Sunday, 29 December 2013

Best intentions

At the moment I’m counting my last days of work. When I started this job it seemed like a dream; working in a high end jewellers in Monte Carlo was just too good to be true..... and it was. I won’t say too much, I'll just let Cameron fictionally deal with some of the issues in book two. Anyway the 1st of January I will be a free woman again. 

On the 1st of January many of us have a list of new years resolutions in order to make a fresh start, but mostly a few days later we will carry on as before. I do hope to hit the ground running and make the most of my new freedom before another job snags me again. Here are a few things I hope to achieve and change in 2014:
  1. Finish that second book.
  2. I don’t want to, but I better get a good CV out there.
  3. Do reviews of self-published free books. I believe in paying it forward, if I’m expecting people to do reviews of my book during a giveaway I’d better do a few myself.
  4. Weather permitting, have a daily swim.
  5. Actually use some of all my cooking books and try some new recipes.
  6. Read all the blogs I’m now subscribed to as there are some good ones out there with some great tips for writers. I've just not had the time but I need to develop a strategy for promoting the first book.
  7. Figure out how to improve my blog and what the hell Pinterest actually is and then linking the two. Need to get more web savvy.
  8. Unrelated, but I really need to throw out some of my make-up. I know my bronzing pearls are at least 15 years old, how could they have lasted that long?????
  9. Improve my French.(I say this every year and I'm sure there is improvement, but my inner teacher keeps telling me: 'must do better!')
  10. Let all good intentions go to waste by getting a kitten which will no doubt distract me from doing all the things I set out to do.
I would like to know what your New Year’s resolution are.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas Palm trees

In one of my previous posts I showed you how Monaco has spared no expense into turning the place into a Christmas picture post card. All very pretty but unrealistic. It is 13°C here and it is unlikely we will ever have a pack of snow like the artificial pack that is lying outside the Casino just now. In Cros de Cagnes where I live they have decided to work with the local trees; the wonderful palms.
Now when I say local trees I will have to admit that some of the varieties of trees were introduced here by the British. From Africa came eucalyptus, from Australia mimosa, and in 1864 the Phoenix Canariensis was introduced better known as the palm tree. The palms, mimosas and eucalyptus trees introduced by the Brits absolutely thrive in this climate and I think they are a marvelous addition. I found a great bit about the history of Cannes on the following site:

At home we decided to embrace a local species too and went for a Christmas lime tree instead of the customary pine. Limes make very fetching baubles and an even better Gin and Tonic.

Then at night the lights come on and the boulevards in Nice and elsewhere on the Côte are lit up by rows of festive palm trees. Christmas spirit and not a flock of snow, fake or otherwise in sight.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Feature and follow friday 2

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Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

 The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!  How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

Just remember it is required, if you participate, to follow the Features and you must follow the hosts (Parajunkee & Alison Can Read) as a courtesy. How do you follow someone? Well, if you have a preference, state it in your #FF post. A lot of blogs are transitioning to Wordpress in which they do not have the luxury of GFC, so an RSS subscription is appreciated or if you choose an email subscription. If you don't have GFC please state in your post how you would like to be followed.


Question of the Week: 

Pick a book in your favorite genre that you’d recommend to a reluctant reader.
At the moment I'm reading a lot of french literature and I can imagine there will be a lot of reluctant readers for this genre. One of my favorite french writers is Alexander Dumas. I can recommend the count of Monte Christo. I know it is a well known story but not many people brave the full version which is a 5 book thick tome. It is well worth the read as it gives you a better sense of the long time it takes Edward Dantes to get his revenge and the effort it takes him. I enjoyed it immensely.

Next Week's Question: 
Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! What books did Santa stuff your stocking with this holiday season? Do a holiday book haul for us! If you don’t celebrate just show off your books that you got this week. Pictures!!! 

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Sunday, 15 December 2013


I know it is a bit early but this probably will be my last post before Christmas as my place of work is now open on Sundays and I will be working 6 days a week, so I want to leave you with some wonderful images from planet money in the fake snow.
It is nice to work in a place where you pretty much have a policeman on every street corner. I can only imagine what would happen to all these decorations on a Saturday night in Edinburgh. It would probably have traffic cone on top and a few Irn bru cans dangling of its branches.
Hotel hermitage; this is where the rich and famous stay when visiting planet money. It all looks even better at night but I haven't succeeded in taking any good night time pics.
Planet money wouldn't be planet money without its banks and financial institutions and as you can see no money has been spared at the Companie Monegasque de banque. At Barclays they went for a winter cute fest with teddy s and other stuffed animals.
I hope you all have a very merry Christmas. I'll try and survive my last 13 days of work and hope to put up another post before the New year.

Friday, 13 December 2013

The border

This might look like any other street in Monaco and on the face of it nothing special, but this is the border between Monaco and France. The picture was taken from the Monaco side and where the pharmacy is, begins Beausoleil and France.

 Living in the EU we are used to walking from one country into another without any border controls, but mostly you know you have crossed the border; the language has changed and the road signs look different. Here you wouldn't have noticed you had walked into another country; roadsigns and language are the same, however on the other side of planet money things are very different.

In France, workers enjoy a 35 hour work week. (I do have to explain that the 1.5hour lunch break is not paid so days are actually longer than in Britain where your lunch is 45min, paid and counts towards the 40 hour work week) On planet money we work 40 hours and the 1.5hour lunch break is unpaid. France has decent healthcare that covers 70% of what the government says it should cost. Monaco covers 80% of what your treatment actually cost.( I must say healthcare here is pretty excellent.)
France has very strict employment laws. I'm sure Planet money has employment laws too, but they seem to be optional.(Unpaid overtime! What! That can't be legal, surely!) France is a republic where as Monaco is having no plans in the near future to have either a revolution or behead their monarch.

I'm sure there are many other differences you can't see on the photo, but the most important one for my colleagues and I is that France is cheaper and that is why we often walk up here to have lunch and do some shopping. If you're coming to Monaco, book a hotel in Beausoleil; it is just a few minutes walk from the casino and prices are much more reasonable.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Juan les Pins

We moved to the south of France nearly 3 years ago and after the amazing weekend we just had it is hard not to feel just a little bit smug. The UK has been battered by high tides, storms and snow while we have enjoyed t-shirt weather. This weekend I managed to get 3 days off in a row and we decided to make the most of it. 3 years on we still have the feeling that we are on holiday every time we get a day off. We decided to take a train 20 min up the line to Juan les Pins. From there you get some amazing views over the bay of Juan. In my book it is the place where Cameron had moored his yacht to enjoy all that Cannes (on the other side of the bay) had to offer.
Juan les Pins is worth a visit as it is one of the few places along the coast that has a sandy beach. Most of the town has seen better days though and it isn't as upmarket as Cannes. In December the season is definitely over, but there are still plenty of bars and cafes open along the sea front and on a sunny day you can enjoy beautiful  views over the bay. I recommend enjoying afternoon tea on the terrace of the very smart art deco hotel Belles Rives or even brave a swim (I did and it really wasn't too bad with a wet suit!) Getting off the train today it was hard to imagine I will be back at this station tomorrow at 8am to go back to work and reality. (Sigh!)

Friday, 6 December 2013

More bigger boats

Before you call in the grammar police, let me explain the title. It was inspired by one of my favorite you-tube video's and if you like cats I would advice you to have a look at it. It is titled 'Many too small boxes and Maru' and features a cat trying to get inside a series of boxes that are too small for this portly but persistent kitty.

I thought of this video when the biggest boat of the year so far, The Queen Elizabeth (Cunards flagship) moored up in Monaco yesterday. It looked just ridiculously big for the small harbour, dwarfing even the most impressive luxury yachts. 
This was taken from the spot where I normally enjoy my lunch. This week we've been having just the best December weather, allowing me to strip down to a short sleeved blouse. Looking at this large cruise ship I was wondering if I could use it in the book. Vampire being stuck on a large boat with carefree holiday makers would make for a good story line. I'm sure Cameron would have a great time, drugging hapless victims and maybe even leaving a body or two in his and the Queen's wake.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The internet part two

If you are writing a book you will often turn to the internet to check facts or look up places. I’m quite a lazy researcher as A. it takes a lot of time and I’d rather be getting on with writing and B. the truth sometimes gets in the way of a good story. If you are using historical facts they will have to be accurate. For book 2 I’ve been turning to the internet again to get answers to some important questions I’ve been asking myself:
Can vampires be tattooed?
Can vampires be recorded on audio tape?

Here are some answers to the first question I found on:
(The typos and misspellings etc. have nothing to do with me, I’ve copied these directly from the site) 

I do not believe they can. this question makes me think of The Vampire Lestat, where Lestat's mom Gabrielle wanted to cut her hair and look like a guy. but every day when she slept, her hair would grow back to the length it was when she died. she was very distraught about it. i imagine a tattoo would be the same, like an injury to the body that is almost immediately healed. so heres your life lessons from this: 1) make sure you properly groom yourself constantly in case you become a vampire cause you'll never get the chance to change yourself afterwards lol and 2) go ahead and get a tattoo if you are a vampire cause if yo udont like it tomorrow, it'll be gone lol

As usual there is a bit of vitriol too:

Well duh...theyre not real.There are however a lot vampires in literature,movies and surprise, mythology and folklore.Hence why this question is here.If you have nothing to contribute quite frankly don't waste your time or mine.

And the indignant souls who take it all just a bit too seriously

 Why wouldn't they be able to? The pain will obviously fade away, but the ink is another thing. The ink is like permanent skin paint, it itself is not pain and will not fade away like it would if it WAS pain. That's all their is to it(Besides the fact that vampires really DO exist).
Hope this helps.

When you read fantasy You mind becomes filled with thought of fantasy... For there is no way that any real vampire would expose itself to such danger.... And with you not really knowing what a real demonic vampire is, I can understand your question... First off there are some very serious vampire hunters that exist all over this world and they take joy in the demised of vampires.... So I seriously doubt that they would expose themselves in that manner...... When maintaining there secret is on the top of every vampires list.......

that is a very good argument. I would imagine the answer being no. But i'm not sure. I would think since they are always so clean and beautiful(since they heal so easily) that it would heal immediately but since it is ink idk? and don't some have piercings so it probably just depends on the writer or imaginer.
awesome argument though!

This is probably why I write fantasy, you can make up your own mind and do whatever you want! I’ve decided that Cameron can have his arm tattooed with a Saltire and Scotland underneath.

To my other question, I found a good answer on:

No reflection (often because the vampire has no soul). This sometimes extends to shadows. But it depends on the vampire apparently. In one medium there are several types of vamps who have various weaknesses. In more recent examples this has been 'modernised' in terms of the vampire not being able to be picked up by audio or video recording or transmitting equipment.

Then this next snippet caught my eye. I thought this was a really fun character flaw for a vampire to have and I’m certain I will do something with that. I think that modern vampire stories sometimes take them self too serious, I can’t imagine the vampires in twilight to get distracted by having to absolutely count some spilled rice, but I would have maybe enjoyed twilight  if they did. 

Occasionally suffer from severe OCD. One folkloric method of dealing with Vampires was to drop thousands of grains of rice in their coffin, the theory being they'd be compelled to count them all when they awake, wasting the whole night instead of getting up and terrorizing people.
  • The folklore version also is told with sesame seeds, and may also extend to any small, numerous nut or grain, if not any particulate (handfuls of sawdust?). Fairies also have this problem.
  • Dropping a bunch where you stand is a known way to escape the OCD variant of vampire.
  • A similar folklore variant involves hanging a sieve, colander, or other household item that's full of holes outside your front door. That way, the vampire will stop and count all the holes, leaving them vulnerable at sunrise. ONE! TWO! THREE! FOUR! FOUR GRAINS OF SAND! AH-HA-HA-HA!
  • Apparently poppy seeds were used to great effect in Greece, as they had the additional benefit of putting the vampire to "sleep".
  Also on the OCD theme, vampires will, like fairies, be obsessed with out of place and messily-tied knots, and must stop what they're doing to untie them.

The internet, always wonderfully enlightening!