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.

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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).

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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.

GOODBYE AND GLASSES

TRAVEL

Now you probably think that DH (Dear Husband) and I go globetrotting all the time.  No, sadly that is not true at all. We manage to get away maybe once or twice a year. If I could, I’d be exploring new places at least 50% of the time.

This week the last few pictures of Vienna (of course, since DH is social media shy I can’t use any that show him).

This first is the hotel we stayed at – highly recommended – and I was particularly impressed to learn that during World War II it was used as lodgings for the German high command. Hedda Hopper the gossip columnist also stayed there. Of course, I had to play the mental history game – imagining I was there at the time.

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And a couple of side streets and a restaurant where we had a typical Austrian meal. I think the Austrians have their cuisine just right. I was very sad to say goodbye to Vienna as I really loved the city.

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HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

About time we talked about Isabella herself. She’s now at the court and life is much better. Beatriz Fernandez de Bobadilla becomes a maid of honour and a friend to Isabella – a very important servant who helped to change the face of the whole world.  I’ll come back to her later and you’ll find out how.

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This picture is a little fuzzy as she refused to sit still while I photographed her.

But the dowager Queen (Isabella’s mother who is a bit, no a lot, over the edge) does not behave well at court, and the King sends her back to Arevalo, probably to Isabella’s relief.

Alfonso V Portugal

 

Isabella turns 13 years old a ripe age for marriage in those days and the Queen’s brother, King Alfonso V of Portugal, asks for her hand in marriage. The year is now 1464. He looks a heck of a lot older than 13 doesn’t he? And to be quite honest she’s not thrilled at all. Not too cuddly with in all that armour and he  doesn’t look as if he has much of a sense of humour.

 

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 3

We had been filming in a rural village where they had recently installed electricity and the local sangoma (witch doctor) acted as a spokesperson on camera. I hesitantly asked her if she would throw the bones for me. She agreed and I returned a few days later and sat in her hut on the floor. She lit incense sticks and threw a mixture of objects onto a grass mat and chanted. There were some small animal bones, together with Coke bottle tops, half a clothes peg, scraps of material and glass and pieces of painted wood.

After quite some time she said “Take care driving as there is danger. Also, your eldest daughter will need to buy glasses.

gold framed eyeglasses
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I was sceptical but kept my speed down to 30 kilometres an hour for days. Possibly as I was driving so slowly the police pulled me over and noticed my rather bald tyres. They said I would hear from them. I didn’t, so missed the time to pay the fine, also the date to appear in court for non-payment and so they issued a warrant for my arrest. (I had to admit it eventually that I’m a criminal).  It all got sorted but gave me a hell of a scare.

And, within a year my eldest daughter was prescribed glasses despite having had 20-20 vision up until then.

So, I would never, ever discount what the sangomas say – just in case. There is still much we don’t understand.

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Ouma Adede the sangoma appears in all the Amie books, with cryptic messages for her which come true but not in the way Amie expects.

myBook.to/Amie1   At the moment they are all in KU so you can read them for free.

Till next time, take care.

MUSIC AND MUTI

TRAVEL

Everywhere we went in Vienna we were offered tickets to concerts. Now both DH and I love classical music, but we hadn’t packed evening dresses or a tux so we declined many of these historically dressed ticket touts. However, one particularly eager young man explained that the audience didn’t have to dress up for any of the smaller venues.

The programme was very much to my taste, Strauss x 2, Mozart and light opera – no rap or jazz and that suited me fine.

It was held in one of the minor palaces and sadly they didn’t allow pictures, though I did sneak this one before it started. My biggest fear was the tiny red velvet covered seats with very spindly legs, and DH is a large guy and my over active imagination could just see his chair collapsing – I mentally read the headlines, only I wouldn’t be able to understand them as they would be written in German.

HISTORY

La Beltranaja

 

The new princess born to King Henry and his Queen Joan is christened Joanna, but everyone whispers the name La Beltraneja.  Court gossip is “The Queen is a harlot, the King is a fool and the child is a bastard.”

Please note this picture was painted a little time after her birth.

 

Beltran_de_la_Cueva

 

 

Many say that Beltran de la Cueva (remember, he was the cool, skinny guy who was the Queen’s bit on the side) does everything for his king! – even produce a bastard heir.

For this, he is promoted and given the title Count of Ledesma. Here’s his pic to remind you.

 

AFRICAN FACTS   SANGOMAS PART 3

I heard many stories while I lived in Africa about spells being put on westerners. I was told my horses had been poisoned for muti (medicine) as a way of making me move the stables when we first moved to Francistown.

emaciated horse

My head stable boy told me we were on sacred ground, although I’m sure the lady who owned the farm was unaware of this. She had allowed us to use the land in return for looking after her two horses which were barely fit for the knacker’s yard.

I was solemnly informed that I had been warned when two of the horses had their manes and tails cut off. However, I’d no idea it was anything more than wanton vandalism and came to the conclusion the hair was wanted for fly whisks. If only I had listened to them sooner.

You can read the whole story of the riding school for free  here

 

and by signing up for my monthly newsletter you get the second part free as well.

Link for newsletter  http://eepurl.com/c-GqWr

Till next time, take care.

 

 

 

COLUMNS AND CURSES

TRAVEL

We had a guide while touring the Parliament building in Vienna.

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I noticed there was not a lot of furniture around – but maybe there isn’t an IKEA in Vienna?

This is where the 183 members of the National Council meet – I thought it great that we were even encouraged to take photographs. It’s really difficult to get inside the Houses of Parliament in London.

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The Federal Parliamentary assembly has naked ladies propping up the pillars. I do hope that the members, while sitting listening to long boring speeches, don’t let their minds wander to other more enjoyable pastimes.

HISTORY

Isabel young

Now life becomes exciting for Isabella. She is no longer under Mummy’s control but that of the king, and she will finish her education at court.  Alfonso is put under the care of a tutor and Isabella becomes part of the Queen’s household.

The princess has plenty to eat, lives in a castle adorned with gold and silver and has lessons in reading, writing, spelling, grammar, maths, art, chess, dancing, embroidery and music.  She lives a relaxed lifestyle, except for the fact that Henry will not allow her to leave Segovia.  However, she is astute enough to have full knowledge of what is going on in the kingdom, the court is a hotbed of intrigue.

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 2

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A lot depends on the financial status of the family of a sangoma (witch doctor) and how long they have been practising their craft, but many have ordinary, everyday jobs as well. I met them in the health department, working in shops and even road sweeping. Generally, they are treated with a lot of respect by the community, and are partially feared for the powers they have.

It may surprise many to learn that even professionals such as medical doctors (even those trained overseas), teachers, politicians, just about anyone, will consult sangomas for potions to make someone fall in love with them, put spells on those they don’t like, to protect them against enemies or for good crops or successful business deals.

I named my witch doctor in the Amie series as Ouma Adede – Ouma is a respectful term used by Afrikaners which literally means grandmother but is often used as a respectful address to the elderly.

The Amie series  has been translated into Spanish and other languages are in production.

Till next time, take care.

PARLIAMENT AND POTIONS

TRAVEL

We had booked a tour of the Parliament building in Vienna and the MP’s were kind enough to leave the building so we could go and have a good gawk at it.

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It’s a very imposing building (I’m convinced I was Christopher Wren in a former life, I love gazing at architecture).

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I just love that sign telling you where you will find missing children! There didn’t seem to be any around to claim though.

HISTORY (WELL KIND OF)

Now that Carlos of Aragon is dead, busy haunting the streets of Barcelona, his younger brother Ferdinand is heir to the throne. We can forget about all the girl children, because under Salic law women cannot ascend the throne in Aragon.

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This is Ferdinand, but I couldn’t find a picture of him before he got a crown.

Isabella, still controlled by her mad mother spends most of her days praying, but Mummy is now really furious as King  Henry’s wife Joan (miraculously) produces a daughter and so Isabella and her elder brother Alphonso are a step further away from the throne to rule Castile. She is not a happy bunny.

Then, King Henry, summons Prince Alfonso and Princess Isabella to attend court at Segovia, probably so Henry can keep an eye on them. Isabella is now 11 years old and Alfonso 9.

 

AFRICAN FACTS 

SANGOMAS PART 1

Tribal medicine and herbal cures are still alive and well even in the cities in South Africa. You can often see the witch doctors (both men and women) also called sangomas, as they are often dressed more traditionally and are liberally adorned with beads, charms to ward off bad luck and have chicken bladders in their hair.

witchdoctor 1

On two occasions I was told by the sangomas themselves that they woke in the night and followed a voice telling them to leave their homes and walk. They had no idea where they were going but followed paths and roads until they finally arrived – often after days – at the home where they were expected. In each case their host or hostess was an experienced witch doctor who told them they had been chosen to carry on the profession and taught them everything they knew. In both cases the newly trained returned to their home villages to practice.

(More next week)

Amie makes friends with Ouma Adede the best known and most powerful sangoma in Apatu – and I based her on my meetings with the witchdoctors I met and talked to.

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Till next time, take care.

 

RATHAUS AND (W)RITING

TRAVEL (VIENNA)

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.

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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?

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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.

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HISTORY

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.

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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.

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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.

AFRICAN FACTS

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.

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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

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

Till next time, take care.

MUSEUMS AND MUMS

TRAVEL

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.

HISTORY

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.

AFRICA FACTS

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.

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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.

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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.

Lucinda

 

 

DOCUMENTS AND DANCING

TRAVEL

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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.

OIC DOCUMENT CENTRE VIENNA

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).

HISTORY

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.

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A 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.

AFRICA FACTS

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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VF0S3RG

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

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

INFIDELITY AND INGENUITY

TRAVEL

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!

HISTORY

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?)

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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.

 

 

 

AFRICAN FACTS

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.

https://www.books2read.com/u/47kzYN 

The second link will take you to all marketplaces.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

GUNS AND GARDENING

TRAVEL

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?

HISTORY

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.

 

 

AFRICA FACTS

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

Lucinda