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London- Part 1

JH 10Fresh from the Yorkshire Dales, which could not be topped- we thought- we headed to London on the train – a rather fast train which didn’t enable much sight seeing. We discovered a confusing system of seat booking which many travellers, including us, ignored. This led to the occasional travel rage amongst those who had actually tried to reserve a seat. I also left one of our tickets in the machine in Sheffield- so if you are travelling by train in the UK, please be aware that the machine spits out an extra summary ticket. Luckily I was able to have the missing ticket re-issued.

We had massive plans for our London visit, just as we did for all our travel- see as much as you can in the short time you are there. The skies were overcast and threatening rain as we checked into our hotel in King’s Cross. We immediately set off on foot to find the travel information booth where we could purchase our Big Bus tickets.

With three days of bus travel purchased, we jumped on the nearest Big Bus and took a tour of the city, taking in St Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and landmarks like the Shard, Big Ben and the London Eye. The city of London is an interesting mix of ancient and new. We soon determined our focus would be on the ancient and the Tower of London was pencilled in for the next day.

It was just our luck that Big Ben was getting a makeover – but then we realised it had been damaged in that episode of Doctor Who. You know the one. There was all manner of centuries-old architecture to admire including many pubs. But I couldn’t get over the ever present contrast between modern architecture and loved old landmarks.

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We finished our first day in London, uncertain of what the next day would bring and convinced that Yorkshire and Scotland were far superior.

GreenwichStay tuned for London Day 2, when we explore the Thames, Greenwich and the Tower of London.

Until next week!

Bernadette x

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See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

See the fireworks bernadette rowley created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

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Favourite Doctor Who Episodes

Dr Who CastAt the moment, I’m watching Doctor Who reruns for the nth time and that puts me in mind of my favourite episodes. We are talking the modern doctor, so here goes:

John BarrowmanThe Empty Child- was a memorable episode because it introduced Captain Jack Harkness into the series, one of the most enjoyable characters of all time. The three way tussle of the travellers was entertaining.

Tooth and Claw- was one of the scariest episodes and to this day, I hold my breath, expecting that werewolf to catch Rose or the Doctor. I loved stepping back in time as the Doctor meets Queen Victoria and we discover the origins of the Torchwood Institute.

Girl_in_the_FireplaceThe Girl in the Fireplace- has to be one of the most romantic episodes ever, starring David Tennant and his brief romance with Marie Antoinette- a poignant story of the great lady and her brush with the Doctor.

Blink- was pretty special and introduced possibly the most terrifying monsters in the Doctor Who series. Forget the Daleks and the Cybermen, the weeping angels are truly scary and even more deadly. We don’t see much of the Doctor and his companion Martha but this episode features Sally Sparrow and a truly amazing plot.

Series 4- with Donna Noble is my favourite series- for all that there is no romance between these two, they are great friends and Donna is able to make something of her life where before it was so mundane. My favourite episodes are Fires of Pompeii and The Unicorn and the Wasp.

Dr Who VincentVincent and the Doctor-I loved meeting Vincent Van Gogh and seeing the tragedy unfold all over again. His works of art were truly stunning. Almost a happy ending.

The Day of the Doctor- I could watch this over and over again because not only did I get to see David Tennant as Doctor again (my all-time favourite Doctor)but multiple Doctors in one episode made for some very funny moments.

Did you notice I have a theme of favourite episodes? Except for Blink, they all go a back in time, examining great historical events and people. And in Blink, the Angels kill people by sending them back in time so I’m still sticking with my favourites theme.

David Tennant imageWhat are your favourite Doctor Who episodes and why?

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A New Doctor Who

When my blog was very new, I wrote a post called ‘The Most Romantic Doctor Who’ which was, in essence, a tribute to my favourite Doctor, David Tennant. This post is one of my most popular and is still viewed by people every week. The Doctor resonates with so many people around the world, what ‘Who’ lover wouldn’t want to tap into that wealth of material? But the subject is so massive that it’s difficult to pin down a topic to write on.

I came across a blog by my friend and colleague Leisl Leighton called Saying Goodbye to the Doctor in which she eloquently describes her journey through the evolution of the different doctors both old and modern day. It’s really worth a read as is the rest of Leisl’s blog. I could relate to much of what Leisl had written. I never watched Doctor Who’s old series though I’ve seen some episodes and footage from this era.

Christopher EccelstonMy experience of Doctor Who came with the advent of the new Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston. He bounced onto our screens as the ninth Doctor and I thought he was fabulous, as was Billy Piper who played Rose Tyler. I was still trying to get my head around Doctor Who and all its laws and possibilities, not to mention the assorted baddies, when Doctor ten, David Tennant, came along.

David Tennant imageIt didn’t take long for me to fall completely in love with David and he is still my favourite to this day and always will be. It didn’t seem to matter whether he was with Rose or Martha Jones or Donna Noble, each brought out a different aspect of his character, to give us a more rounded picture of his strengths and flaws. So far, he appears to be the only Doctor who has fallen in love. Perhaps this is why so many of us were mesmerised by him.

Girl_in_the_FireplaceThe main writer of the Eccleston and Tennant series was Russell T Davies, and I give a lot of the credit for my enjoyment of these Who eras to the wonderful writing. However my favourite episode, The Girl in the Fireplace was written by Steven Moffat and directed by the brilliant Euros Lyn.

As I said goodbye to Doctor David, there could not have been a more distraught devotee than myself. For one who had come to identify Doctor Who with Tennant, I just couldn’t conceive of another playing The Doctor. Along came Matt Smith and I prepared to love him as much as David. After all, I had successfully transitioned from Eccleston to Tennant, why not to Smith? Along with a new doctor, a new premier writer took over the series. Steven Moffat began weaving his convoluted yarns and I was very lost at times.

The_Eleventh_Doctor_and_Amy_PondMatt Smith was too young, too bumbling and I just couldn’t warm to Amy (Karen Gillan) either. On top of all this, the show had a new executive producer. It could be said that the entire landscape of Who was changed dramatically. I faithfully viewed the first few episodes, trying to get my head around the stories and the new Who and I admit, I gave up. I was devastated that my favourite show had been changed beyond my enjoyment. Occasionally I would catch part of an episode and find that, even in light of the odd laws of Doctor Who and ‘timey wimey’ stuff, I just couldn’t follow the stories.

Dr Who VincentI don’t know what happened to bring me back. It took me two series to accept Matt Smith and I’d be interested to hear if other fans had the same experience. I’ve now watched all the Matt Smith episodes several times over and love them, especially Vincent and the Doctor in which The Doctor and Amy take Vincent Van Gogh forward in time to show him how famous he became in the hope that it might save him. Each time I view these episodes I understand them better and feel that they are so complex that you can’t fully appreciate them without multiple viewings.

I will miss Matt Smith. I came to love his three way rivalry with Amelia Pond and Rory Williams. River Song added a feisty other dimension and Clara Oswald will continue into the next series with the new Doctor. TwelthdoctorWhich brings me to Doctor Peter Capaldi. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’m unconvinced about Peter as the new Doctor. He’s not young and sexy and I think that the three recent Doctors have really added dimension to the role in this area. Capaldi is much more in the mould of doctors in the old series, though we did have several younger men playing the character. We shall see.

Last, I can’t end this without mentioning The Day of the Doctor.  The episode introduced Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor and featured David Tennant and Matt Smith along with Tom Baker and Billie Piper. We even got to spend time with the War Doctor. It was magnificent television, creating a world viewing record for simulcast of a television drama. The show has us hooked and I don‘t mind admitting it. Long live Doctor Who in all his incarnations.

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Milestones

MilestonesToday my blog reached the milestone of 4000 hits. It took just over 12 months to climb to this and while I’m sure it sets no record, it’s still an amazing achievement. I’ve had a great time creating content for this blog and tried to stick with the romance theme.

Finishing line

I thought you might be interested to discover the most clicked of my 40 previous posts was The Most Romantic Dr Who which continues to get clicks on a regular basis. Next most popular was the Alpha versus Beta Heroes post.

Looking for Inspiration

 

I want to thank my readers for their continued interest and encourage you all to comment when you feel moved to do so. Here’s to reaching 10 000 hits within the next 12 months. I do love a challenge!Destiny Logo

 

 

In the coming weeks, I’ll have a series of interviews with Destiny Romance authors. I can’t wait to discover their new releases, writing lives and writing secrets. Until then…

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Vincent Van Gogh

This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, Vincent Rowley.

Van Gogh SelfieThe story of Vincent van Gogh resonates with people today. He left a wonderful legacy in his art but his life was a mixture of genius and insanity. Many would say that true genius can be very close to insanity. Have we romanticized Vincent’s life? Possibly. The thought of an artist or writer toiling away in beautiful locations, creating their masterpieces does appeal to those of us who are so inclined. But Vincent’s life was cut short.

Van Gogh was the son of a protestant minister and his life course led him from dealing in art to Christian ministry and finally to the life of an artist. He was unlucky in love and, as is often the case, didn’t receive recognition for his creative genius until after his death.  Like most artists and writers, Vincent took an interest in those around him and in his surroundings and this inspired his art.

Another source of inspiration for Van Gogh was his brother Theo, who saw something in Vincent and encouraged his artistic endeavours. The Vincent Sunflowersworld could so easily have been deprived of Vincent’s legacy as he suffered from deep insecurity over his art, having no early artistic abilities, no training and little encouragement from his parents and society. A burning need to leave the world something of himself drove Vincent to paint and his brother financially supported him to enable a life devoted to art.

starry-nightBut Vincent couldn’t control the bomb that was ticking away in his brain- epilepsy, psychotic attacks and delusions. His behaviour was unpredictable and he required hospitalisation. There were long periods of no creativity interspersed with frantic painting where he produced a canvas each day. This was when his The Starry Night was born.

I was out at dinner recently and Don McLean’s Starry, Starry Night was playing. It’s one of my favourite songs and the idea for this blog popped into my head. McLean sings of Vincent’s art, his mental anguish, his death and his legacy.

Van Gogh ChurchThose of you who are Dr Who fans will remember the episode where the doctor and Amy travel back to Vincent’s world, discovering an alien monster which is visible to Vincent but not to them. They must battle this monster without being able to see it. The episode begins in an art gallery where the doctor is viewing a Van Gogh exhibition and sees the monster in one of Van Gogh’s paintings. He travels back in time to find it.Dr Who Vincent

Mission accomplished, the doctor and Amy decide to take Vincent forward with them to show him the exhibition of his work, hoping it will give him the will to live on. He is overwhelmed by seeing his art appreciated and speaking to the guide who pays Van Gogh a wonderful tribute. But Vincent still takes his life a short time later.

Vincent Van Gogh touched many lives and continues to do so long after his death. He lives on in his paintings, just as he wished when he was a young man. And so his life is a triumph and the beauty and tragedy of his soul continue to affect us today.

Last week, we buried my father-in-law, Vincent Rowley. Vince was taken from us too soon, by cancer. He touched many lives and fought his disease for seventeen years. He raised six sons and had thirteen grandchildren. He was a loving and faithful husband to his wife Esther. He had many friends. He helped many people. Of all things in his life, Vince cherished his family and we all miss him. We are comforted by the knowledge that our Vincent is now out of his pain and in God’s arms.

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Weekend of Romance-Author Signing

ARRA Author SigningI was lucky enough to take part in the author signing during the ARRA 2013 Convention. It was beautifully organised and set up with around 66 authors involved from the fabulous Amy Andrews, Anna Campbell, Anne Gracie and Nalini Singh through to Helene (Helium) Young. Somewhere in the middle were the Destiny team of myself, Jennifer St George and Imelda Evans. Over two hours, readers filed past, getting us to sign the amazing souvenir booklets which contained information on each of the authors. And oh what information! Who knew that one of Anne Gracie’s celebrity crushes was David Tennant (I’m with you Anne!) or that Anna Campbell would love to live on the west coast of Scotland or that Kelly Hunter would really like to be James Bond?

I got to sign the print version of my book for the first time. It was difficult to know what to write but hopefully I’ll be forgiven if it was a bit lame. What was most amazing to me was the reader interest in paranormal/fantasy stories. It was gratifying to speak to so many who read widely in the genre that I love. I guess I’m not so odd after all.

Writers are, first and foremost, readers and the weekend was a wonderful opportunity to network with other readers who are most definitely passionate about romance and books in general. There was a great sense of being with one’s ‘tribe’ and for solitary writers, which we all are, this was an opportunity too good to miss. I’m so glad I attended!

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The Most Romantic Doctor Who

Dr Who CastDr Who fans are in seventh heaven this year with all of the modern series being played at 7.30 weeknights on ABC 2. We are being treated to lashings of The Doctor in his modern glory with all three ‘new’ doctors featuring this year. I must take this opportunity to say that Matt Smith has finally grown on me as The Doctor. It took a long time for me to say good-bye to David Tennant.

Currently, we have the second series of Dr Who featuring David Tennant in his first season. It’s Billie Piper’s (character Rose Tyler) second season and she does a truly magnificent job. She’s the girl who keeps the Doctor honest, showing her street smarts and her connection with family in every episode. Rose is the champion of the underdog and appears to have compassion in boundless quantities.

The Doctor whisked Rose away from her life on a London estate to roam the universes in search of danger and excitement. Some of my favourite episodes though are the ones where the Doctor visits the past. “Tooth and Claw” is the second episode in the second series and the Doctor and Rose travel to 1879 Scotland. There they meet Queen Victoria who is about to find a spot of trouble with a werewolf.  This week has seen “The Girl in the Fireplace”, an episode based around the life of Madame de Pompadour in France, 1727. This was a captivating episode, made more so by the beauty and grace of Sophia Myles who plays Reinette Poisson.

Romance underpins many episodes in the Doctor Who series. It is clear that Rose is besotted with her travelling companion and I believe that amongst all the companions throughout his long life, it is Rose who sits highest in the Doctor’s affections. He will do anything for her except settle down. That life is not for him. He tells her he won’t watch her grow old and die. Rose has already given up everything that once mattered to her to be with the Doctor.

Early in series two, we meet a past companion of the Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, and realise that here is another woman he has loved and left behind. Rose is shown her future and struggles with the likelihood that one day the Doctor will leave her too. The companion who follows Rose is Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman). After well over a year of service at the Doctor’s side, Martha parts from his company as she too has fallen in love with him. It is very clear to her that Rose is still uppermost in his thoughts and she, Martha, can only be second best.

The Doctor’s next companion is Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) who is unique amongst companions for not falling in love with him. (Although was she really kidding herself?) The Doctor and Donna share an amiable rivalry and he admires her greatly however Donna is possibly too abrasive a personality to ever be considered as a love interest. Never the less, Catherine Tate portrayed an intriguing companion and her episodes with Tennant are some of the most enjoyable.

The latest companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) leapt onto our screens with the eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith. Amy was definitely infatuated with the Doctor early on though it soon became clear that her heart lay with Rory. Another indefatigable woman, Amy takes the lead while the new incarnation of the time lord finds his feet.

And then there are the other women in the Doctor’s life. Most recently, this week in fact, the enchanting Madame de Pompadour stole the Doctor’s heart. She called him her ‘lonely angel’ and he visited her over the years of her life, rescuing her from clockwork androids when she was 37 and at the height of her power. He was willing to be trapped with her, never again to roam, but Reinette conceived a way to send her ‘lonely angel’ back to Rose.

River Song (Alex Kingston) is the unforgettable future wife of the Doctor, the woman he finally says ‘yes’ to. She is a fellow time traveler and keeps meeting the Doctor out of sync so that he has no real idea of her significance in his life. From an audience perspective, the Doctor’s first meeting with River is her last with him, so as he gets to know her better in ensuing episodes, she is less familiar with him. The bulk of her relationship is with the Matt Smith incarnation of the time lord.

The TARDIS is another of the Doctor’s loves; his ship, old and unreliable, with a core that is alive with the spirit of a woman. This spirit does actually inhabit the body of a human in the 2011 episode “The Doctor’s Wife” and we get an insight into the relationship between the time lord and his machine. A recurring plot point in the series is the habit the Doctor has of getting both the place and year of his destination wrong. In this episode, the TARDIS reveals that her intervention has often been the cause of these mistakes so that she could get the Doctor where he needed to be.

Last but certainly not least is Captain Jack Harkness played by John Barrowman. He first meets Rose in an episode set in London in the Blitz. He rescues her and attempts to sweep her off her feet but it is the Doctor who really traps his loyalty. The Doctor instantly knows Jack is bisexual but it takes Rose a little longer to realize that when it comes to sex, Jack swings both ways. Regardless of his preferences, the unforgettable dimpled smile of the swashbuckling Captain Jack will have fed the fantasies of many a viewer, male and female.

As a bit of fun, I’ve decided to announce some Doctor Who Romance Awards

Most Romantic Doctor – David Tennant series 2,3 and 4

David Tennant image

Freema AgyemanMost Romantic Female Companion– Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones) series 3

John BarrowmanMost Romantic Male Companion– John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness) series 1, episode 9 “The Empty Child”

Sophia Myles

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Romantic Guest Appearance– Sophia Myles (Madame de Pompadour) series 2, episode 4 “The Girl in the Fireplace”

Anthony HeadMost Riveting Antagonist– Anthony Head (Mr Finch) series 2, episode 3 “School Reunion”

These awards cover only the modern series, encompassing doctors 9,10 and 11. Please feel free to respond with your ‘Most Romantic’ awards from the series or add other awards to the list.