Posted on

Scotland Bound – Part 2

Edin 1I left you last week, having taken so long to explore Lowther castle that we arrived in Edinburgh late afternoon. This city is one we must come back to, especially to discover Edinburgh castle which is perched on a hill in the centre of the city. I’d also love to stop and see The Kelpies – they are 30-metre-high horse head sculptures, completed in 2013.

 

The next stop heading north was midmorning at a beautiful little town called Callander. There was a picturesque river winding its way past the shops and a council worker stopped to tell us a little about the area. After a quick coffee, it was up and up to the Scottish Highlands.

There was still snow on the Bens- beautiful- and walkers everywhere! In fact, walking in summer in the UK seems to be the favourite past time. Around every corner, there was a cluster of cars from those who were off trekking the hills.

Back to Scotland- I lost track of the magnificent mountains as panorama after panorama opened before us. I was so blown away by the beauty, I almost forgot to take photos with the Budgy Smuggler hat. We stopped at a Scottish Commando memorial tucked away in a huge valley- what a moving tribute to the service of those men!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And where there are mountains, there are lochs. I was incredibly excited to see Loch Ness which has its own castle ruins- Urquhart. I walked the length of the ruins and climbed to the ramparts, snapping photo after photo and imagining what it was like before it was blown to smithereens. I didn’t see Nessie.

There were many battles fought over that piece of real estate and in the end, Castle Urquart’s owners fled, blowing it up so it could never become a refuge for their enemies – so very difficult to imagine today. I didn’t want to leave but we were due in Inverness to spend the night.

Castle BlairAnd that’s where I end this week. Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart deserve a feature of their own!
See you next week when we discover Blair Castle!
Bernadette x

Posted on

Scotland Bound- Part 1

back Yard 2Our flights from Brisbane to the United Kingdom, landing in Columbo, Abu Dhabi and Manchester, could not be said to have been without event but finally we were at our ultimate destination- Dore, Sheffield. And while this part of the world has oodles of old-world charm, we had a mission to achieve. Scotland.

Aided by Tom and Monique, we planned a 4 night get-away, based on their road trip the year before. Airbnb was the site we used to book each night’s accommodation and the venues were affordable and suitable. The next morning, we hired a Mini Cooper and began our northern quest.

Windermere was our first night’s stop- a short 200 kilometre drive NNW from Dore. The countryside was magical- narrow lanes, stone fences and lots of sheep. The houses we passed were often stone with slate roofs. Our B and B room with its private ensuite, sat perched a short walk up the hill from Lake Windermere. Breakfast was taken underground in a charming breakfast room in the basement. And so began the first of many walks we would undertake on our three week holiday- broken only by our lazy days watching the cricket.

Lake Windermere was very pretty with small islands dotted across the lake and plenty of water birds and local perch and brown trout. We had a walk through the cemetery and partook of a massive cheese platter. I discovered Chile produces a very decent Sauvignon Blanc and continued to enjoy it throughout the UK!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Off early the next day, our destination was Edinburgh. On the way, we stopped at Lake Keswell, enjoying more water fowl and a beautiful view of the lake, not to mention a lovely walk.

Then it was on to Lowther castle which was completed in 1812. The castle has a varied history, playing host to royalty and nobility for a century or more before being abandoned.

At one stage in WWII, it was occupied by the army and in 1957 it was partly demolished. Today, the castle ruins stand beside a grand façade and the only occupants are the castle gardens. The gardens and fields are extensive, however, and well worth a walk.

Having taken so long to explore Lowther castle, we arrived in Edinburgh late afternoon and decided that this city would need to be explored another time. However, we did discover Edinburgh castle- perched on a hill in the centre of the city – as we drove out next morning. And the Kelpies fascinated me- they are 30 metre high horse head sculptures, completed in 2013.

And that is where I leave you this week- on the way to the Scottish highlands. Stay tuned for beautiful snow capped mountains when I continue my Scottish adventure next week.

Bernadette x

Posted on

Our UK Adventure

IguanasYou will remember I left you last week as we arrived back in Brisbane after a wonderfully relaxing Island Hopper cruise with P & O. We had a week back in Brisbane to prepare for our three weeks in the United Kingdom. My husband and I had never been on a long-haul flight before and were anxious about how we would cope.

columboIt was not good news when we were told our 10.30 pm departure would be delayed a couple of hours and then we would have to stop off in Columbo and collect a new flight crew. Still, I settled back to enjoy catching up on movies such as The Greatest Showman and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. As an author, it’s vital to fill the creative well and inflight entertainment is the perfect vehicle. I loved both movies. I also re-watched the first Twilight movie somewhere along the line and only wish I could have watched all three.

Our arrival in Abu Dhabi was met with the news that we had missed our flight and would be hosted free of charge in Etihad’s Crowne Plaza Hotel. A nuisance sandstorm stopped us from appreciating the beauty of the city. We enjoyed two meals and a lovely four-hour sleep then returned to the airport to resume our journey.

Finally, eighteen hours late, we landed in Manchester and were met by Tom, our oldest son. We were to base ourselves in Dore, Sheffield. The countryside we travelled through was immediately so different to home. I loved the stone walls and sheep and the lovely flowers and stone houses. There is something about natural stone that really speaks to me.

The home we were to stay in was cosy with a cute little private English garden and pear and apple trees in front. How great would it be to be able to pluck a fresh apple from a tree on your way to work? We explored the immediate surrounds and then Tom’s partner, Monique, helped us plan our Lake District and Scotland adventure.

And that’s where I leave you this week. Stay tuned for the first of our trips north from Sheffield.
Bernadette x

Posted on

Guest Author- Elizabeth Ellen Carter

EECarter3Joining me today is historical romance author, Elizabeth Ellen Carter. Elizabeth is a local Brisbane author who has just released the third instalment in her Heart of the Corsairs Series, Shadow of the Corsairs!

Welcome Elizabeth and congratulations on your new release.

Thanks Bernadette, it’s great to be here.
Can you tell me what you love about historical romance stories?

Historical romances bring important events of our past to life. And, when well done, give an insight into how people lived in times past. I think that a great understanding and appreciation of history is absolutely vital because understanding history is all about understanding ourselves.
Whether we know it or not, we have a strong connection with the past – in fact it is built into our very DNA!
So, to live in another time or participate in historical events through the lens of a well-researched and well written historical novel is an accessible way to reconnect with our pasts.

What gave you the idea for this story? The series?

I came across an article about the pirates of the Barbary Coast which connected the dots between some of the events we’re witnessing in more recent times. For instance, the reason why France colonised North Africa in 1830 was to finally put an end to the slave trade in that region.
Between 1650 and 1830 between 800,000 and 1.25 million Europeans, some as far away as Iceland were abducted and sold into slavery.
The more I read about the Ottoman Empire and its slaving past the more I wanted to tell a story about how slavery affects individuals. Every main character in the Heart of the Corsairs series has been touched – directly or indirectly by the brutal and predatory tactics of the Barbary Coast slavers.

shadow-of-the-corsairs-cover

Let’s take a moment discover what Shadow of the Corsairs is all about- here’s the blurb:

The Past Casts a Shadow Over a Second Chance For Love….

Palermo, 1810

Morwena Gambino is struggling to keep her family’s business going against mounting troubles. Her widowed father, once shrewd, is now increasingly forgetful, letting debts mount and disavowing his sons. Morwena runs the shop behind his back, forced to hide her enterprise not only from her father but also her bitter older brother.

In Tunisia, Tewodros “Jonathan” Afua is struggling to stay alive. Once an Ethiopian prince, he is a captive of the corsairs who slaughtered his wife and children. When a US naval bombardment provides an opening for escape, Jonathan falls in with a seemingly deranged English pirate. Aboard Kit Hardacre’s rundown ship with its ragtag crew, Jonathan learns the real reason he was taken by slavers.

Reluctantly joining Hardacre’s crew, he meets Morwena in Palermo. The fiery young Sicilian woman is the opposite of his quiet reserve, but he is attracted to her despite mourning for his late wife. As he and Morwena grow closer, it emerges that they have something in common – secret betrayal by those close to them – and they must count what they’re willing to risk for a future together.

*****

Read all three books in the Heart of the Corsair series:

Captive of the Corsairs
Revenge of the Corsairs
Shadow of the Corsairs

*****

Historical fiction usually necessitates quite a deal of research. Was there any travel involved in preparing for this book and where did you go?

I would love to travel for research, but my budget doesn’t stretch that far! I had to content myself reading historical references and university articles on the subject – and spending a bit of time looking at beautiful photographs of Sicily, Tunisia, Libya, Turkey and Ethiopia.

A pirate is one of the secondary characters, did you take to the high seas before writing it?

I wish! One interesting thing I did discover was they don’t have notable tides in the Mediterranean – only a few centimetres difference between high and low tide. That wasn’t something which had occurred to me!

Do you have any historical hobbies?

I love museums, antiques fairs and historical architecture – it’s like a gift from the past that we can enjoy today.

What is your favourite genre to read?

I love reading history, historical fiction, historical romance, mystery, and the classics.

What’s next for Elizabeth Ellen Carter?

I’ve started a new series! The overarching hero of the Heart of the Corsairs series has proved to be so popular that I’m reaching back into his past. Kit believes himself to be an orphan. What he doesn’t know is his father is still alive – so what happened to separate them? That will be answered in the first book of The King’s Rogues series called Live And Let Spy.

*****

EECarter4Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.

You can find Elizabeth here:

• Web: http://eecarter.com
• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethEllenCarter
• Newsletter: http://eecarter.com/index.php/homepage/book-club/
• Twitter: https://twitter.com/EECarterAuthor
• Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/eecarterauthor/
• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabeth_ellen_carter/
• YouTube Trailers: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=elizabeth+ellen+carter

 

 

Posted on

Island Hopper Cruise- Part 2

PV approach 1By Day 4, we were getting a taste for cruising- no social media, all food included, drinks at mainland prices and plenty of on board entertainment- not to mention great company. We’d survived the rough departure from Brisbane up the coast, arrived in warmer and calmer climes and dipped our toes into the social scene on board.

Pv approach 2.JPGDay 4 saw our early arrival in Port Vila. The entry into the harbour was spectacular. We joined another tour and were driven around the area taking in a tribal cultural experience. We were greeted by a tribe of warriors and then met the chief, after which we were offered a fruity snack. To top it all off, I got to hang out with two local iguanas- don’t miss the little guy on my hat!

Port Vila was a city of contrasts- great beauty and serious poverty. There were five- star resorts as well as residents who had very little. I would love the chance to return some day and really get to explore the bays and beaches. The city area had few road rules or speed limits, so you had to have your wits about you as a driver or pedestrian. Josie and Sam enjoyed an outrigger canoe experience, along with snorkelling in the water between the two islands above.

After a fantastic Port Vila experience, we returned to the ship, determined to come back one day.  It’s only a two hour flight from Brisbane – very conveniently located- you can live as upmarket or casually as you wish.

PV sunset.JPG

Facing us were two sea days before our arrival back in Brisbane. Determined to get the most from our cruise, we threw ourselves into the activities, watching movies, shopping the specials, having a small win at bingo, attending the music quiz each night and managing to snare an illusive spot for the four of us at the Luke Mangan High Tea.

As a last fabulous hoorah, Michael and I sang Karaoke late into the night, then went to our rest, satisfied we had had wrung every last experience out of the cruise.

Highlights of the cruise were:

  • delicious and varied food options included in your price
  • a fabulous entertainment staff and cabin stewards
  • fantastic island experiences
  • absolute relaxation
  • great time spent with our family

Recommendations:

  • don’t buy the drinks package
  • do take friends or family with you
  • go ready to have fun and unwind, far from social media

And that’s my Island Hopper Cruise report. Highly recommended!

Stay tuned for part one of our UK experiences next week…

Bernadette x

Posted on

Island Hopper Cruise- Part 1

IMG_0221And so began the best four weeks of my life! Not knowing what to expect from our first cruise, we set sail from Brisbane for New Caledonia. Our travelling companions were Sam, our middle son, and his partner Josie. Embarkment day was my birthday, certainly a day I will never forget.

IMG_0230After a short delay boarding the ship Pacific Dawn, we sailed up the coast, able to catch a glimpse of the Glasshouse Mountains as the sun set. It was rough going, really testing those who had yet to get their sea legs. Thankfully I was fine.

IMG_0231Day 1 was a sea day- the ocean was an incredible blue and we had fun spotting flying fish- boy can those little guys soar! That night was the first night of the Pop Star heats. I sang Shania Twain but had no luck getting through.

IMG_0237
Day 2 dawned fine and smooth with New Caledonia on the horizon. We had time to take part in a delicious wine tasting before setting off for our tour of Noumea.

IMG_0239  IMG_0258

Soon it was time to return to the ship for the Back to School blast!

IMG_0271.JPG

Day 3 was Lifou day and my personal favourite. We took tender boats to the beach then enjoyed an Islander tour, topped off when I went swimming off the beach and patted a turtle! We sat within the parliament hut where all the island decisions are made and were given a woven headband. There was even a feast prepared for us!

IMG_0281

IMG_0276IMG_0307

IMG_0299

By now, we were getting a taste for cruising- no social media, all food included, drinks at mainland prices and plenty of on board entertainment- not to mention great company.

Stay tuned for my next instalment where we arrive at Vanuatu and then head for home!

Bernadette x

Posted on

UK Getaway

Stone Wall South YorkshireMy husband and I just returned from the best holiday of our lives. We spent three weeks based in Dore, Sheffield in southern Yorkshire and wracked up some miles. We tackled a new currency or two, dealt with a foreign language and soaked up all the strangeness that goes along with travelling outside your country.

Tom 50! YorkshireI think we chose wisely for our first long-haul overseas trip. The people of the United Kingdom speak the same language we do, albeit in dozens of different accents, it’s a place of great antiquity and also of rare beauty. Added to that, our son was playing cricket in Sheffield and it was a no-brainer.

 

Castle ruinsAs a fantasy author whose stories are mired in medieval images, the cobbled lanes, stone houses and both intact and ruined castles, were a goldmine of inspiration for my stories.

Castle photo and meAs a side-story, I took along with me a bucket hat from Budgy Smuggler-an Australian company better known for manufacturing swimming attire. You can see the white embroidered budgerigar on the front. It’s a great little hat, light enough to tuck in your handbag and quite stylish, I think.

Over the coming months, I’ll post a series of blogs on my travels, including images from our week-long cruise to New Caledonia and Vanuatu, which we enjoyed before we headed to the United Kingdom.

Eiffel TowerBut before I go, here’s the iconic Eiffel Tower. It’s such a dominant structure and much larger than I ever imagined.

Until next time, happy reading!

 

Posted on

The Master and the Sorceress Release Day!!

Sorceress front cover (1)Today another one of my book babies- the seventh- makes its way out into the world. Like a real baby, The Master and the Sorceress has been at least nine months in the making. It’s not just the drafting of the story but the editing, blurb writing, cover design, formatting and uploading, not to mention the promotion. Of course I haven’t done all this myself and I have my editor and cover designer to thank for presenting my story in a truly professional light.

But none of this happens without the driving force of all books- the author. And when I say driving, I mean it to the highest degree. Some days, my books and stories are all I think about. Creating a book is one of the most consuming tasks I have encountered and that is without having to do any promotion. However, in today’s world, no author can survive without promoting their books, even if they are best sellers.

So I offer my book to you. The Master and the Sorceress was created to allow readers to escape the everyday for a time. I hope you enjoy it and would love you to leave a review on your favourite eBook retailer. Paperback copies will soon be available- you can order them now through me here if you live in Australia. I will also have my website shopping precinct up and running by the end of June.

Purchase Links

Amazon , Kobo, ibooks , Smashwords

Reviews- Goodreads and Amazon

Happy reading!

Posted on

The Master and the Sorceress- 2 weeks til release!

Sorceress front cover (1)The release of my seventh book, The Master and the Sorceress, is only 2 weeks away.

I can’t wait to send this story out into the world and reveal more of one of the secondary characters from The Lady and the Pirate, sorceress Katrine Aranati. She captivated me while writing The Lady and the Pirate, so much so that I left another story to write hers.

Katrine is sassy and yet respectful, tormented, passionate, brave, and her impulsive nature gets her into trouble time after time. She’s the type of woman who commands attention wherever she goes and, in The Master and the Sorceress, Katrine makes her hero fight for her.

Here’s the blurb:

Desperate sorceress, Katrine Aranati, no longer knows how to deal with the woman she has become. She runs headlong into a man whose heart’s desire is order and control. James Tomel, master jeweler, is outwardly a pillar of society but he hides more than one dangerous secret.

When they are thrown together on a trip to Brightcastle, fierce creatures from legend pursue them but even more dangerous are the feelings swirling between them. When their hearts and bodies come together, one will flee while the other demands an accounting. Can they find common ground where their love will flourish or will secrets and betrayal kill all hope of a life together?

Find out if love and chaos can defeat order and control in the fourth exciting instalment of the Wildecoast Saga.

The Master and the Sorceress is up for pre-order on Smashwords and Amazon, not to mention Kobo , Apple and Barnes and Noble.

Posted on

Release Date Announcement!

Sorceress front cover (1)Hot on the heels of the cover reveal of The Master and the Sorceress is news of its release date- 16th of April! That’s only 4 weeks away.

I can’t wait to send this story out into the world and reveal more of one of the secondary characters from The Lady and the Pirate, sorceress Katrine Aranati. Kat captivated me while writing The Lady and the Pirate, so much so that I left another story to write hers.

Here’s the blurb:

Desperate sorceress, Katrine Aranati, no longer knows how to deal with the woman she has become. She runs headlong into a man whose heart’s desire is order and control. James Tomel, master jeweler, is outwardly a pillar of society but he hides more than one dangerous secret.

When they are thrown together on a trip to Brightcastle, fierce creatures from legend pursue them but even more dangerous are the feelings swirling between them. When their hearts and bodies come together, one will flee while the other demands an accounting. Can they find common ground where their love will flourish or will secrets and betrayal kill all hope of a life together?

Find out if love and chaos can defeat order and control in the fourth exciting instalment of the Wildecoast Saga.

The Master and the Sorceress is up for pre-order on Smashwords and will be available on Amazon for pre-order in the coming days.