TRIALS AND TRAVEL

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

That first morning we made for the Charles Bridge – it was a focal point for most of the tours and I had booked plenty of them (I didn’t have the courage to admit to DH just how many)

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There are many bridges over the Vitava River, but you can’t miss the Charles Bridge as it is I think the only pedestrian bridge.

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It was built in the 14th century and, later, lined with statues and today there are street musicians, postcard sellers, portrait painters, musicians and lots of tourists.

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I felt very stupid when I learned that Prague was the capital seat of the kings of Bohemia. (Yes, a real place and not just a description for people wearing Laura Ashley outfits and flowers in their hair while setting fire to incense sticks). The city only became one in 1784 when Hradcany, Lesser Town, Old town and New Town were all combined into one.

HISTORY ISABELLA OF SPAIN

All those important people come and ask Isabella to be queen of Castile now that her brother has been poisoned – but she tells them not a chance – Henry is still king and it would be a bit tactless of her, not to mention just a tad dangerous. There is another war as those top guys fight it out, but I won’t bother you with all that just skip to the end when Isabella and King Henry sign an agreement.

Richard of Gloucester

 

Brilliant, it says Isabella can chose her own husband (Hate to tell you but Henry has no intention of keeping his word).

Now the hoards flock to ask for her hand in marriage. Richard of Gloucester is one – later Richard III of England.

(Remember that little rumour about princes in the tower? – yes that one). Probably a lucky escape.

AFRICA FACTS

I know this next bit to be true, as several kind people who have left reviews have mentioned experiencing this as well.

So, you are home on leave and people ask you lots of questions about what it’s like and you tell them an amazing story or two. There are two reactions. Either eyes glaze over and you realise they are not listening or, they don’t believe you.

You shut up.

Or, they are fascinated and then say how much they wish they were living abroad as well.  “But you can,” we say – (in those days o’seas contracts were much easier to get). Then come the reasons – mortgage payments, family, current job, too big a risk, education, free medical care – the list is endless.

Yes, we had an amazing life full of highs and lows but as with everything there is a price to pay.

A few pics of people and places, both have crept into my books in one disguise or another.

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Lots more to read in any of my books.

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

Till next time, take care.

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MEET TOM JOHNSON

A warm welcome to this week’s guest Tom Johnson. Reading a little about his life it has been anything but boring!

Tom Johnson was born July 26 1940 in Seymour, Texas. His dad was a cowboy and cook, giving his family an itinerant lifestyle. Tom changed schools often, as his dad’s jobs were relocated. His dad wanted him to follow in his footsteps, but a cowboy’s life didn’t appeal to him. Instead, during his high school years, Tom dreamed about becoming an entomologist. He loved biology and math, but was weak in other subjects. He read every book he could find on insects, reptiles, and arachnids, as well as paleontology.  His dream was simple – buy an old car and small mobile home that he could pull behind the car and set up in the desert where he could study the animal life. Having something of a raw artistic talent, he wanted to write and illustrate books recording the life cycles of desert animal life.

However, his life changed when he joined the Army and spent a 20-year career in law enforcement. Afterwards, he and his wife started the publishing imprint of FADING SHADOWS, and published a hobby magazine for 22 years, and several genre titles for nine years.

Fading Shadows Books http://fadingshadowsbooks.blogspot.com

Tom Johnson

They published writers and artists from all over the world, and met many of the publishers, editors, authors, and artists from the pulp magazines of the 1930s and ‘40s. One of those he met was Walter Gibson, a writer and magician who created the famous character The Shadow. Tom had been a fan of The Shadow radio drama as a child, and later found the novels. Gibson wrote almost 300 Shadow novels, as well as helping bring the character to radio and comic books. They corresponded until Walter’s death.

Tom was a voracious reader from an early age, beginning with comic books at age 7 and reading novels by age 10 or 11. He has never stopped reading for pleasure, though his interest in genres have often switched from SF to western, to hardboiled detectives, the classics, and back to science fiction again over the years. In his own writing readers will often find something about his love of zoology, whether insects, reptiles, or saber-tooth cats. Tom had a stroke in March 2002. Now retired, they devote their time to keeping Tom’s books in print, as well as helping promote other writers.

PENTAX Image

They settled in Tom’s hometown of Seymour, Texas, home of the Whiteside Museum of Natural History, and the red-bed digs near the town where Permian fossils have been discovered for over a hundred years. A 250 million year old amphibian, the Seymouria, was discovered in the red-beds and is named after Seymour. One of the main predators of the Permian was a large finback reptile called a Dimetrodon, and a statue is displayed outside the museum. Several of Tom’s books are on hand in the museum.

PENTAX Image

With over 80 books in print that he has contributed to, Tom has slowed down now. He is still writing children stories while promoting his books still on the market. Plus, he still has hopes of one day seeing his short novel, Pangaea: Eden’s Planet, made into a film.

Pangaea: Eden’s Planet: Seven astronauts en route to Mars encounter a time warp in space that disables their ship. Crash landing back on Earth, they discover an alien planet sixty million years before the dinosaurs. Pangaea, the super continent, is filled with danger and terror, as they must survive against fierce reptiles that ruled the Earth 250 million years in the past! Surviving in a prehistoric world gone mad where even the environment can turn against you, survival is all you think about. But even in the harshest of times, two people will find their destiny in an Eden modern man cannot imagine.

There are lots of places where you can connect with Tom:-

Tom’s Blog http://pulplair.blogspot.com

Tom’s Face Book Page https://www.facebook.com/tomginger.johnson

Tom’s Books http://jur1.brinkster.net/index.html

Tom’s Amazon Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008MM81CM

ALTUS PRESS http://www.altuspress.com 

Thank you Tom Johnson for being my guest today.

 

 

 

SPIRES AND SUPERMARKETS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

While I had booked several trips in Prague, having lost my notes, I’ll have to stretch my brain here! But that’s fine, there isn’t a lot left to stretch.

We went for a walk to orientate ourselves.

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I noticed that much of the architecture is what I call European.

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Prague lies on either side of the Vitava river and is called the City of a Hundred Spires. I suspect this might be because there are a lot of buildings with spires on them.

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HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Isabella now takes time out to do a bit of travelling round Castile with her brother, then pops into a convent for a bit of R & R. While there she gets the news that her bother has been poisoned.

She rushes off to see him, but he’s fine. She goes back to the convent but the next day he is dead. The assassins got the date muddled.

Isabella stays in the convent of Santa Clara and prays a lot she is very upset – well you would be, wouldn’t you?

AFRICA FACTS

Another observation about coming home on leave when you’ve been working abroad.

All of the places we lived in before we moved further south to South Africa were not very first world. For example, in Libya it was impossible to buy fresh milk, so we purchased powdered milk in tins. We had one choice of cheese, one of butter and most other products – no ready meals, not a lot that was familiar or hygienic. I only ever bought whole beef fillets – which I then had minced by the butcher, or cut into chunks. Goat, camel and chicken carcasses lying on the butchers’ floor looked so unappetising.

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Photo by Fancycrave.com on Pexels.com

Back in England in the supermarket I stood rooted to the floor. Firstly, the sights, sounds, bright lights and piped music overwhelmed my senses. Secondly, I couldn’t cope with the range of produce. Butter: salted, unsalted, English, Dutch, French, Irish. Large sized, small sized, foil wrapped, paper wrapped. It was all too much for me. Kind people stopped to ask me if I was feeling ill?

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Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

We desperately missed our pork products and often on landing would rush to the airport cafeteria and order bacon sandwiches and a glass of real milk. Usually we were feeling very sick by the time we climbed into the hired car! Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

Lots more information about living abroad in any of my books wrapped up in exciting, fast moving stories.

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next time, take care.

 

 

 

MEET CHRIS-JEAN CLARKE

This week my guest is Chris-Jean Clarke who lives in England, but has strong literary connections in the United States.

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Chris-Jean Clarke grew up in the West-Midlands (UK), but now resides in South Staffordshire (UK) with her husband, Geoff and children, Nathan and Kyrsten.

Prior to giving birth to her two beautiful children Chris-Jean worked for twenty years with people with learning and physical disabilities.

She studied the art of writing children’s stories @The Writing School, Oxford Open Learning.

Chris-Jean also donates stories & poems twice yearly to the Peacock Writers to benefit various charities. (NB She does not publish her

contributions in any other form.)  9781497384699_p0_v2_s260x420The Peacock Writers are a group of independent writers from around the globe & each of our anthologies are written around a given theme.

I have contributed to nine books, so far, but the book I would strongly recommend is: Springtime Bullies: Special Illustrated Edition (The Peacock Writers Present) (Volume 6)

http://thepeacockwriters.weebly.com/

 

In November 2016, Chris-Jean was accepted as a paid reviewer for Readers’ Favorite. During this month she was also accepted as a Publishing Assistant for the Books4Kids program, South Dakota.

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Early 2018, Chris-Jean transitioned from Publishing Assistant to author with the release of her educational story: To Dye For. To Dye For was accepted for its entertaining look at esteem. Interested readers can purchase the eBook from BookRix.com or any of the major online stores, such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble and iTunes, whilst the paperback version of this book is currently gifted to children in schools across America, but can also be purchased from our website: PS Publishing & the Books 4 Kids Program
https://www.publishps.com/retail-store.html   

August 2018, Chris-Jean re-released her historical fiction story: Honesty in World War 2. This story is told from ten-year-old Cyril Blessum’s perspective and is currently available to purchase as an eBook, and is available to purchase from BookRix.com and all the major online stores, such as Amazon, GooglePlay and Barnes & Noble.

Caleb Pirtle

2016, Honesty in World War 2  received a 5 star editorial review by Sarah Stuart for Readers’ Favorite and was showcased by Linda and Caleb Pirtle on their website as a Saturday Sampler:

https://calebandlindapirtle.com/saturday-sampler-honesty-in-world-war-2-by-

Since its re-release in 2018, Honesty in World War 2 has also been showcased on Pulp Den by author, historian and war veteran, Tom Johnson:
https://pulplair.blogspot.com/2018/08/honesty-in-world-war-2.htmlchris-jean-clarke/ 

You can connect with Chris-Jean at any of the links below.

Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Jean-Clarke/e/B00JZX8GIQ/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1537080616&sr=8-2
BookRix: https://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-chris-jean-clarke-to-dye-for/
BookRix: https://www.bookrix.com/_ebook-chris-jean-clarke-honesty-in-world-war-2/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/authorchrisjeanclarke

Thank you for being my guest this week .

 

HOTEL AND HOUSEKEEPERS

TRAVEL – WELCOME TO PRAGUE

I so often cringe when I read the ‘proper’ travel blogs as mine are simply ramblings of a geriatric couple ‘sticky-beaking’ (one of DH’s favourite sayings) as we amble from place to place.

Overall impressions? Touristy. Crowded. Well Oganized. Pretty. Reasonably priced.

DH had booked an all in package of flights and hotel – and I am in real trouble here as I don’t think I kept a diary this time – well I can’t find it anyway. I think I was just too tired overall and decided to soak up the sights.

PRAGUE HOTEL 1

 

We drove up to Barcelona to catch the flight to Prague and booked into the Red and Blue Designer Hotel.  It didn’t look much from the outside and I thought this was rather a strange name, but everything was either blue, or red. It didn’t look much from the outside but it was nice inside.

 

PRAGIE HOTEL 2

We had a blue room which was enormous. It overlooked the park and had coffee making facilities which always makes me happy – though breakfast was included. We got in quite late at night by taxi from the airport so just in time for a coffee and bed.

 

 

HOTEL BFAST ROOM

There was one thing I’ve never come across before. There was a little note about the pillows they put on the bed – the size, density etc. We were asked to tell them if we wanted harder or softer pillows or a different dimension. I’ve seen room furnishings on sale in Hong Kong, but never asked what density I required my pillow!

 

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Isabel young

Last time we left the young princess waiting for the arrival of her new bridegroom – an ugly, fat, dirty old man who was vain and vindictive and supposedly celibate too. Just what every young girl dreams of!

His family was ecstatic about this high-class marriage and Don Pedro Girona sets off with a huge party of people to come and marry the girl he never thought he would get his paws on.

But either miracles do happen or Isabella prayed extra hard because, guess what, at Villarubia, on his triumphal journey to Madrid, Don Pedro is taken ill after supper and dies!!  Saved again.

 

AFRICA FACTS

Coming home on leave after maybe two years spent in another country, was a really strange feeling. Your attitudes and mindsets had changed. Expats had a different view of the world and had to be very careful what they said. I remember putting my foot in it when I mentioned we had help in the house.

My friends were horrified my Ex and I were perpetuating the colonial system. I didn’t know how to explain why it was expected, and even demanded, by the locals. As a foreigner, you were not playing your part if you didn’t employ local people to help in the house and the garden.

I had many a discussion with hopeful maids – or should we call them housekeepers now? – that I honestly didn’t need dozens of them working, one was enough. At one point I caved in and employed two. In my case it didn’t mean me sitting round having cups of tea all day – it meant that I could cope with two jobs at once, including the weekends – teaching and running a riding school.

WRS sign up 3 APRIL 2018

The discussion nearly turned into a mini riot in our local pub as we tried to justify a different way of life in a different culture. While we might have large houses, fair sized gardens and some had pools, most of us worked very hard – especially the men who had to cope with a lot of frustration. It was usually impossible to work without backhanders, fawning on local and powerful officials and waiting for the ‘fixer’ who promised something three weeks ago. Again, the remarks from friends that you shouldn’t perpetuate the system of corruption was not understood.

I’m hoping to launch Amie book 5 soon, until then, if you want to catch up this is the link to my Amazon page.

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

Till next time, take care.

 

MEET JUDY PENZ SHELUK

My guest this week is Judy Penz Sheluk who writes in one of the most popular genres – crime mysteries. I’ve not read her books yet, but after now, they are firmly on my TBR list.  Great news is that her latest book is out tomorrow – just in time to snap up for the weekend.

Judy at local festival

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short stories appear in several collections.

Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime International, Sisters in Crime – Guppies, Sisters in Crime – Toronto, International Thriller Writers, Inc., the South Simcoe Arts Council, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves on the Board of Directors, representing Toronto/Southwestern Ontario. She splits her time between Alliston, Ontario, and her property on Lake Superior, with her husband, Mike, and their golden retriever, Gibbs.

Gibbs enjoys the view

As an author, I get asked a lot of questions. One of the most popular is, “Where do you get your ideas?” While each author’s answer will vary, I typically reply “From life,” and then I’ll usually cite the premise behind my 2015 debut novel, The Hanged Man’s Noose:

 

A greedy developer comes to town with plans to build a mega-box store on the fictional town of Lount’s Landing’s historic Main Street, thereby threatening the livelihoods of all the indie businesses. That one was inspired by the goings-on in my actual town of Holland Landing (with one major exception: no one in my town was murdered over it).

The idea for my latest book, Past & Present, however, was inspired by death. Gosh that sounds macabre doesn’t it? And yet, it really isn’t. You see, I was trying to come up with a plot for book two in my Marketville Mystery series (the sequel to Skeletons in the Attic) and I was completely stuck. And then, on September 21, 2016, my mother, Anneliese Penz, passed away after a lengthy battle with COPD and a multitude of other health-related issues.

 

Going through her bedroom closet, I came upon a train case, the sort of case you’d have taken for toiletries and the like back in the 1950s. Tucked inside were a variety of documents, including her passport and immigration papers from 1952, documents from the ocean liner she came from England to Canada on (the TSS Canberra), old pictures and postcards…well, you get the idea. The thing is, I’d never seen any of these things before, and my mom never talked much of her life before coming to Canada to marry my father. In short, it was a mystery and the writer in me had to know more. I couldn’t ask my dad: he’d passed away from stomach cancer in 1970 at the age of 42.

I decided to start by researching the Canberra, reaching out to a friend who collects ocean liner memorabilia, and before long, a story was brewing. The end result was Past & Present, and while the story is fiction, the research undertaken by my present-day protagonist, Callie Barnstable, mirrors my own, right down to the occasional (and frustrating) roadblock as she digs into the past of one Anneliese Prei, who came to a “bad end” in 1956.

I’ve dedicated Past & Present to my mother, and the release date falls exactly two years after her passing. I like to think she’s with my father again, watching over me as my journey continues. It’s not exactly like life on an ocean liner, but some days it feels every bit as turbulent as a wild storm at sea…

About the book

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present…

It’s been thirteen months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother thirty years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations.

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone—least of all Callie—could have predicted.

Judy Penz Sheluk’s latest book in her Marketville Mystery series launches Sept. 21st and is available on Amazon in trade paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited: http://authl.it/afj

I checked out Judy’s  amazon author page and see she has written quite a few books – so lots for me to add to the list.  You can also find her on her web page at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

Thank you Judy for being my guest.

 

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.