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.

4CA192A5-3FAD-4052-B6BB-AD1BDE0DDD01

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

Advertisements

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.

DA3CA3EE-356A-47BF-8464-FA295EA45EFD

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.

F47FBC21-3814-4534-B6D1-FDF1A95FAB57 - Copy

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.

mandela

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.

4CA192A5-3FAD-4052-B6BB-AD1BDE0DDD01

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

6DBE7B7D-C693-4555-AE82-B2AE654F0ACE

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

8458D36D-EF37-44E3-B06C-E60B610C83AE

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.

CIMG7575

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.

CIMG7599

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.

90F93097-43F1-4B1E-976C-625A9766BF40

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!

93BD8D57-1FAA-439D-B718-890FFF363EA3

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.

GAUT BP02 townhouse

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

31958326_2073868949496259_201689714305007616_n

Till next time take care.

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)

274C7C10-3319-4C33-8E4D-6D7A456CDB46

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.

80FB06BF-1571-45B8-8553-9279B139EB1B

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.

EC3A098A-415C-4553-88E3-B508109CC06C

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.

CIMG3685

Lots more to read in any of my books.

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

Till next time, take care.

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.

12B1A3A2-340E-415E-9F45-DB34ED99ED93 - Copy

C53389B7-80B2-49F2-A37C-26F1165C0C28

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

5BBB382C-E660-4E4C-85AC-B2CF39A753AA

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.

274C7C10-3319-4C33-8E4D-6D7A456CDB46

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.

assorted bottle and cans
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?

grocery cart with item
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.

 

 

 

MOCK CASTLES AND MOSQUITOES

 

TRAVEL (LOCAL)

In the Moors and Christians parades there are groups or filaes either Christian or Moor and they fundraise throughout the year to pay for the costumes and bands and props for the battles they fight. Some towns put up mock castles and use boats to arrive and for the parades there are often camels, fire eaters, elephants and dancing girls as well.

CIMG7854

CIMG7958

Possibly the most impressive are the horses. The Spanish Riding School you can now see in Vienna and Johannesburg with the Lipizzaner horses came from Spain. During the parade they perform amazing dressage steps dancing on their back legs – which is something not every horse can do. They take your breath away. (I always wear a good pair of shoes when I go to watch, as they come awfully close to my toes).

CIMG7948

HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

Joanna of Castile
JOANNA OF CASTILE

Isabella’s plan to get out of marrying the very elderly Portuguese King Alfonso aged 32, is to say she can’t agree unless the Cortes (sort of parliament) agrees. This is unlikely to happen as they don’t like the Queen and Alfonso is her brother

There follows lots of wrangling and bargaining from opposing sides, which I won’t bore you with except that Henry tries to make the marriage happen by offering his daughter to his half brother. Yet again, for the moment, Isabella escapes marriage as the kingdoms are about to go to war over all this marriage nonsense.

 

 

AFRICA FACTS

I was dismayed when we returned to England for a couple of months to discover that my youngest was telling her new friends that we had lions and tigers walking down the paths outside the mud hut we lived in. (They might have noticed the inconsistencies in this as there are no tigers in Africa). Thing is, they believed her and she thought this hilarious.

Africa is still a dangerous place the heat encourages bacteria and other diseases to grow quickly. The smaller creatures are the most deadly of all.

MOZZIE

Durban had eradicated the anopheles mosquito that carries malaria – though a new strain now attacks the brain and there is a very low recovery rate if you contract that.

We filmed in a laboratory where they bred mosquitoes and I was curious to know how they fed them. Simple. They keep them in old plastic tubs covered with netting.

GUINES PIG

They also keep guinea pigs, shave their tummies, and then place them on the netting where they sit happily chewing lettuce leaves as the mozzies dine at the same time below. It doesn’t affect the guinea pigs apparently as they are used in rotation in a perfect symbiotic relationship. As long as they don’t try to shave my tummy!

This and other stories in the Truth, Lies and Propaganda series.

Till next time, take care.