Recently, I’ve been reading editions of Britain, one of my favorite travel magazines. It’s full of articles about different places in Britain and covers heritage, culture and various happenings in the UK. It’s a great magazine to read when planning a visit, which is why I’m busy reading back issues at present.
Here are thirteen random things that grabbed my interest:
1. In the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang the car flew for the first time when it fell of Beachy Head.
2. The 3rd Earl of Egremont had 42 illegitimate children and the “Wyndham nose” can still be spotted in the streets of Petworth.
3. Every coronation since 1066 has been held in Westminster Abbey. William the Conqueror was crowned King of England on Christmas day, 1066.
4. The Scottish people celebrate Burns Night on 25 January to commemorate the life of poet Robert Burns who was born on this day in 1759. Lots of traditional foods such as haggis, neeps (turnips), tatties (potatoes), whisky and shortbread are served during the celebration.
5. Mary, Queen of Scots, was fond of a crisp, buttery shortbread made with caraway seeds.
6. In Norman times the word “forest” referred to a legal system in place to protect the venison.
7. While in prison in England, Mary, Queen of Scots, became adept at secret handwriting to communicate with the outside world. She used alum dissolved in water as invisible ink and wrote messages on bills. Recipients dropped the paper in water and the writing appeared.
8. There is no single copy of the original Magna Carta document. Multiple copies of the charter were distributed throughout medieval English towns.
9. The Magna Carta documents were written in Latin on parchment made from dried sheepskin.
10. A first edition of the novel Emma by Jane Austen was dedicated to the Prince Regent.
11. The term “livery” has come to denote the uniforms of certain servants, but in medieval times it meant a living allowance that included food, money and other rewards.
12. A tax on male servants started in 1777, raised to help fund British fighting against North American colonists after their declaration of independence, lasted until the 1930s.
13. John Russell, a servant to the Duke of Gloucester, wrote advice for servants in the book “The Book of Nurture.” Would-be servants were given the following advice – Do not pick your nose or let it drop clear pears, or sniff, or blow it too loud, lest her lord hear. Do not retch, nor spit too far.
I don’t think a servant’s life would have worked for me, but I’d love to attend Burns Night, and I’ve never met a piece of shortbread, I didn’t like. Caraway seeds would totally work for me. What say you?
Last weekend, we flew over to Sydney in Australia to go to a show at the Royal Opera House. We saw an oldie but a goodie—Anything Goes.
Thirteen Things About Anything Goes
1. Anything Goes is a musical.
2. The music and the song lyrics were written by the famous Cole Porter.
3. The show debuted in 1934 at the Alvin Theatre on Broadway (now known as the Neil Simon Theatre)
4. The show has been in many theatres around the world and has been filmed twice.
5. The story takes place on an ocean liner (cruise ship) during the voyage from New York to London.
6. Some of the famous songs include Anything Goes, I Get A Kick Out of You and You’re the Top.
7. The original book was written by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse.
8. Once the passengers board the ship shenanigans ensue. Billy Crocker has fallen in love at first sight with a woman who he discovers is an heiress. She is aboard the ship with her mother and is going to marry Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Billy stows away in the hope of winning his love. Throw in a few gangsters, a stern mother, a fake minister and a missionary plus a nightclub singer and everything goes wrong before it goes right again.
9. We attended the 2015 Australian revival, which stars Caroline O’Connor as Reno Sweeney, the nightclub singer. She was fabulous.
10. Ethel Merman played Reno in the 1954 television version of the show.
11. The show has been nominated and has won many awards and accolades since it first played in 1934.
12. The songs from the show have been performed in other movies and television shows such as Blazing Saddles, Evil Under the Sun, Gilmore Girls, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Mission Impossible to name a few.
13. And here is a video of Anything Goes with Caroline O’Connor in the lead. This particular video was shot in Melbourne, early in 2015.
By the time I left the Opera House, my feet wanted to tap.
Have you seen this show? Are you a fan of live shows?
The fairy tale of Cinderella is one of my favorites, and over the years, many authors have taken the tale and given it their own twist. It’s a romantic tale with a handsome prince, a beautiful heroine, a villain and the traditional happy ending.
Here are Thirteen Cinderella romances for you to try.
1. Fooling Around with Cinderella by Stacey Juba – What happens when the glass slippers pinch Cinderella’s toes? A blend of sweet romance, chick lit and fairy tale fun.
2. Spellbound Cinderella by Angela Ford – If you had your dream body for only 24 hours… What would you do? One magical pendant gives Tess one wish to use before the clock strikes twelve.
3. Before Midnight by Jennifer Blackstream – a twisted tale of a maiden cursed to be a loup garou and the werewolf prince whose fate lies in her hands.
4. The Cinderella Princess by Melissa McClone – A scandal-ridden prince must marry a royal if he doesn’t want to be disowned, but he falls for the American sent to find him a princess bride.
5. Amish Cinderella by Rachel Stoltzfus – Set in a whimsical Lancaster County of fantastic possibility grounded in strong Christian values, sixteen-year-old Amish orphan Ella faces constant abuse as she struggles to do all of her own chores as well as those of her two older cousins.
6. Cinder by Marissa Meyer – a gifted mechanic in New Beijing and also a cyborg. She’s reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s sudden illness. But when her life becomes entwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she finds herself at the centre of a violent struggle between the desires of an evil queen – and a dangerous temptation.
7. Savage Cinderella by P J Sharon – Kidnapped and left for dead, Brinn Hathaway survives for years in the wild, only to be drawn out of hiding by a young nature photographer who steals her heart. Now, Brinn must decide if coming out of hiding is worth the hope—and the danger—that may await her.
8. Pumpkin: A Cindermama Story by Ines Johnson – Having given up on fairytales after falling for her toad of an ex, Pumpkin is afraid to take a chance on town royalty Manny who believes she may be his soulmate.
10. If the Slipper Fits by Olivia Drake – Raised in a girls’ school, Annabelle Quinn longs for the world outside the walls of the academy. When she’s hired as the governess to an orphaned duke, Annabelle never expects the child’s breathtakingly handsome guardian to capture her imagination—or her heart.
11. The Cinderella Debutante by Elizabeth Hanbury- Lucy Sinclair’s London Season was cut short by tragedy. Now, five years later, she is returning but only in the shadow of her lovely step-sister. Belinda is determined to catch a titled husband and Alex, Lord Devlyn fits the bill perfectly.
12. Wishful Thinking by Lynette Sofras– A struggling single mother and a pop-icon turned Hollywood star meet in unusual circumstances. Fate drew them together, but the intrigue and trappings of stardom threaten to unravel love’s ties.
13. One Night of Misbehavior by Shelley Munro – He wears his scars on the outside. She keeps hers safe inside. Warning: Contains a conniving stepmother, selfish stepsisters, a grandmother with fairy godmother tendencies and a sexy masked man who is willing to face them all for the love of a good woman.
Dragons were a popular subject with scholars, especially Victorian ones. They took on the task of cataloguing dragons.
The categories are as follows:
1. The Wyvern:
The name orginates from the Saxon word wivere or serpent. Its large body coiled, it had eagle’s legs and huge wings. Feared for its vicious nature and the pestilence it carried to northern Europe, Greece and Ethiopia.
2. The Amphiptere:
A legless, winged serpent found along the banks of the Nile and in Arabia. They are known to guard frankincense bearing trees, causing a threat to those who wished to harvest the resin.
3. The Heraldic Dragon:
Widespread and formidable, this dragon has massive fangs, four clawed legs and a ridge of sharp spines that stretch from nose to stinging tail.
4. The Guivre:
Wingless and legless, it has a massive dragon head, horns and a beard. They live in forests and wells and near water.
5. The Lindworm:
Has a serpentine body with one pair of legs. It is flightless
6. Cave Dweller:
Dragons like the dark, coldness of caves. They were private and easily defended. Caves close to towns (and food) are best.
7. Mountain Predators:
The elevation of mountains allows a dragon to spy on their prey and swoop down without warning. Their inaccessibility offers safety.
8. Aquatic Denizens:
These dragons live in seas, rivers and lakes and dine on fish and unlucky fishermen and sailors. The water allows them to approach towns and food sources undetected.
9. Swamp Beasts:
They live in marshes and swamps, some of which are rumored to be bottomless. The swamps are cold during the summer and don’t freeze in winter.
10. Celestial Guardians:
These dragons protected the heavens and also the mansions of the gods. These dragons have five claws instead of the normal four.
11. Treasure Keepers:
Subterranean dragons are responsible for all the precious jewels and metals buried in the earth. Each of these dragons owned a pearl, which reputably multiplied whatever it touched.
These spiritual dragons governed the wind, clouds and rain. They floated across the sky and the locals took care to appease them in case they took offence and created bad weather.
13. River Lords:
Earth dragons determined the course of the rivers. They regulated their flow and maintained their banks. Every river in China had an earth dragon that controlled the waters.
The World Cup Rugby tournament is currently underway in Britain, and as I write this the quarter-finalists have been decided after several weeks of pool play. I’ve been cheering for the New Zealand team.
Thirteen All Black Facts
1. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby union team.
2. They start each International game with the haka, a Maori war dance.
3. Their name, the All Blacks, comes from their uniform, which is a black jersey with a silver fern and black shorts. They were first referred to as the All Blacks in 1905.
4. The All Blacks won the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
5. The next time they won the cup was in 2011, and the team is attempting to be the first team to win back-to-back world cups.
6. The All Blacks were the 2014 Rugby Team of the year and are presently ranked the number one team in the world. I hope that record stays in place for the rest of the year!
7. The current captain, Ritchie McCaw is the most capped player in the world. He has played 145 games (probably more by now!)
8. Rugby union was introduced to New Zealand by Charles Monro in 1870. He discovered the sport while attending Christ’s College in Finchley, England.
9. The first recorded game in New Zealand took place in Nelson between Nelson Club and Nelson College.
10. A New Zealand representative team toured Britain in 1905. They are known as The Originals.
11. An Originals rugby shirt recently went to auction in Cardiff and sold for $275000.
12. International rugby was suspended during the First World War but a New Zealand services team competed in the King’s cup, a services competition.
13. All Black Dan Carter holds the record for the most points scored – 1552 as at the beginning of October and hopefully more by the end of the World Cup tournament.
I’ve been in a dragon frame of mind recently, and I’m excited to be part of the Flight of Dragons box set, which came out this week. In honor of the release, my TT this week is about dragons.
Thirteen Facts About Dragons
1. Dragons can be grouped into three groups: Earth dragons, Water dragons and Fire Dragons.
2. Dragons are warm-blooded creatures since they control their body temperatures internally. They are not dependent on the sun in the same way as other reptiles.
3. Dragons live for a long time and are more likely to die from an accident than old age.
4. Dragons prefer a natural environment rather than cities filled with pollution.
5. Dragons are the largest known flying creatures.
6. Dragon bodies are covered with tough, shiny scales. They can make them stand on end if they want to preen or groom themselves.
7. Dragons are fastidious and take care to keep skin and scales immaculate.
8. Dragon colors come in three broad color groupings. Blue – ranging from mother-of-pearl and silver to dark blue. Red – copper red to dark red and reddish black. Green – every shade of green, yellow, dark brown and burnished gold.
9. The dragon father or king is the head of the family and other dragons pledge their allegiance. He adjudicates in disputes.
10. Water dragons live in salt and fresh water and are extremely agile in the water.
11. According to legend, water dragons only eat human virgins and if they can’t find suitable food, they suffer excruciating indigestion, which can lead to death. This dietary need has contributed to their dwindling numbers.
12. Dragons are skilled in the art of magic. They also have a love of music and possess an excellent sense of rhythm. A dragon’s voice has a bewitching effect on humans.
13. Dragons love treasure and acquire valuables through fair means or foul.
Flight of Dragons is available for 99c for a limited time from all online retailers. Grab your copy today!
Read an excerpt of Blue Moon Dragon, my contribution here.