Saturday, 12 August 2017

Launch Offers now live - Countdown 24 days to September 5th

This Week - Introducing Fuerteventura and the camels.

Clearly visible, as the plane circled its descent over the sea, was the outline of the island of Fuerteventura with its long sandy beaches and low mountains spread out below. What a perfect retreat from the hurly burly of daily life and the harshness of a British winter.
This current escape in November had been a last-minute decision. Having visited Fuerteventura before, it was one we knew we would not regret.

Caleta de Fuste.

Fuerteventura – one of the Canary Islands – lies south of Lanzarote off the west coast of Africa. Our destination was again the small resort of Caleta de Fuste on the east coast of the island. This is a modern resort built around an old fishing village that has a marvellous sandy beach in the curved bay.
With two lazy camels watching as they waited for passengers, we passed along the yellow sands and sun beds of the curved bay before reaching the old fort or ‘Castillo de la Caleta de Fuste’ and the Puerto Castillo Yacht Harbour in the old centre of the village. If you want to be a little more adventurous you can have a guided session playing with sea lions in the harbour or take part in other underwater activities on offer.
Continuing north around the headland, the scenery changes dramatically as the sea crashes over the rocks which form this part of the coast; here, if you are very quiet and still, you might see chipmunks as they scurry over the rocks stopping only to catch the peanuts which tourists feed them.

Now, I could tell you all about the Island Tour, the Aloe Vera Factory,and even our adventure into mountains on a Boom Trike . . . Oh, and goats . . .

Now live. . . Half Price Launch Offers until Sunday September 10th

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PS.(All titles will be back on Amazon Kindle in October when Amazon’s criteria for changing distributors to Ingram Spark from Kindle Direct Publishing has been fulfilled.)

Friday, 4 August 2017

32 days to Island Interludes. Introducing Malta.

Another day, another place, another island. 

"What is it that draws us to the islands with their varied history, cultures, and geographical interests? Is it because we are from an island race?"
Malta lies in the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea south of Sicily (which is where our story starts). A tiny island it is though, a brave island.
There are many places to explore on the island from craft centres, to ancient cities such as Mosta and Mdina, to bustling harbours to name a few. Valletta is the capital of Malta; it has seen many battles over the centuries. 

Fascinating Valletta.

A short excerpt: "‘We are now in Valletta.’
A horse-drawn carriage was patiently waiting by an archway for customers – a good way to get

A view of Valletta from across the harbour. It looks like it is on an island.around the city. Well, the horse was waiting patiently. The horse-drawn carriages are called ‘Karozzin’ which was the Maltese traditional mode of transport.
Our first impression of the city was how mellow and untouched the buildings looked. We learned that after the bombing and destruction during the Second World War where it was almost razed to the ground, it was rebuilt to look like its former self.
On the bus, we had turned in towards the sea, passing through Floriana before reaching Valletta. Valletta juts out from the coast with many creeks and bays on either side. It is a fortress city and ‘built on the rock of Mount Sciberras Peninsula, which rises steeply from two deep harbours; the Marsamxett Harbour and the Grand Harbour.’ A triple archway led to the busy streets of the city. Strolling through the Valletta City Gate a banner on an archway proclaimed:
VALLETTA. Belt ta’ Patrimonju Dinji
A World Heritage City.
Valletta Rehabilitation Project.
The Triton Fountain is found at the entrance of the city gate." 

St Julian's Bay.

A view through an archway of boats in Portomaso Marina, Malta.

Our base was a hotel at the tip of Spinola Bay overlooking St.Julian's Bay from where we watched all the comings and goings of life across to the busy resort of Sliema and further out to sea. . . . Around the corner was the smart and cosmopolitan Marina - a complete contrast to the rich history of Valletta.

Of course, no visit to Malta is complete without a tour around the Grand Harbour of Valletta and the Three Cities. . .

Author note. I have two Maltese friends who kindly checked over my chapter to verify and clarify facts. Thank you Marthese and Joseph for your time and input.Watch out for the postman next month.

Island Interludes is illustrated with twenty-six photographs and four maps.

Copyright Rosalie Marsh 2017. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Diverse Face of Spain.

Reflections on the Diversity of Spain. 

  • We have spent many happy hours exploring our beloved Andalucia. 
  • We have ridden down the coast to Nerja and Ronda on our motorbike before returning through the centre of Spain via Aranjuez, Zaragoza, and Pamplona to Donostia-San Sebastian.
  • We have toured that north westerly corner of Spain that is enchanting Galicia with its rugged coast interspersed with many inlets; the moving sight of all the pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela and the awe-inspiring Botafumeiro (Thurible) being swung up to the roof Cathedral, while a nun with the voice of a bird sings; La Coruna on the coast with its many glass-covered balconies on the buildings.

Until last year we had not, however, explored the interior of the more northern and central parts of Spain. With a family member settling in a remote part of Central Portugal, we found ourselves on a mission to take stuff that they needed. I mean tools etc that my husband no longer needed or could use - but they could as they set up their infrastructure on their land.

a car heading to a tunnel entrance in Spain.Travelling through France, we crossed the Pyrenees into the Basque country. Towering viaducts spanned the gorges and wound around the verdant mountains. I did wonder what the journey would have been like on a horse! This part of Spain is spectacular . Dropping down towards Burgos, we found ourselves in the middle of the city. My husband had simply input 'Burgos' into the satnav. We wanted a hotel in Rubena a few km outside. It was also rush hour . . .

Heading down to Salamanca and Valladolid in central Spain on the motorways we found that we were on the high plateau with only the tops of windmills for company. Dropping further down to Plasencia we noticed that the terrain and nature of the countryside was changing. It was more deserted, and even though on a motorway, service stations were few and far between; sometimes the sign pointed into the distance which mean a nearby village, somewhere.
Banks of yellow flowering broom on the motorways in Spain.At one of these we happened upon a small cafe/bar serving simple bar food. We devoured this to the chatter of locals at the bar. The restaurant (newly built?) was closed but no doubt it was open for coach parties. It was all delicious and clean. 

Around this area, many bushes
of flowering yellow broom brightened the centre reservations of the roads. Heading west towards the Portuguese border our route was shortened by the extension and improvements in local roads. With three overnight stops from the UK via France the journey was uneventful and very pleasant.

This year we did the journey again. The heat was in intolerable - 45 degrees in Portugal and not much less on the return journey. This year we returned across the centre of Spain via Madrid to stay overnight in the centre of Zaragoza.
Zaragoza is very old and, to me, has a romantic ring to it. For once, I did thank the satnav as we would never have found our hotel, especially not down the back streets that it directed us down. The reason for the change of return route was two-fold.

  • One - to see something of the areas that we had ridden by on our Honda Gold Wing motorbike all those years ago.
  • Two - to head over the Pyrenees to Lourdes which made Zaragoza a convenient stop.

In truth, we really ought to have factored in an extra night as the leg from the border of Portugal to Zaragoza in one day was really too much. Especially when the air-conditioning in our almost new car failed. It was a hot 1000 miles home in more ways than one. But that is another story. Suffice to say that July has been just a little fraught.


Monday, 31 July 2017

Flavours of Italy.

Leaving hilltop Altomonte in Calabria for the Straits of Messina and Sicily.

"Geographically, we were heading down the very top of the foot of Italy down to the toe. At Cosenza, we passed through many tunnels cut into the rock. These gave us glimpses of the green, lush, mainly pine, covered Sila Mountains which were on my left as we travelled south; lying on the bottom of the foot ‘between Rossano to the north and
The archways and cool greenery in the cloisters in Altomonte, Calabria, Italy.
Catanzaro to the south’.
The beauty, the sheer lushness of the land, and the fertility of the area that is now a National Park awed us. Opposite us on the coach was the stairwell for the back exit. This gave us a clear view through the wide window on the other side of the coach. I was therefore able to catch some of the wonderful views on both sides. To the right, we were now starting to hug the coastal motorway with clear views of the Tyrrhenian Sea as we headed towards the Straits of Messina."

Memories have come flooding back as I prepare an updated eBook manuscript. 

Rosalie Marsh

Saturday, 29 July 2017

38 days to go - Countdown to Island Interludes. Introducing Madeira

Where is Madeira?

Madeira is known as a floating garden in the Atlantic Ocean. Why? The subtropical climate is mild all the year round hardly varies. Madeira lies in the eastern part of the North Atlantic Ocean,off the coast of Africa.
I remember the first time that we visited, our Rep. warned us not to be fooled by the cloud which sometimes appears. 'It is an African sun and can still burn.'
alt = "38 days to Island Interludes release"

Scenes of Madeira.

There is much to tell you about Madeira which is a delight at any time of the year. Due to its climate and position in the warm Atlantic waters, vegetation is lush and flowers abound. In fact, one unforgettable scene in the capital Funchal is the famous colourful and bustling market where flower-sellers,'dressed in traditional costume of red skirt with colourful stripes from waist to hem,waistcoat,white blouse, and a pointed black hat,' display the most wonderful exotic flowers.' The abundant displays of fruit and enormous vegetables in wicker baskets, the masses of flowers, and the cries of stall holders shouting their wares all add to this unique atmosphere.'

alt = "The famous basket ride from Monte to Funchal"The capital of the island is Funchal. Lying on the south coast  at the base of mountains that rise up behind, it has a long history. Today, the harbour welcomes the many cruise ships which brig visitors to the island. The airport has been greatly extended since our first visit there many years ago. The runway is not so short now so you don't think that the pilot will crash into the mountainside as he lands!

On our first visit, we took advantage of the Island Tour. We always feel that this is worth it; worth the long day to see so much of the island and hear about the history and customs.We also had the Monte experience where we hurtled down the mountain to Funchal in a wicker basket.
The following two visits were at New Year when we were treated to the famous firework displays. 
One visit followed on from our visit to the Azores that I chatted about two weeks ago. But I won't spoil the story anymore . . .

Excerpts from Island Interludes - Madeira.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Computer Work versus a Sunshine Escape.

The sun shone. The computer pulled me back. The shone shone brighter.

I looked longingly out of the window. 
'I should be sitting in the sun,' I thought to myself, 'not beavering away on the computer.' The sunshine won. My husband appeared at the study door on his return from town.
'Do you fancy a ride out somewhere? It is a shame to waste the sunshine.'
Needing no further bidding he came back with, 'Let's go to the Bull in Llangefni.'
Off we set taking the quick road along the A55 to Anglesey. This Expressway cuts through some lovely parts of North Wales and bresting hill after hill the whole landscape is spread out before your eyes. We never tire of it.

Rosalie_Marsh photo_Llyn_Ogwen_SnowdoniaI teasingly commented when we neared Llangefni, 'You are having a change using road maps and not a Sat Nav. (We had only picked up a loan hire car the day before and had not had time to set up the Sat Nav.) In any case, we have ridden and driven on these roads many times over more years than we care to remember.
Lunch at the Bull Hotel in Llangefni was excellent as always. After this we took the scenic route back. Leaving the island, the 'humps' of the mountains of Snowdownia told us that we were near the mainland. Taking the A5 - the old main route from London to Holyhead - we passed Llyn Ogwen by the roadside between Bangor and Capel Curig. I think I dozed a little after this as soon we were approaching the Swallow Falls just outside Betws-y-Coed.
Rosalie_Marsh_at Betws-y-Coed_SnowdoniaOur destination was the picturesque railway station with its many craft shops, cafes and ice cream shops in the railway buildings.We enjoyed a Kellys of Cornwall ice cream but only a small one as someone pushed in and put OH off his stroke. A short while later we succumbed and had what we had originally wanted. A chocolate waffle cone with two scoops.  It was lovely sitting in the sunshine as we licked at our cones watching the world go by. It was very busy with tourists.
Soon it was time to head home. After the traumas of the last few weeks with the new car and bureaucratic forms for a Blue Badge renewal (which seems to change every time and staff singing from different hymn sheets) the sunshine and peace of Snowdonia restored our equilibrium.


Saturday, 22 July 2017

45 days to release - Countdown to Island Interludes. Introducing Cyprus

Where is Cyprus?

'The enchanting and mysterious [to me] island of Cyprus basks in the sunshine of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Lush and fertile it sits below Turkey, east of the Greek island of Crete and west of the countries of Syria and Israel. The north of the island belongs to Turkey and the south to Greece.'

'Basking quietly in the warmth of the Cyprus Sea, the island holds many secrets of its ancient and colourful past that, today, blends with its more modern surroundings as many tourists flock to discover its rich history and culture or simply to soak up the sun. Perhaps both.' (Excerpt from Island Interludes.)

Discovering Cyprus.

You might want to head west to Pafos (Greek spelling) and beyond. There are many smart hotels along this sunshine coast. Just outside Pafos are the remains of the House of Dionysus with its fantastic mosaics. It was built around the end of the second century AD. Further along the coast is the Rock of Aphrodite.

Lefkara,a sleepy village in the hills above Limassol, is famous for its silver filigree work and lace making. The men do the silver while the women concentrate on the lace. You will see them sitting outside their shops in the sunshine as they work at the piece resting
on a kind of cushion on their lap. I brought a lovely lace mat back one year. It is hard to tell which is the 'right' side and which is the 'wrong' side, such is the skill of the women.

The Troodos mountains to the north west offer another cooler experience to the hot sunshine of the south coast. Hiring a car is a good way to get around and why, on two of our visits, we were able to explore so much of the island. You get the chance to see more of the real Cyprus with its charming mountain villages such as Polis high above the north west coast . . ..

I won't tell you anymore now. It will spoil your own experience of an armchair traveller as you read about our exploits in Island Interludes.

Copyright Rosalie Marsh

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Countdown to Island Interludes-52 days. Introducing the Azores.

Where are the Azores?

The Portuguese islands of the Azores lie in the North Atlantic Ocean on a parallel line between Lisbon and New York, about one thousand three hundred kilometres west of mainland Portugal. They are volcanic islands and, lying in the path of the Gulf Stream, winters are generally mild. Of the nine islands that make up the archipelago, São Miguel to the east is the largest with the city of Ponta Delgada being the capital of the region. 
Sao Miguel.

On the map, they appear to be dark and mysterious, very small blobs in the vast expanse of the North Atlantic Ocean and seemingly inaccessible all those years ago.
In our thirst for adventure and new horizons we realized, from the holiday brochure that wasn’t ever far out of my reach, that it was possible to visit. Christmas of 1998 therefore, saw us in Ponta Delgada.

Swimming on Christmas Eve and more . . .

Christmas Eve dawned with yet another dramatic sunrise over the sea. In the distance, we could see a big boat moored off shore. Following our guide and boarding our coach, we headed for Santana on the north east of the island. She explained that here, the people have blue eyes and brown hair.
(Watching the video later, Allen explained that as the road meandered down we ended up looking backwards. The fields were divided by bamboo and had taken over the road.)
On the north coast, we went to the only tea plantation in Europe. Allen was fascinated and thrilled to look at the machines one of which came from Manchester which is only a few miles from where we grew up. In fact, the machine was made at the firm where his brother worked. Inside, we were given a demonstration of how the tea leaves were sorted. Outside, a cow grazed quietly. Was it for milk for the tea?

Pretty Furnas Valley. Sao Miguel. Azores.
Heading now to the Furnas Valley we all gathered round to watch men from a nearby hotel prepare our lunch. Huge vats of the typical dish of meat and vegetables (cabbage) were placed carefully in cooking holes in the ground where the heat of the earth and the steam would cook our meal for us. With the crater being near to the centre of the earth the water in the hole boiled away furiously, cooking the meal. The whole crater was covered in bubbling holes with explosions of steam. It was astounding.

Leaving our lunch to cook, our guide took us to the Botanical Gardens next door to the beautiful hotel where we would lunch. Being forewarned, I and others had packed a swimsuit. Along with a few other guests, after changing in the changing huts in the gardens, I swam in the therapeutic, naturally hot, outdoor pool that was set among all kinds of plants and trees. The huge circular pool was very old; unlike modern-day swimming pools it was built with brick with a huge spout dispensing the warm therapeutic water from its source into the pool. This surprising experience, added to the lovely warm day in this remote part of the island, lent an air of unreality to what was Christmas Eve."

Later... "A family of ducks followed us back to the coach which would take us along the lake back to the hotel for lunch before going to the hot springs. Perhaps the ducks wanted to share our meal."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ End of excerpt~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing excerpts from Island Interludes which is due for release on September 5th 2017. As with other books in the Just Us Two series it is illustrated with photographs.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Travelling to Portugal through France and Spain - a return visit with a difference.

Crossing the English Channel in glorious weather.

Our journey was smooth and arriving at the terminal, we were offered a choice of earlier bookings. Opting for the free one, we parked up until the call came. Swiftly loading, the train glided off to emerge again into the sunshine in France.

Toll Stations.

We had collected transponders for the French and Spanish tolls at the Folkestone services. [The transponder is a little box which holds your data; the cameras at the toll stations read your registration number and other data; charges appear on your credit card statement a few weeks later.] In France we were able to sail through the specially designated '30' lane without stopping - much to the astonishment of some of the French people it appeared.
At toll stations, as traffic slowed down, we saw magpies standing guard in the road only flying off to safety at the last minute. Then, as soon as the coast was clear, zooming back like kamikaze pilots to land back beside the tasty morsels that they were enjoying before being disturbed.
France have also introduced new emission regulations requiring a certificate to be displayed on your vehicle if going through certain cities

On the road.

The journey on the first day took us through Picardy and the Somme. The next day saw us travelling through Normandy. The countryside changed here and we enjoyed the best weather that we have ever had in this part of France at any time of the year. The land is undulating with high viaducts straddling deep, green valleys.Tall cypress trees and bands of closely planted dark green trees rose above the fertile fields. Passing by Camembert - think cheese - we saw a small squat church among the trees in the distance, its tall spire rising above them. There was some cloud that day before we reached Poitiers.

After Poitiers and heading south we crossed French/Spanish  border in the Pyrenees at Irun. The Basque country was as awe-inspiring as ever and, thankfully, did not have to travel through in torrential rain as we did last year. After an overnight in the very reasonable hotel in Rubena, Burgos, our journey took us south via Valladolid, Salamanca with windmills for company, and Plasencia where, turning west to cross the Portuguese border we arrived in central Portugal. 

The forty-five degree heat was unbelievable for June; unprecedented we were told by the Boa Vista hotel which thankfully had air conditioning. After a few days of family catch-ups on the farm – Quinta/infrastructure is work in progress – reached down a long dusty red  road we were ready to head off again. But not before we had visited the Barragem / lake, high in the mountains where the tables were turned. My son held my hand while I paddled at the edge as instructed.
It was a pity that the air conditioning in the ‘new’ car packed up. It made life a ‘bit difficult’ to say the least. Especially as there was a very long drive across the plateau of central Spain via Madrid to Zaragoza without its cooling presence.

From Zaragoza we crossed the Haut Pyrenees. Some of the landscape is similar to North Wales. You know that road round the mountain at Penmaenmawr where you have a sheer drop to the sea on one side? And the road down the A5 to Betws-y-Coed? We were on the other side of the Cirque du Gavarnie that is featured in Just Us Two.

But what a fantastic drive, over mountains.  Instead of taking the scenic D road near Eaux Bonnes to Argeles Gazost and Lourdes, the sat nav took us further down to the very minor D35 through sleepy picturesque mountain villages - it was siesta time.

Reaching our ibis hotel in Lourdes, guess what?  
“The air conditioning main unit has gone down.”
Refusing offers of a different hotel, accepting fans and gallons of free water we looked forward to a relaxing few days. In the still-baking heat we headed north towards Tours before setting off early the following morning for La Coquelles and the tunnel. Thankfully it cooled down a bit. 

Satellite Navigation.

After finally making friends with the new Sat Nav, the Eurotunnel directions (post code) took us to La Cite. 
‘Just follow  the junction number and signs,’ I sighed. Which we did. Surprisingly, there were no border checks at the French side – just gun toting soldiers patrolling. Soon they were on the train and headed to their hotel in Sevenoaks where we found a display advertising Christmas bookings. In June. Why can’t we enjoy summer first? 
All told we covered 3200 miles.  All we had to do was return the transponders and wait for the credit card bill for the tolls. Oh – and get the air conditioning fixed in the car; now that is another story.

Rosalie xx

Monday, 3 July 2017

Leaving full-time Education? Changing jobs?

The Importance of  Employability Skills.

You may have had an interview? Were you successful or are you still waiting for that all-important job offer? What do employers expect?

Either way, one aspect in any job is good customer service. 

Internal and External Customers.

Does the statement above surprise you? Just because you are not dealing with the general public in a face-to-face or telephone situation or selling something to them does not mean that the person to whom you are speaking or writing to is not a customer.

What is a customer? 

"A customer is someone for whom you do something, e.g., carry out a task, sell something to, or provide a service. These are the backbone of the business . . ." 
(Skills for Employability Part Two: Moving into Employment/Chapter Four. The Importance of Good Customer Service.)

Good communication skills are essential.

We will look at internal customers in this short post. A person from another department will probably ask you to do something for them such as find information, carry out some research, or even simply gather some records for them. These may not seem much to you but the 'customer' may have an important meeting or deadline on which further work depends.
The 'customer' may not be someone above you. It could be a junior assistant or operative.

" For an organisation to operate effectively, all parts must work together." The needs of the customer must be balanced by the needs of the organisation. Therefore you need  to have a mix of sound knowledge and skills. Any company worth its salt will be training you in important aspects of the company. Its products, people and clients.

  • You need telephone skills. 
  • You need e-mail writing skills. 
  • You need a basic level at least of Information Communication technology (ICT) skills.

Take every opportunity to learn.

Above all -  show a willingness to learn, to be adaptable, to be helpful and cheerful.


If you are waiting on the results of your exams then I wish you well. If you have been offered a job, well done. If you are still looking, then keep beavering away and take some voluntary work in the meantime. And add it to your CV. It speaks a lot about your attitude to work.

Take-away: Here is the link to another post from last year.The Importance of Good Customer Service.


Monday, 22 May 2017

It's that time of year again. . .

Leaving education? Going for an interview? Some points to consider.

"One morning, the eagerly awaited letter arrives on the doormat. You have been selected for an interview! Well Done! Full of excitement and anticipation you make a note in your diary and leave it at that. Right? Wrong! You have a lot of preparation to do before THE DAY."
Some point to consider when going for an interview.
Planning is essential.Who will be interviewing you? What questions will you be asked? What do you know about the organisation? What will you wear? Where will the interview be held? How will you get there?
Your letter inviting you for an interview should answer some of these questions but it is important to make a few notes. You need to know whom to ask for when you arrive. You need to be sure that you can get there in good time, so make sure that you plan your route and transport. Do you know which part of the building you should go to, who you must ask for, and what their position is? If you are driving there, do you know where the car park is and how far away from the building that you must go to.
"Check your letter and if needs be, ring up and ask for the department who sent out the letter and ask anything you are not sure about. If nothing else, it breaks the ice and gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself. You now become a person. Not just another name."
"You need to be sure that you can travel to work without any problems so it would be a good idea to do a dummy run beforehand if you can. If travelling by bus, check the bus timetables and any connections. If you live a distance from the organisation, they will want to be sure that you can get to work on time, especially if the job involves odd hours. It certainly would not do, in any case, to arrive late for the interview. It is much better to be self-sufficient and not rely on other people for getting to work.
Have you done some research about the organisation so that you can ask and answer questions?
"What kind of questions will you be asked? You will most certainly be asked why you want to work in the organisation, why you want the job or even what makes you think that you are suited for it. Have this information ready. You may be asked about the organisation, for instance; what they do. Have you researched on the Internet? Do you have some notes ready?" It is far better to have this information to hand when they ask the question.
First impressions count.
It is however not just an interview for the job, but for your future. A good rule is to dress for where you want to go to, what you want to be. Dress to impress is another maxim and very true as first impressions really do count.
Do you need a haircut?
Do this in good time to allow your hair to settle in afterwards. Make sure that you arrange your hair so that you can forget about it and not constantly fiddle with it. If it is long, don't constantly toss it back over your shoulders. Arrange it so that you don't have to do these annoying things and give the interviewer the impression that you would spend more time on your appearance than the job.
What will you wear?
Even if you are going for a manual job, a suit is never out of place. If you don’t have a suit and are unable to get one, a shirt and tie is an absolute must with a smart pair of trousers (male). You could then perhaps get away with a smart casual jacket. For the ladies, a suit is always suitable with a nice blouse—no low-cut tops please! No shirts or blouses with buttons straining and showing skin or underwear. Do your clothes need cleaning/washing/pressing? Get this organised in good time.
Do you need to take anything with you?
Have you got all your Certificates and/or Record of Achievements (School), or CPD Portfolio ready? Keep your certificates - the latest first - in a nice presentation folder or file.
Include your Curriculum Vitae (CV). The latest jobs/activities/ schools or colleges first. Do not include your date of birth and never your National Insurance Number. Your prospective employer can work out your age from your application form or CV. Your NI number is your identity and very personal. (If successful the payroll office will need it but it will be secure.)
If you have attended courses, have you kept a brief record of them together with what you did, what you learned from the course, and how you will use it? (This is called a Continuing Professional or Personal Development Portfolio (CPD). This not only shows your prospective employer that you have taken control of your own learning and development but that you will help the organisation to grow and develop and be an asset to it.
On the day of the interview.
Get up bright and early, have a good breakfast and with your head up, shoulders back, and a smile on your face, walk in to the interview with confidence. And come out with the job.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Background to Travel Writing.

Case History: The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just Us Two.

The travel-based books that I write are based on fact. Not so much a biography, they are more of a travelogue. But how do I make sure that what I write is authentic? How do I structure the ‘story’?

The Long Leg of Italy is a case in point. Unlike my first two books in the Just Us Two Travel series, which were quite straightforward in terms of chronological order, this one required some thought. 


I decided to start where our love affair with Italy began. This was many years ago when my husband and I ventured out independently to follow more of my dreams. He [said husband] had been adamant that he wasn’t having a party for our Silver Wedding but deemed that a ‘little trip’ would suffice. My imagination ran riot and, with the conviction that I wanted to go to Rome, I searched travel brochures on the quiet. With all aspects costed, I approached the subject warily stating that I wanted to go to Rome, and if there, well, Florence and Venice as well. After the shock had subsided – we had only been abroad twice and that as part of an organised group - and he had thought about it, it was all systems go.

Structure and research.

With all this in mind, when writing about Rome, Florence, Venice, and Sorrento, I delved into my elephantine and pictorial memory, searched out the pre-digital, copious photograph albums and, for reference to a later visit, the camcorder film that I had eagerly taken. 

I then began another journey; a very emotional journey as I retraced our steps, checked maps, checked Italian spellings on Google, and carried out Internet searches to verify details and gather expanded information. Of course, I saved all the web links for inclusion in a bibliography at the end – added value for the reader who wishes to explore more. 

The question that exercised my thoughts was: do I put both visits to the same  city into one topic area?; or do I simply 'tell it how it happened' in a chronological order. This last approach  was particularly relevant for Sorrento, which we first visited on our second tour of Italian cities. Not least because I had stated in Florence, when deciding to return five years hence,that we would reverse the trip, visiting Venice first, as after all the culture we would need a holiday. The difficulty was, how do I handle a subsequent second visit to Sorrento itself. I solved that by treating it as a second chapter.

I must share with you that in writing this huge part of The Long Leg of Italy, I was emotionally drained; the enormity of what we had not only undertaken and encountered as we travelled without guidance by train through the countryside between cities, but had also personally achieved, hit me; hard.

Many years later we again returned to tour this beautiful and diverse country. Although in the intervening years we had ridden into the north on our motorbike, this time we were safely with a travel company who would have all the information that we now liked to absorb and would be there if something went wrong. (Don’t forget that the middle-aged couple of the first visit are now considerably older!) We toured the south and Sicily before re-visiting the mountains and hidden lakes of the north a short while later. 

I decided to chat about this tour of the mountains and hidden lakes of Italy before the previous tour of the deep south. Why not keep it chronological? The answer lies in another book that was in the pipeline. As I was planning to write about the islands that we had visited over the years, it made sense to keep the Sicily part of this tour for that book; indeed, it was the perfect opening for Island Interludes.

Recording first-hand experiences.

On the tours, I took copious notes and recorded much information shared by the tour guide. Replaying the videos, especially our reverse second visit to Italy,, made me catch my breath when I realized what could have gone wrong - yet we simply decided that: ‘we can’. My study was awash with my collection of maps and guide books; my dog-eared Michelin guide came off the shelf to join the maps. I had also saved inconsequential things like the colourful entrance tickets to famous places, restaurant and café bills (some in lire, some in euros) postcards, leaflets about places visited, the tickets from the Vatican to the Papal Audience in Rome and seats in St Peter’s Square on Easter Sunday, plane tickets. All these I resurrected from the photograph albums and the travel shelf. 

In order to clarify the actual dates, I found the calendar on the Internet and worked out  days from the dates on the plane and train tickets (Rome Florence and Venice). I was also thankful that I had categorized and recorded dates and places in the physical photograph albums. The later digital photographs, of course, have the date saved within the file details.

Bringing it all to fruition,

After making sure that the structure was right; after re-living the day-to-day events (especially the disasters on our independent traveller trips) I felt ready to select photographs for inclusion in the manuscript. I thought that it would bring the story alive.

After reaching the end of the first draft, it was time for another pair of eyes, confirmation that I had not missed anything out, confirmation of geographical facts and the disasters that had befallen us on the way. Hint: don’t pack a full-face Venetian mask with an enormous quantity of tissue paper - especially white tissue paper -  or Customs will pull you over with the suspicion that the solid white mass is something else; at least not if you are carefully carrying it. I won’t say more or else I will spoil the story. 

Cover images and design.

For the jacket cover, I wanted to show some of the diversity of the country while at the same time including the national colours. I settled for a photograph of the mountains in the Brenta Dolomites in the north east; the timeless scene of emerging from under the Academia Bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice - where the  of the white Basilica of Santa Maria Della Salute standing majestically at the point where the Grand Canal and the Guidecca Canal meet - greets you; and finally, a complete contrast. The Trulli houses in Alberobello in Puglia in the deep south. A green coloured outline map of the country overlaid on these photographs ,together with the addition of red lettering for the title, completed the front cover.

For the new hardcover format which is due out in June, I decided to put a photo on the back as well and apply some transparency (fade) so that the book information could be clearly seen by the reader. (This formatting for the jacket back has been applied to all the new hardcover formats.) I used a photo of the Dome of St Peter in Rome and carried it over the spine. My husband commented, 'we were right at the top of that!'. Yes, we made it without having a heart attack; thankful now that we had done it all while we were younger and fit.

Final thoughts.

The process that I have outlined is and has been for my other travel books and travel-based fiction. The Long Leg of Italy,  in particular, was a roller-coaster ride.

The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just Us Two 


Monday, 1 May 2017

New Glossy Case Laminate Hardcovers for Travel Books,

After weeks of being up with the lark, many hours of industry, and much TLC from my husband - who kept the wheels of 'the bus' oiled - we were pleased to receive the hardcover proof copies of the current three travel books and travel-based ORANGES.

Island Interludes, the fourth in the Just Us Two Travel series is in production.

It is now time to showcase them. Two have a completely new cover while they are all enhanced with a full page photo on the back underneath some transparency.

I chatted about ORANGES: A Journey in my last post:Exciting Times, Challenges and Deadlines.
The glossy, case laminate, hardcover, along with the other current titles has now come back as a physical proof copy for review.  The glossy case laminate hardcover with acid free paper inside exudes quality. ( I will have them on display at the Learning at Lunchtime - Carnival of Words event on Wednesday May 3rd.)

The first three Just Us Two hardcover titles and ORANGES are due for release on June 6th. Island Interludes will be released in September. All are available for pre-order at your local bookstore or online. Details of ISBN's are on the website in Rosalie's Bookstore.

Can you guess where the photos on the back covers were taken?


Sunday, 9 April 2017

Exciting Times. Challenges and Deadlines.

New books coming out of the incubator.

Rosalie's Chatter has been muted for a few weeks. Why?

The decision in 'Chateau Christal' to bring out all the travel books and the travel-based fiction out in hardback formats caused a flurry of detailed planning, collaboration and decisions on formatting to a new size and jacket design, much updating of the 'technical' stuff before finally being ready to upload to the printer/distributor - Ingram Spark.

In general we thought the current covers would suffice but eventually decided to update ORANGES: A Journey and Chasing Rainbows:with Just Us Two.

Updating the paperback and eBooks.

It seemed a shame not to feed these new covers into the paperback books and therefore the ePub formats that Ingram Spark converted for us when we consolidated digital distribution with them  last year. (What started off so simple, snowballed.)
Especially, as brand new flyers, showcasing the hardback formats,were at the printers.These were needed to co-incide with the Wrexham Carnival of Words events in the town -  not least the promotion by Sue Miller of the Wrexham Carnival of Words Writers' Group in collaboration with Ged of Waterstones Wrexham  to support local writers. The Waterstones event runs for two weeks (April 22nd - May 6th). The week before and the week during the Carnival of Words. There is also another event at which I am taking part in the Wrexham Library on May 3rd.

ORANGES. has had a complete overhaul with a full page image both front and back. On the back is one of my favourite scenes in Nerja [Costa del Sol], the view through the archway at the side of the Balcon de Europa where the steps lead down to the sea. In the Plaza in winter a huge orange tree spills its ripened oranges over a wall. Perfect for the front.

An excerpt:
"In  her hand, she held a small orange, savouring the time when she would peel the skin away, and then, taking the juicy fruit piece by piece, pop the segments into her mouth and wait for the burst of juice to explode as her teeth bit into the flesh...
On this dark dismal day in cold England, Charlotte could only dream in wonder of a land that was warm enough to ripen an orange. Would she ever be able to see for herself? After all,[ in the 1960's even a journey to the next town was still an adventure. 
Charlotte dreamed of the day when she could see these lands of sunshine. As she dreamed, she became more and more excited as she thought of these far-away lands. In her excitement, she squeezed the orange tighter and tighter until it burst, spraying droplets of juice into the air.
Through the drops, glistening in the firelight like jewels as they rained down, she could see glimpses of sunshine, vague images of white buildings, narrow streets winding upwards, and an abundance of flowers and fruits.
Charlotte reached up. She caught some droplets of juice in her hands. Tucking the orange into her pocket, she settled on the rug by the warm fire, her imagination running riot as she caressed her orange. Charlotte was on a journey."
Charlotte' dreams take her into the future, to the Lisbon coast and her escapades in the hills above, before another dream sends her into the mountains and coast of Andalucia in southern Spain; in particular, Nerja, east of Malaga and more, where Charlotte and her friend Daisy get into more scrapes.

ORANGES is one of two Rosalie Marsh books selected to be part of the Wrexham Carnival of Words - Waterstones display. The other one is The Long Leg of Italy: Explore with Just US Two.