Saturday, 30 December 2017

Saga continued

Our guests were due to leave us for Italy on Friday 29th. As of Thursday night at ten minutes to midnight, the two missing cases were delivered to our doorstep. As someone said dryly "Made the delivery inside three days, but only just. Now they don't have to pay compensation." True, except they are going to get a claim for a very expensive suitcase - the only one to arrive when they did - which was "damaged beyond repair " and has gone off to Italy sealed up with strong duct tape.

Snow arrived here on Friday on purpose to complicate matters further. The snow fell lightly as they left our drive in convoy to return the hire car to Team Valley and then the three of them, three suitcases and a pushchair all squeezed in with DH for the trip to the airport. By the time DH came home the snow was lying and making the hills very skiddy. Since we live on the side of a hill, it was a bit of a concern, but he made it safely. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief but then came the news that their flight to Heath Row was delayed - would they make the connection to Italy?

Everything flew, if a little later than scheduled, and they finally arrived at their hotel in Bologna at 2am. It's enough to put one off flying at Christmas ever again!

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The saga of the missing cases

Continuing the saga of our guests and their journey - they finally arrived here on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve - with only one case.  I think they spent 32 hours on planes all told. Not a journey they want to repeat anytime soon.

Only one of them has any clothes to change into. This morning we've borrowed a jacket for  the grandson so he can go outside, and one of my coats has come into service for his mother. the two cases containing their gear and everyone's clothes for the skiing trip they  will be enjoying in a couple of days time - they are "coming by taxi" from Manchester airport. I've lost count of how many times we've been told that. They were to arrive during Christmas day evening, but we're still waiting. I'm on duty at home in case they arrive (sorry, no pun intended!) while the family have gone off to visit the old home town of Durham.

Monday, 25 December 2017

We're ready

We were expecting to pick up guests from Australia  at Newcastle airport yesterday around midday, but Christmas travel can be so fraught. After a 14 hour flight from Sydney their plane circled Dubai about six times bfore the pilots decided they were running out of fuel and landed at Al Ain airport in the desert about 113 miles away. Unbelievably, fog had closed Dubai down. No one was allowed off the plane so they sat there for another 9 hours before being taken to Dubai and a hotel and then boarded  a plane around 2am and arrived in Manchester around 7am

 Their luggage, of course, had gone missing by then. but they were promised that their cases would arrive on the next flight into Mancester at 11am. They waited. One case arrived. Two are still wandering somewhere between Manchester and Dubai. Our guests (2 adults and a 3 year old grandson are) on ther way north in a hired car.
What a journey - and it isn't over yet. We can't drown out sorrows - or theirs - because we need to be sober enough to drive to Newcastle airport to pick them up when they turn in the hired car.

So we're celebrating everything a day later than usual.  Happy Christmas!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Almost Christmas

No doubt because it is almost Christmas the internet is abysmally slow these days and used as I am to a fairly fast system, I get irritated when things don't load or behave as they should, so I shall not be spending long  on my pc today. Every shop I've ever purchased anything from in the last millenium is sending me adverts - every day - and no doubt the same is true for every shopper - and we wonder why the internet is slow....I posted some pics to myself sometime last week and they have yet to arrive in my in-box, so goodness knows what else I may be missing. 

I shall post instead the new cover I'm using for the Matfen Affair. I started to dislike the one I had for no very good reason;  I couldn't say exactly what I disliked about it, but perhaps I've used it for too long, or it was boring to begin with or simply too similar to the Gybford Affair. Well, it is quite distinct from it now!

I enjoyed a blog about the secret writing rules this morning and decided to post a link to it -
http://annerallen.com/2017/12/secret-writing-rule


Thursday, 14 December 2017

The Battle of Solway Moss

Battle of Solway Moss 24th November 1542

On the 18th November Sir Thomas Wharton, Deputy Warden of the English West March and Captain of Carlisle, called out the gentlemen resident within the West March to be at Carlisle with bows and spears by sunset on 22nd November. He planned a raid on Middlebie and Langholm with the aim of both annoying and confusing the Scots who were massing at Langholm.

He returned after supper on 23rd to the news from the Lord Warden, then Lord Hertford in Alnwick almost on the east coast that a great force of Scots, estimated at between 17,000 and 19,000 men, would descend on the West March on 23rd or 24th November.

Wharton had his deputies and commanders either with him or waiting for him at Carlisle and his spies were reporting almost hourly on Scottish movements from Langholm south toward the rivers Esk and the Leven. His forces, estimated at between 300 and 3,000 men plus 100 light horse, sometimes called “prickers” seemed like no match for the opposing Scots. However, the prickers, called into existence by the eternal forays of the Scottish Border, were probably the best light cavalry in Europe.

There are five contemporary reports on the battle: original letters from Sir Thomas Wharton, (written on 23rd and 25th November) plus one from Sir William Musgrave. Two more are “reports of reports” (Lisle and Tunstall (6th Dec) and Edward Hall’s “Chronicles,” published 1548. Lisle had taken over the Wardenship from Hertford on 1st December that year and might therefore be forgiven for not having a full grasp of the battle.

Communication was not easy in the sixteenth century. Wharton gives excellent detail of the entire battle, probably because he had his clerk with him to take notes.

A smaller battle took place at Akeshawhill, one mile east of Netherby, where Jac Musgrave, a captain under his brother Sir William Musgrave, led the company and later wrote notes which were later taken up by Lisle and Tunstall, who seemed mistakenly to believe that the skirmish was the main thrust of the battle. Lisle’s report to Henry’s Privy Council omitted all mention of Wharton.

On 24th November Wharton rode out with 2,000 foot and 1,200 horse to West Linton and observed Scots riders burning Oakshawhill. Lack of a guide, November weather and the notorious Solway Bore, often up to ten feet in height, dissuaded Lord Maxwell from bringing his Scots across the shifting quicksand of the Solway to Burgh on the English coast. Instead he chose to advance via the Esk Ford at Arthuret. Wharton and his prickers met them there.

Scots horse retreated to Arthuret Holme to warn the main body of the Scots army. The Border Horse pricked at Maxwell’s rear during their retreat.
The Grames chased Scots raiders from Oakshawhill to Arthuret and from Lyne to beyond Hopesikehill. Wharton advanced and set up his six standards in a flying formation ie with wings outspread to look as imposing as possible, on Hopesykehill.

As the Scots advanced, Wharton’s two hundred archers loosed off a volley of arrows. A trained longbow man can send off 10-12 arrows a minute, so the Scots advancing uphill faced a deluge of approximately 2,000 deadly arrows followed by a charge of the notorious prickers. Disorganised and believing themselves to be facing a much larger force, the Scots retreated.

Wharton overran the Scots foot at Hopesykehill and advanced to Howse to watch the Scots army floundering at the Myln dam. They attempted to regroup and fired light ordinance at the English. Maxwell dismounted at Sandyforde and attempted to rally the main army and protect the river crossing.


Wharton sent in prickers to harry floundering Scots who panicked and ran back to the river. The Scots retreated, ran from the battle, only to be harried by Liddesdale reivers. King James escaped capture by riding hard to Stirling and then on to Falkland where he died a few days later. A few days after that, his wife, Marie de Guise, gave birth to a daughter, Mary, on 8th December 1542. 

Monday, 11 December 2017

Work goes on

Now that Alba is Mine is finito and published on Kindle at 107,033 words - that's about 40,000 words less than the original - talk about paring down! I'm moving on to the next item.

I'm still toying with the idea of using Createspace again for Alba, but first I want to deal with the other story that suddenly found itself without a home due to the publisher retiring. I'm changing this storyline in this one quite a lot, so it will have a new title and a new cover. The working title is Eilidh and the Vikings, but that may change.

So once again I'm asking myself -

Have I begun the story in the best place? 
Have I made motivation clear? 
Have I shown their loves, their hates, their faults? 
Have I shown Why Things Happen? (Do I need to do this? should it not be clear without that?)
Does each scene make a point? 
Does something important change? If not, should I cut the scene?
Have I conveyed necessary info in narration?
Can I lose secondary characters?
Are my characters compelling? Do I know them?

Right now I'm thinking of writing Eilidh in the first person. I did that with the Matfen Affair and it came to me very easily. Such a good way to get closer to my heroine and get her feelings onto the page.

NB It was -4 degrees this morning when Tim and I ventured out for our first walk, so I thought a suitably frosty picture was appropriate. My eyes have been dry all day, presumably because of the cold. I was uncomfortable shopping in M&S later because my eyes felt "scratchy."

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Getting ready for Christmas

Temperatures have plunged suddenly from around 10 degrees to 1 and -1 between one day and the next. Now it is all big sweaters beneath winter coats when I take Tim out for his walk. The skies are clear and sunshine makes brilliant walking weather, for the ground is hard  instead of the slippery mud we've been used to for the last month. Around the country there is snow, but we seem to be immune - and I know that having said that, we'll likely be inundated tomorrow!

Christmas seems busier than ever this year. Shops are busy, car parks crowded - I watched one woman drive a Land Rover five times around the local Co-op car park looking for a space and each time she was unlucky. (I waited in the mini with Tim while dh went to the post office to post his cards to Australia. He said there was huge queue in the PO, which was why I could do so much observation.)

Lights are going up along our cul de sac and a couple of deer (the kind made up of white lights) are grazing front lawns. Tim barked at a white one further round the estate on our walk yesterday. He also scampered off across the field to find the  whateveritis  that has lured him away from me for the last three days. This time he brought it almost back to me before abandoning it, so I clipped on his lead and walked him across the field to it. Turned out to be a dead rabbit, still intact but rather woebegone after several days dead. I picked it up by one ear and gave it a sky burial in the thick ivy hedge that borders the field - well above my height. That should surely settle him racing away to follow the entrancing smell of dead rabbit every time we venture that way.

He had a blood test on Tuesday 5th to ensure that all is well with him taking Apoquel to stop the patch of "excema" itching. He sat like a rock while the vet stuck a needle in his neck and drew the blood and the vet - who is also called Tim - says what a happy dog he is. The result came back the same day - all is well. 

DH is downstairs making a loaf of bread and promises a big fruit cake with spices as well, so the house will smell gorgeous pretty soon. Our Christmas lights and garlands are up already this year - a special effort to welcome our grandson Alexander and his parents on a visit from Oz over Christmas before they disappear to Zermatt to go skiing. (Note to self - must dust before they arrive!)