Darlene Foster's Blog

Posts Tagged ‘books

I am honoured to be asked about inspiring children to read by Sue Slaght of Travel Tales of Life.

Why would a child want to read? How can a book compete with the tantalizing glow of a screen? As the months, or has it been years, of time at home drag on, parents’ nerves are fraying. How can we get kids excited about adventure? Is the love of reading in children a forgotten skill?

We reached out to an expert for advice. How can we turn reluctant readers into book loving kids? Darlene Foster is an award winning author, publishing seven books about a spunky young girl named Amanda. The popular series inspires adventure, travel and reading.

Darlene Foster on inspiring reading in children

Thanks, Sue for inviting me to your awesome blog which encourages travel and appreciating other countries and cultures.

I write my books to inspire children to explore the world and appreciate our unique differences as well as our similarities. Unlike when I was a child, children today are well travelled. Which is great. But right now, because of the COVID 19 pandemic, their parents aren’t able to take them on trips. By providing children with books that take place in other countries, they can go on a vacation without leaving the safety of their home. And by reading the books together, the whole family gets a holiday.

At what age should parents start reading to their children? What types of books are best?

Read the rest of the article here.

I am delighted with this review of Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone from Teri Polen. I love it when someone is enthusiastic about my home province.

Books and Such

Amanda is delighted to show Leah aaround Alberta during her visit from England. They take in the Calgary Stampede, go on a cattle drive, visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, spend time with the dinosaurs at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and explore the crazy Hoodoos.When Amanda finds a stone with a unique mark on it, she doesn’t think it’s important until everyone seems to want it – including a very ornery cowboy. Is this stone worth ruining Leah’s holiday and placing them both in danger? Spend time with Amanda as she explores her own country while attempting to decipher the mysterious writing on the stone and keep it from those determined to take it from her.

This is my first time ‘meeting’ Amanda and while there are several books in the series, I chose this one because I traveled to Calgary earlier this year and visited some of the places mentioned in…

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I’m a guest on The Write Stuff. Check out a sneak peek of Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady.

The Write Stuff

Today, please join me in giving  Darlene Foster a huge welcome back to The Write Stuff. Darlene has been sharing new Amanda adventures with us for some time, and she’s back with the cover reveal for her upcoming book, Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady. I think you’ll agree that it’s gorgeous! Congratulations, Darlene!


Thanks, Marcia for letting me share the cover of Amanda in Malta!
Book 8 in the exciting Amanda Travels series will be released in May 2021 and is available for pre-order on all Amazon and Indigo sites, links below.

Remember, all the books in the Amanda Travels series make great Christmas gifts.

~~~ 

The grass certainly doesn’t grow under Amanda’s feet. When she gets an odd postcard from Leah in Malta, alarm bells go off and she decides she has to go and help her best friend. As luck would have it, her…

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Today I am excited to feature Mr. Geoff Le Pard, an author of prose, poetry and memoir, a blogger, an excellent gardner and an all around good guy who loves his dog. Mr. Le Pard has a great way with words. He has recently released a new book, The Sincerest Form of Poetry, and has kindly agreed to answer a few questions.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, perhaps the Reader’s Digest version.

Ah, the difficult personal bit first, eh? I’m a former lawyer, happy to have put down the quill pen but happy too to use the absurdities of a pompous and self-regarding profession for inspiration in my writing. It also pays the bills still so I’m not knocking it. Much. Nowadays, I try and believe it when I call myself a writer but, odd for someone who once wore his pretentious facade like a coat of armour, I still struggle with imposter syndrome and tend to whisper it, in case it triggers a little too much sniggering. My writing career overlapped with my legal one and probably – no definitely – accelerated its end. The writing piece started in 2006 like a clunky gear change and has accelerated until I reached third where I currently cruise happily. To wring every last drop out of this motoring analogy, I’m now happily enjoying a pretty full tank of ideas, an open road of time to write and a satnav that lets me choose the direction my writing takes. Happily, the flat tyre of writer’s block hasn’t struck and I avoid the fender-bender of agent rejections by sticking to the back roads of indie publishing… blimey, I milked that, didn’t I? I’ve twelve published works: six novels, three anthologies, one memoir of me and my mother and now a book of poetry. They are, of course, the Rolls Royces of literature… honestly, I will stop that now and all available on Amazon.I’ve been married for thirty-cough years to a woman whose erudition, sense of humour and lack of a sense of smell have kept us together all that time. We have two adult children, one married, one trying to get spliced if only that witch, Rona Pandemic would back off a little and a small menagerie of pets, led by Dog, an eleven year old mixture of fishy breath, randomised barking tests and infinite love, plus two Methuselah old cats (twenty-two and going strong even if their fleeces are now more corduroy than cashmere) and a tortoise whose passion for my trainers says more about her than me. 

2. What or who inspired you to write in the first place?

In July 2006, my wife was told by our children they wouldn’t be joining her, as they had done for several years, at a summer school run at Marlborough College, one of Britain’s poshest public schools (Princess Kate Thingy went there). This had taken place during the first week of the school holidays and while the three of them had gone off, I stayed and crunched a bit more legal nonsense. She wondered if, this time, i might like to join her. We’d just started ballroom and Latin dance classes and they did a week’s intensive course during the morning, leaving her to do something arty and me… well, look at the brochure… to do something in the afternoon. I still don’t know what drew me to the ‘Write a ten minute radio play in a week’. The woman who ran it was a touch eccentric but she taught the basics, got us writing and performing and I loved it. I was buzzing – my first experience of finding out the joys of immersing yourself with others addicted to writing. But the week soon ended and the children returned from wherever they’d been invited so we could all go to a house in Devon we’d hired. While they splashed about in the hot tub and my wife played about with her textiles, I pulled out my laptop, took one of the ideas I’d had while on the writing course and began to write. I wrote in the evenings, at weekends. I got up early and wrote before cycling to work. I wrote in airports while off on business trips and in hotels while struggling with jet lag. Inside three months I’d written a novel of 130,000 words! It was utter crap. But it was my utter crap. After that, I went on courses – meeting other nascent authors at Arvon and at the LSE before I did a creative writing MA at Sheffield. The book I wrote for the course was my first published work, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, a comedic coming of age story set in 1976, that has autobiographical notes in its genesis. That was 2014. I started blogging then, too. And what about that first book? I rewrote it countless times and eventually the story that I wanted to tell pop out. I published it earlier this year, a dark thriller Walking Into Trouble. 

3. Do you prefer writing poetry or prose, and why?

Neither, or both. They are very different. One – prose – is an intellectual process, that’s like any creative skill, trying to explore ideas in a subject of which I will never be the master, always the pupil but always enjoying the process of learning on the way. The other – poetry – is capturing an emotion, an idea, a sense of the moment. It might be very personal – the love of another, loss, longing; it might be a personal passion – sport, Dog, politics, climate change; it might be humour, the need to see the absurd in live’s clumsy tapestry. I want to do both but one comes naturally and I can always tap into it, the other emerges unbidden often when I least expect it.

4. Has your father´s poetry influenced yours in any way?

For sure. He was debilitated by his perfectionism and I’ve determined to be good, or as good as I can, but not perfect. He used poetry to convey his loves and I have followed suit. He wasn’t afraid to use obscure, sometimes grandiose language to create the imagery he wanted and I’ve ignored voices, esp of poets of much regard on courses I’ve undertaken who try and drive me into the utilitarianism of coming phraseology. For someone who resisted many calls to write, he loved reading his work if he felt it worked for his audience, but he was rubbish at it; I’ve made myself passable as a performance poet and enjoy the process of communicating my poetry as a spoken format and not just written. Mostly however he was driven to keep writing and I’ve followed that lead. I’ve often wondered what he’d have thought of mine. Probably ‘not bad, boy’ would be high praise, but only if he genuinely felt I deserved it. He would have been a harsh but entirely fair critic.

5. If you could choose a fictional character to spend a day with, who would you choose and why?

Pooh or Paddington; they are my sort of philosophers and I could do with some of their calm, offbeat wisdom in this jigsaw-puzzle of a world – as well as enjoying some communal honey or marmalade treats

6. Tell us about your next writing project.

How long have you got? I’ve finished a novel that is a sort of modern sci-fi/magical realism romance, titled ‘The Art of Spirit Capture’. It’s been edited and read and currently is, like all my novels, in purdah, namely a three month hibernation. Every time I write or edit a novel, I leave it for three months before I go back to it. After the next read through, I will have it professionally edited and then it can be published. I might ask for beta readers, if anyone is interested, but it won’t be for a few months. While that bubbles away, I’m deeply immersed in a comic fantasy involving a trainee exorcist, Pearl Barley who has appeared in short fiction on my blog. Set in a parallel world to today – so a lot of features are familiar – Pearl works for a secular exorcism agency, Spirits Release at a critical time for the business. Not only is the Government looking into regulating exorcists but there is a surge of spirits that refuse to pass to their chosen hereafters and the possessions are beginning to overwhelm the likes of Pearl’s company. The question is, is this surge merely a cyclical boom or a manufactured explosion with sinister undertones. Only Pearl with the help of Sharon, a deceased hairstylist who has taken up residence in Pearl’s hair and her personal personality enhancer in the shape of a mirror that allows Pearl’s reflection to help her out can find out the truth, while battling sprites and possessed gnomes and sort of falling for a red-headed weather manipulator who may or may not be what she seems. This is book one, provisionally titled Pearl Barley and the Surge of The Spirits, of maybe two or three and I plan on writing the second immediately I finish the first. That book, also provisionally titled Pearl Barley and the Georgian Goblin will take Pearl to the next stage of a conspiracy that is revealed in book one. Enough said, for now. Behind that, and almost certainly to be published before Pearl will be the next anthology of short fiction. For the last three years I’ve brought together short stories and flash fiction that I’ve written for my blog into anthologies. The first one Life, In a Grain of Sand came out in 2017, then there was Life in a Flash and Life in a Conversation. This one, Life Sentences is with my editor and should appear in time for the Christmas rush!! And behind all of them, I have a three quarters finished thriller based on my experiences at the London Olympics which, someday, I’d like to get back to… whew…

Geoff´s latest book of poetry. Don´t you just love the cover?

Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poetry selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.

All of life in one easy couplet

To write poetry I need inspiration. Often that comes from my appreciation of the craftsmanship of other, better poets, whose skills I aspire to emulate. For this anthology, I have chosen two such sources: in part one, the search for Britain’s favourite poem led to the publication of the top 100 and I have used a number of these to craft my own take on those beautiful and inspirational works; in part two, my love of the sonnet form, fostered by reading Shakespeare’s gems has provided a selection covering many topics and themes. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed creating them.

You can purchase this book here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Geoff in his garden of sunflowers

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

Geoff is a prolific writer and here is a selection of some of his books:

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself?

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

More of Geoff´s work can be found on his Amazon Author Page

Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

Follow Geoff on his entertaining blog:  https://geofflepard.com

and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/geoff.lepard

You´ll be glad you did!

Many readers have been asking where Amanda will have her next adventure. Here are a few hints, see if you can guess.

  1. It is an archipelago in the Mediterranean.
  2. It has a long and colourful history.
  3. It has connections to St. Paul.
  4. It makes you think of Knights, Crosses and Falcons
  5. Popeye was filmed there.

Here are a couple of pictures that might give you another clue.

Did you guess where it is?

Drum roll…

I am so excited to share the fabulous cover designed by my amazing publisher, Michelle Halket of Central Avenue Publishing.

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.

Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colourful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Book 8 in the exciting Amanda Travels series will be released in May 2021 and is available for preorder on all Amazon and Indigo sites

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca

Indigo

Did you know that Amanda is a Latin female name meaning “deserving to be loved,” “worthy of love,” or “loved very much by everyone.”? (From wikipedia)

Very fitting, don’t you think?

© Copyright Darlene Foster 2020

I enjoy following Jennie Fitzkee, a preschool teacher in New England. I have featured her here on my blog. She believes in the power of reading out loud to children of all ages, including reading chapter books to preschoolers. Jennie recently posted about the books she read this summer, which included great picture books as well as some chapter books. And guess what, she included Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone! I was delighted that she enjoyed the story and wrote a good review. I’m included with some pretty awesome authors too.

This is part of what she wrote:

Amanda and Leah see the Calgary Stampede (a rodeo), go on a cattle drive, visit Buffalo Jump, and the dinosaur museum.  These adventures are intertwined with a mystery- Amanda finds a stone, which people seem to want, one cowboy in particular.  Amanda is curious about the markings on the stone and is determined to learn more.  She is the modern day Nancy Drew, and her sleuthing proves to be both dangerous and exciting at times.

Please read the rest of her post.

https://jenniefitzkee.com/2020/08/30/my-summer-of-books-part-3/

I´m pleased to be a guest on Wanda Luthman´s blog where I talk about Why I Wrote Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Check it out.

Wanda Luthman's Children's Books

Children’s Author, Darlene Foster

Hello, everyone!

Welcome to Wanda Luthman’s Children’s Book Blog.

Today, I want to introduce to you one of my favorite children’s authors. I’ve known her virtually for several years now. Her name is Darlene Foster and she’s written a series of books on a girl named Amanda in the Amanda Travels series.

Darlene, please tell us about you and your inspiration for this book as well as the series…

Why I Wrote Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action

My interest in the country of Holland began when a teacher read us a book called, Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge, which I loved. The book, written in 1865, by an author who had never been to Holland herself but heard stories about it from her Dutch neighbours.

Over the years I read other books that took place in Holland, many of them…

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Ann Eriksson, credit Carol Sowerby photographer

I am pleased to present my guest today, fellow BC author, Ann Eriksson who has just released her latest book, Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight. A perfect book for anyone who loves birds and a great gift for a young person.

Ann Eriksson lives on Thetis Island, BC, in a waterfront house surrounded by ocean and trees and lots of amazing and beautiful wildlife. Ann is the author of five novels and two non-fiction ecological literacy books for children. When she’s not writing, working in biology, or helping protect the environment, she’s out exploring nature, on foot, or by boat. You can read about Ann’s work at www.anneriksson.ca. Ann’s novels and children’s books are available in print and eBook formats through your favourite bookseller.

Bird’s-Eye View: Keeping Wild Birds in Flight

From the dry deserts to the icy poles, wild birds are everywhere. We see them soaring overhead, paddling across water, flitting through trees, pecking at our backyard bird feeders and singing from fence posts. Birds contribute to the health of the planet and are enjoyed by many people around the world. But wild birds are in trouble. Today almost 200 bird species are critically endangered. They are threatened by habitat loss, invasive species, climate change, pesticides, human-made structures and other animals. Why are wild birds important? Why do they need help? And what are young people all over the world doing to take wild birds under their wing?

“Anyone, young or old, who wants to learn more about the birds that live in their neighborhood or on the other side of the planet will love this book.” – Trevor Herriot, naturalist and author of Grass, Sky, Song

“ A passionate and beautifully illustrated appeal to bird lovers of all ages.” – Bridget Stutchbury, author of Silence of the Songbirds and The Bird Detective.

What was the inspiration for Birds-Eye View?
I live on Thetis Island, surrounded daily by a wonderful and lively diversity of songbirds, woodpeckers, birds of prey and marine birds. And as a biologist and director of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy, I know how impacted these beautiful and fascinating animals have been by human activities. I had already written Dive In! Exploring Our Connection with the Ocean as part of the Orca Footprints ecological literacy series and had enjoyed the experience immensely, so I pitched a book on birds and bird conservation to my editors at Orca Book Publishers. It ended up as an Orca Wild title.


I see that you have written a diverse collection of novels. What made you decide on the type of books you write?
I started out writing novels because that is what I love to read. I love being transported into different lives and worlds, and exposed to ideas, people and places I wouldn’t normally encounter. I took a break from fiction to write children’s non-fiction on invitation from Ruth Linka, my former publisher at Brindle & Glass, now at Orca Book Publishers. Both the novels and the non-fiction have combined my passion for writing with my interest in ecology.

How long have you been seriously writing?
I started writing novels in 2000, when I was a single parent with 2 school-age children, a dog to walk, a big old house and garden to look after and a contract job in biology. I began to wake up in the morning with a story complete with characters, paragraphs and sentences running through my head. I told it to go away, I didn’t have time. But it continued to tug at me until a friend invited me to join a fledgling writing group. I wrote my first novel, Decomposing Maggie, through that group of supportive women. I can’t believe it has been 20 years!

Where do you get your ideas?
I write about topics that interest me personally, which generally fall into the categories of ecological and social issues. In my fiction, I’ve written about grief, about disabilities, mental illness, homelessness, ocean pollution, marine ecology, killer whales, classical music, trees, forest ecology and habitat loss, climate change and even a little romance.


What is your writing process?
I call my process the ‘whenever’ school of writing. When I was first writing and still with young children at home, I wrote whenever I got some free time. I never procrastinated. I would sit down and start typing (although not always the most brilliant words). Now that it’s just me and my husband, also a writer, I tend to procrastinate more. But when I do get into a project, I stay focused, set my own deadlines if I don’t have external ones, and am quite productive.


Where do you do your best writing?
I have a beautiful bright loft above the kitchen, with a small deck and a view of the ‘Cut’, an ocean pass on which our home is located. I joke that I write with one eye focussed on the computer and the other on the nature going by outdoors. When I really want to concentrate, I head out to a small 100 square foot former children’s playhouse that we call the Dylan Thomas cabin. But the location isn’t so important (sometimes it’s the dining room table) as taking the time to write for periods long enough to get ‘in the zone,’ where hours can go by that feel like minutes. A wonderful place to be.

How long does it take you to write a book?
I’ve written 8 books in 20 years, so I guess an average of 2-4 years from research to publication. But it varies greatly. I wrote the first draft of my first novel in 6 months. I have a novel that’s been in progress now for 3 or 4 years. And a couple more partially finished manuscripts crying for my attention.

What kind of research do you do for a children’s book, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
The kinds of children’s books I write, which are based on scientific information, take a lot of research. It’s important to me that the information in them is accurate and current. I read books and articles by scientists, I search the internet for interesting information, watch videos, interview experts and others, sometimes children, with knowledge and experience about the topic, and attend talks and conferences, for up to a year before I start writing. Then the process of turning it all into an engaging and interesting narrative begins. Once the text is written I have others, including scientists, read it and give me feedback. When the draft is ready and edited, my publisher then turns it into a beautiful work of art.

Tell us about what you are working on next.
I’m in the final stages of a non-fiction book for youth about the climate crisis, to be published in the fall of 2021 as part of Orca’s Issues series. After that, I’m planning another novel. Fiction is calling me.

You can connect with Ann here:

Website: www.anneriksson.ca
Facebook: Ann Eriksson Books
Twitter: @Ann_Eriksson
Instagram: annleriksson


Her Novels
Decomposing Maggie (2003, Turnstone Press) Note: Out of print
In the Hand of Anubis (2009, Brindle and Glass)
Falling From Grace (2010, Brindle and Glass)
High Clear Bell of Morning (2014, Douglas & McIntyre)
The Performance (2016, Douglas & McIntyre)

Her Children’s Non-Fiction
Dive In! Exploring Our Connection With The Ocean (2018, Orca Book Publishers)
Bird’s-Eye View (2020, Orca Book Publishers)

Please do check out these wonderful books and share this post with your readers.

Thanks, Ann for being a guest on my blog and sharing your love of the environment and its inhabitants.




I am delighted to have the amazing Sally Cronin as my guest today as she tells us about her adventurous life as a child traveller.

Travels as a Child Cape Town, South Africa – 1963-1965 – Sally Cronin

My father was a Royal Naval officer, and by the time I was ten years old, I had quite a few adventures under my belt. When I was 18 months old my father was posted to Sri Lanka (Ceylon at that time) for two years to a place where my early memories were formed. In early 1959, when I was six-years-old, we moved to Malta for two years, flying via Rome airport, where my two-year-old brother escaped and was recaptured running across the tarmac under a plane.


But the biggest adventure would be in early 1963 when we left for Cape Town, South Africa, so my father could take up his shore-based post at Simon’s Town.

I was in my last year at primary school in Portsmouth, and there was some talk about leaving me behind for the two years as a boarder, with the navy paying for one return trip a year to visit my parents and brother. There was no way I was going to agree to that; I was already packed and ready to go.

Our house in Portsmouth was let out for two years to another naval family that had been posted to the area. We all underwent a medical examination and had a number of top-up vaccinations. Then we flew out of RAF Brize Norton on a charter flight with other service personnel going to Africa, and I have a vivid memory of the seats facing the rear of the plane which seemed very strange. We took off in the early hours of the morning and were woken about 5 a.m. for a greasy breakfast of egg and bacon, which we children, of course, wolfed down. It was a very long flight and there was no inflight entertainment as there would be today. I had a pile of books to wade through so I was very happy.


We arrived in Nairobi to be met by a liaison officer who drove us out of the city in the searing sunshine of the mid-afternoon. Despite living in Sri Lanka with its humid summers, it was my first experience of the dry heat of Africa. I was fascinated by the mirage effect the scorching sun produced on the long straight road ahead of us, with trucks and cars floating several feet off the ground. I just knew Africa was going to be full of wonders. That night we stayed at a safari hotel with rooms around a central courtyard; packed with souvenir sellers. I remember my mother bought a beautiful carved wooden giraffe for me that survived until only recently when a leg broke off in our last move nearly 60 years later.

The next morning we were driven back to Nairobi early for a mid-morning flight to Cape Town, only to be placed in detention as my brother and I were missing one of the necessary vaccinations. Yellow Fever requirements had been overlooked at our medical because they had not been aware that we would be staying in transit (more than 12 hours) in Kenya which was considered high risk for the disease. My parents’ earlier Yellow Fever vaccinations from their time in Sri Lanka were valid, but as I was a baby when we were posted there, I had not been vaccinated. It looked like we would be refused entry into South Africa without it. I remember my father leaving us in a small room with our luggage, to make telephone calls, and eventually, he returned with a doctor who gave us children the vaccination and stamped the paperwork. They were not happy that it had not been administered inside of the regulation time frames but allowed us to continue with agreement from the authorities in Cape Town that we would be quarantined for 10 days on arrival.

The Royal Navy put us up at a hotel in Newlands, a southern suburb of Cape Town, and my father took up his post at Simon’s Town. We had a liaison officer who took my mother around to both my brother’s new school in Rondebosch and mine, which was Newlands Public School, in preparation for starting after our quarantine was completed. In South Africa at the time, children started formal education at 7 and stayed in primary until 13, unlike the UK which was 5 to 11 years old. I was expected to learn Afrikaans as soon as possible, so I was put in the class with children of 12 years old for general studies but joined the 7-year-olds for their Afrikaans lessons. It made for a very interesting transition period, but having already been to three schools during our travels, I just got on with it.

Sally in her school uniform


After six weeks, we moved into a house rented by the navy for us in a suburb of Newlands and close to a large park. I was bought a bike to get to school, and I also used it to explore the local area at the weekends. It was customary when families left to return to the UK after their two years, that dogs and other pets were found homes with new families. It was not long before we inherited a rather battle-scarred boxer dog, called Bosun whose bark was thankfully a cover for a huge heart. For two children trying to adapt to new schools and language, it was a great comfort to get a slobbery welcome when we came through the door.

Having tea on the stoep in Newlands


We settled in to enjoy the wonderful life that living in Cape Town offered. We went to the beach most weekends, including on Christmas day. I had a body surfer and spent my time in the water, only appearing occasionally for some fresh peaches. We would join other naval families on long weekends in the Ceres Mountains in the Northern Cape, where we stayed in rondavels and swam in a huge swimming pool filled with freezing water from the mountains… All our meals were cooked on the outside BBQ including boiling a kettle for tea. In the evenings we would have dinner with the group and then us older kids would leave the adults to their demi-johns of local wine; heading for the now darkened pool with its cold water and frogs for a last swim.

After a year my sister Diana joined us from England and it was great to have her with us. She worked on the Cape Argus newspaper and featured on the front page from time to time when they needed an attractive face to front a story.

The Edinburgh Castle ship  https://commons.wikimedia.org

When it came time to return to England it very sad to leave the friends we had made during the two years, and also our much loved Bosun. Thankfully my parents found another naval family who would give him a new home and we made our tearful goodbyes. We left Cape Town in the late summer of 1965 on the Edinburgh Castle, part of the Union-Castle Line, and incidentally, the same ship my sister Diana would later re-join, but this time as part of the crew as a ship’s purser. We left the harbour and sailed straight into a violent storm, and for the next couple of days we were virtually the only passengers eating in the dining room; clearly, we had inherited our sea legs from my father. For all the passengers who had not crossed the Equator before, there was a ceremony to mark the occasion. I have vivid memories of sliding along a slippery pole without falling off, being given a certificate, and feeling very proud of myself for the achievement.

My father’s next posting was as Commanding Officer of RNAS Inskip, a wireless transmission station in the wilds of Lancashire, about 20 minutes on the bus to my school in Preston and 30 minutes to the holiday town of Blackpool. I was enrolled into the Priory grammar school for girls and again because of the age disparity, I found myself in the second year, but behind everyone in the class with regard to virtually every subject, with a great deal of catching up to do. I had developed quite a strong accent during our time in South Africa; quite useful when you are the only English child out of 100 and wish to remain under the radar. But it was not long before I had adopted a passable Lancashire accent which allowed me to blend in. I remember that first wet and cold winter vividly and wished I was back in Cape Town playing with my friends in the sunshine.


Bio for Sally Cronin
I have been a storyteller most of my life (my mother called them fibs!). Poetry, song lyrics and short stories were left behind when work and life intruded, but that all changed in 1996. My first book Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another twelve books since then on health and also fiction, including four collections of short stories. My latest book is a collection of verse, micro fiction and speculative short stories titled Life’s Rich Tapestry: Woven in Words


I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.

As a writer I know how important it is to have help in marketing books.. as important as my own promotion is, I believe it is important to support others. I offer a number of FREE promotional opportunities on my blog and linked to my social media. If you are an author who would like to be promoted to a new audience of dedicated readers, please contact me via my blog. All it will cost you is a few minutes of your time. Look forward to hearing from you.

Where to find Sally and her books:
Amazon Author Page US: https://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2
Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6
Blog: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sgc58
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sally.cronin
LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/sallycronin1

Here is my review of What’s in a Name? by Sally Cronin https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2146165416?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

If you haven’t already, I would suggest you connect with Sally. Her blog is full of great posts, book reviews, jokes, food, music and much more.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/about-smorgasbord-blog-magazine-and-sally-cronin/

Once again, the amazing Sally Cronin has been busy promoting other authors. She recently featured an extract and a great review for Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action on her blog. If you haven´t seen it, check it out. Thanks, Sally!!

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the series where authors in the Cafe and Bookstore an extract from their most recent book. If you are in the Cafe, and would like to participate you can find all the details here:Share an Extract

Today’s author is Darlene Foster sharing an extract from her most recent book in the Amanda travel series – Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action.

About Amanda in Holland

Amanda is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah; as well as travelling the canals of Amsterdam, visiting Anne Frank House, checking out windmills and a wooden shoe factory, and taking 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…

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