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A writer friend of mine, Christa Polkinhorn, recently posted a picture tour of her latest book, The Italian Sister, which I thought was a great idea. Check out her blog, and her wonderful books that take place in interesting places. christa-polkinhorn.blogspot.com

This prompted me to think about how my pictures have inspired me while writing my Amanda books. Visiting the United Arab Emirates was a dream come true for me as well as for Amanda. So here are some photos that inspired my first book, Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask

The perfume flask

The perfume flask Amanda buys in a shop called Aladdin´s Treasures

The desert

The very desert in the United Arab Emirates where Amanda gets lost.

With friends in the mountains

Amanda also visits the rugged UAE mountains with friends

Amanda couldn´t get over the silly goats in the trees!

Amanda can´t get over the silly goats in the trees!

She was intrigued by the painted doors

She is intrigued by the painted doors and gates

and she fell in love with the camels, especially Ali Baba

and she fell in love with the camels, especially Ali Baba!

What have I been up to lately?



As you can see, I have been very busy finishing the next Amanda travel adventure book.

There are many good restaurants in our Spanish coastal town but I find the best places seem to be tucked away in the country. We recently took a thirty minute drive with our neighbours to a small place called Rebate, for lunch. The food was delicious and the tranquil setting sublime. Indoor and outdoor seating was available. Of course we chose to eat on the terrace over looking Mediterranean trees and shrubs.

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The view from the terrace

Everyone else ordered the Menu del Dia (menu of the day) which came with a bowl of refreshing gazpacho and an amazing assortment of tapas for starters, which the others kindly shared with me.



I forgot to take a picture of my main course but you can believe me when I say it was well presented and very tasty. I ordered the salmon with a mango sauce on a bed of bright green beans surrounded by grilled aubergines and yoghurt, from the a la cart menu. I ate every crumb. The others enjoyed their main course as well.

Dessert came with the menu of the day, and once again I was invited to share the exquisite assortment.


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We were treated to live music.


Rebate, formally a hamlet with a handful of residences and a little chapel, was taken over by the Van Iseghem family during the 1960’s where it became a citrus farm before they converted the original houses into the restaurant in 2002. The lovely chapel remains and is often used for weddings, the reservoir is now a duck pond and one of the out houses is a small gift shop. There are a couple of waterfalls on the premises and local animals can be seen wandering about.



Inside the small church, often used for weddings

It was everything I love, good food in pleasant surroundings. We will return to this spot.



Gabriola Island is a wonderful place to visit and since my daughter lives on a nearby island, I have had many opportunities to spend time on this peaceful paradise. On one occasion we visited an alpaca farm, much to my delight. I love camels and llamas; and alpacas are also part of the family of camelids. I was surprised to find that these creatures are so unique and loveable, with individual personalities. Here are a few pictures from my visit to these delightful creatures prized for their fine wool.



What´s not to love about this guy!


Getting a kiss from an alpaca

Getting a kiss from an alpaca





The wee ones




Daughter, her partner and his daughter. Love my family!

Daughter, her partner and his daughter at the alpaca farm . Love my family!

Children who love animals volunteer at the farm and are happy to show you around. You can purchase lovely alpaca hand made items in the shop.To learn more about Paradise Island Alpacas here is the website:


and here is a great video:


Have you been to a farm with unique animals?


There has been less than one hour of rain in the past four months here on the Costa Blanca. Temperatures soared to over forty degrees Celsius in July and August so we didn´t feel like venturing very far. Things are now back to comfortable temperatures so we decided to take a bus to Les Fonts de Algar and the charming village of Guadalest tucked in the mountains. The waterfalls were pretty and we enjoyed our leisurely walk around them. Some brave souls took a dip in the clear turquoise waters but we decided to stay on dry ground.

Les Fonts de L´Algar

Les Fonts de L´Algar



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Once back on the bus, the heavens opened and it poured rain. Not a pleasant little shower but a deluge. It rained all the way up the twisty mountain road to Guadalest. Not prepared, we got totally soaked running from the bus to a nearby restaurant.  After a nice meal, we purchased umbrellas and went exploring in the rain. To my delight, we discovered a Salt and Pepper Museum with over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers on display. A most pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon. Here are a few for you.






Guadalest is home to six museums, all quite unique. Time did not permit me to visit all of them and a couple were closed. I stopped in at a miniature museum which was also very interesting and well put together. I didn´t however visit the Museum of Medieval Torture as I am a bit squeamish, but it looked cool. Maybe next time.

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Guadalest is a picturesque village with interesting streets and a castle overlooking it. Just as we were about to board the bus to return home, the sun came out!


Castell de Guadalest overlooking the town

The streets of Guadalest

The streets of Guadalest


Trust us to take this trip on one of the few rainy days. It was a good day in spite of it and we laughed all the way home.  Fortunately, we had visited this place a few years ago on a sunny day.


Guadalest on a sunny day


Today I am a guest on Laura Best´s blog, talking about why I love writing for children.

Originally posted on Laura Best:

Today, it’s my pleasure to welcome Darlene Foster to my blog. Brought up on a ranch in southern Alberta, Darlene dreamt of travelling the world, meeting interesting people and writing stories. She is the author of the exciting adventure series featuring spunky 12 year-old Amanda Ross who loves to travel to unique places. Her books include: Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England – The Missing Novel and Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone. Readers from seven to seventy enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. Darlene and her husband divide their time between the west coast of Canada and Orihuela Costa, in Spain. She believes everyone is capable of making their dreams come true.

So without further ado, here’s Darlene!


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I love islands and enjoyed a day visit to a small island with a couple of friends recently. The pleasant boat ride, forty minutes from Torrevieja, took us to Isla de Tabarca. I fell in love with this place the minute we docked in front of the old church and stone walls. This charming island with a watch tower, a lighthouse and the remaining walls of the old fort, has a number of ocean view restaurants, a beach and shallow coves for swimming and snorkelling. We discovered a small museum, closed when we arrived but opened an hour before we were to return, giving us an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history of this island which is also a protected marine reserve.

Our transport to the island

Our transport to the island

Church and walls

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and walls of the fort greet us as we arrive.

The beach

The beach

Portal into the village

Portal into the village

Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain with approximately 68 inhabitants and was the refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of the eighteenth century. It was settled in the mid 1700s when a group of shipwrecked Genoese sailors needed a home and protection. King Carlos III of Spain allowed them to live on the island where he built a church, fort, watchtower and lighthouse, in exchange for them to warn him of any threatening marauders.



The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, completed in 1775, was undergoing renovations so we were unable to go inside.

The houses were unique and colouful

Unique and colourful houses



Clear turquoise waters in the many coves

Clear turquoise waters in the many coves

Stunning scenery was everywhere we looked! The east end of the island is completely different from the west end. We walked along an arid path to the lighthouse at the end, passing through a graveyard of giant cactus.



Not only did the lighthouse provide protection to the sailors and fisherman from the island´s rocky coastline, it was also a school for lighthouse keepers.


Nou Collonet, the restaurant were we enjoyed a delicious lunch with a fabulous view. Note the wall made of scallop shells.


The island is 1,750 m (5,741 ft) long, 300 m (984 ft) at the widest part and absolutely flat. We managed to walk around the entire island and have a leisurely lunch in the five hours we were there. It was a perfect day.

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photo by Inke Piegsa

Everyone loves a pirate!!

If you would like to know what sparked my dreams as a child, read my guest post at March of Time Books, the new blog site of my dear English blogging friend Barbara Fisher.

What sparks a child’s dreams?

Guest post by Darlene Foster dreamer of dreams, teller of tales.

When I was little, my dear grandmother gave me a colouring book filled with pictures of children from around the world dressed in traditional garments. I loved that book and while colouring each page, dreamt of visiting those fascinating places. Growing up on a farm in the Canadian prairies, we didn’t venture far.

Read the rest of the article here  Pop over to Barbara´s blog and you might see me in a sombrero!

What sparked your dreams as a child? I would love to know.


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