MEET JOHN SEARANCKE

I am really happy to be part of a huge blog hop for John Searancke, whose name is familiar as he is also a member of the FB group We love Memoirs.  But first things first.

ALL JOHN’S BOOKS ARE ON SALE FROM MARCH 31, 2019 THROUGH APRIL 2, 2019 for 99¢/99£

The Author (1)

John Searancke is restaurant reviewer for the Tenerife newspaper Island Connections. Born in 1943 at Derby Royal Infirmary, a war baby, he lived his early life in Ashby-de la-Zouch and was sent away to be educated at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford and afterwards at Rugby School. Later commissioned into the Territorial Army, he has been variously a director of a light engineering company, an hotel and restaurant owner, director and chairman of a marketing consortium, and latterly a partner with his wife in a commercial legal services company. He has enjoyed working in England and Switzerland and has homes in England and northern Tenerife, where he now lives with his wife Sally.

His latest book is

TheReluctantHotelkeeper

A Memoir

Available Wide in eBook, Paperback

ASIN: B07LB7WLZM

ISBN-10: 1789017572

ISBN-13: 978-1789017571

Non-fiction, Memoir

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LB7WLZM/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LB7WLZM/

Amazon Smart Link: smarturl.it/TheRelHotelkeeper

Universal Wide Link: https://books2read.com/b/ReluctantHotelkeeper

A rescue mission originally thought of as lasting for a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building.

There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, and with the local fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures.

John Searancke came to the role of hotel keeper almost accidentally, and most definitely with much reluctance. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely-trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.

Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, people were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Many were the guests who checked in who really should not have been seen together.

This is a tribute to all the people behind the scenes who helped to make the hard-won transformation into a great success.

With a rave 5 star review from Readers’ Favorites, I can back up Matma Madhaven’s comments: “There are a lot of interesting stories about eccentric guests, how many guests who checked in should not have been seen together at all, and how it ended up being one of the favored stops for a number of celebrities. The author goes through the entire process, speaking about transforming the hotel methodically and in detail, taking readers along with him and his experiences while getting the old building renovated to cater to the needs of a modern traveler. There is not one boring moment in this memoir and the positive narration and outlook make this memoir an encouraging and motivating read. The author’s story and experiences are enriching, and the ups and downs of his life and the accolades he received for the hotel and its restaurant will encourage many readers out there to become hotel keepers.”

I’m not sure about that last sentence, but I sat and read John’s book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Other books by John:-

Dog Days In The Fortunate Islands: A new life in hidden Tenerife

https://books2read.com/b/DogDays

Prunes for Breakfast: One Man’s War: Based on a True Story. 

https://books2read.com/b/Prunes

Like most of us these days John has numerous addresses and if you want to find out lots more about him click on one of these.

Website: https://www.johnsearancke.com/

Newsletter sign up: https://mailchi.mp/57550f38f321/joinjohnsearancke

Author Interview: https://www.rukiapublishing.com/an-interview-with-john-searancke.html

FB: https://www.facebook.com/johnsearanckeauthor/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JohnSearancke

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/john-searancke

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/John-Searancke/e/B00J787XZ6/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7956383.John_Searancke

All the very best John for your new book.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

A CASTLE AND CATASTROPHE

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Of course, the main attraction in Prague is the castle. And, I know why they put castles on top of hills – so they could see who was coming to attack – but I don’t do hills. Luckily there was a bus that took us most of the way up, and dropped us in this square.

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HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Considering Isabella had never met Ferdinand, I can only think she decided he was the ‘one’ as they were about the same age – she is 19 and he’s all of 18. She would have seen a portrait I’m sure, but boy did the painters in those days lie through their brushes.

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But their royal marriage will be one of the few where the bride and groom are so close in age. Remember, while Disney tells us they lead happy, delightful lives, in reality they were just marriage fodder for the good of their country.

Ferdinand is introduced to her as “His Highness Don Ferdinand, King of Sicily and Prince of Aragon.” Unbelievably, he is indeed the man of her dreams. She is enchanted and Ferdinand? Ferdinand believes she is malleable. However, Isabella does not forget that Castile and Leon are more important than Aragon, Ferdinand will be given the title of King but out of courtesy only. I’m sure he was already planning how to change all that.

AFRICA FACTS

The girls and I grew very fond of Ntebeling and she said many times that she wanted to go on working for us when we moved into a place of our own.

francistown

I was happy about that, but then we were moved, from Gaborone the capital to Francistown 450 kilometres to the north. I was surprised when Ntebeleng said that was fine she didn’t mind moving. A couple of days later she asked if her husband could come too and I agreed. She also added that he could help around the garden if I liked. I liked.

We’d been there less than a week when I began to notice long queues outside our gate every afternoon. Something was going on, but I couldn’t figure out what. Have a guess before next week.

ADD BREAK

I have managed with the help of a kind friend to link my web page to my blog. So you can easily hop from one to the other – and view all my books on my site (hint). I have published 12 so far in 3 different genres, so there is something for everyone.

https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

The link, just in  case 😊

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

DEFENESTRATION AND DITHERING

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Still in the castle, we latched on to an English speaking guide who showed us the few rooms that were open to the public.

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She was particularly eager to explain defenestration, which is the practice of throwing people you don’t like for one reason or another out of windows after which they inexplicably died.

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In 1618, in an argument over religious freedom, two Regents and their secretary were thrown out of a window on the third floor – 21 metres from the ground. They survived. The Catholics maintained they were caught by angels or the Virgin Mary. The Protestants said they landed in a heap of dung. These days James Bond does that all the time without a hair out of place and not a speck of dirt on his white dinner suit.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Servants are sent poste haste to Rome to get the Pope’s permission for cousins Isabella and Ferdinand to marry. Like the proverbial magician, the Archbishop of Toledo agrees to sort it all out. It is rumoured that he himself wrote out the dispensation.

pope paul ii

 

Are we to believe that Isabella thought a dispensation, to and from Pope Paul II in Rome could be obtained in 4 days? Even using the autobahns it would be pushing it.

While Ferdinand realizes that he is marrying a deeply religious woman, whose devotion to duty is equally paramount, he is also convinced that she is his to command. Ferdinand the adventurer, so worldly, so much the man of action believes that this convent bred girl, a weak female will be subservient. Oh silly man, you have no idea at all have you?

 

AFRICA FACTS

I’m not sure how many people are aware the Africa is probably the richest continent on earth. It has many rivers, wide areas for agriculture and a wealth of precious and useful minerals deep below the ground. Many of its countries have access to the sea and deep water harbours. Trade routes east were established long before Europe was even aware just how big a land mass Africa is. It also has a workforce that, once educated and trained can meet the demands of a modern world.

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Sadly, with tribal infighting, civil wars, jostling for power and man’s insatiable greed so many suffer as a result. Will it ever come right? Well for the few at the top, life is pretty good now, except how relaxed they are is anyone’s guess. Only time will tell. In the meantime, maybe life will fall apart in the Old World – who knows!

There are lots of tale about my media work in Africa in my career memoirs, Truth, Lies and Propaganda and more Truth, Lies and Propaganda which may surprise you.

mybook.to/MemTLP                            mybook.to/MoreTLP

Till next time, take care

Lucinda.

STREETS AND SECRECY

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

I don’t think of myself as a travel writer, so it’s always a tussle between noting down what I have seen and taking time to look at things. I didn’t keep a diary when we were in Prague, so I’m relying on my memory here and that’s a very dangerous thing to do.

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Many of the roads are quite wide and there are tram lines everywhere. We did take a short ride on one on the last day, and they are more fun than riding on a bus, but don’t ask me why – they just are.

Two views from the Charles Bridge.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Now we’re coming to another exciting bit. I left off when Isabella is in hiding but under protection and she has decided it’s time for Ferdinand to come and marry her, but he must be quick. Lots of people want to stop them.

ferdinands dad

 

But there is a problem – isn’t there always? King John of Aragon, Ferdinand’s dad has fallen on hard times and he doesn’t have enough money to fit out his son with all the clobber needed for a royal wedding. Sad eh?

That’s King John on the left.

Ferdinand 5

First though he tries to fool King Henry of Castille – remember he doesn’t want Isabella and Ferdinand to get married. So King John makes very noisy preparations to send a whole retinue to the court of Castille.

Meanwhile, a party of 6 merchants quietly leave for Valladolid which is where Isabella sits waiting.

That’s Ferdinand on the right. Can you see the family resemblance? No, I can’t either.  I just love that saying “Momma’s baby, Poppa’s maybe.”

AFRICA FACTS

There are a total of 54 countries on the African Continent, among which are the 5 poorest in the world –

  1. Central African Republic — GDP per capita: $656 (£535)
  2. Democratic Republic of Congo — GDP per capita: $784 (£639) …
  3. Burundi — GDP per capita: $818 (£667) …
  4. Liberia — GDP per capita: $882 (£719) …
  5. Niger — GDP per capita: $1,113 (£907) …

The two richest are Nigeria and South Africa followed by Egypt, Algeria and Angola. Much of this wealth is due to the minerals beneath the ground, especially the oil in Nigeria and a wide range including gold and diamonds in South Africa.

Maps often distort the size of Africa, this one is more realistic. This shows you how large it is in comparison to other places.

AFRICA REAL SIZE

Often I get carried away and forget to mention my books, but you can find them all here on my Amazon page,

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

or click through from here to my web page.  https://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Whoops, just remembered – Unhappily Ever after my political satire is on sale for $/£0.99 until the end of the month. Picture Fairyland in chaos as the royals wallow in their misery and unhappy marriages and the Green Giant is sent from the Red Party to foment unrest among the happy peasants.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

CLOCK AND CLUELESS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

One of the main things to see near the Old Town Square in Prague is the special clock.

It is currently being repaired and was covered with a sheet that only showed the picture of the clock.

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This is a pic off the internet to show the real thing – when it is not covered by a sheet.

prague clock

It is an astronomical clock first installed in 1410, so I guess it is due for an overhaul. The 12 apostles pop out on the hour.

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I’m ashamed to admit I have no idea what this building is, but I like the architecture. I popped the signage into Google translate and it told me it’s the  Law School.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Now there were quite a few important and powerful people who didn’t want Isabella to marry Ferdinand but despite that, the two young people sign their agreement on February 7th 1469. Now all that remains is for them to meet and do the marrying thing.

The princess sneaks off but someone tells on her and Henry’s soldiers are sent to arrest her. (Told you this was an exciting story).

Bishop of toledo

Just in time the Archbishop of Toledo rescues her and takes her to Valladolid where she is safe.

Isabella summons Ferdinand from Zaragossa 200 miles to the east to come at once and marry her. Will he? Find out next time!

 

 

AFRICA FACTS

We were filming in a deep rural school and the teacher had prepared a Q & A session for the cameras. The question was “Who is the greatest man in South Africa?”

Rows of eager little faces were desperate to answer. “My Chief – Mr Magwane (the Headmaster) – Mr Sonenze (a teacher) – a famous footballer.”

After each ‘wrong’ answer, the teacher became more and more frantic. She gave them hints – such as prison on Robben Island – where is that? they wanted to know. Nobel prize winner – what is that? they asked.

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Finally, she gave up. “Mr Nelson Mandela,” she told them brightly.

“Who?” they asked.

She gave up.

We wanted to laugh, but as an ex-teacher I felt for her.

AD BREAK

32150264_2073840432832444_1786864952443666432_n

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

Till next time, take care.

SQUARE AND SQUATTERS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Close to the Charles Bridge is the Old Town Square – the focal point of the city.

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Old vintage Hollywood era cars were popular as tourist transport, though I suspect most were only a couple of years old if that.

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The square is lined with high end shops – DH had a very firm grip on my arm –

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The weather when went – beginning of June – was overcast and threatened rain, so many of the pictures are quite gloomy.

They have a Christmas market in this square and even at the end of June, it was buzzing

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Isabella decides she’d hung around long enough over all this marriage nonsense and all these men queuing up to wed her (a medieval form of all those unwanted friend requests on Facebook). It’s time to take action and she sends a letter – the postal service was much better in those days – to Ferdinand, telling him that it’s about time they got hitched and he better be quick about it.

Fedinand 3

There is something our heroine doesn’t know – her being all good and simple and praying a lot – but her intended is no angel. He does like the ladies and he already has a son by one of them and he’s only 16. I can only think she forgot to take the pill.

Isabella has one condition though. Once married Ferdinand must come to her to get married not leave Castile without her permission. There were a whole lot more things he had to agree to but seems it was worth getting at least a foot into Castile which was so much bigger than Aragon his home country.

 

AFRICA FACTS

It’s very frustrating when politicians or even tourists take a whirlwind trip and then come back with all the facts. For example, I don’t know what it’s like to live in Prague after a few days there. Most guests are carefully shown handpicked projects, on routes that avoid the scruffy side of town and all the hosts are carefully coached beforehand.

It’s too easy to judge one culture by another. Take a squatter house for example. Built of wooden car-part packing cases, with tin roofs held down with old car tyres and draft-proofed with mud. Then you notice the satellite dish on top and gasp at the size of the television inside.

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Many happy residents were presented with newly built brick houses with indoor water connection and electric lights. It wasn’t long after the officials drove off that these new houses were up for rent while the ‘deserving’ families moved back into their makeshift house in the informal settlement. The money earned from letting was more important than the comfort of the modern conveniences.

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Time for this weeks advert – just what you have been waiting for!

 

AMIE OVERVIEW

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

Till next time, take care.

BETS AND BEGGARS

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

Most of the statues first put up on the Charles Bridge between 1600 and 1800 have met a sorry end due to wind and weather, but they are being restored.

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One statue in particular is of St John of Nepomuk. There are all kinds of stories about him – and it is rumoured the tales surrounding his being thrown off the bridge for one reason or another was to make him important enough to become the first Bohemian Catholic saint.

photo Sergey Ashmarin

It’s said if you rub the brass cross at the bottom of his statue you will either a) return to Prague or b) have your wish granted.

Personally, I think they are hedging their bets and I don’t think I rubbed the right bit! There was quite a queue. (DH walked right on past) but us writers take no chances – you never know!

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HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

Next to arrive with a marriage proposal was the brother of the King of France.

Alfonso V Portugal

 

Hot on his heels is Alphonso V of Portugal giving it another try.

He really doesn’t look that exciting does he?

Isabella turns them all down. She is still determined to marry Ferdinand of Aragon and they haven’t even met!

Ferdinand young

 

OK, you have to admit Ferdinand on the right looks better than Alphonso and they are roughly the same age. A bit sulky – but maybe the painter was on a go slow?

But King Henry sends her a letter (or something similar) telling her she must marry the King of Portugal or he’s going to lock her up.

She hides out in a town called Ocana where the local people like her.

Will this girl get any peace?

AFRICA FACTS

Like many who grew up in Europe or America I had most of the perks growing up – a telephone, car, a roof that didn’t leak, indoor bathroom and food on the table. We were not wealthy by any means but basic needs were met.

I also learned a little about the world from newspapers, magazines and much later the television.

grayscale photo of little boy

Photo by Dazzle Jam on Pexels.com

So, when I first arrived in Africa – Kenya – it was such a shock. The poverty, the shanty towns, the beggars, the half-clothed children. There was also the sharp contrast with the suited business men, the fashionable ladies – the wealth gap was enormous. I reacted as many a tourist would – at first though, I did learn not to give to the beggars – do it once and in milliseconds there is a crowd with their hands out.  I also learned to pay the protection money each time I left the car – refuse and risk four flat tyres, or scratched paintwork.

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The day my attitudes changed was when I saw a wee scrap of a child holding a brush, tin of polish and a piece of cardboard. He offered me a shoe shine for cents.

I agreed and every time I went into town I paid him to clean my shoes. Now, I had less respect for the beggars, I could harden my heart to those who wanted something for nothing.  It’s something most expats learn sooner rather than later.

Have you read any of my books yet? Want to take a peep? Why not click on this button.

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

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Till next time take care.