Sunday, March 5, 2023

The Cinderella Princess The Future Queen Anne Stuart Part Three By Rosemary Morris


To explore more of Rosemary's work please click on the cover.

Author’s Note. At heart I am a historian. Before I begin writing a #classi#historical#omance I research the background. I hope you will enjoy this month’s insider blog based on my notes.

Twelve year old Sarah Jennings, daughter of a landed gentleman who would play such a crucial role Princess Anne’s life, was appointed as one of her attendants. Years later Sara wrote: We had used to play together when she was a child and she even then expressed a particular fondness for me. The motherless princess living in the shadow of her older, cleverer sister, Mary, and her governess’s daughters became deeply attached to Sarah.

Anne was pretty with plump features, red-brown hair, and her mother’s elegant hands, which she was immensely proud of. A shy, easily ignored child she was aware of her short-comings – her poor education did nothing to boost her confidence. Sarah said years later:  Your Majesty has had the misfortune to be misinformed in general things even from twelve years old.  There was no reason to provide Anne and her sister with  better education because it was probable the Queen would bear an heir to the throne. During Anne’s life  few women could read and write. Little more than dancing, drawing, French, and music were required to prepare Anne for life at court. Her general education was neglected but her religious education was rigorous and laid the foundation for her lifelong adherence to the Anglican faith.

Anne and Mary lived apart from the court at Whitehall, their indulgent Roman Catholic father and stepmother.  Expected to be virtuous, the sisters must have been aware of the licentiousness at their uncle’s court and their uncle, the king, and their father acknowledged illegitimate children.

King Charles II was interested in Anne, who would be one of the best guitar players at court. Her voice was pleasing so he ordered the actress, Mrs Barry, to give his nieces elocution lessons. They benefitted Anne when she took part in masques and plays popular at court and, as queen, when she addressed parliament.

Anne and Mary grew up in the company of clerics and women, secluded from Whitehall with little to entertain them. They suffered boring conversations, stifling small rooms, and endless card games. Sarah declared:  I wished myself out of Court as much as I had desired to come into it before I knew what it was. Despite tedium and whatever storms lay ahead, Anne loved her sister. So much that when Mary married her Dutch cousin, William of Orange, in 1677, while Anne had smallpox, her father ordered that she should not be told her sister had departed for the Continent.

While Anne’s tutor fretted in case her fanatical Roman Catholic nurse influenced her when Anne was ill,  she recovered, Anne had to cope with the death of her governess. Fortunately, she still had Sarah’s  companionship and they enjoyed the vast grounds of Richmond Palace, leased by the king for his nieces.  This tranquillity. It is reasonable to suppose her mind was  occupied with thoughts of who she would marry.

 * * *

Rosemary Morris’ #classic#historical#romance novels set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign – 1702-1714


Far Beyond Rubies

Tangled Love

The Captain and The Countess

The Viscount and The Orphan

Saturday, March 4, 2023

Nokota Voices: Carrots by Julie Christen



Now available!

    Are you ready to take a trip to the wide open spaces of North Dakota with Paisley Noon, her faithful dog Prairie, her beloved horses Journey and Boss Girl, and a one-eyed crimp-eared three-legged stowaway barn cat? Are you ready to become a part of an eclectic, quirky family with a can-do attitude and a vision of perpetual hope? If so … Forever Fields Farm awaits your arrival with open arms!

Here are a few tidbits from the first chapter of Nokota Voices.

    Hike up your big girl panties and quit the waterworks, said my dead grandma as I fiddled with a tattered photo of her daughter. My mother’s black hair swirled in the wind; she sat bareback on a wild-eyed buckskin colt in front of a house I didn’t recognize. A carved sign next to her showed a diamond shape with a large letter F in the center and two smaller Fs on either side. I wondered if she heard the voices too, wherever she was. Did they tug at her until she finally followed?

    It’s time, Gram nudged.

    Though Gram had been dead for five years, her voice prodded me from the edge of my bed. I reached for my suitcase and stuffed the picture of Mother into my pocket. I took a deep breath and stepped toward the door. My heart thumped in my throat as the wheels ricketed across the warped wood floor. I stopped to look one last time at the snapshots taped on my wall. Friends. Smiles. Boys. Group hugs. Cheeky kisses.

    Lies. All of it.

    I wasn’t like them. I never had been.

*    *    *

    Ernie meowed from the tops of the stalls and walked along. A carefree, three-legged daredevil. I followed beneath him next door to Boss Girl. She stood dozing in a corner, one hind leg bent, head hung low.

    “Hey, BG,” I whispered. The last thing she needed was getting jolted out of a perfectly good dream of the old days when she and Mom ran barrels or raced the wind in the clover field.

    As my eyes adjusted, I began to make out the vague contours of her bony hips and swayed back. Age left its mark.

    My defiant voice from earlier that day echoed in my head. Over my dead body!

    Then Cindy’s sticky voice, It’s the humane thing to do. This coming from someone who’d never touched, much less owned, a horse in her life.

    I reminded myself again, I’m not like her.

    Then Dad, “I don’t see any other options. Unless you want to start paying the vet bills.”

    And me, “She’s only twenty-five! What kind of idiot puts down a horse that’s paid for herself ten times over in winnings just because she’s retired?”

    “Paisley Alberta Noon, that’s enough.” Dad had pulled out the middle name weapon.

    Mom would never allow it.” I had no problem pulling out the Mom weapon.


    I blinked out of the memory. None of that mattered anymore. In fact, I was glad it happened. It was just the catalyst I needed to finally listen to the voices tugging at me to leave for the last year. Their whispers became clearer, yet I still couldn’t understand their words. And Gram’s had become unbearable. My choice was made.

*    *    *

    Experience has convinced me Oscar’s got a split personality. I never knew what kind of mood that Scottsdale would be in. Sometimes he’d turn over and purr like a kitten. Other times, he’d screech like a yeti. I cringed at the thought of the latter in the still night. In fact, I slid my clammy hand from the key in the ignition and leaned back for a nervous breath, to settle the whirligigs in my stomach.

    Then I saw Gram. On top of my duffle bag. The portrait, that is. Her eyes still as stone just watched me, waiting. She had been like that — always watching and waiting for me to make a decision for my obstinate little self. Prodding me on with some quip remark. In the picture the little curve at one corner of her mouth told me she was with me as I sat behind Oscar’s steering wheel all sweaty-palmed.

    That woman was my hero. I wanted so much to be like her.

    Prairie sat in the truck with a determined look she could only have gotten from being around me way too much. Glancing past her to the porch light, I wondered what kind of decision I was making this time.

    Then it came to me. Gram, though she’d been dead five years, would be with me. She would swish away any mess I got myself into. From behind the glass, the crinkle in her left eye winked. She got me. No matter how big of a brat I was. She knew I had to learn things my own way.

    I leaned forward and turned the key. Vvvrrrum hummmm.

    “Helloooo Kitten.”

    Prairie pant-smiled and let out a “whuff.” The ratty rope dangled over her canines.

    “I guess that means we are on our way.” Ghostly butterflies fluttered in my rib cage.

    As we inched down the driveway, gravel crunched beneath Oscar’s tires, and I said my silent goodbyes to the only home I’d ever known. I slowed to a stop at the mailbox that read “The Noon Family: 445 Aurora Way.” A sadness tensed my shoulders because I honestly could not remember the last time it had felt like a family lived at this address.

    It was time.

    Enough with the mush. Get on with it! Gram said.

    “See ya ‘round, suckers,” I sneered to my past.

    Oscar’s grimy headlights lit the way as I began my cruise north and west toward the plains of North Dakota.

  See you all soon!

Thursday, March 2, 2023

My Time Writing Down the Bones with Natalie Goldberg, Part 2, by Diane Bator


Book 2, Dead Man's Doll

Since starting the virtual Writing Down the Bones course with Natalie Goldberg, I find myself slowing down. Feeling the snow on my face as I did with my kids when they were young. Laughing when I find fluffy, white turkey feathers that have made their way from the costume hanging in the upper lobby at work on my desk a floor below.

I find myself taking 10 minutes to myself a couple times a day to write. My topics? The walk I took to the coffee shop one day in the wind and finding a clean, crisp twenty dollar bill that hadn't blown away yet on the sidewalk. The taste of the Americano I bought and how I loathed that taste for years even though I'd always loved the comforting scent. To write about the puffy flakes of snow falling or the icy pellets tapping on the glass to be let in.

I find that I'm focusing on details more lately where before I mostly focused on the dialogue in my books. Even while editing my latest work in progress, All That Shimmers, I've added more details than in any of my previous books.

So far, I've finished the first three out of four sections in the course. I've also read three of Natalie's writing books and was able to join in a Zoom call with my mentor herself! I swear I barely listened to the first few minutes, I was just in awe by the experience. She was gracious enough to answer questions from the group for the entire hour.

Which of her books have I read so far?
  • Writing Down the Bones
  • Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life
  • Thunder & Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer's Craft
If you're looking for a little inspiration to improve your own writing, I'd highly recommend any of them. Just as they helped with my upcoming book, All That Shimmers, Glitter Bay Book 3 that comes out in May. Watch for the new cover next month!

You can find my work at

Happy Reading. Happy Writing!

Polished prose: Why copyediting matters by donalee Moulton

Visit my BWL Author Page.

When you’ve finished the first draft of a book, a weight is lifted. Some writers do a dance of joy. But even as we celebrate an important milestone, we remind ourselves that there is more work to be done. The book needs to be read – line by line – for consistency, conciseness, and clarity. That is the heart of copyediting.

Copyediting is like minor surgery, but the impact can be significant. At this stage, structural changes and in-depth revisions are not necessary. They have already been done. This next step in the editing process brings us from 30,000 feet into the weeds. It’s about polishing prose.

Editors Canada offers the following overview for stylistic editing, or line editing. Many consider this copyediting. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what we call it as long as we do it.

Stylistic Editing

Editing to clarify meaning, ensure coherence and flow, and refine the language. It includes:

  • eliminating jargon, clichés, and euphemisms
  • establishing or maintaining the language level appropriate for the intended audience, medium, and purpose
  • adjusting the length and structure of sentences and paragraphs
  • establishing or maintaining tone, mood, style, and authorial voice or level of formality

What’s a Copyeditor to do

Here are six areas of focus to help ensure our writing resonates with our audience and achieves our purpose.

Check for:

  • Long sentences
  • Big words
  • Uncommon words
  • Meaning can’t be misunderstood
  • Tone
  • Readability

  • Between sentences
  • Between paragraphs
  • Movement in time, place, subject
  • Usually short transition words like however, so, then

  • Facts and figures
  • Specific language
  • Action verbs
  • Active voice

  • Ideas
  • Words
  • Summaries

  • 5Ws and How
  • Emphasis on why
  • Unanswered questions

  • Logical
  • Smooth
  • Read out loud

I’ll give the last word to fantasy writer Patricia Fuller:

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

New Releases for April 2023 by BWL Publishing Inc.


Click the link below to download BWL's free novel for April 2023 

Mending Jodie's Heart by Sheila Claydon

Click this link

When Laken Miller moves into the apartment above Vintage Sage, it seems all of Glitter Bay goes crazy, especially when Laken suspects her new home is haunted. Just when she thinks she’s the victim of mass hysteria, she finds her ex-husband’s body in the courtyard.

Can Laken prove her innocence before the local police cuff her with a different kind of glittering bracelet?

* * * * *

Adam Norcross has recently returned from a foreign assignment. Bent on settling his mother’s estate, Norcross is interrupted by his boss for a new task. Find RCMP Sergeant Bethany Leith. He also wants to know how her career has gone so wrong she is suspended.

When Adam tracks Beth to her parent’s farm in Saskatchewan they are drawn into a suspicious death investigation on her family’s land. Norcross knows it’s murder. The victim is someone Nick Leith, Beth’s father, has a troubled history with. What about the archaeologist team digging on the same property, are they involved?


Norcross will use every tool at his disposal to solve the murder and help Bethany Leith. Including navigating his way through the political intrigue surrounding the case against her.

* * * * * 

Helen Castrel has just arrived in Victoria, British Columbia, from England and she hires Baxter Davenport of the Davenport & Son Detective Agency to go with her to Dawson City and help find her second oldest brother, David, whom she hasn’t seen since she was eleven years old.

David had been trouble to the family since he was young and was sent to Canada as a remittance man ten years ago. The last communication her father, Charles Castrel, received from David was late last summer when he sent a telegram from Victoria, British Columbia, saying he was on his way to the Klondike gold rush at Dawson City. Since then Charles Gastrel has heard nothing from his son, not even a letter stating where his remittance money was to be sent. Helen needs to find David to make sure he’s alive and to deliver a message from their father.


Baxter Davenport isn’t sure about travelling north with two women. He will have a job to do and doesn’t need to be looking after them. Plus, he doesn’t like the idea that Helen Castrel is excited about being a sleuth along with him. He soon finds out that both women can look after themselves.

Mattie Lewis, Helen Castrel’s lady’s maid, insisted on accompanying Helen, not only to look after her but because she has worked for the family for years and remembers David better than Helen does. She also has her own motive for wanting to find David.

The three head north armed with an old photograph and a recent description they obtained from David’s former landlady. They arrive in Dawson City where the gold rush is in full swing. There they are challenged by deceit, fraud, and danger in their quest to find David.

* * * * *

Mortal Magic (Beyond the Magic Book 2)

THEO EGAN has been sent through the portal to investigate an illegal use of magic.  And—since it’s forbidden to cross to the mortal world without permission from the Council of Master Witches—this might be Theo’s only chance to find his missing brother.

LACEY DENT, a mortal journalist, has discovered a mysterious commune. When she meets Theo, she knows he can help her get her big story.

She also knows that, in her own way, she can help him. When she suggests an alliance Theo is reluctant. He’s always relied on his natural magic and believed that mortals had none. Besides, he can’t let Lacey find out who he really is.

(Waiting on cover from Pandora)

Can Lacey—with her imagination, courage and resilience—convince him that her

special brand of “mortal” magic is the key to their survival?

March New Releases for BWL Publishing Inc.


Click to purchase Nokota® Voices 

What do you do when you want to contribute to something so much bigger than yourself? How do you discover something you know is inside you, but it sits deep and unreachable? How do you get this special part of you to the surface so you can offer it to others?

You strike out on your own with your faithful dog and beloved horses and drive across the stretches of North Dakota to find the true meaning of family in a place that’s been waiting for you – a humble horse farm where Nokota® horses fly across the prairie. And then, you let the horses show you.

Come ride the Nokota® wave with this story of self-discovery, inner magic, and heritage as seventeen-year-old Paisley Noon discovers her eclectic extended family living in a forgotten little town in North Dakota. On these open plains pound the hoofbeats of a rare and magnificent horse breed. The Nokota®. Narrowly escaping extinction twice, these descendants of Sitting Bull’s war ponies relentlessly call for their families – their people. When the Lakota neighbor sweeps into Paisley’s life like the prairie winds through the manes of his small herd of preservation-bred Nokota® horses, Paisley soon discovers her purpose lies with them. The enchanting voices these horses carry have whispered to her for some time. She hears their call. She just needs to know what they’re saying.



Click to purchase Hung Out to Die

Meet Riel Brava. Attractive. Razor-sharp. Ambitious. And something much more.

Riel, raised in Santa Barbara, California, has been transplanted to Nova Scotia where he is CEO of the Canadian Cannabis Corporation. It’s business as usual until Riel finds his world hanging by a thread. Actually, several threads. It doesn’t take the police long to determine all is not as it appears – and that includes Riel himself.


Pulled into a world not of his making, Riel resists the hunt to catch a killer. Resistance is futile. Detective Lin Raynes draws the reluctant CEO into the investigation, and the seeds of an unexpected and unusual friendship are sown. Raynes and Riel concoct a scheme to draw a confession out of the killer, but that plan is never put into place. Instead, Riel finds himself on the butt end of a rifle in the ribs and a long drive to the middle of Nowhere, Nova Scotia.


Why would someone want Norm dead, innocuous Norman Bedwell? A motive for murder is buried somewhere, and self-professed psychopath and cannabis production manager, Riel Brava, works with Detective Lin Raynes, aided by endless exotic coffee blends, to find it. As the noose tightens on an increasingly smaller number of suspects, who knew finding a murderer would be so simple? In the end, of course, it isn’t. It is a chunderfuck. Oh, and, Riel has one helluva wife.

Pour yourself a cup of Ethiopian yirgacheffe and savor this often humorous, fast-paced whodunit. – Rand Gaynor, author of New Old Stories


Click to purchase Potatoes and Pink Vodka


Ever since their first writing class together, Diane Dew has been Mindy’s literary nemesis. Try as she might, Mindy’s successes could never surpass those of the prissy, perfect rich girl.


Mindy isn’t shocked when Diane’s latest novel squeezes out a good review from a notoriously tough critic. However, she is shocked to receive a message from Diane out of the blue. Her life, it turns out, is far from perfect; her success has resulted in the online attention of a hateful, anonymous stalker.


When danger seeps from computer screen to reality, Mindy finds herself aiding Diane in her search for the truth. Mindy also faces unending resentment from family due to ghosts from the past. Eventually, she learns that the villain of a story depends on who reads it, and love stories often come out of the blue. 


Click to purchase Rum Bullets and Cod Fish 

The story takes place in 1924 during Prohibition. It follows the undercover investigation officer, Jerome Conway, as he seeks to find out the ringleaders behind the illegal importation of liquor from St. Pierre and Miquolon and the Caribbean for distribution to the US mob.

The year is 1924 and Prohibition is spawning a new breed of criminal. Rum runners. Jerome Conway is the undercover investigation officer whose job it is to uncover the ringleaders behind the illegal importation of liquor from St. Pierre, Miquolon, and the Caribbean destined for distribution to the US based mob. His task is a complicated and dangerous one which leads him into the dark corners of illegal activities and the underbelly of society. If he is to be successful in his quest and emerge unscathed, Conway will need to be smarter and quicker than the felons he is chasing.


Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Why Does Writing a Novel Remind Me of Pizza? By Connie Vines #BWLAuthorBlog,

My creation!
Like most writers, I get excited about beginning a new project.

I select my favorite pens, a fresh college line notebook, 3 x 5 lined cards, and my 'new favorite coffee mug. I even set up my playlist for the main characters (music he/she like listening to).  I might even have a rough draft of my book trailer in place.

Then I sit down at my laptop (yes, I'm still a hardcore PC person), however, my laptop has a dictation feature which seems to work well for free-flow thought.

Why do I think about pizza 🍕?

You begin with a blank computer screen white piece of paper. And as I stated in my opening paragraph I have everything in order.

To begin your pizza dough you arrange your ingredients: Yeast, Water, Flour, Oil, Sugar, Salt, and Cornmeal (for dusting the bottom of the crust). You may even wish to add garlic or Italian seasoning to the flour.

You will have your favorite bowl handy. 

Like a novel, pizza dough will require kneading, resting, and kneading again.

Your pizza dough should be shaggy and lumpy, to begin with, but if you've kneaded it for a while it should be slightly tacky to the touch. If your dough doesn't ooze or sag when you hold it up, it's another sign it is well kneaded.

It's not unusual for my plot and opening scene to be a little lumpy at the beginning. However, with work, an unending supply of hot coffee, and pacing, my story takes shape. 

I may take a day or two off to let the ideas rise to the surface. Then I'm back at the computer again.

A couple of chapters later I realized my story may need a bit of extra seasoning, and several new toppings or I may need to toss out the pie and start again.

But hopefully, like the glutamate in pizza toppings, my stories cause my readers' brains to get excited--and crave more of my novels!

Happy Reading and "gustare la pizza",


My books are on SALE until March 3rd (at Smashwords) click the link above :-)

Monday, February 27, 2023

Moving on from grief to joy - I adopted a new furry companion - by Vijaya Schartz

Visit my author page on BWL Publishing HERE

After the loss of my little Jasmine just after the holidays, I thought I shouldn't wait too long before adopting a new furry companion. 

Here he is, I renamed him Pasha (which is a spoiled mid-eastern king, usually fat and spoiled). Pasha is seven-years-old. He was rescued in November by Cat's World Rescue from a family where he'd been abused by children and used as target practice by mean men. The vet had to dig several BBs out of his body.

Needless to say, this little thing was spooked. He hates children and men. He couldn't be touched, even less petted. So, his case was special, and adoption would be difficult, since he couldn't be adopted by a family.

As it often happens, the right connection at the right time (I was browsing at Petsmart) put both of us on a collision course. I believe in the energy of the universe solving problems. I always keep an open mind. And as it happened, I was there, ready to adopt when he was in need of a home.

In a very short time, Pasha understood he was safe in my home. He really is the king of his domain and now lets me pet him and even pick him up. He jumps in my lap and purrs and even let me brush his tummy. 

I think this is the perfect pairing. An author needs a quiet furry companion to sleep and purr on the desk while the inspiration strikes. I believe cats help inspiration, especially for my books, where you will often find cat characters... sometimes small, sometimes very big, but always brave.

Here are some of my titles that include cats:

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Happy reading!

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Of Myth and Legend—Tricia McGill

Find all my books with buy links on my BWL Author page

Many well-known legends throughout history have been well documented. One thing I enjoy about researching at the start of a new book is finding facts about certain obscure characters throughout history that I haven’t come across before. Doesn’t mean that they are not just as famous. My next task when starting a new story, after deciding on the setting, is to find names for my protagonists. Once I have that clear in my head, I can more easily build their individual character traits (this part I love, so therefore spend a lot of time on). 

I wanted my convict hero to be of Irish descent, and so found the name of Finn easily enough. What I didn’t know was that this name was derived from an Irish legend known as the Fionn (or Fenian) Cycle. This original Finn was the son of one Cumhail who led a band of warriors who were chosen for their bravery and strength. They took an oath to fight for the king and defend Ireland from attack. When younger Finn took over leadership of the Fianna he was known as the greatest warrior of all. What a wonderful story for my character Finn to relate when explaining where his unusual name came from. Actually, Finn does not know if this is true of course, and who knows he might have made that name up for himself knowing it might make him appear braver.

As my story is set in Australia (Tasmania to be exact), it seemed right to be researching the county’s legends more thoroughly. Everyone more or less has heard of Ned Kelly (certainly all Aussies know his saga well) but there are many other bushrangers and criminals who are just as famous here. I came across some previously unknown to me colourful facts about a bushranger named Martin Cash (1808-1877). Also born in Ireland (County Wexford) Cash was convicted in 1827 of housebreaking and was eventually transported to Sydney to serve his seven years, as many others were in those days. Cash’s story was that in a fit of jealousy he shot at a man who was embracing his (Cash’s) mistress. He claimed the ball wounded his rival in the backside.

Assigned to a George Bowman, Cash continued to work for him after receiving his ticket-of-leave. Once able to go wherever he wished he left for Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) along with one Bessie Clifford. Two years later he was accused of larceny and again sentenced to seven years (Some people never learn that crime does not pay!). He escaped three times, at one stage evading capture for almost two years. He was returned to Port Arthur, Tas (where my story is set) with another four years added to his sentence. He soon eluded two guards with the help of two bushmen, Kavenagh and Jones, and the three began their bushranging career, robbing inns and the homes of well-to-do settlers. They used no unnecessary violence and thus earned the title of ‘gentlemen bushrangers’. 

Cash heard that his love Bessie had deserted him for another man so risked a visit to Hobart Town, where he was once again tried for killing a pursuer. A former attorney-general, Edward Macdowell was secured for his defense but Cash nevertheless was sentenced to death. At the 11th hour the decision was reconsidered and he then was transported to Norfolk Island for ten years.

His story did not end there by any means and before his death he narrated his life story to James Lester Burke whose edited version published in 1870 was perhaps more colourful than the truth and has been reprinted many times since. 

More on Martin Cash:

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Six weeks in Australia 

Six weeks in Australia

My apologies for not posting anything last month. I had just returned from my six weeks in Australia and suffered from brain fog after the long journey coupled with the inevitable jet lag. Adjusting to the cold weather in England after six weeks in sunshine and temperatures in the upper 70s and lower 80s was a shock too – we even had snow two days after I arrived home.

But anyway – Australia! Where to begin? People have asked me what was the highlight of my trip, and honestly, there were so many that it is impossible to pick out the top ten, let alone just one. Of course, it was wonderful to see my daughter and her partner again. They emigrated in 2019, with every intention of returning to visit the following year, but then Covid struck and Australia closed its borders, only opening them again to non-essential travellers at the beginning of 2022.

I had seen photos of their new home, but of course it was far better to see the ‘real’ thing, and also the surrounding neighbourhood – and I was very excited to see my first kangaroo at the side of a road nearby!

My daughter is a teacher, and her ‘summer holidays’ occur in December/January. I confess it seemed somewhat strange to see Christmas trees and other seasonal decorations in hot, sunny weather – and I did feel sorry for my UK friends who were in the midst of a cold snap with below freezing temperatures.

One highlight of my stay was a short cruise from Brisbane to Sydney with two days in Sydney itself. The first view of the famous Opera House and the bridge was unforgettable. It is such an iconic view and I must have taken dozens of photos from different angles, by day and also at night.

We visited several beaches and bays on the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. Some, inevitably, were crowded and ‘touristy’, but others were beautifully quiet, with pale sand, turquoise sea, and white surf. I loved the mountain areas too, with lush rainforests and some amazing views.

The koalas at a wildlife sanctuary were a delight – they seem to be able to sleep anywhere in their favourite gum trees but the one I held for a few minutes was very cuddly! 

We also fed some very tame kangaroos, saw babies peeking out of their mothers pouches, and loved the way they bounced along on their very long back legs. At the same sanctuary, we saw other examples of Australian wildlife – a duckbilled platypus, Tasmanian devil, emu, kookaburra and dingoes. At another place, we fed the llamas, and also fed the beautiful rainbow lorikeets – who responded by pooping all over my top and pants!

I was sad when my visit eventually came to an end, but the memories will stay with me forever.

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