Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #Travel – #Jersey: Occupation Liberation Celebration by Sherri Matthews


A welcome back to Sherri Matthews with the third in her travel series of posts from her archives. Sherri has over 40 photographs of the Island of Jersey and goes into detail about the occupation by the Germans in the Second World War.. please head over and read the entire post.

Jersey: Occupation Liberation Celebration by Sherri Matthews

Before my recent and first-ever visit to the beautiful island of Jersey, I knew of its famous Jersey cows, delicious Jersey Royal new potatoes, and stunning coastline. I also knew something of its occupation under Nazi Germany in WWII, but, and to my shame, I knew very little of its impact on the people of Jersey. All that was about to change.

As I crossed the English Channel by Ferry with my mother on May 7th for our much-anticipated getaway, as soon as I caught sight of the delightful view from our hotel room some seven hours later, I knew we were in for a treat.

View from our room

The next day – after taking in the surprising results of the General Election back home – we set about exploring. And learning.

Although closest to France, Jersey has been part of the British Isles ever since William of Normandy’s invasion in 1066 ~

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Courtesy Jersey War Tunnels

Some 100 miles south of British mainland and only a mere 14 miles from the Bay of St Malo in France, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands despite its 14km by 8km (9 miles by 5 miles) size.

It is home to a varied landscape of lush valleys and fields inland, and unspoilt coastline of golden beaches, rocky coves and hidden bays, all with stunning views of the Atlantic.

Jersey boasts a 450 mile roadway made up of fast routes and rural lanes, so that whether driving, walking, cycling or even horse riding, anyone can explore this beautiful island to their heart’s content.

Take a drive - or walk, or bike or horse ride - with me along this delightful island of Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Take a drive – or walk, or bike or horse ride – with me along this delightful island of Jersey
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Corbiere Lighthouse shines its beacon of light for many a passing ship to warn of strong tidal waters and treacherous, submerged rock formations ~

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey (c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey
(c) Sherri Matthews 2015

Please head over and read this detailed post on Jersey and enjoy Sherri’s photographs: https://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2015/05/18/jersey-occupation-liberation-celebration/

About Sherri Matthews

While bringing her memoir, Stranger in a White Dress, to publication, Sherri is published online and in print magazines and anthologies with memoir, essays, poetry and flash fiction. Her short story, ‘A Walk in the Woods’, is published in Prima Magazine, and two of her short memoir entries are longlisted with FISH Publications. Sherri raised her children in California for twenty years before returning to her home in England, where she lives today in the West Country with her husband, Aspie youngest and their pet menagerie fondly called ‘Animal Farm’. Sherri keeps out of mischief gardening, walking and snapping endless photographs, the better ones of which, along with her (mis)adventures, she shares on her blog, A View From My Summerhouse

Here are the anthologies that Sherri has contributed to. Click the covers to buy.

Connect to Sherri.

Blog: sherrimatthewsblog.com
Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/aviewfrommysummerhouse
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterSherri
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/sherri-matthews/60/798/aa3
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103859680232786469097/posts

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Previous participants are more than welcome

The theme for the new series is travel.

  • Places and countries you have visited,
  • Different cultures,
  • Exotic food you have discovered when travelling,
  • Modes of transport – cars, bikes, horses, RVs
  • Camping Trips,
  • Road trips,
  • On the road for work,
  • Train Journeys,
  • Travel themed music,
  • Planes and airports,
  • Ships and other marine vessels,
  • Humorous adventures etc.

Thank you for popping in today and look forward to hearing about your travel adventures… Sally

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Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Travel – Almost Taken by Sharon Marchisello


Welcome to author and financial expert Sharon Marchisello who shares her experiences of Docents… the locals who can see us coming a mile off when we land in a strange country and are not used to the local currency or transport systems.

Almost Taken by Sharon Marchisello

The “docents” saw me coming. I’d stopped to read a sign about ground transportation and got temporarily separated from my husband as we exited the customs area at the Santiago airport.

“Lady, can I help you?” The “docent” reached for my tote bag, which was about to topple from my rolling suitcase. (“Docent” is the term my husband I have assigned to those obsequious locals who suddenly become your best friend and offer to escort you around their city, or the monument you’re trying to visit, usually in expectation of remuneration.)

“Lady, where are you going?” The docent’s partner approached. Sharks were closing in. They had spotted a rich, gullible American tourist, bleary-eyed after an overnight flight, lost and bewildered, definitely in need of some Latin chivalry.

“I’m looking for my husband.”

Helpful docents immediately started assisting in the search for my husband. In a few moments, we were reunited. And surrounded by my new amigos.

“Did you find out where to catch the bus to Valparaiso?” my husband asked me. Fortunately, I had done some research ahead of time about ground transportation options. Taxis from the Santiago airport to Valparaiso cost approximately $150, but there was a public bus from the airport to Pajaritos station, where we could board another bus bound for Valparaiso, for approximately $10 each. Frugal travelers that we are, we had settled on this plan.

One of the docents pointed out the location of the public bus stop. “But you don’t want to do that,” he advised. “To get to Valparaiso, you have to go all the way into Santiago and change buses. And the bus will drop you off downtown, where you’ll have to take a taxi to your hotel. Three changes of transportation, carrying all your own luggage, and it will cost you about 50. For only 60, you can take the mini-bus directly to your hotel in Valparaiso. And you can pay with a credit card!”

Minibus? I hadn’t read about one, but in many of the cities we’ve visited, there are semi-public buses leaving from the airport that make the rounds of area hotels, often for less money than a private cab would cost.

“Come.” Docents started pulling our suitcases toward the minibus boarding area.

“Sixty what?” I asked as I trotted along after my baggage. “Dollars? Pesos?”

“You’ll pay in pesos,” one docent replied. “By credit card.”

“How many pesos to the dollar?” my husband whispered to me.

“The exchange rate is six to one,” said one of the docents.

“Sixty pesos sounds pretty good to me,” my husband said.

But something wasn’t right. I couldn’t remember the exact dollar to peso exchange rate, but it seemed like there were a whole lot of them to the dollar. Sixty pesos was probably less than a dollar. No way was anyone going to drive us two hours to Valparaiso for 60 pesos.

“Do you mean 60 dollars?” I asked. The last time we’d taken a cruise out of Valparaiso—about 10 years ago—we’d taken a shuttle from the airport to the cruise terminal for about 60 dollars each, and my husband still felt like we’d gotten ripped off.

“Six to one,” replied one of the docents.

We passed a currency exchange booth and I glimpsed the rate for U.S. dollars: 656 Chilean pesos. Not easy math to do in your head. “He can’t mean 60 pesos,” I murmured to my husband.

The official taxi stand I had passed at the customs exit posted prices starting at 90. At first glance, my addled brain had assumed 90 dollars but now it sunk in that the price had to be in pesos. The 90 in large print was followed by three tiny zeros. Ninety thousand pesos. But still, a ride directly to our hotel in Valparaiso for 60,000 pesos didn’t sound bad.

We reached the minivan. It looked like a large private taxi, not a community-type minibus like I’d seen in other cities. The docents loaded our baggage into the trunk. The driver opened the passenger door.

“Wait,” I said to the driver. “How much are we paying?”

He grunted and pointed to the credit card machine.

“Sixty dollars,” said my docent friend. “But you pay in pesos. With credit card.”

“Sixty each,” said one of the other docents.

“Sixty each?” I looked at the driver, the one who would be collecting the money and holding our bags hostage until we paid. “Cuantos pesos para las dos?”

He typed into the machine and thrust it toward me: 120,000. Sixty thousand. Each.

“No! Too much.” I didn’t have time to run the numbers through my calculator but I knew that amount was way more pesos than we wanted to spend. We grabbed our bags before the docents could close the trunk and headed back to the public bus stop.

“Lady! Wait! What’s wrong?”

After a stop at an ATM, we boarded a bus for the 20-minute ride to Pajaritos metro station, paying 1200 pesos each. There we purchased tickets for Valparaiso for 3000 pesos each, with comfortable assigned seats for the 90-minute ride. From the downtown bus station where we arrived, we caught another public bus to a major square for 300 pesos, where we hired a taxi for 1100 pesos to take us up the hill to our hotel. A little less convenient than the private taxi directly from the airport, certainly, but our savings covered our two nights in the hotel. Not to mention getting a little local color in the process.

Several lessons we learned—or rather, reinforced—from this experience:

  • Do your homework.
  • Know the exchange rate.
  • Don’t engage the docents.

What rip-offs have you encountered while traveling abroad? I’d love to hear your comments.

Sally: You don’t have to go to a foreign country to be ripped off… our own currency exchange firms do a very good job of that! https://www.lovemoney.com/news/15610/best-foreign-currency-exchange-rates-travel-money-dollar-euro-2018

About Sharon Marchisello

Sharon Marchisello is the author of “The Ghost on Timber Way,” part of a short story anthology entitled Mystery, Atlanta Style, featuring fellow Sisters in Crime members. She has published a personal finance e-book entitled Live Cheaply, Be Happy, Grow Wealthy, as well as numerous travel articles, book reviews, and corporate training manuals.

Sharon grew up in Tyler, Texas, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Houston in French and English. She studied for a year in Tours, France, on a Rotary scholarship and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Masters in Professional Writing at the University of Southern California. Now she lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, with her husband and cat.

Retired from a 27-year career with Delta Air Lines, she does volunteer work for the Fayette Humane Society. Going Home is her first published novel. The murder mystery was inspired by her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s, which prompted her to wonder what it would be like to interview a witness or a suspect who could not rely on her memory.

About Going Home

Michelle DePalma expected to jet into Two Wells, Texas, check on her elderly mother, and hurry back to her orderly life in Atlanta, where she has a happy marriage and satisfying career. Instead, she finds her mother, Lola Hanson, hovered over the bludgeoned body of her caregiver, Brittany Landers.

Since the events of 9/11, one month earlier, Lola’s memory loss has amplified, and the family suspects Alzheimer’s. Now Lola can’t tell anyone what happened to Brittany.

The agency that provides home care for Lola promptly withdraws its services. Michelle is stuck in her home town longer than planned as she cares for a mother with whom she has never been close and tries to prove her innocence. The police officers who investigate the crime are old antagonists from grade school.

A secret thought to be long buried—that Michelle bore a son out of wedlock and gave him up for adoption—surfaces when a surprise daughter-in-law and granddaughter show up, distracting Michelle from her quest to solve the murder. And then she stumbles upon a motive which makes Lola look even more guilty.

“Going Home” was inspired by the author’s mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s and explores the challenge of solving a murder mystery when a potential witness cannot rely on her memory. Written from the prospective of a baby boomer forced to reverse roles with her parents, it crosses into the mainstream genre of women’s fiction and touches increasingly common issues such as elder abuse and end-of-life decisions.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Very Good By Don S and TeamGolfwell on December 4, 2017

I really liked “Going Home” by Sharon Marchisello, and found it to be an excellent and exciting mystery. I am familiar with the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and the author wrote an excellent mystery with many interesting characters. Ms. Marchisello has a lot of talent as a writer and I enjoyed it very much.

 

Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Marchisello/e/B00NH6N4WK/

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sharon-Marchisello/e/B00NH6N4WK/

Read other reviews and follow Sharon on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4297807.Sharon_Marchisello

Connect to Sharon.

Blogspot : https://sharonmarchisello.blogspot.com/
Blog WordPress: https://smarchisello.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SLMarchisello
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Live-Cheaply-Be-Happy-Grow-Wealthy-494073360780648/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SLMarchisello

A thank you to Sharon for this post that is a reminder to  us all that when landing in any strange country if something looks too good to be true.. it probably is. Let us know if you have experienced something similar… it helps all of us stay safe and holding on to our spending money.

Posts from Your Archives and the theme this time is all about travel.

The aim of this series is to showcase your blog and any creative work that you do from books, art, photography and crafts. You pick between one and four links to posts that you have written for your own blog since you began blogging up to October 2017 and you simply send the link to those blogs to sally.cronin@moyhill.com

You have to do nothing more as I will capture the post and images from your blog and I will then post with full copyright to you.. with your creative work and your links to buy and to connect. I might sometimes need a little more information but I am quite resourceful in finding out everything I need.

The deal is that you also help promote the post by sharing on your social media and responding to the comments.

Previous participants are more than welcome

The theme for the new series is travel.

  • Places and countries you have visited,
  • Different cultures,
  • Exotic food you have discovered when travelling,
  • Modes of transport – cars, bikes, horses, RVs
  • Camping Trips,
  • Road trips,
  • On the road for work,
  • Train Journeys,
  • Travel themed music,
  • Planes and airports,
  • Ships and other marine vessels,
  • Humorous adventures etc.

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Barcelona’s Sky-High View! Flying Over Spain By Tram! by John Rieber


It is a welcome return by John Rieber with his travel posts to this series.. Because there tends to be a large number of wonderful photographs in John’s posts, I will give you a starter… and let you head over to his blog to finish the post.  I also recommend that you check out his more recent posts.. a great deal on offer.

This week John and his wife visited Barcelona and enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the city from the impressive overhead tram network.

Barcelona’s Sky-High View! Flying Over Spain By Tram! by John Rieber

barcelona from tram

Time To Fly Over Barcelona!

Barcelona is an amazing city to explore – this is the city’s center, from a bit of an unusual angle – because it’s even more exciting to explore Barcelona when you do it from the air!

View of boats from Barcelona aerial tram

Yep, these are shots of the city – and the waterfront – taken from an aerial tram that flies you over Barcelona – I mean, look at the W hotel on the edge of the Mediterranean!

W hotel Barcelona

Getting High On Barcelona!

I’ve shared a couple of our spanish adventures so far, but this one is from the best angle ever. Get ready to go sky high and enjoy a unique view of Barcelona!

tram wires to water

These are pictures taken from our great aerial adventure over Barcelona – in one of the world’s most unique and beautiful public transportation systems!

tram wires

Barcelona has an aerial tram that operates from the city’s famous Parc Monjuic to their waterfront…the park was home to the Olympics, and it’s a huge area that overlooks the entire city center!

There are another 26 photographs of the aerial views of Barcelona and also some of the street markets and landmarks. Well worth heading over and checking them out. Especially if you have not visited this amazing city but plan to do so in the future: https://johnrieber.com/2013/08/08/barcelonas-sky-high-view-flying-over-spain-by-tram/

©Images John Rieber 2013

About John Rieber

I love great food, interesting books, fascinating travel, outrageous movies, and bacon, especially when it sits on top of a great cheeseburger! I work in entertainment – and I have been lucky enough to interview some really talented Artists – that guides my posts: interesting and provocative movies, music, social media and of course, food, since I believe strongly in the maxim, “everyone eats!”

Connect to John via his blog and social media

Blog: https://johnrieber.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnrieber
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.rieber.71
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-rieber-041430/

Thanks for dropping in today and if you would like to share posts from your archive that are older than 12 months then please check out how to do that in this post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archive – Madonna of the Letter and 236 Steps in Messina by Darlene Foster


Darlene Foster gives us a guided tour of the port of Messina with its stunning architecture and history.

Madonna of the Letter and 236 Steps in Messina by Darlene Foster

Have you ever been to Sicily? That island off Italy at the end of the boot. As a kid in school I was always fascinated by that part of the map. I was fortunate that our recent cruise made a stop at the port of Messina. We were greeted by a golden Madonna perched on top of a very tall column, as we entered the harbour. The words – “Vos et ipsam cictatem benedicimus” at the bottom made me curious. Although it rained heavily, I was not deterred and left the ship to explore. I was excited to be in Sicily.

Madonna of the Letter

My first stop was the Duomo de Capanile, the main cathedral in the city. It seemed like a good place to start, and to get out of the rain. The massive bronze front door embossed with biblical scenes was impressive. The vast central nave lined with marble pillars and archways, held alcoves with marble statues of the disciples and apostles. In an elaborate setting at the end was an image of the Madonna of the Letter, the patron saint of the city.

cathedral door

Impressive front door of the Messina Cathedral

scene on door

apostles

Apostles in the nave

I stopped in the gift shop to buy postcards and ask questions. The friendly shop keeper was happy to oblige a curious Canadian. She explained to me that the words under the Madonna at the entrance of the port translates into – “We bless you and the city” This was supposed to have been written in a letter to the people of Messina by the Virgin Mary when they converted to Christianity in 42 AD, after a visit from the apostle Paul. This explained why she is called Madonna della Lettera or Madonna of the Letter. I purchased a ticket to visit the museum and attached clock tower.

church and tower

Cathedral with clock tower

After a quick look through the museum, I ventured next door to climb the 236 steps to the top of the bell tower. It was worth every step. The belfry houses the largest and most complex mechanical and astronomical clock in the world. On the landings I viewed, from the inside, the amazing mechanically animated bronze images that rotate on the façade of the tower at the stroke of noon. At the top levels hang the massive bells that ring out the time. I was fortunate I timed my visit between the ringing of the bells. Once at the top, I was rewarded with a splendid view of the city from all four directions. The rain stopped and the sun shone for my benefit.

clock tower bells

view from the top

The view from the top of the bell tower

I took my time going down, in order to have a better look at the intricate figures, aided by explanations on boards in English as well as Italian. The carousel of life was composed of four golden life size figures representing childhood, youth, maturity and old age, with death in the form of a skeleton following behind. Biblical scenes depicted on other carousels are changed according to the liturgical calendar. One scene was dedicated to the Madonna of the Letter where an angel brings the letter to the Virgin Mary followed by St. Paul and the ambassadors who bow when passing in front of the virgin.

carousel of life

The Carousal of Life

madonna carousel2

Madonna of the letter carousel

Madonna of the Letter Carousel

Once back down, I removed my raincoat and wandered the streets. I found an iron worker creating figures in front of his shop called Hollywood, interesting sculptures including an imposing conquistador, a quote from Shakespeare and the picturesque Church of the Catalans built before Norman times on a pagan site. I stumbled upon an overgrown archaeological dig behind a municipal building which gave me a glimpse of life in Roman times.

Church of the catalans2

Church of the Catalans

wind

Amazing carvings and sculptures everywhere you look

conquistador

bard quote

Shakespeare mentions Messina in Much Ado About Nothing

I purchased a bag of Italian pasta, a great reminder of my enjoyable time in this Sicilian city. The shop keeper told me that Messina doesn’t have anything old as there have been so many earthquakes over the centuries and much had to be rebuilt. The last major earthquake was in 1908. I guess age is subjective.

As the ship left port later that day, I waved goodbye to The Madonna of the Letter with her comforting message sent to the citizens of this city two thousand years ago. A day to remember.

©Darlene Foster 2016 – Images

Thanks to Darlene for these stunning photographs and introduction to Messina and Sicily. For those who might not get to make the trip it gives us a glimpse of something spectacular.

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Here is Darlene’s latest book –  Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent review for Amanda in New Mexico on Goodreads

Dec 26, 2017 Patricia Tilton rated it Five Stars

Darlene Foster has written another lively adventure story for young readers who enjoy traveling, exploring and solving a good mystery. Fans of the Amanda Travels series won’t be disappointed with this fast-paced book which will keep them on edge with a spooky plot and unexplained events.

The story is character driven. Amanda is a fun, upbeat, curious, caring and memorable character that readers will want as a friend — especially since she has keen radar and is always ready to solve a good mystery. And, Amanda can’t resist a good mystery — even if it involves ghosts, cold breezes brushing her shoulders and unexpected incidents. Her friend Cleo is more sensitive to the presences around and finds it safer to sketch the sites they visit instead of explore. Caleb is more pragmatic, the group photographer and a good balance for Amanda.

Readers will learn about history, geography, architecture, artifacts and shiver at the presence of ghosts that are rumored to be haunting many of the places they visit in Taos — the Mable Dodge Luhan house, the Governor Bent Museum, the Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge and bridge, Ojo Caliente hot springs, the Palisade Sills, the St. James Hotel, and the Enchanted Circle Pottery. They will have an opportunity to attend the Day of the Dead celebration. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind is the sixth book in the Amanda Travels series.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

Also by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

If you are interested in joining Darlene and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives and showcase your books or blog….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Tiptoeing Through the Tulips at Keukenhof by Darlene Foster


Today a chance to tiptoe through the tulips courtesy of Darlene Foster.. Since it brings us all some much needed signs of spring I am going to feature all of the photographs. I am sure you will enjoy as much as I have.

Tiptoeing Through the Tulips at Keukenhof by Darlene Foster

I love tulips. They are by far my favourite flower. So you can imagine my delight when we arrived at Keukenhof, the famous tulip gardens in Holland. Greeted by a sea of tulips in the brightest colours imaginable, I was like a child at a candy store. Covering 32 hectares, over 7 million tulips, daffodils and other spring flowers are on display amongst well kept shrubs, trees and blossoms.

Interesting sculptures and works of art are displayed throughout the gardens. I climbed to the top of a traditional windmill, or molen, to get an amazing view of the surrounding tulip fields. For all you flower lovers, here is a bit of what I saw during my unforgettable visit. The pictures do not do it justice so you need to go yourself one day! And if you have been there, perhaps this will bring back fond memories.

tulips

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Keukenhof, means “kitchen garden” in Dutch. The site goes back to the 15th century when fruits, vegetables and herbs were grown in this location. In the 19th century it became a castle garden. This world famous attraction has been a permanent exhibition of spring-flowering bulbs since 1949 and is open 8 weeks of every year. I am so glad we planned our visit to coincide with the flowers in bloom. Another dream come true!

“I love tulips better than any other spring flower; they are the embodiment of alert cheerfulness and tidy grace, and next to a hyacinth look like a wholesome, freshly tubbed young girl beside a stout lady whose every movement weighs down the air with patchouli. Their faint, delicate scent is refinement itself; and is there anything in the world more charming than the sprightly way they hold up their little faces to the sun. I have heard them called bold and flaunting, but to me they seem modest grace itself, only always on the alert to enjoy life as much as they can and not be afraid of looking the sun or anything else above them in the face.”  ― Elizabeth von Arnim, Elizabeth and Her German Garden

©Darlene Foster – Images 2016

About Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” and “Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind”  to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Here is Darlene’s latest book –  Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind.

About Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind

Amanda Ross is on a school trip to Taos, New Mexico with several of her fellow creative students. Join Amanda, Cleo and their funny friend, Caleb, as they visit an ancient and beautiful landscape where a traditional hacienda, an ancient pueblo, and a haunted and spooky hotel all hold secrets to a wild and violent past. Does Cleo really see ghosts? Can Amanda escape the eerie wind that follows her everywhere? Perhaps the Day of the Dead will reveal the mysteries of Taos in this latest adventure of Amanda’s travels.

One of the recent review for Amanda in New Mexico on Goodreads

Dec 26, 2017 Patricia Tilton rated it Five Stars

Darlene Foster has written another lively adventure story for young readers who enjoy traveling, exploring and solving a good mystery. Fans of the Amanda Travels series won’t be disappointed with this fast-paced book which will keep them on edge with a spooky plot and unexplained events.

The story is character driven. Amanda is a fun, upbeat, curious, caring and memorable character that readers will want as a friend — especially since she has keen radar and is always ready to solve a good mystery. And, Amanda can’t resist a good mystery — even if it involves ghosts, cold breezes brushing her shoulders and unexpected incidents. Her friend Cleo is more sensitive to the presences around and finds it safer to sketch the sites they visit instead of explore. Caleb is more pragmatic, the group photographer and a good balance for Amanda.

Readers will learn about history, geography, architecture, artifacts and shiver at the presence of ghosts that are rumored to be haunting many of the places they visit in Taos — the Mable Dodge Luhan house, the Governor Bent Museum, the Taos Pueblo, the Rio Grande Gorge and bridge, Ojo Caliente hot springs, the Palisade Sills, the St. James Hotel, and the Enchanted Circle Pottery. They will have an opportunity to attend the Day of the Dead celebration. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind is the sixth book in the Amanda Travels series.

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amanda-New-Mexico-Ghosts-Travels/dp/1771681209

Also by Darlene Foster

Read the reviews and buy all of Darlene’s books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Read more reviews and follow Darlene on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

If you are interested in joining Jane and the other writers who are sharing posts from their archives and showcase your books or blog….. here is the link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/happy-new-year-and-the-start-of-the-2018-series-of-smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives/

Smorgasbord Reblog – Posts from Your Archives – Dear Mr. East -Kyoto Day Two by Lillian Csernica


As I mentioned in my post the other day. If one of the archive posts submitted, particularly the travel posts, has more than four or five photographs, I will be reblogging here. A couple of reasons. I am happily on the Free platform on WordPress but that comes with limited media capacity. That works fine as I manage it, however when a travel post has 10 to 15 images it requires a great deal space.

I would be grateful if you would head over to the blog in question to read the whole posts and leave a response there. The purpose of the Posts from the Archives is to promote bloggers as well as authors by increasing followers to their sites.

This week Lillian Csernica who shares Day Two of her trip to Kyoto in Japan. There is much more to see and enjoy over on the original post and you will find more details about Lillian and her books at the end of the post.

giapponepertutti.blogspot.com

Higashi Hongaji, the Eastern Temple of the Primal Vow, and its gardens across the street from the temple complex kept Pat and me enthralled during our second day in the magnificent city that is Kyoto. There is also Nishi Hongaji, the Western Temple of the Primal Vow. The two temples have been awarded affectionate nicknames by the local Japanese. For Higashi Hongaji, that is “Ohigashisan,” or Dear Mr. East.

We walked down one of the main streets to reach the temple complex. Both our hotel and the temple were in central Kyoto, but that still meant we walked at least six to eight blocks to get there. (We had not yet considered, much less mastered, the subway options.) Major construction work on one of the buildings made a massive amount of noise. That has to be hard on people who come to the temple to pray and meditate.

Photos really don’t do justice to the main temple. The pillars are so big my arms could reach only halfway around them.

Down in the basement of the temple was a large amphitheater . Pat and I watched an audiovisual presentation on a big screen about the history of the temple and its modern day events. My Japanese is nowhere near good enough for me to follow the commentary, so I now have a lot more questions about the specifics of worship in Shin Buddhism. I did learn a lot. For example, I had no idea Buddhist services include choirs. There were dozens of people chanting “Namu Amida Butsu” (Adoration for Amida Buddha).

The Visitor Center reminded me of the Department of Motor Vehicles here in the U.S. because there were four numbered “windows.” I have no idea what the sign over each window said, but it’s safe to assume each window dealt with a particular purpose one might have for coming to the temple.

It was here that I attempted to do some serious research. For one of my Kyoto-related writing projects, I need to know how a monk would address the Abbot of Kiyomizudera. After a good fifteen minutes of trying to convey this question to a very nice young man named Toshiko who wore one of those black scholar’s robes like the men at Bukko-ji, I was struck by the realization that I was asking the wrong person the wrong question. At Higashi Hongaji, there aren’t any monks. Therefore there is no abbot. My question was meaningless in the context of this particular sect of Buddhism.

Please head over to Lillian’s blog to enjoy the many other photos and descriptions of her second day in Kyoto : https://lillian888.wordpress.com/2015/11/22/dear-mr-east-kyoto-day-two/

©Images Lillian Csernica 2017

A selection of contributory anthologies and books by Lillian Csernica

A review for the Fright Factory

Lillian Csernicas Fright Factory is a must read for people who want to write horror or for those who already do but want to make it even better. Though this is not a very big book Lillian has filled each page with tips and ideas and still manages to make it an enjoyable and fascinating read. My favorite part is her refrences to books, stories, and even films to show you what she is saying unlike other writing books that create an example and you are just suppose to remember it when you write. I am not a writer but I do love reading horror so it was interesting to read because some of the things she brought up as things not to do are actually things I dislike about horror novels so I know how it is.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lillian-Csernica/e/B00HL7IKWK

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lillian-Csernica/e/B00HL7IKWK/

Read other reviews and follow Lillian on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2917039.Lillian_Csernica

About Lillian Csernica

At age five, Lillian Csernica discovered the Little Golden Books fairy tales. From there she moved on to the works of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Tanith Lee, and Terry Pratchett. Her very first short story sale, “Fallen Idol,” appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI. Lillian has gone on to publish over forty short stories in such markets as Fantastic Stories, Killing It Softly, and After the Happily Ever After. Her Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333.

Lillian’s two nonfiction ebooks, The Writer’s Spellbook: Creating Magic Systems for Fantasy and The Fright Factory: Building Better Horror, provide nuts and bolts instruction in the techniques of writing those genres.

Born in San Diego, Ms. Csernica is a genuine California native. She currently resides in the Santa Cruz mountains with her her husband, two sons, and three cats.

Connect to Lillian Csernica

Blog: https://lillian888.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lillian.csernica
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LillianCsernica
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lillian-csernica-310b2511/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+LillianCsernica

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you will head over to Lillian’s to read the rest of her post.. thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – A Bridge to Nowhere by Urban Liaisons


Today a post from the archives of photography and travel site Urban Liaisons. Have you ever taken a bridge to nowhere.. or on blind faith. Who knows what lies on the other side or behind that cliff face.

A Bridge to Nowhere by Urban Liaisons.

In autumn, days are sometimes quite foggy without a clear view on our cosmos and surroundings like a bridge leading to nowhere.

360 m long hanging rope bridge “Geierlay” at Mörsdorf / Germany

Then it is sometimes better to just simply move and cross the unknown profound abyss such as a hanging rope bridge in 100 m altitude where you can feel like a bird swinging with the wind. Soon an unknown trail with all the colours of autumn will open leading to a new challenging landscape to be discovered.

Trail in autumn near Pyrmont Castle / Germany

Time to say hello and welcome to an alien trail leading to anywhere.

©UrbanLiaisons 2017 Images

Great prompts for a photo challenge or short story.  Thanks to Urban Liaisons for sharing.

You can find some amazing photography and informative travel posts on the original blog.

Urban Liaisons: https://transmutation.me

About Urban Liaisons.

I like travelling through the diverse realities and cultures of this world not only as a tourist. So this may also happen by simply imaginating the hidden rivers and caves of consciousness where postmodern nomads are crossing wide endless landscapes leading to a dream of no-where. My favourite areas are deserts like the sahara or high mountains, as in these empty terrestric regions the far-away horizon and sky is no limit anymore but a possible gate to inspiration and freedom. Posts will be published normally in English, but whenever appropriate also only in my mother tongue German. Unless otherwise mentioned or individually specified (for example by naming the author, artist, etc.) all texts, photos and/or graphic illustrations in this blog are subject to © urban liaisons (which may please be respected).

 

Smorgasbord Magazine – Posts from Your Archives – The Pan Am Experience! Fantastic Retro Trip To The 70’s For Dinner And Fashion! Videos And Photos Galore! by John Rieber


 

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archive. There is a slight twist with travel posts that contain more than four or five photographs as these will be done as a reblog with a link for you to read the rest of the post on the contributors website. It would be great if you would leave your comments there to be read and enjoyed. Thank you.

If you have four posts from your archives that you feel you would like to share then send the links to sally.cronin@moyhill.com. If you would like to promote your books (which is FREE) then that is a separate issue and you can contact me on the same email. For this series I am looking at posts that are informational, entertaining, thought provoking about life, food, relationships, writing, health etc. Posts that you wrote in your early days of blogging perhaps that you feel deserve another airing.

Today John Rieber and his wife experience Pan Am in retro style…

The Pan Am Experience! Fantastic Retro Trip To The 70’s For Dinner And Fashion! Videos And Photos Galore! by John Rieber

Welcome To The Pan Am Experience!

Get ready to see some of the greatest videos and pictures from the amazing Pan Am Experience! A great company has re-created a first class dining experience in a converted airplane, and the result is incredible!

I read about this “Pan Am Experience” and posted something last year, but I got the chance to actually do it with my wife Alex, and I want to share this memorable experience with you!

Here’s how it all began. As their website states:

“On October 18, 2014, the Pan Am Experience officially launched with thirty-two guests in attendance, many who flew in from all over the country – from Chicago, Atlanta, New York, San Francisco to participate in the maiden “voyage”. Many of our guests shed tears as they boarded the airplane and described how it felt to “breathe new life” into the iconic airline that we all cherished so deeply.”

“Since our opening night, we have sold out every seat in the house, many of which have been filled by former Pan Am employees who have shared countless memories and contributed in kind to the experience. Sharing in the nostalgia and excitement of former Pan Am crew members when they board our airplane is quite an honor for us all. In this way, we feel uniquely connected to the history of Pan Am, and we hope that our service delights our guests as much as the airline delighted generations of passengers before us.”

Co-founder of the Pan Am Experience restaurant, Anthony Toth poses with waitresses dressed in vintage airline uniforms that recreates the experience of flying with Pan Am World Airways in the 1970s in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jane Ross

As you can see from this photo by Reuters, the retro experience begins the moment you arrive – as you can see, a very stylish crew is ready to greet you!

Here we are: ready to head into this experience! When you arrive, you are taken into a “check in” area where you can look at vintage posters, and view classic Pan Am items, like this meal service setup and classic Pan Am matches!

To enjoy the rest of this retro Pan Am experience please head over to John’s blog and see all the other photographs of the event. https://johnrieber.com/2017/10/04/the-pan-am-experience-fantastic-retro-trip-to-the-70s-for-dinner-and-fashion-videos-and-photos-galore/

About John Rieber

I love great food, interesting books, fascinating travel, outrageous movies, and bacon, especially when it sits on top of a great cheeseburger! I work in entertainment – and I have been lucky enough to interview some really talented Artists – that guides my posts: interesting and provocative movies, music, social media and of course, food, since I believe strongly in the maxim, “everyone eats!”

Connect to John via his blog and social media

Blog: https://johnrieber.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnrieber
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/john.rieber.71
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-rieber-041430/

Thanks for dropping by and I am sure you will enjoy heading over to John’s blog to see more of his stunning photographs. Please your feedback for John on his post. Thank you.

Smorgasbord Reblog – Posts from your Archives – And Now… Kyoto, Japan by Lillian Csernica


As I mentioned in my post the other day. If one of the archive posts submitted, particularly the travel posts, has more than four or five photographs, I will be reblogging here. A couple of reasons. I am happily on the Free platform on WordPress but that comes with limited media capacity. That works fine as I manage it, however when a travel post has 10 to 15 images it requires a great deal space.

I would be grateful if you would head over to the blog in question to read the whole posts and leave a response there. The purpose of the Posts from the Archives is to promote bloggers as well as authors by increasing followers to their sites.

Please give a warm welcome to Lillian Csernica who shares her trip to Kyoto in Japan. There is much more to see and enjoy over on the original post and you will find more details about Lillian and her books at the end of the post.

Kiyomizudera, the Pure Water Temple

Yes indeed, between hospital stays I managed to run off to Kyoto, Japan for a week. Two of those days were spent in transit, but I did manage to do quite a bit in the five days I had to explore one of the most amazing cities on our planet. What made it even better was doing the exploring with my best friend, Patricia H. MacEwen.

It took one car, three planes, a bus, and a taxi to get us from my house to our hotel in Kyoto. I have many stories to tell about what happened to us in transit, both on the way to Kyoto and especially on the way home. I’m going to save those for a later post.

Day One: As we roamed the streets of Kyoto, in search of the nearest Citibank branch and the local post office, we were lucky enough to come across a few of the local Shinto shrines. Most of them were in honor of O-Jizo-sama, the god of children.

The first such shrine we found was on one of the major streets, tucked into a niche next to a big bank building. Most of the time we came across the shrines in what to us were side streets or back alleys.

It was quite impressive to see this shrine, complete with hand-washing station and the bell to ring. The shrine was spotless, well cared for, and clearly maintained with great respect and affection.

A map of the original Bukkoji temple complex

Pat discovered Bukko-ji Temple. This is one of the lesser known temples in Kyoto. The government is working to generate more interest in it, and I hope the project is successful. The temple complex is smaller than some, but even so it possesses that unearthly peace you find only in sacred places.

I have come to learn that my idea of Buddhist monks is based largely on Zen monks. There are at least five different Buddhist sects alive and well in Kyoto. Not all of them have monks in the sense that I recognize. This got more than a little confusing because some Buddhist men who work at the temples will wear a garment that looks like a black scholar’s gown. They also wear stoles which come in different colors. I asked about those, and if I understood the explanation correctly, the stoles indicate one’s home temple. (When we visited Higashi Honganji, there was an older gentleman in a three piece suit wearing a pale green stole of fine workmanship. The stole is what one wears when one visits a temple, much like as an Orthodox woman I cover my head and I do not wear pants when I go to church.)

Please head over and enjoy the rest of this fascinating post on Kyoto and leave your feedback for Lillian there: https://lillian888.wordpress.com/2015/11/20/and-now-kyoto/

©Images Lillian Csernica 2017

A selection of contributory anthologies and books by Lillian Csernica

A review for the Fright Factory

Lillian Csernicas Fright Factory is a must read for people who want to write horror or for those who already do but want to make it even better. Though this is not a very big book Lillian has filled each page with tips and ideas and still manages to make it an enjoyable and fascinating read. My favorite part is her refrences to books, stories, and even films to show you what she is saying unlike other writing books that create an example and you are just suppose to remember it when you write. I am not a writer but I do love reading horror so it was interesting to read because some of the things she brought up as things not to do are actually things I dislike about horror novels so I know how it is.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lillian-Csernica/e/B00HL7IKWK

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lillian-Csernica/e/B00HL7IKWK/

Read other reviews and follow Lillian on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2917039.Lillian_Csernica

About Lillian Csernica

At age five, Lillian Csernica discovered the Little Golden Books fairy tales. From there she moved on to the works of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Tanith Lee, and Terry Pratchett. Her very first short story sale, “Fallen Idol,” appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI. Lillian has gone on to publish over forty short stories in such markets as Fantastic Stories, Killing It Softly, and After the Happily Ever After. Her Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333.

Lillian’s two nonfiction ebooks, The Writer’s Spellbook: Creating Magic Systems for Fantasy and The Fright Factory: Building Better Horror, provide nuts and bolts instruction in the techniques of writing those genres.

Born in San Diego, Ms. Csernica is a genuine California native. She currently resides in the Santa Cruz mountains with her her husband, two sons, and three cats.

Connect to Lillian Csernica

Blog: https://lillian888.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lillian.csernica
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LillianCsernica
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lillian-csernica-310b2511/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+LillianCsernica

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you will head over to Lillian’s to read the rest of her post.. thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Reading and Author Interview – Darlene Foster


Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Welcome to the Book Reading at the cafe and today my guest is children’s author Darlene Foster whose books about Amanda have literally taken us around the world. Before we take a look at her books here is a little bit about Darlene.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble. Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Darlene’s book reading at the end of the post is from her latest book Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music.

About Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music

Twelve-year-old Amanda Ross finds herself on an elegant riverboat with her bestie, Leah, cruising down the beautiful Danube, passing medieval castles, luscious green valleys and charming villages. When she is entrusted with a valuable violin by a young, homeless musician during a stop in Nuremburg, another boy immediately tries to take it from her. Amanda tries to keep the precious violin safe for the poor prodigy, and along the way, she meets a mysterious monk, a Santa Claus look-alike, and the same nasty boy.

Follow Amanda down the Danube as she enjoys the enchanting sounds of music everywhere she goes, but remains on the lookout, wondering just who she can trust.

Goodreads Reviews can be found here: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29363010-amanda-on-the-danube

Patricia Tilton rated it Five Stars

Darlene Foster has written a lively adventure story for young readers who enjoy traveling and solving a good mystery. Fans of the Amanda Travels series won’t be disappointed with this fast-paced book which will keep them engaged and quickly turning pages to discover what happens next. Amanda is an upbeat, inquisitive, caring and memorable character that teens will want to befriend — especially since she has keen radar and is ready to solve a good mystery. Leah spends a lot time texting her friends at home, which annoys Amanda. Readers will also learn a little history, geography and a few German expressions as they cruise along the beautiful Blue Danube River and visit Nuremberg, Regensburg, Melk, Vienna and Budapest. Amanda and Leah explore castles, cathedrals, graveyards, and museums. They learn about Mozart, sample local cuisine and shop for teddy bears at the Steiff store.

Read the reviews on Amazon and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Danube-Sounds-Music-Travels/dp/1771681020/

Also by Darlene Foster

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Foster/e/B003XGQPHA

Now it is time to ask Darlene some questions about her live and work and she is eager to answer your questions if you would please put them into the comments section of the post.

Welcome to rainy Ireland Darlene and perhaps we could start by looking at some of your favourite books..

If you could be a character in any book you have read.. Who would it be and why?

I would choose to be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie had a great relationship with her father, like I did. She was strong willed, stuck to her guns, spoke her mind and refused to be bullied. She was happy with who she was and was not willing to compromise to make others happy. Like refusing to marry Mr. Collins and giving Lady Catherine de Bourgh a piece of her mind. And she ended up with Mr. Darcy and got to live in Pemberley!!

Which author would you have to dinner, why and what questions would you ask them?

I would love to have Jane Austen come to dinner. I would like to tell her how much I love her books and thank her for the hours of pleasure she has given me over the years. Hers are the only books I have read over and over and never tire of. I would ask her where she got the ideas for her amazing characters, what kept her going and what was it like to be a female writer in her time. I would hope she would be as witty in person as she is in her writing. It would be an enjoyable meal, I believe. Now what to serve?

Do you have a favourite quote? What does it means to you as an individual?

I have always loved this quote by Maya Angelou, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” I think it is important to be happy with who you are and happy with what you do in life. So many people, including me at times, do things to impress others. I think it is more important to impress yourself. I firmly believe if you are happy with what you do and how you do it, you will be successful.

Can you tell us a little bit about growing up on the ranch in South Alberta?

As a child I found it boring and couldn´t wait to move to the city. Looking back it was the perfect place for me as I used my imagination to make up stories in my head to stop from being bored and lonely. We all worked hard on the ranch, which made me a disciplined person, great training for a writer. The wide open spaces, the limitless sunshine and the hard working, salt of the earth folks around made me who I am today. It was a great place to grow up.

What did you find the most interesting cultural change when you moved from Canada to Spain?

For me, the history is the most interesting cultural change. I love that there is history everywhere you look in Spain and how it meshes nicely with modern everyday life. History is respected and celebrated by all ages in Spain. Attending the religious festivals and the various fiestas has been such a learning experience. I never tire of visiting the many castles, churches and historic sites. I feel like I am living in a story book most of the time. I have so many story ideas, I will not live long enough to get them all down on paper.

We know there will be other ‘Amanda’ books. Do you have a wish list of places to take her to? What tops the list and why?

Yes, I do have a wish list of places to take Amanda. The list includes, but is not limited to, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and Russia. Russia may top the list because that is where my great grandparents immigrated to Canada from 100 years ago. It would be so cool to create an adventure for Amanda there. So many places, so little time.

Darlene has chosen to read an extract from Amanda on the Danube

The girls continued to look around the market, stopping to pull the strings on jumping jacks and stroking teddy bears dressed in lederhosen, just like the dancers wore the night before.

“Psst!”

Amanda looked around but couldn’t see anyone.

“Psst!”
Amanda swung around and saw a finger motioning to her from between two stalls. Leah was busy looking at jewellery. Amanda slipped into the tiny space. There crouched in the corner, sat the young boy who played his violin by the Gingerbread House earlier.

“Please, Miss. I need your help.”

Amanda noticed blood seeping out of the dirty bandage on his thumb. “What happened to your thumb?”

“Oh, that. It is nothing.” The young man reached for his violin case. “You are on the boat, yes? The Sound of Music boat?”

“Yes, I am. Why?” She looked at the bloody finger. “You should have that cleaned up. You could get an infection.”

“Please, could you take this with you on the boat?” His large blue eyes pleaded with her as he held out the case.

“Why can’t you take it to the boat?” asked Amanda.

“I do not have a ticket. But my violin must get on the boat. It is of much importance.”

“Well -” Amanda took a deep breath. “I guess I could take it, but then what will I do with it once I’m on the boat.”

“Perhaps you could keep it in your room until you get to Vienna. I will meet you there.”

“H – How…”

“Amanda! Where have you gone?” She could hear Leah shouting.

“OK. I have to go.” Amanda snatched the violin case.

“Danke, fraulein. Don’t tell anyone you saw me, bitte. I mean, please.”

Amanda emerged from the small space between the two stalls just before Leah spotted her.

“I found a rad choker necklace.” Leah held up a clear bag and shook it. “What do you have in your hand?”

“I found a vintage violin case,” answered Amanda. “I think I’ll surprise my dad with it later.”

Leah looked at her watch. “We had better get to the boat before it leaves.”

The girls walked down the street toward the bus. A boy dashed past them knocking Amanda down.

“Hey, you! Watch where you’re going.” Amanda stood up. She held on to the violin case as she steadied herself.

“Are you all right?” Leah asked. “That boy looked very much like the one the crew members chased through the market. What is his problem?”

“I’m fine. I think he tried to grab the violin case.”

“Where did you say you got it?”

“I bought it from an old guy at the market while you were looking at jewellery.”

Amanda spotted a huge nutcracker soldier in a doorway. “Look at that!” She stood beside the wooden figure towering over her. “Take my picture, Leah. I feel like Clara and her gallant Nutcracker Prince from the ballet Aunt Mary took me to last Christmas. ”

Leah snapped a couple of pictures of a beaming Amanda. She noticed something move

and shouted, “There´s that boy. He’s hiding behind the nutcracker.”
Amanda turned around. The blond, curly-topped boy stood, grinning. He grabbed on to the violin case and pulled hard. Amanda held on tight. Leah came over and held on as well.

The smaller boy lost his grip and fell over backward, landing in a pile of spinning tops.

A burly shopkeeper ran over to them. “Get out of my store you trouble makers! Aus, kinder schlecht!”

Amanda and Leah dashed down the street just as the bus pulled away.

“Oh no! Now we’re going to be late and miss the boat.” Leah’s face fell. “My dad will kill me.”

©Darlene Foster

Thank you Darlene and certainly lots to look forward to for all your fans.

Connect to Darlene via her website and social media.

Website: www.darlenefoster.ca
Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter
Twitter: https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Well certainly looking forward to meeting Darlene in person when she comes to Ireland with Amanda. And I am sure that you have your own questions that you would like to ask this charming children’s author and please leave them in the comments section of the post.

Thank you as always for dropping in and your feedback is very welcome and if you could share that would be great. Sally.