PLOUGHING ON THROUGH THE FAR EAST

We landed in Bangkok on 2nd February. Honestly their idea of a 3 star rating hotel would equal about 15 star in Europe, it was amazing. Once again we were upgraded to a deluxe suite, not sure why, but we were not going to complain.

Our guide took us to the following places and I’m not sure now which is which. Yes I’m ashamed to admit it but I didn’t want to spend all my time writing stuff down as I had in the past, but use my eyes to wonder, gape, drool and take it all in. There was so much to see, so many details, and we moved at such a fast pace to get it all in that it would be either the pictures or the script, and the photos won. We visited Wat Traimit, Wat Arun (Dawn Temple) and Wat Po.

Wat Traimit is the temple of the golden Buddha, famous for its 900 year old five and a half ton solid gold image of the Buddha. This week I am just going to post ONLY pictures of this as it just takes your breath away.

It was impossible to get it all in in one shot. I just love the one where they are working on the feet, using Mother of Pearl, as the man was showing us.

HISTORY NONSENSE

Now I could write a book about Queen Victoria, but I don’t like her enough and I would probably be very rude. Before Christmas I left her slobbering over Lord Melbourne, but her Uncle Leopold (the Belgium king who annexed the Belgian Congo as an extension to his back garden) and various other members of the family had other ideas. this is his photo.leopold-of-belgium

Of course they wanted to bring in a German suitor on the excuse that he would be Protestant and not a Catholic. (Frankly by now I’m sure Henry VIII wouldn’t have minded too much). Enter Albert (yeuk), the one with no sense of humour and every intention of being king.

This time he did the slobbering to get the young queen’s attention and it wasn’t too long before they were an item, frequently seen at the local bowling alley on a Friday night.

Till next week, stay safe.

Elephant Dentistry and Amsterdam

If you read this blog regularly you may remember that every time we take a holiday something goes wrong. And this time was no different except it all happened before we even left home. When I go away I make a big production out of it, it’s all part of the fun. The house has to be squeaky clean, the washing up to date and I’m packed hours and hours before we leave – from my pre-made list of course.

This time was no exception, and to keep the kitchen nice and clean we set out for our favourite pasta place in the village.  IT HAD GONE!! We stared dumbfounded at the empty store till a kind man told us it had moved to the next small town. Off we went but failed to find it, so back to our village, parked the car and went to eat somewhere else. An early night we agreed as we had to be up before dawn for the drive to the airport. Back to collect the car only to find it was locked in the underground parking garage – huge steel shutters between us and our transport. Another kind passerby suggested the police station might have a key. So back up 3 flights of steps and into the cop shop. They were sympathetic, but no they didn’t have a key, could we come back at 8am when the garage opened? No, we couldn’t we had a plane to catch. We pretended we were tourists and luckily I had my passport already packed in my bag. Mind, they could tell we weren’t local, not with my level of Spanish. Wait outside, they told us. So we sat on the steps and waited and waited until finally we were told to hurry back to the garage. There a friendly cop was playing with the metal doors as they shot up and down. Having taken our details in the office DH was escorted to the car and he was able to drive out.

We landed in Amsterdam and being me I had to see everything. First it was the Royal Palace

Then a daylight cruise on the canals so we could see where we were going. Then a visit to the Sex Museum.

A stroll through the Red Light District.

The next day we made for the Rijksmuseum to see the Night Watch.

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Whoops wrong pic

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Then to the diamond museum where we bought nothing at all of course – and on to the Van Gough Museum with a special exhibition about his madness – oh so many of us writers have exactly the same frustrations don’t we? I felt a real affinity with him.

And here I am on my birthday in the middle of a fountain.

The Heineken Brewery was next, even though I don’t like beer.

A church with an impressive organ and after dinner a night cruise on the canals. Then a walk through the Red Light District, visiting the Museum of Prostitution, and I have to hand it to Amsterdam, it’s regulated, open, honest and treated just like any other business. No pics here of course, but the girls looked absolutely beautiful. Millions of story lines flew round my head – why were they here and not starring in Hollywood?

Next day we visited the Jewish Historical museum and the Museum of Resistance which was amazing – but a little uncomfortable as it all happened not too long before I was born. Then the Red Light District. However, I must explain that our hotel was on the fringes, and as we are a little old for the nightclubs, the coffee bars in the area are humming late into the night.

Finally on our last morning we had a meet up with a FB friend Val Poore and that was magic. We have so much in common and we’ll be getting together again very soon. DH didn’t nod off either as we chattered about books and books and books and previous lives.

And the elephant dentistry? We found the perfect picture for the cover of Amie 3. She meets a lone bull who is frantically looking for a female to love, so he’s unpredictable and dangerous. Only problem with the pic is this ellie only had half a tusk. So we sent him off back to South Africa where my clever photographic friend worked Photoshop magic and gave him a smart new pair. I decided to stop at that.

Finally, thank you to all the people who sent kind birthday wishes, I’ve tried to thank everyone personally, but if I missed some, please forgive me.

DH AND AMIE 3

Did you miss me last week? No, I thought not. Well for the last seven days I decided to get my head down and go over Amie 3 once again thoroughly before sending her off to my editor. I’d sent a very early draft through to DH and he found a few things wrong (of course he would).

So, come the morning we sit down together and I steel myself to hear the worst.

ME:    Well you can’t complain this time that she never goes off for a pee. She spends half her time in this book behind one bush or another. Her plumbing system is in full working order.

DH:    OK I noticed that but there are still no sex scenes.

ME:    I’m not sure my readers are looking for gratuitous sex, and I don’t use many swear words either.

DH:    I’m not talking bondage and erotica here but you’ve just told me she’s a healthy young woman. She has needs. (Every man’s dream right?)

ME:    You know I find sex scenes a little tricky. It must be the most undignified way to behave sober there is. And how can I possibly ever describe it better than millions before me? He whips his clothes off, she rips her clothes off and they wriggle around for a while praying she won’t get pregnant.

DH:    I still think you’re cutting it too short you could go into a little more detail. Right, what about this boring bit in the middle?

ME:    Boring? And what bit would that be? I can’t have her racing about on every page, it’s not natural surely. Fast paced is one thing, frenetic is another. Look we have her (spoiler) and then she takes refuge in (spoiler) and isn’t this bit (spoiler) exciting?

DH:    She’s crying again.

ME:    Well I’d cry if I saw (spoiler).

DH:    You might, but then you’re not superwoman.

ME:    Thanks.

DH:    She’s a strong heroine, and I think you’re basing her too much on yourself.

ME:    What! Hardly!

DH:    Well no, not the brave stuff, that’s not you, but she’s still snivelling an awful lot, toughen her up.

ME:    But she’s survived so far, that makes her tough. She’s not an Olympic weight lifter or a body builder. I want my readers to like her and feel for her. If she’s too tough they won’t relate to her will they? If you had your way she’d be dressed in black leather with boots and a whip!

DH:    Now that’s an idea.

ME:    Noooooo!

DH:    You want to sell to both men and women right?

ME:    Yes.

DH:    Then make her strong, not wet and drippy.

ME:    Amie won’t appreciate you saying that.

STRANGE LOOK FROM DH, HE MOVES A LITTLE FURTHER AWAY ROUND THE TABLE.

ME:    It’s a writer’s thing our characters live in our minds they are real people.

DH:    There’s not enough detail, all these guns for example. What size calibre are they?

ME:    Ah, now I did lots of research on the net and I did play with a gun once and those cartridge thingies…

DH:    (RAISES EYEBROWS) Magazines?

ME:    Yes those things it’s really hard to load the bullets into them and they hurt my fingers. I had a couple of dates with the policeman in Durban and he let me play with his.

DH:    (EYEBROWS FURTHER UP) His what?

ME:    His gun! I must have had a premonition I would need that experience one day so I asked him to show me where the bullets went and how to load them. It took me over an hour to get all six slotted in against that spring.

DH:    Figures. Good thing you weren’t in a shoot out at the time. Now Amie has a car in Durban, what kind?

ME:    Does it matter?

DH:    Of course it does, people want to know that.

ME:    (MUTTERING) If you insist, I’ll give her a Corolla, they make assemble those in Durban.

DH:    And a 737 will never get from London to Johannesburg.

ME:    Good point, I’ll up that to a 747. So is it as good as the other two? Did it hold your attention? Did you find it exciting?

DH:    I read it all the way through didn’t I?

(DH GETS UP TO MAKE COFFEE.)

Well at least I had a nice email from my editor this morning and she says it’s the best thing I’ve written so far (she’s terribly good at the sugar coating stuff), but of course there is lots of work to be done, including my tautologies – I really must look that up, I wonder what they are?

On the brighter side, Amie 1 an African Adventure got a Bronze in the Global E Book awards in popular fiction, so that cheered me up.

Have a great week.

$/£ 0.00318 for a smile

Once upon a time when I was writing for a living (and are we going back a long, long way), I wrote mainly promotional, educational and informational content – usually for radio and television, often in a drama format.

few of the videos I made

Then, as I got to the wrinkly stage, pretending to be retired, I turned to books. I wrote three memoirs, and two novels. If there was any theme it was Africa, well I lived there for almost forty years, so I got to notice quite a lot, especially filming in deep rural areas miles away from cities.

Then I broke the mould and published my political/satirical book set 200 years on in Fairyland, possibly described as similar to Tom Sharpe or Monty Python. I was unsure if the rather ‘British’ humour would transcend the Atlantic, but surprisingly I’ve had more sales on the other side of the pond.

UAE KINDLE COVER

Readers who knew me best from the Amie novels (and let’s face it, she has a very limited sense of humour), expressed surprise as it was so ‘not’ my genre.

Most writers have a genre we’re told ‘it’s the right thing to do’. So, Ludlum writes spy books, Steven King writes horror books and Edit Blyton wrote books for children.

But as often as I could, I put a humorous slant on most of my writing. It’s there in my memoirs, even in Walking over Eggshells. I’ve had to see the funny side of life in order to keep sane through the ups and downs of the bizarre situations I found myself in.

So Unhappily Ever After is possibly more me than Amie’s servant, telling her story to the world (well OK to the occasional reader who clicks on the link).

Why am I rambling on like this? Just a reminder that Unhappily is at $/£0.99 this week for 311 pages of really funny stuff, even I giggled at some of it. And as an extra teaser, here are some of the Twitter adds I put together (no, not going in for the graphic awards any time soon), which might give you a taste as to what it’s all about.

UAE FRIDAY 5 AUG

It climbed to #6,246 overall in paid books this morning in the US and #35,868 in the UK but I had a bit of help with one of those promos. Go take a peep, here is the link

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

and please, if you are in a good mood, reblog this for me as well? And if you feel depressed then check out the look inside and smile.

Have a great week.

A NOT ABOUT ME BLOG (THOUGH I MAY GET A MENTION)

Now I admit I am only half way through it, but when I heard that CeeCee James had brought out a new book I was thrilled and clicked to buy. This time it’s a murder mystery set in a small American town when the local car dealer salesman is found crushed to death under a train. I am dying (ha ha) to know what happens but sheer self discipline sees me writing this blog instead.

I first came across CeeCee’s books reading her memoirs, as she also had a tough childhood. Now she has continued her writing career with I think her first novel. Good luck CeeCee holding thumbs.

Here is the link.    https://www.amazon.com/Sweet-Taste-Murder-Angel-Mystery-ebook/dp/B01INPHQJQ/

CeeCee's murder book

Some of you may have received an email from me about a competition run by author Paula Wynn. It’s a chance to win almost 30 free books – quite enough to keep you occupied throughout the summer – and some will be in paperback format. It’s a mixed bag with fiction, non fiction and a children’s book.  It’s simple to enter and I think (you know how untechie I am) this is the link you click on. It closes this weekend so you only have a couple more days to enter.

The link is here :  http://bit.ly/29aEN1v    (you’ll have to do the cut and paste thing as it doesn’t seem to work on its own)

Take a peek at the books.

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There is other author who has left me in the dust and gasping in admiration. Her name is Michelle Monet and she is writing her first memoir and asked for a couple of tips, (she has some silly idea I know what I’m talking about). I had no idea she was so famous and so brilliantly talented. She was a Barbra Streisand tribute singer for years until it all got too much for her. Then she became a very successful artist and PBS even made a programme on her. She’s still working on her memoir, but in the meantime she has brought out an illustrated book of poetry. It’s in paperback for now, and here is the link.

https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Poem-Tale-Compilation-Ponderance/dp/1535295031/

MICHELLE MONET POETRY BOOK COVER
I’m sure it will be a great success.

Reviews from both should be up on Monday, and now you know what I’ll be reading this week.

OK, I can’t resist it. Here is a banner of all my books. You can have any one of them for FREE  if I may add your email address to my mailing list – either leave in the comments below, or through a pm on my Facebook page (I’ll check my hidden messages and it’s private) and immediately  an e.copy of your choice will be winging its way through the ether. There are six of them to choose from in three different genres.

http://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Have a great weekend 🙂

 

THE BIG TRIP XVI – SAIGON AND WE GET RID OF GEORGE II

It’s Monday so it’s blog time and we are off back to Vietnam to continue the trip. If I thought that going around the tunnels was harrowing, the afternoon was even more of a shock. We were taken to the War Remnants Museum.

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and neither of us took pictures here. The displays were quite gruesome and understandably there was a strong anti-American and anti-French flavour to the exhibits. Curious, I asked our guide how he handled taking visitors from the United States here. It’s a big tourist attraction he told us and everyone must come.

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Saigon or Ho Chi Min City was cleaner and more modern that Hanoi, but if possible the traffic was even more chaotic – scooters everywhere.

The post office is a major tourist attraction. It was jammed full with stalls selling all manner of cheap tourist tack, and just a few people in there trying to use the mail service.

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And then we were taken to the Cao Dai cathedral built in 1933 the highlight being the mid day mass. Of course every other tourist in Saigon was there too and when the service began we were herded up into the balcony.

From what I could gather the community encompasses Christian, Buddist, Taoist and Confusians. The major focus was the ‘third eye’ and I have to let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Well I’m going to get rid of George II because he’s beginning to bore me. Apart from fighting with his dad I don’t think he was a very interesting king. Don’t just take my word for it as this next sentence comes straight off the internet and we know we always get the truth on there right?  For two centuries after George II’s death, history tended to view him with disdain, concentrating on his mistresses, short temper and boorishness.

GEORGE ii MONDAY

He spent a lot of time fighting with his son Frederick who was later to become George III – yes I know his name was Frederick, but please, just please don’t ask.  But he was so much more interesting, to begin with he went mad.

I’ll tell you about that next time.

A footnote. I am offering an e.copy of any of my books for free if you’d like to sign up to my mailing list.  lucindaeclarke@gmail.com.

Have a great week.

ON LIVE – THE BIG TRIP XV – VIETCONG TUNNELS AND ENTER GEORGE II

In case you only read the first 2 lines of this I wanted to mention that I am live on The Authors Show this is the link  www.theauthorsshow.com   and the  interview will play on Tuesday, July 5 from Midnight to Midnight Eastern Daylight Time for a period of 24hours. I think that is from 9 am on Wednesday GMT. This is very brave of me as I can’t remember what I said now!! We chatted about Amie.

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I’ve read several books about the war in Vietnam and shuddered at the tales of the tunnels used by the Vietcong in their war against the Americans. Obviously staying in Saigon as the southern Vietnamese insisted on calling it – and not Ho Chi Min city – there was a trip to view the tunnels.

To begin with I was surprised at the surrounding woodland, I’d always imagined thick jungle, not light and airy forested area.

Feeling claustrophobic, I did not enter the tunnels, and after a quick glance at DH’s tummy I was relieved when he also declined. It was quite amazing, as for cowards like me – and I’ve always professed I’m the biggest coward in the world – they had hollowed out areas so we could see the kitchens, school rooms, sleeping areas, ammunition stores etc.

And there were the horrific traps too, for unwary soldiers.

What really freaked me out was the gunfire. They had a range there and visitors could pay to shoot guns. It added to the atmosphere, but if you read my FB post this week about how I was quivering in the sports shop holding a starting pistol, you’ll understand how it affected me.  Worse was to come.

George I had popped his clogs and waiting in the wings, was George Augustus, named George II – at last it was his turn.

GEORGE II

As you can see he was very fond of wearing silver tights, which would be looked at very differently today.

George II was not a popular king, not having even been BORN in Britain and he didn’t speak English, he only spoke French. We’re told he fought non-stop with his father, only it doesn’t tell us what language this was in, it must have been so frustrating for them.

The dislike from the British people grew even worse when he was featured on “Home and Away” choosing to purchase the palace in Hanover over the country cottage in Dorset.

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