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Perhaps one of the most beautiful houses I have visited, though each has its own charm, is Longleat. Now I have to say, I did not visit the zoo or the safari or any of that stuff. As always my interest is the house and the grounds and any interesting tidbits of family history.

It was quite misty as we drove in and I loved this view of the house from high on the hill. I could almost imagine myself in a coach and four to attend a house party given by the second Marquess of Bath. More likely I'd been lighting the fires, but ah well, it is fun to dream.

It is not possible to take pictures inside the house, since it is still the property of the Marquess of Bath, unlike so many other of the great homes which their noble owners could no long afford to keep. I for one am glad that some have managed to find ways to retain their ancestral homes.

Longleat has seven libraries with over 40,000 books some of which go back five centuries to when the family first built the house. I can pretty well guarantee that they don't own one of my books. No hard feelings though.

The wall covering in the dining room was particularly interesting, because it was so unusual, tooled Spanish leather made in Cordoba around 1620. Furniture and paintings fill magnificent rooms and it was a pleasure to walk through them.

This is a picture of the wisteria which climbs the orangery wall and the next view is of the orrangery itself.  We have seen several of these in various blogs, but this is a very large and beautiful one at the back of a formal garden.

It was the second Marquess of Bath who spanned the Regency era and into the Victorian age, he brought much of the house up to date at that time and of course it has been renovated since. 

New Book Out

A Rake for Christmas    

It is always special when a book comes out.  This one is a short story, my very first Christmas themed book. I got the idea for the setting when I visited Keates's house on Hampstead Heath one summer.  Not that my rakish hero is a poet. Far from. He's a very bad boy.

But like Keates he does share his house with a very lovely lady. The house is divided into two apartments, not up and down, but side by side.  He has been watching her chase her cat in the garden, and calls her the cat lady, and she has been listening to his shenanigans through the walls of her house.
Their meeting is explosive, to say the least:

One more try and then she’d go home. She knocked harder and longer.
    The door flew open as if blown back by the wind. “I knew you’d be back,” a deep mocking voice said.
    He stepped into the lamplight.
    Mouth open she stared at the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. A blond blue-eyed archangel. Elegant of stature, he looked thoroughly masculine in his shirtsleeves and open collar. Perfection in a state of disreputable undress. Not the raddled roué she’d expected, but a Greek god and a dangerous pirate all rolled into one.
    A gust of wind drove snow in through his door and flakes clung to his long golden lashes. So pretty. So enticing. Heat rushed through her body. Like a bolt of hot lightning, longing trembled in her bones.   
    Yearning for something she could not have.
    “Only one of you?” Summer-sky eyes tracked down her length from head to toe.
    Oh how she wished she’d worn something less shabby than her old cat-catching shawl. “I—”
    A smile of appreciation curved his sensual mouth. “Well, since Heaven sent you, I’m sure you’ll make up for the lack. Come on in before you freeze.” He grabbed her by the hand and pulled her over the threshold and closed the door.
    Astonished she gazed up at him. Before she could utter a protest, his hands went to her waist and he brushed his warm dry lips across her mouth. A sigh of appreciation forced its way up her throat. She barely managed to contain it.
    Instinctively, she placed her free hand on his shoulder, intending to push him away, parting her lips to to tell him to stand back. She was sure that was what she meant to do, but when his tongue swept her mouth, warm and silky and tasting of brandy, the spicy scent of his cologne filling her nostrils, instead of pushing, her fingers curled into the soft cambric of his shirt and pulled him closer. Memories of the pleasure of kisses and caresses melting any thought of resistance.
    Slowly, lingeringly, he kissed her, exploring her mouth with the leisurely strokes of a master seducer. Finally he broke the kiss and she stood breathless, dizzy, held up only by the strong hands in the indentation beneath her ribs. It was all she could do to keep her feet, to not collapse from the delicious assault on her senses.
    His kiss had set free all the pent up desires of the past few weeks. Her insides ached and fluttered.
    He looked down at her, a lock of unruly tawny hair falling over his brow, a wicked smile curving his sensually carved mouth. “I just had to see if you tasted as good as you looked.” His smile broadened. “You do. Lucky me.”

Not that the path to true love is ever that smooth as he is about to find out.

Well that's all from me, until next time happy rambles.

Will I ever finish?

I have had this project ongoing for some time now. Years in fact. And I am beginning to wonder if I will ever finish.  I never have that problem with finishing my stories, but this, well it would be a great shame not to finish it now and have it framed, don't you think? (And I have a few more that I would like to tackle too.)

Seeing the NaNoWriMo excitement, I thought I would try to give myself a bit of encouragement.  I am going to post my progress from time to time. Once a month.  Here is a picture of where I am at the moment.

The thing is, it is dreadfully fiddly counted cross stitch and its hard to see if you are making any progress at all.  This is only the top one third of the whole piece.

All of the cross stitch is done, now we are embellishing.

Next, I have to finish the outside border, there is some outlining to be done around the very edge and then that criss cross stuff you can see that stops before it reaches the top, and then there are beads to add. Anyway, by this time next month, I hope to have the outside border completely finished and then I can start on outlining the greenery and finishing off the peacock inside the large picture panel.

It will be interesting to see if this helps motivate me to get this done.  One year. That is what I am aiming for.

More about the Regency next time.

Daphne Du Maurier

You may recall that my first book with Harlequin, The Rake's Inherited Courtesan,  won the 2010 Daphne, or as the full title explains, the Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, Historical Category (Awarded by RWA's Kiss of Death Chapter.)  

Daphne Du Maurier, pictured left as a teen,  wrote suspense novels. Several of her novels have been made into films, including The Birds and Rebecca. The story that interested me most was Jamaica Inn.

  Jamaica Inn,  was almost set in the Regency, 1820 in fact, and it is a romance.  The story is classified as  a gothic romance and tells the tale of a young woman who gets tangled up with a gang of wreckers. (Men who used lanterns to misdirect ships on to the rocks of the Cornish coast, kill the crew and steal the cargo.) The heroine encounters many harrowing adventures.

Jamaica Inn, where she set her story  exists today, and is still a pub, but is also a museum to both the author and the smuggling history of Cornwall.

Last summer we visited Cornwall, and naturally Jamaica Inn was a must see.

As you can imagine, while I was interested in the author and her life, I was more taken with the artifacts and information relating to smuggling which I am going to share with you. here.

The picture on the left known as landing the goods and there is little more to be said.  On the right are tools and weapons used on both sides of the law. For example the pig sticking knife and the wooden farm flail were used by smugglers, since they were not army or navy weapons a man could carry them with impunity.  The swords and cutlasses were carried by excisemen or naval officers. 

Here is an assortment of lanterns, handy for smugglers to carry or signal with.

Down in the right hand corner is something really interesting. It is called a scuffling iron.  Now this is the technical term for what the last man of the train of smugglers used to hide their tracks.  It was a reverse horse shoe, and with one hand he would sweep away the track of the horsed with a tree branch and with the other would stamp the scuffling iron (which was attached to something like a broom handle) into the ground, thereby confusing anyone trying to follow.

Not exactly high tech, and not likely to fool too many people either I think, but who knows?

The Jamaica Inn is on Bodmin Moor, not that close to the sea, so it would have been used as a place to hide contraband, I would think.  And a very lonely place it is too, even today, as you can see from the pictures I took from the parking lot.

There will be more on smuggling another time, but for now, Happy Rambles.

The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy (Continued)

Holiday Contest Reminder

Just a reminder to check back for details, either here or on my website on November 29 when the annual Harlequin Historical Contest begins. There are all kinds of prizes from each author every day, plus a grand prize of a Kindle Fire (where available) and an equivalent where it is not.
I will also be posting on twitter and facebook too.

Back to William Bankes 


The Philae obelisk.

Made of pink granite, the obelisk was first seen by William Bankes in 1815. It arrived in England in 1821, after almost sinking to the bottom of a river in Egypt, and was transported overland to Kingston Lacy on a gun carriage offered by the Duke of Wellington. The foundation stone was laid by the Duke in April 1827.

Can you imagine what your family would say if you brought this sort of souvenir home from your holiday?

As mentioned earlier. William Bankes's travels came to an end  in 1820. He did not inherit Kingston Lacy from his brother Henry until December 1834 and spent the next few years embellishing Soughton in Flintshire, instead writing up the details of his travels, sadly for us, I think.

Once he inherited, he began the task of altering Kingston Lady to suit his own tastes. Personally, I wish he might have left it as it was but that is purely selfish. I would not expect anyone to tell me I couldn't update my house.

Unfortunately, William was forced to leave England in 1841 after a second charge of  "indecently exposing himself with a soldier of the Foot Guards in Green Park". The possible punishments were dreadful at the time and his reputation in society would have been ruined. He jumped bail and fled to Italy. The rest of his life he continued to fit out the interiors of Kingston Lacy with the help of his sister Lady Falmouth.  There is some evidence that he did pay secret visits to the house on which he lavished so much care, but as a fugitive from the law, the family could never openly admit it. I certainly hope he did get to see his home from time to time.

There is more to know about the family and the house, and it is well worth a visit, for the grounds are simply spectacular, but for my purposes, all things 'regency', it is done.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy (Continued)

William Bankes traveled the east en grand seigneur in a noble barge with a cabin, not because he wanted to, but because it was expected. He also visited Lady Hester Stanhope, a fascinating lady who lived on Mount Lebanon.

After his travels he returned to Syria where he carried out clandestine nocturnal excavations with other English gentlemen who were also in the area at the time. He was one of the first Europeans to reach Petra famous for its rock cut architecture  and water conduits system. Imagine being among the first to see a sight like that pictured to the left.

Established sometime around the 6th century BC Petra was the capital city of the Nabataeans and is to be found east of the Dead Sea. I must say I am greatly resisting the temptation to delve deeper, but no. This is about William, not Arabia.  He really did have adventures. William went to Petra dressed as a Bedouin Arab.   He also went because he was so skilled in drawing and was to use his talent to capture the sights on paper, there not being any photographs at the time.  But you knew that didn't you.

Next he went up the Nile, leading Henry Salt's flotilla in his fourteen-oared canja among whom were artists and Belzoni,  a hydraulic engineer who had once been a strong man on the stage of Sadler's Wells. Williams plan of the temple at Luxor corrected that of the French antiquary Vivant Denon. He discovered the table of the kings now in the British Museum at Abydos. Amd at Abu Simbel William discovered a Greek inscription at the great temple of Rameses II which helped date the monument, while inside he and his companions copied all the wall paintings by the light of candles standing on ladders (and without their shirts because it was hot, so scandalous it deserves a mention).
After visiting Byron in Venice and then at Ravena where they "buffooned togther very merrily" he returned home in April 1820.  He collected all kinds of things, but never did anything to organize them or document them, nor did he ever write the promised book about his travels.  Too much like hard work, one wonders? He enjoyed the "doing" part. 

This is such a brief summary, of his adventures, it merely give a flavour of what he was up to while he was gaining his reputation as "the Nubian explorer".  My imagination is certainly taking flight.

Back at home he was lionised by society who gobbled up the  stories of his travels.  So much so that he had to be persuaded not to pursue his affair with Lady Buckinham, who wanted him to take her to Africa disguised as a boy, so they could search for the source of the Nile together.  Instead he devoted himself to his British inheritance.  Shades of a romance novel anyone?

We will finish up his story next time.   In the meantime a reminder about the upcoming contest to win a Kindle or a Kindle Fire along with daily prizes, which will be posted here and on my website, so don't forget to check back for the rules of how to enter the contest.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

The Bankes's of Kingston Lacy

The Bankes family owned Kingston Lacy from around 1636 (at first known as Kingston Hall, the King part relating to its one time ownership by the King and the Lacy part from its medieval ownership by the de Lacys).

The Bankes owned Corfe castle, not far away, which was eventually destroyed by Cromwellian forces and which was returned to the family in the restoration. They of course never lived there again and devoted all their attention to Kingston.

Since the period we are most interested in spans the long regency, I wanted to talk a bit about the two prime figures during that period. Sir Henry Banks, 1757 - 1834 and his son William Banks 1786-1855 who added many interesting artifacts to the house and whose travels and life were exceedingly interesting.

Sir Henry, having undertaken the grand tour, married a wealthy and beautiful woman, undertook major modernization of the house between 1784 and 1791. As mentioned in earlier posts, much of those changes were swept away in the 1830's by his son William, but we have looked at the parts that were in place during the regency.  When the renovations were complete it was celebrated with a ball. Around 140 people danced from nine in the evening, sat down to supper at midnight and danced again until seven in the morning. Entertainment on the grand scale.

William was Sir Henry's second son. From Harrow, he went up to Trinity College, Cambridge in 1804 and became Lord Byron's (yes that Lord Byron) friend for life.

He was one of the leading lights of the 1812 London season, something I must put in a book one of these days. This miniature was completed in that year by George Sandars in this year. During this year, he proposed to Annabella Milbanke, the bluestocking heiress who later married Byron. It was William who gave her his copy of Childe Harold.  She married Byron in 1815.

In the meantime, William followed in Byron and William Beckford's footsteps traveling to Portugal and Spain in 1812 and spending two years there acquiring paintings and living the Bohemian life. He also served as an Aide de Camp to Wellesley (Later the Duke of Wellington) during this time.

He went from there to Egypt and then to Italy in 1814 and back to Egypt in 1815. Kingston Lacy houses one of the sole surviving gentleman's collection from the early days of British Egyptology. More about this to come. Until then Happy Rambles.

Kingston Lacy

What was it like for the servants in these great house.  Kingston Lacy provides us with a very interesting view.

Those outbuildings in an earlier post and which I repeat here, the laundry and drying room to the south (right) were designed and built in 1775-76.  While the the Kitchens, sculleries and store rooms to the north were enlarged in the 1780s. Interesting that the food was prepared outside the main house, and as was usual in these days, it was probably for fire prevention purposes.

  In the basement of the house of course we find the cellars, in this picture you can see barrels and bottles. There is also a butler's silver cupboard and the family Muniment Room which housed the banks family archives.

Other servants rooms include a housekeeper's room which is now used to display the William Banks Egyptian collection. (More on William to come later) and leading off what is called the back hall is also the servants' hall pictured on the left.  This lead out to the kitchen courtyard.

I thought you might enjoy this shot of a pheasant sitting on a tree branch in the grounds.  Next time we will have some information about William Banks and his adventures.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.


Kingston Lacy

There are any number of amazing pieced of furniture at Kingston Lacy. Here are a few pieces from the rooms we visited..

A great many renovations took place in the house after the Regency era and so as I pick and choose through my photographs I try to find things which come either during or before that era.  However, the house is full of charm and interest so I err of including some things which come later.

This ceiling in the upstairs hallway which leads to several bedrooms does date from the first renovation of the house in the 17 eighties.  It is a barrel vault and coffered ceiling. The architect also made very clever use of natural light with his fan lights and cupola.
The bedrooms set aside for bachelor bedrooms on the south and east sides, the servants being on the north side, are dated from 1834-41, but continue the fashion of Empress Josephine's Malmaison near Paris and the Charlotenhof at Potsdam, in that they are Tent Rooms.  They are fascinatingly whimsical.

One of my pictures of a portrait which was Regency also reflects back the room behind me giving a good idea of the style and design. I honestly think anyone staying in these rooms must have felt quite suffocated.

I do apologize for the darkness of these pictures, but flash is a no no, and who am I to disobey the rule.

Once more I find myself frustrated at the slowness of blogger's picture loading and while I do so hate to whine, I just can't take it anymore today.   I have stories to write and heaven help me, some laundry awaiting my attention too.

Hah, glad to get that off my chest.   lol    Before we leave Kingston Lacy entirely, we have the ever fascinating servants' quarters to visit.  Much more fascinating to me, I might add, since I have taken on and Upstairs Downstairs themed novel about which you will be hearing more in due course.  And I did want to talk a bit about William Banke's adventures during the Regency era.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy was originally built in 1660, and remained in the Bankes family until 1981.  Henry Bankes the Younger was the first of the Bankes's to transform the house. This was in the 1780s, so of interest to us.  All that remains from that renovation are the Library and the saloon, with the chimney piece by Flaxman and the coved ceiling painted by Cornelius Dixon.  He was the owner of the house during the Regency, but much of the changes he wrought were swept away by his second son William when he came into the title in 1834.
Here you have pictures of the library.  Isn't that
a magnificent ceiling.  I like the way the
portraits hang above the book shelves.

The furnishings are also beautiful and deserve a closer look.

 And here is that deliciously coved Venetian Ceiling.   There is much more to come about the house, but there is a person I wanted to tell you about also.

William Bankes (1786-1855) was fascinating to me, not because of what he did at the house, but because of what he was doing during the Regency.  A friend of Byron and a disappointed suitor of Annabella Milbanke, this young man began traveling when he was 26 in 1812, remember the Peninsular war was still going on then. He traveled to Portugal and Spain where he spent his time acquiring paintings and visiting with gypsies. Though he did also visit Wellington's headquarters after the battle of Salamanca in July 1812.

He travelled in the east for eight years. We will talk about his travels there next time. And also continue our stroll around Kingston Lacy.

Until then Happy Rambles.

Kingston Lacy

It is always a pleasure to visit one of Britain's stately home. Kingston Lacy was a delight. You may recall me refering to it in a flora and fauna posting about the bustard a bird that was extinct in in Britain since 1832 but is now being reintroduced.

The first manor was granted to John de Lacy, 1st Earl of Lincoln in 1229. The current house was build in 1665, but6 the original brick was faced in stone and underwent significant remodeling in 1835, including the addition of a chimney in each corner of the house.

This was the stable block, now a restaurant but you can get an idea of what it would have been like when horses were the main mode of transport.

This is a pump and horse trough and in the background you can see the entrance to the stables. 

And here are some of the working outbuildings, laundry etc.

The pattens on the flagstone floor are a nice touch, don't you think

Still lots more to see both of the house and the grounds. But until next time, Happy Rambles.

Regency Fashion 1811

What were they wearing in the summer of the first year of the Regency?


 Here we have three gowns from June and July 1811.  The first two are walking dresses and the last an opera dress.  All show the classic regency lines.

Here are the general observations for July 1811 printed in the June edition of  La Belle Assemblee:

Muslin pelisses, lined with pink, blue, or yellow sarsnet, are still very prevailing, as are spensers of like colours; lace scarfs alone seem to have the preference, either in black or white lace; mantlets are by no means considered as inelegant. Satin tippets, trimmed with lace, are very becoming to a light figure. White satin spensers, mantles, and pelisses are in a high degree of estimation. Small caps formed of brocaded ribband, finished with a long rosette in front, edged with lace pearls; or in the long Mango shape, intersected with white gymp, with a cord and tassels suspended from one side; and caps in every fanciful intermixture of satin or ribband, ornamented with ostrich feathers; they are made flat on the head, raised from the forehead, and in the long Grecian shape.
    Flowers were not at all worn at the Prince’s Fete,  cords and tassels terminated the draperies, and gave an air of graceful negligence to the figure; feathers were universal, much of the Spanish costume prevailed; the sleeves were worn very short, the bosoms very low, the backs rather high, trains of a moderate length. The tunic in crape or lace, embroidered in silver, was displayed upon almost every female of rank and taste; this form of dress will of course descend to the morning habit, and will doubtless relieve the stomacher of much of that formal appearance which at present distinguishes it, and the effect will be extremely graceful. All lace worn on this magnificent occasion was of the manufacture of this country, a noble example, which we hope will be universally followed in all ranks of life. Honiton lace, as most resembling Brussel’s point, held the preference.
    The ornaments in jewellry were either of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, or emeralds.
    The prevailing colours, pink, blue, yellow, and buff.

Until next time, Happy rambles


How did they do that? 

You will have seen my earlier post on milling grain at Sturminster Newton, but I thought you might be interested in some views inside the mill itself. 

As I may have mentioned before There has been a mill on this site for centuries.  A predecessor may even have appeared in the doomsday book.  The building is actually two separate mills.  The one on the bank for grain, built in 1650 and the wing jutting into the river originally about 1611 (demolished in the 18th c and rebuilt in brick) was used for fulling.  This is a method of cleaning the cloth from natural oils and dirt from the local cloth known as swanskin.

This is a small video of the mechanism which raised sacks of grain to the bin loft, with water power, and put into, you guessed it, grain bins. The mill now has a 1904 turbine engine but originally the power would have been produced by the water wheel attached to the mill.
The sack of grain passes through the stone floor on its way to the bin loft above. Sacks were much larger than that used for the demonstration. These were west of England sacks weighing  18 stones (252 lbs) if it was wheat, 16 stones for barley and 12 stones for oats.  Not easily carried up the very steep stairs.
You can see the bins in the picture on the right, just and note that some of those roof beams are in the order of 600 or 700 years old, reused time and again. The bins are deliberately low-lipped so it was easier to pour the grain in by hand.

 The grain flowed down from the bins above via a chute, which was opened and closed by pushing wooden bats into a slot in the chute. The grain then passed through a winnower,  a series of sieves to get rid of foreign materials. It went back down to the grainfloor (two stories down) where it was rebagged and hoisted up to the bins again where this time it would be directed to the mill stones.

The stone floor is  between the ground floor or the grain floor and is where the grinding is done. 

The grain falls into a hopper, supported by a horse, or wooden frame that is supported on a tun or vat, the tun being the large circular wooden box covering the stones. Grain from the hopper is fed into a wooden trough called a shoe, which vibrates and sends a steady stream of grain through a hole in the tun's surface into the millstones.  A damsel, so called because of its chattering noise helps maintain the flow of grain.
The grain is ground to flour between two millstones.  The lower stone is static and is known as the bedstone. The moving stone is the runner. The flour finds its way out from under the runner, into the vat and finally down a hole and back to the ground floor to be bagged off.  Bear in mind that all stone ground flour contains a little powdered stone and therefore the millstone must be a hard, fine-textured stone which wears to a smooth powder undetectable in the flour. Derbyshire or Peak stone was a popular choice for millstones.  The French Buhr stone quarried near Paris was the very best of all.

When a stone wore down it would be the millers responsibility to dress the stones. He would remove all the wooden accessories, use a stone crane or winch, levers, wooden blocks etc to lift. to  turn over and place the running stone on the floor. He would then mark the stones for dressing using a swan's feather dipped in raddle - an earth colour obtained from Cornwall or the Forest of Dean - then chip out the grooves and flatten the high spots with a steel pick held in a wooden handle called a bill or a thrift.  Then he had to put it all back together.  This could happen fairly often too. But the stones themselves could last as long as 0 years.

Mill stones vary but can weight up to three quarters of a tone each. They must be artificially roughened with grooves in order to grind rather than slide over the round grains as if they were ball bearings. A miller had to be careful not to let the stones grind against each other (run out of grain) or they might create a spark. Flour catches alight very easily and many mills burned down.
This is the sound of the grain being turned into flour. 

Hope you enjoyed our trip to the Mill at Stourbridge. Until next time, Happy Rambles

More Old Devon

Since blogger seems to have fixed its picture facility I am going to try to post the rest of my Clovelly pictures.
As you saw from the pictures last time, a fisherman's life is dangerous and hard work. But perhaps this view, taken from upstairs would help ease the pain.

Clovelly has always been a tourist spot, and here you can see our Victorian visitors waiting to leave by paddle steamer.  Do you see how much this picture resembles my pictures in the earlier blogs? It gives me the shivers a bit.

A famous inhabitant of Clovelly was Charles Kingsley. A writer who was born in South Devon in 1819.  So not quite a product of the Regency, but born during the period.  He lived at Clovelly with his family (he had five siblings), when his father was the Rector from 1832 to 1836.

Kingsley returned time and time again to Clovelly, as place he called "the dear old Paradise" and his "inspiration" before he met his wife.  The following pictures may account for that letter. I leave it up to you to decide.

Until next time, happy rambles

RomCon 2011 and more

If you are wondering what I have been up to. ie why I have been missing from here for a while, these  are my excuses. 

I had two stories to finish in the month of July.  A Christmas Undone. Yep Christmas in July. I had to turn up the air conditioning to get in the mood.

I also had to hand in the follow up story to Captured for the Captain's Pleasure (Harlequin Historical) which came out in the UK in June 2010 and is coming out in North America in December 2011. (Yay) You know I only just found that out when I went on to Amazon. So fun.

Anyway, the follow up book is about Alice's best friend Selena and is set in Scotland.

Last weekend I attended Rom Con 2011 in Denver Colorado.  This is a conference for readers and I was honoured to meet so many readers of romance, to spend time with them, and have fun playing some hilarious games and talking about, you guessed it.  Books!

I really enjoyed the fashion show put on by Deanne Gist with a variety of authors modelling the costumes from the Victorian era. Here you can see me in my outfit a la Scarlett O'Hara. Lots of Fun

And here is myself and Mary Sullivan with reader Marelou, who so kindly sent me these pictures.

And for the final piece de resistance (the words in italics are to be read with a French accent, tho' the spelling might be off they will sound correct).

This is me at the build a hero workshop and contest.  Our group cheated as you can see. Words failed us, so we brought in the real thing!  Now our group/table did win the prize, but that was because everyone was tied so we did a lucky dip. Our luck was in, in more ways than one.

That is all from me this evening.  The pictures seem to be going better so I will get back to posting the last bits about Devon, before we move on to a new locale.

Until next time -- Happy Rambles

Have your say!

Every now and then I am asked to help a student studying some aspect of the romance genre. This time is a little different.  Here is your chance to have input to a survey of romance readers on a variety of topics.

Help a student learn more about our genre and complete the survey.  Here is the link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/65TCL33

I'll be blogging again later in the week trying to finish off my trip to Clovelly, if blogger will cooperate on the uploading of the pictures, that is.

More Old Devon

Deliciously Debauched by the RakeOne of the most interesting spots we visited in Clovelly was the Fisherman's cottage in Providence Row.

Here we got to understand something of the life of the people who lived among the twisty narrow streets clinging to the hillside.  And they are clinging by the way. Several have slipped down that hillside over the years.

The villagers used what they had to hand to build their houses.  Stones from the beach, earth from their excavations, lime from the kiln after it was build in the 17th century.   They created what are called cob and stone walls. The stones formed the foundations for the wall and the cob was a mixture of mud and straw and small stones formed into bricks.

 Here is a picture of an exposed cob and stone wall. Plastering, the covering over the cob and stone was mud and hay and lime putty. Later more lime was added to the plastering mix.

This is the kitchen taken from two directions.

I love the way one cupboard is tucked into the corner and another let into the wall. You have the feeling that not an inch of space is wasted.

It was interesting to learn that they melted down fishbones to make a very good adhesive.
Up stairs, and very steep and narrow stairs there are there are three more rooms. Can you see how the nightgown hangs across the corner of the room. There is another corner hanger like this on the other side of the window.

This is what we would call the master bed room.

And this next one the children's room.

And according to the information provided, boys who worked on the farmland might occupy the attic.  Or my guess is that it would also serve as an overflow for older children.

And below we have the tools of the owner's trade.

I have many more pictures of Clovelly to share, but once more Blogger has exhausted my patience with waiting for photos to upload, so until next time, Happy Rambles.

Old Devon Continued

Hah, did no one notice my silly mistake?

Another question. Are you ready for the big climb?

I'm diggin' the mac, by the way. I look a bit like an escapee from a detective show.  This is only one of the many hills to climb in Clovelly. And maybe I'm looking for a lost boat. They do turn up in the oddest places.

<<-----Look up                                                                      
                                                       Look down--->>

Look out!

No, I mean look out at the view!

How about seeing that from your window every morning. I can imagine how wild and bleak it is during a storm or during the winter.  I will post a few more pictures for those of you who like this sort of stuff, without comment, since there really isn't much to add, then next time talk a little more about life in the village.

So blogger being blogger and time being time, I have stopped trying to move them and you have them in one long row. Hope you enjoyed. We have more to learn about the village, but this is all about how pretty it is.

More Old Devon

But first a squee! 

On Wednesday you will find my short story, Deliciously Debauched by the Rake on e-harlequin.com - follow the link to e-harlequin on the right. I think this cover is delicious all by itself!

Elizabeth Bentham has been John, Lord Radthorn's lover for five glorious years. But she wants him to have a chance to marry a respectable lady, not a woman with her tarnished reputation. Elizabeth thinks telling him their relationship has lost its spark will help him move on...but John isn't prepared to lose her, and sets out to prove their passion is as strong as ever....
I did have fun writing this story about minor characters who appear in The Gamekeeper's Lady. This is a fun and sexy read.

Clovelly Continued:

There is no mistaking what the inhabitants of this charming village do for a living, apart from tourists, with all the lobster pots attractively arranged at the entrance to the alleyway behind the cottages that face the harbour and the sea.  Although Tourism is probably the prevalent business now.
In past days there was another important industry for the people along the coast.  If you look closely, at the picture to the right you will see a rounded stone shape that looks a bit like a castle turret.  This was a lime-kiln.

Lime was a very important product in the 18th and 19th century, used by farmers to counteract the acidity in their soil and for whitewash for cottage walls.  The lime-kiln used a very cheap form of fuel, coal dust, called culm, brought by boat from South Wales.

Layers of lime and coal dust were put in the top of the kiln, called the pot, then set alight from the base. You can see the arched entrance, which is now covered by a wooden door.  As the stone burned, it produced calcium oxide or the substance we know as quicklime which was drawn off through the draw hole loaded onto donkey and taken up the hill.  Lime mortar was also used between the stones from which the cottages are built. This mortar allows the walls to "breathe" in the damp climate and is used today.  This kiln ceased operation in 1911.

Steps up to the pier are not for the faint-hearted and flat shoes are recommended, but once up there the views are worth the effort.

That is all from me, today, but make sure you have your walking shoes handy next time because we will be climbing up the cobbled street to the top of the hill.

Until then, Happy Rambles