Thursday, 19 October 2017

Seagulls and sea breezes in the late sunshine of Llandudno.

We finally made our escape!

After the fierce winds of Monday, when the tail end of the hurricane named Ophelia found its way across the Atlantic to the UK, Wednesday dawned bright and clear. Was that a hint of the rising sun peeping between the leaves of the trees?

With computer switched off and plans made, we headed down the A55 Expressway to Llandudno on the North Wales coast. It is some time since we have visited this timeless seaside town with its wide curved bay lined with Victorian/Edwardian hotels; the bay is backed by the mountains of Snowdonia in the distance. That great rock jutting out to sea called Great Orme was unchanged. The pier stretched far out to sea towards the distant windmill farm.

Our first stop, as we came out of the shopping mall under the car park, was a tea break in the upstairs cafe of the re-furbished Waterstones bookshop . I used to have book signings there in the early days before it all changed.

Strolling along the promenade, I stopped to take photos. While Allen concentrated on the map I focussed on the unbelievable fat seagull that calmly stood at the edge of the pavement. No doubt it was eyeing up unsuspecting tourists for its next 'sandwich snatch'. (This happened to us the last time we were there. I sat on a bench chatting to Allen, sandwich in one hand, when out of nowhere a seagull swooped down and snatched my sandwich out of my hand. All I felt was something bang against my head.)

A fat seagull by the sea in LlandudnoA photo of the bay in Llandudno, North Wales

A photo overlooking taken from the pier in Llandudno.We strolled along part of the pier. At least we found where the cable car station was and Allen had worked out from the map on the promenade how to get up to it in the car. Perhaps when in season? Leaning over the pier rail, I looked down at the sea crashing against the rocks and the huge wall of rock stretching away around a bend.
'Are we on the Balcon de Europa in Nerja?' I asked Allen. He laughed. The sea wasn't as calm, the sun not as strong.

Although the start of the pier was lively with the sound of music playing, further along it was all tranquillity. There are many seats along either side to rest and enjoy the gentle breeze and warm sunshine as you gaze across the vast sweep of the bay. Last time that we came, it was summer and a
perishing cold and windy day. That was the time that the seagull swooped down. We didn't walk to the far end of the pier. When you do it is as if you are far out to sea, the pier is so long.

Many of the hotels are privately owned; not all serve lunches. Having passed the famous St.George's Hotel many times we thought that this time we would see if they served a bar lunch. Perhaps in the conservatory that stretches along the front of the hotel? We were not disappointed and they even had the red carpet out for us. The sandwiches were delicious, the ambiance quiet and unhurried, the waiter service excellent.  Altogether, a good choice.

As we normally decide to do, we took the scenic route back home, travelling down through the ancient and pretty town of Llanrwst that nestled in the mountains to Betws-y-Coed, the A5 old Holyhead - London route, and home.

The sea air and sunshine the best medicine of all.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Nature's Beauty on our Doorstep in Wrexham

The glory of Autumn at Erddig. Explore. Discover. Enjoy.

The National Trust property of Erddig was formerly the family home of the Yorke family of Wrexham, Wales. When we moved to Wales in the late 1960's, Squire Yorke was a familiar and
Photo of the avenue of trees in autumn at Erddig Hall, Wrexham
unusual sight in the town as he rode around on his penny-farthing bike. 

As he had no heirs, he gave the estate to the National Trust in 1973 with the proviso that the grounds/parkland be for the public to use and enjoy at no cost. Erddig Hall and gardens were in a dilapidated way to say the least. The formal walled gardens were buried under years of neglect. The hall was in a similar state. We remember reading that, before he died, Squire Phillip Yorke had resorted to living in two rooms as he couldn't afford the upkeep needed for this magnificent house. The house was subsiding and crumbling due to earlier coal-mining.

A glimpse into the task ahead.

IndoorsIndeed on his death, one room was found to have bowls on a bed to catch the drips of water coming through the ceiling. These Elizabethan bed hangings were sent to London for restoration. This was one of many projects needed to bring Erddig back to its former glory. The downstairs servants quarters are, today, a living testament to how life was in those days. Everything is set out as it used to be - pots, pans, furniture, kitchen, . . . Some years after the initial restoration in 2013, the Chinese Room was opened to the public on a few days a week. This is just a glimpse of the beauty of the hall itself.

Outdoors. Looking at the formal gardens today, it is hard to imagine that the avenue of trees, the canal water-feature, the fruit trees trained against a wall, had all but disappeared. With careful conservation and reference to the original drawings that were found, forty years on it is a different story. Our daughter and her family, often enjoy the beauty of Erddig. Our grandson took this photograph last week as the leaves start to turn into the glorious colours of autumn. It is a great place for families. Many old crafts have been revived in the out buildings e.g. carpenter.

Parkland. Many local residents enjoy the natural beauty of the grounds on their regular walks with their four-legged friends. One feature is the 'cup and saucer', a cylindrical cascade. Many school parties enjoy educational activities.

Shop and tea room. Of course, no visit to a National Trust property is complete without a visit to the wonderful tea room before ending up in the well-stocked shop. A good place for Christmas Shopping.

Getting there.
You don't have to go far if you live in the Wrexham County. Erddig is at the south end of Wrexham. Leave the A483 at Rhostyllen and head to Wrexham town. Before the cemetery on the left on the hill, turn right down the lane at Felin Puleston and follow the signs.

"Erddig Hall is a National Trust property on the outskirts of Wrexham, Wales. Located 2 miles south of Wrexham town centre, it was built in 1684–1687 for Josiah Edisbury, the High Sheriff of Denbighshire; ... Wikipedia"

Photo by kind permission S.M.T.

Friday, 6 October 2017

On the Nursery Trail. Not Babies and Children - Gardens.

With some beautiful Cheshire countryside on the way. 

Thursday saw myself and my other half, list in one hand, set off for a jaunt into Cheshire. Our destination was Grasslands Nursery in Lower Peover and Over Peover. And you are better with a satnav if you are not familiar with the area. (I never thought that I would say that!).
First stop was a cuppa at their Snowdrop Cafe. It seems a regular stop for these hardy cyclists.
Mission accomplished, after trundling two plants down to the 'Pay Here' hut we manoeuvred them into the car and headed out to our next stop. Our visit didn't take long as I had done a web search to find who stocked what we wanted.

Grasslands is a nursery, with rows upon row of sturdy plants of all kinds. But it is not a Garden Centre and therefore does not have the usual  shop full of goodies. Therefore, we wended our way through the rich Cheshire countryside with its trees and hedges turning gold in the autumn sunshine. 

Guided by our trusty satnav we soon found Plumleys Plant and Garden Centre but went past as the roadworks and work van outside his the signs. Turning around down the leafy country lane, we soon went back through the traffic lights and into the car park. Our search now was for various garden implements and bulbs. Although a lovely shop, with an enticing plant area - we weren't looking for plants - we didn't find what we were looking for. It was too early for a snack  lunch in the lovely cafe.

The last on our list was the Weaver Vale Garden Centre - a Klondyke and Strikes Garden Centre - at Winnington, Northwich. Eventually, after reaching Northwich from a different side from what we are
used to, we headed out, passing signs for the Anderton Boat Lift at Weaverham on the way.(Memories of Sunday ride-outs on our Honda Gold Wing motorbike.) Eventually, turning down a side road, we found the most wonderful garden centre. After a spot of lunch - just a scone for me and a piece of apple pie for him - we spent a happy hour inside looking at garden tools and bulbs for the garden.

After all this hard work we treated ourselves to an early dinner out - with a special 'Dine for Two' deal at the Egerton Arms on the edge of Cheshire and Wrexham. I have to say that the tomato and olive sauce with the salmon, dauphinoise potatoes, and spinach was excellent. I could have eaten a bowl of it. No hot spices to spoil it as some chefs are want to add to all sorts of dishes for the unsuspecting diner. The Pino Grigio Blush wine was also excellent.

Guess what I have been doing today?

After a late start due to lying awake in the early hours mentally writing a fairy story, I got out the graph paper and planned where to plant the bulbs. Don't you just love playing around with graph paper pencil and a ruler? Measuring out all those squares against what you have to put in them? No, I don't just toss them in the air and see where they fall. It is all in the planning.

'Job Done' as they say.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Amazon - Online or Brick and Mortar stores? Print or Digital?

Print book sales on the increase? Has the eBook bubble burst? 

It appears that Amazon are picking up on the trend for the surge in bookstore sales. Publishers Weekly reported this week that Amazon are to open two more brick and mortar stores in 2018.

It is good news that people are falling love again with print books. I too love to see 'proper' books on a bookshelf. But I have always maintained that there is a place for both print and eBooks.  Without regurgitating an old analysis on the benefits of both too much, I will pick out a few points of a guest article that I wrote some years ago, 'In Defence and Celebration of eBooks':

"I want to look at some of the pros and cons of each.
Paper books.
Now, don't get me wrong, I like a book in my hand as much as anyone; the suspense as you hurry through the pages, turn the page, and stay gripped while you chew on a sweet, take a slurp - sorry, sip - of wine, bite your nails etc., is not to be underestimated. The joy of running your finger along the spines of a row of books on the bookshelf, pausing to select one, pull it out, and browse, cannot be described fully.

But wait! You want to read your current book on the train or plane. The book you are in the middle of is quite bulky, you struggle to fit in in your bag or case, horror of horrors, your case is overweight and you have to leave it behind. Even if you do manage to fit the book in to your bag or case, while you sit in your confined space on the aeroplane there is little room to spread out while you turn the pages. The passenger in the next seat turns the page of his/her newspaper and knocks your drink over - all down the page you are reading. Disaster!"
Enter the e-reader . . . 

"It is the reading that is important. I cannot imagine what it would be like not to be able to read and interact with people as I absorb information and news. Or go off into my dream world as I escape daily cares and relax. . . .
Some people want some books in print and some stored on their reader. For different situations. But they want books. They want to read. Let's celebrate that!"

And it appears that Amazon have picked up on the fact that many readers want to wander into a bookstore, browse around, maybe have a cup of coffee and relax in a comfy chair while they make their choice. With booksellers floating around the store, they can check availability, order if not in stock .(Who has the space to stock a copy of the millions of books out there?)
With their own stores they are in a good position to stock the true best sellers.

The two new stores in Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas will bring their total to fifteen - from east to west.

If our titles are not in stock, you can browse on line in the 'Look Inside' feature that all our books have before ordering. 
  • A glossy hardback for a present, your bookshelf, or coffee table. 
  • A paperback as an alternative.
  • Kindle as well so that you do not miss a minute of the story when on the move. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Supporting our Community

Surgeries Under  Pressure.

We are all aware of the pressures in our health service. Here in our own little corner of North Wales, we have been struggling a little more than most. 
My OH and I became involved with a local support group, the Friends of Pen-y-Maes Health Centre, whose aim is to get the Health Centre back to the excellent service it used to be.
Not to go into detail, suffice to say that things came to a head over these last two weeks when, at a public meting in the local church (divine intervention?) there was overwhelming support for a public protest before an Executive Board meeting for the North Wales health service.
After letters, e-mails, and contact with the media by organisers, councillors, and patients, we may, just may, be moving forward.

The Wrexham Leader covered the planned protest.

As did the Daily Post Wales who always give good coverage for Welsh matters.

The Peaceful Protest.

It rained. Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) 'top brass' met with patients -in the rain - delaying the meeting in the process. They gave time and an ear to listen to concerns. We often say that there is a divide between North and South Wales, split as it is by a mountain range. And so it proved. Our combined voices, led by the courage of organiser Hayley, reached across the valleys of North Wales, over the mountains into the valleys of South Wales in this land of song, to Cardiff - the seat of the Welsh Assembly who are responsible for devolved health provision in Wales.

The media were out in force at the Catrin Finch Centre, Glyndwr University to cover the story.
BBC Wales Today also reported on the evening news. 

Local papers also carried the actual protest as well as online posts.
Online newspaper

But we had a result. We were listened to. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon. Let's hope so.

With the onset of winter, lives are at risk.

Rosalie x

Monday, 18 September 2017

Post Island Interludes Release - What Next?

Time to take stock on the home front.

Another hectic year today as my inner demons drove me to not only complete Island Interludes but bring it out in a glossy hardcover as well. In true madcap fashion, not only the latest release but the other three books in the Just Us Two Travel series along with fiction story ORANGES: A Journey. But first - 

On the Home Front.

Taking stock of the garden and increasing mobility/maintenance needs prompted us to embark on Garden Project Stage 1 - back garden. Down came the dilapidated shed and up went two smaller maintenance-free ones. The gardeners found where the badgers had dug under next door's fence and under our flags a while back. Horrifying.

Garden Project Stage 2 - replacing flower beds for pots. This involved visits to Garden centres and eventually a lovely visit to Coed-y-Dinas Charlies Garden Centre in Welshpool. They had exactly what we were looking for. Of course, I had to fill a trolley with plants.
More online trawls have highlighted where I could buy and 'everlasting' shrub for a tub that is sheltered from the rain.  Another garden centre where I can get some quarter miniature standards for patio pots. Another day out, with lunch of course, is on the cards.
After shifting around some pots in the back garden and digging up some plants in the front bed, I have now turned my thoughts to spring bulbs. (Still daffs. and tulips to dig up in the front but I think  some small ones around the standard Lavender would be nice - that is if it survives the haircut that my daughter gave it! Snowdrops? Jonquils? Small tulips? they would look good in the old stone boot. 

Moving into the world of Glossy Hardback Books.

It was an offer that I couldn't resist - a free upload promotion. I always remember a book event customer saying to me when I was a newbie at this game, 'I only buy hardback books'. How deflated did I feel?

Of course, re-formatting the cover and interior into a larger size book was not a problem. In updating the front and back matter for the new release, now that both series are complete, I decided that the new hardbacks also needed the same treatment. A sweep of the editing produced a few updates. 

The other four travel-based paperback books needed new files.
Then of course,in the interests of consistency this led to the eBooks. It was an opportunity to revert to colour photographs in the travel eBooks that we had lost in recent changes.

All this followed on from our 'holiday' field trip to the Canary Islands to bring the last chapters up to date. Oh! and a jaunt across France and Spain into Portugal on a family visit. With temperatures at forty-five degrees, we were less than happy that the air conditioning failed (and even a loss of power on cruise control on inclines), The upshot of all this is that we 'eventually' had the car replaced.

Now that Island Interludes is live to order/download at point of sale globally along with the new glossy hardbacks with illustrated back cover, I only have to concentrate on keeping up momentum. And battle with frustrating IT system updates with other organisations - not USA ones I hasten to add. How can two electronic upload systems for the same information in the same organisation  not talk to each other? Actually, it is not the system. A computer only does what it is told to do. That is the difference between the human brain and a computer - well it used to be.

All in all I have been spending money but not on dresses. I promise. Not yet, I need to lose a bit more weight first!

Watch this space for Garden Project Stage Three . . . and the battle of the bulge.

Rosalie xx

Friday, 8 September 2017

Island Interludes eBook Launch Offer. Ends Saturday 9th

Global Distribution.

  • EBook half price launch offers (until Saturday 9th 23:59.)  eBook is enhanced with the images in colour.
  • Live links to Apple iTunes,
  • iBookstore, 
  • B&N Nook, 
  • Google Play
  • Plus download to tablets, PC with apps etc. in Smashwords Store 
  • **Kindle launch is delayed until October. In the meantime you can download mobi for Kindle and other formats for most reading devices and PC at the Smashwords Store
Lose yourself in the story and enjoy as you escape to the sunshine lands with us.

What people have said already:

"I read the Canaries section which is described beautifully, accurately, and with your unmistakable personal passion! Success and Good health to you both!" David Berry Canary Island resident and traveller. 01.09.2017

“The author’s professional approach strikes through”. A.J.Portugal.  16.08.2017
“I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to relax reading this easy flowing narrative of our part of the world.” Joseph Abela.
Island Interludes is illustrated with five maps and twenty-five photographs.
Island Interludes has a wealth of historical and geographical information.


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Island Interludes.Now on Release in Print and eBook.

Introducing Sicily - where we left you in The Long Leg of Italy.

"An island of mystery, sunshine, and untold stories. An island dominated by a volcano that erupts when it is angry and the molten lava needs release into the sky as it forces its way from the bowels of the mountain. An island that stretches back into the mists of time, drawing you into its deep mysterious soul as it hugs its secrets of the past to itself. An island at the foot of Italy that floats in the Mediterranean Sea with the warm waters of the Tyrrhenian and Ionian Seas lapping at its northern and eastern shores.
In The Long Leg of Italy, we left our story as we arrived in Messina in Sicily on the ferry from Reggio de Calabria in southern Italy. As the coach rolled down the ramp, we couldn’t help reflectin
g on our first visit in 2005 when we had taken the train to Messina to check out the logistics of coming across on our Honda Gold Wing converted trike.

The romance and mystery of Sicily had always made a pull on my imagination. As we had had our wings clipped so to speak in 2004, the big question was, ‘Where do we go next?’ The story continues. . . ."

Share our diverse adventures and explorations into this ancient island,. Siracusa, Castel Mola high above the sea above romantic Taormina with its Greek Theatre . . .

What people have said already:

"I read the Canaries section which is described beautifully, accurately, and with your unmistakable personal passion! Success and Good health to you both!" David Berry Canary Island resident and traveller. 01.09.2017

“The author’s professional approach strikes through”. A.J.Portugal.  16.08.2017
Island Interludes is illustrated with five maps and twenty-five photographs.
Island Interludes has a wealth of historical and geographical information.

From the book back.

"With her usual self-depreciating, dry humour, the author recounts the adventures, the culture, sights, and sounds as ‘just us two’ bound through the islands with joy; ride up mountains on a scooter, a Boom Trike, and even on foot like a mountain goat as they escape to the sun in the ancient islands of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean."

Global Distribution.

Lose yourself in the story and enjoy as you escape to the sunshine lands with us.


Monday, 4 September 2017

Introducing Beautiful and Diverse Tenerife -

The beautiful and diverse island of Tenerife is the last of the islands that we are visiting in Island Interludes

An uplifting testimonial from a Canarian resident and traveller, "I read the Canaries section which is described beautifully, accurately, and with your unmistakable personal passion!" D.Berry. Gran Canaria.

Excerpt: "The only two that we have not visited are the smaller islands of La Palma and El Hierro which both lie to the west of the archipelago. Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is an isosceles triangular-shaped island with lush, green mountainous terrain in the north that gives way to the more barren coast and hot temperatures in the south.
Tenerife lies to the east of the islands of La Palma and El Hierro and north-east of the island of La Gomera a short ferry ride away which we explored in the last chapter.

Our first visit to Tenerife with close friends was a journey into the unknown. Hiring a car, we explored the island to the full and what a wonderful introduction to this stunningly, beautiful island."

Over the years we visited again and again - twelve times in all - as we escaped to the sunshine  from a cold and dreary British winter to re-charge our batteries. There is so much to tell you about our adventures as we left our sunbeds to explore the more hidden jewels away from the usual sun-seekers choices.

Masca Valley; Garachico; Taganana Valley; climbing a mountain like a mountain goat; to Mt. Teide on a scooter, carnival time  . . .

Launch offers on eBook site wide.
 PLUS-download ePub for tablets and  mobi for Kindle  in the Smashwords Store.-no coupon needed.



Friday, 1 September 2017

Four days to go. This week - Introducing La Gomera

Where is the small and mysterious island of La Gomera?

It lies sleepily in the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by other islands of the Islas Canarias. On a clear day, you can see the outline of the island from various vantage points on other islands. Can you see La Gomera to the south west of Tenerife?

If you are visiting the larger and better known island of Tenerife, an adventure by ferry from Los Cristianos  is a must.  We have visited twice. The second time, earlier in 2017 as we couldn't miss the opportunity and there is a fast ferry now - a trimaran - and "according to Lineas Fred Olsen the largest fast ferry in the world. Actually the size of three football fields."
Here is a short excerpt:

"The island of Tenerife receded as the boat ploughed through the water with white foam left in the wake of the ship. The rising sun shone down onto the water, a portent of a good day ahead. The peak of Mount Teide on Tenerife dominated the skyline. It was very windy at sea but as La Gomera came into view, the green hills rising above the coast came clear, as did the cluster of houses around the harbour below a sheer rock face.
The south of the island is very green. The winding mountain road took us through this lush and fertile land. Higher, we saw barren rock from lava flow, cacti, and ferns. We were now in the Parque National de Garajonay where, at one point, we stopped at a viewing platform. From here the fertile fields spread themselves out before us. La Laguna Grande in the centre of the island was misty. . . 

After an early start however, we were ready for lunch."

And what a treat was waiting for us at Las Rosas restaurant in the north of the island. A demonstration of the ancient art of communicating by whistling.On the way we had stopped at the small village of Hermigua in the Valle de Hermigua. The descent from the road is so steep there is a handrail [pipe] running down the wall of the convent. They don't need a gym there to keep fit! And of course the inevitable bananas...


Map courtesy