Scottish Tales – Eilean Donan

I’ve gathered a few tales on my travels. Some happier than others. This one has a nice ending…

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Let’s hear it for the Hudson

Normally when I do the weekly #writephoto round-up, I give a little info about the image and its origins. I had a more important message to share this week so missed giving over the details but the wonderful Di, from Pensitivity noticed and prompted me for more info on the photo.

Plane – Image by KL Caley

This remarkable plane is a WW2 Hudson plane replica statue situated at Silloth-on-Solway. It’s a beautiful statue and all the flowerbeds around it are stunning too. Built to commemorate the town’s involvement in WW2.

Tragically, a large number of Lockheed Hudson aircraft and their crews, who had crashed during take-off or approach to the wartime airfield of Silloth ended up in the Solway, resulting in it being renamed locally as ‘Hudson Bay’.  A moving poem entitled ‘Hudson Bay’ was written by Tim Barker.

There is a wonderful website here – https://sillothairfield.wordpress.com/ which captures a lot about the history and people’s stories (with drawings, images, etc too). Well worth a browse and my applause goes to all involved, the stories area particularly is very moving.

Take Care All.

KL ❤

Review of Gimson’s Prime Ministers

My rating: 5 Stars (easily)
Genre: Non-Fiction – British Politics – History

📖 I am going against my own rules writing this review. Normally, I like to wait until after I finish a book, sometimes even a few weeks after to see how the book stays with me. I don’t like to recommend something that is instantly forgettable. However, with this book I am on page 260 of 310 (excluding the afterword) and decided to go ahead and write the review as I have found this book that interesting, I know I don’t have to wait until the end to recommend it. In fact, my OH is probably sick of me saying “Oh, I read about such and such last night did you know….”.

✍️ Firstly, I fully understand politics isn’t for everyone. Yet, I think understanding a little about politics does us in good stead as it impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives (knowingly or unknowingly). It’s always handy to have a bit of history behind a subject too. This book does all this and more easily.

👫 The book, as mentioned, is only 310 pages long but captures a little about every prime minister from Sir Robert Walpole through to Boris Johnson. It often tells you a little about what led up to them becoming prime minister, what others thought of them (often party and public opinion would differ in that respect), what big events happened during their time in office (often the handling of this would decide their legacy), and finally what happened to them causing them to leave office/after leaving office.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

The prime minister requires, in fact, a bizarre combination of qualities. He or she must be at once ordinary and extraordinary, conventional and innovative, safe and audacious, banal and brilliant, a follower and a leader, sensitive to every change in the political weather but tough enough to endure terrible disasters, on the side of the people but able to build a cabinet from members of the elite.

👓 This book has so many interesting facts, I want to share so many snippets but here are a few of the more interesting ones:
• Earl Grey was a British Prime Minister (not just a type of tea) and brought about one of the most spectacular parliamentary legislative triumphs despite not becoming Prime Minister until the ripe old age of 66. He also had a secret affair with a duchess, when her husband found out Grey’s mother stepped in to raise the baby.
• The first time the term “Prime Minister” was used was in 1905 when the king asked Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (CB) to form a government.
• The term ‘squiffy’ is likely coined after Herbert Henry Asquith (PM 1908-1916) who was known to drink more than he could handle and was noticed to be worse for wear in the Dispatch Box.
• Winston Churchill has to take the entrance exam to join the army three times before passing.

🗺 Also enjoyable are the doodles of each PM which start each chapter.

💭 Overall View: A really interesting book with brilliant snippets that help capture the essence of each Prime Minister’s story. Well researched and easy to digest.

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Review of The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife

My rating: 5 of 5 stars (more if they were available).
Genre: Non-Fiction – History – Animal Welfare – Military – Mythology

📖 Wow! What a book. I bought this as an impulse buy after watching the highly enjoyable “Inside the Tower of London” tv series on Channel 5. I had googled a few facts and stories from the show and up popped this book in amongst my search and I decided to give it a go, I am pleased to say I was not disappointed.

Cover – The Ravenmaster



✍️ Chris takes us through his life before the tower, at the tower and then of course the introduction to the ravens and their antics. The book is smart, funny and really insightful.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

According to Celtic legend, around here is also where the head of Bran the Blessed, the king of England in Welsh mythology, was buried. Bran means ‘raven’, and he’s supposed to have been buried not far from the ravens’ current enclosures, which seems appropriate.

👓 There are so many interesting tales in this book, but I particularly enjoyed all the myths and legends around both the tower and the ravens. I imagine Chris is a particularly interesting person to have a pint with, the stories he could rattle off!

👫 A lot of the stories are quite humorous where the clever ravens get up to some legendary Hijinx (occasionally at Chris’s expense). However, Chris also includes a chapter about the commemorative art installation for The First World War Centenary which saw the moat filled with thousands of poppies. I remember seeing this on the news at the time and it looked spectacular but reading Chris’s story regarding it choked up my throat and brought a tear to my eye! Bravo sir!

💭 Overall View: Hugely enjoyable book that would appeal to history readers, animal lovers, London tourists, military enthusiasts and so much more. Highly recommended.

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Happy St George’s Day

Happy St. George’s Day everyone! Are you doing anything to celebrate it?

I love a myth or legend. There is something in that ancient art of storytelling. It’s amazing that some of these stories have managed to pass down over the ages.


A bit about the legend of St. George:

St George is most widely known for slaying a dragon. According to legend, the only well in the town of Silene was guarded by a dragon. In order to get water, the inhabitants of the town had to offer a human sacrifice every day to the dragon. The person to be sacrificed was chosen by lots. On the day that St George was visiting, a princess had been selected to be sacrificed. However, inevitably he killed the dragon, saved the princess and gave the people of Silene access to water. In gratitude, they converted to Christianity.

It is thought that the dragon represents a certain type of pagan belief that included the sacrifice of human beings. Possibly Drivel but who can really tell.

My favourite version of St George’s Day:

In the book, Dracula by Bram Stoker, evil things are said to occur on St George’s Day, beginning at midnight. The date of St George’s Day presented in the book, 5 May (on the Western, Gregorian Calendar), is St George’s Day as observed by the Eastern Orthodox churches of that era.

(Excerpt from Dracula, 1897) “Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again: “Oh, yes! I know that, I know that! but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on: “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”


Whatever you chose to do, I hope you all have a great weekend.

Much Love,
KL ❤

Let’s hear it for the GIRLS!

I feel the biggest pull towards writing historical fiction and the focal points of my novel are usually women from a historical period. I find it a thrill to give a voice to the real-life events that surround them and although written from a modern-day perspective, I tend to focus on the key emotions most women can relate to, love, hate, fairness, motherhood, romance, persecution etc.

Nothing in life is to be feared – Marie Curie

As a family, we love to visit castles and museums. I love to find stories that really capture the strength of character. We recently visited the Yorkshire Museum of Farming (which is very interesting). In amongst the many stories of men (Ford, Massey, Harris, Ferguson, Deere, etc), there was this brilliantly intriguing story of Lady Evelyn ‘Eve’ Balfour who bought her own farm at the age of 21 and began studying the chemical compounds of farming and led the way in more natural-less chemical-based farming.

Lady Evelyn ‘Eve’ Balfour

Belated entry to Marsha’s WQW – Women in History

Review of Women & Power by Mary Beard

Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cover – Women and Power


📖 I picked this book up at the airport on the way to a holiday. I had never heard of Mary Beard prior to it and it was just the concept and the initial pages which pulled me in but I must say it was an enjoyable read and I felt quite empowered after reading it.

✍️ The book is based on two lectures previously given by Mary Beard. Short but to the point. The historical aspects of the book were most intriguing. It explores the male authority within the western culture from multiple historic viewpoints, Greek, Roman, it even has a quick look at Queen Elizabeth the first and her most famous words “I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too” or were they?

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

In the early fourth century BC, for example, Aristophanes devoted a whole comedy to the ‘hilarious’ fantasy that women might take over running the state. Part of the joke was that women couldn’t speak properly in public – or rather, they couldn’t adapt their private speech (which in this case was largely fixated on sex) to the lofty idiom of male politics.

👓 I wouldn’t say I agreed with every concept approached in this book, however, like all good books, it was certainly thought-provoking. Beard’s arguments are very compelling. It also stayed with me for quite some time after reading.

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At the time of reviewing this book it is on sale for £2.84 at Amazon (affiliate link):

https://amzn.to/3rW2DFY

📣 Disclaimer: This book review contains an affiliate link. This means I earn a small commission if you use the links on my book reviews to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, but you will help support my reading habit and keep me supplied in books to review. Thank you. 😘

Review of Before the Crown by Fiona Harding

Before the Crown by Flora Harding

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Before the Crown – Image by KL Caley

My rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

📖 This is the story of Elizabeth and Philip before Elizabeth took her role as head of the royal family. It follows her story from a young girl, first meeting Philip to becoming a young woman, set to marry him. Obviously, creative license has been used but we do see Philip in a very different light, as a poor prince, evicted from his home country, brought up in England by a relative, estranged parents, and even more estranged sisters due to the war. We also get to see Elizabeth through her early years, quiet and thoughtful, slightly envious of her sister’s confidence, and most importantly very intrigued by Philip.

✍️ I am a huge fan of The Crown and was slightly nervous upon reading this book that it wouldn’t live up to that, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed it. It feels well researched, for example, it gave quite a lot of knowledge of Philip’s family and his relations around the world which was really interesting. It also recounted a lot of his naval experience through the war. As mentioned above they are told with creative flair but I imagine the facts and dates behind the events must be somewhat accurate to have been included.

🗣 I often think it’s useful to see an extract of a book to get an idea of the writing style. Here is a brief extract so that you can see a sample of the writing yourself:

As February blows itself into March, it feels to Philip as if he is leading a strange kind of double life… actually, a triple life, when he comes to think about it. There are those innocent evenings at the palace, drinking orangeade and larking around in the corridors, and then there are the evenings he spends in London with David Milford Haven and other friends, drinking in smoky clubs, all of them struggling to adjust to the dull grind of peace-time life.
Then there is another world again, at HMS Arthur in Corsham, where he is training petty officers and sleeps in a chilly and sparsely furnished munitions hut with a tin roof. He spends his evenings in the Methuen Arms, drinking mild and bitter and playing darts or skittles and discussing the possibility of cricket in the summer. It is a long way from Buckingham Palace.

👓 Viewpoint: This book is told both from Philip and Elizabeth’s viewpoint, often recounting the same event but from one or the others perspective. This was quite effective, and I enjoyed the author’s interpretation of how they might have felt about events in the royal household.

👫 Character(s): Philip’s character particularly in this book was really interestingly portrayed; humorous, smart, funny, quick-witted and even quicker to anger. Elizabeth was portrayed as stalwart and resilient, everything we would expect and need from our queen but there was a gentle side to her, particularly the times when Philip was in her orbit.

💔 Any Negatives: I would have loved to see a little timeline of events for this story (similar to what Barbara Erskine and others include in their historical book). Obviously, that’s not a requirement to the story, which as you can see from my review, I thought was fantastic, but I found myself wanting to break away from the book to google some of the events mentioned.

💭 Overall View: An interesting book, it feels like a step into Elizabeth and Philip’s lives and thoughts. The story is sweet with a charming naivety about it but also shows strength of character (when required). I felt like I learnt about the couple and particularly the events they went through which I always feel is a good sign of historical fiction. I really enjoyed it and would certainly recommend it to others.

👍 Please leave a like if you think my review/feedback of the item was helpful to you. Alternatively, please contact me if you want me to clarify something in my review.

At the time of reviewing the kindle edition of this book it is on sale for £0.99 at Amazon (affiliate link):
https://amzn.to/3nbRkbm
📣 Disclaimer: This book review contains an affiliate link. This means I earn a small commission if you use the links on my book reviews to make a purchase. You will not be charged extra, but you will help support my reading habit and keep me supplied with books to review. Thank you. 😘

Back In The Day

I read an article recently which was talking about the development of mankind over the last 100 years. It was basically saying that if you go back 100 years, which isn’t that long, in fact it is 1 lifetime nowadays, literally everything will be different. This vast growth and change is not really seen through the rest of human history, even in the great renaissance period not everything changed quite as dramatically as the last 100 years. Bring someone into our lifetime and they would truly not believe the world we live in, and would question their very sanity. Just your average Joe Blogs in Britain would see all of the following for example:

Food – 100 years ago food was a luxury, people had a make do attitude and made food go as far as possible, nowadays we have an obesity crisis, regular dieting is required by many to maintain a healthy weight and there are actual campaigns to reduce food waste!

Money – currency in Britain has completely changed over the last 100 years with the introduction of decimilisation.

Kids – If a child had a bicycle they were very fortunate. This years “must have” Christmas present was a hoverboard! Now kids can get to school just by balancing. Speaking of school, 100 years ago it wasn’t uncommon for children to be pulled from school to help with harvesting and other activities required by families, nowadays if a child misses 1 day of school a parent can risk being fined.

EvolutionAdd in changes such as; TV, travel, holidays, jobs, NHS healthcare, clothing, housing, bathrooms, roads, female rights, gay rights, just about everything you can think of has changed over the last 100 years. It really makes you wonder what the next 100 years will bring, doesn’t it?

—————————————–Just Jot It January – 2016————

Post prompted by: – Just Jot January – 10th – Sane. To find the rules for Just Jot It January, click here and join in today. It’s never too late! And don’t forget to ping back your January 9th post.

 

 

Review of Viking Myths and Sagas by Rosalind Kerven

Viking Myths & Sagas: retold from ancient Norse textsViking Myths & Sagas: retold from ancient Norse texts by Rosalind Kerven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I came across this book in an independent book store so had seen no recommendations or reviews to sway my judgement and I must say it wouldn’t have been a book I would have naturally browse for online. However for those that do come across this book, you are in for a real treat.
This is an excellent and informative book surrounding all the Viking myths and legends. The authors writing style is so excellent and at a perfect pace so that it truly feels like you are sitting round a fire at camp being told a story. I can also imagine this novel as a great inspiration source for writers in the same way Grimm tales are, being adapted and re-told into modern stories.
The range covered in this book is also exceptional, from all the places the Vikings travelled to, to the number of mythical creatures; gods, dragons, trees, trolls, all sorts.
All in all, an excellent, insightful and informative book that I am very pleased to have discovered.

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