If you missed part 1 of this interview click here: http://www.loveahappyending.com/renowned-chef-martin-blunos-recipe-for-the-trip...
Kick-Start the New Year! Caroline James talks to tw...
Do you have an 'alternative' dessert recipe for Christmas?...
Forever: (Angels Among Us, Book 3) by Linn B Halton Genre: Paranormal Romance Nov...
Negotiating the road to a healthy romance can be one of the most challenging endeavors in our life. If our primary relationship with our p...
Find out more about Anneli: Anneli's Website Twitter ...
Welcome to a new feature on Loveahappyending Lifestyle. Fo...
If you missed part 1 of this interview click here:...
Genre: Paranormal Romance Novella
Ceri is alone for a reason. She’s not meant to fall in love. She’s here for one purpose only. Love is a powerful emotion, but can it change the course of someone’s destiny? This is a romance story that explores the possibility of there being something more than just the ‘here and now’. Now, Ceri’s journey comes to an end in Forever – the final part of the Angels Among Us trilogy.
Heidi at Cosmochicklitian says: “This last part of the series has been an emotional rollercoaster, even more so than the other two parts. Forever is the perfect conclusion to a truly beautiful and thought-provoking series.”
Kate at Me My Books and I says: “The previous book had left me on a cliffhanger so I was pleased to discover that this picked up where that one had finished. Ceri was struggling with what she wanted her life to be and what her life was destined to be – there was a part of me which wholeheartedly agreed with her but another part of me that understood she had an important job to do. This book certainly raised some conflicting emotions within me.
JB at Brook Cottage Books says: “As usual, Linn B Halton doesn’t disappoint through her fantastic writing style, keeping the reader engrossed in the plot and causing the reader to once more have some emotional investment in each of the characters. I really enjoyed this series and would highly recommend it. It’s not only a fantastic story but a fascinating subject.”
Genre: Contemporary Romance
An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind? Join the country scene to find out!”
Kate at Me My Books and I says: “This was a romantic, musical treat with an edge of mystery – another Mandy Baggot masterpiece!”
Kim the Bookworm says: “I loved this book with all of my heart. A really unique story line for me: music being the main background with completely lovable characters, a great plot and a whole lot of lovin’ going on!”
Genre: Romantic Comedy
When media agent Hilary Hargreaves travels to Ireland to look at a campaign for a new cookery school, she meets a blast from her past – the romantic but feckless chef Mickey Lloyd, who is hell-bent on resurrecting his flagging career. Her tough demeanour is rocked as it becomes apparent Mickey’s intentions involve more than a stint behind a stove in his quest to pursue her. Has Hilary got too much on her plate and is she really prepared to risk it all for love?
Carol at Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog says: There are some very funny scenarios in this novel, but it is not all a laugh a minute. There are some tender moments in there, too. There is a “didn’t see that coming” shock, too, in what I can only describe as Ab Fab meets Masterchef in a soap opera. Action packed, funny, and emotionally charged. Superb!
Charlotte at Best Chick Lit says: “The large supporting cast (similar to those found in Jilly Cooper and Fiona Walker books) is brilliant fun, adding heartfelt and comedic moments at regular intervals throughout the book. One of the most unique reads on the market and one not to be missed.”
Genre: Humorous Non Fiction
This is a refreshing and fun self-help book which encourages the reader to better their life by using the art of delusional thinking, using such things as fantasy and daydreams! Written in a tongue-in-cheek way and with good humour, with such chapters as ‘Be a Star or Just Act Like One’.
Nikki at Books4U says: “The reader will find this book highly entertaining and it will really make you smile as you read Bonnie’s thoughts and suggestions. The book is not that long either so can easily be read in one sitting. This is my kind of self-help, just good light-hearted fun, nothing heavy, and I actually did learn a few things too!”
The Star Child Series, Book One
Genre: Young Adult
Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. When the sudden death of his Gran takes him from the East Coast to the rugged cliffs of Western Ireland, all that changes. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role.
Jenny in Neverland says: “This book is everything a YA fantasy novel should be; emotional, heartwarming and amusing at times with plenty of romance, excitement, and action. It’s weird and wonderful and truly unique. The epilogue gave me shivers as it indicates that Kellen’s journey isn’t over and there’s more adventure to come in the sequel. Personally, I think Stephanie will definitely be a new, upcoming voice for Young Adult readers out there.”
Charlotte at Best Chick Lit says: “The story is shrouded in mystery and Keyes very cleverly ensures the book is unputdownable by reeling in the reader within the first few opening pages. A complete joy to read and sets up nicely for a sequel.”
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Celia Summers, intrepid mother of two, is too cuddly for sweatpants, she suspects. But then, her class at The Harbour Rest Home are similarly clad. Celia loves her work as an art therapist. She’s proud that she gives her elderly independents something to look forward to. She’s even ready to abseil from a church steeple to bring attention to the plight of her old people, no matter that she might fall and end up splattered all over the flagstones. When she does fall, however, it’s much more painful – in love with PC Alex Burrows. Will he be her white knight in blue and ride to her rescue?
Kim the Bookworm says: “I absolutely loved this book. I have now read all of Sheryl’s books and this one is most definitely my favourite. The storyline was just so entertaining and with the normal Sheryl Browne hilarity thrown in to accompany a great storyline, I’ll guarantee it’ll put a great big smile on your face.
Carol at Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog says: “A wonderful reminder of just how great the older generation can be – A Little Bit of Madness was just what I needed to brighten my day.”
JB at Brook Cottage Books says: “This book is a lovely romantic comedy that I simply could not put down. It has a few twists and turns throughout that totally surprise the reader and the plot is fantastic, leaving you desperate to find out more. Another hit for Sheryl Browne. If you’ve never read any of her books I suggest you do so right away.”
Announcing the worldwide release of Emma Calin’s steamy action-romance novel SHANNON’S LAW on February 28th, 2014, in paperback and e-book formats.
Emma’s ‘Passion Patrol’ books are stand-alone stories that feature hot cops, hot crimes, and hot romance… and now hot food too!
Read the romance… feel the passion… taste the love!
SHANNON’S LAW introduces another sassy female cop, Shannon Aguerri, who catches crooks, delivers justice, and always gets her man. Cop’s Kitchen recreates the recipes for love – all the food from the romance illustrated and described with clear instructions.
In celebration of the launch, Emma is offering SHANNON’S LAW at just $1.50/£0.99 for all digital versions, until the 10th March. There are special offers in place for the paperback version too – it’s at a rock-bottom introductory price of $10.99/£5.99/€6.99 until the 10th March.
You can win copies of the paperback and digital versions of SHANNON’S LAW, as well as other cool book-related ‘swag’ in Emma’s launch day giveaway on Rafflecopter. ALL ENTRANTS WIN a copy of COP’S KITCHEN!
Emma is having an online launch party “Afternoon Tea At Bloxington Manor” on Friday the 28th February and you are invited too. Come along to share a cuppa and a slice of cake, win more prizes and find out about the book and the author…
”Move over Mr Grey – there’s a new Earl in town! Shannon’s Law is dramatic, mesmerizing and incredibly sexy. The ultimate fairy-tale.”
“Shannon’s Law will draw you in from page one and hold you fast, immersed in the love and suspense until the end.”
“A fast-paced and intense story where two different social worlds collide in a vortex full of love, hatred, intrigues, and passion. Emma Calin has done it again. A book hard to put down before its end.”
“Shannon was a brilliant character, she was very strong and feisty, some of her comments literally had me laughing out loud! “
” This book truly had a little of everything. There was steamy sex scenes (not too bawdy), action & some hilarity, murder, soaked cats & a horse trampling the vegetable garden. “
“If you are looking for a story filled with romance, suspense and characters that are full of wit and captivating charm, grab a copy of Ms. Calin’s Shannon’s Law…..it’s the only law you’ll ever need again! Well done, Ms. Calin and I can’t wait for another release in her Passion Patrol series! They are amazing! ”
Wild child inner-city cop Shannon Aguerri walks a dangerous line between her methods and justice. When the bosses lose their nerve, after yet another maverick mission, she is transferred to green pastures to play out the role of a routine village cop. When she encounters signs of people and drug trafficking she homes in on serious millionaire criminals. As a loner she has attracted men but nothing has stuck. She meets Spencer, the hunky and widowed Earl of Bloxington and there is an immediate rapport between them. Their social differences mean nothing to their passion and need. Already in the mix however, is an upper-class female rival – who has long plotted her way into the Earl’s bed. The jealousy is an evil shade of green and the anger is a violent scarlet. Often inhibited by a sense of duty and honour, Spencer is slow to reveal his feelings. When Shannon confronts him with the need to choose between her word and that of her rival, he does not immediately support her. All the same, when they are forced together to carry out a desperate rescue mission, their love is stronger than everything ranged against them.
Find out more and watch the book promo video here:
Emma has been posting snippets from the story, photos of places and people that inspired the venues and characters on Pinterest during her pre-launch book tour…
There is also news about the book on Facebook:
Other e-readers and PDF: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/407437
Special offer on the first ‘Passion Patrol’ book KNOCKOUT!
Watch out as well for a special discount on Emma’s first ‘Passion Patrol’ book Knockout! It’s on an Amazon Kindle Countdown Deal for 5 days at 99c/76p from 3rd-7th March. http://www.bookshow.me/Knockout
Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives part of the year in the UK and spends the rest in France. She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national, and international prizes for poetry and short stories.
Emma enjoys writing love stories firmly rooted in social realism. She blogs about the contrasts in life on both sides of the English Channel, which she likes to explore on her tandem whenever weather and fitness coincide. She is a Lifestyle Contributor on Loveahappyending Lifestyle.
She defines herself as woman eternally pedalling between Peckham and Pigalle, in search of passion and enduring romance.
For books by Emma Calin: Amazon USA Amazon UK
Emma Calin Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com
Emma Calin Website: http://www.emmacalin.com
Facebook Page for Shannon’s Law http://www.facebook.com/ShannonsLaw
It was up against some deservedly nominated contenders, but I suspect there are not many people who wouldn’t agree that this year they got it right, in the process making cinematic history. 12 Years a Slave, a passionate, heart-rending true story of a free man’s abduction into slavery, walked away with best film trophy at the EE British Academy Film Awards. The first black filmmaker to win the best film Bafta, Londoner Steve McQueen’s response to which was, “Faith, never give up …,” a poignant statement when imagining a soul stripped bare of everything that makes him a man, including his faith in mankind.
Set in 1841 and based on the memoirs of Solomon Northup written after his eventual return to his wife and now grown children, 12 Years A Slave follows the story of an educated man, a carpenter and a talented musician much in demand at society functions, who is abducted (a shockingly common occurrence) and taken from his comfortable, if not luxurious, life in New York, horsewhipped and paddle-beaten until he accepts he has no identity other than that newly bestowed on him, and then shipped off and sold into slavery in the south.
Witnessing horrors beyond our ability to conceive: brutal beatings, children torn from their mothers, ‘Platt’, as he is now called, becomes the property of plantation owner Ford, played believably by Benedict Cumberbatch. We have a seed of hope here, Ford is sympathetic to the plight of his slaves, aware of their humanity, but he is nevertheless a slaver, ergo slave to his own social constraints and beliefs. Winning Ford’s favour, his obvious intellect above that a slave should possess – and indeed should dare to boast for fear of evoking suspicions of aspirations beyond his non-human status, Platt incurs the wrath of a sadistic overseer, is sold downriver, and is now owned by Edwin Epps (Micheal Fassbender), an alcohol abuser and sexual abuser of adolescent females, his uncontrollable desires driving him to self-loathing and inevitable floggings of his ‘temptress’, Patsey (a deeply affecting role played by Lupita Nyong’o).
The real danger to Platt, however, is Epps’ wife. Aware of her husband’s ‘deviant’ lust for young female slaves, frustrated, humiliated, and furious, Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson) wants blood, facilitated by the flesh stripped from the back of the source of her humiliation. Revealing to Mistress Epps, who would have her ‘niggers sing for their supper’ and be grateful, that he is a man of knowledge, capable of plotting and conspiring against her, would be for Platt to sign his own death warrant.
The key to Platt’s survival is suppression of the rage broiling inside him. He must feign ignorance and total subservience in order to survive. We, the viewer, pray he can hold on to some vestige of hope, whilst knowing that we ourselves could never do so in such appallingly cruel circumstances.
For me, this film ranked alongside Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List in terms of its most powerful message. It’s a stark reminder of mans inhumanity to man, a credit to its director, whose characters are portrayed honestly, evenly and with conviction; and, of course, to Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose performance was nothing short of magnificent). Simply, a must see.
John Ridley (screenplay), Solomon Northup (based on “Twelve Years a Slave” by)
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt (and many more superb actors)
Drama, history, biography
“Make sure to take time for yourself.” That’s what everyone told me when I had my first kid. It didn’t matter whom I talked to. It could have been my mother, the clerk at the post office, or even the person behind me at the grocery store. Free advice follows you everywhere when you have kids—regardless of whether or not you’re looking for it.
This one phrase, though…Well, let’s say I had a difficult time grasping the concept. How is it possible to take time for yourselves when there are things like…
Yeah, the list just goes on. So the whole taking time for yourself, especially when that might mean paying a sitter money you don’t have, sometimes seems elusive. To that end, I thought I’d share some strategies that we’ve incorporated in our house to try and take that time.
Sounds corny, right? Maybe. What’s worse for my husband and me is not being able to have a conversation with one another. So we devised Mommy and Daddy time each day.
When the time is over, you’re all caught up and ready to face the day, evening, afternoon—whatever.
When my oldest was just a little guy, I got this impression in my head that I had to have a constant lesson plan rolling for him and he always needed to be entertained. However, by always providing entertainment for him, I did myself a disservice. He wasn’t becoming adventurous and seeking out mental stimulation on his own. I never took time out for myself. So, when my second son was born, I tried the opposite approach, I focused on giving him space to challenge himself and have free play. I still interact with him and play with him, but he’s able to find things to do. During that time, I’m gifted with pockets of moments that I can take to recharge.
We all feel better when the break is over. Plus, if I need a break from my husband, well, I just got that as well!
One of the toughest lessons, I believe, that we have to teach our children is that they aren’t the center of the universe. If you drop everything for them, it will come back to bite you later on. Trust me. Whenever you can, take the opportunity for a date night. It may only be once every few months or once every month, but fit it in when you can. Let’s face it, if you’re unhappy, whether individually or in your relationship, the kids pick up on it. We all need a little time to recharge our batteries.
So you have kids. That’s awesome. However, your life didn’t end when you had the kids. So don’t lose yourself. Find ways to remember yourself and your spouse or partner. It will help you raise more well-rounded children and help you be a better parent.
How do you make time for yourself? Post your comments below—we’d love to hear them.
The good Dr David Adams has been bad. Could you learn to love him?
Explores the Fragility of Love, Life, and Relationships ~
~ and the sometimes tenuous bonds that hold people together. Widower, Dr David Adams, has recently moved to the village – where no one knows him, ergo there’s no fuel for neighbourhood gossip – to start afresh with his ten year old son, if only he can get to a place where his son wants to speak to him. Angry and withdrawn, Jake blames his dad for the death of his mother, and David doesn’t know how to reach him.
Andrea Kelly has too many balls in the air. With three children and a “nuts” mother to care for, her fiancé can’t fathom why she wants to throw something else into the mix and change her career. Surely she already has too much on her plate? Because her plates are skew-whiff and her balls are dropping off all over the place, Andrea points out. She needs to make changes. Still her fiancé, who has a hidden agenda, is dead-set against it. When Andrea’s house burns mysteriously to the ground and Andrea and her entourage are forced to move in with the enigmatic Dr Adams, however, the village drums soon start beating, fuel aplenty when it turns out someone does know him – the woman carrying his baby.
“Learning to Love” is my fifth book published through Safkhet Publishing, all of them romantic comedies, though this book is perhaps a little more poignant. I do feel drawn to writing about real people dealing with some of the traumas life tends to throw at us, people whom the reader identifies with and wants to get to know. A story portraying characters readers can relate to and hopefully laugh and cry with as they cope with those traumas, because the reader is empathising with the character, because they’ve been there. I’ve often been asked if I write from personal experience. The truth is, yes, I do incorporate my own personal life experiences into my stories, and also those that people have been kind enough to share with me, hopefully bringing you heartfelt, believable fiction. So, are readers relating? Well, some people seem to be. I’m shamelessly quoting some reviews here, which leave me glowing with pride:
Deals with loss & betrayal in manner that lifts it far above an average ‘chick-lit’.
Has perfectly captured the highs and lows of parenting a special needs child
An entertaining, easy read- a more mature style of chick-lit that might appeal to fans of Katie Fforde.
Fabulous, funny, heartbreaking. If you are a fan of Jill Mansell you will love SOMEBODY TO LOVE!
Fabulous entertainment! Brilliant rom com with serious undertones.
***Carol at Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog says: “Tissue box at the ready reader! 5 out of 5! On the TOP READS for 2013 list”!***
***Nikki at Nikki’s Books4U says, Learning to Love is one of her “TOP TEN READS of all time”!***
And so, a little about the story behind the story: Learning to Love started life as a short – the theme of which was bereavement in childhood, which was accepted by the Birmingham City University to be published in their Anthology, Paper and Ink.
My reasons for needing to write this subject were feelings around loss. In my twenties, when I lost my mum, I was ‘grown up’ – though I wonder whether we ever really are. Sadly, I had also lost my second child by then. When I lost my brother a few years later, who left behind him a fiancé and child, I suppose bereavement became something I felt driven to explore, when the time was right. Featuring a widowed father and his son, Learning to Love looks at the loss of a parent in childhood and how a child dealing with such a tragedy might be encouraged to grieve. Life events had fuelled the emotion. Research, talking to children who had suffered in such a way and to the surviving spouse, provided the story I felt I needed to tell. What struck me above all was the coping mechanism devised by one lone parent. He called it The Memory Box: A simple shoebox, stuffed full of photographs of the child’s mother along with other personal trinkets that would remind him of her. Importantly, remind him of the good times, the positive things his mother brought to his life, the times they laughed together. It was easy to see how humour plays a great part in the healing process. I called my short The Memory Box, in honour of that father and his little boy.
So there you have it, my soul laid bare, some of my reasons for writing poignant, yet humorous, fiction – or as a reviewer put it: fiction that “deals with loss & betrayal in manner that lifts it far above average ‘chick lit”.
A HUGE, HEARTFELT THANK YOU TO ALL THE BOOK BLOGGERS AND READERS WHO HAVE GIVEN OF THEIR TIME AND REVIEWED MY BOOKS SO WONDERFULLY.
Please do feel free to browse my website or find me on any of the links below. If you’d like to read the excerpt that formed the short, please do go here: Safkhet Soul: Learning to Love
Welcome to a new feature on Loveahappyending Lifestyle. For the next few of my posts I will be delving into the lives of people I know and bringing you the lowdown! This time I am delighted to introduce my good friend and Partylite consultant,
Tell us about you and your role…
I live in a village called Barton Stacey near Winchester, Hampshire in the UK. I am married to my husband, Tony. I have always been a fan of candles ever since I was young and even tried making my own with a kit I had one Christmas, but not quite Partylite standard!
I have been a Partylite independent consultant now for eight years this year! At all my parties, no matter how many guests arrive, I like to make sure everyone is happy and try to talk with every guest, giving them the opportunity for free products.
I give out my party pack to the host/hostess a few weeks before the party. In that pack are invites, catalogues, special offers, an invitation guest list and a game called Candle Pool. Everyone who wants to join in with this game has the opportunity of winning up to £100 to spend on their favourite Partylite products.
I like to try and work with the hostess to achieve as much free product as they can and help get as many rewards to them as possible, including commission, hostess rewards, and booking gifts.
At the party I always start off with a thank you to the hostess and to all the guests coming along and we then go on and play a game to break the ice! I will then take them through the hostess and guest special offers. Then the real fun for candle and fragrance lovers begins!
I’ll pass around any new fragrances and items from the display and talk the guests through all the wonderful candle holders and wax options.
We sometimes have a raffle for some Partylite products. Then, once all the orders are collected, I work out the hostess’ commission and let her/him spend away!
For me this is not just any job, but a job where I can have fun and make new friends selling what I love. It also fits in with my lifestyle perfectly. I get so many rewards too – free products, recognition, and also a 5* all-inclusive holiday for free, which I have achieved this year. So in April 2014 I will be going to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic! What other job gives you rewards like that?
Believe in the Magic with Partylite
If you missed part 1 of this interview click here: http://www.loveahappyending.com/renowned-chef-martin-blunos-recipe-for-the-triple-b/
Which of these might fit your fantasy?
*A slick, sophisticated apartment in the heart of Vienna.
*A casual country house with a pool ten minutes from the famous Algarve beaches.
*An elegant apartment on the top floor of a regal palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.
*A family-friendly modern home on a hill in a small village in the Var with amazing views over the Mediterranean and terraced patios leading to an infinity pool.
*A 500-year-old village home in a hilltop town in Tuscany.
*A modern, bungalow on a top-rated golf course set amidst the mountains near San Diego, California.
*A cool loft condo in a restored Victorian building on the Piccadilly tube line in the east end of London, England.
*A spacious 4-bedroom country home with pool and classic Provençal blue shutters and doors set in the middle of a private vineyard in the south of France.
*A two-bedroom home with private pool in a golf and tennis community in southeast Florida, 15 minutes from fabulous beaches.
Full disclosure: I am a travel junkie. There is nothing about the travel experience I dislike. The annoying aspects of air travel today don’t bother me in the least. When I go to the airport I know I’m on my way to a special destination and flying is how I’m going to get there. That’s all I care about. “Relax and chill” is my travel motto.
I know not everyone wishes to travel far and wide. Some people are happy never to venture any great distance from where they live. Not I. Ever since I spent a year working and traveling in Europe at the age of 21 in 1967, I’ve been hooked. I love to experience life in different parts of the world, some more than others. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my wonderful hometown of Toronto and all it has to offer but when I have the opportunity to go further afield, I do my best to make it happen.
This quote resonated with me many years ago.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
(Literary comment: I first read that this was a Mark Twain quote but since have discovered it probably isn’t. Never mind! It works for me.)
There are many parts of the world I have yet to visit but I believe the greatest travel lesson I’ve learned is this: if you have a desire to go somewhere, no matter how unattainable you feel that dream may be, chances are you can make it happen.
In today’s uncertain economy, there’s no question untold numbers of travel plans and vacations have been shelved. Often the cost simply squashes dreams. The solution I offer you right here, right now … in fact go ahead and Google it as soon as you finish reading this …two simple words … HOME EXCHANGE.
I looked into this concept of swapping homes about 15 years ago and was instantly intrigued. I had heard of it over the years and finally decided to check it out.
Why on earth had I waited so long?
You’ll ask yourself the same question!
My husband and I have since enjoyed 11 home exchange vacations and highly recommend it. In fact, this year we will be spending two weeks in Switzerland in May, followed by a month in Nice, and then two weeks in Vienna. All with home exchanges.
The first step is to join a reputable website, and there are several, some of which I list at the end of this article. Look for longevity of service and you will soon see for yourself which agency appeals to you. As one of the websites states, “Home exchanging is a bit like dating, where a house swap service plays the equivalent role to a dating agency. It helps you to meet, but the rest is up to you.”
When we first mentioned exchange to friends, the reactions ranged from horrified, “You’d let perfect strangers stay in your house?” to excited, “I’ve always wanted to do that!” One screwed up his face and asked, “You’ll sleep in a stranger’s bed?” We asked how many strangers had slept in the bed in his last hotel room. Think about it.
Every one of our exchange vacations has been wonderful and the truth of the matter is you connect in a personal way with your exchange person/couple/family. With some, we have developed a close friendship and others we simply keep in touch from time to time but a connection certainly occurs.
Living in a home in a different part of the world, whether it is a foreign land or a different area of your own country, provides a more complete cultural experience than staying in a hotel. You are instantly part of a community and neighbors or friends of your exchange family will have been asked to introduce themselves to you to see if you need assistance with anything. It’s an amazingly friendly and personal process.
Having all the amenities of a home at your disposal makes the travel experience so much easier. If you feel like eating in, you can. Want to do your laundry (and therefore be able to pack lighter)? Go ahead! Take care of the space around you as you would in your own home. We always make sure that there is someone who will come in and clean the house before we leave so that is not our responsibility and I make the same provision at our end.
When you arrive at your home exchange destination, you will find a detailed booklet put together by the homeowner. In this will be every bit of information you might need to know, from a list of important phone numbers to information about appliances, doctors, dentists, shopping, entertainment, and attractions.
For families with children the benefits are even greater as there are homes with toys and yards. Car exchanges are often offered and specifics such as non-smoking homes or pet-free or child-free can be requested. On the other side of that, you can also find pet owners looking to swap. There’s something for everyone!
The possibilities are endless.
Our longest exchange was two months (September, October) in a beautiful home in the middle of a private vineyard in the Var region of France. We were in scenic hills but just a half-hour from the coast. We were even invited to help with the grape harvest. Our other exchange holidays have been in Portugal, Italy, London, Vienna, California, and several in France.
Without getting into all the details here, there are excellent websites that have been established since long before the Internet. Now you can peruse properties online and send out inquiries to see if the owners are interested in exchanging with you. With e-mail or phone conversations, before you ever commit to an exchange you get to know each other.
Not only do you discover unique travel opportunities, you also meet fine people who share your values and with whom you will feel confident about exchanging. Interior and exterior photos are shared as well so you can determine if the property is acceptable to you in every way.
On their website, HomeLink International offers these words. “Respect. Trust. Caring. Generosity. We understand that these are the foundation for every great home exchange holiday.”
All the websites have FAQ pages and are usually only too happy to answer personally any other questions or concerns. Obviously the cost of your trip becomes significantly lower when accommodation is free. We have never experienced one problem and always return to find our home as spotless as we left it.
What I love best about exchanging is that it reaffirms my belief most people are good and honest and just like you. You will hear these words from people on these exchange sites who write about their experiences. You will also see there are many far more experienced exchangers than I am. I love reading about others who are on the thirtieth go or more! Give it a try!
As I mentioned, there are excellent exchange websites, well organized and detailed. Memberships are reasonable. Some are specialized with regard to age, profession, or culture. Here are a few in no particular order, just to make it easy for you to get started:
HomeLink International - established in 1953 and spanning 27 countries
Home Base Holidays – UK-based, over 25 years experience
HomeExchange.com – 39,000+ listings in 143 countries
Seniors Home Exchange – exclusively for the over-50 age group
Intervac Home Exchange – since 1953 – over 30,000 listings, 80% in Europe
I’m happy to answer questions about all of this, based on our personal experiences. In fact, I’m such a fan, my latest novel, The Promise of Provence, is centered round a home exchange in the south of France.
Try it! Whether it’s a weekend enjoying The Big Apple, a romantic rendezvous in Paris, a month hiking and taking cooking classes in Italy, golfing in Ireland, sailing in New Zealand, visiting relatives wherever, or simply exploring whatever corner of this wonderful world beckons you. Home exchange can enhance your experience and make your dreams affordable. You’ll like it!
Recently I have been researching a novel. Rather like going up to the loft, I was often distracted by lines of enquiry unconnected with my actual quest. I started to wonder why this should always happen. Why does an interest in modern popular music appear to connect with Anglo Saxon politics? Why do the bones of King Alfred The Great lead at once to a shipwreck in the year 1899. Soon it was apparent that all of this connected to a deceased wonderful English lady poet and the man dubbed the worst poet of all time. The answer, of course, is obvious. Everything is connected. All knowledge leads along the same paths to the same point – whatever that is.
OK – here’s my point. Everything in a modern romance novel is about a heroine. I always wanted to be a full-time heroine but I failed my heroism exams at school. This led me to a life of making up heroines that I would have been in person if I’d stayed in, ignored the boys, and got the grades. A recent character of mine was a kinda twerky starlet looking to get noticed. Within a few googles I’m checking out the life of Lady Godiva who rode naked through the streets of Coventry in about the year 1050. Now that was my kinda gal. She ordered that no one look as she passed by. The one guy who did so was dubbed “Peeping Tom” and was struck blind. Dear me! If I had the front to do such a thing I’d be maxing-up the book sales all the way along the route. Watch this space. And, my dear, dear Tom, relax and enjoy – reading my books is a private pleasure. It doesn’t make you go blind. I don’t even wear glasses.
Next up was research into the church of Saint Bartholomew in Winchester, Hampshire near to my place in the UK. When Saxon legend dubbed this area as possibly the burial place of King Alfred the Great, I immediately set out to find a recipe for griddle cakes. Oh yes – forget all the battles with the Danes and his possible foundation of the Royal Navy and University of Oxford, this was the guy who burned the cakes. This was all I knew of him. The story is that whilst on the run from capture by tall blond men wielding cans of lager, he was hidden by a peasant woman. She popped out to buy a lottery ticket and left Alfie to get the cakes out of the oven. He was so busy thinking about battle strategies that he forgot the cakes. Multi-tasking lets these alpha-males down every time. The true heroine was that poor woman with nothing to eat. There’s no mention of her getting a lottery win either.
Within a few yards of the church is an old flint style cottage which was the home of the English poet Elizabeth Bewick. She died quite recently but I did have the pleasure of meeting her when I used to hang out with proper poet types. She was a real lady and even presented me with a couple of her books. She also told me that the Bewick swan was named after her father who produced wonderful books with illustrations of birds. One day they’ll put a plaque on the wall of her cottage. And just imagine having a father who invented a swan. I mean “White Long Neck Bird Lake” just doesn’t sound like a ballet does it?
One of the things I discussed with her was the phenomenon of Sir William Topaz McGonagall who is often honoured as the worst ever poet. I had come across his work when researching a feature on a heroine named Mary Rogers, who drowned in the wreck of the SS Stella in 1899. You may begin to gather that I am on a female heroine quest. This lady has a monument on the sea front in Southampton which is also near my base in the UK. She was a stewardess on a ship that struck rocks near the Channel Islands. Instead of saving her own life, she led others to boats and finally gave her life belt to another. She went down with the ship. Another heroine was also identified in the same wreck. The then famous operatic soprano Greta Williams sang the hymn “Oh Rest in the Lord” to survivors in her lifeboat.
And so to the poet McGonagall. This poor wretch died a pauper, was banned from venues and reviled all his life. Yet he is still remembered today and his works remain in print while many of his highbrow detractors have faded from view. The fact is that he created not poetic work but the poetic twerk. He did what you or I could do, gave it a bit of a spin and had the balls to put it in your face. His most famous poem was the Tay Bridge Disaster. Here are the opening lines to give you a flavor.
Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
Alas I am very sorry to say!
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember’d for a very long time.
Now how’s that for a poetic waggle? This is how he immortalized the wreck of the “Stella”.
‘Twas the month of March and in the year of 1899,
Which will be remembered for a very long time;
The wreck of the steamer “Stella” that was wrecked on the Casquet Rocks,
By losing her bearings in a fog, and received some terrible shocks.
All my inquiries have led me back to where I began except for the full story on griddle cakes. My latest novel “Shannon’s Law” comes with a companion cookbook called “Cop’s Kitchen”. There’s enough cakes to build you a bottom really worth shaking. You see – if you’re prepared to dig in and follow the path, it all joins up.
Emma Calin was born in London in 1962. She currently lives part of the year in the UK and spends the rest in France. She has been writing since childhood and has won numerous local, national and international prizes for poetry and short stories.
Emma enjoys writing love stories firmly rooted in social realism. She blogs about the contrasts in life on both sides of the English Channel, which she likes to explore on her tandem whenever weather and fitness coincide. She is a Lifestyle Contributor on Loveahappyending Lifestyle.
She defines herself as woman eternally pedalling between Peckham and Pigalle, in search of passion and enduring romance.
For books by Emma Calin: Amazon USA Amazon UK
Emma Calin Blog: http://www.emmacalin.blogspot.com
Emma Calin Website: http://www.emmacalin.com
Facebook Page for Shannon’s Law http://www.facebook.com/ShannonsLaw
Negotiating the road to a healthy romance can be one of the most challenging endeavors in our life. If our primary relationship with our partner is detrimental to our happiness, or worse—toxic—it can destroy the foundation of our wellbeing. Maybe that’s why so many people share their concerns about this with me. Whether you are married, in a long-term relationship, or even just beginning to date, knowing what makes a good and solid union can be the best tool you have to finding true happiness and contentment. So if you’re ambivalent about remaining in a relationship, or wondering if it’s wise to invest your emotions in a new one, here are some positive signs to look for.
1. You communicate thoughts and feelings to each other easily and often
There’s a good reason people say that being friends first is the best way to begin a romantic relationship. (I can vouch for that!) Do you feel safe sharing your thoughts and feelings with your partner, the way you would with a supportive friend? Do you receive in return a loving and thoughtful response, and the feeling that your partner will always have your back? And is your partner the first person you run to with good news, or even with bad? If so, then there’s a very good chance the two of you can forge a strong and supportive team. This will make facing life’s challenges less arduous, because you’ll bolster each other throughout them. You’ll also enjoy all the time you will be spending together, because don’t we all want to hang out with our best friends?
2. You trust each other
If you find yourself “checking up” on your partner because you have a feeling he is doing something naughty behind your back, then one of two things is happening. Either it’s true, and on some level you know it, or it’s not, but your own insecurities are rearing their ugly heads. Either way, something’s amiss and needs to be addressed. In a healthy relationship, trust is earned over a period of time and is based on the actions of your partner, the same way it would be for a close friend. When you are able to trust, you’ll be able to enjoy time away from each other without worrying that your partner is up to no good. If he has already proven himself to be an honest person who loves you and has your best interests at heart, trust will flow naturally, the way it should. If not, it may be time to move on.
3. You can fight without tearing each other down
Healthy fighting is an important part of a sturdy relationship. It should go without saying that it should NEVER be physical, but during a fight, it’s also very important that you maintain a level of verbal respect for each other. You can argue about things without attacking each other personally. It’s okay to disagree, but being truly disagreeable can be a real relationship buster. Name calling, berating, and “hitting below the belt,” should not be the way you express yourselves, because once the fight is over, you will always have those hurts between you—and those can last a lifetime.
4. Your mate enhances your life instead of draining it
It never ceases to surprise me how many people find that their greatest source of stress is sleeping next to them every night. Your home should be your castle, your comfort zone, your safe place, and if you are coming home to partner who sucks the life energy out of you, it can make it impossible to lead a happy and productive life. We all face obstacles, whether related to work, the illness of a loved one, children’s issues, etc., but if you have someone who adds love, dedication, and emotional support to the mix, hardships will feel more manageable, and good times will be even better.
5. You love each other for who you truly are
It’s important to determine if you are sincerely in love, or if your feelings are merely based on infatuation. The reason it’s so crucial, is that if it’s the latter, then you may be in for a rude awakening once the real person inevitably emerges from behind your fantasy. We all should feel comfortable being who we are, and know that our partner loves and accepts us for it. Nobody is perfect; the question is, can you live with her faults and baggage and not hold it against her? And can she do the same for you? Loving acceptance of your partner is one of the keys to a good relationship, and can help make sure that the bond you share only deepens with each passing year.
Read more advice from Bonnie HERE
If you would like Bonnie to offer some advice on your personal relationship issue, contact her at
My love affair with country music started when I was a child. A great deal of my school holidays and weekends were spent with my nan and granddad and my granddad just happened to be a trucker who adored Johnny Cash!
In those days there weren’t as many rules and regulations, so in the school breaks I’d often get up at the crack of dawn and go trucking around England with my granddad! My fondest memories are riding in the cab, eating Digestive biscuits and listening to Glen Campbell.
When he stopped to unload I’d pull out my pad and pen and create stories involving cowboys, truckers, and romance. Yes, even at the tender age of eight I was writing about heroes, heroines and fairytale endings.
My granddad was into the more traditional country music – Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Kenny Rogers – and it was those twangy tunes and heartfelt lyrics that drew me into the genre even then. Nothing pulls at the emotions like a country song.
Made in Nashville is all about ‘new’ country, the type of country music I like to listen to now – The Band Perry, Brantley Gilbert, Raintown. It’s rockier, more modern, the same strong stories in the words, but with a mainstream kick. But that isn’t to say I’ve completely deferred from the roots of country in the book. There are many references to the men and women who shaped Nashville and that old-style spirit. If you love country music you will adore Made in Nashville and if you haven’t tried it out yet I promise you it’s so much more than Stetsons and line-dancing. For one, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is HOT!
Do you have a passion? It might be a hobby, something you do as a career – or a dream you have that you think others will be interested to read about. Perhaps you’ve purchased something that was great value for money, or visited a faraway place that you’ve never forgotten … why not write it up for the next issue of LLm?
This competition is only open via the blogs of our participating LLm book bloggers and entries cannot come from any other source, including the LLm website. Find out more by following our book bloggers and the hashtag #LLmcomp on Twitter. Closing date: 25th February 2014
If you haven’t yet read Issue 3 of our FREE emag – here it is! Click through and imagine YOUR article staring back at you from the next edition!
Contemporary fiction with humour and heart
Nicole: Well, Cassidy, Award Show season is in full swing…and it’s been quite unpredictable so far. The entire film industry can’t quite decide which films and actors unanimously deserve the lion’s share of awards. Normally, by this time in the season a clear front runner in each category is pretty much established. But this year, it’s anyone’s guess. So, what do you say we toss our hats into the ring and make some predictions? Oh, and care to make it interesting? Say, if I get the most right – I get to be Clooney’s next fling. I’m tired of this cold winter and would really enjoy a month or two by Lake Como.
elizabeth: I have to say that George was quite upset when I tossed him out, so don’t expect a happy George if you win our little bet. What would I like when I win? Probably just the smug feeling I will have knowing that I am better at predictions than you. And, just in case that doesn’t fly, then I would like a major show at the MOMA, a New York Times bestselling memoir, and the keys to bringing about world peace. …and a 28-inch waist – maybe a little more than world peace.
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
Nicole: Of these, the following have a snowball’s chance in hell (and not because they weren’t great films): Her, Philomena, Captain Phillips, and Nebraska. The battle royale is between: American Hustle, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street. I’m going to say American Hustle will take it. (And how August: Osage County and Lee Daniels’ The Butler were ignored here, especially when the category can include up to 10 entries, is beyond me.)
elizabeth: I am with you about The Butler and August: Osage County snubs. D.U.M.B. My fear is that Dallas Buyers Club might win and that will make me crazy. Okay, the two male actors were fabulous, but I do not want to see a movie win that portrayed someone as despicable as Ron Woodroof in the world of AIDS. End of rant. I am going with American Hustle or Gravity or a movie that I think really deserves it (and this movie could have knocked off The Butler’s chances–but, hey, wasn’t there room for both?) 12 Years a Slave.
Steve McQueen — “12 Years a Slave”
David O. Russell — “American Hustle”
Alfonso Cuaron — “Gravity”
Alexander Payne — “Nebraska”
Martin Scorsese — “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Nicole: This is potluck. I’m leaning toward Cuaron, but it could go to O. Russell or McQueen. But I’m sticking with Cuaron because on the technical acumen he had to administer to make Gravity happen.
elizabeth: So you don’t care that I suffered from a month-long bout of vertigo after seeing Gravity? (BTW: Nicole cried like a baby during Anchorman 2.) From what I read and heard about David O. Russell and his amazing gift for bringing out the best performances in his actors, (remember Silver Linings Playbook?) my pick is to see David O. Russell take the statue. And, what the hell does the “O” stand for?
Nicole: (Yeah… I did cry… OF LAUGHTER.) And I think the “O” stands for “Orlando” or “Olly.” One of those two. Or not.
Bruce Dern — “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor — “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey — “Dallas Buyers Club”
Leonardo DiCaprio — “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Christian Bale — “American Hustle”
Nicole: If McConaughey continues his streak, he’ll take this…but with each acceptance speech, I think he’s wearing out the patience of his fans and the industry. So, I’m not ruling out DiCaprio entirely.
elizabeth: I disagree with you about McConaughey and DiCaprio–big time. I am going with either the sentimental favorite (I don’t like when actors become a sentimental favorite because they are older than graveyard dirt) Bruce Dern or Chiwetel Ejiofor. I am leaning toward Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Nicole: I heard Bruce Dern still packs a wallop, despite his being “older than graveyard dirt.” So, good luck with all that when we’re interviewing him on the red carpet.
Amy Adams — “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett — “Blue Jasmine”
Judi Dench — “Philomena”
Sandra Bullock — “Gravity”
Meryl Streep — “August: Osage County”
Nicole: As God is my witness this award SHOULD go to Meryl Streep for her incredible performance as Violet in August: Osage County. But, I do believe the contest is between Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett, with Blanchett taking home the Oscar.
elizabeth: Here is my theory about Meryl Steep and your favorite sports team (of which I do not have one). Do you only want your team to win once in a while even though another team tried really hard? Streep’s Violet is the best performance hands down. You don’t want to get Violet mad, do you? I think her only competition is Blanchett’s brilliant performance in Blue Jasmine. And you know what, if Blanchett wins, I will be okay with it.
Best supporting actor
Barkhad Abdi — “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper — “American Hustle”
Jonah Hill — “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto — “Dallas Buyers Club”
Michael Fassbender — “12 Years a Slave”
Nicole: I’m hearing a lot of talk about Jonah Hill here…don’t entirely discount a surprise win to edge out Jared Leto. But, I’m not a huge risk taker, so I’m gonna say Leto’s taking it home.
elizabeth: I am going with Bradley Cooper. I think Jared Leto has been recognized for his touching performance as Rayon, but Cooper got robbed at last year’s Oscars and I think he deserves it. Shallow alert: Plus, he is really cute.
Nicole: Wow. You’re an incorrigible flirt, aren’t you? You don’t see me going around all willy nilly casting my votes based on sex appeal and animal magnetism, do you? (That being said…Michael Fassbender: Achtung, mein Schatz. Call me.)
elizabeth: You are so cheap.
Best supporting actress
Jennifer Lawrence — “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o — “12 Years a Slave”
June Squibb — “Nebraska”
Julia Roberts — “August: Osage County”
Sally Hawkins — “Blue Jasmine
Nicole: I’m thinking Jennifer Lawrence’s race is slowing down a bit and it’s going to go to newcomer Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave. I do think Julia Roberts’ performance was very worthy, but it’s doubtful she’ll edge either of the top two choices out.
elizabeth: I am getting my Oscar mail-in ballots today from my printer. I think I deserve it. If the Academy is blind to my talent then I would like Lupita Nyong’o to take the honor.
Nicole: Only time will tell… This time around, it’s anyone’s Oscar. The only thing I can predict for sure is that there will be a lot of surprises come ceremony night. Strapping on my Louboutins now…
elizabeth: Louboutins are so last season. Can I send you my Best Actress acceptance speech, so you can glow in my brilliance?
Nicole: You can…but I’ll be stage left cuing the orchestra to start playing the music the second you utter a single word.
WATCH THE ACADEMY AWARDS
LIVE ON SUNDAY, MARCH 2, 2014 ON ABC.
Brought to you by: Film Fatales
FB: Film Fatales
Growing up in Eastern Ontario, about fifteen miles from the village of Athens, one of the legends we grew up with was The Witch of Plum Hollow. Her real name was Elizabeth Barnes. Of course, we had to embellish the stories as we passed them on to people who hadn’t heard of the woman. When the weather is better, I like to take friends who have never heard of the woman out by her small log cabin. But since that isn’t an option in the online world, you’ll have to read about her here. So grab yourself a cuppa and sit back and I’ll tell you about this woman who was known locally as The Witch of Plum Hollow.
Elizabeth Barnes was many things – mother, grandmother, clairvoyant, soothsayer, and water dowser – but not a witch. She was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, which she claimed was the reason behind her “second sight” and “sixth sense.” A small woman, barely five feet tall, she had slender hands and tapered fingers. Her sharp penetrating eyes were of great value to her as she read not so much the tea leaves of the people who climbed the rickety steps to the room upstairs to see her, but their faces.
As much mystery surrounds Elizabeth Barnes now, over one hundred years after her death, as during her lifetime. Some sources show her date of birth simply as 1794 and her death date as 1886 while others claim that she was born on November 5, 1800 and died on February 10, 1891.
She was born Jane Elizabeth Martin in County Cork, Ireland, to a well-to-do family. Her father had arranged her marriage to a colonel friend of his, who was at least twice as old as his daughter. But she loved someone else.
True love prevailed and the man she was in love with, Robert Joseph Harrison, also a military man, came to her one night as her impending wedding day approached and they eloped to America. Elizabeth remained completely devoted to her husband and loved him with all her heart. Early in their marriage they had a son (Robert Harrison, Junior). Tragically, her beloved husband died leaving her on her own to raise the young lad.
About four years after the death of her husband, Elizabeth married David Barnes, a native of Connecticut and shoemaker by trade. Together they had nine children; six sons and three daughters.
In the autumn of 1843, David, Elizabeth, and her son from her first marriage moved to Sheldon’s Corners near Athens, Ontario. It was after their arrival here that her use of her “gift” was first documented which led to the fear that some area people felt towards her and the respect that others showed her. It was here that she was first referred to as “Mother Barnes.”
Elizabeth and David raised seven of their children here, but in time, David lost interest in farming and decided it was time to move on. He took their youngest son David with him and moved to Smiths Falls where the two stayed with an older son Sam, who had ten children of his own.
Having a houseful of children to feed, Elizabeth turned to fortune telling to support them. It didn’t take long for her reputation to spread and people from near and far were coming to have their fortunes told by the kindly woman. Her success was quickly followed by fame.
Some of these people who came to see her offered her great sums of money, but she never accepted more than her usual fee of twenty-five cents.
Her title “The Witch of Plum Hollow” was coined by a young reporter who interviewed her. It wasn’t meant to be derogatory, rather a title of respect, meaning “wise woman.” The title stuck and Mother Barnes to this day is still referred to as The Witch of Plum Hollow.
Former neighbours recall seeing many wagons and buckboards coming from all directions to the tiny house where Mother Barnes and her children lived. These same people also recall coming across a woman wearing a shawl over her shoulders, sitting at a table with a pot of tea beside her upstairs in her cabin.
As a teen, I remember going to her ramshackle log cabin and wandering through it, wondering if the whole thing was going to come down on my head. I even climbed the stairs to the upper level. Since I’m here now, telling you about the Witch of Plum Hollow, you know that no harm befell me.
Stories of her clairvoyant prowess included her ability to tell where the body of Morgan Doxtader would be found. She was also able to tell that it was his cousin Edgar Harter who murdered him. Edgar was later hanged for the crime in Brockville.
Another man who had lost several sheep came to her to find out where his missing animals were. She told him that the meat was in a barrel in his neighbour’s cellar and that the hides were tacked on the walls of this neighbour’s stable. When the man checked the stables, he found the hides of his missing sheep where she said they would be.
This is probably the best story of her clairvoyant abilities. Before Confederation, Canada was two provinces – Upper and Lower Canada. The capital had been shifted about many times. John A. Macdonald, then attorney-general for Upper Canada, went to Mother Barnes to see if she could tell where the location of the new capital would be. She told him that Queen Victoria would pick the city on the south side of the river, which was Ottawa, then known as Bytown. She also went on to predict that this young man would become Prime Minister.
There are many more stories about her fortune-telling abilities but those are best saved for another day.
Elizabeth Barnes was buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby Sheldon Cemetery. In later years, a headstone was erected by Claude and Ella Flood, cheesemakers at nearby Plum Hollow, to mark her final resting place.
The little cabin still stands, and in much better condition than it was in back when I took the photos. The property was put up for sale and subsequently sold. The new owner had a cement pad poured and the building reassembled on it with new windows, a new roof, and most importantly, a new lease of life. You can see the improvements by clicking here. I think Mother Barnes would approve.
If you had the chance to have your fortune told, would you?
Available for purchase from 4RV Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and bricks ‘n mortar locations.
Without statistical evidence to hand I can but guess that most UK visitors to Australia are either young backpackers or in the over 60s bracket. The expense and sleep deprivation that come with long-haul flights are worthwhile for an extended visit that tends to occur in a gap year or when you are otherwise work-free.
My husband and I waited until retirement for what can fairly be described as a ‘holiday of a lifetime’, involving a pretty tight schedule and eight flights in four weeks. Our bodies were abused by long hours of being cramped on a plane, disturbed diurnal rhythms, digestive mayhem, plus early rises to catch sun-up, and far too much alcohol before falling into bed exhausted. But was it worth it? Maybe you have been there, done it, but if not – is this for you?
Many iconic views of Australia are displayed on my blog, Miriam’s Ramblings. No surprise that my small gallery includes Uluru at sunrise, the Great Barrier Reef, Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, and a koala bear! You would, I am sure, expect nothing less.
For Lifestyle readers here are some rather more unusual pictures of Australia, also taking in stopovers at Singapore and Dubai. Last time we were in Singapore, this conspicuous structure simply was not there and, as soon as we spotted it, we wanted to go up to the top. Looking out from there, we were astonished at the number of big ships in the harbour. With humidity high, visibility was not at its best, but nonetheless views were amazing.
We then went through Supertree Grove and entered the Cloud Forest and Flower Domes. The first dome shows plant life through climatic zones reminding us that the equatorial forest is under threat; a brilliant concept finishing with a short film on the doom-laden future regarding climate change up to 2050 with a possible increase of 4 deg C. This ends on an optimistic note, however, with a ‘we can stop this and turn things around’ message; a reality check and very thought provoking. It reminded me – we have never visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, relatively speaking on our doorstep. Isn’t that just typical?
Uluru at sunrise does become quite magical.
The blushing sky became golden, and the big red rock glowed in the dawn light, as expected. Even more compelling were the views of Ayers Rock close-to: the eerie geological formations, rock pools, traces of waterfalls from previous storms, and cave paintings. Hearing the raucous, beating chant of a vast choir of frogs was unforgettable.
In this magnificent Melbourne Museum display, the beasts and birds are, unsurprisingly, life-sized! We found museums everywhere. Call us old-fashioned, but it seems the best way to find out about the history of a place on a first visit! Melbourne Museum was impressive. There we learned more about the child migrants from Great Britain, the ‘stolen generation’ who received a formal apology at last from Parliament in Canberra, November 2009. The Immigration Museum, also in Melbourne was very well done. Grim reality can be fascinating – as was the old Prison in Fremantle. There’s nothing like a prison visit to make you pensively cheerful as you seriously count your blessings.
The largest steel arched bridge in the world opened in 1932 and changed Sydney for ever. Once the foundations began in 1925 it was a great source of work and the area became known as ‘Little Ireland’. My husband did ‘the climb’; walking across it was exciting enough for me.
I am no great sailor, but sailing for about two and a half hours on the 1992 America’s Cup yacht was a highlight! We got up to a speed of 13 knots, keeling over enough to make a motley group of tourists squeal a little, but we knew we were in very capable hands and felt safe.
Everyone needs a hat in Australia! I took this picture for the benefit of a family member, who, needless to say, loves hats.
Lastly, on our stop in Dubai, here is the view looking down from the top of the Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world. The musical fountain and light show by the Dubai Mall is entertaining, coming at intervals in short bursts each evening.
Dubai is rammed full of high-rise buildings, unendurably hot in the summer months, and virtually alcohol-free. Looking out to the horizon puts the place into context: beyond the development were vast, arid, flat stretches of sand except when facing the scintillating blues of the Arabian Gulf.
You can also catch a more detailed trip to Alice Springs, a wonderful morning – and not just because of nearby Uluru – here on Anneli’s Place .Take a look and read about something else entirely!
If you are tempted, our Grand Australia tour was provided by Scenic Tours
Novels by Miriam Wakerly are all available as Paperback and Kindle, on Amazon
When we launched the first two free LLm downloadable emagazines in 2013 we hoped they would be well received, but the response has been phenomenal! We have decided that in 2014 we will be publishing quarterly issues and bringing you LOTS more interesting features – tips to make your home the best it can be; recipes to excite those taste buds and make you look like an experienced chef; holiday destinations to start you thinking of summer; relationship advice, and book reviews … something for everyone!
Issue 3 is a bumper one and we have exclusive interviews with a fabulous new artist, Elizabeth Cassidy, and we caught up with celebrity chef, Martin Blunos to talk about his link with Buckfast Tonic Wines – he also shared some wonderful recipes we are sure you will want to try for yourselves! We visit Nice, Corfu, Hawaii and Vancouver Island … so whatever the weather outside, grab a hot drink and while away an hour with LLm’s January 2014 Issue 3!
It’s an exciting time for an author when another book hits those shelves! As Forever (Angels Among Us #3) releases, I thought I’d reflect upon some of the questions people who have started to read this series, have asked.
I receive a lot of emails and DMs via Facebook and Twitter from readers who ‘connect’ with psychic incidents that are a part of the storyline. Often it’s simply to say “that happened to me once, but I’ve never told anyone ….” I am surprised, though, by the frequency with which it’s followed by “but I don’t believe in that sort of thing, of course.” However, I fully understand that too – it took me many years to acknowledge what was happening to me. I’m afraid it’s something you have to experience many, many times before you can even begin to allow your natural scepticism to slip.
So what do readers ask?
“I actually had goosebumps reading some of the spooky bits in the book. How do you research them?”
A lot of incidents are based on something that has happened to me in the past. Once or twice I’ve combined two experiences that actually happened at different times to fit in with the storyline, but aside from that it’s simply recounting from memory. I have a great respect for the experiences I’ve had and treasure the vast majority of them. I would never seek to sensationalise something, as I find each incident amazing enough without having to embellish it. Then there are some incidents that have a basis on something ‘real’, but have to fit in with where the story is going and that’s where the fictional aspect comes into play. But the essence of those events will still be based upon something that actually happened – whether that was a deja vu moment, a ‘gut/intuitive’ feeling, or a truly psychic one.
“My beliefs and understanding of how angels work is different to the way you portray it” and “The way you describe angels mirrors what I, too, believe!”
I don’t think it matters, either way! Who knows how it all works in reality? Maybe there isn’t meant to be one simple interpretation and we each have a unique experience if something happens this side of life. However in Forbidden, where I go into some detail to explain how an angel might work between the two planes of existence – the here and now, and the other side – it is based upon what I’ve seen/felt/believe to be true. I also did a lot of research (over three years) and found many explanations that just didn’t gel with what I’d experienced. Others ideas I rejected because it was hard to find the facts among the religion (although I do firmly believe in a God) and others seemed to endorse what I felt in my heart might be true. It helped me fill in the gaps – which was essential because it’s a really hard thing to explain when you are trying to dot the ‘i’s’ and cross the ‘t’s’.
However, the Angels Among Us series is first and foremost a LOVE story (or quest for love, story) – but that didn’t mean I took the psychic element any less seriously than if I was writing it as a paranormal only.
“Why are most of your novels psychic romances? I’ve read The Quintessential Gemini and that’s a light romantic read without a ghost in sight!”
Because I can’t help myself. Many years ago, when I determined that one day I would find time to write, I never imagined myself as a writer of psychic romance. I was in love with romance and that was what I longed to write, but now when I sit down to write I don’t have a plan. The story and characters take me where they want it to go – as simple as that!
On a more serious note I have visited many psychics, clairvoyants and mediums over the years. One told me I could do ‘psychically inspired writing’ or ‘channelled writing’. This is where a spirit guide literally connects with you and the words come not from you, but from them. It can take many forms – often as a dialogue of questions and answers. The truth is that it’s not for me. I’m very comfortable with what I’ve witnessed and continue to see/feel from time to time, especially now I truly do believe in the existence of life after death. When my very sceptical husband too started to see things, and we went on to have shared experiences, it was a very special time for me. It allowed me to open my mind and accept what I often don’t understand. But many of the experiences have been very meaningful, validated beyond a shadow of a doubt (where messages have come through from mediums etc) and unique to either myself, or by the unmistakable traits of the loved one contacting me.
As my belief has grown, so too have the incidents. Often fun in nature, and sometimes something small, although there have been mind-blowing occasions too! I will recount one amusing incident that happened, which reminded me my spirit guides are there to give me a discreet ‘shove’ when necessary:
After my first novel was published, I decided to self-publish my second book because I wanted to learn the process from start to finish. I formatted it perfectly and uploaded it to Amazon, but when it came to formatting the paperback version I had serious problems with page numbering. I Googled it and I wasn’t alone, there was a problem with the software version I had, but a few people had posted rather complicated ways of getting around it.
I tried several to no avail. One day I had been on the keyboard for over eight hours more or less solidly and the more things I tried, the more frustrated I became. It grew dark and my husband was sitting in the lounge watching TV, whilst I kept trying. Everything was fine EXCEPT for the page numbering, which was all over the place!
The door to the lounge was ajar – about twelve inches – and the light from the TV was enough to light my desk, which was the other side of the door. I could glance across and see the TV by simply turning my head. However, my eyes were glued to the screen, which glowed in the darkness of the room I was in. Suddenly I saw something out of the side of my eye. It was a mass – about the size and shape of a rugby ball – it was moving at speed and shot from the direction of the lounge, though the gap in the door and between my body and the laptop on the table in front of me. It was moving at such speed that I actually recoiled, nearly falling off the backless posture stool that I use.
The only way I can describe it, is that it was like a ball of dark smoke. Not quite solid and it was moving – not just because it was travelling, but within itself it seemed to be rotating gently. Lawrence heard the noise of the stool rocking backwards and my exclamation. He came to investigate, the ball had appeared out of his line of vision – emanating in a straight line from a far corner of the room. I explained what happened, he was getting ready to go to bed and said he thought I should give up and start again the next morning.
I stayed at my desk but a thought hit me. I was going around in circles and the template I was using clearly wasn’t going to work properly. I Googled it again, found a different template and within two hours I had cut and pasted in the contents of the book and I had a fully-functioning page-numbering facility.
When ‘weird’ things like that happen, I can’t explain it. It sounds silly, but what it did was to make me stop, step back and see the bigger picture. Whether it was tiredness and my imagination, or a little friendly wake-up call from a loved one watching my frustration, it did the trick!
Some things I don’t question, but simply accept and say ‘thank you’, hoping someone, somewhere will know it’s been helpful or reassuring. It works for me.
The first review up for ‘Forever’ is by Kate, from MeMyBooksandI – you can read her full review here. What did she think?
“This was another great episode from a wonderful series – spiritual with a dazzling touch of romance.”
The only problem is that I’ve discovered Ceri’s journey hasn’t finished – the ending was simply yet another new beginning … so look out for #4!
Falling (Angels Among Us #1) is on special on Amazon at the moment 99p
Forbidden (Angels Among Us #2) is £1.99 on Amazon
Forever (Angels Among Us #3) is £1.99 on Amazon
Each novella is around 30,000 words in length – perfect for a lazy evening’s or afternoon’s reading!
I’m celebrating on my website with a Rafflecopter competition and limited edition Angels Among Us swag bags to be won! Just click here and enter.