Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Coming Up for Air After a Busy Bank Holiday Weekend.

All good intentions of writing over the weekend went out of the window as we embarked on a relaxing and chilled-out few days.

Stats.

Ever one for analysing figures, I looked at the stats for the blog and the reach. Interesting to see that, although I am in the UK, the largest reach is Russia and USA. Of course, given relative size, a % of population would be a better indicator. It is interesting to see which OS's are used in general and the countries we reach globally. You can now have automatic updates straight to your Kindle if you enjoy my ramblings.  

European Elections.

Last Thursday saw the inhabitants of Chez Nous glued to the TV until the small hours as we waited for the election results. In our town we didn't have any local elections but we were interested at the trends across the rest of the country. By Sunday night/ Monday Morning it was clear that the trend had continued.

Gold Wing Bikers Meeting.

As you can imagine, the late hours took some time to recover from but it was business as usual on Sunday as we made our way out of Wales into the lush green countryside of Lancashire - our spiritual home. Actually it was motorway all the way; I read the Sunday paper which kept me quiet for an hour or so. It is always good to meet up with friends; afterwards we had a light lunch in the pub - the Hartwood Hall Hotel -  before leisurely heading back to Wales - only detouring to the town of our birth to visit family - for a pleasant Sunday dinner at the Egerton Arms, Broxton. We were pleased to be greeted by the new General Manager (Landlord) Wayne who had recently taken the reins, moving from The Golden Lion, Rossett, another of our favourite Woodward & Falconer traditional old coaching inns with a modern touch, excellent food menu and fine wines.
You may think that we spend all our time eating out. Well, not really but we do enjoy the ambiance and well, why not?

Bank Holiday Monday.

We spent this quietly in general but when I popped down to the local shop for supplies I indulged myself with a few pots of geraniums and a tray of Impatiens -Busy Lizzie - for the garden which is now recovering from the Badger invasion in March/April. By the way, in spite of all our other efforts we finally solved the problem by finding an old fence post near our wall, removing it, and, voila! Entrance foiled.

A little foray to the shops.

Looking ahead, my OH thought a day out would be good today. The Marks & Spencer chain of stores have built what I believe is said to be the largest store in the UK and the second largest in Europe. It is an Eco store and apart from all the Eco materials in the building, the ambiance and air is so clean-feeling. The range of goods is excellent and the colours quite exciting. We had a good day.

What of the rest of the week?

Back to work tomorrow. I am tossing around suggestions for the jacket cover for The
Long Leg of Italy which is coming out of the mothballs I wrapped it in last year.
It is the third in the Just Us Two Travel series and, as the title suggests, takes you through this diverse country from the mountains,lakes, and Venetian canals of the north; into the central part where you will feel the sights and sounds of Firenze, Roma, Sorrento, Amalfi coast; into the heat of the south where we stepped back in time as we explored the Adriatic towns and villages of Puglia, the mountains of Calabria and down to the toe of Italy. We then went across to Sicily but I will tell you all about that in Island Interludes - to follow.Watch out for more. 

Rosalie xx

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Looking back. Review, plan and do.

A time for thought.

The last few months have been quiet on the writing front - apart from twittering, blogging, posting on Facebook, and guesting on local radio - but here in my little corner of North Wales I have been doing what I call 'Taking Stock'.
As my print titles are now available in colour, I - ever one to embrace new solutions - got very excited and thought about combining the first two Just Us Two books and publishing as a hardback with all the extensive photographs printed in colour. Long-term though, I decided to leave things as they were were; the e-books are in full colour and a hardback in colour could be quite pricey.

Kindle Blogs.

Quite by chance I stumbled, via Amazon, on Kindle Blogs; not something I was aware of. and decided to investigate more. So Rosalie's Chatter is now available for you on Kindle or Kindle Apps with automatic updates. As with Kindle books you do have to download from the store in your country.
For other Amazon stores simply change the .com for the extension for your country e.g. .es for Spain and .fr for France.

Audio Books.

While I was on the Amazon support page I was also very interested to read about audio books. This is something which I have had at the back of my mind for some time, slowly gravitating to the real possibilities of producing our titles as audio books. I found the tutorial videos useful. A fellow holidaymaker, a Dutchman,in Nerja last year encouraged me to put our titles into audio. He said that he listened in the car. Others have also encouraged me. Doubts about my voice have been silenced with reassurances.
Now a little nearer to accomplishing this, the only stumbling block is the type of microphone. My small desk ones are not sufficient. Well, not as far as I know. It appears that it is perfectly possible to handle everything from your own home studio; also that in many cases the authors own voice is best. For the personal development books in particular, with the addition of either the e-book or print format, this would be the equivalent to a one-to-one training session, any where, any time.... at an unbelievable low cost considering the extent and depth of the content.

Help and advice.

If anyone reading this has any further suggestions about microphones or anything else that would help to bring this project to fruition please pass on your comments in the box below or e-mail me at rosaliemarsh@discover-rosalie.com

Rosalie xx

Friday, 16 May 2014

Aberystwyth re-visited after the storms of the winter.

An escape into the country.

With the sunshine peeping through the clouds and the promise of warmer weather, my husband suggested a day out - a break in our usual routine.
Out came the big book of maps and we gravitated towards the seaside.
"What about Aberystwyth?" he asked. It was one of our regular ride-outs when we had the Gold Wing motorbike and I eagerly agreed.

The University town of Aberystwyth lies in the county of Ceredigion on the west coast of Wales in a huge bay. There is a long, sweeping promenade. Actually, there are two promenades but the north promenade is the one that we always headed for. We were anxious to see if the damage inflicted by the fierce storms and raging sea on the seafront and hotels along the front had been repaired. It had.  

We live in north east Wales, so this journey would be a long one. It would also take us across country through lush, green countryside, through valleys and the Cambrian Mountain Range where the Snowdonia National Park lies. Heading south on the A483, we crossed the Dee and Ceiriog Valleys with the rivers tumbling amidst the trees far below the viaducts over which we travelled. We passed the old market town of Oswestry, onwards to the ancient town of Welshpool, before turning south-west towards Newtown to join the road to Aberystwyth. On previous visits, we had approached by a different route; a few wrong turnings now ensued and I was thankful for the street map in my little book of maps (we had decided that we didn't need the Sat Nav).

Lunch by the sea.

Eventually we picked up the signs on the one-way system and reached the promenade. Finding a parking slot on the sea-front we were pleasantly surprised to find that we could have four hours parking for free. Four hours? Unheard of where we live.
The smell of the sea was wonderful and we breathed in great gulps of the sea air, filling our lungs with pleasure. Although there was a slight sea mist we could at least see the sea. (You can't always.) Two hardy souls were bathing in it.
The storm damage to the wide promenade had been repaired, the hotels were freshly painted, the outdoor diner was doing a roaring trade, and best of all . . . motorbikes were still welcome on the wide promenade. After talk of banning them a few years ago, there was now a specially corralled area where they could be parked up in safety from April to September. I suggested that we take photos for our biker friends who liked to ride in from the West Midlands.

After a very satisfying lunch of Panini, stuffed with melted Brie and Cranberry,and a cool drink at PD's Diner we strolled along the promenade to the pier and the other promenade beyond. We saw a very old building; one which looked as if it had been there for centuries. The buildings were ornate and outside were two statues of scholars in their gowns. Our guess that this was the old University was later proved correct when we looked at our town plan. In the distance was a ruined castle. Along the Welsh coast are a number of castles, built from the twelfth century onwards to protect the country from invaders. One of our favourite ride-outs some years ago was to visit all those along the North Wales western coast - Gwrych, Penrhyn, Beaumaris on Anglesey, Caernarfon, Harlech - even the names evoke visions of troubled times long ago.

Mountains and Valleys.

Back at the car, I suggested that rather than head straight back eastwards we could head north along the estuary towards Machynlleth before turning westwards to skirt the other side of the Afon Dyfi (Dovey Estuary) through Aberdyfi and around the coast to Dolgellau at the head of Mawddach Estuary, so that we could savour the views of the mighty Cader Idris mountain. From there we could head straight towards Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) and home via delightful Llangollen which lies in the Dee Valley.

Travel in a car is not the same as on a motorbike and we found it tedious being stuck behind vehicles. On a bike we would have zoomed past. Changing our plans, after going through Aberdyfi where the railway hugged the coast and rivers flowed freely in the valley below, we turned onto a minor road, the B4405, to cut through the mountains at the bottom of the Cader Idris. The Tan-y-Llyn Narrow Gauge railway runs along this part from Tywyn to Abergynolwyn.

Waking up, I was informed that, while I was asleep, I had missed the most wonderful, beautiful valley. The fresh air had relaxed me and sent me to sleep. We came out onto the A487 near Corris, the scene of St. Arthur's Labyrinth and Craft Centre. Some years ago we had visited here and ventured onto boat to travel, hard hats on and a guide leading,through the caves with the spooky figures and haunting music lurking around dark bends in caves. Well worth a visit.

Tea in Bala.

Now, travelling along the length of Bala Lake we reached Bala town, it was time for a cup of tea which we found in a hotel on the main street. It was not far now to home; constantly I was awed by the wonderful countryside and the area in which we lived, especially the views across the Dee Valley from our perch on the high road [A5] below Froncysyllte. Moving to North Wales all those years ago certainly was a good move in more ways than one.

Rosalie xx







Friday, 2 May 2014

A Flavour of Gran Canaria. Canary Islands

A brief look at this idyllic island.

Although we have visited the Canary Islands many times - mostly to Tenerife but latterly to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura - we had never visited Gran Canaria. 

The island lies in the Gulf Stream off the west coast of Africa, south of Fuerteventura to the north-east and Tenerife to the north-west. It is rounder in shape than the others with all the valleys and rivers flowing out from the mountains high in the centre of the island. This makes for some dramatic scenery.
After looking at the description of our holiday experience and checking the layout on the Internet we eagerly anticipated our two-week relaxing stay at the Dunas Don Gregory - a beach hotel. This proved an excellent choice as it lay at the southern end of San Agustin with direct access to the long promenade which swept around the sandy bay onwards to the more built up Playa Del Ingles - so called as a famous English pirate was buried on the beach,( so we were told).


The weather was good to say the least. Strolling along to the northern end of San Agustin we came to a rocky coast where little crabs lay in the Spring sunshine. My husband, always keen to watch these, was busy snapping away.


As well as lazing in the sunshine and enjoying the all-inclusive hospitality of the hotel, we booked on a couple of trips so that we could see something of the island. Unfortunately, the excursion to the capital Las Palmas de Gran Canaria did not materialise but we did enjoy a full day tour to the interior of the island where we ventured high into the mountains.

Island Tour

Postcard by .EDICIONES A.M. A Murillo


Arucas and Rum Distillery

With an easy connection from San Agustin to the motorway we were soon heading north east towards Las Palmas. Skirting what looked to be a very busy city, we carried on along the north coast. Our first stop was  the Arucas Rum Distillery just outside Arucas (Arehucas). Faced with row upon row of barrels full of rum, we were amazed to see the ends of the barrels covered in signatures. Many were from famous people and dignitaries - even the King of Spain. After touring the various processes of bottling and packing we were led to the inevitable shop where a long counter was covered with bottles of all kinds of rum. I am not a rum drinker but did try the 12 year old one. Mmm. It was so smooth, so warming. Then we went on to banana rum and chocolate rum which I declined. Turning back for a sample of a normal rum, I was faced by a scrum of people with arms outstretched, reaching for the bottles which - by this time - had been left unattended for us to sample at will. The picture shows the process of rum making.

Soon we arrived in the old town of Arucas where we visited a very old church where silence was ruled to be golden. Afterwards, we found a coffee chop in one of the old buildings nearby. 

Teror

The mountains rose high as we traversed valleys along switchback roads. We could see Las Palmas in the distance from our viewpoints. Teror is a typical Canarian village with those fantastic ornate wooden balconies. Here I browsed in a gift shop which stretched rich back into the far reaches of the building while my husband waited outside in the fresh air.
The blog cover picture above is of Teror.

Valleseco

Climbing ever higher towards the clouds we came to our planned lunch stop in Valleseco. We had a choice of meals which our guide had related to us on the coach so that we could choose and she could ring ahead. There was some very good planning in our journey times as all day we found that our party was the first one at a stop so we were leaving as all the other coaches were arriving. Well Done Saga! Wine or other drinks were included with the meal and soon, replete and comfortable we headed further inland to the centre of the island.

Tejeda and Ayacata

The roads wound higher and higher providing an ever-changing scene. At some viewing points of nearly 1500 feet high you could clearly see Las Palmas. Heading south towards Ayacata, the Roque Nubio in the distance towered high into the sky. If it had been a clear day, our guide told us, we would have been able to see Mount Teide which dominates Tenerife. 

San Bartolome de Tirajana and the coast.

It was getting cooler now in the mountains as we made our last comfort stop. Then, our route took us south to San Bartolome as, gradually, we made a stunning descent down the mountains to the motorway,the coast and our hotel. What a stunning day we had had.

Puerto De Mogan

Our half day excursion to Puerto Mogan would follow the coast road westwards from San Agustin. This coast road ends at Puerto Mogan from where it turns north to follow the valleys and over the mountains to the west side of the island. Until recently the motorway ended at Puerto Rico further east but the new tunnels through the mountains has made travel much easier and was the route home.

However, early one morning, we boarded our coach to head towards Maspalomas from where we could see the sand dunes and the Faro de Maspalomas (Lighthouse). This coast road took us through the villages of Arguineguin, Puerto Rico with its busy harbour/port where, from our vantage point of the coach high on the road on the side of the mountain, we could see the many boats. Once in Puerto Mogan, looking back and upwards we could see how high on the side of the mountain we had been. Almost hanging off with a sheer drop to one side. It is a fascinating way to get a good glimpse of the coastline and geography of the area. 
Our guide gave us the option of heading off ourselves or following her to the harbour. Oh! What an enchanting place. There were many boats in the harbour and the bustle of market day did not detract from the tranquil scene. We were both entranced by the streets where walls and bridges across the streets were festooned with flowering shrubs of many colours as they rambled at will.

After enjoying a crepe (pancake) with ice cream at one of the many cafes we strolled through the market back to our collection point and a swift journey through the very long (2km) mountain tunnels on the motorway back to San Agustin for lunch. So if you think that the Canaries are all sun sea and sand - think again.

This is the last island which I will be including in Island Interludes planned for 2015 - until, that is, I stick a pin in a map after reading the frequent, enticing, Saga Holidays brochures which plop on the mat with alarming frequency, and say 'Let's go to .....

Rosalie xx 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

An amazing April for Just Us Two

Looking Back over the month.

Well, where do I start. At the beginning I suppose!
April started with a jaunt to the Canary Islands for a post 'special anniversary' holiday. More on that in another post but suffice to say that Gran Canaria is idyllic, interesting and an island of constantly changing scenery and experiences.

At this point, I need to check my planner to refresh my memory! Once home I finalised my preparations for a planned Business Communication workshop and we headed off to our home town where our niece had found lost cousins on my husbands side and she had organised a 'get to know you' afternoon with our generation and others. 

Then it was Easter.

On the threshold -1964 -Leigh,Lancs
March 30th 1964 -Wrexham
For church on Easter Sunday I wore the dress I had worn for our Golden Wedding Day - which was also Mothering Sunday - where we re-affirmed/renewed our wedding vows before enjoying a Mothering Sunday lunch at the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel and Spa, Rossett. (Now you all know my approximate age but I always say that I was a child bride!)


Waterstones Wrexham and the Best of Wrexham Book Club Launch.

April 23rd was World Book Night. I was invited by Susan Miller to be part of the Book Club Launch which Amanda Wynne-Evans and Susan were organising. Ged Armstrong, Manager of the Waterstones Wrexham branch, being keen to become more involved more in the community, opened his store for the evening. Refreshments were provided by the Holly Bush Inn, Cefn-y-Bedd. It was a wonderful evening. As usual, I was nervous about my 5 minutes speaking slot but a quiet chat with that wonderful artist Alan Jones, did the trick. Having written a book on public speaking (Talking the Talk) I hoped that I would listen to my own advice and not fall flat on my face so to speak,but we are all human. ( Photos by Amanda and Susan)
The rest of the week was relaxing as I enjoyed tea and chat with friends and family near Chester followed by the AGM of the Gold Wing Owner's Club of Great Britain on the Sunday. ( If you have or are thinking of buying this ultimate touring bike, then getting involved with the club is a great way to meet new people and swop technical details.
This was a long day as we travelled to Derby and back before having dinner at our favourite Sunday eaterie the Golden Lion at Rossett. where Allan Parrington and staff always have a warm and personal welcome.
Nothing is too much trouble for them if you need a slight change of menu.

Guest on Something Completely Different with Heather Noble on CalonFM.

Heather of Salt Solutions hosts a new radio show on our local radio where she chats about all sorts of topics. We chatted about travel, adventure, writing and publishing and developing ourselves through other activities. The chats are interspersed with popular songs. You can listen again until next Monday. Click the link. CalonFM is based in a small studio in Glyndwr University in Wrexham. The BBC have their new studio there as well from where they are able to broadcast much more.

More mundane technical things.

During my two events, I bit the bullet and, after doing lots of compatibility checks for my computer and Windows 7/8, took my CPU into my local computer specialists, Media Fields. Although I could have upgraded myself, I decided that they would be the best people to overcome any problems and I have always had reliable service from them. I was not disappointed. They not only upgraded but also did all the updates and returned my system with all software intact. I didn't even need to re-install my printer.  So this week I have been getting familiar with my new e-mail client, Outlook. 
A word of warning! Win 7 doesn't support OE. Windows Easy Transfer didn't specifically require a password when transferring 'My Documents'  from old computer to external drive, so I didn't give it one as I intended deleting afterwards. However on transferring back it did! Luckily I had critical documents on various USB sticks so I haven't lost too much apart from OE addresses and folders. I have given myself a pat on the back for working out how to get my addresses from WAB file into Outlook. I exported a previously saved WAB file to .csv and then imported into Outlook. I may have lost a few along the way but many are in my website e-mail folders.
And then we visited Waterstones to check out the Kindle Fire for OH. The club magazine has gone digital and printing out in black and white is not the same as vibrant colour.
In the UK we are at the start of a new tax year - so tax returns are on the menu before I return to editing and designing a book jacket for The Long Leg of Italy. So relaxing!

Before that I may sneak in loading and editing my camcorder film of Gran Canaria. Now that does sound a happy task! Watch out for the blog post.

Take Care,

Rosalie xx