Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Berwyn Montains in May. Just had to share . . .

"Let's go . .  to the Ceiriog Valley" I suggested as OH came home after a morning's chat with an old friend in 'the cafe'. After a long wait and a very cold few weeks, the sun was shining in a clear blue sky. It was a shame to waste the day. I had worked all morning gathering material for writing. It was time to relax.
Off we set after lunch with the top of the car down, sunglasses in place and a map clutched in my hand.
The Ceiriog Valley is so beautiful. I have long extolled the virtues of North Wales and how you travel far to match it. On a day like today it was easy to feel that you were abroad in the French Alps or Andorran Mountains in the Pyrenees. The angels had been busy with their paint box.

Taking the quick route along the Wrexham by-pass to Chirk, we turned towards the  railway station, before swinging left towards Selattyn and the road to Glyn Ceriog and  Llanarmon Dyfryn Clwyd or Llanarmon DC as it is known. This is the other side of the mountain from Llangollen. There is a road over the top here but quite bad. The road took us along the valley with the babbling River Ceiriog running alongside. Sheep grazed contentedly on the lush grass of the fields which covered the mountainside. Passing through Pontfadog, we reached  Glyn Ceriog  and later Llanarmon DC, ignoring all the delights and places to visit.  I suggested that we head towards  Llanrhaeadr ym Mochnant (B4500) and the waterfall.  The unmarked road from Llanarmon took us high over the Berwyn mountains and Mynydd Mawr , on roads which had a steep drop at one side as it fell away into a deep valley. Everywhere was peace and calm, beauty and ever changing scenery. At one point, I spotted a small cluster of trees on top of the mountain.
"They are very straight considering they are on the top," commented OH.
The road seemed to go on forever as it wended its way along the top of the mountain before dropping into the valley. This mountain road brought us out onto a junction we had not used before as - well - we had not been on this road before. Coming to Llanrhaeadr we soon recognised where we were and turned to the right for the waterfall. The road here gets very narrow. The last time we came here, we were on the Gold Wing motorbike I think. Having lived in the country, in the Dee Valley not far from the Ceiriog Valley, for many years we were used to this. However, some of our friends were very perturbed at the narrowness of the roads and lack of passing places.
Arriving now t the car park, we noticed that the charge was now £2.00. Pay and Display. Simple really. No machine; we simply paid at the ice cream counter and took a 'raffle/cloakroom' ticket to display. The first time we came here with the Gold Wingers, OH was the leader and said he would pay the 50pence charge for everyone to make it simpler. The  very young attendant had great difficulty in working out what ten times fifty pence was and was in a mild panic. I kid you not!

I digress. Back to the waterfall.

The border between England and Wales  here is very changeable. One minute you are in one county - and country -  and the next, in another. Llanrhaeadr is in Powys, Wales with a Shrewsbury,Shropshire, England postcode! In Welsh the waterfall is called Pistyll Rhaeadr. It truly is a sight to behold with the water, cascading from the high craggy rocks above, roaring into the river far below. Take a look at the photos in the links. We didn't take any today as we already have lots and you can't improve on perfection.
I wasn't really wearing the right shoes to trek down the steep slope to the bridge at the foot of the falls (nothing new there!), so we settled for an ice cream and cold drink in a shady spot on the terrace of the little cafe.The website does actually remind you that this is mountain country and to follow instructions posted for safety. This area is delightful and over the years in which we have visited here, it has developed into a lovely spot to relax on a trip out.
Returning to the car, after drinking in the peace of the roaring water finding escape from the mountains as we sat in the dappled shade, we headed back to the village. Having missed a few turnings, we found ourselves on the Llansillin road which I could see from the map had lots of turnings into the mountains back to Llanarmon DC. Rabbits continued to chance their lives as they crossed the road in front of the car. A brightly coloured pheasant with a bad leg, hopped across the road into the hedge. Everywhere, hedgerow flowers bloomed in a glorious display of white and yellow - sometimes with pink and blue ones peeking between them - and managed a wave in the still afternoon air.  A lone sheep, guarded the field from the hedgerow. At every turn we had a different scene. High above us to one side were towering tree-covered mountains with sheep grazing on lush grass. At the other side, they  [sheep] clung to the fields which dipped steeply down to the meandering river far below.
Avoiding the signs for Llanfyllin, we headed east and following the signs, we turned off the B4580 onto a more 'minor' road to reach Llansillin. Here we turned left and north west across country towards Glyn Ceriog and the B4500 to pick up the A483, ignoring the signs for Rhydycroeasau and Oswestry. The roads were very narrow with high, well-trimmed hedges. It was difficult to see far ahead. Fortunately, the roads were quiet. OH hadn't a clue where he was. I had the map. I was in charge and OH was happy to follow wherever the missed road signs took us. We had all the time in the world. As the poem says  "What is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" ( W.H. Davies)
The colours were fantastic with all shades of green being mixed in with that citrus yellow tinged with green which you see at this time of year. The trees were certainly showing off their new spring finery.
The heat was now going out of the sun. What a wonderful impromptu ride out in the glorious month of May.
 I just had to share . . .

Rosalie x x

Friday, 18 May 2012

The e-book marathon merry-go-round

On the merry-go-round of May we have been busy in our little corner of the world. Lots of concentration and following guidelines to the letter and -result! Two well-designed books in three different e-book formats-on top of prin.- have come out of the cooking pot.

A misty view across to French Alps
(Mont Blanc in the clouds)
from above Lake Annecy
Kindle is a great easy-to-use e-reader. Someone told me that their learners liked it  because 'it only did one thing.' Although Kindle is only in greyscale, where colour photos appear as black and white, I believe in keeping the photos in colour in the original files even though they are are converted to greyscale in the print version.

Why? Why keep images in colour when you can't see colour on Kindle? Well, if you download a Kindle app to iPad, desktop PC or lap/net book etc.you will have the benefit of viewing images in colour.

Adobe *pdf files are viewed best in Adobe Digital Editions. On your PC usually or another reader which has Adobe.And  that it is normally colour. And what a difference! Of course with *pdf all sections and footers are retained so the book looks like the print.

The Just Us Two books have some stunning photographs. The new cover is part of a photo taken on leaving Soldeau in Andorra.One of my favourite views and unforgettable for other reasons than the mountains looking so pretty. It is a different kettle of fish when you find yourself high in the clouds, lost and unable to see! Chasing Rainbows has a fantastic shot of a line of Gold Wings in the shadow of Spanish mountains.

E-Pub is another common format. One which is needed for iPad,Sony,Nook,Kobo.Diesel e-books, Blio for example. Colour again for images.  Converting for this format is another challenge so that the font flows  without leaving lots of gaps.Smashwords has taken the grief out of this with their explicit submission guidelines.

I was chuffed on Thursday to see that Just Us Two had passed all stringent quality checks with flying colours and has been approved  for inclusion in the Premium Catalogue and shipping to the major e-book stores above.

Just waiting now for Skills for Employability to be approved in the next couple of weeks for Smashwords Premium Catalogue and onwards to Apple etc. Like all the other titles, it is already published  in Adobe from e-retailers worldwide, Kindle, and other formats incl.ePub and mobi on Smashwords 

Meanwhile, I am just taking a breather from converting screens shots and tables to*png,*jpeg etc.and making sure that Mr Pilcrow doesn't miss anything!
Have a lovely weekend. Check out the previews at the bottom of the page.
Rosalie xx

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

An English Country Garden

After all the rain, we sneaked off today to make the most of the better weather. We have been members of the National Trust for many years - probably about 30 or so. Today found us heading into the Cheshire countryside to Tatton Park. A benefit of membership is that you usually get free entry to the house and gardens although there are sometimes charges for other attractions. Tatton Park is  managed and financed by the Cheshire East Council and the only sting ion the tail was a £5.00 parking fee, but that was a small price to pay really. Fortunately, OH had some money in his wallet!
The National Trust book says not to follow satellite navigation instructions, but once off the motorway to follow the signs . Of course OH left the Sat Nav switched on (I think he likes her voice)  which took us her way and we entered through a different gate from  our last visit. This took us right through the rolling parkland before seeing the house straight ahead. There is ample parking and we managed to get one of the 'special' ones.

After sitting outside in the sun with a cuppa from the Stableyard Restaurant and a quick look around the gift shop, we headed to the gardens. They are so beautiful with everything very well kept. The trees looked as if they had been there forever. The kitchen garden led us to an open vista of gravel walkways around the lawns.  The rhododendron's were coming into flower. Huge splashes of pink and red broke the varied green foliage of all manner of shrubs and trees.The different varieties flower at different times. Hostas were growing well, unfurling their wide variegated leaves. Blossom was on the trees. It was too early for roses in the Rose Garden but there is such a variety of plants and trees that the gardens are good at any time of the year. Reaching a welcome seat we enjoyed the views over the Cheshire countryside and the plains beyond. A group of  horse-riders slowly walked their mounts after their good gallop; a couple of little deer pranced about in the parkland ahead; squirrels darted up a tree playing a game of hide and seek with each other, or was it a race as to which one could climb the fastest?
After  a light lunch in the restaurant where I found a bottle of Dandelion and Burdock -the real McCoy but sadly not in a stone bottle of our childhood days - we headed for the Mansion. The entrance hall is enormous  with rooms leading off from each other. I could just see ladies a and gentlemen in their fine clothes meeting and greeting each other. The ladies with their wide skirts and the gentlemen warming themselves in front of the fires which surely must have roared away in the huge fireplaces at each side of the hall. OH was intrigued by the unusual tin bath in one of the bathrooms and was intent on explaining all the joints etc! Ever an engineer!
These great old houses are well worth preserving as a testimony to the art and craftsmanship which went into them as well as a peek into life in days gone by.
We had to end the day with the obligatory ice cream of course! The Tuck Shop had melt-in-the mouth Thornton's Chocolate ones. A toffee middle for him and a creamy white chocolate for me.
The Housekeeper's Store has all manner of local conserves, meats such as Venison  and wines such as Cowslip and Quince. We left them on the shelf and made our way back to the car park for a leisurely drive home. The hot sun sent me to sleep so OH drove home in peace.

Rosalie xx

PS. On our last day out to Ludlow we came back across the Welsh countryside and saw ahead of us a very old car. I managed a snap with the phone camera. It was going a fair lick I can tell you!
It is great isn't it?

Friday, 4 May 2012

Honing 'Skills For Employability'

Another busy two weeks in Rosie's garden of creativity. With the release of the new edition of Just Us Two:Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery due this week - in print and three e-book formats - I was kept pretty busy. It was onwards and upwards with Skills for Employability Part One: Pre-Employment.
It is not due for release until May 17th - again in print and three e-book formats -  but I have uploaded a sample to BookBuzzr. Not just any old sample though! They are flippable book pages. Just like a real book but on screen. A very ingenious way of sampling and one I have been using for some time. In fact ever since I put the first edition of Just Us Two into my pages there.

Scroll down to the bottom and feast your eyes. When you click onto full screen, lots more information comes up including the all important 'where to buy' with live links.

My other half is nearly ready to serve up our Friday omelette with onions, apple and cheese. Mmm. I can smell the onions. Veg and potatoes or chips fill the spaces on the plate. My nice new cheery ones from Next. White with a big splash of a red flower. I went the whole hog and bought dishes and small plates (red), new tumblers, mugs and a runner for the table. Nice and cheerful!

He is calling! Bye for now. Have a good weekend.
Rosalie xx