BANKOK AND ALMOST THE END OF ESCORTED BIG TRIP

The summer palace at Bang Pa-In was truly special and as I can’t put too many photos in each blog, I’ll spread it out over a couple of weeks. No words from me are necessary, the pictures speak for themselves.

HISTORICAL NONSENSE

Well of course all this frolicking around in the bedroom had consequences didn’t it? (Urban legend has it that Albert put locks on the doors – that’s how serious it was).  I’m still puzzling over that letter from last week, do you think Albert ever got to read it?  The Queen hated being pregnant, viewed breast-feeding with disgust and thought new born babies were ugly. She compared them to frogs.

vic-before-babies

In November 1840, three doctors and a nurse were installed in Buckingham Palace. When the Queen went into labour, she was worried that she might cry out and be heard by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and other important ministers who were all waiting in the next room.

This was referred to as the first silent birth – and you thought it might be fun to be a princess? Think again.

The reason for this almost public exhibition? Years ago, many had believed that James II’s son was a changeling and had been smuggled into the queen’s bedchamber in a warming pan, so it became practice to have state ministers on hand to view a new royal baby immediately it was born.

Stay safe until next week.

A FEW MORE TEMPLES ON THE BIG TRIP

We were still reeling from the sheer size of the Gold Buddha, these are a few pictures of the exterior of the building it’s housed in. Pure gold, can you imagine? You might expect it to be surrounded by armed guards, trip wires, mine fields and so on, but although it was out of reach on a huge platform, no one could lift it or remove it easily – even if it wasn’t a sacred monument.

A picture of the exterior of the building and the ceiling inside.

The Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) is a Khmer style Buddhist temple on the west banmk of the Chao Phraya River and we went to Wat Po, the largest and oldest temple in Bankok also known as the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage.

The afternoon was spent at the Royal Grand Palace, the official residence of the kings of Siam (now Thailand) which is in the historic centre of the city since 1782.  The king and his court lived there until 1925. It was quite sparse inside, but interesting.

More pics of this next time.

HISTORICAL RUBBISH

Now I forgot to mention that Victoria, deprived of her favourite Lord M, was ripe for the picking and sneaky Albert had been well coached in her likes and dislikes and was ready to ingratiate himself.

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To begin with he pretended to like dancing (he didn’t), he lied and told her he liked staying up late (he preferred early nights) and he was full of fun (he was a boring, lack lustre old fart).  But of course the stupid queen fell for him and the rest, as they say is history.

Stay safe till next week.

PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.

THE BIG TRIP FURTHER ON

Sadly I waved goodbye to the ellies, counting my fingers and toes in the car on the way down the hill to make sure I wasn’t a missing a bit. (Yes, I know elephants are vegetarian). We’d heard some horrific stories about the bad treatment some of them had suffered at the hands of their owners and one poor beast was hobbling around on three legs after stepping on a landmine. I was, however, only suffering from a sore toe. I’d watched the handlers smashing those large watermelons on the ground before feeding them to the elephants. That looks easy I thought what fun, and tried it as well – result, a bruised foot. I guess it takes practice and some spare feet.

We returned to our very posh hotel in Chiang Mai through the rush hour traffic which was quite horrendous

and the largest suite we’d stayed in for a long time. We could have hired a courier to pass messages from one end to the other. Don’t you just love the condoms on offer?

Just across the road we investigated this market with all kinds of interesting food on sale.

But wimpishly, we saw an Irish tavern and treated ourselves to some very European steak and potatoes, which was a change from the rice and vegetable diet more typical of the Far East.

Some beautiful, tall women came and greeted us, gorgeously dressed. I could have kicked myself later when DGH explained (in rather pompous tones I thought) they were examples of the transvestites who are common in the city. I didn’t take pictures! They hovered for a while and perhaps they were hoping to earn a few dollars by posing for the diners. I think we were the only diners there who weren’t local residents.

Now William probably didn’t notice the industrial revolution. He was too busy in his palace siring 10 illegitimate children. He attempted to sire at least 1 legitimate heir, but that didn’t work out too well. Mind, by the time he became king at the age of 64, he was probably getting a bit past it. Two of his children born on the wrong side of the blanket had died. He had them all with his mistress an actress (still a rather scandalous occupation in those days) Dorothea Jordan (born Dora Bland) with whom he lived with for twenty years.

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I get a hint here that he wasn’t terribly fond of his wife. To begin with it was an arranged marriage to begat an heir, and even before the union William had written to his eldest son, “She is doomed, poor dear innocent young creature, to be my wife.”

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I think she must have been quite easy going to accept the marriage – it came with a hefty sum of money from parliament but since William was 27 years older than her, Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen spent many happy hours in Marks and Spencers spending most of it. On good days she popped into Harrods, especially at sale time.

Have a great week, a safe Halloween and don’t forget my new book comes out on Thursday the 3rd in the Amie series – Stolen Future, which is on pre-order right now.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M67NRG4  But another blog about that nearer the time.

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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.

$/£ 0.00318 for a smile

Once upon a time when I was writing for a living (and are we going back a long, long way), I wrote mainly promotional, educational and informational content – usually for radio and television, often in a drama format.

few of the videos I made

Then, as I got to the wrinkly stage, pretending to be retired, I turned to books. I wrote three memoirs, and two novels. If there was any theme it was Africa, well I lived there for almost forty years, so I got to notice quite a lot, especially filming in deep rural areas miles away from cities.

Then I broke the mould and published my political/satirical book set 200 years on in Fairyland, possibly described as similar to Tom Sharpe or Monty Python. I was unsure if the rather ‘British’ humour would transcend the Atlantic, but surprisingly I’ve had more sales on the other side of the pond.

UAE KINDLE COVER

Readers who knew me best from the Amie novels (and let’s face it, she has a very limited sense of humour), expressed surprise as it was so ‘not’ my genre.

Most writers have a genre we’re told ‘it’s the right thing to do’. So, Ludlum writes spy books, Steven King writes horror books and Edit Blyton wrote books for children.

But as often as I could, I put a humorous slant on most of my writing. It’s there in my memoirs, even in Walking over Eggshells. I’ve had to see the funny side of life in order to keep sane through the ups and downs of the bizarre situations I found myself in.

So Unhappily Ever After is possibly more me than Amie’s servant, telling her story to the world (well OK to the occasional reader who clicks on the link).

Why am I rambling on like this? Just a reminder that Unhappily is at $/£0.99 this week for 311 pages of really funny stuff, even I giggled at some of it. And as an extra teaser, here are some of the Twitter adds I put together (no, not going in for the graphic awards any time soon), which might give you a taste as to what it’s all about.

UAE FRIDAY 5 AUG

It climbed to #6,246 overall in paid books this morning in the US and #35,868 in the UK but I had a bit of help with one of those promos. Go take a peep, here is the link

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

and please, if you are in a good mood, reblog this for me as well? And if you feel depressed then check out the look inside and smile.

Have a great week.