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On a recent trip to the city of Murcia, I finally had time to explore the interior of the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia built in the 1500s. I was awestruck and want to share a few pictures, although they don’t do it justice. I think you will agree that the details are amazing.

Chapel of the Immaculate dedicated to the Virgin Mary

The image of Santa María, carved in polychrome wood, is dated around the year 1627

The Baptistery Chapel was built in 1546. From then until 1908, the sacrament of baptism was held in this chapel. I love the gorgeous baptismal font.

Chapel of Gil Rodriguez de Junteron, a Murcian-born priest who spent time in the Vatican during the time of Pope Julius II. This explains the Italian look of this chapel.

The crypt with confessionals on each side.

The only rose window in the cathedral, from the 15th century.

The choir with late-Renaissance stalls, carved in walnut wood. Above it stands the great Merklin organ, with almost 4,000 pipes. It is one of the most well-known organs internationally. The sound is mesmerizing.

The impressive main nave.

I’ve always been fascinated by the huge thuribles, or incense burners, known as Botafumeiros in Spain. Apparently, as well as for religious purposes, they were used to ward off the plague in medieval times.

The cathedral also houses a small museum in the cloister of the old Cathedral with a few interesting items. These were my favourite pieces.

The head of an apostle.

San Cristobal/Saint Christopher

The priest Gil Rodríguez, who died in 1552, arranged in his will that he wanted to be buried inside a large imperial Roman sarcophagus, brought from Rome. During the 1998 restoration, this amazing sarcophagus of the muses was discovered intact, buried in the crypt. It is now on display in the museum and is the oldest item in the cathedral’s collection.

An original fresco, discovered while restoring the cloister, represents the Virgen de la Misericordia and is from the 15th century.

What amazing finds!

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I am delighted to have as my guest today, John Howell, a renowned author and long-time blogging friend. He is here to tell you about his latest book, The Last Drive. I, like many readers, have been patiently waiting for the release of this book as I enjoyed the first one very much. Check out all of John’s books as well as his entertaining blog where he allows his two adorable dogs to post once a week.

I am so pleased to be with you today, Darlene. I want to thank you for helping spread the word about The Last Drive. I have been impressed by the number of countries your Amanda stories have taken us. On each trip, your reader learns about the country and can get a feeling for the adventure. Hopefully, the readers of this book will have a similar experience since Lucifer seems to enjoy sending our heroes on trips.


Here is the blurb and then we can get to a short excerpt from the book.


The Blurb
In the sequel to Eternal Road – The final stop, Sam and James are reunited to look for two souls, Ryan and Eddie. Ryan was killed in Afghanistan, trying to avoid a schoolyard with his crippled plane. Eddie Rickenbacker, Ryan’s hero, is to guide Ryan to his Eternal Home, and now both are missing.

The higher-ups believe that there has been some interference in Ryan and Eddie’s journey by Lucifer, so Sam and James have the task of finding Ryan and Eddie to get them back on the road despite the evil interference. Unfortunately, the machinations designed to prevent Ryan and Eddy from completing their journey take the pair to horrifying testing grounds.

The places visited represent the best work of the Devil. They are the trenches of World War I in France, gladiators at the Roman Coliseum, the sinking Titanic in 1912, Hiroshima 45 minutes before the bomb, and the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1943.

This book is for you if you like plenty of action, strong characters, time travel, and a touch of spiritual and historical fiction. So, join Sam and James as they try to find the missing souls while staying one step ahead of the Prince of Darkness, who is determined to destroy all that is good.

An Excerpt


Sam and James jump at the sound of a locker slamming. They turn around. Lucifer stands with one hand on his hip and the other pressed flat against the locker he just slammed. Casually, he leans against the cabinets with one foot crossed over the other. “My, my, my. Look who the cat dragged in. My old friends Sam and James.”

James and Sam stand with their mouths open. The devil can see them, which leaves them amazed and trying to make sense of what’s happening.


“What is the matter? That old cat got your tongue?” Lucifer laughs at his joke.


“W-we were just looking around.” James’s voice sounds as if he’s ten years old all over again.


“Oh, yeah. A couple of God’s weenies just happen to be wandering around a locker room at the flipping Green Bay Packers.”


Sam takes a step toward Satan. “Whatever we’re doing is none of your business.”


Lucifer uncrosses his feet. “Want to bet, sweet cheeks.”

James moves alongside Sam. “You be careful with that language.”


The devil smiles. “Or what? You going to beat me up, little man?”


James takes a step toward Lucifer. “I just might. Have you ever been socked in the nose?”


“I have not had the pleasure, and nor will I.”


“Keep insulting Sam, and you will.”


“Shiver, shiver. You are talking to the Lord of the Underworld, not some kid on the corner. I advise you to take it down a notch, or maybe you might like to come and visit my place for a while.”


Sam grins. “You don’t have that power over us, Lucifer. Why not end this game?”


Satan scoffs. “Oh, and tell you where old Ryan and Eddie are, I suppose?”


Sam slaps her thigh. “I knew you were behind their disappearance. I told the Archangel that same thing.”


“The Archangel? How is old droopy drawers?”


“I could summon him if you wish.”


“No, that will be fine. Do you two want some information on the whereabouts of Eddie and Ryan or not?”


Sam steps back and takes James’s arm, causing him to move away as well. “Yes, we do.”


The devil scratches his head. “Right this minute? That is hard to say.”


“What do you mean, ‘Hard to say?’”


Lucifer looks at his nails. “You know how this travel thing is these days. Your boy Ryan wanted to visit France during World War One. It seems he has some kind of hero worship of Eddie and wanted to fly with him. Since he refused to join my team, I sent him to France. By the way, that war was delicious in the amount of useless carnage waged on those battlefields.”


A Link to the Trailer

You Tube https://youtu.be/HEUninXiibI


Buy Links
The Last Drive is available in paper and Kindle editions on Amazon. Here are the universal links. The Kindle edition is on sale for 99¢ through mid-February.
Kindle https://mybook.to/FYmkKr
Paper https://mybook.to/BCsWV

Author Bio


John is an award-winning author who after an extensive business career began writing full-time in 2012. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. He has written six other books that are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Author links


Blog Fiction Favorites, http://johnwhowell.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/john.howell.98229241
Twitter –https://www.twitter.com/HowellWave
Goodreads –https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7751796.John_W_Howell
Amazon Author’s page –https://www.amazon.com/author/johnwhowell
BookBub – https://www.bookbub.com/profile/john-w-howell

Eternal Road Buy links
Kindle Universal link  mybook.to/EternalRoad
Paper universal link mybook.to/Eternalroadpaper

My review of Eternal Road: The Final Stop

There is a lot packed into this gripping novel. A combination of time travel, mystery, paranormal and romance. There are laughter and tears as James looks for his eternal home with the help of his deceased childhood love, Sam. I love time travel and enjoyed following James and Sam as they travel back to the days of the Wild West and WWII as well as into the future controlled by robots. The main characters are very real, even though they are spirits. The book is well-written and flows well, with a satisfying ending. It left me wanting more.

My review of The Last Drive

I loved the first book, Eternal Road, and was happy to see that James and Sam are back battling the nasty old devil. This time they are joined by Ryan (a recently deceased pilot) and Eddie (as in Eddie Rickenbacker, decorated WW1 fighter pilot). The devil wants Ryan’s soul and James and Sam will do anything to prevent him from getting his hands on it and seeing Ryan find his eternal home. Along the way, they encounter some terrible times and places in history like Hiroshima, the Titanic, the Roman Collesium and Auschwitz. Will the devil win this time? This is a battle between good and evil that seems impossible to win. The author has created an incredibly strong female character in Sam, one of the toughest angels I’ve encountered. Although this book can be read as a stand-alone, I would suggest reading Eternal Road first, you’ll be glad you did.

I am joining Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/ where he runs a series called Thursday Doors. This is what he has to say:

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Cathedrals often have amazing doors and I have discovered some here in Spain I wish to share. These doors are part of the Cathedral Church of Saint Mary in Murcia.

The facade is Baroque. Building was started in 1385 and completed in 1467 with additions added up to the 18th Century.

Some of the interesting details.

The bell tower, built between 1521 and 1791, stands 90 metres (300 ft) tall—95 metres (312 ft) with the weathervane. It is the tallest campanile in Spain. 

The city of Murcia is only about forty minutes away from where we live but I only just recently spent time in this amazing cathedral. I will follow up with some photos of the interior soon.

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I have always been fascinated by doors. Is it the mystery of what lies behind them or the curiosity of who has entered them in the past? Wherever I travel I tend to take pictures of doors. The older the better.

Dan Antion over at https://nofacilities.com/ runs a series called Thursday Doors. This is what he has to say:

Welcome to Thursday Doors! This is a weekly challenge for people who love doors and architecture to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos, drawings, or other images or stories from around the world. If you’d like to join us, simply create your own Thursday Doors post each (or any) week and then share a link to your post in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).

Dan also writes some wonderful books https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BC23MDLV you might want to check out.

I decided to join this challenge and share some of the door pictures I’ve collected over the years. I’ll start today with some doors I’ve discovered while exploring a place near us here in Spain. Let me know what you think of them.

I captured these doors in an amazing place called Guadelest. Oh, the stories these doors could tell if they could talk!

So many stories this door could tell.

Guadelest Castle. Some doors are harder to reach than others.

I’m going to enjoy sharing my door pictures.

Copyright ©2023 darlenefoster.wordpress.com – All rights reserved.

I had set my goal for the Goodreads challenge for 2022 at 48 books. I read 46 so almost made it. But I did read two books not listed on Goodreads and since one of the books I completed was War and Peace (which should count as two or maybe three books) I feel I actually met the challenge. https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2022

MY 2022 BOOKS

Crimson Frost by J.P. McLean
Donkey Boy and Other Stories by Mary  Smith
Waiting For Frank-Bear by Frank Prem
Love, Me by Jacquie Biggar
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
Golden Healer by M.J. Mallon
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Frozen Stiff Drink by James J. Cudney
Chocolate Fudge Saves the Sugar Dog by Robbie Cheadle
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Father by Allan Hudson
Naomi's Tree by Joy Kogawa
Shadows in the Fog by B.J. Darling
Linda's Midlife Crisis by Toni Pike
The Barren Grounds by David Alexander Robertson
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Di... by Jonas Jonasson
My Evil Mother by Margaret Atwood
Amanda in France by Darlene Foster
Poetry Treasures 2 by Kaye Lynne Booth
Just an Odd Job Girl by Sally Cronin
MEMORIES OF MOM by Nonnie Jules
The Skylark's Secret by Fiona Valpy
Hues Of Hope by Balroop Singh
Not That Sort Of Girl by Mary Wesley
Pattern of Shadows by Judith   Barrow
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Knuckleheads by Dan Antion
The Hedge Witch & The Musical Poet by M.J. Mallon
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Baby Steps by Anne Stormont
The Winding Road by Miriam Hurdle
Two Middle Aged Ladies In Andalusia by Penelope Chetwode
A Gold Satin Murder by Debra Purdy Kong
Between Two Shores by Ruth Larrea
The Alpine Path by L.M. Montgomery
What's So Special About Spain? by Nancy Blodgett Klein
Mud Girl by Alison Acheson
Brazos Wind by Jan Sikes
All Dogs Are Good by Courtney Peppernell
The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle
Things on a Tree by D.L. Finn
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
Kind by Kellyn Roth
Variety is the Spice of Life by Sally Cronin
Distant Flickers by multiple contributors

They were all great books and it would be difficult to say which were my favourites. I read a variety of books which I’m pleased about. All of my reviews are on Goodreads. I would suggest you check them out.

For 2023 I have set my challenge at 48 books once again as I am determined to meet the goal this year.

Happy reading in 2023!!

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

LM Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

That is how I always feel on New Year’s Day. A new year with no mistakes yet! I am always so excited to make a list of goals, not all of them new, some are brought over from the year before as they didn’t get met. And that’s OK. Some have been on the list for a few years already. Things happen when they are supposed to.

Here is my list for 2023

  1. Read Mom’s five-year diary by reading one page a day. It will be great to learn more about Mom as a teenager.

2. Finish Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones, book number ten in the Amanda Travels series.

3. Publish my collection of short stories based on my childhood growing up on the Canadian prairies.

4. Learn how to self-publish

5. Return to Canada and attend a family reunion

6. Create a newsletter.

7. Clean up and sort out my office.

8. Clean up my computer and tablet

9. Read and write more poetry

10. Eat out more often. Since the pandemic, we have gotten out of the habit and I’m getting tired of cooking all the time.

11. Read 48 books. I’m going to try for this reading goal again.

12. Work on reducing my TBR pile on my bookshelves and on my Kindle

13. Maintain my health; reduce my sugar intake

14. Visit Ireland

15. Continue marketing my books and looking for new ways to market

That should keep me busy enough so I don’t get bored.

My words for 2023 are Savour the Moment

Wishing everyone a super 2023: May many of your dreams come true!

2022 is almost over and it’s time to take stock and see how I did with the goals I set at the beginning of the year. To be honest it was not a bad year, certainly better than the two before. I was fairly cautious about setting goals as so many plans had been dashed previously. We are still not comfortable about doing much travelling but are enjoying spending time with our two dogs instead.

I’m a habitual planner, so setting goals and making plans keeps me going.

Not meeting a goal is not a bad thing. It can just be added to the next year’s list. Or maybe it is no longer important and can be struck off permanently! Let’s see how I did with meeting my 2022 goals.

Goals for 2022

  1. Publish Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral

Amanda in France: Fire in the Cathedral was published by Central Avenue Publishers and released on September 13th. I am happy to report that this book is doing well and I’ve received many positive reviews.

2. Publish a collection of short stories

I am working on this and have polished the collection of stories but have not published it yet.

3. Learn how to self-publish

Haven’t done this yet.

4. Start writing a new book

I have started writing Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones (working title). I even returned to The Isle of Arran to do more research this year.

5. Market my books in person and online

I am pleased with my marketing efforts for 2022. Online marketing has gone very smoothly with great results. I’m eternally grateful to the blogging community who have been so very supportive. I also visited bookstores, libraries and schools in three Canadian provinces doing signings and presentations. I sold out of books in one store!

6. Return to Canada and spend time with family and friends in BC and Alberta

This was a highlight of the year. I saw so many family members and friends during my three-week visit to Canada in September, including both of my children and all of my grand and great-grandchildren.

7. Travel to at least one new place

I did this and the new place was Prince Edward Island, a Province on the east coast of Canada. A place I have wanted to visit since I read Anne of Green Gables when I was ten years old. I even had an opportunity to visit the house that inspired the author, Lucy Maude Montgomery, to write the novel.

8. Update my blog

I’ve done some work on this but still have more to do.

9. Buy a new computer

I did buy a new computer and just love it. The speed is incredible!

10. Take an online course

I’ve taken part in a few online courses, mostly via podcasts and Zoom meetings.

11. Read at least 48 books

According to my Goodreads challenge, I have read 46 books this year. But I also read 2 books that were not on Goodreads, and one of the books I read was War and Peace; that should count for 3 books at least! So I’m calling this a win.

12. Keep up to date with technology

This is something I really believe in and don’t want to fall behind. I have updated my new computer to Windows 11 and have had no problems with it at all. I tend to learn new things as needed.

13. Make new friends and stay in touch with old friends

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” – Will Rogers. I have turned a few strangers into new friends this year but have spent most of my time keeping in touch with my long-time friends. I was happy to have met a couple of blogging friends in person which is always special.

14. Keep calm and stay positive, no matter what

I did a good job of this in 2022 and it certainly reflected in my health and attitude.

I’m happy with the results and am ready to face 2023 with a new set of goals, along with some carried over.

How did you do this past year? Any surprises?

Happy New Year one and all!!

It’s almost Christmas Eve and time to sit back, relax and embrace the joy of the season. I have always loved this time of the year and have many happy memories from over the years. Although there are those we will miss this year, we also take comfort in their memory. I wish all my wonderful followers a joyous time, no matter how you celebrate the season.

One of the many things I love about living in Spain is that you can take a drive into the country and come upon a Nativity on the side of a mountain. I will leave you with these pictures of our discovery.

May the joy of the season be with you all year long!

It’s Christmas!!! You can sure tell around here. Mom is busy decorating, baking, buying gifts, sending out cards and singing Christmas songs. Dad has gone mad with his outdoor lights. Mom says that you can see our yard from space. In fact, Mom is so busy she asked us to write the Christmas blog post. She gave us some pictures to include and said, get to work. Lia isn’t much help as she just runs around and knocks things over so it is mostly me, Dot, who is writing this. It’s tough being the big sister.

Some of Dad’s outside lights. He does a great job.

Mom’s inside job. She even hung up our stockings. I hope there’ll be lots of treats in them on Christmas morning. As long as Lia behaves and doesn’t get us into trouble.

We were surprised to see the esplanade at our favourite beach decorated this year.

Mom wanted Dad to take our picture but we wanted to run and play. Isn’t that what beaches are for?

Look how beautiful it is at night. We aren’t allowed to run around on the beach at night.

The mall is very pretty with all the decorations.

Even a Santa playing the piano

And a cow. We barked at it but it wouldn’t move.

And a huge tree!

When mom was visiting Prince Edward Island, without us, she saw Christmas trees made of lobster traps and buoys.

Photo by Jamie MacKay of Murray Harbour, PEI

Then a friend sent her this picture with the tree all lit up and reflected in the water. The friend explained that there are a number of them in and around the Atlantic provinces, they are pretty but also significant to ocean communities as the buoys commemorate fishermen lost at sea. That’s very nice, don’t you think.

We have to go now, Mom is doing more baking and we need to do a taste-test! Wishing all Mom’s readers a very Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad as we say here in Spain! Be good and we hope you get lots of treats and love for Christmas!

PS Mom said to be sure and buy books for Christmas gifts because a book is a gift you can open over and over.

I’m over at Sally Cronin’s blog today, sharing a Christmas memory. Hop over and say Hello. I hope all your Holiday preparations are going well.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Since this series began in January 2018 there have been over 1200 Posts from Your Archiveswhere bloggers have taken the opportunity to share posts to a new audience…

The topics have ranged from travel, childhood, recipes, history, family and the most recent series was #PotLuck where I shared a random selection of different topics.

This series is along the same lines and is a celebration of Christmas and New Year.

I do appreciate that this is not a religious festival for everyone but it is a time of year when families and friends come together and our thoughts turn to our hopes and wishes for the coming year. At the end of the post you can find out how to participate in this festive series.

Today children’s author Darlene Fostershares a delightful true Christmas story….do you believe in Santa?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Year I…

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