Once upon a time in 1989, I sat down to write a book in the pre-politically correct days. It was my very first attempt to write a full length novel – this was before I gave up teaching to write for a living – so that’s how long ago it was. Ha, I bet some of you were not even born then. Now, I’m really depressed.

Of course I was going to take the literary world by storm, you know the stuff, gala performances, entertainment on mega yachts, people queuing round blocks just to get a peek at me – only the lucky first 5,000 would get the signed copies. I’m sure it must have saved so many getting nightmares after the shock of actually seeing the real me.

But guess what happened? Hollywood – yes Hollywood!


Not for my book you understand, but someone else’s book. How dare they! They made a film called Shrek and that bore similarities to my masterpiece. You see I had also come to the same conclusion that Cinderella, common as muck, brought up in a pigsty doing manual chores would not really jell with Charming with his upper class true, blue blood lineage. And who is so say that the prim Snow White wasn’t married to a king who couldn’t keep his hands off anything in a skirt. Let’s not forget the Sleeping Beauty who’d got a name for herself as a raving nymphomaniac before she fell asleep?

Hollywood got in first, and so my masterpiece went under the bed.

Two countries and 276 years later I dusted it off and was about to shred it, when I thought – why not?

For all two of you who like my weird sense of humour on this blog, now there’s a whole book of it.

Outside the sun blazed out of a clear blue sky, the birds twittered in the trees and the peasants called happy greetings to each other as they toiled unceasingly in the fields. Inside the palace everything hummed with its usual efficiency as servants hurried to and fro, brushing the acres of carpets with toothbrushes and dusting the furniture with Q-tips.

Only those who are truly in love could sympathize with Charming’s problem. Only those who lived from second to second thinking of the object of their affections, could understand the despair in his heart. But he must be brave, tell her now, today, this morning, at breakfast.

His melancholy thoughts were interrupted by the bugler, who drew himself to his full height, clicked his heels to attention and began the fanfare.

“Oh, stuff that bloody ‘orn in yer ear” snapped Cinderella, as she attempted to sweep into the room. “Yer gives me an ‘eadache every time yer blows it. Mornin’ Charmin’.” She approached the table, padding across the blue carpet in her bare toes. “I bet there ain’t a room in this palace smaller than a football field. By rights, I should lose pounds every day wiv’ all this bloody exercise.” She flopped into a chair.

It was not a pretty sight. Large areas of royal flesh protruded from the royal housecoat, her hair was a mess and traces of last night’s make up were still clearly visible. She looked as if she’d been dragged through several hedges backwards.

“Bring me the royal kidneys, an’ the royal kippers, an’ the royal kedgeree, an’ a royal pot o’ tea,” she shrieked.

Charming winced, his darling was not in a good mood. But the very sight of her brought tears of love to his eyes. He was so lucky, where else would a man find such a perfect woman?


At long last, Unhappily Ever After is up for pre-order – very different from my other books, but I’ve had to be versatile in the past so why not now?



Can I do the grovelling bit here and plead and beg and exhort – you get the picture – to please re-blog this and spread the word. I will be eternally grateful. Please send your bribes in a plain brown envelope and I’ll write out the checks.

Have a great weekend.




So, we were about to spend the night in the airport. I’ve done this several times before and always managed to keep myself amused and even grab a quick nap or five. This time we were doomed. DH settled himself in a chair – well it was supposed to be a chair, more an instrument of torture. Rows of little plastic non-human shapes were welded together with immovable arm rests.


I wandered off to do some shopping. Ha! Wouldn’t you know it, they were all closing. I drooled in a jewellers with the assistant giving me very suspicious looks. I think this was because nothing in there was under $10,000 dollars and I didn’t look as if I could afford the door mat. He was quite right of course, but then I spied the perfect watch. I wanted it, oh how I wanted it. I asked him the price and his lip curled up as he casually flicked over the price tag and I left the shop at speed as he slammed the shutters down behind me with more force than necessary I thought. Then it dawned on me, we were about to spend a month in knock-off land!watch

The only shop open was a W H Smith, so I killed an hour or so making a very careful choice of the various paper hankies for sale.

After that thrilling experience, I wandered the full length of the transfer lounge which was ginormous and had a cup of coffee. I popped back at regular intervals to check that DH had not done a runner. I sussed out every nook and cranny but nowhere was there a single comfortable chair.

After another cup of coffee – only one place was open – I decided that I would visit the washrooms and then wished I hadn’t – but I had to by now.

This was the one downside of travelling in the Far East – the washrooms. In most of them there were several local loos and only one or at most two western ones. At my age, it’s enough for me to keep my balance on two feet without any acrobatics. Thoughtfully they posted pics on the back of the doors to show people how to use a western loo – you should not stand on it. I did take a photo of this but felt it might be a bit tasteless to post it here. If there are requests I will.

Each cubicle was equipped with a hose attached to the wall – and I’m still trying to work out how these are used without soaking yourself and your clothing from head to toe – and the drainage systems were not able to cope with such large flows of water. Even entering the restrooms was like paddling through a small river.

So, I had the choice coffee and restroom or dehydration and no restroom.

I did spy a couple of places where the passengers had literally ripped off the chair arm rests so it was possible to lie down, but as these were right outside the restroom I decided it wasn’t worth it. Not only that they were all occupied and I couldn’t find the fire alarm button which might have dislodged them.


Soon we were airborne again, tired, hungry and thirsty. And guess what, this time there was no meal at all, we’d had two  on the first leg – the result of a misplaced key stroke on DH’s pc.


We landed in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam to be met by our bubbly tour guide and driven to the hotel. Our first priority was to get something to eat, but before that we had to have a lesson in crossing the road. No Green Cross Code here, you walk, yes walk from one pavement to the other. You don’t look, you don’t stop and you don’t change pace, you just keep walking to the opposite pavement. Well that’s not quite accurate, because every pavement is nose to tail scooters so you can’t walk on them, you have to hug the kerb. After our quiet, peaceful well ordered traffic it was a huge culture shock. Cars, scooters, coaches miss you by a whisker front and behind, but the mantra is keep walking, keep walking.



Back in history, ‘Queen’ Sarah didn’t have a scooter, but she was a very bossy lady. She ordered the Princess Anne around as if she was a 2 year old. But hey, whatever it takes. Her husband was really good at winning battles and each time, it was lots more loot in the bank that Williamnmary had so thoughtfully set up for them.

In the meantime, Queen Anne was desperately trying to produce an heir. She enjoyed the practice and had one baby after another after another. Only one, Little William survived and sadly, he didn’t look too strong. This time the answer wasn’t to lop off the heads of husbands, (as King Henry VIII had done) as Prince George wasn’t really to blame, you could see he’d played his part properly. Apparently he enjoyed practicing as well.

PRINCE GEORGE OF DENMARKPrince George of Denmark

To really put her nose out of joint, Queen Sarah Churchill had 6 healthy, squalling offspring.

When Ann wasn’t getting pregnant, she spent her time drinking chocolate and stuffing herself with sweets till she grew so fat she could hardly walk.

Before I sign off, Truth, Lies and Propaganda, the first of my crazy life in the media in South Africa, how I became a writer is on Kindle Countdown this week at $/£ 0.99 here is the link – well i can hope can’t I? 🙂  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QE35BO2


Hong Kong is one of the places I had always wanted to visit – and Singapore is another. I’ve read so many books set in these places and I wanted to see both of them. The whole purpose of the trip was to spend time with DH’s family in Perth, Australia and it seemed sensible to include a little side visit on the way there and on the way back. So I made a total nuisance of myself as it’s likely to be our last big trip – unless the world goes mad and buys millions of my books or they phone from Hollywood tomorrow – and I decided I wanted to see both.

I wasn’t disappointed in Hong Kong. I learned that it’s more than one island and the airport is on one, called Lantau – they have a Disney world there too, but there was no way DH was going there.


The island next door is Honk Kong Island itself and then there is a large area called the Kowloon Peninsula which is also Hong Kong? Confused yet? Well you should be, if, like me you thought it was just one island.  To the north of the bit on the mainland is an area called the New Territories, and I think you need to travel north through that area to say “I have been to China.”  Hmm, not a politically correct statement I guess, as it all belongs to China now, but HK is still an autonomous area.


We did all the touristy things, cable car to the peak, ride on the White Star Ferry which possibly gave Noah a ride on his way to the Ark. The night market looked a bit scruffy so we didn’t explore that but we saw an amazing laser show against the backdrop of skyscrapers which really took our breath away.

To our shame, and please don’t tell anyone, we had a Big Mac for breakfast – noodles just didn’t seem right at that time of day.


This is the Taoist temple we visited. I would have liked to stay longer, but the smoke from all the candles made even my eyes water.

The people in the streets seemed to be constantly rushing, focused and quite serious. Many wore face masks, although the air appeared quite clean, and there certainly is a buzz.

This was an impromptu concert on the steps of some colonial building and the oldest can’t have been more than 10. Such concentration and they played really well.

The Christmas decorations made the city extra special and three days wasn’t really long enough to explore the whole island(s) and it was sad to drop off our luggage in the centre of town where it would be taken to the airport ready for our flight later in the day. Now if that’s not efficiency, I don’t know what is!

Back in time, and I was just checking out about Queen Anne and I realized that she was born in 1665  –  (I am putting together a talk on her for the History group).  Now you know how I hate dates and being even the slightest bit accurate about history in this blog, but I did notice that this was the year of the Great Plague in London and that’s exactly where Anne was born. So she must have been a tough cookie. Of the other 7 children born to her mum and dad, the only two to survive to adulthood were Anne and her elder sister Mary. Now what does that say about strong women?

In those days Mummy and Daddy were not to be bothered with screaming kids running riot round the palace, and getting underfoot, so Ann was shipped off to live in France and only came back home when she was five. Then she and Mary had their own establishment quite separate from their parents, who were taking no chances of being bothered by their play stations, and constantly ringing cell phones. Like most sensible adults they enjoyed their peace and quiet.


Where Mary and Anne lived in Richmond. the rumours that this was a shed at the bottom of the garden are untrue.





I got it all wrong – we didn’t spend the night at the airport till later in the trip. As I was describing our route to friends, DH gave me a hard stare and explained I had it all muddled up. So let’s jump straight to the first destination.

We landed in Hong Kong, took the airport express bus and then a taxi to the hotel. It’s one of those upstairs ones in a busy main street – but I’ve got used to that in Europe.


I wasn’t expecting a long, sweeping, maple tree-lined drive, even I know that Hong Kong is just a small island – except it’s not. Half of it is on the mainland with China, which is a bit confusing to someone like me with limited brain power. The two are linked by a ferry which is very famous. I know, I’ve read about it in books. Now here is a view of HK you’ve probably not seen before.


That was taken from the cable car as we went up to the Peak – well you didn’t expect me to walk up there did you?

HK blew me away. I have a sneaking suspicion I was an architect in a previous life – Sir Christopher Wren springs to mind – as I have a fascination with tall buildings and HK is full of them.


What also blew me away were the hotel facilities. I was amazed to see they provided us with a free lap top and it wasn’t even chained to the wall either! Imagine that in most cities.


Since I was already going into a deep depression about leaving my lap top at home, I hastily checked to see if there was a price for it. There was certainly a price for everything else. A first, and one we were to see in lots of places. It intimates that you don’t steal the soap, bed linen, fluffy towels, even fluffier bath robes etc but pay for them at the reception desk.

I’m still trying to work out how someone would take the safe? It was bolted to the wall for a start and you could hardly pop it into your pocket and sneak out the door.  I thought some of the stuff looked quite cheap while HK$ 1,000 for a phone seemed a bit steep.

I was also quite amused at this reminder that you should not hang your clothes up on the sprinkler – in case of fire I guess.


As this was not part of the tour – we were on our own – we bravely ventured out for our first meal in one of the cute little back streets. This will be fine, we thought, HK is a very civilized place. We will order ‘safe food’ for our first night. It would not be a good idea to get a bad tummy on the first day of the holiday.

So we bypassed this restaurant. I know these pictures are not very clear but I had to include them – unselfishly we chose to prolong the life of these cuddly crustaceans.


DH ordered Indonesian fried rice with a fried egg on top. No problem, except they only had chopsticks available and you try eating a rubbery fried egg with those!

I was more sensible and opted for scrambled egg and spam, which I’d not had for ages. It came floating in a bowl of soup of an indeterminate origin – my chopsticks were equally redundant. Since we were the only diners in there, maybe the locals knew something we didn’t?

We went for a wander round the streets, crowded, vibrant and cluttered until it was time for bed where we slept a full 12 hours.

While I’m boring you to death with the intimate details of our Big Trip, I’ll keep the history thing short. I’m fed up now with WilliamanMary so let’s move on to the next one Queen Anne.


Anne (centre) and her sister Mary (left) with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, painted by Sir Peter Lely and Benedetto Gennari II

Her Daddy had been James II & VII of run-a-way fame so you can guess that her elder sister Mary of WilliamanMary fame did not have any surviving children. Having also been brought up as a Protester, it was fine to pop Anne on the throne without upsetting anyone.

When Anne was about 6 she made friends with a girl called Sarah Jennings, who married John Churchill and his sister became the Duke of York’s mistress. Later he became of course James I & VII. Confused? Well I am.


Even I surprise myself at just how idiotic I can be – whoever schedules a Monday morning for her blog except an idiot? My one brain cell is struggling to remember how to get out of bed and get dressed, much less write a scintillating and exciting blog.

However that said; here is the un-scintillating and unexciting blog – about THE BIG TRIP.


Ankor Wat

Now I’ve called it that as it lasted 64 days and was the last big splurge before we go to the holiday in the sky (or the other place, there is always that possibility).

After much discussion of should we or shouldn’t we, and attending a couple of funerals, we decided to take the plunge.

So, one morning in December we drove up to Madrid, spent the night in the hotel where we were going to leave the car – cheaper rates if you are a guest. Yes, in retrospect it does seem a bit mean to stay one night and then leave our vehicle parked for over two months, but that’s what they offer.


Madrid Airport By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA wikimedia.org

We bounced onto the plane the next morning – Quatar Air something and off we flew. Now I must admit to being the very worst companion on an aeroplane. I just LOVE flying, so this means I have to raid the safety regulations, the in-flight magazine and duty free booklet, fiddle with the seat settings, ensure the table is working correctly and unpack all the goodies, blanket, toothbrush and paste, socks, eye shades and headphones.


Soon, my little area of the plane was knee deep in ‘stuff’ I can’t move and I’m invading DH’s space big time. He is beginning to growl and tell me ‘to grow up.’  Sorry, I can’t help it, it’s all so exciting.

Then it’s time to play with the TV screen, pouring through the variety of films, television shows and music on offer. I’m not sure why, but they always seem to provide ear phones for giants, most of the time mine slip down around my knees. However, I managed to fit in 3 full length films before we landed in Kuala Lumpur.

We had further fun with the food tray. OK, so my teeth are not what they were, I used to bite those little plastic packets to get them open. These days I use scissors, but of course, no vicious implements allowed in the cabin, so DH and I resorted wrestling with the plastic knives and forks. No luck. If we were not able to access the food, there was a good chance of us starving to death even before we reached our first destination.

In the meantime it had dawned on me that we might be flying over somewhere dangerous, so I abandoned the film and searched for our route shown on the screen, and then twiddled to find the plane cameras which transmitted from the tail, so I would have early warning if any off-course fighters were approaching.


Finally we arrived at Kuala Lumpur where we had planned to spend the night – in the airport. Yes, that was the price we were going to pay for the cheapest flight and what an exciting place that is at 3am. I’ll continue with that next week.

Time for the history lesson.

Now, not everyone was too excited about Williamanmary being on the throne. In Scotland they quite liked James who was cowering somewhere overseas so they began revolting in Scotland somewhere near Edinburgh in Scotland where the Scots were living at the time.



Today of course they live all over the world and build bridges and roads for undeveloped countries. The Irish too were revolting and INSISTED on holding the Battle of the Boyne.


Battle of the Boyne between James II and William III, 11 July 1690Jan van Huchtenburg.

What was worse, William insisted on ruling, not Mary and she only got a look in while he was away fighting.

But the most memorable thing is that Williamanmary discovered the national debt, so they built the Bank of England to put it in. They knew it would be dangerous to pay it off for fear of upsetting the newly invented balance of payments.





They also introduced stamp duty at the local post offices and raked in more loot by taxing vellum, parchment and paper. They pretended the money was needed to make war on France.

And I am going to show this picture of the two of them again,


as I have just discovered it was painted on the ceiling of the Painted Hall of the Greenwich Hospital. Now that seems a very strange place to have your portrait displayed and I’m beginning to think there was something rather strange about this couple.




I usually tap out my blogs in a word document as I find the little window on WordPress very restricting. On one momentous occasion I found out how to make it a whole page size, but I have no idea which button I pressed and I’ve never found it again. I’ve also never found out how to add tags either – something else to learn.

Back to the document which I keep in a special file and as I think of them, I put ideas in there as well. So, imagine my horror when this morning I opened it up to find NO ideas for today’s blog. PANIC!!

Panic_button  Wickemedia

But one thing I must do is to thank all those people, some I don’t know at all, who helped publicize my promo on Amie this last weekend. I was amazed and humbled by all the sharing and tweeting and blog bits which helped tell the world that I was offering her for free – yes, yes I know – after I swore I would NEVER give any of my books away for free. After all the blood, sweat, toil and tears to offer it for nothing!

However, I am flexible (not physically you understand), and having learned from all the information shared by other authors and publicists and bloggers you just have to try and make yourself visible somehow. So, for better or worse there are now over 27,000 people with Amie on their reading devices across the world –  in Japan, India, and several countries in Europe. What percentage will read about her I’m not sure, but a spin-off has been nearly 18,000 page reads.

I’ve dropped the price of Amie and the Child of Africa for 2 days, back up on Tuesday night. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B015CI29O4

Exercising extreme self-constraint, I’m still not ordering the mega yacht yet.

I guess James II had a mega yacht or three, but I was about to tell you that he married a commoner. Yes, how disgraceful was that – especially in those days when royalty stuck together like glue and princesses were offered up as bargaining chips on the altar of marriage. (Disney should be sued for pretending that being a princess is in any way a glamorous occupation. Millions of small girls across the globe have been well and truly conned.)

To be fair to James, he was not expecting to ever become king, and he had a torrid (I expect it was torrid) affair with Ann Hyde, daughter of one of the court ministers.

“Don’t marry her!” everyone cried.

So he did, in secret, and, surprise, surprise less than two months after the ceremony she gave birth to a baby boy.  Sadly it died, but they tried it again (you know what) and 5 more children didn’t survive. Two did however, Mary and Ann (you should remember them as they become important later on).

Samuel Pepys was still around and he wrote (he did a lot of that) that James played with his children like an ordinary parent of a child.

James_II_by_John_Rileyportrait by John Riley

Now this is a fairyland love tale right? Wrong! The king had affairs, lots of them.

Arabella_Churchill Catherine_(Sedley),_Countess_of_Dorchester_by_Sir_Peter_Lelyportraits by Peter Lely.


There was Arabella Churchill and Catherine Sedley and people also described James as the ‘most unguarded ostler ogler of his time.’

Reconstruction of conversation:

James II:  Peter Lely?

Peter Lely: Yes Sire?

James II: I need another portrait painted.

Peter Lely: Another mistress Sire?

James II: How did you guess man? You must be psychic!

But it wasn’t all cuddles and giggles. When James II came to the throne he was threatened by Monmouth, the indiscriminate son of Charles II.