ST VITAS AND A VEHICLE

TRAVEL – PRAGUE

This week a few pics of St Vitus Cathedral. I usually take a photo of the name of a church, but this time I forgot and I’ve had to hunt on Google maps street view to identify it.

BA65EB4A-9AF3-4826-9484-A83E287B3293

It was quite awe inspiring.  It’s 600 years old and has in turn been called St Vitus, St Adalbert and St Wenceslas. (When I was little and sang that carol “Good King Wenceslas looked out…”  I thought it was – last looked out – and wondered what happened to him after that. My writer’s mind had him hung drawn and quartered, strung up, boiled in oil, burned at the stake or something worthy of the saint status).

In olden days in was the venue for coronations of kings and queens. It’s a Roman Catholic place of worship and this form of Christianity was forced on the Czechs under dominance by the Habsburgs. I discovered that in 1910 Catholicism was the professed religion of 96.5% of the population. The latest figures show 39.8% as atheist and 39.2% as Catholic.

HISTORY – ISABELLA OF SPAIN

To be honest, Ferdinand is a bit cheesed off acting as a servant to one of the merchants. He’s a bit of a spoiled brat and doesn’t like being bossed about. He’s not too good at this undercover stuff, and grooming the mules and serving at tables and to now skulk around dressed in servant’s clothes on the way to a country where he is only going to be the king consort is demeaning.

The party travel mostly by night, but when they stop at an inn, they become fearful they have been discovered.  As soon as they finish their meal, they decide to press on with the journey. They discover that they have left the purse with all their travelling money behind.  It’s too risky to go back for it, so they ride on, penniless. Is there no end to this excitement?

AFRICA FACTS

Of the 54 African countries I have only lived in and or visited 12 of them. I count myself very privileged to have travelled deep rural, into informal townships and many places not frequented by either tourists or local residents.

CATO MANOR 8

With the film crew, we spent days in communities talking to local people, in broken English or with an interpreter. We also talked to wealthy people in positions of power. People are the same the world over, yet I saw more resilience, more fatalism and more courage than I have seen in so called civilised, western countries.

They  have a more happy go lucky approach too, as this picture below shows – yes the caption is true, I saw the paperwork.

KZN 05 Silver-2

I was thrilled to hear that Truth, Lies and Propaganda was chosen by a book club in America. I do hope I get to hear what they thought of it.

Till next time, take care.

Lucinda

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DOCUMENTS AND DANCING

TRAVEL

IMG_4978

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.

young isabella

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.

CIMG1972

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.

CIMG3526

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

 

I’M ONE ARE YOU?

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 1946

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?)

CARNABY ST

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.

beatles

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.

EARLY TV

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.

1966

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.)

BRITAIN 1970'S

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. 😊

ALL AMIE BOOKS OCT 2017

set 1 of books

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

Until 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

 

PALACES AND PRINCIPALS

TRAVEL

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.

IMG_4976

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.

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucinda-e-clarke

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

HISTORY

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

AFRICA FACTS

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

Lucinda

 

 

SISSI AND SADNESS

TRAVEL

So there we were in the Hofburg in Vienna where they have an amazing permanent exhibition about Elisabeth of Bavaria, born in 1837, she was the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary because she married Franz Joseph I.

SISSI WITH HAIR

She’d had a good childhood, but was horrified at 16 to be married off and then to live in a stuffy court full of rules and regulations. She was a bit of a rebel and fed up as she had nothing much to do. She had the mother in law from hell, the Archduchess Sophie who bossed her around and took over bringing up the children.

SSISSI'S BEDROOM

Sissi was very beautiful and her hair reached to the floor. She spent hours each day bathing, it took a whole day to wash her hair and exercising  – at 5 foot 8 inches, she weighed only 50 kg (110 pounds, 7 st 12 lbs) most of her life and cinched in her waist with corsets so it was only 19 inches in circumference. She had a pretty unhappy life and often went traveling. She was assassinated in Switzerland at the age of 61.

But the Hofburg had, even more, to offer which I’ll tell you about next week.

HISTORY

Now that we have come to the accession of Queen Elizabeth II of England to the throne, it doesn’t feel very historical after all.

The Princess and her husband Prince Philip were in Kenya on safari when the news came through. The press and paparazzi were asked to keep away from the bungalow she was staying in to give her some privacy – and they did! How times have changed.

TREETOPS KENYA

This is a modern photo taken from Trip Advisor.

Although King George died on 6th February, the new Queen was not told until the following day. An urgent telegram was sent to Government House in Nairobi but it could not be decoded because the keys to the safe holding the codebook were unavailable.

Before our Queen even ascended the throne (they place them well off the ground so they can be seen), she promised faithfully to serve her country as ‘long as I shall live.’  A promise, she has kept for 64 years making her the world’s longest reigning monarch.

ADD BREAK

These are a few of the topics I wrote scripts for in the past:

medicine, productivity, toothpaste, manufacturing telephones, photography, power stations, pollution at sea, and distance education, bakeries, banks, nation building, tourism, diets, meat, margarine, aluminium, marathons, birds, splitting the atom, HIV / AIDS, crime, what to do in an emergency, legal information, modern classical music, maths, English literature, top athletes, lifestyles, science, mining, court cases, mayoral keynote speeches, oceans, honey badgers, African wildlife, religion, literature, safety, electricity, behaviour modification, self employment and so on and so on and so on. Too many for me to remember.

So, I guess it’s not surprising that I’ve written books in 3 different genres, memoirs, comedy and the Amie series.

Apparently, an author who does this shoots themselves in the foot, but I think I sound like me in all my books – OK, boring!  In case you want to check them out this is the link to my website which describes them in more detail.

http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Till next week, take care.

TOURS AND TRUTHS

votive church

Since we had purchased a 24 hour ticket for the Vienna HOHO bus next morning we made for the bus stop and got on the wrong bus. We hopped off and while waiting for the bus we wanted, we visited the Votive Kirk.

This was built following the attempted assassination of Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853, by his brother Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian to thank God for saving his life.

The next bus took us past the Burgtheater and then out into the countryside.

It was a pleasant drive, through Grinzing as far as the Klasterneuburg monastery. The weather was cold and overcast and no one got off at any of the stops, possibly because they were unsure when there would be another bus back to the centre of the city.

A third bus drive took us out of the city in the opposite direction, the north east, to Donauturn, which is the park area enjoyed by the Viennese. There is a huge tower there a restaurant and a fun fair.  We also passed over the Danube with many cruise boats plying to and fro and tried to work out the where the Danube splits into 4, the river, the tamed river, the canal and the lagoon overflow.

We wandered round the city centre for a while found a great Italian restaurant and that day, despite the bus tours we walked 9.5 kilometres – a gold medal level for me.

HISTORY

By 1944, the eldest princess, Elizabeth had also joined the army, mending trucks and teaching drivers to drive and teaching driving instructors how to teach driving to people who couldn’t drive. I know this is true, because my mother was in the same section and she had pictures of them.

ADD BREAK

The second of my career memoir sees me returning to South Africa and once more writing scripts for video production. Eventually, I founded my own small production house and made dozens of movies for international conferences, awards ceremonies and … for heaven’s sake I made programmes for anyone who would pay me. Over 15 years I traveled Africa shooting (camera kind) in deep rural areas, meeting chiefs, witchdoctors, celebrities, politicians and ordinary folk. The tales are both heart-warming, sad and educational (did you know some animals are gay?).

More Truth, Lies and Propaganda

Caroline died last night. It was a long, lingering and particularly nasty death – just as I had planned. I had originally decided to kill her by chopping her to pieces under a combine harvester, lots of blood and gore flying everywhere. I could see the birds flying up in protest, small insects bombarded by pieces of her, and the cries of the crowds gathered to stare at the miniscule remains of what had once been a beautiful, young lady. But then at the last minute I changed my mind. Why destroy the peace of the English countryside?

I promised at the end of my last book (Truth, Lies and Propaganda) that I would tell you how I finally got rid of Caroline, so I have described her demise at the end of this book.

Are you curious to know what Caroline had done to deserve a vicious and torturous death? Quite frankly I haven’t the faintest idea. Perhaps she is the heroine in a book I’ve not written yet. She is a marvellous example of how you can do exactly what you want to do if you are a writer, as long as you don’t put it into practice in everyday life.

As authors we control the lives of those we create, it’s one of the perks, but we have a lot less control over our own lives. What was I doing, sitting in a small front room in London, my feet freezing despite the thick woolly socks and furry slippers, my fingers numb as they pecked at the keyboard?

mtlp-cover-v4-small-pic3

I glanced up at the grey, leaden sky and shivered. I could hear the swish of the cars passing by as their tyres skidded over the wet tarmac and the slap, slap sound from wellington boots as people walked past the house. Years earlier I hadn’t even heard of SAD, the syndrome where you get depressed by bad weather and lack of sunshine. Here in London, I had not seen the sun for several days. I remembered my first airplane trip when we rose above the clouds, and there, to my amazement, was the sun, throwing its beams over the top of the fluffy white pillows in the sky. It was still there, of course it was! How stupid of me to think the sun had deserted us, but that’s the feeling you get when you don’t see it for days and days.

What was even worse, this weather was destroying my creativity. I battled to put words on paper, even though I had a contract to write a series of radio programmes for the South African Broadcasting Corporation. (I shall refer to them as the SABC in the future as I’m far too lazy to type it all out each time).

I had recently returned from living in Durban, a city on the east coast of South Africa, fronting the warm Indian Ocean. There, the words flew straight from my brain and magically appeared on the screen, well sort of if you get my drift, I’m using a little poetic licence here.

I began daydreaming about the work I had done in the past, the fun I had with the amazing people I had met. I remembered the excitement of working in the SABC radio studios in Johannesburg, the friends from the Communications Department in Durban and all the wonderful experiences out in the African townships with the crew, while filming a wide variety of programmes.

But that was all over. I had just finished the last SABC programme and I doubted they would ever give me another series, I lived too far away. The classroom beckoned a return to the profession I had trained for decades earlier.

I was not looking forward to it one little bit. I had heard tales of the modern monsters who now inhabited the hallowed halls of learning. If it was bad 30 years before, it was even worse now, ‘Health and Safety’, and ‘I Know My Rights’ had seen to that. It seemed to me that a black belt in judo and other martial art qualifications prepared you better for the classroom these days, than the three years they offered you in teacher training college in the 1970s.

What was worse, I was not living in the best area of London either, so I was expecting the worst if they even considered offering me a job. I’d not graced a classroom for years, and I was just a little bit out of touch. No, I was a lot out of touch. The kids would make mincemeat of me.

Till next week take care.