MEET JOHN SEARANCKE

I am really happy to be part of a huge blog hop for John Searancke, whose name is familiar as he is also a member of the FB group We love Memoirs.  But first things first.

ALL JOHN’S BOOKS ARE ON SALE FROM MARCH 31, 2019 THROUGH APRIL 2, 2019 for 99¢/99£

The Author (1)

John Searancke is restaurant reviewer for the Tenerife newspaper Island Connections. Born in 1943 at Derby Royal Infirmary, a war baby, he lived his early life in Ashby-de la-Zouch and was sent away to be educated at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford and afterwards at Rugby School. Later commissioned into the Territorial Army, he has been variously a director of a light engineering company, an hotel and restaurant owner, director and chairman of a marketing consortium, and latterly a partner with his wife in a commercial legal services company. He has enjoyed working in England and Switzerland and has homes in England and northern Tenerife, where he now lives with his wife Sally.

His latest book is

TheReluctantHotelkeeper

A Memoir

Available Wide in eBook, Paperback

ASIN: B07LB7WLZM

ISBN-10: 1789017572

ISBN-13: 978-1789017571

Non-fiction, Memoir

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LB7WLZM/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07LB7WLZM/

Amazon Smart Link: smarturl.it/TheRelHotelkeeper

Universal Wide Link: https://books2read.com/b/ReluctantHotelkeeper

A rescue mission originally thought of as lasting for a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building.

There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, and with the local fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures.

John Searancke came to the role of hotel keeper almost accidentally, and most definitely with much reluctance. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely-trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.

Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, people were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Many were the guests who checked in who really should not have been seen together.

This is a tribute to all the people behind the scenes who helped to make the hard-won transformation into a great success.

With a rave 5 star review from Readers’ Favorites, I can back up Matma Madhaven’s comments: “There are a lot of interesting stories about eccentric guests, how many guests who checked in should not have been seen together at all, and how it ended up being one of the favored stops for a number of celebrities. The author goes through the entire process, speaking about transforming the hotel methodically and in detail, taking readers along with him and his experiences while getting the old building renovated to cater to the needs of a modern traveler. There is not one boring moment in this memoir and the positive narration and outlook make this memoir an encouraging and motivating read. The author’s story and experiences are enriching, and the ups and downs of his life and the accolades he received for the hotel and its restaurant will encourage many readers out there to become hotel keepers.”

I’m not sure about that last sentence, but I sat and read John’s book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Other books by John:-

Dog Days In The Fortunate Islands: A new life in hidden Tenerife

https://books2read.com/b/DogDays

Prunes for Breakfast: One Man’s War: Based on a True Story. 

https://books2read.com/b/Prunes

Like most of us these days John has numerous addresses and if you want to find out lots more about him click on one of these.

Website: https://www.johnsearancke.com/

Newsletter sign up: https://mailchi.mp/57550f38f321/joinjohnsearancke

Author Interview: https://www.rukiapublishing.com/an-interview-with-john-searancke.html

FB: https://www.facebook.com/johnsearanckeauthor/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JohnSearancke

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/john-searancke

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/John-Searancke/e/B00J787XZ6/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7956383.John_Searancke

All the very best John for your new book.

Till next time, take care

Lucinda

 

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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.

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.

TED WILDTUIN 09 068

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.

TED WILDTUIN 09 069

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

 

 

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?)

Beltran_de_la_Cueva

 

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

 

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

 

 

ANIMALS AND AFRICA

TRAVEL

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.

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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.

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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.

HISTORY

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.

AFRICA FACTS

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.

Lucinda

MEET SHIRLEY LEDLIE

My guest this week has another inspiring story to tell. Like so many people we might bump into in our daily lives we have no idea what people have suffered – unless they write a book about it, and Shirley has done just that. Far from being a simple biography, Shirley’s book was suddenly in great demand, but I’ll let her tell you herself.

Billy

I was born in Nottingham, England in 1958 and yes, that means I will reach the big sixty later this year. I’m the author of Naked in the Wind-chemo, hairloss and Deceit plus, two short travelogues.

As far as writing is concerned, I’m a late starter. After moving to France, almost twenty years ago, I had the opportunity to sign a contract with the UK Bella Magazine to write a weekly life-style article. Each week I would write half a page about life in Brittany for an ex-pat family. Our ever-growing family of animals featured in it fairly often; with four dogs, hens, quails, ducks, two cats, a rabbit, guinea-pigs and last but not least a donkey, there was always some escapade to write about! How I loved it! This lasted for a little over a year until a new editor having a clean sweep, swiftly brought my writing career to an abrupt halt.

At this point in my life, I had no idea five years later I would be at the forefront of a Big Pharma scandal and campaign, a co-founder of a global support group and I would write a memoir about it! What a whirlwind ten years it’s been.

So, what exactly have I been campaigning for, the last ten years? Patient Rights.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer, the surgery, chemo, and radiotherapy became my routine for the following ten months. I don’t mind confessing to being a total wimp and if it hadn’t been for my friend dragging me into the car every three weeks I doubt I would have finished my chemo sessions.  Little did I know that the following year I would discover that the new chemo regime had left me with a permanent disfigurement, that wasn’t as rare as I’d been informed.  It wasn’t long before I realised others being treated with the same drug were also not being warned.

SHIRLEY LEDLIE

I’ve always been an ‘all or nothing kind of girl’ and this instantly fell into the ‘all’ category! I threw myself into raising awareness about this little-known side effect often in my own peculiar way,  took on the giants of the pharmaceutical world and co-founded a global support group.

Some of the support group members would despair at some of my wacky antics, but it had become apparent that nice and polite was not going to work. I carried on regardless.

After seven years of living in this surreal world, I finally accepted my disfigurement and the only thing left to do was write a book about my journey. This was supposed to be the grand finale. I could now get on with my new normal life. Wrong. The legal eagles in the US picked up on the story. One morning I checked to see how many books of Naked in the Wind I’d recently sold. There was a large bulk order. Suddenly my memoir was of much interest to several law firms in the US! I instantly found myself being sucked back into the, almost, forgotten world of Big Pharma. The podcast/radio interview requests started to appear in my inbox, articles needed writing and my past fight was discussed all over the internet. I’m still involved as of today, but where it will end I have no idea! I’m just going with the flow and if I can help in any way, I will.

sHIRLEY PILGRIM BOOK

After my first memoir, I wrote two short light-hearted travelogues The Unexpected Pilgrim and Mischief in Manhattan. I didn’t plan beforehand to write about my trip to Israel. After returning home from the spur-of-the-moment visit, I was so spiritually moved I felt compelled to share and I really hoped that readers would be able to put their political beliefs to one side. Some readers have emailed me, thanking me for telling a different story to the one they read about in the tabloids.  I will warn you though; your feet will be aching by the time you read the last page!

The Unexpected Pilgrim: A light-hearted and fast-moving travelogue.

When presented with an opportunity to visit Israel for four days, Shirley decided it was a

chance she could not turn down. It would mean sightseeing on her own – a daunting task for this woman in her mid-fifties with a terrible sense of direction.

She decides to cram as much as possible into her short time there with some amusing and exhausting consequences!

SHIRLEY MANHATEN BOOK

Before leaving for New York City, I’d already planned to write about this sight-seeing trip, so I was well prepared to take notes about everything. We crammed so much into every day; I was worried my poor Fitbit would explode as it clocked up on average 28,000 steps every day.

Mischief in Manhattan:  Five women from England decide to go to New York City for five days, to sightsee and celebrate a 50th birthday. Shirley was invited along to make up the numbers, but how would she get on with the three ladies she didn’t know? Would they all see eye to eye or would there be bickering in the Big Apple? How do fried dumplings, spoons and dress shoes become an issue? With neighbours they hadn’t bargained for and some typical ‘Englishness’ thrown in, this travel memoir is sure to keep you entertained!

What’s next? I have made a start on my first novel and the first in a series of motorhome travels around France, Portugal, and Spain.

Thank you, Lucinda, for inviting me to be a guest author!

Here are the links to Shirley’s books,

Naked in the Wind  https://amzn.to/2EX5TGD

The Unexpected Pilgrim  https://amzn.to/2ErAOer

Mischief in Manhattan  https://amzn.to/2JVTCWP

And thank you, Shirley, for being my guest,  I’m honoured to share your story which will inspire and give hope to many people.