Friday, 27 December 2013

Post Christmas Chat

Hello readers!

I hope that you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas and that Santa brought you all your wishes. Did Santa have enough room in his sack for all the chrome which no doubt our Gold Wing biker friends would have wished for?
The tales of flooding and storms which we have seen on the TV are horrendous. Thankfully, in our little corner of North Wales we have been very lucky. OH went into town this morning (Wrexham) and almost got blown away as he turned the corner from High Street to Hope Street. He is now sitting quietly with a newspaper as he recovers.
Today is a catch-up day and I have been very good. Washing, flicking a duster around, watering the flowers, checking the cupboards for a shopping trip - food etc. not clothes. The 'Sales' frenzy doesn't float my boat so to speak and we have resisted all the offers which have poured into the Inbox.
I have a manuscript to format for Kindle but no rush. Time to take a breath. The thing about digital publishing is that it is instant. When you push the button that is that and hey-ho all goes live. Timing is all important.
We are still reflecting on the wonderful trips we had during our stay in Andalucia, southern Spain a few weeks ago. There are lots more things in the memory box of adventures. In Spain, especially Nerja (east of Malaga) they don't start Christmas decorations until early December.  Many of the decorations in the streets and on roundabouts are masses and masses of the rich red Poinsettia plant. Our hotel the Marinas De Nerja excelled itself this year with the construction of two 'trees' made up of many pots of Poinsettias, one at either side of the hotel entrance.


And then they put up a magnificent tree in the foyer. The chap who had the task of decorating it not only had to satisfy the management but he also had free advice from guests. 
'You have missed a bit here. There is a gap there,' and so on. The photo shows the huge wall of glass with wonderful views out to blue skies and the sea.


 You can read more about Our trips to Ronda, Cordoba, Nerja, Granada, and Malaga in my two previous posts. We also went again to the Lecrin Valley and Almunecar.

We were talking to someone yesterday about Spain and Portugal as earlier in the year, we went to Galicia, north-east Spain and the Duoro Valley in Portugal. I wrote a little about these in June. If you haven't read these, they will inspire you. On reflection, with the help of wonderful Saga Holidays  we packed a lot in but our motto is,
'We will do what we can while you can and then we are not saying "if only".' Life is for living!

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas season and a happy and prosperous New Year to you all.

Rosalie
xx 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Another Sojurn in Andalucia -Part Two. Ronda and Cordoba

Ronda

With four included trips during our stay in Nerja, Andalucia, (or Costa Del Sol) we hadn't anticipated wanting to take in any optional ones. However, Ronda called to us and it was a better alternative to hiring a car.
We actually first visited Ronda many, many years ago when staying further along the coast in Fuengirola. It was two bus rides and lots of winding roads up the mountains from the coast. Then we had a wonderful four days when we rode there on the Honda Gold Wing in 2001 as part of our Andalucian Adventure*
It was time to re-visit to see the gorge again. We were met by a local guide. This is normal practice in large towns of cultural interest. He was so enthusiastic and explained about the bullring before taking us around the side from where we could see over the plains - as well as a statue of a huge bull.
Walking around the side of the Parador to the distant strains of someone playing a Spanish Guitar, we all looked over the wall into the depths of the gorge below. 
Rounding the side of the Parador we came to the huge square in front of it - by the bridge. The guide was to take our party over the bridge into the old part of Ronda which goes back to Roman and Arabian times. I elected to stay behind as I wanted to wander at will and perhaps have coffee.

I found that the hotel in which we had spent our time in 2001 had changed its name. It is down a narrow street which leads from the square to the bullring. Coming back to the bridge, I noticed that the Hotel San Miguel across the road had terraces going downwards as they overlooked the gorge from the other side of the bridge. Taking the lift down, I settled down for coffee and to absorb the wonderful timeless view. Meeting my husband later, he was full of the tour and we elected to have lunch in this hotel - again on the terrace down below - and savour the atmosphere.





Cordoba

Cordoba was an extra trip which the Saga Reps organised. Being part of the 'real' Spain with so much history attached, we could not let this opportunity pass. Cordoba was occupied by the Moors in 711AD until reclaimed by the Spanish in the 13th Century. It is famous for its Mosque-Cathedral or Mexaquita as it is still known. It is actually now a Cathedral. It was too large to pull down so they built the cathedral inside.
On entering you are rendered speechless in awe at the wonderful design of arch after arch, one behind the other, going into the distance.


As we walked around we could hear the sound of an organ in the distance and a choir singing. Entering the main chapel we were fortunate to experience this at closer quarters.
Leaving the Mexaquita through the Orange Tree Courtyard, our guide - again a local guide - took us into the old Jewish quarter with its narrow streets and alleyways crammed full of shops of all description. All in all, the time there was not long enough. You need a few days and more to really explore but it was wonderful to get a flavour of this important city. After lunch in a typical tapas bar/restaurant (which had a wonderful display of richly embroidered and embellished matador outfits belonging to famous matadors) where we devoured a huge pizza each, we strolled back to our pick-up point by the side of the Rio Guadalquivir.
Stopping by the Roman Bridge we captured more photographs and reflected how the buildings in those early days have lasted all this time.
 
 
Needless to say, after an early start we slept on the journey back to Nerja!

* You can read more about Ronda and Spain in general in Just Us Two: Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery / Andalucian Adventure. Also follow the links above.

Rosalie xx
Just Us Two
Chasing Rainbows
ORANGES: A Journey



Friday, 13 December 2013

Another Sojurn in Andalucia. Part One. Nerja and Beyond.

I am a little shocked to see how long it is since my last post. But when you are enjoying Spain, and more importantly Andalucia, some things take second place to normal activities. 
Again basing ourselves in Nerja (Malaga) we settled in at the Marinas de Nerja Aparthotel on another all-inclusive deal with Saga, the over 50's holiday company. From our balcony,  with its wonderful picture postcard view framed by palm trees waving in the breeze, we had the benefit of the late afternoon sun and the most amazing sunsets.

Exploring Nerja once again was like coming home as we re-visited old haunts. This time we also went right into the centre of town to the wonderful Plaza Cantarero which is shaded by orange trees laden down with ripening oranges. The huge tree in the centre, sheltering the seats beneath its boughs, provided a welcome rest. The little Urban blue bus had once again brought us the short distance into town from where we strolled down the shady main street. From the tranquil plaza, as we rested in the early morning sunshine, we were soothed by a tinkling fountain which poured its water into a huge bowl. One of the main shopping streets, the Calle Pintada runs off this plaza right down to the Balcon de Europa. Strolling downhill from this direction we came across many shops which we hadn't seen when exploring from the other end. The good thing is that the shops are individual and not part of a chain - apart from the two supermarkets that is.

The houses which huddle together down the narrow streets have wonderful carved doors and wrought iron grilles over the windows. My husband explained that on of the guides had once said that the grilles were so that a young man could court his lady love - who was inside - without touching her and thus keep to tradition and convention.
From Calle Pintada many narrow streets cut across to Calle Arminta Fernandiz (which also leads up to the centre of town near the plaza); it was impossible not to take a peek and see what was around the inviting corners. Where they meet on their way to the Balcon de Europa there is a wonderful cafe tucked away in a corner. Venture through the door, make your way past the bar and enter the seating area where you can enjoy a wonderful sheltered view through the railings down to the beach (playa) as you sip a cold drink. Further on, a small archway leads to steps which wend their way down to the Playa Calahonda  far below. More about Nerja here.
Our included trips once again took us to the Lecrin Valley and Almunecar in glorious sunshine. 
Malaga and Granada were the other two included trips. Having been to both before we again looked forward to re-visiting.

Malaga.

It was a cold day in Malaga. Previously we had gone to see the Christmas Lights in the evening. Today, Malaga presented a different face. Firstly, we were taken down to the harbour to the ferry posts. The harbour was deepened some years ago to allow cruise ships to come in. Around the harbour were many cafes and shops - many were closed for the winter or simply not open so early in the morning (11 o'clock) but we found a nice kiosk near the steps and lift which served us with a warming drink. Many steps lead down to the harbour-side. There is a glass lift but we were
warned that it could be temperamental and that we used it at our peril. We took a chance as the many steps were hard for us both, and descended safely!
Back on the coach, we soon reached our dropping off point at the Cathedral. Malaga was in the last stages of preparing for the Christmas Lights switch-on before the bank holiday weekend in early December for Constitution Day and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. ( We saw these in 2008)
Our guide had helpfully given us all a map so that we could plot our own routes. By now it was nearing 'our' lunchtime. Unfortunately, the first cafe we went to were still serving breakfast and the kitchen didn't open until one o'clock - quarter to two. We rounded a corner and found a small cafe which served us  lovely pizza. So all was well.
Wrapped up in warm winter coats - you have to plan for all weathers even though there is a lot of sunshine in winter - we sauntered along the pedestrianised streets looking into shops as we went before finding a small park near the Cathedral to rest out of the wind as we waited for the coach pick-up time.
My husband was really pleased to see all the scooters parked up along the  surrounding streets. With all shapes and sizes, makes and models, he said it was better that the Bike Show in the UK!

Granada

This was our third visit to Granada. Again it was good to visit somewhere familiar. This time our guide and driver had a treat in store. Providing us with a map each our guide explained where we were to go and where all the major landmarks were. The coach wended its way along the main streets on a panoramic tour of the city. Not having seen this side of Granada before, we really appreciated this as we craned our necks to look at the fabulous building which reared into the sky. The different architecture was wonderful, as were the huge variety of wrought iron balconies and grilles which covered the windows. We were dropped off by the main park which was a short distance from the shopping centre and that wonderful store El Corte Ingles. As we had explored the city before on both previous occasions, including the market which spans many very old and narrow streets,
we rather boringly - to some - decided to stay put in this wonderful store and explore all there was on offer. Besides, I was on the lookout for a pair of soft Spanish leather gloves with a fur cuff, and a leather belt if possible. I also wanted a lace mat for my dining table at home. I found the gloves but not a belt of lace mat. 
In fact nowhere could I find a lace mat anywhere which is not really surprising as leather is the main industry.

I actually started this post whilst in Spain but didn't finish as other delights intervened. Not least a return to Ronda and an unexpected visit to Cordoba, both of which I will tell you about in Part Two of Another Sojurn in Andalucia.

(You can read more on Andalucia in ORANGES: A Journey.)

Rosalie xx



Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Talking the Talk now on pre-order for print and eBook! Plus other chatter.

Print. 

Or as some would say 'a proper book!'
The print/paperback format is live for pre-order on Amazon & Waterstones (UK) plus BookDepository who have all our titles on massive discounts, with free worldwide delivery.

eBook.

Smashwords recently announced a pre-order agreement through them with Apple, B&N Nook and Kobo. Well, I am thrilled to say that after a smooth upload and vetting by the excellent and helpful Smashwords team Talking the Talk went on pre-order in multiple formats with sampling direct from the Smashwords sites.
It was also very promptly shipped off to Apple iBookstore/iTunes, Barnes&Noble Nook where it is live for pre-order for delivery when released for sale on January 1st 2014. It should be showing in the Kobo store very soon as well. As Apple have their own very stringent criteria, I use that as my yardstick and feel a warm glow inside when I see not just one book but the full range on the Apple sites.

So what is it all about? I for one have experienced learners, who have to prepare for a short talk or presentation as part of the programme, getting all 'het up' as they pile on the pressure. Meetings can also be an ordeal where you have to do your sixty-second introduction, and then, some people are given promotion which throws them straight into the task of training staff without much idea of how to go about it in order to get their message across. In addition, I can relate to my own experiences in a variety of settings and I can assure you that the 3 Vital P's are important. As well as those seven important questions.

Talking the Talk covers all of of this and more, at different levels and depth to help you, the reader, to overcome nerves and deliver with confidence so that your talk/presentation is remembered for all the right reasons.

I have spent some time these last few days updating websites, author pages and preparing files for upload to distributors. Kindle wont be live or available until publication date.

Amazon.com Match Book

Just Us Two, Chasing Rainbows and ORANGES have been entered into the new Amazon promotion. If you have or are about to purchase a print copy of any of these for yourself or as a present, you can download the Kindle eBook for $0.99c ( yes 99cents) for yours to keep. This will run until the New Year. (Just Us Two and Chasing Rainbows have a new jacket for the eBook)

What is next on the Agenda? 
After this intense period with writing, editing, formatting, marketing etc., a short step back is on the horizon before I pick up The Long Leg of Italy again. This is almost ready for a good old edit and proof reading session but, not being of a technical nature, is a bit more relaxed. Well, to be truthful the content is just as detailed but formatting is simpler which makes it simpler for eBook preparation.  The background of my mind is mulling over jacket design. . . 

A bit of light relief.
Meetings.
We have enjoyed a full month with Gold Wing meetings both regional and national with lots to catch up on. It is always good to catch up with far flung friends in the Gold Wing family.

A husband-wife exchange.
Me. 'Do you like my hair?'
Him. 'It is always nice.'
Me. 'You are supposed to say that it is different.'
Him. 'It is always different.'
Me. Exasperated. 'I have had a little chop. And the colour.'
Him. 'Every time you sit at the dressing table the hairdressing scissors fly up!
Me. 'Well is it OK?'
Him. Grudgingly, 'Yes' with a teasing smile.

He has got a point though and it is some months since I visited my nice Italian hair artist as I have been holed up in chez nous. Nat is the only  one I will trust with my hair. Actually, I wanted to be a hairdresser and beautician and work on the big ships and travel. In those days, girls weren't always afforded more education after school days. So, over the years, surrounded by mirrors, I cut, coloured and permed my own, plus my family and friend's hair and got to travel on a motorbike and aeroplane.

There is a saying. 'How do you make God laugh?' 'Tell him your plans.'

Take Care.

Rosalie xx

Friday, 18 October 2013

In which nothing goes to plan.


Hello folks! 
It has been a funny old week. 
Last Sunday we headed off to Petrolheads Cafe on the coast road at Bagillt to meet up with Gold Wing biker friends. There was only one Gold Wing in the car park as others came by car. There was torrential rain in some parts of the country but we heard that in was beautiful in Abergele further along the coast. Is that why so many retire there?
Time flew by but we were fuelled by bacon butties (on toast) and copious amounts of tea. We resisted the Sunday roast.

Last week we ploughed on with final edits for Talking the Talk: Getting the Message Across which will be out on January 1st 2014.

The usual health and welfare appointments reared their heads and some plans had to be jiggled about accordingly.

This week we have all, or at least most of us, been riveted to a double diet of suspense with all the goings on in Coronation Street and Emmerdale. I think there is a battle on to see which one will win the awards for best of this and best of that. There are and have been some electrifying acting and amazing effects and no doubt more to come. Surely they didn't order all that rain for Emmerdale. They must have used a hose pipe or something. Since filming is a few weeks before screening it was a co-incidence that we actually did have torrential rain when it was screened. Now who could have ordered that?

We took a short ride to the Moreton  Garden Centre at Chirk the other day. Well the day was broken up anyway as I had swept all the leaves up in the morning, cleaned the bins and had an appointment in town in the afternoon, so we hopped off to Chirk across two valleys - the Dee and Ceiriog - in the lovely sunshine of a beautiful autumn morning.

We had some new marketing material delivered this week. Actually we had a replacement for the previous order where the firm hadn't printed the colour reverse. And what do you know? The replacement order was the same - blank back.  A phone call soon sorted it again but I had to take a photo of the offending item for the quality team. the firm shall be nameless but it is based abroad. Delivery was standard but only took two days via a courier. It took five days plus a weekend for a parcel to be delivered from the UK depot of a large store via a courier to my local store.  Now that makes you think.

I caught up with CostaWomen connections in Spain where I was told it was 'sun,sun,and more sun' and even 'wall to wall sun'. And all we had was rain,rain, and more rain.

I have spent some time this afternoon updating this blog and changing the template. I hope that you approve.
There has been a furore this week over a large UK bookseller having available on line, e-books which were 'explicit' and had slipped through the approval net. These came via a direct feed from the e-reader's downloading site. The said book store closed down its complete site while it did a purge with many innocents including us getting caught up in it all. The said book store has restored its website but not all the books as yet (including our paperbacks!). No doubt it will all sort out eventually. We are still available worldwide in both print and e-books in multiple formats  but not for the moment at ******* or ****.

Oh and before I forget, you can pre-order Talking the Talk - paperback - at Amazon Book Depository   Waterstones  to name a few. 

Last but not least. The e-books for Just Us Two and Chasing Rainbows have new jackets but where Amazon and Barnes and Noble merge them on the web page, they are showing the paperback cover.
Here they are.


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

The Power of Social Media via Goodreads.

Having just visited Goodreads and updated my profile, I am reflecting on how one site integrates with another. For example,  the signing in procedure can be via other sites.
Trawling through my books I came across this list of reviews for ORANGES: A Journey.

Oranges: A JourneyOranges: A Journey by Rosalie Marsh


Reviews on Amazon.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, 1 July 2013
By G. McHarg "look inside a book" (spain) -
This review is from: ORANGES: A Journey (Kindle Edition)
Read this book in one day on the beach. Fantastic story and even better as I had been everywhere that was mentioned


5.0 out of 5 stars lovely, 24 April 2013
By Haydn Jones -
This review is from: ORANGES: A Journey (Kindle Edition)
Look out for this author, she is a rising talent. Read her other book on two older folks traveling on a motorbike so she is one to watch.

5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading., 2 April 2013
By Jean Mead "Author" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
This review is from: ORANGES: A Journey (Kindle Edition)
Wonderful story that takes the reader to the heart of the place that Rosalie Marsh loves so much. Deserving of the five stars. Look forward to more fiction from this author.



View all my reviews



Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The saga of a personal cloud. A steep learning curve.

It all started with a cloud.   No, I am not sitting  'up there' on a cloud. What I mean is the new type of cloud where you can store all your files somewhere in cyberspace. Actually,  all I wanted was some extra storage for my expanding files. USB memory sticks are fine but they soon fill up, even with the larger ones.
An external drive was what I needed. One Sunday some months ago we sallied forth to look what was on offer. In one major store I was directed to a display with a lot of Cd's hanging from a hook. It turned out that all they had to offer was a 'cloud'. And a cloud tied to the organisation no less. NOT what I was after.
After some thought and Internet searches, we sallied forth again one fine day to another store in town. Yes, they had an external drive and this one had its own personal cloud. I was really taken with this idea. I could access my files from anywhere. Handy for the Net book if I was out and about. With a Back Up folder, a Personal Folder - both only accessible by yours truly - and a Public Folder for sharing this seemed to fit the bill.. Into the bag it went.
Installation was easy and another programme backed up my files automatically. Then I found when on holiday that my Net book needed the ports to be opened as I couldn't get into the files.
Back home, I followed all the instructions and gave myself a pat on the back. Recently, I have had a new Net book which, joy of joys, sorted out the ports itself. 
We did find it annoying that the desktop computer always had some activity. We found that the backing up software operated constantly unless the schedule was altered. Then a few weeks ago some of the drive icons went off radar so drag and drop this was was out of the question. An error code also appeared.
At this point I should mention that I am still running on XP which was the reason for the need for an external hard drive. Support is being withdrawn after next April. I need to back up the C Drive so that I can wipe and upgrade. I should also mention that I have a fine selection of memory sticks for different categories of files. I needed to back up the software programmes which I had downloaded over time and other files.
Well, I had some support from the manufacturer's support services who gave advice and guidance and some links for updates.  I updated the drivers as advised. Oops! Some were quite old. After repeatedly uninstalling and re-installing and only the Public Folder icon showing in Explorer, I eventually started to back up manually with drag and drop but I found this unsatisfactory for a major back-up as not all files appeared. 
After another uninstall and re-install I found that the back up was going into the Public folder!!
I found how to map the network drive to restore the lost drive icons. Now this is getting very technical. Time is better spent on writing.
Out it all came. I wiped the drives of all data and currently am deciding whether to have another go or to cut my losses and by something much simpler. A basic external drive. 
Do I need to be up on a cloud anyway? I think not. Just a fad, the latest toy!

After a huge computer maintenance today and cleaning the registry etc., I might try one more time. Just to back up the C Drive. The thing is, I could go to the computer shop to get OS upgraded and they would back up the hard drive but there is so much on that I don't want to leave the study.

Well, it is all part of the dolly mixture of life's learning process. Hey ho!

Rosalie x

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The end of summer and a pre-historic cape of gold

The Mold Cape.


Where we live in North Wales is not far from where an important discovery was made some years ago.
Lying with the remains of a pre-historic person was a cape of gold. It is dated 1900-1600BC which makes it about 4,000 years old.
It had to be re-built of course which was a very intricate job, using special tools to mark out the pattern for the missing bits.
Here in Wrexham we have been fortunate to have it on display in our very own museum. http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/heritage/events.cfm#temporary The website tells us that:

"The four thousand year old gold cape is probably the most famous prehistoric artefactual from Wales. Don't miss this golden opportunity to see this unique example of Bronze Age brilliance! In association with The British Museum and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales."

Wrexham Museum is housed in the original Court House. As we sat in the airy cafe, we read how it was built in the mid 1800's to house the Denbighshire Militia. There was a moat surrounding it to keep the locals at bay!
The cape goes back to the British Museum in a few days time.

Wasps, spiders, and dandelion clocks.

At least the recent rain has washed away much of the debris left by spiders on the window ledges. It is a losing battle trying to keep them clean although the spider's webs do look pretty when the sunlight catches them. With the amount of dandelion clocks blowing around, clinging to every surface and mingling with the spider's debris, we certainly know that the summer is at an end. And have you been plagued by wasps?
A friend rang to tell us where they had got their nifty wasp swatter from. It is like a small badminton racquet but has batteries in the handle. When you swot the wasp, it kills it with heat! The wasps were so bad a couple of weeks ago that our local The Golden Lion in Rossett had all manner of wasp cater containers on the window ledges. I wouldn't try our wasp swatter though - too much glass.

An evolving hair style.

Bit by bit I am re-shaping my hair. I have been unable to get to my usual 'creative director' for styling so out has come my special scissors. Surrounded by mirrors, I snip here and there with a geometric eye. Roll on when I can get into town.

A Grand Opening - the End of a Journey


A new state-of-the-art facility for business opened in Wrexham a couple of weeks ago. The Regent Offices and Business Centre on Regent Street opposite the railway station. The transformation from dilapidated Victorian property to a warm and welcoming centre for businesses with, as Joanna Kinch says 'a space to thrive'
The Mayor of Wrexham and Mayoress of Wrexham Cllr and Mrs Bithell, cut the ribbon and formally opened the venture watched by family, friends and those whose skill made it all possible - mainly local. With all mod cons and business integrated into existing features, this is truly a positive addition to the town and surrounding area. Take a look at the website and follow the journey on the Blog tab.




New jackets for Just Us Two

Kindle  at Amazon and ePub at Smashwords are sporting new jackets for both books in the Just Us Two series. Take a look at my Smashwords shelf where there are links for each title to retailers and video trailers to watch. Here are Just Us Two and Chasing Rainbows on Amazon.

Goodreads

I have spent some time today updating my Goodreads page to include all formats The great thing is that there is a huge list or worldwide stores where you can get your copy. You can add titles to your own shelf and leave ratings and reviews It would be great if you could do this - if you are on Goodreads


A blast from the past.

We had a phone call last night from a family member talking about someone whom OH had worked with as an apprentice Said friend rang tonight and they discovered that they were the only two left from the team who worked there when they did. Food for thought. Anyway long-lost friend will now be visiting so these two old-timers can put the world to rights.

Talking the Talk and The Long Leg of Italy.

Time marches on and Talking the Talk is now in first draft form. We are hoping to get it out at least as an e-book by the end of the year Italy will be Spring 2014 There is still some work to be done there.

Quite an eventful few weeks as we move into Autumn. It is head down for me until the end of October!

Rosalie x





Monday, 26 August 2013

Ramblings of Rosie.


A colourful annual event.

As I write this I am watching the fantastic spectacle of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo - always a 'not to be missed' programme as the massed bands of pipes and drums play rousing tunes, and dancers - not all Scottish - perform intricate dances. The displays of dancing and military bands come from around the world.

The ups and downs of using IT.

Computers sometimes have a mind of their own as I found out last week. All my writing input from last Wednesday went into thin air. The manuscript remained at the nineteenth of August. Luckily, the diagrams I had prepared in Power Point were OK and in the back-up file as well. I really don't understand it as there is an auto save on a regular basis and on exit. And it was backed up. I really am miffed! Well, hey-ho, it will have to be done again.
Computer maintenance was due and it feels much better for a clean-up, defrag etc. Currently I am installing some driver updates but I think a new system is on the cards. As I am often told even though I have had regular upgrades.


Birthday Boy.

Birthdays come but once a year and it doesn't seem two minutes since hubby had a big one. So this weekend, well this last week, has seen us enjoying a series of lunches with old friends. Nice to be able to be flexible enough to put work at one side. This weekend we went south to have a birthday dinner with family. We also met the newest addition to the family. Our step great-grandchild; a very tiny little girl but very alert and wide-eyed. She was passed around for a cuddle from everyone.
Dinner was at a Steakhouse overlooking the River Avon. Our hotel was comfortable but we did have to mention the lack of maintenance.
On the way down, the M5 was at a standstill near to the M4. Road works! On a Bank Holiday! And on the way back we were held up with traffic for the Steam Rally and then the Sunday Car Boot Sale. Both nearer to home. We made goodtime though and were able to enjoy Sunday Lunch at our favourite eaterie in Rossett.If you are visiting North Wales, you must try it.

A quiet Bank Holiday Monday.

Plans to carry on writing today went by the board and I did some marketing instead followed by more computer maintenance. (New Driver Update software which is taking its time I have to say.)
Pause - This Military Tattoo show in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle rally is something. The skill!

Opening of a new venture in Wrexham.  

Tomorrow sees the opening in Wrexham of The Regent Offices and Business Centre.
 "As well as five offices, the development features three meeting / conference rooms that can be hired for meetings, interviews, workshops, seminars, presentations and more.
The Regent is 'Space to Thrive'.http://theregentwrexham.wordpress.com/about/ "
Follow the development story here: http://theregentwrexham.wordpress.com  (Quote from LinkedIn)

Situated at No 67 Regent Street, it is right opposite the Railway Station and but a few minutes from the town centre with its shops, car parks and easy transport links. The transformation of No 67 into The  Regent was mastermined by Joanna Kinch who, once again, allowed her creative juices and imagination to bring a fresh look to the venture.

Back to books. An Interview with Smashwords.

USA digital distributor Smashwords have been instrumental in the success of our e-book worldwide distribution. Downloads  from the Apple iBookstore and Kobo have been encouraging - mainly for the Just Us Two travel books, but recent reports indicate that downloads to Barnes & Noble Nook  for both the Skills for Employability user-friendly workbooks have zoomed up.
My recent Smashwords interview is now live on the Smashwords site.
So a busy day today, not writing as planned but writing of another kind.

Re planned writing, it will resume towards the end of the week to progress 'Talking the Talk' with a couple of days uninterrupted creativity.

Rosalie x
PS. Handy having two computers!









Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Coming Up for Air.

So much to do and so little time to do it in. Is that what we all tell ourselves as we zoom around?
I have taken a little time out recently to take a back seat and reflect while I re-charge the old batteries.
It has been a wonderful summer and hopefully it is not over yet. What have you all been up to? Have you managed a break? I managed to catch up with various friends, enjoying lunch, afternoon tea (thank you Judith), a visit to the new M&S store not far away which is the largest in the UK and the second largest in the world - M&S store that is. I also indulged in a long overdue lengthy telephone chat. 
All of this was a welcome interlude after printing off the first draft of 'The Long Leg of Italy' which I am hoping will be ready early 2014.
Lake Garda - Italy
Brenta Dolomites - Italy

In the meantime, back in the cubby-hole which is my study, I have been planning and shaping up the next book in the Lifelong Learning Series. Called 'Talking the Talk:Getting the Message Across' it aims to take the fear out of speaking to a group of people. Many students have to give a short talk or presentation as part of their course and the Functional Skills part of it. 


Well these were called Key Skills and usually part of Apprenticeships ( Work-Based Learning or WBL) They have now been re-named Functional Skills and embedded into courses in school and college. In Wales they are called Essential Skills Wales and there is little difference to the old Key Skills. All in all, they are the essentials skills which we need to function in everyday life be it home, work or leisure. Everyone leaving school should be at Level Two. Many catch up through learning programmes (apprenticeships) in afterwards and even in later life.

You know, when I sat down to write this post I had no idea I was going to spout about all of the above. Lesson over but it is something close to my heart - to help and see people achieve to release and realise their full potential.

But back to the gist of what I was saying. I know from experience in WBL that many students quake at the thought of standing up and talking before a group. Many are terrified at the thoughts of having to give a presentation, especially one where they perceive that they have to use a Power Point presentation for their visual aids. Indeed many are under pressure to do so. They may not have computer facilities at home. They may not feel that they can produce the slides if they have and if they run out of time in school/college. What is wrong with using a product to get the point across anyway? Or a flip chart? Yes, I know that using ICT for the communication part of the programme covers two skills at one - well that is how I used to approach it anyway.
So, Talking the Talk will be aimed at this group as well as those more mature who find themselves in a situation where they have to speak to a group of colleagues or customers and need to 'get the message across'.
I knew I had some work on my computer which I had started to develop about fourteen or fifteen years ago and - I found it! Not in my CPD folder as I thought, but my Learning & Development folder. It was interesting reading what I had written all those years ago. It was just as if I had written it today. All I have to do is to make it less academic and make sure that I am relating to my varied audience. Talking the Talk will also cover the mundane but important details of planning the event be it short or long, formal or informal, as well as the script itself. I have a speaking engagement lined up at the end of September. What I am writing now is a good refresher for my own practice!

If you have any comments on your own hints, tips, and gremlins, feel free to comment below. 

Cover Draft 2
 Comments appreciated. It has to marry in with the others and the top colour not swamp the bottom.



Rosalie x

http://www.discover-rosalie.com

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Time to take a break, reflect, and look forward.

I have been a little quiet of late. Well! quiet for me! After our trip toe Galicia and northern Portugal it was time to turn my attention to things nearer home and reflect.
We are still very moved emotionally when we watch the video of Santiago de Compostela and our thoughts and prayers go to all those killed or injured in the recent train crash just outside this beautiful city. Also those from one area in Italy who were killed in that horrific coach accident. A whole section of a community wiped out.

Many of us are so busy that we don't always take time to pause and reflect and look where we are going. As you re-charge your batteries over the summer you may think about how your job fits in to your life. 

Are you getting to where you want to be? Are you nearer to achieving your goals? These can be very small ones or more long-term. It is important thought to have a focus. If only to make you get out of bed in the morning! Life is for living.
Young people finishing full-time education in the UK receive a Record of Achievement which contains certificates of achievements throughout their school life. When I first went into work-based learning, I was impressed by this. It didn't happen in my day!
But, stop and think for a minute. What comes next? Do they have a plan of where they are going next? Or, do they leave it to chance. Yes, they will have had information from the Careers Guidance people but do they have an over-arching plan of where they want to be in 1 years time? 3 years? 5 years even? 

Although many organisations do not actually require proof that an aspiring employee is taking control of their own learning and development, they would certainly be very impressed if presented with one which shows your determination to not only succeed yourself, but how their organisation could grow and benefit by having you on their team.

"It can seem a bit scary, especially if you are not working in an organisation, which sets a lot of store in developing its staff to improve and raise standards. You may be in an organisation, which does actually invest a lot of time and effort in its workforce; in which case you are very lucky.
On the other hand, you may not even be in work at the moment and think to yourself:
‘This book isn't for me but I do want to do something with my life!’, as you are about to put it back on the shelf or close your browser (if you are searching 0n-line).
STOP! Don’t go away! Read on! Because whatever situation you are in; whatever level you are at in life, I want to help you to go that little bit further and achieve a little more. In other words – make the best of yourself.
As with many things in life, it is not enough to declare that, you can do this or that. You have to have some proof or evidence that you can actually do something; that you have actually done what you claim to have done.
‘So how do I do that?’ I can hear you say.
Simple. You keep a record. It can be a very simple list on one sheet of A4 paper or it can be a more detailed record.
This is called a Continuing Professional Development record or CPD record.
What I am going to show you in the pages of this book is a little more than ‘professional development’. I am going to show you how things you do in your personal life are just as important in releasing your potential and developing your ‘whole person’." (Release Your Potential: Making Sense of Personal and Professional Development. Marsh 2011)

Finally.

Before we were born, all our attributes were there in that little cluster of unique cells which make us what we are, or could be. They have to be nurtured and developed just as a gardener nurtures and feeds his/her seeds, plants, rose bushes etc.  until they come into full bloom. A gardener trims away dead wood and choking weeds to allow the plants to grow, thrive and become the best that they can be. 

Some food for thought:

Winners and Losers.

A Winner looks up to where he is going.
  •   A Loser looks down on those who have not yet achieved the position he has.
A Winner says ‘I'm good but not as good as I ought to be.’
  •   A Loser says ‘Well, I am not as bad as a lot of other people.’
A Winner makes mistakes and says ‘I was wrong.’
  •   A Loser says ‘It wasn't my fault.’
A Winner knows what to fight for and what to  compromise on.
  •   A Loser compromises on what he/she should not and fights for what is not worth fighting for.
A Winner is responsible for more than his/her job.
  •  A Loser says ‘I only work here.’
A Winner works harder than a loser works and has more time.
  •  A loser is always ‘too busy’, thus staying a failure.
A Winner credits his / her good luck for winning, even though it was not luck.
  •  A Loser credits his/her bad luck for losing even though it was not luck.
A Winner says ‘There ought to be a better way of doing it.’
  •   A Loser says ‘Why change it? That’s the way it has always been done.’ (Anonymous)

Rosalie x
 Click here for to read a free sample of Release Your Potential: Making Sense of Personal and Professional Development

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Adventure in the Iberian Peninsula - Galicia and the Duoro Valley.


The Iberian Peninsula ( see map) is made up of Spain Portugal and Andorra. 

When  my OH opened the latest Saga the brochure last year and saw 'The Jewels of the Iberian Peninsula' - an easy paced escorted tour - on offer  he said,"We can't not book this!"



The Galician part of the tour was to cover places which we had planned to go to on the Gold Wing motorbike/trike some years ago when we were able to ride. We had planned to travel through France, across the Spanish border and along the northern coast of Spain through Asturia and the Picos de Europe into Galicia. A friend had enthused about a little place on the west coast called O Grove. Santiago de Compostela was also on our list. The route and all the hotels were planned but it was not to be. So this was a dream come true. Especially as the second part of the escorted tour was to Porto and the Duoro Valley - a place of which I had dreamed  for many years.
So we booked it, we went, and were enchanted.

Galicia, Spain.

Flying from Gatwick necessitated an overnight stop each way. The Best Western Moat House was an excellent choice with a secure parking package. Flying into Porto we had a longish drive to our destination of Hotel Galatea on the far west coast near Portonovo, Sanxenxo. (Pronounced San-shen-sho which gets over the difficult 'X')
Galicia is made up of many inlets and Rias - what we would call estuaries. The coastline is truly amazing and enchanting.
Driving past Vigo we learned about the mussel beds / platforms in the sea before crossing the Ria de Vigo. Stopping at a service station for a coffee, I was happy to find a map of the area. Another one to add to the collection on my travel shelf at home but a selection of which I had forgotten to pack!
There were many included excursions with well-placed optional ones which gave the opportunity for further exploration or a simple relax.

The Rias Baixas. O Grove and Isla La Toja; Combarro; Sanxenxo.
The tiny island of La Toja ( Toxa in Galician language.) is reached by crossing a bridge from O Grove. On your map, look for Pontevedra and follow the coast road to the left and north.  The tiny church in La Toxa is completely covered in pink seashells and other lovely colours. The little museum showed how the famous black soap with health-giving properties was made. Of course there was a shop!
Granaries in Combarro, Pontevedra, Spain.
Heading south we reached the tiny village of Combarro (near Pontevedra). We didn't go on the tour of the historic part as the road was so steep (for us) but contented ourselves with photos of the granary houses, built on stilts  so that the rats couldn't get to the grain, and a warming cup of coffee and brandy while the rain cleared up. We later stopped in the delightful village of fishing village Sanxenxo before taking the short ride back to our hotel for lunch.
La Coruna on the northern coast was a full day trip. Our guide showed us the ancient Tower of Hercules  lighthouse. Again, as the road up was long and steep we spent our time in the park below, enjoying our packed lunch and the birds vying for crumbs. After a panoramic drive around the coast and through the crystal city - so called due to all the balconies enclosed in glass which shines in the sun - passing the new huge marine which is being built, we rested in the the Piazza Maria Pita for some free time to explore. 
Facing us was the most beautiful, grand building with three domes which glistened red and gold in the sun. I think it was the city hall. We could have wandered into the old part but decided to just rest after exploring the narrow streets off the Piazza and enjoy the sunshine.
An unexpected discovery the following day was the little cove just down the road. We
had opted for a day to ourselves and wandered out of the hotel. After lunch, with the sun getting hotter and hotter, I grabbed the chance for some sunbathing. After all I had new swimwear!



Santiago de Compostela for my husband was the pinnacle of the tour. Meeting our dedicated Santiago guide Pedro, we toured around the old part, really just in the area around the cathedral. As I bobbed here and there taking film, my husband was attached with an 
invisible rope to the guide. I commented to one that "If he gets any closer, he will be on his shoulder". We were privileged to be able to attend the Pilgrims Mass. Also, we were fortunate enough to witness the famous thurible - The Botafumeiro - being swung.  In addition to many individual pilgrims arriving in the square footsore and weary, a large group of police had arrived en mass.  The top brass were seated at the front and there were bishops and possibly an archbishop present, so there was obviously a special occasion. It was wonderful to wander down the narrow streets afterwards, find a bar for lunch and savour the sights and sounds. Later we sat outside a bar and found inside a wine shop in the back room with labels of all kinds.

Transfer to Portugal. Baiona, Valenca and Ponte de Lima.

Baiona is on the coast of Spain. With a fort, harbour, and cafes it was a good stopping place. It was also the first stop which Christopher Columbus made on his return from the New World. There is a replica of his ship in the harbour. Shops open late (for us) in Spain. A good job as I would have bought that beautiful top which caught my eye!. The coastal drive took us over the border to  the walled town of Valenca where lunch in the sunshine under the trees awaited us - all included. We were delighted to see the little train trundling round. " That's for us afterwards" we agreed. The afternoon stop found us in Ponte de Lima where we settled at a cafe for a cool drink by the river. This is one of the few towns where they still have bull-running. Under a tree is a sculpture of a huge bull pawing the ground. We were now in the northern part of Portugal.

Porto and the Duoro Valley.

Our hotel in Portugal - Axis Vermar in Povoa de Varzim north of Porto (Oporto in English) - was as comfortable as the previous one in Spain. Again we enjoyed waiter service but only at lunch-time.  Sunday brought our scheduled half day trip to the city of Porto and a bodega. Our guide took around the town with much getting on and off the coach at various points to look at the sights. The cathedral is high up and we were glad of the coach ride up to it from where there is a panoramic view. 

Then it was on to the Graham's Bodega and tour of the cellars. Naturally there was a tasting - tawny and ruby - followed by a look around the shop.
The Duoro Valley was the realisation of another dream for me. 
This full day trip would take us through the mountains where the countryside changed as we headed east. Our first stop was the in Amarante in the mountains where there was an old church on the river, and a convent with cloisters; and of course, a cafe for the all important comfort stop. Then it was on to Peso da Regua on the Duoro river where we had an arranged lunch stop to consume our packed lunches in a cafe and time to look around if we wanted to. (We weren't always eating and drinking!). On the top of the mountain, dominating the valley, was a huge figure of the famous Sandeman man with his long black cloak and sombrero. I remember one of my aunties always bought Sandeman sherry at Christmas (from Spain).
Crossing the river, our driver took us deep into the valley with mountains rising on either side. These were mountains with a difference though. Not covered in the usual trees, these were covered with rows and rows of vines growing on terraces as they [vines]cascaded down the mountainsides.
Reaching the Sandeman bodega, we were greeted by a young lady dressed in the long dark student's cape and sombrero. After a tour of the bodega we had a tasting - this time of white port and ruby. From the terrace outside there were the most stupendous views across the valley and, I was told, the little village of Pinhao across the river. 

Our tour manager encouraged us to have a group photo; everyone put their cameras on the table so that she and the guide could take about twenty photos quickly.
We spent the last two days, quietly around the hotel and the area. Povoa de Varzim has a long sea front and an interesting old town. It was delightful to see the groups of school children having games on the beach. Each group(class) had a different colour hat for identification. 
With more items in our treasure chest of dreams being put into our memory box of adventures, we were ready for home.

Rosalie xx
(Copyright Rosalie Marsh 2013)




Monday, 27 May 2013

Taking advantage of the sunshine.

The Bank Holiday weekend was forecast to be changeable with some sun over the weekend before the chilly days returned. Indeed, as I write this, the wind and rain has returned. How glad we are that we abandoned plans to 'do jobs' on Saturday and escaped to the sunny mountains of North Wales.

With the A-Z map of Wales on my lap I plotted our course.
'Where do you want to go?' asked my hubby as he sat at my side, peaked cap protecting him from the glare of the fierce sunshine, the top of the car down and the engine revving ready for take-off.
'What about Llyn Brenig - going over the top of the Denbigh Moors?' Or, I soon changed tack, 'What about going over the mountains to Llandegla, across the A5, then through Cynwyd, Llandrillo and on to Bala Lake? We could then go through the mountains towards Welshpool. You know, the road we went on when the group of Gold Wing bikers from Germany came a few years ago?
'Okay. You are not going to sleep? You will be awake to tell me where to turn? 

You bet! Sat Nav was tucked away and I could happily stick pins into the map.
Heading out of Wrexham on the A541 towards Mold, we turned at Pontblyddyn on the Corwen Road. The sun cast its fingers of light and warmth over the valley as we rode higher and higher towards Llandegla and the Cyrn-y-Brain mountain. At Llandegla we headed straight-on (a left turn would take us to the Horseshoe Pass above Llangollen which would no doubt be busy with bikers at the Ponderosa Cafe).


Through the beautiful, isolated village of Bryneglwys, the Llansysilio Mountain rose on our left. Meeting the A494 Ruthin Road we soon came to the A5. A quick left and sharp right put us onto the B4401 - a yellow road -  where we headed towards Llandrillo and Llandderfel. I reminisced that the first time I came up here, it was winter. I was on my way to meet a new learner for a work-based learning qualification. I actually went too far before turning round and finding my destination on the edge of the mountain - an old converted farm! I really had no idea of where I was going as I drove through the forest.

We also remembered the last time we had been this way. We were on our way to a meeting in Betws-y-Coed. The heavy rains had caused floods; the Corwen A5 road was closed. We detoured onto this road but eventually, due to more detours, found ourselves on the edge of Bala with the lake washing over the bridge. It was scary seeing sheep trapped on lower ground and whole fields submerged.

Today though, the sun was shining with little cloud in the blue sky. At Pale we ignored the sign for Llandderfel and went straight on, taking the sharp right turn to the to the B4391
which brought us over the bridge of the Bala Lake overflow and start of the River Dee; that mighty river which wends its way through spectacular countryside, through Llangollen, negotiating many twists and turns before it releases into the sea beyond 
The water was calm today as we reached Lake Bala or Llyn Tegid in Welsh. In the car park, a school bus and trailer was waiting for adventurous pupils to return from their canoeing on the lake. We were also on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park at its southern part.
Strolling through the town - which was not really busy for the time of the year - had everyone embarked on a sun-seeking exercise? - we settled for a snack lunch at the White Lion Royal Hotel on the High Street.
Well, we thought it was a snack lunch but what a snack lunch! A melt in the mouth warm baguette held the most tender bacon you could imagine, enhanced with warm brie cheese. The usual side salad was accompanied by a HUGE portion of chips! I am sure that everything was locally produced and was fresh.

Replete, we made our way back to where the car was parked and plotted the next move.
Retracing our steps we headed back on the B4391 but kept straight on at Pen-y-bont-fawr for Oswestry and Welshpool rather than detour to Lake Vyrnwy. We soon found that we were riding on the side of a mountain (Berwyn Mountains) with a deep valley stretching as far as the eye could see.
It was a timeless scene. never changing apart from the seasons - but that of course means that it changes month-by-month, week-by-week, and even day-by day.
Through forests, villages and valleys, we came to Pen-y-bont-fawr where  I commented that, 'over the mountain on our left is Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and the waterfall'.
'Well. we are not going there today,' was the reply.
It is a very narrow road once leaving the village you see. At Llanrhaeadr, we took the sign for Oswestry which brought us onto an unfamiliar road (we know Oswestry very well) and eventually to the main A5 and home.

The contrasts from a few weeks ago was amazing. Most of the trees had their new Spring clothes on; the hedgerows were full of wild flowers; the lush, green fields were home to grazing sheep and little lambs, the valleys were bathed in sunshine and shadows. Above all, the birds were tweeting and twittering as, in the late Spring sunshine, they sang their hearts out in joy .

A timeless scene and one not to be missed at anytime.
But one really best experienced on a motorbike - a Gold Wing for preference and comfort!
Rosalie
xx

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A little chatter after some silence.

They say that silence is golden. I agree with that but we all need to have a little conversation from time to time.

This month has flown past and I am horrified to see how long it is since I last posted some thoughts on this and that.

Marketing ORANGES: A Journey has been a journey in itself. Books4Spain are now listing it, paperback only for now but the e-book will be listed there once the Amazon promotion ends. The promotion period will go out with another FREE download day on June 3rd. 
We thought that we would try the KDP Select programme for the initial 90 days as you get five free promotion days. In truth, after the first month I was getting very frustrated at not being able to have the other e-book formats anywhere at all.
So watch out for June 6th when the PDF and ePub will roll out. 

ORANGES has had some favourable reviews in the Amazon UK store and informal feedback and is currently No 34 in France in its Spain and Portugal category where this contemporary fiction novel is set.

Having got all that sorted, The Long Leg of Italy reared its head and came knocking on my door, pleading to be let out of the corner where it had been stored for a while.

The north and south of Italy are quite recent adventures, being escorted tours, but Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sorrento which cover the middle of the 'leg' are our earlier adventures where we embarked on three and four centre trips for special anniversaries. The first one was after only going abroad twice and we were completely on our own between cities as transfers were not included.

Playing the video back which we were able to film on the second trip has been a very emotional time. Why? Well, realising just what we did, out there in the unknown when we weren't seasoned travellers. It was a wonderful experience. When OH said he wasn't having a party but a little trip instead, he did not quite know how I would interpret that.

Looking at the photo album now I am up to the point where we were going up to the top of the dome of St.Peter's Basilica. A plaque at the start reassures you that there is a lift up to the terrace (on the roof) but warns that there are 330 steps in the stairway. Actually you know, you don't go around the dome but in a zig-zag inside the double skin up one side. And come down the other side. After a time you have to huff and puff up the spiral stairway and hope that your heart holds out! And you do really have to experience Rome to appreciate just how BIG it is with the ancient, old, and new all merged together. 

We were ready for a rest in Sorrento after that. 

Until next time. Be good. Happy reading.

Rosalie xx
PS. Have you been to Italy? What did you like / not like about it? Feel free to post a comment.