Friday 23 September 2016

#SALE TODAY ...and Those summer suns are still a glowin'
This will be my last addition to my 'Summer Suns are a glowin' and how they affect our writing' theme since we just officially passed into autumn.

Today is a beautiful sunny morning in my part of Scotland (yes, for a change it is) and I'm delighted to complete my theme with a visit from Tim Taylor, a very supportive and lovely friend at Crooked Cat Publishing. 

I've really enjoyed reading Tim's Crooked Cat novels and can thoroughly recommend them. If you've not read them yet, grab them TODAY at the huge bargain of 99p each while the Crooked Cat SALE is on. 

Welcome again, Tim, it's great to have you visit again. Please tell us about your summer writing. 

Hello, Nancy, hope you had a good summer.  It’s a great pleasure to visit you again.
I believe you’re inviting visitors to discuss how the summer has affected their writing output. Well, for me, I think the answer has to be ‘mostly positively’, though it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster.

Summer is usually a good time for my writing, because it is the long academic vacation, so I’m not working (I do part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities). However, this summer started off badly when my mother had a fall in the middle of June and was in hospital for two weeks. She wasn’t badly hurt, but she lost a lot of confidence and needed a lot of assistance at first.
Anyway, the good news is that both she and the summer have got a lot better since then. After a period of wondering what to do next, I began a novel (as yet untitled) in the spring. Since then I’ve been making steady progress and have just passed the 40,000 word mark. It’s about a woman’s relationship with her father as he loses his memory. There are periods of his life – in particular his experience as a tail gunner in RAF bombers during World War II – that he has never talked about, but as his more recent memories are lost he begins to live through those events as if they were happening in the present.
Nancy says: Congratulations, Tim, on your WIP progress. It sounds very interesting and I can say that there were plenty of men who fought in World War 2 - like my father - who wouldn't talk of their experiences. 

So this novel is rather different from either of my first two, although it has some things in common with both. It shares with Zeus of Ithome the fact that it deals with real history, although the events that feature in the two books could hardly be further apart (Zeus tells the story of the struggle of the ancient Messenian people to free themselves from three centuries of slavery under the Spartans, in the 4th century BC).  I’ve enjoyed doing the research for it – you can see some of the results here:

And although the subject matter is very different from Revolution Day (which is about a fictional Latin American dictator whose vice-president is plotting to overthrow him) there is a definite structural similarity between the two – each has both male and female central characters, and combines a real-time narrative in the present day with more distant events recounted by one of the characters.

I received notice of the end of summer this week with the arrival of an e-mail containing my teaching allocation for the coming semester at Leeds, and a ‘back to work’ meeting at Huddersfield. The challenge now is going to be keeping momentum going through a busy autumn and getting the novel finished. Perhaps I might be able to visit you again in a few months’ time to let you know how I got on?

You'll be very welcome, anytime, Tim.

Your readers might like to note that both Zeus of Ithome and Revolution Day are available on Amazon for 99p/99c for today only, as part of the Crooked Cat autumn sale. More information about the novels is available via these links:

Zeus of Ithome

Revolution Day

Many thanks once again for inviting me round, Nancy, and best wishes for your own writing.

Other Links for finding Tim: 
Facebook author page 

Tim Taylor
Tim was born in 1960 in Stoke-on-Trent. He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford (and later Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London). After a couple of years playing in a rock band, he joined the Civil Service, eventually leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing.
Tim now lives in Yorkshire with his wife Rosa and divides his time between creative writing, academic research and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.
Tim’s first novel, Zeus of Ithome, a historical novel about the struggle of the ancient Messenians to free themselves from Sparta, was published by Crooked Cat in November 2013; his second, Revolution Day in June 2015.  Tim also writes poetry and the occasional short story, plays guitar, and likes to walk up hills.

Thank you for coming today, Tim, and best wishes with your work in progress. 


Wednesday 21 September 2016

SALE time! 99p across #Amazon

Wednesday Welcomes to you! 

It's #SALE time at #Crooked Cat books. All 150+ of their titles are reduced to 99p/99c across the #Amazon Network 23rd- 25th September 2016.  Go grab a bargain! My titles are in there if you've not yet read and reviewed.
Have a go at:

This is a humorous romantic mystery- the one that I lovingly call my fun corporate sabotage mystery. 

Patience isn’t Nairn Malcolm’s strong point when he finds himself and his business mysteriously under attack. He needs a general factotum immediately— someone with exceptionally varied skills who can ferry him around, help him keep his business running smoothly and be available to him 24/7. He doesn’t expect the only candidate who arrives at his Scottish island castle for an interview to be so competent…or so incredibly attractive. 

Aela Cameron’s range of talents is perfect for Nairn’s current predicament. She loves transporting him all over the globe, adores his restored Scottish island castle, and is thrilled with his hectic lifestyle. Dangerous situations don’t faze her, in fact they make her more determined to solve the mystery of Nairn’s saboteur. She’s not into passing flings – yet how can she resist her new boss as time runs out on her temporary contract? 

Can Nairn persuade Aela she’s the woman for the long haul as the mystery is solved?

Or try this ancestral based romantic mystery
set in the Yorkshire Dales.

When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he's never heard of— with quirky conditions attached—it’s a mystery he wants to see resolved immediately. But there’s a catch: he needs a woman to meet his needs, but just how far will he have to go to persuade her? 

The job of researching Greywood Hall and its fantastic contents is enticing, but can Rhia Ashton see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while. 

But neither expect love to enter the game. 

Then there's this one. Solve the mystery within the mystery!

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910. 

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife. 

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota? Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger – a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery? 

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposé. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels? 

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.

And... there's my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures. They really are romantic! Follow the stories of my Garrigill Celtic clan. There's more than the normal historical details you'd find in a historical romance and plenty more characters to empathise with. I also love my covers and hope you do, too! 

AD 71.

Banished from the nemeton, becoming a priestess is no longer the future for Nara, a princess of the Selgovae tribe. Now charged with choosing a suitable mate before Beltane, her plan is thwarted by Lorcan, an enemy Brigante prince, who captures her and takes her to his hill fort. Despite their tribes fighting each other, Nara feels drawn to her captor, but time runs out for her secret quest.

As armies of the Roman Empire march relentlessly northwards, Lorcan intends to use Nara as a marriage bargain, knowing all Celtic tribes must unite to be strong enough to repel imminent Roman attack. Nara’s father, Callan, agrees to a marriage alliance between Selgovae and Brigante, but has impossible stipulations. Lorcan is torn between loyalty to his tribe and growing love for Nara. 

When danger and death arrive in the form of the mighty Roman forces, will Nara be able to choose her Beltane lover?

The Beltane Choice tells a tale of war and love in Celtic Britain.

RAVAGED BY WAR ...AD 71. After the battle at Whorl, Brennus of Garrigill is irrevocably changed. Returning to Marske, Ineda finds her grandmother dead, though Brennus is not. Snared by a Roman patrol, they are marched to Witton where he is forced to labour for the Roman IX Legion. Embracing his new identity as Bran, Brennus vows to avert Roman occupation of northernmost Brigantia. Ineda becomes his doughty spying accomplice, though sometimes she's too impetuous. Trading with the Romans lends excellent opportunities for information gathering. Over time, Bran's feelings for Ineda mar with his loyalty to Ineda's father. 

When she disappears, and cannot be found, Bran enters direct service with Venutius, King of the Brigantes. 

Pursued by Rome. 

AD73 Northern Britannia 

After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome. 

Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche. 

Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again? 

If you don't fancy the genres of my novels, there are loads of other genre choices at Crooked Cat.

Click this link to go straight to my author page and see what's available.

If you're looking for gritty crime, dystopian, historical fiction, chick-lit... just about any other genre, put Crooked Cat in the search box at Amazon and it'll show you all of the  options, or try this link HERE for Amazon UK.

Enjoy your choosing and your reading. Please remember that authors thrive on reviews at Amazon and Goodreads- and the more the merrier since Amazon will push sales of those with more than 50 good reviews ( or so I'm told). I need lots of reviews since my books are languishing in the doldrums and I can assure you that any posted will be very, very welcome. Thank you!


Monday 19 September 2016

US Road Trip # 6 - San Gabriels!

Monday Moments on my US Road Trip #6

Monday, what a Monday trip! Up the San Gabriels.

Come out, Come out, Wherever you are- Los Angeles!
Los Angeles really is in the middle of this photo with the Pacific Ocean at top. 
Blog diary from Wed 31st Aug to 5th September:

My last blog diary entry about my US Road Trip (#5) mentioned returning to Las Vegas on the evening of Wednesday 31st August. The Thursday morning, 1st September, saw us all piling back into our rental vehicle for our drive from Vegas to Pasadena, Los Angeles. My brother-in-law had indicated that the drive via the desert on Interstate Route 15 might be a bit boring after the sights at Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park but I can honestly say I didn’t think so. I loved the changing colours and was intrigued by the fascinating hill terrain and different vegetation on the constantly changing hues of the desert floor- not in the least a monochrome sandy colour.

We took a tiny detour during the 4 hour drive to lunch at Peggy Sue’s 50s Diner at Yermo, a little way off Interstate Route 15 

What a FUN place to stop at (even if a bit of a tourist trap) with fabulous selections and plentiful food! The attached shop is groaning with interesting goodies lots of which I’d like to have bought but were too weighty for my luggage on the flight home.

By late afternoon we were all checked in to our rental house in Pasadena and were meeting up with other family members who were attending my niece’s wedding the following Saturday. 

The house we rented in Pasadena had nostalgic 1960/70s decor. It was perfect for our stay during the next six nights and gave me the opportunity to catch up with my nephew and his wife who had also joined us from Scotland. The gardens and the pool of the house were fabulous for the 7 of us to relax in, but only for short spells since the wedding was looming!

Friday through Sunday was taken up with pre-wedding and post wedding get-togethers with our US family and old friends from Glasgow who had also come to Pasadena for the wedding- some of whom I’ve not laid eyes on since 1974. 

The Saturday evening wedding was in fabulous gardens, where the bride and her entourage of 8 were radiant – as was the groom and his 8 best men! The venue, normally a Riverside park setting in south-west Pasadena, was lush and beautiful and it was fascinating for us from Scotland to experience a US wedding.

Monday the 5th September was itchy feet time again. 

We dragged ourselves from our gorgeous pool and spent the day driving from Pasadena up into the San Gabriel Mountains

A guest at the previous day's (Sunday) post-wedding ‘Pool and Brunch’ party at my brother-in -laws house had told us about going up to the observation area on Mount Wilson, one of the peaks above Pasadena. He raved about the view from the top being spectacular. 

Coming from Brooklyn, New York, he had been bowled over by the huge spread that lay before him all the way out to the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

I’m so glad we took up his recommendation though the day for us wasn’t as sunny as his had been the previous Friday. Even though there was a haze over Los Angeles it was still a stunning drive with superb views. 

However, in addition to the stupendous mountain terrain and deep tumbling valleys there was the additional attraction of being up at the Mount Wilson Observatory.

My husband is the scientist, his masters of Science degree including studies in Astronomy and Astrophysics. He knew about the very famous scientist who had spent a lot of time at the Mount Wilson Observatory but I admit, it was news to me. 

The 100 inch telescope Hubble used. 
I certainly had heard of Edwin Hubble. I vaguely knew that he had broken the barriers of astronomy by claiming that the universe is constantly expanding and was able to prove it with a particular new telescope or its era. I didn’t know that it was at the Mount Wilson Observatory that he discovered and proved his theories, along with the other astronomers who inhabited the facility at the same time as he did.

The observatory buildings complex lies near the top of the peak of Mount Wilson at around 5, 710 feet, one of many similarly high peaks in the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.

The little Observatory FREE Museum displays interesting static information about the foundation of the Observatory back in the late 1800s, and further information about its role into the twentieth century. 

The Hooker 100 inch telescope, used by Edwin Hubble from approx. 1917 through to 1949, is still in use today though the function is limited at times by the smog which often permeates the area. It's situated in the original observatory that's now open to the public. (We'd have paid to go in but it was free entry)

Technical specifications for the Hooker telescope are available elsewhere on the web for anyone interested but I was particularly intrigued by the wicker chair used by Hubble while he made and proved his theories and which still sits precariously on a raised plinth for the visitor to appreciate.  
The wicker chair used by Edwin Hubble
The road up to the Observatory winds its way around and up the sides of the range, the views absolutely stunning and not easily forgettable. I thoroughly recommend a trip up – even if you’re only interested in the views and not in viewing the continually used scientific facility, part of which is open to the public.

The route back down isn't for the faint-hearted driver. I's so glad to have a really competent son-in-law driver who made the trip possible. My thanks for that day's driving, and for the rest of the US trip go to Dave and to my daughter, Sheena, who did some driving too!

A selfie taken in the observation room showing the 100 inch telescope at the observatory. 

I enjoyed the trip- I hope you're enjoying my memories!


Sunday 18 September 2016

US Road Trip #5 Using Route 9 Utah

US Road Trip #5 Bryce Canyon back to Las Vegas using Route 9 which took us through part of the Zion National Park.

I'm so glad my S-I-L suggested taking this slight detour to get back to Las Vegas from Bryce Canyon because the views from the road were spectacular!

We picked up Route 9 south of Bryce City, the road taking us through part of the southern area of the Zion National Park

Private vehicles can use this road through the mountains but to enter the restricted areas of the park you have to use the official tour vehicles. 

The place marked 'C' on the map below is Bryce City. 

The terrain on the road we travelled was impressive, winding and with sheer drops over the edge of the road. (mostly with no barrier above the road surface)  

The route means repeated highs and lows in altitude and lots of popping of ears.

At one magnificent point the road goes through an impressively long tunnel the likes of which I’ve never seen before because at strategic places there are opening in the walls of the tunnels to provide glimpses of the views outside!

The colours of the rocks and limited vegetation are stupendous, so breath taking I often forgot to take photos of them. The drive constantly made me want to be a better photographer but the views were so numerous it was impossible to stop at every viewpoint when we had a deadline to get back to Las Vegas to check in and have dinner.   

I can only imagine that what the visitor can see from one of the official park tour vehicles is even more magnificent –yet that’s quite hard to believe. 

And finally we Las Vegas, pretty late but just in time to see the city from the Stratosphere Casino, Las Vegas. The $20 fee to ride tot he top of the tower was a bit steep but it was a great way to view the city from about  270- deg angles. Because of the terrifying 'thrill rides- Insanity etc- the visitor can't go all the way around the top of the tower.

We stayed just long enough up the tower for dusk to fall when the lights were beginning to twinkle all around the city. Checking in to our fun hotel and dinner meant a quick descent from the tower and a trip down the strip! 

This was the view from my 'Tower' room at the hotel Excalibur! What a building. (Smiles all around)

Yes- that was a hectic day which included some 250 miles+ of driving and loads and loads of curvy bendy roads.

Excalibur, Las Vegas - Wikimedia Commons

We planned to wander down the strip but by the time we'd had a $1 flutter on a gambling machine as we sipped a well earned cocktail, followed by an Italian meal in one of the second floor hotel restaurants, our 'strip' walk was a brief one. Since we couldn't find the entry place to the monorail that plies the strip it was time to call it a happy day.

And guess what? We didn't have time to explore the hotel very much either, not that night and not the next morning since we were off again early to drive to Pasadena, Los Angeles. hence the reason I don't have a good photo of my own of the front of the Excalibur!


Wednesday 14 September 2016

14th September- Domitian rules!

Domitian and the 14th Sept...

Domitian- Wikimedia Commons
This very man isn't too popular in my current writing!

The 14th September A.D. 81 was a great day for the Ancient Roman Emperor Domitian because it was the day he officially started his 15 year reign as emperor. He was the third and last of the ‘Flavian’ dynasty of emperors.

Domitian becoming emperor wasn’t a simple matter – his elder brother had to die first. As first son of the Emperor Vespasian, Titus became emperor on the death of his father in A.D. 79. Vespasian had been a strong ruler during his ten year tenure, having taken control after the tempestuous AD 69 year of the four emperors. When Vespasian came to power in A.D. 69, Titus already had a good deal of military experience and was given many important offices and duties during the reign of Vespasian. Domitian was 11 years younger than Titus and lacked his brother’s military background. Vespasian gave Domitian some honours as due his son but he wasn’t given any responsibility for the governance of the empire. 

Titus wasn’t to rule for long because by A.D 81 he was struck down by a strange and  fatal illness. The day following Titus’ death Domitian was declared the new emperor with the support of the Praetorian Guard. There was doubt as to whether Titus had been poisoned, perhaps at the hand of, or under the instruction of Domitian- though some experts think Titus probably did die of natural and unforeseen circumstances.
Domitian - Wikimedia Commons
(Venice National Archaeological Museum)

Domitian became emperor during General Agricola’s campaigns in northern Britannia. He’s not a character in my Celtic Fervour novels but he is instrumental in ordering Agricola’s withdrawal from what I name as the lands of the Taexali, of north east Scotland. For that reason he is very important in the development of my novel.

The top bust is an interesting one. The antique head dates was added to the bust in the 18th Century. (Louvre)


Monday 12 September 2016

US Trip #4 Pioneering Scot - Mr. Bryce of Bryce Canyon

Mr. Bryce of Bryce Canyon

I'm on a roll today while the memories are still fresh. Second part of #4 trip to Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon, Utah, is named after the pioneering husband and wife team - Ebenezer and Mary Bryce.

A truly hardy, interesting couple. I've related some details of them but there are other places which have more in-depth information on their lives and achievements.
Wikimedia Commons- Ebenezer and Mary Bryce 
Ebenezer Bryce was born in Dunblane, near Stirling in Scotland on November 17, 1830 and later lived in Tullibody, Clackmannan. He trained as a carpenter and millwright and later added shipbuilding carpentry to his range of skills. He seems to have been dissatisfied with the Protestant faith of his upbringing because when he chose to become an early convert to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints his father was somewhat upset. At the age of 17, he left Scotland against his father’s wishes, and sailed from Liverpool to New Orleans, (U.S.) - no mean feat back then. He then spent time in St. Louis earning money to travel to Utah. 
This is a replica of Bryce's Cabin in Tropic, southern Utah. - Wikimedia Commons
The original cabin was larger but was destroyed by floods before 1930 (?)
In 1854, Bryce married Mary Anne Park (born 1837) in Salt Lake City. They moved to southern Utah by 1862 where they settled in Pine Valley.

Interior of the replica of Bryce's cabin- Wikimedia Commons
He was called upon to use his carpentry skills to help build local sawmills and is also responsible for the designing and building of the Pine Valley Chapel in 1868. It remains the oldest Mormon chapel still in continuous use. Using his shipbuilding skills he designed it to look like an upside down ship. It is listed on the Register of Historic Places in the U.S.
Pine Valley Mormon Chapel built by Bryce
He farmed at this high altitude but, it’s said, that one day while wandering quite far west in search of his wandering cows he entered the canyon area now named after him. Not as impressed as the modern day visitor, some claim he said it’s “one hell of a place to lose a cow.”  I doubt that such a God-fearing man would have used the word ‘hell’ but the meaning isn’t lost.

Later Bryce moved his large family (in total 12 children) to Arizona in 1880 where the city of Bryce, Arizona was named in his honour. He died there in 1913 and is buried in the local cemetery, his wife having died in 1899.

And…another famous legend

Ebenezer Bryce might be the most famous man of the area but some notoriety goes to Robert Leroy Parker who was raised in Bryce Canyon country. He is more famously known as ‘Butch Cassidy’ of the film ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ – played by Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

This link gives far more interesting information about the pioneer Ebenezer Bryce’s life.


US Trip #4 Hoodoos and Shadows of Bryce Canyon

Monday Moments at Bryce Canyon, Utah. 

Bryce Canyon - by Nancy Jardine

There are many wonderful vistas around the world, all of them spectacular in their own ways - however, the Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon, Utah, are breathtakingly unique. They are the disturbing, poignant, sentinel and colourfully reflective forces of nature.

I’ve viewed the scenery over many different cliff tops- looking down into crevasses, valleys, rivers and seas - but none have had the utter scale, magnificence and imagination sparking Hoodoos of Bryce Canyon.

Bryce Canyon National Park, one of 407 around the US, sets out to preserve the natural and cultural history of the area and yet preserve isn’t actually what is truly happening. The landscape beneath the rim of Bryce Canyon is naturally and constantly changing itself as wind, weather, and heat from the relentless sun erodes the natural rock stacks named HOODOOS. The geological features of Bryce Canyon, which stand watching like sentinel beings are ever changing. Walk slowly along the rim and the sight below alters as the sun’s angle shifts on the irregularity of the Hoodoo pillars. Pick out features from one particular spot- like the trio which seemed to resemble the carvings on Mount Rushmore- walk some ten paces and that image is lost! A new possibility immediately takes its place. I tried to interpret the areas evocatively named Thors Hammer; Queen Victoria; Wall Street; The Cathedral; Two Bridges; The Alligator - but instead, I saw other images.

Hoodoos are formed from narrow walls which have appeared out of the cliffs. At first it’s a thin wall of irregular stone named a FIN. Frost, snow and summer suns crack and wedge into the fin and create holes or windows. As more erosion takes place the windows enlarge to such an extent that they reach the top of the fin and the upper rim collapses leaving columns. Rain and snow melt erodes and sculpts these limestone columnar pillars into bulbous spires named Hoodoos. The constant and gradual forces of nature means as new Hoodoos emerge others will flatten and become reduced to lumps of clay.   

The visitor quota to Bryce Canyon is huge, as numerous as the stacks below, but the Park Ranger service have it well sussed out. Drive your car to one of the dedicated car parks a few miles away at Bryce Canyon City, pay the flat vehicle fee of $30 to enter the National Park regardless of the amount of passengers and hop on the ‘Free’ shuttle bus. The shuttle buses run every ten minutes from 9 a.m. to around an hour before the park closes, though the park is open from 8 a.m. during the summer season. You can choose to drive your car around the park to visit the numerous viewing areas but the shuttle bus is a pleasant ride - it conserves fuel; reduces traffic and congestion since the car parks are smallish considering the visitor numbers run into around 1.5 million over a season.

The views down into Bryce Canyon are aptly named ‘amphitheatres’, there being a main amphitheatre and some other subsidiary ones around the park. Last April, 2016, I visited the amphitheatre of the Colosseum in Rome and thought it magnificent but it covered a tiny area compared to the vastness of the amphitheatres of Bryce Canyon.

Since our time was limited to a couple of hours, we focused on a few of the viewing points of the main amphitheatre. These have wonderfully evocative names, though we were clearly not quite seeing the scenery at the best times of the day. We took the shuttle bus to Inspiration Point to admire the canyon from a southerly direction.

From Inspiration Point area- Nancy Jardine

At this viewpoint you are at an elevation of 8,100 ft and I thought myself seriously unfit for the short but quite steep climb up the path to the barricaded viewing platform though I’d forgotten that the air would be a bit ‘thinner’ than I’m used to. Those first views were breathtaking. No words fit as I took in the scene below. The best adjectives have all been used too glibly but the land below the rim is truly AWESOME.
Selfie from Sunset Point

Sunset point was our next shuttle bus stop, though it was around 10 a.m. The views at that time of the main amphitheatre were stupendous but I can imagine that the sunset shadows would make that vista even more magnificent.

We chose to walk along the rim edge to the next northerly point at Sunrise Point- again not at that time of day but still incredible. Walking the rim is easy enough but as there is no barrier to prevent a drop of around 1000 ft, people sensibly steer clear from the very edge. There is a pathway down to the canyon bed which appealed a lot but the round trip trails around the foot of the Hoodoos take a good few hours, not to mention the steep climb back up again so, having limited time we declined to visit the lower pathways. My daughter and her husband cheated and went down a tiny bit to see the Hoodoos from a lower perspective.
I think this was somewhere between Sunset and Sunrise Point from the Rim path

I thoroughly recommend a visit to Bryce and would go back there in a blink. Visiting Bryce Canyon was in the nature of a pilgrimage for us because my late brother-in-law Neil had visited many years ago and enthused about it so much. As a geography teacher, he knew all the geological terminology and declared that Bryce was much more impressive than Grand Canyon- though he managed to see that, too. We had time to visit only one canyon and I’m so glad we chose Bryce.

Me at centre, my daughter Sheena at left, and my sister-in-law Jean at right.
The scrubby plants behind us mark the EDGE of that 1000ft drop down to the canyon bed. 

There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world....except maybe the rest of the 130,000 square miles of the Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau.

The leaflet given as part of our entry price to Bryce Canyon is as descriptive as any I’ve found on the internet. You can see that the colours across the massive stretch of land vary in shades and intensities depending on the constituents of the actual rocks. The pink cliffs, basin and rim of Bryce Canyon is effectively the highest STEP in the Grand Staircase of the Colorado Plateau which straddles the four US States of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona.The upper left of the image is the Grand Canyon and near the top right is the Zion Canyon.

It truly was AWESOME by day but, I think, it must be eerily scary at night!

Imagine this tree in the dusk with its tentacle roots clinging tentatively along the edge... or maybe shifting a little along the rim? !!

Check in soon for some images of our drive through Zion National Park as we wended our way from Bryce Canyon back to Las Vegas via Zion. 


Saturday 10 September 2016

Walking on Wild Air by Yvonne Marjot

Happy Saturday to you!

I believe I've got the dreaded 'jet lag'. Sleep was elusive last night but it gave me the opportunity to finish a really lovely book that I started while on my recent holiday. Here's what I thought of Walking on Wild Air by Crooked Cat author - Yvonne Marjot.  

This was a beautiful tale of the timelessness of the land and of how it is endlessly tied to both earthy and unearthly beings. Sushila, a tortured soul, meets the strange man Dougie on the hill above her late father’s cottage. It didn’t take long for me to realise that Dougie was no ordinary man but exactly what he was remained still up for grabs to the very end of the book. The love tale that unfolds between them is punctuated by intrusive haunting memories of people who lived on and loved the island hill in days gone past- people who were of Dougie and yet characters who also existed in their own right. The author merges the corporeal with the ethereal in a very intriguing way as their relationship develops- the essence of the hill a powerful force. Questions popped up as I read on, esoteric questions related to the eternal binding of intertwined souls at a specific place on the earth.
The writing is beautiful, skilful and the settings wonderful. The characters of Sushila and Dougie are well developed, yet as I read, aspects of them remained elusive, leaving sufficient to my imagination to fill in the blanks

I gave this 5 * on Amazon and Goodreads.


Sunday 4 September 2016

US trip #3 The Hoover Dam

#3 The Hoover Dam... 
& West Coast Weddings!

The second part was the title of my blog post for my every second Saturday slot yesterday at Writing Wranglers & Warriors. You can catch all of that post HERE.  The first part being this next installment of my US road trip diary.

Last Monday (29th August) I visited The Hoover Dam, an incredibly large structure which is situated at Black Canyon near the borders of Nevada and Arizona

This is by far the largest dam that I've ever seen, the scale and engineering of it very impressive. I've seen smaller Hydro Electric producing dams in Scotland, with a similar process, but the production at The Hoover Dam is staggering.

The Hoover Dam- Black Canyon by Nancy Jardine

Situated in Black Canyon, the dam was originally built as the Boulder Dam project to harness the power of the mighty Colorado River. This incredible feat of engineering was created between 1931 and 1936 in the searing heat of Nevada by thousands of workers from the architects and engineers to the concrete pourers, cooks and other ancillary workers.    

From the turn of the nineteenth century, the Colorado River was known for its capricious nature. Its flooding often caused devastating destruction though it was also noted as a main source of water for irrigation, though only to some who were lucky enough to harness it in a local way. By the late 1920s, serious investigation was undertaken to decide on the best location along the river for a dam to control the forces of the water. It was a feat of engineering never attempted before and no contractor was able to undertake the project on its own. A consortium  named the ‘Six Companies’ was formed to ensure all aspects of construction were in place and that the project would be viable with a positive outcome.

My family and I took the tour of the inside of the dam. It was highly informative and the initial video, though well worn, was great to watch because of the incredible old footage on film that was taken during construction. It was well worth the $15 entry fee. As well as the little introductory video, the tour around the facility was expertly guided which meant any questions could be physically answered at any location on the tour.

There are plenty of sites with much more detailed info on the dam and its history but I’m on holiday and only giving brief mention here of the details!

Visiting The Hoover Dam was a great start to our holiday!


Thursday 1 September 2016

US #2 with fellow 'Wrangler' blogger Mike Staton

US Road Trip 2016 # 2

Meeting a far flung Wrangler!

Me at left. Mike Staton at right. His friend Sharon in middle. 
I was really excited (29th August 2016) to meet up with someone I’ve only met virtually via the Writing Wranglers and Warriors Blog. 

When fellow Wranglers blogger, Mike Staton, heard that I was going to be in Las Vegas for a very short time he didn’t hesitate to set up a time for a quick meeting. It was fabulous to get to speak to him and his friend, Sharon, even for just the hour that I had before I headed off with my family to visit The Hoover Dam, one of the great suggestions made for us by Sharon.

Mike had been prepared to come to downtown Las Vegas to meet me at my Marriot Grand Chateau hotel but since we were heading to The Hoover Dam pretty well via Henderson it made more sense to meet Mike in downtown Henderson, where he lives. 

With 7 of us around a small table at the Starbucks place in Sunset Station, I didn’t manage to more than some general tourist talk with Mike but being able to actually meet him in person was amazing for me since I normally live so far away from him.

Mike is just as I pictured him and so like his author photo that it was easy to recognise him in the main foyer of Sunset Station, as he in turn was looking for me and my family. Sunset Station is an amazing building but we had little time to amble around it before I spotted Mike, 

The voice is always a harder thing to imagine, though, unless I’ve heard an author podcast or a vlog post. Mike has a lovely easy accent, easy for me to understand.

I Just hope that my Scottish accent was as easy for him!

It was a great way to start the day before our tourist hats were donned. 


US bound #1


Yipee! I'm writing posting this blog entry from Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, but I won't be here for much longer since I'm off to California in less than an hour.

My next few posts will be about my current trip to Nevada, Utah and California...when the internet permits.

Entry 1

The flight to Nevada was amazing. For much of the time I was able to see out of the plane window at its cruising speed of 38 thousand feet. The views overlooking Greenland were stupendous, the swathes of ice across the icy landscape like massive highways of frozen water.

Cloud cover was partial over the Newfoundland stretches so only the occasional glimpse of the land was visible but when we approached the South Dakota area it was a vista of the land in all of its glory. The flat plains gave way to incredible mountain and hill masses, the undulations spiky and impressive. The BA flight travel guide on screen showed the flight path as we crossed over one state to another.

The mountain masses only got better and better ad it became a game to try to locate the main topographical aspects- the peak of Mount Rushmore; the mighty Colorado River As we approached Las Vegas, our destination, the blue of Lake Mead and the magnificent Hoover Dam were almost alien colour on the landscape below.

The mountains are so full of fabulous shades of greys. Patches of white appear as stripes along some of the ridges. There are blackened tops on some other ranges, their darkness like black lava or volcanic deposits. That’s something still to be checked, though.

In startling contrast, some of the ridges were a striking bright orange in the strong sunlight. 

The descent down to McCarran Airport in Las Vegas was incredibly smooth and it was so easy to admire the sprawl that is outer Las Vegas before the city centre came into view. The extent of Las Vegas sits in a flat valley floor, pretty well surrounded by impressive craggy ranges.

All in all, it was an impressive way to enter the most famous valley in Nevada.

The native inhabitants of this amazing desert area, and the pioneers who first settled the land were a truly hardy bunch when faced with the relentless heat of the sun and the lack of available running water.