Tuesday, 18 October 2011

I still love Italy

Some more photos this time of around Lake Garda and quite a few of Verona, another amazing Italian city. The first of the Verona photos is of Juliet's balcony, mmmm!!!! Absolutely hoards of tourists in the courtyard beneath the balcony many leaving 'love tokens' stuck to the walls and love letters in a souvenir shop dedicated to the star crossed lovers. All very tacky and really rather sad. But the rest of Verona was fabulous so much to see but only one day, so would love to go back. Lake Garda was fascinating, lots of villages dotted round the shore all accessible by boat, all full of character, and each quite different. Quite touristy but generally not over the top. And we had fabulous weather which always helps!

Next stop the Alps.

Monday, 3 October 2011

I love Italy

Just a selection of some of the photos I took in Venice. I was surprised by my reaction, I thought I would be amazed by St. Mark's square but I found it soulless, atleast when compared to Sienna. Many of the buildings were under wraps for restoration but it wasn't even that. It didn't help that we couldn't get into Saint Marks because of the queue winding for miles round the Doge's Palace. But it just lacked something. However the Grand Canal and all the minor canals were mind blowing. What a feat of human ingenuity? It resembled a busy motorway with boats zipping around in every direction and at speed. Oh but it must be a hard place to live, everything bought in by boat then trollied[by hand] to home or business. No wonder the numbers of permanent residents is dwindling, and of course putting up with the thousands of tourists who arrive every day must be very wearing.

I was further amazed by the size of the Cruise ships that were docked. More like floating tower blocks. We stayed for two nights on the Lido which meant we didn't have to leave our car in a public carpark. This was an excellent choice as the Lido is much more relaxed and less claustrophobic than Venice itself, and the vaporetto across to Venice gives a panoramic view of the city.

My one regret was that I had just read Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers [see a later review] and had wanted to visit the Church of the Angel Raphael. We found it [after a long trek] just after midday and it was closed til mid afternoon. We did not have the time to return, but maybe that will be for another trip. I would like to go back and explore further. Preferably earlier or later in the year when the weather would be cooler and with maybe a few less tourists. However I am delighted to have had the chance of a brief visit.

From Venice we drove to Lake Garda to spend a week with friends from England, photos from the Lake in my next post.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Venice or bust!!

Just to say that we are off to Italy tomorrow for a holiday. First stop Varazze [near Genoa] then on to Venice for a couple of nights then to Lake Garda to meet up with friends for a week of R&R. Yippee. Then a leisurely drive home over the Alps. See you when I get back.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

September already!!!!

Rubbish blogger me? Well yes but there seem to have been a few of us out there this summer. I have no excuses, I haven't been doing much of anything, except soaking up the sun's rays when they have deigned to appear. It's been a rubbish summer, for here anyway, it's all relative isn't it? I've been to the beach a few times, I love swimming in the sea, just wish it was a bit closer, but hey musn't moan. I have been doing a bit of work on the second draft of wip one but there is still a way to go. I have been reading a lot, on my Kindle and real books, so I haven't wasted the whole summer. I have looked in on other bloggers[atleast the ones who have blogged] but I haven't left comments much, so now I am going to try to be a better blogger.
If I have any followers left please call in from time to time and I will try to find something interesting to say. That may be a tall order but I'll give it a go.

To start the ball rolling a book recommendation: A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot
This is a French author that I have recently been introduced to and I enjoyed [if that is the right word] this novel. Apparently it was a runaway bestseller in France when it came out in 1991. The theme is the fate of five wounded French soldiers, who in January 1917, were forced into no-man's land by their own side, with their hands bound, and left to die in the cross-fire. The story of this barbaric punishment is slowly uncovered more than two years later by the paralyzed fiance of one of the soldiers. Mathilde Donnay wants to know the truth about what happened and why. And whether her fiance could still be alive. An unusual look at the barbarity of war and also the acts of compassion that such degradation can bring out in people.
This is a book that I shall read again as the story is complicated with intertwined characters, who all deserve more time to get to know them. His writing is quite beautiful in places. A book to savour. I shall try more of his work.
It's good to be back, leave a comment if there is anyone out there!!!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Magic Kindle, Kindle Magic!

I never thought I would say this but I LOVE MY KINDLE. I picked it up while I was in England and it was love at first sight. Now don't get me wrong I shall still buy 'real' books because you cannot replace the wonderful feeling of holding a lovely new book but now I can download in seconds enough books to keep me going for the rest of my days. And my gorgeous purple case is just perfect. I also managed to sort out the problem of downloading to France from the UK so I am in seventh heaven. In fact I haven't stopped reading since returning from my trip. The problem will be getting anything else done!!!

I can also transfer my wip to it which has actually spurred me on to get back to the second draft. So I am feeling really quite upbeat about my writing at the moment so I must try and hang on to this enthusiasm and make some progress.

The weather is glorious with beautiful warm evenings to sit outside with a glass of chilled wine reading the latest book on my Kindle. It's a tough life but hey someone has to do it!!

Monday, 9 May 2011


I'm off to England for a few days and it's obvious the cat is extremely worried by my leaving her with the OH. As you can see she has a very tough life. See you when I get back.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Barcelona WOW!

It is many years since we last visited Barcelona and I had completely forgotten what a fantastic city it is. We had a fabulous few days although it was tiring. We arrived on Friday, late afternoon, after taking the scenic route from France over the Pyrenees, there was hardly any snow to be seen after the recent spell of hot weather but the scenery was spectacular. We spent the first evening wandering along the Ramblas down to the sea. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me that evening so can't share with you the totally amazing indoor food market. It was visually stunning and the array of foodstuff put french markets in the shade, not easy to do!!! Saturday morning we went to see one of Gaudis masterpieces the Parc Guell which is on the Unesco list of World Heritage sites. WOW WOW WOW. Please have a look on Wikipedia as my photos do not do it justice. The afternoon was spent at the Olympic Stadium watching our local rugby team, Perpignan, beating Toulon in the Heineken cup quarter final. The atmosphere was electric with a sea of red and orange Catalan flags. Absolutely brilliant. The evening saw us back at the Ramblas where by a quirk of fate we found an Italian restaurant and had a very enjoyable meal. On Sunday we met up with some friends who were also in Barcelona for the Rugby. We had hoped to visit the Sagrada Familia, Gaudis Cathedral which was started in the 1920's and is famously still under construction. It is due for completion in 2025!!! However the queues where horrendous so that will have to be for another trip. Instead we went back to the sea and visited the Olympic village and watched people swimming in the sea. In between times we managed to enjoy the Cafe culture which is alive and well. It's a really busy city but somehow doesn't feel frenetic like London, the people seem very relaxed. The wide tree lined Boulevards give the impression of a light and airy city, despite the traffic. It helped that the weather was fantastic, mid 20's for the whole weekend. And the Integrated Transport system is first class, meaning that we were able to leave our car at the hotel and tour Barcelona using the clean fast and regular trains or metro system. We didn't try either the buses or the trams, maybe next time. We left Barcelona on Monday morning and returned along the coast road, stopping at La Jonquera for some shopping before crossing back into France. A thoroughly enjoyable weekend, I'm just sorry that my photos don't do justice to the city.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Barcelona here we come!

We're off to Barcelona for a long weekend of Rugby and R&R, news and photos next week. YIPPEE

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Chicken little, chicken large!!!

OUCH!!!!!! You may remember we bought some chickens last Spring well I think one of them is overeating!!! We get 4 eggs nearly every day from 4 chickens which in itself is excellent but then we got an absolute whopper of an egg. Basically two full size eggs in one.
Oh and as an aside to this fascinating egg fact I have managed about 1000 words of wip 2. Just thought I would slip that in, wouldn't want anyone to think that I was actually writing again!!
And thanks to Debs for telling me how to link to previous posts although I haven't mastered the photos yet but will keep trying.
Anyway have to go now and decide how to cook my monster egg.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Snow and writing friends!

The first photo was taken on the 29th January' from my study window. An unexpected fall of snow, luckily it was gone by the next day. Unfortunately I was out running when it started snowing so I was somewhat bedraggled by the time I got home. But I don't get wet very often so I can't complain. The second photo shows my furry friends who sit in my study and keep me company while I try to write. They are very undemanding and non- critical. This is particularly useful as I am reading my wip into my laptop using Dragon software and I don't want any sniggering in the background.
What I have noticed is how useful it is to read aloud what I have written, it really shows where some passages are not working.
The down side is there will be an awful lot of rewriting to do!!! And now the sun is shining and I may just have to do some very important work in the garden.

Friday, 14 January 2011

New year, new study, new impetus!

I would be doing this post with my new Dragon software but I am watching the T Twenty cricket[England v the Aussies] so it's too noisy, but so far I am impressed and looking forward to making progress on my new wip and the second draft of wip no.1. I also have a new study, the first time I have had a place I can call my own, and it's great. No excuses now other than all the usual ones that we mega procrastinators can call up at any time, but I shall try to be good. And I have got the wifi on my laptop sorted out, we popped into the local computer shop and they tweaked a few nobs and hey presto my wifi is working properly. So now I can sit in my armchair, watching tele while blogging instead of sitting at my desk writing. Real progress there then!!!!!So the photos, in reverse order, show the original kitchen when we bought this old house in 2005.
By April of this year we had moved to part of the new kitchen so we could start demolishing the old kitchen. I have to say it was not a moment too soon, the old kitchen was really beginning to depress me and when we uncovered the old water heater we were extremely relieved that no major disaster had occurred!!!! I think you will agree that my study is a vast improvement on the kitchen and my old desk at the top of the house. See My window on the world. Although the view is not as impressive, this morning I was visited by a red squirrel who was checking on the availability of almonds on our Almond tree. Of course no camera to hand!
For my next post I will try and sort out why I can't get photos in between the text and how to link to other posts . Any advice will be very gratefully received as I am still a technophobe and require instructions in words of one syllable or less. Now I must concentrate on the cricket, I mean writing.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Blog birthday, four years old today!

Happy New Year to all the Novel Racers and everyone else who pops by from time to time.
I can hardly believe where the time has gone. 4 years since my first blog. I have been a bad blogger recently but one of my goals for 2011 is to be more consistant in everything I do, including blogging.
I am still having sleep problems but over-indulging over Xmas and the New Year has not helped. I am hoping that a regime in January of 'healthy' food and 'much' less wine will improve things. For Xmas I treated myself to Dragon speech recognition software. I have had a little play with it and I think it is going to help me enormously. It is much quicker than my typing and more accurate. My bugbear now is that the wifi on my laptop keeps dropping out, so at the moment my laptop is connected to the router by a cable in the kitchen, where I am standing up instead of sitting comfortably at my new desk in my new study. Over the weekend we are going to try to sort this out and then I will post some photos of my fabulous new work area. Where writing will be so much easier!!!!!! No more excuses either.
So that's it for now as it is time for my Saturday run, but please come by again next week and see how I am getting on with Dragon.