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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!