Wednesday Wander – Portumna Castle, Ireland

I can’t believe it’s been a week since my last post! It’s been a busy time though, with a family wedding, and I’ve just not had much opportunity to sit down in front of the computer. However, there’s no way I’d miss taking a Wednesday Wander, so this week we are heading to Ireland.

Portumna castle, in County Galway, Ireland, is a fortified manor house built during the early part of the 17th century by the wealthy De Burgo family. At the time of its construction it was considered the premier house of its kind in Ireland, with none other coming close in terms of grandeur and style.

The manor house is still grand, as you can see, with a lovely approach avenue flanked by trees. There is also a large walled garden, set out as it would have been during the 17th century with herbs, vegetables and flowers. I would love to have the space and time to create a garden like that!

However, much of the style attributed to the house is gone, as the interior was gutted by fire in 1826. The shell of the house was given a new roof in 1968 and it is now being restored, but as you can see the walls are back to bare brick, and I remember there being no second floor.

Interestingly, there was a legend long held in the family that a child had fallen from the upper stories and only survived by landing on one of the family dogs. The poor animal’s back was broken and it died, but the story goes it was buried with honour for saving the child. During the restoration process, archaeologists did in fact find the buried skeleton of a dog… with a distinct fracture to the spine.

When I visited the house it was a glorious June day, as you can see, the gardens buzzing with bees and full of flowers. Even though the house was fortified, with battlements and gun loops, it felt like a home, the proportions pleasing. I’d like to go back one day and see how the restoration process is coming along.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday Wander – Heidelberg Castle, Germany

It took me a while to figure out where to wander to this week. Usually a location will present itself to me, or I’ll scroll through my photos and find somewhere, but it all seemed a bit vague this week. Then I remembered a conversation I had with a fellow blogger where I mentioned Heidelberg, so I’ve decided to wander there.

More specifically, to the ruined castle, sitting high on the hillside overlooking the old town and the rolling Rhine river. Built in stages between 1214 and 1295, the castle was subsequently destroyed by lightning, fire and war, resulting in the picturesque ruins we see today.

For many centuries the castle was home to the Palatine counts, powerful nobles who married into royalty, including the English Stuart and French Orleans families.

Mark Twain visited the ruins and wrote about them in his book A Tramp Abroad, stating that,

‘A ruin must be rightly situated, to be effective. This one could not have been better placed. …one looks down through shining leaves into profound chasms and abysses where twilight reigns and the sun cannot intrude.’

I visited a little more recently than Twain, and can attest that not much has changed since he wrote those words. Trees and vines still garland the ruins, the view across the town and river just as breathtaking as it always was.

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

A Weekend Jaunt

img_5399If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably know that I spent this past weekend in Paris. A quick trip, leaving London early Saturday morning and arriving back (late) last night, I went with a close friend from Australia who arrived in England on Friday.

img_5423And it was wonderful. Paris is one of my favourite cities – I’ve felt at home there since the first time I visited, almost thirty years ago. The streets, the language, the way the light falls, the art, the architecture and the atmosphere – something about it speaks to me.

img_5413Even though it rained most of the weekend, the streets shimmered with light. And the sun did, eventually, make an appearance, further gilding an already golden city. And, despite the rain, there was shopping and sightseeing and sitting in cafes talking, catching up on five years of distance and time.

img_5477It was a fabulous weekend, even with the two hour delay at Gare Du Nord, which meant I got home close to midnight, rather than the more civilised 10pm I’d had planned. And so I start the week tired but happy, the scent of coffee and roses lingering with me.

img_5456Happy Monday, everyone!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Letting it go…out into the world.

My lovely writing friend Fay has just revealed the cover of her debut novel, The Second Chance Tearoom! Congratulations, Fay! I’ve ordered my copy 😀

Fay Keenan

Friday saw the official reveal of the cover for my debut novel, ‘The Second Chance Tea Shop’ on the lovely Sophie’s blog at 23 Review Street. Thanks once again to Sophie for hosting it :).  My fab publisher, Aria, have done an amazing job at creating a beautiful design, as you can see:

thesecondchancetshop-1-2hiresThere are many things I love about it, from the notices on the door of the cafe to the bunting to the colour scheme and the cakes. But the thing I think I love the most is the first thing I noticed, which is the blue jumper on the man in silhouette. This really does pick up on something in the book that was an early creation for me, and it’s so lovely to see it there, in pride of place.

The other thing that I’m excited to see is that it’s my name, yes, my…

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#writephoto – The Spring

the-silver-well-3It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another lovely #writephoto prompt, courtesy of Sue Vincent. Here’s my response to this week’s image:

Squat and heavy, the stone sat next to the little spring, which was all boxed in and bricked up, water pooling, corralled, channelled, rather than roaming free.

The stone had been there so long it remembered a time when the water ran through green grass, from a natural pool lined with tiny flowers in curled leaves, the earth so dark and rich it was almost black.

The stone had held a different shape then. More curves, less angles. It had been chosen for its shape, placed there with careful hands, venerated and looped with flowers and ribbons. Now all that adorned it was moss, and the hands that touched it were no longer so careful, using sharp metal and blunt force to control its shape as they had controlled the spring, wanting to impose order on the land.

But the water still flowed, still clear and cold, tasting of deep caverns where light never shone, where dark towers of stone held crystal roofs high. The stone remembered being there, deep in the earth, in the place where the water was born.

And now, bit by bit, it flowed back there again, the spring taking it home.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

Wednesday Wander – Leaning Tower Of Pisa, Italy

pisa-2For this week’s Wander I’m visiting one of the most recognisable structures in the world – Italy’s famous leaning Tower Of Pisa.

When I took the photos out of the album I noticed I’d written ‘everything leans!’ next to the images, and I do remember that being true. The Cathedral and Baptistry were also slightly off-kilter, though it is the tower that demonstrates the most profound lean.

pisa-1Construction on the tower started in 1173 and took nearly 200 years to complete – this is partly because of wars halting construction for close to a century. Built of white marble, the tower started to lean during construction, due to inadequate foundations on ground too soft to support the tower’s weight. When construction was halted due to war the tower was only two floors high – this delay allowed the soil beneath the foundation to settle and stabilise, so when building resumed the tower did not fall.

However, it did continue to tilt, and the top is now nearly four metres out of alignment. When I visited, access to the tower was closed off, as it was felt that the tourists tramping up and down it, year after year, had contributed to further lean. That didn’t stop a couple of enterprising young men from coming up to us and telling us they had the keys to the tower if we wanted to go up – no doubt a line, but very entertaining nonetheless! The tower has since been stabilised and re-opened, so perhaps I’ll get to go up one day.

pisa-3The tower has had an interesting history in its long life, including unsubstantiated stories of Galileo conducting experiments in speed and mass by dropping cannonballs from the top of the tower, and it being used as an observation tower by the German forces during WWII. In fact, it was almost targeted in an artillery strike by Allied Forces – only the beauty of the site kept it from being destroyed. Thank goodness for that!

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time.


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

 

No Quarter (The Ambeth Chronicles, #2) by Helen Jones

A lovely review of No Quarter, the second book in my Ambeth series, from Karen at My Train Of Thoughts. Thanks so much, Karen!

My train of thoughts on...

the_ambeth_chronicles_2The author sent me an ARC of this book (mobi format) in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Plot
(by Goodreads)

‘Alma, even I do not know what he is capable of…’

Things couldn’t be better for Alma. She’s returned the lost Sword to Ambeth and is finally with Deryck, Prince of the Dark. But what’s really going on? Deryck is struggling with his father, who wants to control Alma, while Alma is struggling with her best friend Caleb, who doesn’t trust Deryck one inch. Plus it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with her life in the human world. Falling in love shouldn’t be this difficult. But things are about to get much worse…

Quests and friendship all fall by the wayside when there’s romance to be had. Plus, spending time with handsome Deryck is much more appealing than with an…

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