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Sunday, 29 December 2013

Lupo & The Queen's Dogs

Since my puppy, Bertie, moved in, I’ve often wondered how the furniture in the royal palaces remained and remains unchewed when the Queen, like her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, is so fond of dogs. When at home, both Queens are and were rarely seen without their canine companions, some of whom must have surely been chewers!
 
Perhaps, for the present Queen, the answer lies with her ‘dog whisperer’ whom, according to the Telegraph, she regularly consults about her dogs’ behaviour. It seems that the corgis don’t take too kindly to outsiders, so the Duchess of Cambridge’s dog, Lupo, was, for his own protection, left with the Middletons this Christmas, rather than joining the family at Sandringham: 
 

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

     
Merry Christmas
to everyone who visits this blog!

If you are looking for something to watch over the holiday period, this is, in my opinion, the best Biblical film ever made. This two minute clip shows the Nativity but the entire film is available on YouTube.

May your days be merry and be bright, and may 2014 bring you all you could wish for! 



Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Christmas Spirit Every Day

As Christmas week is about to start – the season of kindness and goodwill – this is a very beautiful example of how people all over the world are living the Christmas spirit every day of the year:
 


 
Newspapers and television news concentrate so much on the darker side of what is happening in the world that it can seem that darkness is the norm, whereas, in fact, the world is not a place of fear and unkindness, but rather a place filled with beautiful people and beautiful creatures who are carrying out ‘random acts of kindness’ every day. I am sure that if the news media focussed more on the goodness in the world - rather than spreading fear and mistrust - peace, love, kindness and beauty would not only be more apparent but also would spread so quickly that we would all be transformed in no time and the spirit of Christmas would truly be visible to everyone.  

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Happy Birthday, Franz Ferdinand

Today it is exactly 150 years since the birth of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria – a much misunderstood man, in my opinion, who would have made a wonderful Austrian Emperor, and who, had he lived, could have prevented the outbreak of the First World War.
His murder was clearly merely an excuse for hidden powers to precipitate the war, which greatly benefited industrialists, arms dealers and international bankers, so, even if he had not been killed by the patsy in Sarajevo, they would have found some other means of starting the conflict.
 
Had Franz Ferdinand lived, however, his close personal friendship with the Kaiser, and their joint plan to create a peaceful alliance with Russia would have seriously undermined the plans of those who wanted war. Moreover, his intention of ensuring greater autonomy for the various regions of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would have prevented the shameful meddling of the horrendous Treaty of Versailles.
 
 
 
 
 
A devoted family man, who deeply loved his wife and could have been instrumental in creating a more peaceful Europe, I think he deserves to be remembered for more than simply his murder being on the official list of ‘causes of the the First World War.’ 
 
Happy Birthday, Franz Ferdinand!   



Saturday, 14 December 2013

Prince Albert and Princess Alice

If anyone were left in any doubt about the love Queen Victoria felt for her children, it would only be necessary to read her very touching journal entry for 14th December 1878, the anniversary of Prince Albert's death, and the day on which Princess Alice died.

In the midst of her shock and grief, it is beautiful that Queen Victoria's almost immediate reaction to Alice's death was the thought of the beauty of the happy reunion with her 'beloved Papa' on such a significant day.


Friday, 13 December 2013

Well said, Annie Lennox!

Hurrah for Annie Lennox, who spoke out against what she described as ‘pornography with musical
accompaniment’ in the music industry. It is so good to hear someone who is so successful and so gifted standing up to much of the explicit dross that even young children are bombarded with today.

‘Decency’ is a word which has lost a lot of its former meaning, and is now sometimes misinterpreted as puritanical whereas in the past it was the perfect word to describe self-respect, doing the right thing, uprightness, politeness and a basic healthy regard for one’s self and other people. It has seemed to me often that many of the songs and accompanying videos of certain performers today, completely lack that kind of decency and are such trashy rubbish that they are not so much shocking as ridiculous. Surely, any talented performer is capable of holding an audience without resorting to flaunting themselves or attempting to shock by removing more and more clothing in a manner that to me resembles drunken behaviour rather than that of a skilled performer.

So, good for Annie Lennox, whose recording of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” is so quirky and appropriate for this time of year!   



Thursday, 12 December 2013

If It's In the Paper, It Must Be True!

If it's in the paper, it must be true! A couple of weeks ago, I wasn't sure whether to be amused at such ignorance, or irritated at such blatant disregard for the truth, when I read an article supposedly about Queen Victoria's daughter, Louise, in the Daily Mail (not a paper I choose to read!) in which it was written:

Victoria made no secret of the fact that she was disappointed in her children. As babies, they bored and even revolted her; as children, they were dressed up like dolls to be formally presented to her a few times a day.”

The Queen was disappointed by her eldest son's behaviour - and she had good reason to be so! The heir to the throne repeatedly involved himself in scandals, and behaved quite abominably to several of his former mistresses - but I am convinced that virtually all the criticism of Queen Victoria's parenting skills comes from her supposed mistreatment of him. Queen Victoria was proud of her children - her letters and journals bear testament to that fact:

She was brokenhearted at parting from her eldest daughter, Vicky, when she married and moved to Berlin. Of her second daughter, Alice, she wrote:
“She is a dear amiable sensible child, - quite grown up; very pretty and with perfect manners in society, quite ladylike and cerclĂ©ing extremely well,” and again, “[She] has a sweet temper and is industrious and conquers all her difficulties; she is such a good girl and has made such progress recently.”
Of her son, Arthur, she wrote: “He is so beloved in the house and by everyone – for he is so good and unassuming, always cheerful and never makes mischief.”
Her youngest son, Leopold, she wrote: Is very clever, taking interest in and understanding everything. He learns, besides French and German, Latin, Greek and Italian; is very fond of music and drawing, takes much interest in politics – in short everything.” 
 
These are but a few minor examples of the numerous lines she wrote in praise of her children and they do not sound to me like someone who was disappointed in her children!
As for dressing them like dolls and having them presented to her a couple of times a day - what utter nonsense!! They were simply dressed in the style of the time! They were often with their parents, who regularly attended their lessons and took time to play with them!
Why do they continue to repeat and print these blatant untruths as though they are facts?? Probably because they are sponsored by publishers wishing to create scandal in order to sell books...

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

The Winner of 'Walter'

Thank you to everyone who entered the competition to win a copy of 'Wonderful Walter'!

I am happy to announce that the winner is:

J. Cummings  - please contact me with your address and the book will be on its way to you at once!

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Paradise

What a pity the wonderful drama drama, The Paradise, has now concluded! Based on a novel by Zola, and scripted, I believe, by the same brilliant writer who adapted Lark Rise to Candleford, it was one of the most gripping and enchanting and beautiful series I have seen since Lark Rise!  I sincerely hope that the writer goes on to write a third series and to adapt other great dramas because it is so wonderful to have beauty brought to the screen to combat all the gore, dreariness and excessive violence of so many TV series nowadays. At last, something uplifting in beautiful settings with absolutely excellent actors playing multi-dimensional characters and an intriguing plot.
 
 
 
 
It is so lovely to have beauty brought through the screen and I firmly believe that the scriptwriter is one of the very best ever to have written for television. Thank you, BBC, for bringing such loveliness!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Restoring the Swiss Cottage

A friend who recently visited Osborne House told me - to my despair! - that the beautiful Swiss Cottage was surrounded by scaffolding as it was in danger of collapsing! I was not sure how true the story was, but the thought of that exquisite piece of history disappearing was most disconcerting!


Happily, a restoration programme is underway, and, according to the BBC:

"The £1.65m project to rectify structural issues is due to be completed by next spring.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has contributed £776,400 to the work and the project has also received donations from a number of organisations, including the Garfield Weston Foundation.
The conservation work was needed to rectify issues which had developed in the chalet, including problems with timbers used to support its floors." Read more 

There is more information, too, at the English Heritage website

It is wonderful to see that a century and a half after it was opened, such care is being taken of a national treasure which was so close to the heart of Prince Albert and his children - particularly Alice and Vicky. 


Thank you, to all those who have entered the competition to win a paperback copy of Wonderful Walter. The competition will remain open until six p.m. GMT tomorrow, so there is still time to enter, using the contact form on the left hand column of this page.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter Wednesday's competition! All the entries were such a joy to read and I sent them all anonymously to an impartial person, who chose one at random...And the winner is:

Theresa Mary Murray of the United States.  Congratulations, Theresa! Please email me with your postal address, and a copy of Alice, The Enigma will be immediately on its way to you!

Thank you, too, to everyone who has taken up this week's offers - I am delighted to have given away over 1000 free books via Kindle this week! Happy Advent and an early Happy Christmas, to everyone who took one.

Today The Alphabet Quiz Book is free on Kindle



 And for a chance to win a paperback copy of Wonderful Walter for yourself or your children, simply contact me via the contact form on the left hand column of this page, with one line to say what you are most looking forward to this Christmas.

The closing time is Monday 9th December at 6 p.m. GMT, and the winner, picked at random from the entries, will be announced on Tuesday 10th.


Friday, 6 December 2013

FREE today: The Fields Laid Waste

Free today for the sixth day of Advent - the Kindle version of The Fields Laid Waste  - a historical novel based in Yorkshire in the early 19th century, covering the impact of the enclosures and the conditions of children at work. Please help yourself!



There is still time to enter the competition from Wednesday's post. Thank you to all those who have already responded. The winner will be announced on Saturday!

Tomorrow, Saturday 7th December, to complete this week of offers, you might like to download a free copy of The Alphabet Quiz Book, for a little family entertainment after your Christmas Dinner.




Also, there will another competition tomorrow for your chance to win a paperback copy of our children's book: Wonderful Walter.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

FREE today for the 5th Day of Advent: The Counting House

Thank you, to all the people who have already entered yesterday’s competition! The responses so far are beautiful, and there is still time to enter, as the competition doesn’t close until 6 p.m. GMT on Friday 6th December.
Today, to celebrate the 5th day of Advent, please feel free to help yourself to a free kindle version of The Counting House – a story about childhood:
“When seven-year-old Georgie, desperate to win the attention of her hero, James, steals a candlestick from a cemetery lodge, she believes that the devil has seen her and will follow her home. Her conviction is heightened that evening when tragedy strikes the family. Guilt-ridden, Georgie sets out on a quest to become a saint, in the hope that God will grant her a miracle. Her sincere but often bizarre efforts lead her through various escapades from a remote Yorkshire farmhouse to being lost in London, when she is accosted by a sinister stranger. The arrival of a distant relative throws her world into greater confusion as she comes to understand the nature of good, evil and accident. The story is populated by a variety of eccentric characters; feisty ex-suffragette, Great Aunt Lucy; the pious but increasingly senile Great Aunt Philomena; beautiful French Aunt Marie and her huge explorer husband; the cruel teacher, Miss Keppel; and the contrasting personalities of Georgie and her friends and siblings.” 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Win a Paperback Copy of Alice, the Enigma

To mark the 4th day of Advent, here is an opportunity to win a copy of the paperback version of my new book: Alice, the Enigma -a biography of Queen Victoria's daughter.

I truly believe that when we are so often bombarded with ugly and destructive images, it would make a huge difference to the world if we spent more time focusing on loveliness, and so , all you need to do to enter is to spend two or three minutes thinking of something beautiful, and then in one or two lines (or more if you prefer) complete this:

"I find beauty in...."

It doesn't matter how well you write. The intention is solely to think of something beautiful and the winner will be chosen at random. 

Please send your sentence(s) as a comment on this post - don't worry it will not be published without your express permission! - by 6 p.m. GMT on Friday, 6th December and the winner will be chosen at random by an independent person and announced on Saturday.


Please call back tomorrow for more offers and giveaways.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Special Offer for the Third Day of Advent

Today, continuing the Advent offers, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. (in both GMT and PST) the Kindle version of  Shattered Crowns: The Sacrifice  - the second novel of a trilogy - is available for just 99 pence in the UK, and 99 cents in the USA. 




Tomorrow,  please visit this site to enter a competition.

On Thursday, December 5th, The Counting House will be available free on Kindle.


On Friday, December 6th, The Fields Laid Waste will be available free on Kindle (and below are two short videos about the background to the book).  



Monday, 2 December 2013

Special Offer for the Second Day of Advent

Today, continuing the Advent offers, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. (in both GMT and PST) the Kindle version of  Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats  - the first novel of a trilogy - is available for just 99 pence in the UK, and 99 cents in the USA. 



Tomorrow the same offer will apply to the second book in the trilogy, and on Wednesday please visit this site to enter a competition.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Alice, The Enigma - Free today - Happy Advent!

Happy start of Advent! 




Continuing the opening of Advent offers, tomorrow, 2nd December, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. (in both GMT and PST) the Kindle version of  Shattered Crowns: The Scapegoats  - the first novel of a trilogy - will be available for just 99 pence in the UK and 99 cents in the USA. 




On Tuesday, December 3rd, between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. the second novel in the trilogy - Shattered Crowns: The Sacrifice - will be available for just 99 pence on Kindle in the UK and 99 cents on Kindle in the USA

On Wednesday, December 4th, I shall be posting a competition for here, the prize for which is a free paperback book. Please visit again on Wednesday to participate in the competition and find out more. 

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday there will be different offers. Thank you for visiting!  


Saturday, 30 November 2013

A Free Book to Mark the Start of Advent

To celebrate the coming of Christmas and to thank all the kind people who have purchased my books and sent me lovely emails during 2013, for the next few days, I am creating a kind of Advent Calendar, with a different offer each day.

Tomorrow, Sunday 1st December, I am beginning with offering a FREE download to Kindle of my new book: Alice, The Enigma . If you have a Kindle, please feel free to help yourself to a copy!
(The offer applies only for one day so please don't forget to collect your copy!)

Please keep returning too, to this site to see the next day's offer!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all American visitors!

It would be very pleasant if we here in England had a day for being thankful! 

Meanwhile, I added an American song to a little video about flirty little Bertie being a little fickle in his friendships (unfortunately the video was too long for me to convert to be able to edit it):


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Princess Alice

I am very happy to announce that my new biography of Princess Alice - Alice, The Enigma - is now available on Kindle, and also in paperback. The paperback and Kindle versions have different covers but the text is the same.
 


Paperback version

Kindle Version

This is not a great tome of a work but I found immense satisfaction in writing and researching it, not least because it reinforced my conviction that, despite the criticism heaped on Queen Victoria and Prince Albert nowadays, it is clear that they did their utmost to create a very happy childhood for their children.  It was also my intention to delve a little into the many contradictions in Alice's character in an attempt to understand her motivation and her fascinating personality, which was quite different from the many portrayals of her as a rather gloomy and somewhat frail person. Alice was truly a very profound being and I hope that those who read the book will find as much pleasure in it as I found in writing it. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

November Can Be Beautiful, Too!

November always seemed to be a miserable month with the nights drawing in so quickly, the cold and rain and all the gloom of poppies and memorials. One of the many happy discoveries that comes from having a dog is the need to venture out to trudge through mud and rain every day...and some days just take you by surprise and fill you with awe, as happened on my walk with Bertie today. November can be very beautiful and happy after all!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Don't They Know What It Is To Be a Child?

Nowadays we look back in horror at the terrible treatment of children in factories, sweat shops and mines in the Victorian era and wonder how people could have tolerated such abuse. The advent of education for all children was, in part, intended to correct that awful maltreatment and to ensure children had an opportunity to develop their talents. ‘Education’ – obviously from the Latin ‘to lead out’ or ‘bring out’ – means to draw forth and develop whatever gifts and talents we have inside. My own education was, I believe, based on that ideal and I am eternally grateful to my Grammar School teachers and the gentle atmosphere of the wonderful school I attended (and, incidentally, where I also had the good fortune to teach for a while).
 
Although I am no longer involved in that area, I listen to education ministers and see what is happening in schools and I am appalled! Where is the ‘drawing out’ of talents when so much depends on forcing things into children’s minds, and there is so little time for them to develop their personal abilities? There might not be slave-labour in sweat shops in England, but isn’t there an even greater abuse in crushing children’s minds and individuality? Now, records are kept – not only by schools but by government departments, I believe – of every single child’s progress in certain areas...why??? Are children commodities of the state? If I were still a child in school, I would consider it an invasion of privacy for some unknown person to have records of my judged abilities in various subjects, while having no idea who I am or what I believe or where my talents lie! Repeatedly, we hear the phrases ‘our children’ and ‘what we must do for ‘our’ children’ and I cannot help thinking, “They are not my children or our children and they are certainly not the state’s children!”
 
Recently, someone put forward the ridiculous suggestion that children should start school at the age of two! It is interesting to look at the education of one of the most brilliant men ever to have graced these shores – Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. He was placed under the care of a tutor before he was 5 years old, but his tutor recognised the importance of play and fun and exploration, and so the prince’s education up to the age of six was simply play, stories and picture books. At six, he had lessons for one hour a day. From seven to nine-years-old, he had lessons for three hours a day, and not until he was nine did he have five hours of lessons a day...and he turned out to be one of the best educated men imaginable!
 
I think some ministers ought to read Francis Thompson’s wonderful description of childhood: “Know you what it is to be a child? It is to be something very different from the man of today. It is to have a spirit yet streaming from the waters of baptism; it is to believe in love, to believe in loveliness, to believe in belief; it is to be so little that the elves can reach to whisper in your ear; it is to turn pumpkins into coaches, and mice into horses, lowness into loftiness, and nothing into everything, for each child has its fairy godmother in its soul...”
 
Meanwhile, though this is a puppy and not a child, here is a very, very wobbly expression of the joy of childhood/puppyhood (and it is impossible to hold a camera straight, while holding a lead on a Bichon in the midst of the famous ‘Bichon Buzz’ so please forgive the terrible quality!):
 
 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Dulce et Decorum est...






"If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied."
(Rudyard Kipling)









" ...the old lie:
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori..."
(Wilfred Owen)














Remembering with sad respect the millions killed in unnecessary wars.  

Saturday, 9 November 2013

A short video & Bertie's Birthday




A short video to introduce Alice, The Enigma

Today is my puppy's first birthday. He went to the groomer's after rolling in fox poo, which he seemed mightily pleased about...far more than I was! He also received a new coat, a rice bone and a goody bag of various toys. He has spent every evening for the past week hiding under a chair or a table, terrified by the firework explosion so I am trusting that tonight he will just relax and enjoy his presents!! 

Happy Birthday, Bertie! 




...Alas, Bonfire Night has turned into Bonfire Week and Bertie has, once more, been cowering under a chair. Why do they make such very loud fireworks? And why do they make fireworks which leave plastic cylinders all over the place, and which are harmful not only to puppies but to wildlife in general?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Alice, The Enigma

Princess Alice has always intrigued me, not least for the contradictions in her character. This fascinating woman has often been presented as little more than a footnote in history - merely a daughter of Queen Victoria or the mother of Tsarina Alexandra. A dedicated philanthropist, who devoted herself to the service of the poor, she was simultaneously attracted to beautiful jewellery and earned her mother’s censure for her love of ‘fine society’. Unorthodox, yet profoundly spiritual, she, who wrote of her resignation to the will of God in the most heartrending circumstances, was accused by the Prussian Queen of atheism, and was not ashamed to be associated with one the most controversial theologians of the age. She loved her children deeply and was devoted to her husband, yet her marriage became increasingly unsatisfying and, as she told the Queen, being a wife and mother did not come naturally to her. Unconventional and unafraid of involving herself in taboo causes, she was ever conscious of the privileges and responsibilities of her royal status; and, while inspiring devotion in the people whom she selflessly served, she was criticised, too, by those closest to her for her outspokenness and inability to endure a lack of commitment in others. 
daughter of Queen Victoria or the mother of the Tsarina - and, due, perhaps, to her early death and the bereavements and losses she endured, she is often seen as a rather sombre character, somewhat sickly and rather dour. In fact, the opposite is true - she was renowned for her cheerfulness and sense of humour, and, far from the ascetic persona that has often attributed to her, she was a passionate aesthete and deeply emotional person.
What is most intriguing, however, is the way that Alice demonstrates that the endless criticism of Queen Victoria & Prince Albert's parenting, is utter nonsense. The greatest tragedy of Alice's life was not, in my opinion, the bereavements she suffered or her own early death, but that fact that her childhood was so blissful and idyllic that nothing that came afterwards could ever match it. 
In my forthcoming biography, Alice - The Enigma, I hope to have captured a little of her essence and have sought to delve into that enigma in the hope of gaining a greater understanding of such an interesting person.


  

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Coming soon

Coming soon – Alice, The Enigma - a new biography of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse. Over the next few days, more information about the inspiration for the book and my purpose in writing it will be available.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Happy Birthday, Grand Duchess Elizabeth

Happy Birthday, Grand Duchess Elizabeth of Russia, who was born on All Saints Day 1864 and named after her ancestor St Elizabeth of Hungary. The lives of the two Elizabeths were to bear a remarkable similarity. Both were princesses who lived through turbulent times and, following the deaths of their husbands, sold all they had to care for the poor. Both became saints.
The earlier Saint Elizabeth said:
“I want to be able to say You were hungry and I gave you food; thirsty and I gave you drink; naked and I clothed you; sick and I came to you; in prison and I visited you...”
The sentiment was echoed by Grand Duchess Elizabeth.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Queen Victoria's Granddaughters

This blog has been a little abandoned for a time due to various circumstances - including a change of computer programmes, which made it difficult for me to sign in! I am happy to say it is now back up and running and also happy to announce that "Queen Victoria's Granddaughters 1860-1918" is, as from today, available in paperback.


As many readers requested pictures in the book, these have been included in the paperback version.

The Kindle version of the book has also been updated and re-edited with a 'clickable' contents page.

I am equally happy to announce that my biography of Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse, will also be released shortly in Kindle format, to be followed by a paperback version soon afterwards.

In the meantime, while this blog has been inactive, I have been carrying out research for a new biography of Prince Albert, and, the more I have discovered, the more obvious it is that the myths about his megalomania and lack of kindness to his children (and Queen Victoria's!) is utter nonsense. It is fascinating that witnesses who actually knew the Queen and Prince Consort, were frequently impressed by the affection shown to the royal children, and the warmth within the family.

It seems clear that the myth of their unkindness stems primarily from their treatment of 'Bertie', the Prince of Wales. Queen Victoria's reluctance to allow him to participate in affairs of state is seen as the reason why he adopted such a sybaritic lifestyle while he was Prince of Wales, because he had nothing worthwhile to do. It is obvious, however, that he did nothing to 'earn' the trust, which the Queen might have placed in him. When the Queen and Prince Albert were first married, the Queen did not allow Albert to participate in her work, but, rather than wallowing in self-pity or wasting his time, he worked on improving the running of the palaces and learning all he could about the British political system. Within a short time, he was participating fully in the Queen's duties. Perhaps, if Bertie had had more about him, he, too, could have earned the Queen's trust, and the myth of her supposed 'cruelty' would not have been handed down through the generations!


Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Kaiser's Gentlemanly Kindness

As someone who firmly believes that Kaiser Wilhelm has been shockingly defamed by many historians, I was delighted to come across this rather touching story today:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410059/WW1-soldier-Captain-Robert-Campbell-freed-prison-camp-dying-mother-kept-promise-return.html

In that dreadful war where atrocities were committed by both sides, it is good to remember that 'history is written by the victors', and the Germans frequently showed more humanity than the British (and I write this as someone who is proud to be English!).

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Carrots, Apples & Puerperal Fever

Researching my forthcoming biography of Princess Alice, I came across some interesting and rather sad accounts of the ‘Laying-In Hospitals’, ostensibly founded to combat the high infant mortality rates and deaths in childbirth in the 19th century. In fact, many of these places were founded to enable medics to further their research into obstetrics and particularly to practise using forceps, using their patients as guinea pigs. Unfortunately but unsurprisingly, due to their unhygienic practices, puerperal fever spread rapidly and the number of women dying in childbirth significantly increased with the founding of laying-in hospitals, while mothers who remained at home to give birth, rarely contracted the fever, which had throughout the ages killed off so many wealthy women who could afford medical treatment that it had become known as ‘the doctors’ plague’.

In the late 1920s my grandmother contracted puerperal fever and, as she lay in her hospital bed, she heard the doctors at the other side of the curtains discussing her treatment. Somehow the infection had affected her legs and the doctors decided that the only solution was a double amputation, which, naturally came as a terrible shock to my grandmother. Being a woman of some spirit, she refused to accept this solution and, as soon as the doctors had gone, she jumped out of bed and ran home! The illness was horrific. All her hair fell out and her life was seriously in danger until a wise old neighbour with no medical training whatsoever told her to eat nothing but carrots and apples – which is exactly what she did for several weeks (or possibly months). “Bags full of apples and carrots!” she said. Her hair grew back more beautifully than ever, and she lived for a further seventy years (dying at the age of 98) walking about quite happily on both legs and relieved that she hadn’t accepted the advice of the doctors.

Very recently, I heard of a woman who refused all medical treatment for breast cancer but cured herself completely by avoiding dairy and eating carrots and apples. Chopping off body parts or zapping with dangerous chemicals might be one way to deal with health issues but perhaps it is worth remembering that there might also be far simpler and more effective and gentle solutions to many of the conditions that afflict so many people today. Nature is filled with antidotes, just as dock leaves grow next to nettles (but these natural antidotes provide little profit for pharmaceutical companies, which thrive on illness, unless, of course, they intervene by genetically modifying crops), and, in the overall scheme of things, it seems the natural world is designed to help us to thrive...
  

Saturday, 10 August 2013

FREE - This Weekend Only

To celebrate the launch of of Wonderful Walter series in paperback, we have made Kindle versions of the first book: Wonderful Walter available for free this weekend. Do, please help yourselves and, if you enjoy the story, do please write a review or send us your feedback here.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Now Available in Paperback

I am very happy to announce that our children's book Wonderful Walter is now available in paperback via Amazon in the UK and Europe as well as in the United States. The book is aimed at 7-11 year-olds and has been read by education professionals and others who work with children, all of whom have commented on its appeal and value for children in that age group.

Available in Kindle & Paperback fomats

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Step 4 - Join a Puppy Class

Making slow progress on our own, Bertie and I joined an excellent puppy class. Here, we can learn how to work together on things like walking, stopping, meeting other dogs, meeting people...and general obedience. Week 1 – Bertie loved it, particularly because the trainer had a different kind of treats than his usual ones, and because he had a chance to play with other puppies. The first thing he learned was how to bark at another dog! Strangely, prior to puppy class, Bertie had only barked once or twice and that was at his toys. Now he can do a very loud bark, which is rather odd coming from a little dog.

Week 2 – Five minutes into the lesson, Bertie was no longer interested. They say dogs are like their owners (or vice versa)...I have been told that I enjoyed my first day at school (aged 4) but when woken to go the next day, said, “I’ve been there and know what they do. I don’t need to go anymore.” Hmm...Bertie obviously had the same idea. Suddenly every blade of grass was more interesting than our ‘exercises’, and even the other puppies lost their appeal.


Week 3 – Bertie didn’t want to get up and go. It took so much cajoling, coaxing, commanding to even get him into the car and when we arrived at puppy class, he spent most of it sitting with his back to the rest of the class.

Week 4 – Enough is enough, thought Bertie, who promptly ran away from puppy class altogether! Eventually, after a huge amount of catching and tugging (how can a small dog be so strong?) he ‘agreed’ to return but only to the advanced class where the dogs were perfectly behaved and followed the most minute instructions instantly. Clearly, because he has already devoured ‘A Tale of Two Cities’, a biography of George IV, ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’ and two poetry books from my bookshelf, he considers himself to be far too clever for the reception class! Once in the advanced class, he jumped around a bit, getting in the way of the advanced dogs, before wandering off in the opposite direction, and generally disturbing the class, while the other obedient dogs merely looked at him in disdain.

Oh well, at least he didn’t bite the trainer, like one dog I heard about did!

Tomorrow we will start again...and I am trusting that, just as Samson lost his strength when he had his hair cut, Bertie has lost just a little of his wilfulness with his hair new cut...