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. 


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...


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. 


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!


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! 


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!