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.

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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.

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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/

 

HOPPING BACK HOME FOR OUR SPANISH FIESTA

I thought today for a change I would hop back to Europe and share our local fiesta with you.

Every June for days and days the locals celebrate, not for tourists, but for themselves. They remember the 800 years domination of most of Spain by the Moors from north Africa and since 1990, the culmination at the end of weeks of all kinds of activities, is the Conquista and the Reconquista.

The first night the Moors come over the beach to conquer the castle – a little sad really as we don’t have a proper castle here, only a small lookout tower of fairly recent origin. But this doesn’t bother anyone.

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Sneakily the Moors invade at night under cover of darkness. In theory they arrive by sea, but these days they lurk behind the chiringita (beach bar) on the main strand. The performance begins at 10.30pm, almost our bedtime.

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We know the Christians are in residence, as they skitter along the sand and pop onto the rampart above the rocks just before the Moors arrive.

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The Moors then try to persuade them to give up the castle and take a hike. First they send a demanding note which is theatrically torn to pieces. Next they try the bribery tack, boxes full of gold. No takers. Then come the dancing girls, all four of them, which, if you look at the number lounging around on the battlements, would have to work very hard indeed to keep everyone satisfied. The fire dancers and eater don’t make much impression on the castle residents either. Then they set fire to the cross – sacrilege – and then skilfully cut the throat of one of the Christian women.

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Enter the horses, with battles galore and finally, in exasperation, they all take to the guns.

I don’t think I can post a video on here, but I’ll try on my FB page as the noise is truly terrifying. These are real blunderbusses, and they are filled with real gunpowder and wadding or something and they are really loud. They blast away for a while and frankly, they are lousy shots. The Moors are victorious and as the Christians march out of the castle in go the conquerors.

Eight hundred years is kaleidoscoped into twenty hours as the original inhabitants of our small town come to regain the castle. They arrive in broad daylight at 7pm, no sneaking around for them. They also try the bribery bit, with more dancing girls (I highly suspect it’s the same group from last night, so they must have changed sides earlier in the day – and I’m sure I spied the postmistress from the next village as she’s the belly dancing teacher).

The Moors are less than impressed, although the dancing was excellent. So, if the dancers failed, would the tumbling team (last seen at Benidorm Palace) succeed?

Sadly no, so after the gun-proofed horses have galloped about the beach for a bit fighting with real swords it’s back to the gunfire again and more fireworks.

A few people drop – despite the large number of guns most are really lousy shots, and the Moors give up and vacate the castle and the Christians take possession again. Mind those who have been shot lie for ages on the beach, probably tying not to breathe sand up their noses.

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The third night there is the grand parade, which includes babies in push chairs, toddlers who can just walk, to grandmothers and every age inbetween. It’s a fantastic side of Spanish culture and family. I even noticed some Moors and Christians sharing a pizza after the battle!

I was going to include the procession in this post, but will save it for next week as I now have far too many pictures to include. none of them are brilliant and I apologize. The conditions for the equipment I had were not good, and the subjects had a terrible habit of jiggling around.

If you have a spare moment (this is the grovelling bit) I’d love it if you could vote for Amie an African Adventure in the ReadFree.ly Best Indie Books of 2016 – other category – this is the link – and you can vote 3 times.   http://www.readfree.ly/vote-50-self-published-books-worth-reading-2016-other/

And one other thing. Amie an African Adventure is on at $/£0.99 till midnight tonight – Monday, there seems to be an extra day I was not expecting. This is the link.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LWFIO5K

 

THE BIG TRIP XIII – HOI AN AND THE FATHER FROM HELL

Hoi An was possibly the town I loved best (there is one exception, but more of that later). The first evening I dragged myself out of the hotel which was also really nice. It was called the Little Hoi Hotel and if you ever go there I would recommend it.

We walked alongside the river, and I’ve not mentioned this before, but it was coming up to Chinese New Year and everywhere you looked you could see colourful red lanterns. I saw a huge Trip Advisor poster which listed Hoi An at night in the top 20 things to see and do before you die – well maybe they didn’t have the last bit on there but you get the message.  There were performers of all kinds, and cheerful crowds wandering the street markets. It was a fairyland atmosphere.

 

By the next morning, it was as much as I could do to get out of bed. I was hacking and coughing and on fire from the inside. Within minutes the hotel staff had summoned a doctor – he should have been starring in the movies he was that cute, spoke perfect English as he diagnosed bronchitis, verging on pneumonia. He also informed me I’d not been on antibiotics as I’d though, but throat pastilles of some sort.

He dosed me up, prescribed bed rest and I waved a weak farewell to DH as he went off on his day’s trips.

I don’t remember much of that day, but DH saw this village where they made pottery and a museum donated by a local philanthropist and of course another temple.

Sadly we were to leave Hoi An the next morning and were told we would be escorted to the airport, which was just as well as we had no plane tickets, we only knew we were destined to go to Ho Chi Min City.

THE HISTORY RUBBISH

There doesn’t seem to be much to say about George I except he was pretty boring, kept going back to stay in Hanover, courtesy of the cheap Ryan Air flights and had to talk to his ministers in French as he had no intention of learning English.

But of course they got their own back. Since he didn’t like the way they were so bossy, he chose a few and had secret meetings with them. But then when that big pyramid financial scandal hit, and George and his two ugly mistresses were caught up in it, the ministers got him out of a very nasty situation so he had to be nice to them. This is one of them, Robert Walpole and here he is.

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He also had huge fights with his son – boringly called George – especially when young George was very rude to one of the godparents his father had chosen for his son and was rude to him at the christening, George I threw him out of St James’s Place but kept the grandchildren living with him. Pretty mean eh?

Have a great week and if you have a spare moment you might like to pop over to my Amazon author page and take a peep at my books. Beware, this blog contains a monitoring device so I’ll know if you go and look.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

PS there were some comments on one of my re-blogs and I wanted to reply, but then I lost them, so sorry for that I wasn’t ignoring you.

 

THE BIG TRIP XII – THE MARBLE MOUNTAINS – DIFFICULT KIDS

To be quite honest the Marble Mountains looked like any other mountains to me, but then we didn’t see where they were slicing bits off.  It’s a group of five mountains whose names represent the five elements. It’s a popular place for spiritual retreat and pilgrimage with several Buddhist pagodas, remnants of the Cham civilization and several natural caves inside the mountains formed by erosion, water and the passage of time.IMG_3406

Our cheerful, friendly guide took us to the bottom of the path and pointed skyward. I gasped, even if I’d not been fighting off the dreaded lurgy  a climb like that was just not in my repertoire. I watched in horror at some bouncy young things leaping up the mountain.

Then with a smile, he pointed to the lift shaft. Was I relieved! There were a few awkward moments as our guide explained that the cost of ascending in the lift was not included in the itinerary, in fact the only thing that wasn’t in the whole trip.

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I was prepared to scream, attack DH and do whatever it took to get into that lift. No way was I going to walk. So we coughed up and as it seemed a little mean to let the guide walk all the way up, we paid for him too.

This is the whitest Buddha I have ever seen and I’ll post both pics so you can see that it wasn’t just in the closer shot that it sparkled Omo dazzling white in the weak sunlight.

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There was a pagoda up there of course

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and you could go into the mountain itself where they had several small shrines and statues.  DH went into the cleft a lot further than I did.

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I don’t know if it’s anything to do with being a writer, but I have a huge sense of atmosphere and to me that day I was not getting good vibes at all. It would have not been my choice for a spiritual retreat.

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Then it was a trip round the workshops to watch the craftsmen and admire their skill before being whisked off to our next destination Hoi An.

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It was here that the bugs finally took over and got the better of me.

While George was busy reigning, or not, the new titled Duke and Duchess of Marlborough were busy building themselves a little cottage in the country.

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No expense was spared, especially on the bedroom they made ready for the birth of Winston Churchill.

And there was no difference in the politicians they had in those days either. The Whig party got into power and immediately voted they could stay in power for seven years at a time. With George on their side – no point in taking a chance with the Tories who just might have tried to bring back James III from Paris – they remained the majority party in parliament for another half century. Not bad going for a political party.

Something else that wasn’t new either, King George and his son Prince George did not get on at all well, and I am reliably informed this had nothing to do with him confiscating the prince’s lap top when he refused to finish his homework.

 

THE BIG TRIP XI – THE DRAGON BRIDGE AND ABSENT GEORGE

Before I start writing my usual drivel today I’d like to say a big thank you to all the new followers to my blog.  You probably have a lot better things to do than read the nonsense I churn out every Monday morning, so it’s really kind of you to press the follow button. I would prefer to drop each one of you a line to say hi and stuff, but I’ve not worked out how to do that yet – another skill I may discover one day.

I left off last week at the Dong Ba Market in Hue and I’ve just noticed that it’s described as a romantic symbol of Hue, the attraction being the preservation of ancient distinctiveness, where tourists can see all the typical features of a traditional Vietnamese market. If you remember I described how indescribably dirty, hot, sweaty, claustrophobic and gross it was and yes, this is coming from someone who has to be retrained in a straight jacket if we get nearer than 50 kms to any market. Either the description is over the top hype, or the writer had not been anywhere near the place. We have better ones in Spain, without all the dead things cut open to expose their digestive systems to the world, or wriggling in abortive attempts to escape their imprisonment in plastic washing up bowls. These I could take, it was having to wriggle along the alleyways between the stalls barely wide enough to wheel a supermarket trolley.

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The rest of Vietnam, including the markets was such a delightful contrast.

Next announcement on the itinerary the following morning was a relaxing breakfast before heading towards Hoi An. Relaxing? Well only if you rose at sunrise. As usual we had to set the alarm clock to get us up in time to do all the usual stuff before sleep walking into the car at 8 am.  All the guides we had were wonderful, but not one of them would budge at my suggestion they collect us at 9 am or even 8.30 am.

We were supposed to go through the High Van Pass in the mountain but this was abandoned due to bad weather so the next attraction was the Nuoc Beach in Danang which we flew past at a rate of knots. Still that wasn’t serious as neither DH nor I are holiday beach bunnies and we have a nice beach just down the road.

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No, our guide took us to a museum instead. Now I like museums, I really do, but not this one. The Cham Museum holds large chunks of stone, part pillars and partially demolished statues. There were no labels on anything, well none we could understand and I was also a little worried the building itself would collapse, it was in a terrible state of repair . After wandering around for a bit we said we’d finished. The guide was a little sad about that, but to keep to the time table he allowed us a cup of coffee.

This is something I missed on our trip, our morning coffee routine, it just wasn’t written into the script. In Vietnam it comes in a small cup with condensed milk added – it plays havoc with your waistline but does it taste good!

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I was fascinated by the dragon bridge just across the road from the museum – it’s an amazing structure and I’ve since learned that at the weekend the dragon breathes fire, followed by gallons of water pouring out of its mouth. Now that I would have enjoyed.

Next week, the Marble Mountains.

A lot of things happened during George’s reign. For example there was an early sort of stock exchange scandal called the South Sea Bubble. Many of the better off people, like Walpole, invested in the South Sea Bubble pyramid selling scheme, which was quite legal in those days.  Sadly the structure collapsed and everyone was left holding the free mop and bucket supplied with every 200 shares sold.

SOUTH SEA BUBBLE

I can’t say I like George I very much, he wasn’t all that keen on being King of England – how ungrateful can you get! For example, although he was supposed to live in Great Britain after 1714 he visited his home in Hanover in 1716, 1719, 1720, 1723 and 1725. Altogether he spent about one fifth of his reign as the British King in Germany. That’s not a very patriotic thing to do is it? I mean offer you a throne and you keep running home again. A clause in the Act of Settlement that forbade the British monarch from leaving the country without Parliament’s permission was unanimously repealed in 1716, but that didn’t seem to stop him. While he was away his power – such as it was – was held in a Regency Council instead of his son, George Augustus, Prince of Wales.

Just a gentle reminder that ReadFreely are asking for nominations for the 50 books of 2016 worth reading. I would love you to bits if you nominated Amie and The Child of Africa.  If the book is chosen, then they give you a little sticker and tell lots of people about it. It also makes your tweets about the book look much prettier. This is the link

http://www.readfree.ly/50-self-published-books-worth-reading-2016-nominations/

That will take you to the site and nominations must be in by 3rd June. I would be soooo greatful and please feel free to re-blog this J

Also the Bloggers Bash of the year are asking for votes on the best blogs. I’m not there of course, but you might want to pop in a vote for your favourite bloggers, you know the really funny and clever ones. Here is the link https://sachablack.co.uk/2016/05/19/vote-now-annual-bloggers-bash-awards-now-open/

Have a great week.

THE BIG TRIP X – MY EXPERIMENT AND MORE GEORGE

It’s Sunday, yes and my blog goes out on a Monday right? Well in a major step forward, I am going to try and time this to go out tomorrow by using the timing thingie. Will it work? Watch this space. I am determined that I will get some writing done tomorrow morning while DH is out playing boules/petanque and I must also go and get a haircut. When DH starts calling me lassie and offering me dog biscuits, I know the time has come.

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Last week we were still in Hue (pronounced Way) and we were about to go for lunch. Well I guess it was a tourist venue although when we arrived we were the only guests there. It was in a really beautiful setting with different little glassed-in areas set around brick paved walkways circling goldfish ponds. I thought it looked like a Japanese garden, but I didn’t say so in case it caused offense.

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I hope I didn’t upset the staff as I couldn’t resist feeing some of the goldfish or were they carp – at one point on our trip we were told the difference. I do remember you can eat carp but not the goldfish.  Anyhow a kind waitress rushed out with a packet of fish food. For a brief second I thought it was for me until I noticed the look of horror on her face.

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Now it was time for our visit to a tomb and it wasn’t just any old tomb. It was the Royal tomb of King Ming Mang the final resting place of one of the Nguyen Dynasty’s staunchest Confucians, whose reign was at the height of their power over the county. He’d reigned for 34 years, but although the setting was in a pretty parkland the stones were black and covered with mould and it was all quite depressing.

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As we stared at the large stone in a courtyard, our guide explained that beneath our feet lay a complete palace he insisted it was fully furnished, and it had been totally covered over with flagstones.

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Sadly it was raining and quite cold and the lurgy was getting worse not helped when we were whisked off to a market, which most have been the most unpleasant one I have ever visited. The size of several large barns, it was necessary to wriggle along the walkways between vendors who assaulted us from both sides. It was both dirty and smelly and I couldn’t wait to leave. Unwisely DH mentioned I needed a new pair of takkies / plimsolls / trainers / running shoes (I don’t do much running, I stick to walking) as mine had fallen apart. That was it, the guide was now off on a mission, so we must have combed the market from one end to the other. As the filth and odours got even worse, I was quite determined I would never buy from there, I’d never get the smell out of them.

By the time we got back to the charmingly named Cherish Hotel we were absolutely exhausted.

You may remember that George I came from a tiny little principality in what was to become Germany and couldn’t speak English but this suited the guys at the top – previous monarchs had interfered. If they didn’t want the King to understand when they were being rude about him, they spoke in broad regional accents and he didn’t stand a chance.

NPG D11633,King George I when Elector of Hanover,by and published by; after John Smith; Johann Leonhard Hirschmann
by and published by; after John Smith; Johann Leonhard Hirschmann,print,1706

But a few of the faithful still supported Bonnie Prince Charlie. He kept trying to come and be king on the silly excuse that his daddy had been the Prince of Wales and his grandfather King of England. Why he thought such a flimsy excuse should entitle him to be king, very few could understand.

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Handout from Scottish National Portrait Gallery of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, here identified as Henry Stuart, Cardinal York by Maurice Quentin de La Tour (1704 – 78), 1747. Pastel on paper, 61 x 51cm.

He was eventually defeated at Flodden but managed to escape to France with the help of Flora (of margarine fame) MacNightingale, Annie Laurie and Lorna Doone.

I really hate to ask this, but I see a few other authors have done it already and I shall never become rich and famous if I am shy. ReadFreely are asking for nominations for the 50 books of 2016 worth reading. I would love it if you nominated Amie and The Child of Africa.  If you do well, then they give you a little sticker and tell lots of people about it. It also makes your tweets about the book look much prettier. This is the link

http://www.readfree.ly/50-self-published-books-worth-reading-2016-nominations/

That will take you to the site and nominations must be in by 3rd June. I would be soooo greatful and and please feel free to re-blog this J

Oh, a final note. This is now Monday morning and I got so caught up watching the Queen’s birthday celebrations on TV last night, I didn’t complete writing this yesterday after all.

 

 

 

 

 

PROOF I’M AN IDIOT – THE BIG TRIP VII – AND NEXT UP MONARCH

Just as you think you’ve got a handle on things life smacks you in the face. Last week I was so proud of myself. I wrote my blog in Word on the Sunday to free up my half day ‘me time’ on the Monday. I found all the pictures and popped them into the media box – so now all I had to do was quickly cut and paste and I’d be writing Amie 3.

Now if you are about to ask why I didn’t do the whole thing and then press publish on Monday, well I’ve yet to work that one out. The last time I tried it, it went live immediately.

So, all completed nice and early, pressed publish and then remembered that I’d not added the categories and tags. No problem I thought, I’ll just pop back and edit it. So I did and then I sent out a blog which was only tags and categories. A kind follower alerted me to this so I had to go back and do the whole thing all over again – sigh.

So, where were we in SE Asia? Oh yes, on the boat on the Halong Bay in Vietnam and believe me it was pretty cold, being January I guess that was to be expected. I had packed some winter clothes, in fact I was wearing all of them – at once, all at the same time.

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While DH had a massage down one end of the boat, I tried to relax with a book in our cabin, until I noticed it was getting colder and colder. The damn aircon was on full blast. I fiddled and fiddled with the remote- no luck. I then clambered up and pressed every button in sight, no luck, I tried to unplug it but it refused to cooperate. Finally in desperation, I went for help. The guide failed, the steward failed, the engineer failed and the captain failed.

After a long discussion they decided to give us another cabin – the presidential suite. Well this was the life – except you didn’t want to sit down on these chairs, unless you were very well padded.

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And the bathroom – or more correctly posh heads? When did you see a Jacuzzi this size on a boat?

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There were, however two small problems. We had been warned that after 8.pm there was no hot water on board. Time now? 8.30pm. I was already cold enough, and the thought of sitting in freezing cold water with even colder jets spraying over me was not too enticing. Also, there were no instructions and we hadn’t the faintest idea what you twiddled, pushed, pulled or thumped to make it work. We settled for admiring the red-brown coloured enamel work.

Then problem #2 arrived. Somehow, while using the sink, I managed to get the metal flip stopper stuck in place. There was no way to empty the sink. Frankly I just didn’t have the courage to call for help a second time, so for the rest of the time on board, we had to brush our teeth over the loo.

It’s not all fun in these posh places you know.

But all was not lost. We visited this pearl farm floating on the water, where they nurture and grow them in little pens and then kill them and wrench the pearls out of them.

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I passed on the cooking class, as by then I was feeling really ill – from frost bite I thought.

But I managed the trip to the fishing village, all on stilts. It was just amazing, set among 2,000 limestone islands but the kayaking, swimming and diving were a little out of the question. If you take a trip there, go in the summer!

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We shared a boat with these nice people, and as we all remarked, when they get the pics developed we will all be asking “Who the hell were they?” Little did they know it was me!

Then it was time for bed, so I popped over the side to take a quick pic of the boat with its lights on.

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HISTORY LESSON PART SOMETHING

Sadly the little prince died when he was 11 years old, and then his Daddy died, and then Queen Anne herself popped off her mortal coil in – 17 something or other and now parliament was in a fix. No heir? They looked around Europe desperately and began offering current accounts at Barclays, books of green shield stamps, Amex cards and Debenham accounts to anyone who was protestant and would sit on the throne of England. They even threw in a free subscription to Readers Digest.

Eventually they had a taker in George who came from somewhere in Germany, only it wasn’t Germany in those days, just a lot of little states and I won’t bother to mention which one as I would probably spell it all wrong.

Enter George I and we’ll meet him next week.

 

 

 

THE BIG TRIP VI – AND ANNE’S DESPAIR

Once again we rose to the rattling of the alarm clock, had we fooled ourselves into thinking this was a holiday? After more unusual fare for breakfast – raw fish has never been high on my preferred breakfast menu – we were whisked off on a 3 hour road trip towards the coast. The scenery was much as I had seen on the odd television programme, small shops by the side of the road, millions of scooters, often carrying whole families and swathes of rice fields.

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Suddenly we turned off the road and entered a different world. The potholes had disappeared, the grass verges were neatly trimmed and floral displays abounded. Brand new buildings, retail space on the ground floor, offices or possibly apartments above. Not many were occupied but from a rural third world we were catapulted into the first world by turning a corner.

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At the end of the road we saw shelters, small offices and the river Halong. Hugging the kerb was a long line of tourist coaches and hugging the river bank a long line of small boats waiting to transport holidaymakers to the larger boats a little way off shore. We were provided with life jackets and catapulted onto a small boat along with our luggage. Why, oh why did I choose to buy a luggage set in white I asked myself.

I could mention at this point that it was pretty cold. The sun was shining, but gave us little warmth. I was muffled up to the eyeballs.

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We climbed aboard our boat, two decks, about 20 cabins and a dining room and a spa. I suppose it could cater for around 50 people, but it was less than half full. Our cabin was very pleasant and we settled in for a night on the water. I just loved the way they described this as checking in to our private cabin – we had not been planning on sharing it with anyone else.

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Soon we were gliding along, and the scenery was amazing. Tall rocky outcrops rose out of the water and the river stretched as far as the eye could see as we cruised up or down the river, I wasn’t sure which way we were going. We were transferred into a smaller boat and taken into an almost circular cave where, they informed us proudly, Leonardo de Caprio had filmed The Beach. Sad that their high point of tourist info came from the halls of Hollywood, when this World Heritage site was worth seeing simply for its beauty and grandeur.

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The itinerary mentioned sunbathing and swimming as leisure activities, but certainly not for me, and no one else ventured into the water either. By now I was wearing as many layers of clothes as I had brought. My suitcase was practically empty – I was like a Ryan Air passenger wearing more than I had in my luggage.

After dinner, while DH went for a massage, I decided to have a quiet read on the bed and it was then that the trouble started …  to be continued.

Poor old Anne – well of course she wasn’t poor was she, despite losing vast sums of money at cards and treating her favourite women to wads of cash on a whim. This must have been a particularly long card game as someone painted a portrait while they were at it.

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But she was beginning to realize that she was not going to have an heir. She’d been almost constantly pregnant since her marriage and one after another after another she either miscarried or the babies only lived for a couple of years until only one son survived.

He was a bit strange though, and sickly. As was common in those days posh women didn’t feed their own babies, they called in a wet nurse to do this for them. Enter Mrs Pack a Quaker woman who apparently was well, very well endowed in the milk production area. She saved little William’s life and was thus installed in the nursery.

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He suffered from hydrocephalus, so his head was out of proportion to his body, but this deformity was not reflected in his portrait, he was spared the vicious truth of the modern selfie. But he was quite bright with a burning interest in military affairs. He recruited 90 young boys, dressed them in uniform and drilled them daily. He even persuaded the king to come and review his troops. It’s just as well he had a big garden to play in. It must have been like the annual dreaded kid’s birthday party with hoards of screaming kids every day of the week. Sensibly, Anne gave him his own house miles away from the court.

 

THE BIG TRIP IV – HANOI AND A BOSSY WOMAN

Vietnam was my first visit to a communist country, and the first difference I saw was the reverence paid to Ho Chi Minh. I just had to google this man, I thought he was not much loved in the West. I was surprised to learn that he had died in the 1970’s but he is still remembered, you simply can’t forget him. Everywhere you look, there are statues, pictures and places named after him.

Oh. Before we go any further, a word of warning. If we thought this was going to be a gentle, relaxing holiday we were in for a shock. Our bouncy, friendly guides – Ming and Ling – insisted on collecting us around 8 am. At my tender age that meant rising around 6 am, to allow time for a shower, dressing and breakfast. So, just as I was being swept off my feet by George Cloony telling me I was the woman he’d been looking for all his life, I was rudely awakened by the wretched cell phone screaming its little heart out.

I just love the presentation in the bedroom. I was tempted to sleep on the floor so I wouldn’t disturb it all.

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We went first to the mausoleum where Ho’s body lies fully preserved. The streets around are kept clear of traffic and the area around is beautifully maintained.IMG_3210

 

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However when we arrived the mausoleum was closed, I understand for cleaning. But these friendly soldiers were guarding it. Don’t you just love the white welly boots?

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Next it was off to visit Ho Chi Minh’s house on stilts – built for him by a Frenchman so it looks as if it was transported straight from the Champs Élysées.

The first pic is the place he refused to live in

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and this is the one he preferred.

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That was very pleasant, except there was also a party of school children in school uniform also visiting and they were not doing it quietly.

Then we gawked at a pagoda standing on a single pillar.

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It’s a Buddist temple, as most of them are of course in this part of the world, but I’m still puzzling as to why they wanted it to build it on a pillar. The steps were quite steep and it is very tiny inside.

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We then peered at the Tran Quoc Pagoda built on an island and yet another pagoda called the Quan Thanh Temple.

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And then it was time for lunch after which, we were informed, they were going to take us by rickshaw round the streets. I nearly sent my lunch back to the kitchen. They were going to put us in little wheeled vehicles and push us head on into all that traffic! I trembled and concentrated hard on the excellent electrical wiring systems that hang in picturesque bunches as they led us to what I was convinced was my last ride ever on this planet.

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(Some naughty pictures coming next week).

Now I mentioned last week that Sarah was a very bossy lady. That social ladder soared onwards and upwards. She managed to drag herself up from this

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To this

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She was no wilting violet. First she asked for a title – Lord and Lady sounded so much better than Mr and Mrs. They were now Lord and Lady Churchill. Next she asked for shares in Walmart and Tesco and a platinum American express card. Ann gave her wads of cash instead.

I just have to include this as it is so amazing. The coat of arms for Ann’s husband Prince George of Denmark.

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He was quiet, easy-going and what we would call today “a drip/idiot/nonentity,” that’s before the politically correct get to us. Of course the king could say what he liked. “God’s fish, what have we here? I have tried him drunk and I’ve tried him sober but can make nothing of him, but the Princess Anne seems satisfied, so it may be she has been more fortunate than I.”

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George was called “Est-il-possible?” as that was all he was heard to mutter. But he and Ann had one thing in common, the love of food. Lots and lots and lots of food. So they both grew fat together.

Just one line about my new book up for pre-order  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8 it’s very funny.

UAE KINDLE COVER