Saturday, 20 July 2019

Feeling Focussed - Updates to Websites.


Lying awake in the early hours this morning as dawn broke I began to plan some much neglected marketing work. The priority was the websites.




Aim
To consolidate both websites.

Objective

  • Keep a focus while maximizing visitor activity.
  • Make the whole updating activity more manageable.
  • Less duplication.
I decided to move the bookstore back to my author website discover-rosalie.com I had been advised that this should be on the publisher website and so, after a lot of work, I moved it and channelled  most of the links to that site.

I reflected that this was confusing and laborious for those who visited discover-rosalie first - and the majority of visits are to that site.   

I have also analysed where the sales are coming from - distributor-wise and consolidated that. We remain with Ingram for print and e-books with their extensive worldwide channels including Amazon which saves us a lot of work and heartache. The marketing and promotion that they provide is amazing. And they put on huge promotional discounts for my books.

For instance, today
Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun (Just Us Two Travel Book 4) 
 is on offer at knockdown prices: Kindle £2.39. Glossy Hardcover £2.39   and Paperback £2.51

For future reference, my bookstore offers PayPal - no account needed - to purchase author-signed copies. The perfect present. http://www.discover-rosalie.com/where-to-buy-.html
      

Friday, 7 June 2019

Road trip to Portugal via UK,France,and Spain .

After all the uncertainty of post Brexit travel requirements we made it!

9 hotels, 14 days, 2800 miles, temperatures rising to 35 degrees in Central Portugal.

Thanks to travel updates from gov.uk we set off armed with our new International Driving Permits,(IDP) travel insurance green card, Crit'air Vignette for France plus all the other paraphernalia needed. Whatever should happen at home we were prepared.
Well the best laid plans and all that ...

Our first stop in France was Alencon north of Le Mans. The GPS co-ordinates did not take us to our hotel. Instead, Google maps and sat nav could not map it. Eventually, using the time-served method of simply asking a local,  we found our Campanile hotel on the other side of the complex nestling and hidden between other low buildings. It was clean and comfortable but somewhat tired. By this time at 06:45 in the evening so were we - and fractious to say the least.

Our second stop was at Bordeaux Sud (south). Again the GPS coordinates were slightly out. Our hotel was clearly shown by the side of the main road but the directions took us to another ibis hotel shown on the other side of the roundabout. More Google maps and sat nav comparisons followed. Oh for the days when I simply looked on the computer and got directions from AA Route Finder and gave directions from the paper map while perched comfortably on the Queen seat behind my husband as we zoomed along on our Gold Wing motorbike - at one with the world. In  the event, our hotel appeared at the side of the road before the roundabout so all was well. Housed in an old monastery, a beautifully elegant building with many stone staircases, it was undergoing massive refurbishment. Facilities were limited but the food, wine and ambiance were excellent.

The rest of the journey through Spain was uneventful and we arrived at our hotel in Portugal - eventually. Taking a wrong turning at Salamanca and heading towards Ciudad Rodriguez and Moraleja through the most beautiful  mountain scenery and breathtaking views, all seemed set fair. Until sat nav turned the driver off the long straight road to go through an old village with tortuously narrow streets. The air in the car was somewhat hot; negotiation and a firm direction from yours truly set us back onto the road following an excellent signpost until . . . off we turned again across country roads through the fields. More discussion and negotiation. We eventually enjoyed a relaxing few days with family and animals while we stayed at a lovely hotel which was surprisingly very affordable.

Our journey back took us to La Rochelle for a few days. Here the fun and games really started. 

 


I have to say that the 'love' part of my rekindled love-hate relationship with the sat nav came to the fore. La Rochelle is a very old medieval city by the Atlantic Ocean north-west of Bordeaux. We knew that parking was limited and that a car park was only a few minutes walk away. I had the route through the one-way system, hoping to park up to unload before housing the car for a few days.

It was market day. The streets that wee were directed down were blocked off. Round and around we went until eventually we joined the queue for the underground car park in Place Verdun. It was fairly full. On the minus two floor after going down the tight spiral we eventually found a space. I had got out while Allen used the Park Assist function on the car but with a queue forming he shot off. Where was he? My bag was in the car! No phone. No communication. I had visions of  spending the night there. Ah! there he is. So all was well. All we had to do was take the car out each morning, pay and go back in. The ticket machine read our number plate to print the reg. no. on the ticket. The lift down was on the Place Verdun. After paying at the pay station we actually sailed through the barrier exit  as once again our number plate was recognised. Isn't technology wonderful. The fruit and veg stalls on Friday outside our Hotel de Paris gave way on Saturday to clothing and basketwork stalls with the street closed off once again.


La Rochelle is delightful. We found an Italian Restaurant where we ate on Saturday evening and Sunday lunchtime. The Cathedral of Saint Louis on the Place Verdun is beautiful. The organ music on Sunday morning soared higher and higher into the rafters before the start of Mass. On the Place de Verdun, it was just around the corner from our delightfully quirky hotel. With three floors and no lift we had arranged a ground floor room with a shower. We had a lovely surprise of a tiny, private terrace at the end of the inner courtyard. The high, surrounding walls gave welcome shade from the fierce heat. 

Apart from the atrocious road surfaces on the M20 in the UK and the traffic jam on the M25 west at Heathrow Airport with its five terminals, the rest of the journey was uneventful. And we lived to tell the tale.


Rosalie. 
Previous blogs write in detail about the journey through the countryside and effects and requirements  of travelling abroad post-Brexit..

Monday, 22 April 2019

About author Rosalie Marsh

Can Dreams Come True? - Opportunity. Access.



"The little girl sat at the table, carefully unwrapping the fruit she held in her hand."

"Not all oranges were wrapped in paper and she loved to choose one that was – they were special – so that she could read the labels and dream of faraway places.  This wrapper was made of flimsy white tissue paper. In the middle, there was a coloured circle with lots of foreign words around the inside but she could just make out the word ‘Valencia’. In the middle of the circle were funny pictures. ‘Mummy, where is Valencia?’ the little
girl asked the lady standing nearby."
‘It is in Spain, Charlotte, where the sun nearly always shines.'"(Oranges - A Journey.2013)

  • When bananas had arrived in the UK after the Second World War, I was fascinated to see on the map where they had grown and ripened in the hot sun. In later years I learned and saw that they also grew in the Islas Canarias and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The sight of huge, juicy, Jaffa oranges were more fodder for my dreams. Today we take for granted that foods from all over the world are readily available in the shops.
  • Learning about the explorer Marco Polo when I was about ten years of age and the richly coloured silks and the spices that he brought back from across the world transported me to distant lands. My teacher sharply brought my attention back to the lesson!
  • Later, one Christmas, I was given a pack of playing cards with pictures on the back of exotic faraway places. The picture of Istanbul caught my eye. I was transfixed and longed to travel there one day and see the sights and sounds of the bustling bazaars and ancient ornate buildings.
  • At school, an innovative and inspiring teacher taught me Spanish. She taught us about the country and customs, bringing examples of a matador hat, castanets and other Spanish souvenirs and examples into the lessons. 
I dreamed on. 

Then came the dreaded pivotal question about my future. I was just sixteen.
"What do you want to do when you leave school?" I was asked.
"I want to be a hairdresser and beautician and go on the big ships." 
Google images.
(That was after I was discouraged from becoming a nun - the convent education influence - as there was a dowry involved!)
However, girls were rarely educated beyond school age in those days. Not having the opportunity or access I dutifully got a job in an office - a bank - and followed the route of boy meets girl, a fulfilling marriage, full-time motherhood and a late career in sales management and adult learning. (I did have the opportunity, access and encouragement  to achieve this last one.) I was never bored but the dream of the big ships never left me. This dream became laid to rest over the years as subsequently the issue of motion sickness/vertigo in my travelling companion was the deciding factor. In spite of medication, short ferry journeys to Ireland, the Hovercraft across the English Channel, Isle of Wight from Portsmouth, Los Cristianos to La Gomera were all an ordeal. We satisfied ourselves in later years with overland travel and tours.

Can Dreams come true?

The time came when my husband pined for something -a little bike - to tinker with. The kit-car idea soon went out of the window when I realised that I would get wet if it rained. During a stay in Lourdes, France, in May 1998 he decided that he would like a little scooter and pulled me all over the town to admire the different models that were parked up, including Police bikes. I of course wanted to travel through the countries we had flown over in the last ten years or so, in our search for sun and exploration of other lands.
‘If we buy a scooter will you travel? Will you brave the ferry? Will you? Can we?’
The deal was done. The little scooter idea soon became a big scooter . . . a Honda Pan European touring motorbike . . . two months later a Honda Gold Wing. The ultimate touring machine. (Just Us Two: Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery 2009/2012). 
Ireland beckoned. Europe, as I pored over maps galore. And my dream of Andalucia in the far corners of Southern Spain. Our Andalucian Adventure.

Yes, dreams can come true. . . but sometimes you have to give them a helping hand!

Nerja and Ronda, Andalucia, Spain.

Nerja, Andalucia, Spain.

Add caption
Rosalie Marsh

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

The Wanderer Returns

Exploring Tenby in South West Wales.

Shocking as it it that I have been away from Rosalie's Chatter for two months, my only excuse is being laid low with a tiresome virus.

We spent our anniversary weekend at the end of March with a short visit to Tenby - an ancient medieval town on the far reaches of the south coast in West Wales.Setting off in brilliant sunshine, we travelled through Mid Wales via the new Newton By-Pass, Rhayader, Llandovery with the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains to our left in the distance,Llandeilo and down to Carmarthen and Tenby.  A glorious drive through a different part of diverse Wales.
Around Rhayader we stopped for lunch choosing a tasty toasted sandwich and thirst-quenching cider (me). 
It was interesting to hear that the hotel was hosting a gin party that evening. Indeed the drinks menu had more gins than I can remember - about seventeen or more. Phew! What a party beckoned.

Our hotel of choice was  built into the remains of the old medieval walls. This proved interesting on several fronts as, in spite of having a lift, there were little flights of steps here and there. e.g. leaving the lift there were two steps down to our beautiful, seafront, special room. The room next door had two steps up. Opposite our two steps was a short flight of stairs to other rooms. We managed two steps but no way could we have hauled suitcases up more steps. In any case, it was difficult for me in my hot pink peep toe stiletto shoes. Being a special weekend, we had packed dressy clothes for evening. The lift took us down a floor to the sea facing restaurant and its own special bar and terrace - with a short flight of steps into the restaurant area and back up again. We overcame these inconveniences but forewarned is usually forearmed and there was no indication on the web of these issues. Not conducive to high heels or limitations.

Believe it or not, this unagile lady - in her new comfy trainers - negotiated the path down to the glorious stretch of golden sands. Strolling along we meandered back via the harbour and the town, pausing for breath halfway.
Saturday morning dawned with a sea mist so after a short wander in the town exploring the old streets - and finding a chemist for throat lozenges and cold cure for hubby who had come down with the virus I have battled with - along the esplanade with its pastel coloured hotels and miles of inviting sand where dogs raced about, we relaxed in our spacious room with the celebration tray of Cava, nuts, raisins, biscuits and chocolates. After such a huge breakfast, a light lunch was enough.
On Sunday, after church, we wandered into another part of town. Turning into White Lion Street we turned off into Lower Frogg Street whee a lovely small round occasional table caught our eye. One of those rare times when we both have the same thought and decisions are instant!
We also worked out where we had ridden all those years ago on our Gold Wing motorbike with two other couples. (We were visiting the GWOCGB International Treffen held that year in Carmarthen.) The lead rider commented over the CB Radio that " There are a lot of people milling about". My husband, bringing up the rear responded,"Well,it is a pedestrianised area!"
Our journey home after checking out was to this small shop to purchase it after a little negotiating.



 
 Deciding to return home via the west coast heading to Cardigan and Aberystwyth before turning inland to Newtown my love-hate relationship with a sat nav returned. (In Chasing Rainbows I recounted how Garmin had taken us from Abbeville towards Brussels instead of following the Paris and signposts south.) This time, on a simple route from A to B on A roads with clear signposting it suddenly took us off the beaten track onto rough country roads with a sheer drop off the tarmac and  through a forest. Suffice to say that a hearing aid comes in handy when you can drop the battery to turn it off!! Silence is golden. You also can't beat a good paper map I say.
Just after Llanon, a little village between Aberaeron and Aberystwyth where the pub was closed, we found a pub that served good food, refreshing cider and some respite for a little weep. After all I was still fragile from the virus. Order was restored.


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Celebrating Just Us Two's Tenth Anniversary.


Ten years. What a lot has happened including some life-changing events. Not least having to give up motorbiking. This still grieves 'Ned' as his bike was part of him.

When we bought the Gold Wing we became 'born-again' bikers and I swopped well TV -groomed hair and high-heels for a crash helmet and biker boots. Quite a leap of faith for me. The incentive was to travel / tour abroad which was part of the deal.

So off we set - after planning, preparing, packing and loading the bike - across the Irish Sea to find my long-lost family. It was that profoundly emotional experience that was to become the start of Just Us Two and my travel writing.

After the devastation of illness some years ago we went forth with travel adventures by various means and these jaunts are told in various other books in the autobiographical Just Us Two Travel series. They are illustrated with many photos and detailed descriptions of routes and the incidents which always seem to accompany our adventures.

In 2011, I launched Christal Publishing with the publication of Chasing Rainbows --the sequel to Just Us Two - followed by the second edition of Just Us Two: Ned and Rosie's Gold Wing Discovery. We launched e-books in various formats in all books current and future. 

I have a few copies of the first edition of Just Us Two with the IBA Winner award seal. One of these can be yours for £7.50 including p+p. This offer is only available in the UK. http://www.discover-rosalie.com/my-books.html

Of course the second edition is always available worldwide as are all other books. 
Follow the 'Where to Buy' link at discover-rosalie.com or 

http://www.christalpublishing.com/where-to-buy-worldwide.html

Enjoy.
Rosalie.






Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Travelling Abroad in 2019 - Post Brexit.

 More specifically, travelling through Western Europe.


Plans to travel across France, Spain and into Portugal have hit a couple of 
roadblocks this year. At the time of writing we some concerns.



Would we need: 
  • Visas ?
  • International Driving Licences?
  • Would our European Health Insurance Cards be sufficient (EHIC) ?
  • Would we need more time on our Passports than at present?

One or our better decisions has been to subscribe to the gov.uk website for the latest travel advice and information.This is invaluable to us.


Visas. Thankfully, an agreement has been signed allowing three months travel as a tourist or on business. No Visa needed for our planned trip. The countries we are planning on visited are covered as being in the Schengen Area.

International Driving Licence. (IDL). Yes. The type and number depend on the country you are visiting and which convention they come under. For instance we will need one IDL for France and Spain and another IDL for Portugal.

Health Cards. (EHIC) It seems that we will be OK here but of course travel insurance is essential as well.

Passports. The usual time Frame after the trip is due to end is six months but we read of possibly needing fifteen months. Check. All OK.

Information and travel advice.
The gov.uk  website also gives up-to-date information and advice on any trouble areas.


With the ongoing demonstrations in France that  have not been confined to Paris it remains a worry. Current Information is that it is weekends that are most affected and to watch out for blockades on motorways and toll stations.

We are keeping a watch on developments with a view to changing travel mode plans and do a fly- drive to Lisbon but 
with journey planned and anticipated, all hotels booked, and special arrangements made many months ago this is not something that we want to do. Watch this space!




 Rosalie 
discover-rosalie.com
Images: 1.gov.uk; 2&3.Rosalie marsh; 4.google images.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Travelling Abroad in 2019. Tolls and Transponders

First time driving in Europe? Tolls in Europe (France, Spain, and Portugal).


Image result for tolls
If you are a seasoned traveller in Europe, you may not need the following but for a first-time traveller it is as well to be informed. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.

Not all roads abroad are toll roads, Many are toll free. However, the main artery through France and parts of Spain and Portugal have a barrier as you slip off the road that you are travelling on to join a major route. There is usually a bank of toll or paying stations that you have to go through and pay before the barrier lifts to allow you on your journey.
Usually, you take a ticket from the ticket machine on entering the road and pay at the exit. But not always.
From the large display of toll fees/class of vehicle you will need to decide which toll fee you need to pay.

Negotiating tolls.
Some tolls are manned, so there is little problem. But if you happen on an unmanned toll you might find that:

  1. You are in a right-hand drive vehicle. Unless you have a passenger who can deal with the payment or ticket you will have to get out of the vehicle. This will inevitably cause much honking of horns, black looks and fist-shaking from irate drivers behind you.
  2. You attempt to insert the credit card from inside the car (left-hand drive or passenger in a right-hand drive). It might get stuck. It happened to me once and all attempts to follow instructions only ended in the card being snatched by the machine. Frantic signals to the lady in the far toll booth followed. She strolled across, oblivious of the queue, took the card, strolled back to her booth to process the card and strolled back to give it to me. All the while my husband was getting stressed and the bother and keeping the heavily laden Gold Wing touring bike upright.
  3. You are on a motorbike and need to pull up close in order reach the ticket machine. Balancing and keeping the bike upright while avoiding diesel spills is an art. A passenger who can do the paying helps. I used to keep the credit card in the little zipped pocket of my jacket for ease.
  4. You decide to pay cash and miss the basket. Enough said.

Solution. You fit a transponder before you go.

What is a transponder? It is a little box that you fix onto the inside of the windscreen behind the driving mirror. It is full of your car and card details. Technology- good use of.

  • France - Liber-t box Categories 1,2,& 5.
  • Spain - Via-T box All categories
  • Via Verde Box Class 1

https://www.tolltickets.com/en/  

Image result for Via T BoxImage result for Liber t
We first learned about these when doing a fly/drive in Portugal a few years ago.







Image result for Via Verde box
 Collecting the hire car at the Europcar check-in desk in Lisbon Airport, we were asked how far we were travelling. 

'Castelo Branco' we told the agent.' 

Castelo Branco is in Central Portugal and we intended to use the motorway as far as here before turning of into the countryside and national and regional roads.

'There are no toll stations once you get there. It is all cameras. They pick up your number plate and you have to pay within a certain time or you will be fined.' 'You can have a transponder and have the fees charged to your credit card.'
This we did and were thankful as, once out of Lisbon area we never saw, a toll station and indeed, we did not see any cameras. The proof was in the pudding so to speak when lots of little figures appeared on our credit card.

Fast forward to 2016.

On previous tours through France, we had always wondered what the toll station with a big t sign was for. Evidently you needed a French bank account before you could use this facility. Now things had changed and the system had been expanded and non-french tourists could use the system. We also found that the numbers of toll stations with the sign  had increased massively. Slowing down as we approached the toll station, the camera clicked, the barrier lifted and we sailed through - all without stopping.
Our return visit to Central Portugal was by car, driving through France and Spain before turning west into Portugal - where we would not be using motorways. A Google search soon brought us to a company in the Netherlands called Toll Tickets. It was so easy. We ordered a Liber-t for France and a Via T Box for Spain.
What not to like.
In Spain it was also easy but the signs are different. They look something like a T shirt but may be a kind of motorway sign. Just do your homework and follow the signs. driving to Central Portugal over the Pyrenees, we found that the tolls stopped after Burgos in Spain. However, on our last visit, we returned further south via Madrid to Zaragoza as we were heading over the Pyrenees to Lourdes in France. On this route motorway tolls were more prevalent. 

But so easy and stressless!
Images courtesy Google images.

Rosalie
xx
discover-rosalie.com