REINS AND REIGNS

We were drawn back to the Hofburg like moths to a flame. Looking at the size of it, I was amazed to read later that the Royal Palace in Madrid is even larger, though it certainly didn’t look like it to me. The Hofburg is also home to some very special horses, the ones that perform in the Spanish Riding school.

The ancestors of the Lipizzan horses can be traced back to AD 800 when Barb horses were brought into Spain by the Moors. In the 16th century, both Spain and Austria were ruled by the Habsburgs and Emperor Maximillian II brought a few of them to Austria and his brother established a stud to breed them. All Lipizzaner horses are descended from 8 original stallions and are very good at haute école or ‘high school’ classical dressage movements, with stylized jumps and other movements known as the ‘airs above ground.’ (They jump incredibly high and seem to float around in the sir waggling their hooves).

One other interesting fact is that Lipizzaner horses are born black and go a lighter shade each year. (In horsey language you never have a white horse, it’s always called a grey).

They stable the horses and have a full-sized riding school within the Hofburg building complex.

We didn’t go to the show, as we’d seen the performance several times before near Johannesburg where they also have a stud and give shows to the public on Sunday mornings.

They look so angelic, but one bit me while touring the stables in South Africa, we’d been warned they can be very bad tempered, even if they can hop and jump around very nicely.

HISTORY

Over many months I have posted about every king and queen of England starting from the very first king whose name I’ve quite forgotten. I’m a little nervous that if I say the wrong thing then I might be had up for treason – although there have been some amazingly critical programmes on television recently which ‘lift the lid’ on the nefarious activities of the royals and their bad behaviour. The Queen at Madame Tussauds, London

However, they have not found any fault with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who at 66 years is the longest living monarch in the world. What is most amazing is that not once, in all those years have we seen her cough, sniff, scratch an itch in a personal place, pick her nose or do anything that wasn’t 100% ladylike. I wish I knew how she does it. Does she have special underwear that never wrinkles? Or special medicines that ensure her nose doesn’t run or allow her to sneeze in public?

She must be the nearest thing to a perfect human to ever grace this planet.

Next week in the history section I shall be telling the story of another great Queen. I have a few to choose from, any preference? Leave a comment.

ADD BREAK

I just wanted to share with you the fabulous news that Unhappily Ever After was the solo medallist in the New Apple Literary Awards for Excellence 2017 in the humour category.  (Love that excellence bit!)

2017 NEW APPLE AWARDS MEDAL AMedal1000x1000

AND,

the third book in the Amie series Amie: Stolen Future was the solo medallist in the New Apple Literary Awards for Excellence 2018 in the Action & Adventure category.

A huge thank you to all their kind judges whoever they are 😊

You can find both on my web page

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

or my Amazon page

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

As regular readers may have noticed every Thursday I host a guest blog. I am fully booked for March but no one earmarked for April. No publicity is bad publicity, so if you would like a feature, please email me lucindaeclarke@gmail.com   or lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com   or you can pm me on Facebook.

Till next week, take care.

 

 

VIENNA AND VIEWS

TRAVEL

While on our bus tour, we got brief glimpses of the UNO village complex which houses several departments of the United Nations and the St Francis Assisi Church. I just wanted to backtrackIMG_4895 on that a little to show you the pictures of some of the stained glass windows in the Votive Church we’d seen earlier (stained glass windows must be one of the most beautiful sights ever, especially when the sun shines through them). And also a picture of this amazing contraption, which I guess they must use for cleaning the windows or getting up anywhere high? It has a lot more charm than the modern cherry-picker.

The next morning we walked into the central museum complex area as I wanted to take pics of the guys selling tickets for the various musical concerts. They were all dressed in period costume. To my surprise, they seemed a little reluctant to have their photos taken, but I persevered and there was nowhere for them to hide anyway!

HISTORY

Of course, we all know that princesses fall in love all the time but when Princess Elizabeth did, it was not at all popular. He was a Prince of course, but he didn’t have a kingdom or even a princedom anymore and his family was a bit strange as well.

PRINCE PHILIP

It was a big problem in those days, marrying other royals, they were all foreign!

The one Princess Elizabeth chose looked very handsome but had a decidedly dodgy family. His father had lost his throne and was no longer the King of Greece, all his sisters had married Germans and his mother was in a home for the insane.

But, on the other hand, he had lived in England and spoke the local lingo with a posh accent so maybe he would be OK.

qe !! MARRIAGE

In a blaze of publicity and a welcome respite from the drudgery of post-war life, the two married on 20th November 1947 in Westminster Abbey.

Now, this is something not many people know. Westminster is NOT an Abbey, though it is built on the site of an old abbey. It’s NOT even a cathedral. Its proper name is the Collegiate Church of St Peter at Westminster.  It’s the traditional venue for royal coronations and weddings, having the status of a Church of England, ‘Royal Peculiar’  – a church responsible directly to the sovereign.

THE NATURAL BREAK (A polite way of saying that here is where I talk about my books)

Amie Back Story v2.1

Each month I write a new chapter to the Amie backstories, featuring mostly her elder sister Samantha and Ben whom she first meets as her cameraman in Togodo.

Sam is an idiot and constantly getting into one scrape after another on her first trip abroad, while Ben is psyching himself in his rural village to become a man. This is a teaser from the first chapter and you can download the next 14 chapters for free from my monthly newsletter.

This is the link to click on. http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

PART ONE

Battered and bruised, Amie sat shivering alone in the small prison cell. How had this happened? Where had it all gone wrong? She thought back to where she had come from, anything to take her mind off waiting for the next appalling meal to be shoved through the flap at the bottom of the door. It was always the same, a heap of maize meal porridge, a watery stew in which floated the odd suspect morsel of meat surrounded by pulpy vegetables. The only drink they’d offered her was water and she wasn’t too sure that was clean. Despite her revulsion, when her stomach began to rumble after the first couple of days, she could sense her strength beginning to ebb, and she devoured the food and drank every last drop.

How long had she been there? Days, weeks? If only she’d thought to scratch on the wall to mark the passing of time, but it was too late now.

She took in her surroundings. One lumpy, stained, foam mattress on the bare concrete floor, a bucket in the corner that was emptied only once a day, a window securely barred, too high for her to reach and look out. She could hear the everyday sounds from the nearby market, but no one knew she was there; no one was going to come and rescue her. She lived with the ever-present worry that at any moment she would hear footsteps echoing down the corridor outside coming to drag her outside to go and answer more questions.

All she had left were thoughts and memories of her former life in a warm and loving family thousands of miles away in England. She smiled as she remembered the times she and her sister had discussed their future lives, it had seemed so easy, so predictable, so planned and precise, so ordinary. She could see it so clearly as if it was yesterday.

SAM

“Amie, I need your help with my homework,” said Samantha, flinging open the door to her sister’s bedroom.

“Not again! If you didn’t spend so much time mooning over Gerry, you’d get twice as much done. And how am I supposed to help? You’re two years above me!”

Samantha ignored the comment and threw herself onto the bed. “It’s all right for you, it’s all too easy, you’ll romp through your exams.”

“Only because I work hard, and concentrate in class. I know what I want to do and where I’m going. I have it all planned out.” Amie sounded smug.

Her elder sister sighed. “I guess I’ll go the teaching route, it’ll fit in better with being a housewife and a mother. Though,” she added, “I have no intention of getting tied down too early. I want to travel and see the world first.”

BEN

Seven thousand miles further south sat another young person thinking about his future, a future which could not be more different to the one Amie faced. He scuffed his bare, black toes in the dust making swirling patterns, only to obliterate them and begin again. He hated to admit it: he was frightened. It was bad enough for the other boys, but he was the son of his father who was brother to the chief. They would expect more of him, he would possibly be the first one and he would not dare flinch, nor cry out however bad the pain was. He shuddered just to think about it. It was made even worse knowing that he was the youngest in the age regiment, and on his shoulders rested the standing of his family in the tribe.

Like the dust particles he was stirring, thoughts circled around Ben’s head. He was torn, halfway between the old world and the new. He was now part of the modern Africa. He lived in a house with a bathroom, hot and cold water flowed from the taps, and he slept in his own bed. He attended the best school in Apatu, run mostly by the local British expats who showed him pictures and videos of places on the other side of the world. He watched in awe as pictures of spaceships rocketed skywards, saw men walking on the moon, and listened as they explained how satellites orbited the earth too far above them to be seen. In many respects, he was receiving a similar education to Amie, but that is where the similarity ended.

He was familiar with the village where his family sent him for the holidays. When he was very small it was fun to throw off his shoes, run barefoot across the savannah and bathe naked in the shallow river. He’d follow his father’s cattle for long days under the blazing sun, occasionally screaming and chasing away the odd hyena or wild dog that came too close. He’d wave his long stick and jump up and down without getting too close. To his relief, not once did the predators come any nearer, but slunk off with their tails between their legs.

In his earlier years, he’d enjoyed the company of the other boys close in age, as they ran free as birds, ducking and diving under the lower hanging branches of the smaller thorn trees. They spent hours poking long sticks into the tall, red termite mounds, throwing stones at the weaver birds’ nests to bring them crashing down to the ground, much to the frustration of the males who shrieked with fury. Hours of hard work patiently weaving the strands of dry, yellow grass into the tightly knit balls precariously fixed to the very end of the thorn branches, lost because of the fecklessness of some nasty little boys running wild. He’d competed in the informal running races, mock fighting with sticks against the others, and sitting breathlessly at the feet of the local storyteller. The old man had told tales of past heroic deeds by members of their tribe, stories of how the majestic African animals lived on the plains and the legacy of the ancestral spirits who guarded the tribes-folk from beyond the grave.

Till next week, take care.