Tuesday, 30 July 2019

2019 July Cruising #Norwegian Fjords 3 & 4

Sunday 28th July Flam

Sailing up the Sognefjorden to Flam was stupendous, though I only saw a little bit of it since we travelled through most of the fjord overnight. The views there are incredible – steep sided mountains that slope right down into the fjord water with absolutely no beach at all.


Our coach tour from Flam took us to Osterbo, a journey from virtual fjord sea level to a height of some 2.5 thousand feet. The coach driver drove thorough many tunnels and around some tortuous bends to get us to the very pretty area called Osterbo. (apologies for the lack of some accents). Osterbo was like a pretty alpine valley village and at such an incredibly high altitude it’s almost unreal that there could be flat land up there that is productive in anyway at all.

I met some really interesting characters at our stop for Norwegian waffles with cream and jam and coffee

I have many photographs, most of which will take me ages to process properly but here are a few of them now...

Since my internet access is not regular I'll add more later. 


Slainthe!

Monday 29th Olden

Again, like Bergen I had visited Olden only a couple of years ago so my OH and I opted to do our own thing when ashore and had not booked any of the official tours as we’d done some recently.

The temperature in Olden was around 33 deg C and very humid. We decided that a great alternative to walking the short distance into the town of Olden was to take a ride on the little tourist train. Train carriages pulled along by a sort of tractor.

It was a fabulous idea since it took us beyond the town and there was a giuided tour commentary as part of the £20 ticket. After a great little tour we ate lunch at the quayside Gasthaus where  I sampled freshly caught halibut and drank the local 

2019 July Cruising #Norwegian Fjords


Sat 27th  July Bergen

Since my OH and I have been to Bergen before we chose to do the ‘Edvard Grieg’s museum and house tour’- the whole deal including a classical piano recital at the nearby concert hall.

Edvard Grieg's House, Bergen
The coach trip to the museum on the outskirts of Bergen gave us a reminder of the architecture and history of the centre, the guide very informative and easy to listen to.

The small museum at the house of Edvard Grieg was very busy so lingering to read the information boards wasn’t possible or we’d have missed the opportunity to pop in to Grieg’s small but apparently unusually styled house. It was common to have a neat wooden constructed dwelling in the late 1800s but what wasn’t usual were the high ceilings that Grieg and his wife Nina insisted upon. Their house also had other design features akin to a more southerly European style in balconies and window styles. 

Nina, his wife and also first cousin, only had one child who, sadly, didn’t survive infancy but their life together was also of an almost professional nature since she was a superb singer who accompanied him when he demonstrated his own music.

I learned only a little about his life in Bergen but reading more at a later date might be quite enlightening.

Bergen, Norway
  

The piano recital as part of the tour was superb. On yet another very hot day (not so normal in Norway) it was so lovely to sit back in an air-conditioned space and just enjoy the varied pieces played by Maria Kan Selvik.

Till more of my Norwegian Fjord travels...

Slainthe!  

2019 July Cruising #Norwegian Fjords


2019 July Cruising Norwegian Fjords


I set sail from Rosyth (near Edinburgh, Scotland) on Thursday 25th July, the Balmoral (Fred Olsen line) gliding gracefully under the three bridges which cross the River Forth. This is my third cruise out of Rosyth but I am still in awe of the respective feats of engineering it took to build them. On a boiling-hot day, I sat sipping chardonnay in the ‘Lido’ bar at the rear of the ship and at around 5 p.m. we left the port of Rosyth. The ship first went under the newest Queensferry Crossing Bridge, followed by the Forth Road Bridge and then the Victorian built Railway Bridge.  I guess the ‘newbie thrill’ must be gone since I only took a couple of photographs this time, my collection already quite extensive.

It’s so very easy to segue into the cruising life and even easier since my last trip was also on the Balmoral. Familiarity means exploring the ship isn’t so necessary and once my ‘unpacking’ desire was satisfied it was time to relax and enjoy. This time, I’m in a very spacious junior suite which has loads of wardrobe space. No need to squash my formal evening wear and my OH’s tartan trews outfit in along with the rest of our smart-casual clothes.

Friday 26th July was a cruising at sea day and compared to the previous cruises to Greenland and to the Baltic Sea it was like sailing on a millpond. I only went to one of the ‘shore trips’ talks but I could have been entertained all day. The food on board in the various restaurants is excellent and it’s possible to eat as much or as little as is wanted. Though my main dining will be in the largest main restaurant – the Ballindalloch – I have been determined to sample all the different restaurant possibilities during this trip. The rules of the ship are that all restaurants are available to all passengers during breakfast and lunch sittings (those serving, that is) but dinner is generally partaken at a personally assigned restaurant with a fixed evening meal table and a personal waiter with an assistant. Should cruisers not wish to attend their assigned evening meal table, especially on the ‘formal’ evenings when a dress code applies, then it’s possible for them to eat in the Palms CafĂ© which serves a buffet meal. So far, my husband and I have donned formal wear and have thoroughly enjoyed choosing from the special menu.


Dinner on Friday 26th July was particularly good since the Balmoral had just begun to cruise the very long Lysefjorden, a little to the east of Stavanger in south-west Norway. After my excellent meal of an Oslo platter; Chateaubriand; and varied cheeses we decided to abandon our norm of spending the rest of the evening up in the Observatory Lounge sipping red wine and admiring the views. Instead we sipped a bottle of fine red wine on our balcony as the ship glided up to the head and back down the Lysefjorden. The temperature was still an incredible 25 deg C (at least) and the sky as blue as can be. The views were truly awesome and I use that word in its true sense. So, now I do have many, many photos of this amazing fjord.

What I also found incredible was that it is so much easier to understand the ‘Viking’ mentality when those hardy men left their homes centuries ago to venture to new lands which would give them the farming space they so desired. On the Lysefjord there is absolutely no coastal farmland, except perhaps on the top of the impressive cliffs that weren’t visible from the boat.

Those early men going a ‘Viking’ must have been so amazed to land their boats on the beautiful beaches of east coast Scotland and England so easily, within sight of prospective farm fields close to the shore.


Roll on the next port of call which is Bergen.

ps i eve managed to add a tiny bit to my current WIP - Beathan the Brigante. 

Slainthe!

Saturday, 6 July 2019

#interiew #HWFBlog Hop General Agricola

It's Saturday the 6th of July so it's interview day for General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola! 

As part of the Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop, the character I have chosen to be interviewed is General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola from Agricola's Bane, Book 4 of The Celtic Fervour Series.

He's hopped over to Nicky Moxey's blog to be asked some very interesting questions. He's not a man who is generally the one who is interviewed so he's maybe just a bittie terse with his answers.

To meet Agricola click HERE and see what he has to say. There's also a #Giveaway. Since it's a very special weekend for him I've a set of The Celtic Fervour Series ebooks (x4 books) going to one lucky winner. All you need to do is to leave a comment on Nicky's Blog.


In case you're not the lucky winner of all four #FREE ebooks you'll find a special offer on Amazon this weekend. Book  1 is completely #FREE and the other 3 books are only 99p/99c equivalents across Amazon.

Have a lovely weekend!

Slainthe! 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

New copies of #The Taexali Game

Thursday thoughts 

Sometime in late 2013, I can vaguely remember the feelings of slight panic when my Dell laptop (approx. six years old) was slowing down dramatically. At that point in time, I had been seriously writing for more than 2 years, after ending my career as a primary teacher. From early 2011 through to the end of  2012, I was able to write new work almost continuously since I was only grandchild minding two days a week. That meant there was a lot I could lose if my laptop crashed. There were the original manuscripts with all edits; lots of graphics to go with said novels; gazillions of promotional material since at that time I was published by The Wild Rose Press (New York State) and by Crooked Cat Books in Edinburgh; and there were reams of research. I was terrified I'd lose my data even though my Dell had undergone all sorts of defragging (?) clean-ups and such like. In May 2014 I got a new laptop. 

Now in mid 2019, my current HP laptop is five years old and my external hard drive which stores an amazing amount of stuff is of a similar age. I have a feeling I need to do lots of nurturing and more than a small amount of computer housekeeping very soon.

Some people are naturally techie but my knowledge of computers is extremely patchy. For a couple of decades, I depended on my computer consultant husband to do quick fixes for every problem. He's still on tap for help but sadly what I do now (as a self-published author) is rarely what he has knowledge of. 

It's taken me the best part of a year to sort out some issues with using the programme Calibre to convert my word manuscripts to other versions like EPUB and MOBI and get near-perfect readable copies. It has only come to my attention two days ago that the huge issues I've had over converting my Word 2003 manuscripts with Calibre would have been easily solved by my saving the documents not as a Word .doc  but as a Word 2007 .docx . So now I know! I live and learn something every day.  

This has been a huge revelation since I've had to depend on my extremely friendly and generous Ocelot colleague authors helping me with conversions, taking time out of their own very busy days! 

So... my next work (as well as new writing) will be to make a slightly changed version of my final manuscript for The Taexali Game, saved as a Word 2007 .docx . I've only about 5 current copies left to sell at my local book fairs and will need to order new copies soon. The Createspace version made in 2016 has been 'transferred' to Amazon KDP but a new version is needed since I was less knowledgeable at formatting when I made that very first foray into self-publishing. there is a distinct lack of front matter! 

To date, I've kept The Taexali Game as a separate publication under my own publishing name of Annaril because it was intended for a wider reading audience of perhaps 10 years old through adult. What I've found is that adults are enjoying more than teens so maybe the new version needs a different target market?

Today is also the penultimate day of school here in Aberdeenshire so for the next six weeks I'm likely to be out and about with my grandchildren. 

Writing beckons...

....and news tomorrow of a great feature for Agricola of Agricola's Bane! 

Slainthe!  

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

#HWFBlogHop #10th interview

Wednesday Welcomes!

It's a cloudy day but no matter  - because I've just had the pleasure of reading about Prince Casmir, the #10th character to be interviewed in the Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop.

You can meet him, too, if you hop over to Paula Loftings Blog. Just click HERE


You'll find that Casmir's author- Stephanie Churchill - has an excellent offer for you of a couple of ebooks that can be #Won by some lucky person who comments on Paula's Blog, or on the Facebook HWFBlogHop Page HERE

If you've missed any of the character interviews, use the tab at the top of this blog to get the link for all of the interviews done so far.

Happy Reading and Good Luck! 

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

#HWFBlogHop Interview my Character - Paul van Daan


An Interview with Paul van Daan

I've been eagerly waiting for my turn to come around to publish today's post. As part of the Historical Writers' Forum 'Interview My character' Blog Hop, I take great pleasure today in interviewing Colonel Paul van Daan, commander of a division of the 110th Light Infantry during the Napoleonic Wars. Paul features in Lynn Bryant's Peninsular War Saga and he really is a man of many moments!

My first knowledge of Paul is from reading An Unconventional Officer, # 1 of the series, and you can read my comments on it at the end of this post. I'm currently reading #2, and since I also have a copy of #5 on my kindle (bought first and then set aside to begin reading the series from the beginning) I'm not going to miss out on Books 3 and 4 - because I always feel the need to read a series in chronological order.

But before I begin the interview, here's a…

*Special Offer*
Lynn Bryant offers an ebook copy of An Unconventional Officer #FREE today and tomorrow 
(26th and 27th July 2019) from Amazon  


My apologies for keeping you waiting, Paul. Please settle in and get comfortable. Help yourself to a wee whisky to sip since I have quite a lot of questions for you.

You've risen through the army ranks with surprising speed and efficiency, Paul. If Wellington listed your best attributes, for example to encourage the aspirations of relatively new officers, which aspects do you think he would select?

(I'm adding an image of Wellington here but would actually much rather I had one of you, Paul. Maybe next time you visit?)
Sir Arthur Wellesley
1st Duke of Wellington


Hahahahahaha. Sorry, I’m just trying to imagine Wellington using me as an example for new officers. He’s more likely to hold me up as a warning to others.

If I were being cynical, I’d say that my ability to pay for my commissions would be high on the list of his favourite attributes. But it is more than that. Wellington likes officers who take the job seriously. I work hard with my men, I make sure they’re as well trained as they can possibly be and I don’t let my junior officers shirk off. I think I’m better at delegating than Wellington is, but I still make sure I know exactly how my brigade is being run and I never let a problem go. I think that’s what he’d point to as an example.

Yes, you are quite experienced now, having been in the army for a good number of years. Can you see yourself – and your wife Anne – settling down to civilian life in the near future? Back in London, or perhaps at your family estates in Leicestershire?

I dream of it. I think we all do. Sometimes it’s what keeps me going. But in the near future – that depends on Bonaparte and how this war goes. I’ll be here to the end, that’s for sure. Afterwards, I don’t know. We married out here, neither of us has been home since. We don’t even have a house in England, although we have the villa in Lisbon, which is the closest we have to a home.

Yes. I think the answer is yes. I want to go home, and buy a house and raise my family and not jump every time I hear that bugle. Whether that means leaving the army, I honestly don’t know. Living in a country at war is exhausting for all of us. I’d probably choose Leicestershire, somewhere close to where I grew up. Nan might prefer Yorkshire. I can’t see us sharing a home with my family; my sister-in-law wouldn’t cope with Nan. We’ll decide when the time comes.

I’ve missed so much of my children’s growing up. I’d like to be there when Will or Georgiana learns to ride their first pony. I hope I can be.

That sounds ideal. You have the reputation of being afraid of nothing but what would you say truly is your greatest fear?

Reputation is a funny thing. Half the stories they tell probably never happened, and if they did, they happened in a different way. I am afraid and if there’s a man who says he’s never afraid in a battle, I’m calling him a liar. It’s how you manage the fear that matters.

And there’s different kinds of fear. My worst fear, ever, is that something will happen to my wife or my children. That’s a fear that all men understand. The ones who care, anyway.

Then there’s fear in battle. I’m more afraid when I don’t know what’s going on. I’m lucky, I often know more than most, Wellington talks to me. I’m afraid when I don’t trust my commanding officer and thank God that seldom happens. I’ve served under Wellington, Black Bob Craufurd and Charles Alten and they’re the best.

In terms of battles, I hate storming a citadel. It’s unpredictable, so many things can go wrong, and you can’t assess the field in the same way as an open battle. A lot of men tend to die in siege warfare and it’s hard to predict what will happen. It was going well for us at Badajoz until some of my less experienced troops attacked too far over and hit a mine. I hate storming a town and I hate what often happens afterwards.
Battle of Badajoz

Some decisions taken by superior officers don’t always seem to be the correct ones at the time. You’ve been through many bloody confrontations with the enemy already during your military career, and have been known to take some slight detours from the orders issued to your men in order to ensure they survived the battlefield but, in your opinion, what has been the worst, most insane, order you have been given by a superior officer?

So far? Sir William Erskine. Every single bloody time, the man was a menace. Wellington had me nursemaiding him during Massena’s retreat in 1811. He was in command of the Light Division, before we were officially part of it, but he wasn’t capable of commanding a church picnic.

The first time was at Casal Novo. He sent troops out into thick fog, without being able to see and without reconnoitring the enemy positions. I wasn’t there when he gave the order or I’d have countermanded it. We lost men, in particular a young officer I liked very much.

Less than a month later, Erskine did virtually the same thing again at Sabugal, sent the first brigade out into the fog without any support. It ruined Wellington’s battle plan and it got a lot of men killed. And that, in case you’re wondering, was one of the occasions when I ignored a direct order from a senior officer and went in after them without orders. Wellington supported me, as it happens, but I’d have done it anyway.

Yes, and you seem to have a knack for easily engaging the support of your subordinates, Paul. What is it that you do which makes your men loyal to the death in support of you and your command?

I treat them like human beings. I don’t flog them and I don’t pamper them either. They’re men, not cattle. Not numbers in the regimental ledger.

I like to know them. In my position, you can’t be friends with them. Not mostly, anyway. But a laugh and a joke goes a long way. They know that I care about them, not just that they fight well, but that they’re fed and warm and dry when possible. They know I’m proud of them. And they know I trust them, just as they trust me.

It’s my job, and the job of every single one of my officers to take care of the men. In one or two other regiments, it’s not unknown for an officer to be more worried about a bayonet in the back than a bullet from the front. That doesn’t happen in the 110th.

My men know that I’d die for them. For the most part, they’d die for me. That’s not magic, it’s just being a good soldier.

You’ve an indomitable spirit, and you’re resilient in the face of extreme situations. Can you imagine any circumstances at all that would destroy your natural fortitude?

Yes. Losing my wife. I almost did.

Sorry. It’s less than a year, and I’m not over it. Not sure I ever will be. She was taken by the French; a colonel I’d run into at Fuentes de Onoro. I thought he’d kill her. I thought I’d lost her.

I didn’t cope. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t think straight. I spent my time trying to imagine what it would be like if I never saw her again, and I just couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

What would be the absolute best thing that could happen to you before the present year ends?
Napoleon Bonaparte


Bonaparte contracts a bad cold and dies of inflammation of the lung. Or falls off his horse and breaks his neck, I’m not that fussy. As long as we can go home.

Other than that? My wife just gave me a daughter, I’m not sure I can come up with anything better than that, but I’ll happily settle for a long time in winter quarters and a visit from my older children, with time to enjoy them. And then a successful campaigning season, with my friends all in one piece at the end of it.

Who do you think is presently the biggest threat to your peace of mind regarding your military career, and to the personal incidents that have occurred during your time with the 110th Light Infantry?

Well I’d have to put the French at the top of the list. Other than that, nobody that I’m aware of now. There have been a few issues in the past. I haven’t always seen eye to eye with the army hierarchy but it’s got easier as I’ve moved up the ranks. Picton’s not that fond of me, but I think he’s got used to me. Sir William Erskine was probably the worst, but I’m told he’s recently retired with health problems.

I’m sure you’ve heard that I was court-martialled back in ’07 during the Copenhagen campaign. That wasn’t the choice of the army commander, though, I fell foul of the Royal Navy. I think I learned a lot from that and I made a good friend in Captain Kelly that day, so I’m a bit kinder about the navy these days.

I’ve a temper, no question about it, but I’ve got better at controlling it as I’ve got older. Mostly.

Err...some of the men on the end your tongue lashing might not be too sure of that, Paul! Here's a question for them as much as me. Do you prefer to be with your men right at the forefront of battle, or to be used in a defensive role, as during the command of maintaining hold of the strategic location of Madrid?

I am terrible at being left in a defensive role anywhere. Really, I get bored and spend my time coming up with new drills and training strategies and I drive them all mad. My second-in-command, Colonel Wheeler says he’d rather face Bonaparte and the Imperial Guard than be stuck with me if we’re left in reserve. So yes, if there’s a fight, I want to be in it.
Battle of Salamanca
Back to domestic matters again, what is it that you admire most about your very capable wife Anne?

Oh, how do I begin to answer that? You mean admire, rather than love, though. There’s a lot that’s admirable about Nan, but I think if I had to pick one thing it would be her resilience. She’s been through so much over the past years, more than most people could bear. But she never lets it drag her down.

She’s amazingly positive, my wife. She’s always looking forward, thinking ahead. There isn’t a problem out there that she won’t at least make a push to find a solution to. And she’s a far better diplomat than I am. Except when she’s writing rude letters to the medical board. They hate her at the army medical board, with a deep and abiding passion.

What are the greatest hardships suffered by men – like you – whose career takes them far from hearth and home?

For most men, I imagine it’s being apart from their wives and families. A lot don’t marry. I think it was Moore who said that in his opinion, officers shouldn’t marry. But many do, and most don’t see their wives for years. I miss the children, but both Rowena and Nan have given up a lot to travel with me. I’ve been so lucky.

Life in the army is physically difficult, and it’s a lot worse for the men than for the officers. Dreadful living conditions, bad food, poorly paid and a very good chance of being killed or wounded. Or dying of some camp fever. We lost thousands in places like Alexandria and Walcheren, from disease. It’s a very hard life.

What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time from now?

Honestly. I’ll probably still be in the army. Where I’ll be, is another matter. I hope I’m not still out here playing cat and mouse with the French. I don’t think we will, somehow. Despite that foul retreat we’ve just been through, I’ve got a feeling we’ve turned a corner. I think in a year or so, we might be fighting this war on French soil. I do hope so, my French is a lot better than my Spanish.

Thank you so much for your answers, Paul. It's been a pleasure finding out more about you. I'm looking forward to catching up with more of your escapades - military and domestic!

Lynn Bryant was born and raised in London's East End. She studied History at University and has been a librarian, a relationship counsellor, an art gallery manager and ran an Irish Dance school before she realised that most of these were just as unlikely as being a writer and took the step of publishing her first book.

She lives in the Isle of Man and is married with two grown children and two Labradors. History is still a passion, with a particular enthusiasm for the Napoleonic era and military history in general. Lynn has published ten books, including five books in the Peninsular War saga and the first in a linked series about a Manx naval captain.

Lynn can be found at the following links:

Website        

Facebook     

Twitter:          @LynnBry29527024

The Peninsular War Saga is available on Amazon   




I hope you've enjoyed meeting Paul van Daan today and that you'll pop in to read the next instalment on the Historical Writers' Forum 'Interview My Character' Blog Hop. You'll find that on Saturday 29th June when Stephanie Churchill interviews talented singer Marie-Therese from author Vanessa Couchman's novel Overture.
(p.s. I've read this novel already and it was a fabulous read)


My review thoughts on reading An Unconventional Officer. 


Lynn Bryant is a new author to me and one I’m very glad to have encountered. I thoroughly enjoyed reading An Unconventional Officer and intend to follow the further escapades of Colonel Paul van Daan.

Book 1 introduces the striking personality of Paul van Daan, a man of many talents and convictions, some of which are not quite conventional for the era he lives in. His salutary teenage experiences often influence how he conducts himself as a more mature man and as a new officer of the 110th Light Infantry. I found it easy to sympathise and identify with some of Paul’s attitudes regarding the treatment and punishment of his underlings in the regiments, his methods not popular with his colleagues and not necessarily immediately popular with the men he commands because they don’t understand his reasoning. It takes a little time for him to grow his fair, yet seriously firm reputation – not simple when war is just around the corner.

Though he definitely is a man who readily draws women to him, and has fathered at least one daughter out-of-wedlock for whom he takes some responsibility, he’s not entirely a rogue. The young and gentle Rowena appeals to the softer side of him, their interaction demonstrating that even though still quite young himself he has a strong enough sense of duty regarding her future, and their future together. However, as time goes on, it seems somehow inevitable that Rowena is a temporary feature in Paul’s life, especially so after he meets the indomitable Anne. To say more of his relationships with women would spoil the story for a new reader!

The author paints very vivid characters, main and secondary, in well-described and very different landscapes from rural England to the battlegrounds of Portugal. The pace is energetic and throughout the novel the author provides a really in-depth knowledge of the era. There’s a relaxed, almost earthy and modern quality to the language used which works very well in the military settings: a bit different from the often more formal and dated language of many novels set during the Regency era.

A highly recommended read.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sir_Arthur_Wellesley,_1st_Duke_of_Wellington.png
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Badajoz.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_of_Napoleon_le_Grand_(4674756).jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Salamanca.jpg

Slainthe!

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Beathan at Trimontium!


The Trimontium Barracks Slave

(My character Beathan has been captive of the Romans since the battle at Beinn na Ciche in late A.D. 84, in Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Saga)

Beathan's still at Trimontium Roman Fort during the festival of Imbolc A.D. 85 (Feb). Instead of being force-marched even further south to Corstopitum, a huge Roman supply fortress, the senior officer at Trimontium has kept him as a garrison slave till further information arrives from the highest command.

A slave belonging to no particular person is a doubly perilous situation since Beathan is at the behest of anyone who needs an extra pair of hands. Tribune Secundus has decreed that Beathan can be used in any capacity so long as the work done doesn’t kill him!  

Beathan is a strong thirteen-year-old who quickly becomes inured to the harsh treatment meted out to him. Yet, no matter the backbreaking work, poor feeding and general neglect, it has not suppressed his natural curiosity, nor his intention to escape whenever he can contrive it. Surrounded constantly by around a thousand soldiers, mainly equestrian, means he is never unwatched. He’s ordered around the fort to do various duties but since Trimontium is one of the most important transit forts in southern Caledonia, there are guards posted strategically within the fort as well as those on wall and gate duties. There is no fort ‘street’ he can walk down without being observed by a sentry on duty.

He’s smart enough to do what’s necessary for his survival, but he also finds himself reluctantly fascinated by the efficiency within the fort, quite ensnared by daily life that’s so different to what he was used to in the hillforts occupied by his Celtic (Late Iron Age) clan members. The processes of cooking in the praetorium, the tribune’s living quarters, draw his attention, as do the rituals observed in the aedes in the principia, the main headquarters block. Even the procedure used to lime wash the interior walls of the main wooden buildings is interesting.

One of the most perplexing aspects, though, of experiencing life in a cavalry fort is that each mounted soldier of the turma looks after his own horse in the room he sleeps in. Not having horses out in an open field, or semi-covered by a thatched awning during the winter moons, is totally bewildering.

Some of the tools used around the fort are reasonably familiar but there are many others that he has never seen before. The fort blacksmith workshop is a hive of activity: there’s no slacking or rest time due to poor weather.

The soldiers might think he’s surly because he won’t rise to their ribbing and sarcasm – but he doesn’t care because he’s learned to ignore them.

He tries very hard to remember everything he encounters because someday, when he does escape, he intends to use every bit of knowledge to rout out the usurpers from Caledonia.  

However, there's someone due to arrive at Trimontium who will have  a huge impact on Beathan's next stage of life...


From Beathan the Brigante, a work in progress  - unedited:

Up ahead the entrance to the Principia teemed with soldiers. A flow of auxiliaries in and out of the entrance was fairly normal but the low four-wheeled cart, heavily laden with a bulky stone block was unusual. Mule-hauled in through the arched entrance, men swarmed all around it, some pulling on additional ropes, and others pushing the cart in from the rear.
Approaching Beathan was Gillean, the Caledon. The man was his only friend, though chances for them to talk were rare. Their allocated bed spaces were in different sections of the fort, yet they seemed to be sharing the same fate. Gillean was another captive from the battle of Beinn  na Ciche, also deemed to be a general barrack slave – at least until Tribune Secundus declared differently. The Caledon was presently yanking forward a reluctant and very vocal mule.
“What are they doing with that stone, Gillean?”
“They are hauling it into the aedes.” Gillean stroked the mule, a failed attempt to placate the animal since it snapped and brayed at his fingers. The Caledon laughed nearly as loudly as he sidled back from the bared teeth. “Silly animal. It does not realise that, unlike its mate, it has been freed from hauling that great weight. There was no room to wrestle both of the protesting animals through the entrance, so now the auxiliaries must shoulder the burden instead.”
Beathan had no idea where the aedes was but shared Gillean’s humour.
“Why have they brought such a large stone into the fort?”
Gillean grunted over his shoulder, the animal refusing to budge. “All I know is that the aedes is their room of the gods and they want the stone in place immediately.”
“I feel a bustle today that is not normal. Is something happening?”
“Aye.” Gillean yanked again at the mule tether. “An important visitor is due. I have heard no name but think it must be…”
“Get that animal back to its pen, Caledon!” The bawl came from the entrance to the principia.
Beathan groaned as he watched the soldier hastening towards him. Centurion Barrus seemed to appear everywhere. Gillean shared a moment of sympathy as he passed by, the animal still intent on being awkward.


p.s. There's a bit of author licence in adding the altar shown above. The one in the Trimontium Museum was installed a bit later than when my Beathan the Brigante was in residence, probably something like a hundred years later! But that's not to say that there weren't any small altars at Trimontium in A.D. 85. Perhaps they just have not been found, or are building material in local  churches or large estate houses!

Slainthe!  

Monday, 24 June 2019

Coming soon!

Not long now till it's my turn to interview on the #HistoricalWriters'Forum Blog Hop. Come back on Wednesday 26th and meet Paul - he's quite a character!



Slainthe!

Friday, 21 June 2019

#was reading #15, 16 &17 during June


My recent reads...

Finding Nina by Sue Barnard 

This was an intriguingly different writing style (for me, anyway), the story presented severally through the voices of multiple characters. It followed the style of a series of letters and yet that wasn't actually what the writing was. The story unfolded in small sections, with an update given from each of the main characters and there was a good list of them. What was innovative, for me, was that each character updated as they 'saw' it happen and yet the whole story had none of the usual interactive dialogue of a more traditional scene in a novel.

The action didn't just skip ahead to another character with each new section, the years also passed by fairly quickly. I found it became important for me to mentally note the date of each new person's update (in the section headings) and to revise my knowledge of  how that next character was related in the story, to whom and with whom! To give too many details here would enter the spoiler areas and I always try to avoid those.

Adoption during World War II, and keeping family secrets thereafter, wasn’t so unusual during an era of such upheaval, but this story has a few lovely twists to keep the reader guessing for a bit longer till all the threads that bind the characters are eventually tied up. The writing is crisp and the pace excellent which kept me eager to find out the next denouement.


I’d recommend this to readers who enjoy relatively recent historical fiction, or to those who like family relationship stories.

I gave this 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

The Centurions by Damion Hunter 

At times, as I read this novel it occurred to me that some of the information used was a little out-of-date compared to what I've learned from very recent archaeological theories. Some things jumped out at me as not being 'quite right' and interrupted what was an intense reading flow, because I was really enjoying the story of the two half-brothers. 

What was the in-thinking of the 1960s and 1970s isn't necessarily how it is interpreted today and it made me wonder where the author was acquiring his research from. It was only when I read the credits page that I realised this version that I've just read is an update - the novel having been first published in 1981. 

One large aspect that I must find time to research is why they chose to enter the 'training programme for the centuriate'. It puzzled me that Flavius didn't become a junior tribune but hopefully that will be revealed in later books.  

I really enjoyed reading about Correus and Flavius and intend to read more of their adventures, especially when they are stationed in Britannia which I feel I may know more about than the exploits of the Roman Empire's legions in Germania.

A letter from America by Geraldine O'Neil 

Family ties and obligations were pretty strong during the 1960s, in some locations more than others. I could easily empathise with the main characters about how hard it was to go contrary to what would have been societal expectations.


The plot was in some ways predictable but it was interesting to read how the characters felt as they went through the experiences of the novel.





More reviews to come later, since I'm still not up to date. 

Slainthe! 

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

#4 Interview Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop!

Welcome to Wednesday and it's time for another intriguing 'Interview My Character' post from the Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop.  


Today, it's Judith Arnopp's pleasure to interview Edward Seymour  from Janet Wertman's novel The Path to Somerset. You can catch a glimpse of what makes Edward satisfied by hopping over to Judith's Blog. Click HERE 

Here's the list of superb authors who are participating! It's just one week till I'll be having an illustrious guest, Paul van Daan , to interview. He really is quite an arresting character that you'll love getting to know.   More info on that interview soon...


p.s. remember that you can catch up with interviews #1-3 by clicking the links on the top tab of this blog titled ' 'Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop'

Enjoy meeting the characters.

Slainthe! 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Interview #3 Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop

Happy Saturday to you! 



It's time for the next post in the Historical Writers' Forum 'Meet My Character' Blog Hop. Today Lynn Bryant interviews Matho Spirston, a man who has risen in prominence over the series of books written by Jen Black. He's a very resourceful young man who has a real way with him!

I first met Matho in Fair Border Bride, but some years have passed since then and he has acquired a very impressive position with Mary of Guise. You can read the interview HERE. 

I'll keep you posted about new posts as soon as they're published. If you need to catch up with the previous interviews, click the links on the top tab of this blog named 'Historical Writers' Forum Blog Hop 2019'.

Happy Reading and Happy Weekend!

Slainthe! 


Monday, 10 June 2019

#Booksread #14 during May into June


Book Review time!

I have a few reviews and/ or ratings to do for fiction I've read during the end of April and into May. 

Here's one of them (#13 of 2019) that I'm delighted to recommend as being a great read set during an interesting time period, and a very intriguing setting. 

Overture by Vanessa Couchman 

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting Marie- Therese, a young lady of many talents and great fortitude. Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, Marie-Therese has the potential to be more than the fate set down by her parents who are small scale farmers in rural France. Marie-Therese finds insurmountable hurdles in continuing her education but the circumstances which then befall her make it almost impossible to make any choices of her own when she and her mother are forced to move away. 

Marie-Therese is a survivor and a realist. She retains a certain degree of innocence and avoids the traps of rancour but when possibilities for a different sort of future present themselves, she embraces the changes with an open heart and downright hard slog. There’s still an innocence about her many years later, especially when her romantic aspirations don’t keep in step with her professionally improved ones.

Frederic is an interesting character, and one I hope we learn more about in Book 2 of the series. When his fate seems to be very gloomy, I was visibly moved when reading that part of the story, invested so well in the development of his role in the novel.

Marie-Therese’s relatives– her parents, aunt and uncle – seem very realistic and very much a product of their era and traditional beliefs, residence in Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century not having tarnished their standards.

The downright nasty and mildly unpleasant characters are consistently mean – Fabre; at times her aunt; and a few other fellow performers – but fortunately they are outnumbered by the nicer ones throughout the story.

The author pens the specific era in France with great authority, and is excellent at painting realistic images of the settings. The characters interact seamlessly in their environments – in the rural and in the cities mentioned. 

I’d definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a historical tale, and especially to those interested in the Europe of pre-World War I or those who are opera fans!

This got a well-deserved 5* rating from me. 

More reviews to come soon.

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Interview My Character #BlogHop

Hello Sunday! 


The Historical Writers' Forum 'Interview My Character' Blog Hop has started this week. There will be a fabulous selection of characters for you to meet over the coming weeks and to make it easier for you to dip into the interviews, I'll be adding a tab at the top of this blog.


So far there are 2 interviews available  on the #BlogHop.


  • On Wednesday 5th June 2019 , it was Byrthnoth's (Author Christine Hancock) turn to be interviewed on Jen Black's Blog - What a fine young warrior for you to meet and to decide where his loyalties lie most! Catch that interview HERE



  • On Sat 8th June 2019, it was the turn of Lady Eleanor Elder (Author Derek Birks) to feature on Sharon Bennett Connolly's Blog. Eleanor's quite a force to be reckoned with. You'll enjoy meeting here HERE 
(p.s. You'll find a competition to #WIN a #FREE copy so remember to leave a comment on the blog post or on the Facebook Blog Hop Page


If you love to read, you'll really enjoy meeting this amazing bunch of characters, so look out for them and enjoy. 

Slainthe! 

Sunday, 2 June 2019

#Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop

Historical Fiction Blog Hop starting very soon! 

Here's the impressive line up of historical fiction authors who are taking part in this 'June into July' special Blog Hop. At each Blog Hop stop, a scintillating character from the pen of one of the authors listed below will be interviewed.

I've read the work of some of the participants and will look forward to reading the work of more of them in due time! I hope you will, too.


If you haven't dipped into the work of the participating authors then this is a fantastic way to get an idea of how the main characters of the featured novels 'tick'! Find out lots more by following each post. There are likely to be #FREE #Giveaways that only need a comment in the comments box to enter to #WIN.

More details to follow...


HINT: You'll need to keep checking each blog to find out where these #Free books may be offered.

Slainthe! 

Varnishing to last...

Happy Sunday to you! 

From having and extremely busy April on this blog, I went on to have a very non-blogging month of May. I was busy but not with blogging, and not with new writing either.

May was dedicated to catching up with gardening and household maintenance, the upgrade jobs that are needed every few years and which I've tended to do myself since I moved to this property some 31 years ago.

I'm hoping for a beautiful summer bedding display from all of the plants I've now got into my hanging baskets and display pots that are dotted around. I admit to being slower to complete the garden jobs (Could it be an age thing? Absolutely never!) since I've still to transplant my tomatoes, into medium sized pots, those reared from seed! 




May has been a long slog of varnishing and painting. Around 25 years ago, when we installed new double-glazing the so called 'dark oak' UPVC options, in our opinion, looked tatty and didn't match the age of the property which is almost 200 years old. The hardwood/timber framed double glazed areas we installed back then still look very smart - but only when I regularly do the hard graft of applying three coats of varnish (3 applications are supposed to last for 5 years but don't in our Aberdeenshire weather). 


I love it when all of my doors and windows are sparklingly newly-varnished, but it takes huge amounts of my time and some considerable effort climbing up and down a ladder (probably barely complying with health and safety these days). The heady sense of achievement, when the first coat on the ten areas around the house is done, becomes a tedious dogged determination to keep going by the end of coat number three. 

The last lick of varnish seems like it was done only 3 years ago but from the state of the deterioration in the first image above, I'm guessing I cheated and only gave it one, or at best two coats, last time. 

Were I earning pots of money from sales of my novels (and if they weren't being pirated so often thus me earning zero from them), I might have paid a painter and decorator to do it. Maybe next time around? Who knows. 

I've still got lots of reviews for books I've read in May to catch up with but the big news is that from the 5th of June I'm involved in a very special Historical Fiction Blog Hop. 

There's a post about this coming very soon...

Slainthe! 




Monday, 6 May 2019

#A2ZChallenge Survivor Reflections!

I'm a survivor!
Some reflections on my month of April.

Publishing a post on every possible day during the month of April for my blogging challenge was quite an achievement, but I absolutely loved doing it.  

I kept to my theme of Roman Scotland during the Flavian Era -  i.e. during the invasions of (mainly) General Agricola. I really enjoyed finding a suitable topic to match the letter of the day and in doing the posts it's helped clarify some aspects for my current writing. Some letters were much easier than others and yet they did not necessarily turn out to be the shortest posts. 

I thoroughly enjoyed finding suitable graphics to match the topic of the post and I even made some new maps which I'll definitely use in future - here on this blog, or in my PowerPoint author presentations which I give to various sizes of local groups across Aberdeenshire, Scotland. I've also learned even more new information about the era and, for me, that's fantastic because I've still so much to learn about Roman Scotland in general, and in Flavian terms as well. 

I made a rough estimate of my word count which was a whopping 34,000 words! That's about one third of a typical novel of mine, once through its final edits. 

Do I have any regrets? Yes, I do in that my posts often took all of my spare time on a daily basis, so I didn't manage to pop into as many other blogs as I'd have liked to. I read and commented as much as I could and had the energy left for, but more blog visiting on my part would have been better. However, I loved learning lots of new things about Indian myths and legends, those were my most informative and most entertaining visits.

I had about 4200 views during April. That's a little bit more than average and.... naturally the more the merrier! 

I'm delighted that I had some visitors and love the few comments made. Since my topic is essentially quite a serious one, that's relatively formal, I'm aware that the material isn't a lighthearted coffee time read that has a huge appeal. However, I do have to be totally truthful and confess that I did the challenge mainly for myself. Any new blog visitors, and hopefully new followers are a huge bonus! Thank you very much indeed, if you were one of my new visitors!
www.123rf.com

Since this wasn't my first time doing the challenge, I'm likely to do another one, though perhaps not as soon as next year! (Unless my fiction writing is a different time period) As before it was easy to sign up and well- organised so I know roughly what to expect another time. 

I've spent these first five days of May mostly doing gardening tasks, enjoying the fresh air and some digging exercise but I must now knuckle down to my latest writing which is Book 5 of my Celtic Fervour Series. Since I managed to write 34 thousand words for my A2ZChallenge,  then I'm setting a realistic target of adding 40 thousand words to my WIP by the end of June.

I do hope the muse is in residence! 

Enjoy the next months whatever you're intending to do. 

Slainthe!