwards with our Far East tour.

By now my takkies/gym shoes/pumps/trainers were falling apart and the hotel in Siem Reap sold me a very nice pair of fake Nikes. As the pretty receptionist told me, “you can’t tell the difference” – and I certainly couldn’t – apart from the price.

We dined in the hotel that night, sitting in solitary splendour with a waiter and a half each. Where all the other guests were, we had no idea. We even went out for a walk but we couldn’t find them. Later we learned they’d gone to a show. We booked for the following night.

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More temples the next day, honestly I was beginning to get templed-out. I ducked out of the second one and went browsing around a local market instead.

 

The third temple was fascinating, not because it had been used in the Tomb Raider film, but for the tree growing out of the ruins.

The next day we were driving through the countryside to a local town where we saw this bride and groom. As I was slithering into the photographer’s covered tent he turned and looked. I was preparing to make a million apologies, grovelling an inch off the ground, when he ushered the happy couple outside so could get a proper photo – at least I think that’s what he said.

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Another boat took us on Tonle Sap Lake which was truly enormous, I thought I was on the Mekong, but although this lake flows eventually into the delta, for six months of the year the river flows in the opposite direction, out of the lake and then into it again.

As the level goes up and down, some of the lake people relocate to the land. We were there in January and it was just mind blowing to see floating petrol stations, a church, basketball court, the usual houses and, believe it or not a crocodile farm.

 

I don’t think George IV was all that interesting really. He spent a lot of money – didn’t they all? Had lots of mistresses – didn’t they all? Fathered a lot of illegitimate children – didn’t they all? He also founded a couple of important institutions and things which probably aren’t very important.

He was on the throne for ten years and if you think you’ve got money problems, look at his – he owed £630,000 which in today’s terms comes to £58,700.000. His by-now-not-so-by-now friendly bank manager had confiscated all his Visa and Mastercards, but that didn’t stop him. I think he should have been admitted to retail rehab, but if you’re king, you only have to ask the parliament to bail you out I guess.

georgeiv1780

Oh, I ought to do a bit of promoting stuff I suppose. You must on pain of death Can I persuade you to go on my mailing list? As soon as I’ve sent Amie 3 off to my editor, I will be writing some back stories only available to a special set of people. Also you can find out when you can get my books free or cheap and there’s the occasional competition to win free books just for signing up J

Either pm me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Or email me on Lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com

 

Till next time.

Elephant Dentistry and Amsterdam

If you read this blog regularly you may remember that every time we take a holiday something goes wrong. And this time was no different except it all happened before we even left home. When I go away I make a big production out of it, it’s all part of the fun. The house has to be squeaky clean, the washing up to date and I’m packed hours and hours before we leave – from my pre-made list of course.

This time was no exception, and to keep the kitchen nice and clean we set out for our favourite pasta place in the village.  IT HAD GONE!! We stared dumbfounded at the empty store till a kind man told us it had moved to the next small town. Off we went but failed to find it, so back to our village, parked the car and went to eat somewhere else. An early night we agreed as we had to be up before dawn for the drive to the airport. Back to collect the car only to find it was locked in the underground parking garage – huge steel shutters between us and our transport. Another kind passerby suggested the police station might have a key. So back up 3 flights of steps and into the cop shop. They were sympathetic, but no they didn’t have a key, could we come back at 8am when the garage opened? No, we couldn’t we had a plane to catch. We pretended we were tourists and luckily I had my passport already packed in my bag. Mind, they could tell we weren’t local, not with my level of Spanish. Wait outside, they told us. So we sat on the steps and waited and waited until finally we were told to hurry back to the garage. There a friendly cop was playing with the metal doors as they shot up and down. Having taken our details in the office DH was escorted to the car and he was able to drive out.

We landed in Amsterdam and being me I had to see everything. First it was the Royal Palace

Then a daylight cruise on the canals so we could see where we were going. Then a visit to the Sex Museum.

A stroll through the Red Light District.

The next day we made for the Rijksmuseum to see the Night Watch.

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Whoops wrong pic

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Then to the diamond museum where we bought nothing at all of course – and on to the Van Gough Museum with a special exhibition about his madness – oh so many of us writers have exactly the same frustrations don’t we? I felt a real affinity with him.

And here I am on my birthday in the middle of a fountain.

The Heineken Brewery was next, even though I don’t like beer.

A church with an impressive organ and after dinner a night cruise on the canals. Then a walk through the Red Light District, visiting the Museum of Prostitution, and I have to hand it to Amsterdam, it’s regulated, open, honest and treated just like any other business. No pics here of course, but the girls looked absolutely beautiful. Millions of story lines flew round my head – why were they here and not starring in Hollywood?

Next day we visited the Jewish Historical museum and the Museum of Resistance which was amazing – but a little uncomfortable as it all happened not too long before I was born. Then the Red Light District. However, I must explain that our hotel was on the fringes, and as we are a little old for the nightclubs, the coffee bars in the area are humming late into the night.

Finally on our last morning we had a meet up with a FB friend Val Poore and that was magic. We have so much in common and we’ll be getting together again very soon. DH didn’t nod off either as we chattered about books and books and books and previous lives.

And the elephant dentistry? We found the perfect picture for the cover of Amie 3. She meets a lone bull who is frantically looking for a female to love, so he’s unpredictable and dangerous. Only problem with the pic is this ellie only had half a tusk. So we sent him off back to South Africa where my clever photographic friend worked Photoshop magic and gave him a smart new pair. I decided to stop at that.

Finally, thank you to all the people who sent kind birthday wishes, I’ve tried to thank everyone personally, but if I missed some, please forgive me.

THE BIG TRIP XI – CAN THO AND BIT MORE GEORGE III

Can Tho is on the banks of the Hau River in the Mekong delta area, but it felt as if we were by the sea – it is one big delta.

We spent the night in Can Tho and went walking along the promenade and came to this!

That must have cost a bit and slap bang in the south which was not in favour of the man on the platform.

Now from pictures on the internet it looks as if there are hundreds of tiny boats floating by the banks, but the following morning we were whisked up river to see the permanent floating villages. We were told they did relocate every six months due to the flooding, but I wasn’t sure how they managed this. How do you move a petrol station twice a year?

Then it was time for more eco village pursuits. Making rice noodles and a couple of extra pictures to prove I was there.

 

You can see how brave I was!

Back to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon) to fly to Seim Reap and I’m sure you can guess why they took us there.

 

Not only was George III interesting because he was mad, other exciting and interesting people lived at the same time – such as:

The peasants in France who revolted under Napoleon, who wanted France to become Top Dog. This could NOT be allowed of course, so Nelson with his very close friend  Hardy [of “Kiss Me Fame.”] and an Irishman called John Wellesley, who became the Duke of Wellington, and thus English, defeated Napoleon once at Waterloo and then again on the playing fields of Eton, which only proves that geography is not taught in French schools.

I’ve used up all my pictures for this post, so can you please imagine them?

Would Do you want  How about joining my mailing list? As soon as I’ve sent Amie 3 off to my editor, I will be writing some back stories only available to this special set of people. Also you can find out when you can get my books free or cheap and there’s the occasional competition to win free books just for signing up.

Either private message me on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lucindaeclarke.author

Or email me on Lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com