Darlene Foster's Blog

We took the bus to Mosta, a market town in the middle of Malta. In the centre of Mosta sits a fabulous domed cathedral built in the mid-1800s. It is an amazing piece of architecture inside and out, featuring the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe. Dedicated to the Assumption of Our Lady, it replaced a much smaller church that had been on the site since 1619. The Mosta Rotunda is also the site of a miracle.

The Mosta Rotunda

Inside the church

The dome

During WWII, on April 9, 1942, while over 400 parishioners worshipped inside, a 200 kg German bomb hit the church, pierced the dome and landed in the aisle. It did not hit a single person and it did not explode! It rolled to the base of the pulpit and stopped. The military bomb disposal team removed it, defused it and threw it into the sea. A miracle indeed. A replica of the bomb can be viewed in the sacristy.

It gave me goosebumps to see this. My husband pointed out where the bomb entered the dome as the coloration where it was repaired is slightly different.

Ornate vestments from the past.

Statue of Our Lady

The statue of the Assumption of Our Lady, 1868

The church contains a lot of artwork and important icons. The Feast of the Assumption of Saint Mary is celebrated in August where some of the statues are taken out and paraded around town.

The font containing holy water.

Visiting this church proved to be a moving experience for me, providing proof that miracles do happen. Hubby later treated me to lunch overlooking the magnificent Mosta Rotunda. It was definitely worth a visit, one I won’t forget.

Today I am featuring Maureen Moss, author of More To Life. Maureen has written an entertaining travel adventure for adults, a grown up version of Amanda’s travels in a way. Here is more about Maureen and her wonderful book.

More To Life, by Maureen Moss

Divorce. Career kaput. A house move. Three of life’s scariest situations all hit Rachael as she’s entering her forties. This is definitely not the future she signed up for. What’s a girl to do? Run away, of course. Flinging off convention, she plans a wild, exciting and challenging adventure, heading to the East in the hope of finding some meaning in her life. To leave her three teenage children behind is unthinkable. However, any decisions regarding their place in the picture are not hers alone to make: her ex has a few words to say about her plans. Could he scupper her dream? Come along for the ride with Rachael and her family as they stumble through weird encounters, meeting quirky, and often downright peculiar, characters on their travels. More to Life is a light-hearted look at family relationships when tested in unfamiliar environments.

Thanks for joining us, Maureen. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I grew up in Guernsey, Channel Islands. After graduating with honours in French from Reading University, I set up Personnel Appointments, a recruitment agency, married and had three children. I later went on to teach modern languages at local schools. After getting divorced, I sold the family home and embarked on a family adventure that reinforced my wanderlust, and after a few years I was lucky enough to get a job as an adventure travel tour leader, a job that took me all over the world.

I now live in Spain, from where I host my website www.tourguidecourse.com, offering a course leading to a qualification for other would-be tour leaders.

More to Life is my first novel. It’s available from www.amazon.com, www.amazon.ca, www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.es, also from the publisher Acclaimed Books’ website. I also contribute to Independent Traveller Mag Facebook page

What made you decide to be a writer?
As I’m a lousy photographer I wanted to record my travels for my own enjoyment in the future. Then I got hooked on the writing process, joined a writers’ group and started ‘having a go’ at fiction.

How many books have you written?
Two: one with a friend who did the design, and More to Life. The collaborative one was a collection of my travel writing about the life of a tour guide. The Tour Guide Life It could be Yours
I’ve also written many travel articles, some of which have won prizes.

Where do you get your ideas?
From real life and my imagination

Are your characters based on real people?
Very often, yes. Occasionally just invented

Who are your favourite authors?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Barbara Kingsolver, Jodi Picoult, Donna Tartt, Margaret Attwood, Tim Winton. And I can’t let this opportunity go by without mentioning one of my favourite books: Keri Hulme’s The Bone People

If you could be a character in any book you have read.. Who would it be and why?
I’d love to act the part of Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, especially when Anthony dies:
CLEOPATRA Noblest of men, woo’t die?

Hast thou no care of me? shall I abide

In this dull world, which in thy absence is

No better than a sty? O, see, my women,
[MARK ANTONY dies]

The crown o’ the earth doth melt. My lord! 75

O, wither’d is the garland of the war,

The soldier’s pole is fall’n: young boys and girls

Are level now with men; the odds is gone,

And there is nothing left remarkable

Beneath the visiting moon.

What are you reading right now?
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

Are you currently working on another book? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I’m working on the sequel to More to Life! The second book starts with Rachael and Sophie travelling around Australia. I don’t yet know where the story goes from there…apart from the physical locations.

Do you consider yourself a panster or a plotter?

I’m what is apparently called a ‘planster’: a little of both, and I didn’t know what I was until you asked!

What do you enjoy the most about writing and what don’t you like about writing?
I love crafting language to recreate locations and situations. I like creating characters. I quite like planning but enjoy deviating from plans at will. I don’t like rewriting, and when I deviate from the plan that’s what I end up having to do!

What advice would you give anyone who wants to write a book?
Stick with it; don’t lose confidence; join a supportive group; have plenty of wine and chocolate to hand!

Fun questions
Do you prefer cats or dogs?
Dogs, definitely: mine are my pals
Tea or coffee?
Rooibos and Honeybush tea
Sweet or savoury?
Savoury: I’ve never liked sugar, even as a child. Put a bowl of salted peanuts in front of me, however…….

Follow Maureen on social media

 Facebook

Twitter

Tour Guide Course

 

 

My review of More to Life

This was a great read! I thoroughly enjoyed following Rachel, along with her two young adult children, as she travels the world. The vivid descriptions of the places they visit are cleverly woven between the actions and emotions of a family travelling together. Throughout the trip, Rachel is plagued with self-doubt. She questions herself every step of the way. Is she a good mother? Is she doing the right thing? This is a story, not just about travelling, but of self-discovery as well as family bonding. Other interesting characters are thrown into the mix and things get even more exciting with many laugh-out-loud moments. Can Rachel forgive herself for leaving her youngest child back home with her ex-husband and putting her son and daughter in potential danger? I was sorry to see the story end and would love to see a sequel.

Thanks so much Maureen for being a guest on my blog. I am so happy to hear there is a sequel in the works. I can’t wait!! Being Cleopatra would be fascinating, except for the snake part at the end. 

I love visiting museums and learning the history of a place, especially one as old as Malta. The only rainy day we encountered during our visit found me mesmerized by the Museum of Archeology in the capital city, Valletta. The museum is located in the Auberge de Provence, a baroque building built in 1571, which was house to the Knights of the Order of St John originating from Provence, France. It is a beautiful place to view these amazing ancient treasures.

 

The Museum exhibits artefacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5000 BC) up to the Phoenician Period (400 BC). On display are the earliest tools used by the prehistoric people giving an insight into their daily lives. Many interesting pottery pieces are also on display.

DSCN8192

 

DSCN8193

This is one huge coffee mug. Perfect for a Venti Latte!

The highlight for me was the 5000-year old ‘Sleeping Lady’ from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. It is a small ceramic figurine about 12cm in length and was found in a burial pit at a prehistoric underground burial place. It is an amazing example of craftsmanship from prehistoric times. Seems creativity has been around a long time.

DSCN8217

The Sleeping Lady

DSCN8218

I found the anthropomorphic sarcophagus from the Phoenician Period also fascinating.

 

Parts of prehistoric temples with photographs of the original site they were found in.  Swirls were a popular design those days.

Animals were often depicted

as were fish

Many of the goddess figurines were found headless, the heads found in another location. No one knows why.

Ancient writing unearthed in a neolithic temple.

A  rare Phoenician carving of a human

I like how the museum featured cartoons throughout the displays making them more interesting and understandable for young people.

Do you like visiting museums? I would love to know about your favourite museum?

 

 

To continue celebrating our 40th anniversary year and my recent birthday, we spent a week in the magical country of Malta. We had been there once before for a half day stop on a Mediterranean cruise and loved it. I wrote about it here. It was decided that we needed to see more of this unique island country.

The Republic of Malta consists of three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. The country boasts a rich and diverse history that dates back 7000 years. Over the years, it has been inhabited by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Moors, Normans, Sicilians, Spanish, Knights of St. John, French and British who have all left their mark. With over 300 churches, quaint fishing villages, fortified walls, watch towers, museums, megalithic temples, pristine beaches and delightful bays, there is so much to see. Here are a few pictures of what we saw.

DSCN7873

St. Julian´s Bay. A typical bay with a mix of the old and modern world.

DSCN8096

The colourful Maltese fishing boats are called luzzus. The Eye of Osiris is painted on each side to protect the boat from danger.

DSCN8352

DSCN7902

DSCN7915

DSCN7960

You don´t have to look far to find a Maltese Cross.

DSCN8117 (2)

Ta´Pinu Sanctuary where every year many pilgrims come to be healed.

DSCN7937

DSCN7990

St. Lucian Tower, one of many watchtowers dotting the coast

DSCN7973

The charming fishing village of Marsaxlokk

DSCN8091

On the way to Gozo Island

DSCN8106

Where the Azure Window used to be before it fell into the sea a week before we arrived.

DSCN8158

Many shrines can be found all over the island. This one is on the cliffs overlooking the Blue Lagoon on Comino Island.

DSCN8154

The Blue Lagoon, Comino Island

DSCN8179

In AD60, St.Paul was shipwrecked on this small island now called, St. Paul´s Island. During his stay on the Maltese Islands, he converted the inhabitants to the Christian faith

DSCN8244

Napoleon stayed in this house during his stay in Valetta.

DSCN7911

The famous balconies of Malta

DSCN8419

Mosta Rotunda, the third largest unsupported church dome in Europe.

DSCN8415

Having a relaxing coffee in Mosta, Malta.

There is so much more to share with you, like a visit to Popeye Village and the Museum of Archeology, and more about the Mosta Rotunda but I´ll leave it for future posts.

 

I am a special guest on Sally´s Cafe and Bookstore today. Pop over and ask me some questions!! See if you can stump me. Happy weekend everyone.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Sally's Cafe and Bookstore

Welcome to the Book Reading at the cafe and today my guest is children’s author Darlene Foster whose books about Amanda have literally taken us around the world. Before we take a look at her books here is a little bit about Darlene.

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme”.

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose…

View original post 1,808 more words

I am delighted to see this wonderful review on Reading Recommendations!

reading recommendations reviewed

Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
by Darlene Foster

Purchase copies here

Darlene Foster writes middle grade novels about two plucky girls, Amanda Ross, and Leah Anderson, best friends from different continents. These intrepid travellers visit different places around the world and solve mysteries. Foster puts in considerable travelling and research to ensure that the details she writes about are authentic. Not only are readers entertained by great mysteries with a touch of suspense, they learn about different geography and history. If you haven’t read one of these books yet, you should change that.

In this book, Amanda convinces her parents to join Mr and Mrs Anderson on a cruise on the Danube river. The two girls end up sharing their own room on board the ship, which gives them more autonomy. It’s a pretty exciting opportunity for two girls who are on the cusp of adolescence.

Before…

View original post 400 more words

During my visit to York, I went on a ghost walk. A city with such a long and rich history is bound to have ghosts lurking about. In fact, York is known as the most haunted city in England. Our excellent guide took us to places where ghosts sightings and paranormal activity have been reported. We began the tour at the York Minster on a chilly misty evening.

One of many Ghost Walks available in York.

The York Minster looking spooky at night.

Our knowledgeable and entertaining guide.

I expected to an apparition to appear at any moment.

 

Some say the face of a young girl appears at the small window in this house. This ghostly child starved to death after her entire family died from the plague as no one was willing to go into the house to get her. Sad times.

Working in the cellar of the Treasure’s House in 1953, plumber Harry Martindale was terrified when a group of Roman soldiers walked past him. He noted that the figures disappeared into the floor at knee height. Later investigation revealed a roman road half a metre under the basement.

York is the birthplace of Guy Fawkes and is also where he is buried. Unfortunately, his head was buried in one place and his body in another. Apparently, he wanders the Shambles at night looking for his head. I didn’t encounter him, although I did find an inn named after him.

The ghost of Guy Fawkes is supposed to wander the Shambles at night looking for his severed head.

Mysterious splashes have been heard late at night at the site of the ancient Roman baths.

During a daytime walk around town, we found these guys hanging about.

The sign says, Here lies Fat Ken, our original shop skeleton who fell to bits because people loved him too much. Please be kind.

So why all the interest in ghosts, skeletons and creepy things? Probably because I´ve been busy doing final edits on Amanda’s next adventure, Amanda in New Mexico – Ghosts in the Wind. You guessed it, there will be ghosts in this story. What do you think of the fabulous cover my publisher created?

I´ve been on a number of ghost walks. They can be good fun and the guides are usually very entertaining.

Have you ever been on a ghost walk? Do you enjoy hearing or reading about ghostly encounters?

 

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Click to purchase

click to purchase

click to purchase

Pig on Trial

click to purchase

Join me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,912 other followers

Archives

Goodreads

click to read review