Darlene Foster's Blog

I love history and can never get enough of it. Visiting sights and structures from long ago makes it all seem so much more real to me. On a recent visit to Tarragona in Catalonia, Spain, much to my delight, I was immersed in it.

The entire city of Tarragona was deemed a World Heritage Site in 2000. And I can see why. Roman ruins are everywhere and appear naturally amongst more modern apartment blocks, restaurants, coffee shops and commercial buildings. It is fitting as, after all, they were there first.

Amphitheatres always intrigue me and the one in Tarragona, built in the time of Augustus, is quite intact and overlooks the Mediterranean sea. Imagine watching a play there. It is still used for reenactments of gladiator fights, plays and even weddings.

Imagine having lunch with a view of the sea and the amphitheatre!

Not far from the amphitheatre are the remains of the Roman Circus built in the first century which was used for horse and chariot races. It doesn’t take much to imagine the excitement of such an event.

A museum inside the Roman Circus held interesting artefacts

The old indoor market, Mercat Central, still sells fresh fish, meat, fruits and vegetables and was worth a visit. I bought some lovely tea to bring home.

Coming across the Forum, the remains of a Roman street and basilica, in a residential area, was incredible. It was as if timelines had blurred together. And I had the place almost to myself!

This would have been part of someone’s home two thousand years ago. I touched the walls and my Roman heart sang.
The base of a sculpture

Tarragona is famous for its Concurs de Castells where people called Castellers in matching outfits and sashes, compete for building the tallest human pyramid. This exciting and well-attended event is held every other October at Plaza de Toros, the former bull ring. (Bullfighting is outlawed in Catalonia.) I found posters for the event and in the middle of the Rambla Nova, the city’s main business street, is a bronze sculpture commemorating the .

A poster for Concurs de Castells. Look at all the people cheering them on.
Hubby contemplating climbing the tower of people.

Tarragona has wonderful buildings, fountains and statues everywhere and much to see is in walking distance.

Mosaic on the sidewalk outside the theatre

As if all this wasn’t amazing enough, we drove 4 kilometres outside the city on a quest to find a two-thousand-year-old Roman Aqueduct. We drove past the entrance three times but eventually found the parking lot. A short hike through the forest and there it stood as it has for centuries. I truly felt time stand still.

The Romans built things to last!

I touched the stones that centuries of folks before me have, and all that history ran down my arm and into my heart. I was so happy.

A great review for Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music is being featured on The Write Stuff. This remains to be a popular book in the series, enjoyed by adults and children.

The Write Stuff

It’s Tuesday once more and time for #ShareAReviewDay here on The Write Stuff. Please help me welcome Darlene Foster this morning, who will be sharing a review of her book Amanda on the Danube. (Have you noticed what a well-traveled little girl Amanda is? Lucky her!) Hope you enjoy this one and will pass it along far and wide. Thanks!

REVIEW:

Robbie Cheadle

Michael and I read this book together and we both enjoyed it immensely. It is my favourite of the three Amanda books we have read to date and we will definitely be reading more.

Amanda and her good friend, Leah, are on a boat cruise along the Danube and very much enjoying the good food and fascinating villages and towns that they stop at when they become embroiled in…

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This is my submission to Stevie Turner’s Short Story Competition for June. Why not submit one yourself. I’m sure you have some short stories kicking around that you could dust off, polish and try your luck. You can enter here 

This one is non fiction. Let me know what you think.

If the Shoe Fits

by Darlene Foster

It is no secret that my love of shoes is almost equal to my love of travel. A few years ago, when my husband and I visited his parents in Spain for the first time, I was as fascinated by the enticing scenery as I was with the amazing selection of shoes. I purchased a pair of shoes within days of our arrival and, as we were traveling light and on a tight budget, had promised myself that one gorgeous pair of Spanish leather shoes would do.

Later on in the holiday, we rented a car and took a leisurely drive along the Costa Blanca north of Alicante. The cloudless blue sky held only the sun which glittered off the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean sea. Any worries we may have had, disappeared. We came upon the charming fishing village of Altea. White washed houses climbed up the hill. A bright blue domed cathedral sat in the centre overlooking the sea. Postcard perfect. We decided it would be a great place to stop for lunch. As we strolled along the esplanade trying to decide among the appealing restaurants, my husband suggested we stop in at one of the many shoe stores as he was looking for a new pair of sandals.

I had made up my mind not to buy any more shoes but thought it wouldn’t hurt to look. I should have known better. The moment I walked in the door, my eyes descended upon the most exquisite little pair of red, patent leather, needle-point shoes I had ever seen. Those ‘Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz’ shoes were calling my name.

Of course, I had to try them on and of course, they were a perfect fit. At least the left shoe fit. I had slipped on a cobblestone street a few days earlier and sprained my right foot. It was still quite swollen so I didn’t even attempt to try on the right shoe. To make matters worse (or better depending on how you looked at it) the shoes were reasonably priced. I forgot my resolve and convinced myself I couldn’t live without them. The sales clerk quickly put them in a bag and took my Euros. It was two o’clock and she was eager to close the store for siesta time.

We found a great restaurant overlooking the sea and had an enjoyable meal. I was so happy you would have thought I had won the lottery. My husband laughed as I kept looking in the bag to make sure my new babies were OK. I held the package on my lap for safekeeping as we wound our way along the coast back to my in-laws place, two hours away. As soon as we arrived, I ran into the house to show off my newly acquired treasures.

When I pulled them from the bag, my father-in-law noticed the stickers on the bottom and casually said, “Did you realize that one shoe is size 36 and the other is size 37?”

“What! You must be joking!” I looked at the stickers. He was not kidding.

I was horrified. My legs became weak and I felt sick. There was no way I could wear a pair of shoes two different sizes. And we were going back to Canada in a couple of days.

I broke the sad news to my husband who shrugged and simply said, “Don’t worry, we’ll go back tomorrow and exchange it. After all, they now have another pair just like it that they won’t be able to sell.”

What a sweetheart. I remembered then why I married him. He was a man who understood the importance of a fabulous pair of shoes to a girl.

We got up early the next morning, took the much faster, toll highway back to Altea where the store clerk gladly exchanged the size 37 shoe for the correct one. There was no time for sight seeing, as our rental car had to be back by noon. No matter, I had my adorable red shoes, both the same size. I wear them often, and invariably get a compliment.

Then I have to tell my story.

In case you haven’t read it before, Sally Cronin dug this post about my hometown, out of my archives. Check it out.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series ofPosts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster is a regular visitor to the blog and has shared some amazing posts.  She gave me permission to explore her archives in search of more treasure. In her final post in this particular series, I am sharing a post on her birthplace.

Ten Reasons to visit Medicine Hat, Canada by Darlene Foster

Many people are intrigued by the name of my birthplace and tend to want to know more about it. So I thought I would share an article I recently had published in Travel Thru History, a wonderful ezine featuring great…

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Mother’s Day is celebrated on different days in various parts of the world but in Canada, USA, Australia and South Africa and possibly other countries, it is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. I love this day as I have been blessed with a very special mom. I wrote about her a couple of years ago here

I put together a little video of my special mom.

Of all the many jobs in my life, the best has been being a mom!! It wasn’t always easy but it was always worth it. I am so proud if these two. 

with number one son
with number one daughter
and now I’m a mom to this crazy fur baby who knows how to relax

Wishing all mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers, aunts and mentors, a wonderful day as we celebrate motherhood in all its forms.

We are almost there. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action has been edited and edited and edited some more. How could I miss so many commas and how did all those ‘ly’ words sneak in? And what is with the word just? I just use it too often. However, I am very happy with this book and am pleased to announce it is available on NetGalley for a free e-version for those of you who would like to read an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) and possibly write a review. You can access the e-book here.

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. She travels the canals of Amsterdam, visits Anne Frank House, checks out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and takes pictures of the flowers of Keukenhof Gardens. She is keen to find out what happened to her great uncle who never returned from WWII and was declared missing in action. What she doesn’t expect to find and fall in love with is Joey, an abandoned puppy. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow Amanda around the charming country of Holland, filled with colourful tulips, windmills, and more bicycles than she could have imagined. Once again, intrepid traveller Amanda encounters danger and intrigue as she tries to solve more than one mystery in a foreign country.

Here is a short excerpt

They disembarked at the next stop in front of a shop with large wheels of cheese piled high outside the door. Once inside, the sour milk scent of cheese greeted them.

A cheerful girl in a pointy white hat with wings on each side handed out samples.

“Yum, this cheese is so good.” Amanda smacked her lips. “Let’s buy some for a snack later.”

Mr. Anderson took out his wallet. “Good idea. We’ll take a wedge of Gouda and one of that one we just sampled.” He pointed to the cheeses.

“You mean the Edam?” asked the sales clerk. “These are good choices.”

While Leah’s father paid for the purchase, the girls went outside. Amanda heard a whimpering sound. “Did you hear that?” she asked Leah.

“Did I hear what?”

“A sound like a baby or a baby animal. I think it came from over there.” Amanda pointed at a large garbage can across the road. “There it is again!” She stepped off the curb.

“Amanda, watch for bikes!” Leah shouted.

One whizzed past, barely missing Amanda. She didn’t even notice. She headed for a cardboard box sitting beside the smelly garbage. Bending over, she opened it. Curled up in the bottom, a brown and white puppy, with the biggest chocolate brown eyes she had ever seen, stared up at her.

The puppy whimpered and put his head between his front paws.

Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action will be released on September 1, 2019 and is available for pre-order.

An example of the gorgeous flowers Amanda sees while in Holland.

A nice surprise to see this blog from the past. CWILL BC is an amazing group to belong to and this was such a great event. I have been a member for the past nine years. Thanks, Sally for bringing it out of the archives.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post:https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

Children’s author and travel writer Darlene Foster is a regular visitor to the blog and has shared some amazing posts.  She gave me permission to explore her archives in search of more treasure. The first post that I selected was from 2013….I have checked all the links and you can find current activities for the organisation by clicking through.

Group Rewards by Darlene Foster.

I have been a member of a wonderful organization, CWILL BC (Children’s Writers and Illustrators of BC) for the past three years. This organization provides information and support to local children’s authors and assists in…

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