After we left the Vienna Experience exhibition we spent several minutes standing on the pavement discussing which way to go – I won’t go as far as arguing exactly but it got heated. Want to know who won? DH, nauseatingly he was right. We spent time meandering the streets getting a feel for the place – to me the vibes screamed music, history and art – quite heavenly.

This building is the front of the State Opera house.


They offer free tours and we left it to the last day to go round it – sadly it was closed on that day.

So, we headed off to the Town hall or Rathaus (the name in German) instead. I know it’s silly but I kept imagining scenes similar to the Pied Piper of Hamlyn – how we often think about politicians?


I’m not sure we were supposed to go inside but there were no notices telling us not to and we were very good and didn’t vandalise anything or scrawl graffiti on the walls either. It was a veritable maze with several wide staircases covered in red carpet over the marble floors.



When Joan Henriquez Ferdinand’s mummy hears of the intended betrothal of her stepson Prince Carlos with Isabella, she is furious because she is all for the marriage between her darling Ferdinand and Isabella. But all is not lost because Carlos is now locked up by his Daddy the king and is languishing in jail. Not the best place for a royal to get married, even in those days.

Joanna Enriques 2

King John is forced to release his son, but shortly after, Carlos dies in rather suspicious circumstances. It’s said that his ghost still walks the streets of Barcelona.

Barcelona 2

And it gets worse. Living quietly in Olite, Blanche [Henry’s ex wife the one he had before Joan Henriquez] is now very scared. On Carlos’ death, she has inherited Navarre. She is still imprisoned by her own family, in general she has a very sad life. She also dies under suspicious circumstances at the age of 40.  Like Carlos, she was probably poisoned. What dangerous times, better to be a peasant I think.


When we first started filming in the rural areas around Johannesburg, it was easy. The local people were so friendly and helpful. If we asked them to cry they wailed loudly enough to be heard in London. If we asked them to laugh they cackled till we begged them to stop.

But, somewhere word got out that in Hollywood, actors were paid obscene amounts of money, and they began to demand payment. Sadly, our budget did not stretch to this and we were at a loss as to what to do. Until someone hit on the idea to ‘pay’ them in plastic buckets and bowls.

buckets and bowls

It worked! We got our footage and they walked off with brightly coloured plastic ware and everyone was happy.

Later, when I was running my own company in KwaZulu Natal I handed out lollipops for appearing in my movies. The idea was to give them to the children, but the grown-ups were having none of that and queued up to get theirs as well. It led to lots of laughs and some amazing footage.


This picture is not a mock-up, this lady was having her first lesson in learning to write.

all books day 5 group promo May 2018


Till next time, take care.


If you are an author what is your greatest wish? It must be the same as mine.

There is a ring at the doorbell, you open it and there stands Steven Spielberg holding a copy of your book. He begs you to allow him to make it into a major motion picture and thrusts the contract into your hand together with a cheque for an obscene amount.

If you are a reader, what could be better than telling all your friends that the writer of the latest blockbuster that’s breaking all box office records is your friend on Facebook and you knew them when they were just a poor little indie screaming ‘buy my free book.’


We can all dream.

I’ve mentioned before that when the dinosaurs roamed the earth I wrote for radio and television. This gave me the weird idea that I could write. Once I started with the books, I was soon told my grammar was appalling, my commas were all over the place and I disgraced myself by beginning sentences with adverbs. You don’t have to worry about all that kind of stuff writing for other media. For the next three months, in my rambling blog on the first Monday I thought I would show the difference between the media.

I’ll use a passage from my comedy book as an example. The scene is where The Green Giant, sent by the Red Party to ferment unrest in Charmingdon chooses one of the peasants to lead the revolution.TWEET 2

The printed version:-

“Come,” he commanded, “you will lead your people out of bondage. You will liberate their ills. You will speak for all the downtrodden in Charmingdon.”

“Me!” squeaked the man gazing into the Green Giant’s face. “Well, aw right, if yer want me to. I’ve always done as I’m told.”

The Giant pulled the man to his feet and led him to the front, amid cheers, hand clapping and stamping feet. If there were some peasants who looked a little startled by the Giant’s choice, he failed to notice.

“Here is your leader,” he boomed, waving the man’s arms in the air for him. “Greet your Comrade in Charge.” A renewed burst of cheering ensued and under the commotion the Giant bent to ask his name.

“Englebert, sir,” he replied bowing low.

“No!” exclaimed the Giant, “you don’t make obeisance to me, we are all brothers together, one and the same. We share everything, we are all equal.”

“Ooh,” replied Englebert, “can I have this nice coat then?” he fingered the green jacket.

“No, you bloody well can’t,” snapped the august Party emissary, “and get your filthy paws off it, you’re making it all dirty. You can bloody well earn it like I had to.” He slapped away Englebert’s hand and turned to smile at the audience afraid of what they might think of his behaviour.

“Shame,” sighed Englebert, “it’s such a pretty green.”

The Giant turned back to the crowd and held aloft an imperious hand. The peasants subsided and were quiet.

“Now is the time,” he announced, “for your chosen brother to address you all. I give you Comrade Englebert.”

“I don’t know where they all live,” complained Englebert.

“What’s that got to do with it?” hissed the Giant in a low voice.

“Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I can’t write addresses, I can’t even write me own name,” the peasant protested.

“No, no,” said the Giant, “talk to them, make a speech.”

Englebert smiled. “I can talk all right, nothing wrong with me tongue.” He turned and beamed at the assembly. “Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” they chorused back. Englebert promptly sat down looking very pleased with himself.

The Green Giant hauled him to his feet just as fast.

“You must say more than that,” he hissed. “Tell them what you do.”

“I’m the third-under-trainee front doorstep polisher at the palace,” announced Englebert proudly.

“You do you what?” His new mentor’s eyebrows shot up.

Englebert looked puzzled. “I polish the front doorsteps.”

“And how long, Englebert,” boomed the Giant, “have you been under trainee front uh, step polisher?”

Englebert thought for several minutes. “Oh I dunno,” he said, “as long as I can remember. All my life I ‘spose.”

“This man is typical of the injustice of this class system. He has never been given the opportunity to advance his position, to rise to … er, second-under-trainee front step polisher, to first polisher. Will he ever have the chance of polishing the steps all by himself, maybe to rise to the heights of being in charge of the very front door!”

As the oratory flowed, those who knew Englebert well, wriggled uncomfortably in their seats. They were very aware of his capabilities, or rather lack of them. He was very lucky to hold the job he had, it was only through the kindness of King Charming that the poor dolt was employed at all. He certainly wasn’t any good at polishing anything, they always gave him the bits at the side behind the pillars which wouldn’t show.

“Now Englebert, tell your people for what they will be striving.”

“I don’t know,” he mumbled miserably. Englebert wished this fascinating, well dressed, charismatic visitor wouldn’t use such long words. He really didn’t understand him at all.

The Green Giant gave him a nasty look. “What are your personal plans for achievement?” Englebert looked at him blankly.

“What would you like to be? What would you like to do?” the comrade asked with as much patience as he could muster.

“I don’t know,” Englebert paused. “I’m very happy,” he added.

“No! No, you’re not. You’re not supposed to be happy, that defeats the whole object of the exercise,” exclaimed the giant.

This confused the step polisher. “So you want me to be unhappy?” he asked obligingly.

“No! I’m here to make you happy! Can’t you understand that?”

Englebert couldn’t.

“Look, you’re not happy now, I want to make you happy, but you can’t be happy until after the revolution.”

“Why not?”

“Because that’s the whole point of the struggle, the result of which will make you happy.”

“It will?”

“Of course it will.”

“But why do I have to struggle first?”

“To achieve happiness. True contentment only comes after true suffering.”

“But I told you before,” protested Englebert, “I’m already happy.”


“Yes, I am.”

If he’d had any sense, the Green Giant would have given up there and then, and departed for more fertile minds in less fertile lands. But a sense of obstinacy made him stand firm.

“Let’s start with the basics,” he said. “Money. Who would like to double their wages?” One or two hands were raised.

“Come on,” he exhorted, “everyone wants to spend, everyone wants a higher standard of living.”

“What for?” enquired Englebert.

“What for! New clothes, more to eat, better houses, a television in every home.”







act 1 scene 5

RAY:   (FROM OFF MIKE CALLING) Evening peasant Loco, an’ peasant Fred and peasant Sam, you here too?

SAM:  (ON MIKE) Yeah, sneaked off work early well afore midnight.




SAM:  (LOUD WHISPER) ‘ere ‘e comes now.



GG:     (ON MIKE) Welcome peasants to this inaugural meeting. Thank you all

for coming.

RAY:   (UNDER) Inorg…? What does that mean Fred?


GG:     (ON MIKE, LOUD) My name is the Green Giant, and I have been sent by

the Red Party across the border in Monrovia to lead you in your glorious

revolt. I am here tonight to choose a man to lead you in your revolution

for freedom! I am coming to choose a man among you worthy of the

honour of leading you.


FRED: A revolution? Was’ that Loco?

LOCO: Never ‘eard of such a thing Fred.


RAY:   Ooo Sam, he’s coming over here! I’m scared.

SAM:  I aint’ leading anything what I don’t understand.


GG:     Come, I choose you to lead your people out of bondage. You will liberate

their ills. You, will speak for all the downtrodden in Charmingdon.

LOCO: Whose ‘he got there? I can’t see!

RAY:   He’s chosen … oh no!

LOCO: Ray, who, who’s he chosen?

RAY:   Looks like it’s Englebert. Lawd, what a choice!

SAM:  No, never! Englebert?


GG:     Yes you. Stand up.


GG:     Come up on stage with me now to address your people.

ENG: Well, aw right, if yer want me to. I’ve always done as I’m told.




MUTTERS: Well really.


GG:     I give you your leader! Greet your Comrade in Charge.


GG:     (UNDER TO ENGLEBERT) What’s your name?

ENG:   Englebert Sir.

GG:     (SHOUTING) Quiet, quiet everyone!


GG:     Englebert no! Stop bowing! You do not make obeisance to me, we are all

brothers together, one and the same. We share everything, we are all equal.

ENG:   Ooh, can I have your nice coat then? It’s such a pretty shade of green and

looks so warm, I’m, sure it would fit me, if I tucked it up, you are much taller

than me.

GG:     (WHISPERS) No, you bloody well can’t … and get your filthy paws off it,

you’re making it all dirty.



You can bloody well earn it like I had to. (LOUDLY TO AUDIENCE)

Now, is the time for your chosen brother to address you. I give you Comrade



ENG:   (UNDER ON MIKE) I don’t know where they all live.

GG:     (LOUD ANGRY WHISPER) What’s that got to do with it?

ENG:   Well, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because I can’t write addresses, I can’t

even write me own name.

GG:     No! You just need to talk to them.

ENG:   Thas’ all right then I can talk, nothing wrong with my tongue. (ON MIKE) LOUDLY ADDRESSING AUDIENCE) Hello.

AUDIENCE:   Hello Englebert.


GG:     (HISSES UNDER) What are you sitting down for? Stand up you stupid man.

You must say more than that. These are your new faithful revolutionaries,

you must inspire them.

ENG:   Like what do I say?

GG:     Uh, tell them what you do.

ENG:   (PROUDLY) I (BEAT) am very proud to be the third-under-trainee front

doorstep polisher at the palace.

GG:     (HORRIFIED) You’re what!


front doorsteps of course.

GG:     (CLEARS THROAT – BOOMS) Ah. And how long, Englebert have you been

under trainee front uh, step polisher?

ENG:   (BEAT) Oh, I dunno as long as I can remember. All my life I ‘spose.

GG:     (ADDRESSES CROWD) This poor man is typical of the injustice of this class

system. He has never been given the opportunity to advance his position,

to rise to … er, second-under-trainee front step polisher, to first polisher.

Will he ever have the chance of polishing the steps all by himself, maybe to

rise to the heights of being in charge of the very front door! (FADE AND

HOLD UNDER RAMBLING RHETORIC) Advancement in later years …

opportunity for fulfilment … a new future …

RAY:   (ON MIKE) He better not get promoted, he can’t even do the job what he’s


FRED: (ON MIKE) That’s true, they always gives him the bits round the side as won’t

show. If it was not for our beloved King Charming, he wouldn’t have a job

at all.

SAM: (ON MIKE) This ‘ere Green Giant is loopy I reckon.

LOCO: (ON MIKE) Can’t make head nor tail of a word of it.


GG:     (ON MIKE) Now Englebert, tell your people for what they will be striving.

ENG:   I don’t know, you use all them long words as what I can’t understand …


As you can see, I’ve added in the extra peasant characters so they can tell us what is going on through dialogue. In radio you only have sound to work with, so it is either voices or special effects. Ha, I found I was a bit rusty, it’s a while since I’ve written a radio script. But I would welcome your comments. Would this work for you if you were listening? Apologies for the formatting which didn’t hold properly on the way into WordPress.

I have not transposed the whole passage but left it there either for you to try it out for yourself, or as a fun read.    myBook.to/UeAfter


UEA PB+K squared clear bg small

Next time, I’ll use the format for a video script, which will be different again.

Till then, take care.



After another coffee and yet more apple strudel, we walked (I was gazing longingly at the taxis) to a venue labelled The Time Travel Experience – again no photos allowed.

This is a must visit if you go to Vienna. They take you from the earliest days when the city was founded to the present. Each small group has a multilingual guide leading us past talking mannequins, swirling roundabouts with flashing lights listening to Strauss, realistic displays, a superb film with 3D glasses which had me gripping the seat, a bomb shelter with the bombs exploding outside and a carriage ride. It was so cleverly put together and well worth the Euros.

It was time for more coffee and food.


Carlos 2

We left the Dowager Queen mother to little Isabella breathlessly waiting for the betrothal to little Ferdinand of Aragon, sadly he was the younger son and from dad’s second marriage, but then he was King of Sicily so better than a passing peasant. There were talks but nothing happened because while they were busy chatting his father King John of Aragon had a huge fight with his eldest son Carlos, stepbrother to Ferdinand and civil broke out and Navarre and Castile all got involved and it was one big mess. mind in this picture he looks more than a little-laid back.

Then another emissary arrives to grab Isabella as a bride, this time from the said Carlos above. He’s legally heir to the throne, but Daddy has disowned him. Isabella is not pleased, she has fanaticised about Ferdinand for years, as an escape from her insane mother and her fear of Uncle Henry. It might also something to do with the fact that Isabella is only 9 years old, and Carlos is 40.


I made a complete idiot of myself the other week by putting out a tweet giving the gestation period of a lioness as 11 days. One person noticed which was a thrill to discover that someone actually read one of my tweets. It should have been 110 days of course and the lioness will leave the pride and go some distance to give birth.


The reason? Often the male dominant lion will kill the cubs. Not sure if he is worried about being daddy and bringing up stepchildren, but the lioness will wait about two months before returning to the pride. It’s an unsettling time for her as if there is a new dominant male he will kill the cub but her sisters will take turns on helping her feed her cub if they are lactating.


You can read what happened when we edited footage about introducing lions into a game park for the first time in More Truth, Lies and Propaganda.

Till next time, take care.







The inside of the Military Museum in Vienna was truly enormous, with the early history on the first floor and the ground floor devoted to World War I and II. The marble statues in the entrance hall were most impressive.

After several hours I finally managed to drag DH (Dear Husband) away from all things military, muttering rude comments about the insanity of war and the unnecessary posturing of men for power and validation and the suffering caused as a result, but I don’t make many inroads. I often forget he was once in the British army himself, but he didn’t run around shooting people.

After a coffee break and more apple strudel, we walked to the nearest Uban (underground metro) and went 3 stops to Pietersplatz and then walked to the Document Centre of the Austrian Resistance.


I’ve heard lots about the French resistance fighters in the last world War but nothing about groups in Austria. It was sad to see that many of them were turned in to the Gestapo by friends and neighbours and there were very few left alive by 1946. No photos allowed, unfortunately, but I have to admit that these days museums with the inclusion of films and dioramas are not the boring places they once were.

This centre was founded in 1963 by former resistance fighters and has 350 metres of shelf space filled with documents and a library with 44,000 books.

It was time for another coffee break (we have a lot of those).


Time to hear more about little Isabella’s story. Life is tough since her mother the Dowager hears of Henry’s second marriage she is even more convinced he wants to do away with her and her children. Life in Avila is all praying and daily reminders of duty but events take a turn for the better when King John of Aragon sends men to Arevalo to betroth Isabella to his son Ferdinand who is only 11 months younger than her. The Dowager is absolutely thrilled.

young isabella


Now, just to put you in the picture her is a map to show what was where. During the 1400’s there were three separate Christian kingdoms – Aragon, Navarre and Castile – and the Muslim kingdom of Granada. As you can see, Castile, with its capital in Burgos and Toledo covers a bigger area than Aragon and therefore we must assume it was more important.


map spain, early


Notice I did not use the word Spain, this was to come later. The capital of Aragon is Zaragoza.

The story begins to get really exciting from this point.


The last thing I expected to see in a rural area in Mpumalanga was a troop of American drum majorettes. They were really good and must have practiced for hours and hours.


In another school they welcomed us performing a traditional dance –CIMG3674

While these ladies who set up and ran chicken business danced and sang waving branches, leaves and straw fronds when we first arrived and got out of the car.


I never planned to write about my filming life, but I realized one day I was forgetting so many of the locations, the people, and the experiences. So, I sat down and wrote about them to remind myself in the old age home what I had done. The manuscript got longer and longer so I turned it into 2 books and it seemed silly not to publish. To my surprise, several of my readers say these are the favourites of all my books. I never realized how precious these photographs would be to me now I’m not living in Africa.


This is the universal link to all marketplaces. https://www.books2read.com/u/4AgL6p 

Till next time, take care





Last time I left you all as we approached the military museum.

It seemed we had the place to ourselves, there were no other visitors. The displays were quite amazing, even for me who hates ‘war’ stuff. It included uniforms, equipment, battle scenes, maps, descriptions of conflicts and so much more.

Set out over two floors it covered just about the whole history of Austria – and it was interesting to compare what they showed us in their version to what I remembered from history lessons at school. History is always written by the victor!


Having divorced Blanche, a year later in 1455, Henry marries Joan of Portugal, sister to Alfonso V of Portugal. However, he soon gets bored with her too, and it’s not long before he takes another mistress, one of Joan’s ladies in waiting. (Now that is really sleazy).

Henry IV and Joan of Navarre

Here he is with ‘the other woman’  In turn, Joan is so incensed that she begins an affair with a handsome courtier named Beltran de la Cueva.  That’s practically unheard of in history on the female side!  While kings could play around, queens stayed pure and chaste didn’t they? They could get into all kinds of bother. – Remember the saying Momma’s baby, Poppa’s maybe?)



Henry? He doesn’t seem to mind in the slightest, you can almost take indolence to extremes can’t you?

And here is the lucky man, Beltran de la Cueva  (I think that = Bertran from the cave). Quite a dishy sort of guy I guess but awfully thin – take that armour away and there’d be nothing left of him. I do hope the Queen fed him up a little.





This week a few more pictures of some of the rural schools we visited. At one, they had built a whole new assembly hall and gym, yes, from all those collected pennies. The previous one had been flooded out (uninsured of course) and the parents had working parties to dig ditches or whatever was needed to prevent it from flooding again.

If only communities would work together like this everywhere, just think of what we could achieve. There is so much hope and inspiration from these little ones, all so keen to get an education. If they hear there will be a day closure of the schools, say for example to use as a polling station, they all get very upset.

I’ve written 2 books dedicated to my media work it’s packed with dozens of humorous and inspirational stories, and a few shocking ones too, of the people we met and the various ways they were all trying to make a better life. This is the first one.


The second link will take you to all marketplaces.

Till next time, take care




First week of the month, so it’s time for my usual rambling thoughts. A while ago I gave an after luncheon talk entitled ‘The Golden Age’ – when was it? Well from a British point of view it was the Baby Boomer generation into which I was born. I thought I would share it with you, and although it refers to Britain, I’d love to hear from people living in America if they see any parallels. I admit to being amazed by some of the information I dug up while researching.  (Taken from my notes, so not in full English sentences as I didn’t want to make this post too long).

Children of the Golden Generation

I asked the audience when they thought this was – a couple guessed it was the wrinkly generation. Before that:-

The Silent generation was born 1928 – 1945WW II BRITAIN

They mostly remembered WW2 and were the children of those who’d experienced two world wars.

Used to hardship, a simpler life, yet suffered in silence esp re PTSD neither understood nor recognized.

1945-6 dawned the brave new world.

Pop of UK    49,000,000

House £620 = in today’s money £24,000

Car £310 = £12,000 today

Wage £248 = £9,600 today

Bread was 5d a loaf.

Few high points of those times.

Ist international flight from LHR to Buenos Aires

1st UN General Assembly

Alistair Cooke’s 1st Letter from America

TV licences introduced


Bread rationing introduced – many items still in short supply and coupons needed

Intro of Family Allowance

School Milk

Free 1/3 pint school milk

Have a Go with Wilfred Pickles + Women’s hour on the radio

Lifting of the prohibition of married women in the Civil Service

Intro of the Bush Bakelite radio

No National Health – 2 years later

Only 58% of dwellings had inside bathrooms.

So, Brave New World and untactfully this generation produced the bulge – population explosion – later not enough schools.

Determined to give their kids what they’d never had – but there was little personal and private communication with them

They gave birth to the Baby Boomers those born 1946 – 1964

Jump 10 years to 1956  BB’s still under parent’s thumb

Pop of UK    51,406,000 extra 2 ½ m

House £2,150 – £48,500 today almost 4 times as expensive

Car £720 – £16,216 today had doubled

Wage £526 – £11,850 today also doubled approximately

Bread was 9d a loaf.

Take stats as estimates as differed in research.

british shop 1950's

Leap further forward into the 60s and the BB are becoming more independent. We are probably a huge disappointment to the Silent Generation.

We had no conception of what our parents sacrificed, we remembered nothing of the horrors of war which deeply scarred our elders.

We were too busy forging a new world that must have seemed totally alien to them – we had money to spend and spend we did, on records, clothes, make-up. Many old rules went out the windows. Mini skirts showed knees and a whole lot more. Us BB’s had our own designers like Mary Quant and your mother wouldn’t be seen dead shopping in Carnaby Street and your Dad moaned about the winkle pickers and drainpipe trousers. (take a bath in new jeans to get them tighter?)


The teens and early 20s spent, spent, spent on clothing, entertainment, personal care, events and concerts, books, food, and furniture.

There was flower power, commune living (oh the shame of unmarried people co-habiting), Top of the Pops with groups like the Stones and Beatles scruffy ruffians who didn’t wear suits! Radio Caroline b’cast the top 10 hits illegally offshore.


The Mods and Rockers hit the news as another example of our decadent generation.

1964 saw the 1st Jackie magazine popular among girls, the first edition of the Sun – 1st undercover shopping centre – the last executions in Britain –

Crossroads premiered on TV for the 90% of the population that now had telly. It brought the world into the home for the first time.


Items that were originally made to last became disposable – remember the 21st b’day watch or cigarette lighter? Plastic exploded onto the scene changing everything. It was the throwaway society. Washing machines and fridges were must-haves.


Pop of UK    54,744,000 extra 3 m plus

House £3,620 – £61,000 today up 1 ½ times

Car £950 – £16,000 today come down a fraction

Wage £891 – £15,000 half as much again

Bread was 9d a loaf approximately the same.

 In the meantime, without us noticing it Generation X was born 1965 – 1980 but they were still under control.

But we were prospering. We benefitted from the free NHS, free tertiary education, often with bursaries, even if we had to (heaven forbid) pass exams. Most jobs were secure if you kept your hands to yourself and didn’t raid the till, you were ensconced until retirement, and your final salary index linked pensions. For entrepreneurs, although there was some red tape, it was less likely to strangle you.

Property prices were booming and if you bought and sold carefully you could make a killing. Council houses were put on sale.

The BB saw house ownership as a priority and were keen to leave home as soon as possible – to avoid ‘what time do you think this is coming in at all hours?’ after all it was the permissive generation with little fear of getting pregnant due to the pill.

But – probably the rot set in in 1966 when Barclays intro 1st credit card. To that date if we didn’t have the money, we couldn’t buy it – we did without! We learned how to save for what we wanted and we valued it all the more.

credit cards

Yes, we had to borrow to buy our homes but by the end of the 60s homeowners = #renters. But we didn’t take it as a right, it was something to strive and deposit save for and the grovelling to the bank manager or building society – those safe, solid, dependable institutions whose employees you respected. (wait for hysterical laughter to die down)

Barclays held the monopoly on CCs till 1972 – it was referred to as the card in a land fit for heroes.  Mind the BBs did precious little fighting unless they had joined the armed forces. There has not been one major war in Europe in 72 years – possibly the longest European peace?

The boom was still a thing of the future in 1960s but house prices doubled 1950-70 and in 1970-3 doubled again in 3 years.

(That’s when I left UK.)


The Golden Generation – the BBs

We re-defined what it means to be young, middle aged and old. We did not want to be like our parents – previously the 65+ were old – now we call it later life, or the 3rd age.

Generation X – 1965-1980 grew up to a very different life and the Millennials – the me, me me/Snowflake generation from 1981 – 2000 are generally pretty dissatisfied with life – mind the population has soared to 66,323,974 as of 11th November 2017 – last Sunday. There is less space, less money, fewer opportunities.

House £239,794 today

Car £10,635 – £12,715 today

Wage £26,500 pa today            

Bread is now 96 pence a loaf

So, what do we buy now we’re in our golden years?

3 holidays a year, 2 w/e away and 17 day trips.

We eat out – a lot, improve our houses, maybe buy a second pad in the sun.

We have fun, spend more on leisure than boring essentials. Some retired in debt the average stats for that was £34,000, but mostly from interest only mortgages and pension pay-outs settled those.

Many of us have become the bank of Gran and Grandad, where few of us had parents who were able to help us.

And most of us expect to leave something behind. A mad few, start a whole career, mine is …..  And at this point I just ‘happened’ to mention my books in a very casual way to anyone who was still awake – so I guess I should mention them here. 😊


set 1 of books


Until next time, take care.




Since our time in Vienna was limited, we decided not to visit the art galleries in the Belvedere complex as DH was keen to see the war museum. So off we trekked on and on and on and after circling the army complex a few times finally found the entrance. Now it’s times like this that you notice how big a building is when you walk around it on foot.


I’m actually quite glad I don’t live in a place quite that big, can you imagine how long it would take to clean all the windows and sweep the paths?


Henry IV 3


King Henry certainly has dozens of mistresses. I did find further information in my research with quite graphic descriptions of why Henry would never have been able to consummate the marriage, but this is neither the time or the place!!  It is a family blog after all.

Blanche is sent home to Aragon, only to be imprisoned by her own family in Olite. She is in line to inherit Navarre after her brother Carlos. She remains single and childless. Isn’t that so sad – Disneyland princesses were never treated this way.




Here are a few more pictures of what the schools managed to provide for their students. Many had computer centres despite the poverty in the surrounding shacklands. They were so innovative, holding hairdressing competitions, food sales, used clothing sales, growing garden produce – each bringing in a few pennies which all added up.

And they also gave spare food grown on the premises to the poorest in the community, even though they had so little themselves. It was sometimes difficult to stop myself from bursting into tears.

I will be sharing more of my experiences in the following weeks, and you can read about them too in more detail, in Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Till next time, take care.

Before I forget, it’s almost the end of the month and time for my newsletter to go out. If you’d like to read the first few chapters of Truth, Lies and Propaganda, I’ll post the link there. For signing up you will also get part 2 of The very Worst Riding School, which is only available to my special readers and, that’s not all! Each month there is an extra chapter of the Amie series backstories – it’s already as long as a book. What great value, and all FREE!!!  Just click here. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr





The next morning in Vienna we set off to visit the Belvedere Palace a complex of palaces built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. Yes, there are two palaces plus an orangery and stables. We walked from the hotel so I was pretty exhausted by the time we got there, it must have been in the hundreds of meters.


It was a bit puzzling to see two palaces facing each other with gardens in between, I wondered if it was a ‘his and her’ situation but it seems they were hardly occupied as the royal family members had lots of other palaces to choose from. Today they are art galleries, but on one occasion when Maria Antonia married the French Dauphin (later to become Louis XVI) they hosted a ball there for 16,000 close personal friends.  That’s more than I have on Twitter, FB and BookBub combined. You wouldn’t like to pop here and follow me, would you? It will just take a second.


lower belvedere Photo: Andreas Praefcke - Self-photographed
Photo: Andreas Praefcke – Self-photographed


King Henry also has a problem with his wife Blanche. After 13 years she still hasn’t produced any offspring and Henry is also finding her rather boring in bed, so he has the marriage annulled on the grounds of “por impotancia respective.”  (And no, I’m not going into that here). This is a family blog.

Blanche II of Navarre

Here she is and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth – poor lady. She was shipped off back to her parents and locked away for the rest of her life. Have I persuaded you yet that you DON’T want to be a princess?

Some say that due to witchcraft the marriage was never consummated, and they subjected poor Blanche to an examination to prove she was still a virgin.  The priests also questioned the prostitutes in and around Sergovia who all attested that King Henry was more than capable. (Well they would, wouldn’t they? Can you imagine the consequences if they said he was rubbish in the bedroom?) Below is a picture of Sergovia a few years later.

sergovia 4


I was incredibly privileged to have the opportunity of filming in deep rural areas and visiting places where tourists and even locals rarely go and I saw so many examples of the tenacity of the human spirit, especially in the educational sector. Despite having minimal funds these head teachers and staff worked miracles.

I’ve included many of these schemes in my books about my experiences in rural Africa – Truth, Lies and Propaganda, and I will tell you about some over the next few weeks.

Many blogs do state how important a book cover is, and maybe I could improve on this, but these guys were my crew and the book is also for them in memory of the times we spent together – so it’s staying as it is!

Until next time, take care






The Schonbrunn zoo is managed scientifically and set among the gardens, with several pavilions set in the area it’s a really great place to spend a long afternoon. We walked all of it, and I know this because my feet told me I had.


Today they focus on conserving species and they have also conserved some of the old buildings as well (apparently, they are in the baroque model – so remember you heard that first here on my blog). Oh, and the menagerie-buildings are after the Versailles model, I’m sure you needed to know that as well. Personally, I’d just look at the pretty pics of the animals.


Red pandas look nothing like their giant cousins do they?  I noted that we saw elephants, a polar bear, meerkats, giraffe, zebra lion and eland with the comment that many of the animals were past masters at hiding behind the leaves, branches, and shelters.


Bishop of toledo


Now, do you remember that King Henry, uncle to little Isabella, just isn’t a statesman, he’s an intellectual and he’s indolent? He’s frivolous, loves splendour, colourful pageants, and filling his court with poets and dreamers. He is wildly extravagant and imposes taxes on his poverty-stricken people to pay for it all. He’s at his pleasure 24/7 and leaves it to John Pacheo, Marquis of Villena, and Alfonso Carillo, the Archbishop of Toledo to run the country.

That’s a picture of the Archbishop and not the king – you can tell that from his pointy hat.


Over the 30+ year period, I lost count of the number of radio and TV scripts I wrote. At one time I had 4 x 15 minute programmes running daily on the radio all translated into one of the 9 indigenous African languages and the totals must run into the thousands. It’s also sad that I seldom even thought to take still pictures of all the TV shoots – mind those were in the days when you took a photograph and – wait for it – traipsed all the way to the chemist or similar, handed in the film and waited several days before you could go back and collect your pictures – which were occasionally rather blurred.

few of the videos I made

Later when we were filming I rarely took pictures of the crew or the subjects until I was working on a series which also commissioned illustrated booklets to accompany the videos.

I was also unfortunate to lose all my photographs in 1994, every single one of them.

Want to know what happened? You can find out in Walking over Eggshells my first biography – the personal one.

Until next time, take care.




Now you may remember that Austria, with its capital Vienna, does not have a coastline, so sadly the Habsburg royal family could not have a seaside cottage.

But, nothing daunted, they decided to have another attraction instead. Can you guess what it is? A zoo! As the Holy Roman Emperor Francis I set it up in 1752 it’s the oldest continually operating zoo in the world.

We loved it and spent lots of time there particularly as they have giant pandas.


The lady panda is called Yang Yang and there are three males Long Hui, Fu Long, and Fu Hu. What a lucky lady! And she must be a happy panda as in August 2007 Fu Long was born the first by natural insemination – and then 3 years later Fu Hu was born by natural mating. Yet another baby Fu Bao arrived in 2013 and then twins Fu Feng and Fu Ban.


They were quite difficult to see, as they liked hiding in the leaves and DH tried to convince me that unless I was waving particularly nice bamboo leaves at them they wouldn’t wake up and come over for a chat.


The Dowager Queen, little Princess Isabella’s mother is sure that King Henry is out to get her children, she is quite paranoid about it, so she whips the two youngest off to another dark, damp and drafty castle in Aravelo to keep them safe.

Aravelo castle 2

The Princess Isabella has lessons and, under instruction from her mother spends an awful lot of time praying. She spends hours and hours each day on her knees.  Court etiquette is rigid, it’s more nunnery than a royal court. Her mother is so cruel she won’t even let her meet up with friends at the local shopping mall.


Last time I left off as we were filming in deep rural Africa on a project that was excavating the Devil’s Claw. A pharmaceutical company in Germany had tested the root and found it had benefits for arthritis so they ordered supplies from this rural community.

I accompanied the women who scoured the ground then pounced and dug up a root, taking only part of it before covering it over with soil again to continue growing – very ecological and sustainable. What astounded me is they seemed to know exactly where the roots are – the dry, sandy surface of the ground gave no indication that a root would be in exactly that place yet each time there it was a couple of inches below the surface.

Crew shot 0344

Not only had they prepared an ‘interesting’ lunch in the village hall for me and the crew they had also written and produced a play for us to shoot. A local villager consulted the witch doctor who (not surprisingly) prescribed Devil’s Claw for all his ailments. When we left they handed us bags full of roots, which DH tried later following the precise instructions, but from the look on his face, it didn’t taste nice at all.

All my books (except Unhappily Ever After my Fairyland comedy) are set in Africa which must be the most fascinating continent on earth.

AMIE 1 JAN 28 2018

You can find them all on my author page:


or my web page: http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next time, take care