Wednesday Wander – Dragonstone, Part 1

I’ve recently been away, doing a spot of wandering in Basque country. I am a big Game of Thrones fan and so, when I found out that two of the locations used for the show were not too far from where I was staying, I decided to take a look (and dragged the family along with me).

If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, don’t worry! These locations are spectacular in their own right, and interesting even without their link to the most popular show in the world.

So, this week I am wandering to Dragonstone, otherwise known as Itzurun Beach, Zumaia. (Yes, I did go to the second location as well, but that will be in another post). Located on the rugged north coast of Spain, Itzurun Beach is notable for its spectacular geological formations, as it is part of the longest continuous rock strata in the world. The beautiful layered rock formations are known as ‘flysch’ cliffs, and are completely spectacular.

Zumaia is a lovely town, the streets lined with lowrise apartments. There is also an ancient fortified church, part of the original monastery that founded the town in the 1200s. Itzurun beach is a short walk from the town centre, along a walkway shaded by trees and a stone archway.

As you reach the steps leading down to the beach (also used in the show), you are greeted by a statue of two lions… or are they dragons?

The beach itself is no secret – the day was hot and sunny day when we visited and it was packed, the restaurant overlooking the water heaving with diners, the sand covered in towels and blankets and sunbathers. I tried my best to get shots without people in them, but it was difficult at times.

However, Game of Thrones fans will definitely recognise the cliff face and cave entrance, as well as this interior shot of the cave where they filmed Jon and Danaerys walking back to the light after visiting the Dragonglass mines. The iconic shape of the cliffs that surround Dragonstone itself are there too, though with a hotel at the top instead of a castle of stone.

And so what was it like to wander in the footsteps of the Targaryens? The rocks were beautiful, the layers of colour and rippling shapes like nothing I’ve seen. A young woman in a long black dress with flowing silver grey hair posed at the entrance to one cave, counterpoint to the many bikini-clad beach goers. Nearby a small child screamed, and I heard the flap of fabric as a towel was shaken out… or was it wings? Overhead sea birds soared, the waves crashing on the ancient stones, wind blowing cooler from the North as the tide came in.

Just to give you an idea of the scale of the cliffs and cave entrance

We spent a couple of hours there, playing in the waves, wandering around the rock formations and lying in the sun. As we left, we headed up the stark grey steps used as the entrance to Dragonstone on the show and I could see why the location was so appealing, so much that they needed to create the magic of Dragonstone already in place.

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

(And next time won’t be too far away – I’m hoping to post about San Juan de Gatzelugtxe, otherwise known as the second location for Dragonstone, before the end of the week.)


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Microfiction Challenge #23 – Dragon Egg

varnadragons

Photo ©Grantscharoff

Jane Dougherty has a wonderful knack of choosing interesting image prompts for her poetry and fiction challenges. I couldn’t resist these two dragons holding an egg, and here is my response:

‘It’s not very big, is it.’

‘I can assure you sir, it’s the accessory of the season. All the most stylish dragons–’

‘But is it shiny enough? I don’t know. She already has so many shiny things.’

‘Honestly, sir. We have a waiting list for these. It’s only because you’re one of our most valued customers–’

‘Does it come in any other colour? Like a ruby red?’

‘No. Just the gold, sir. It’s a limited edition–’

‘But what does it do, exactly?’

‘Well, it’s for keeping things in. You simply untwist it, like so, then you can put, well, whatever you like inside. Human snacks, jewels, smaller eggs, fireproof mascara – really, the choice is yours. And feel how heavy it is, and how smooth.’

‘Well, I suppose it is rather nice-‘

‘See how well it fits into the claw, sir. It’s been perfectly weighted, just so. I assure you, she’ll be very happy­–’

‘I’m still not sure–’

‘And if you buy one today, sir, we’ll throw in a lovely silk bag to keep it in, fire retardant, of course. Plus free giftwrapping, and one of these rather nice cards to go with it.’

‘Really? For no extra charge?’

‘Really. Shall I wrap it up then, sir?’

‘And it doesn’t come in the red?’

‘I can assure you it does not, sir. Gold is the colour of the season, sir. Now, shall I put that on your account, sir?’

‘I’ll take two.’


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, and check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more.

Plus check out my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, now available on Amazon.

Caffeine Withdrawal and Game Of Thrones

Winter is coming...

Winter is coming…

*Note: This post contains Game of Thrones spoilers, so don’t read if you haven’t seen the latest episode yet 🙂

I am, for some reason, a day ahead of myself. I thought today was the solstice, but the 21st is tomorrow. Although, the solstice seems to move around a bit, so it could be today.

Sorry. I’ve just given up caffeine so I’m a bit foggy, hence this rather random blog post. As to why I’ve given it up, health reasons blah blah blah boring. I’m interested to see how it goes, as that’s how I tend to approach most things in life – with a ‘let’s try it and see’ attitude.

I also just watched Game Of Thrones episode nine and SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN IT I’m totally overwhelmed. It was truly spectacular television. First Dany with her dragons taking control, then the Battle of the Bastards, then Sansa finally getting back into Winterfell and giving Ramsay his (very) just desserts. I sat there for a few minutes afterwards just taking it all in. Sounds mad, doesn’t it? After all, it’s only a TV show. But the beauty of GOT, the reason I think it’s so popular is that it is, at its heart, despite dragons and magic and castles, a soap opera. The characters drive the stories, and what started as a group of different kingdoms and families has now been woven together in ways unexpected, each twist and turn keeping the viewer hooked.

As a writer I can take lessons from the way the show pulls viewers along. We are made to care, to choose sides, to hope and fear and despair alongside the characters, to mourn (or rejoice) in their deaths. I realise GOT is based on the books by George R.R. Martin, and so reflect the world he has created – however, with his latest book delayed, the showrunners have had to forge ahead without a source document, and I think they have succeeded in keeping the story alive.

I’m not sure whether it’s caffeine withdrawal or dragons that has me so shaken up.  I have editing to get on with, plus some other work, so I really do need to get back to work. But for now my mind is filled with smoke and battles, and the feeling you get at the end of a really good story, when things turn out as they should.

Oh, and Melisandre? You’re in trouble. Ser Davos knows.

 

Stuck Writing Your Author Bio? Try The (Totally Not Serious) Author Bio Generator

Aren't I fabulous and interesting?

I’m so fabulous and interesting.

So I’ve been noticing a trend recently of, shall we say, somewhat overwrought author bios, in which every detail is teased into something magnificent, a picture of a life fabulously lived. I realise that there are, in fact, authors who do live wonderfully exciting lives but I also seem to remember a time when it wasn’t really important to know about it. A time when an author bio was a few lines at the end of a book, photograph optional, and usually read something like: ‘Author X was born in Wiltshire, and still lives there with her husband and three sons.’ Then, if Author X had written other books/and or won awards, these would also be listed. And that was about it. (I’m basing this on the very scientific research of spending time perusing my own bookcase and reading famous author bios, so you know, it’s totally legit).

But nowadays it seems to not be sufficient that we write stories – we have to live them as well. We have to be a ‘brand’. Okay. I understand the idea of leveraging an interesting life into the idea that you might therefore have interesting stories to tell, but there are plenty of examples that prove you don’t have to live with dragons to write about them. The Bronte sisters lived relatively sheltered lives and Emily, the author of Wuthering Heights, was apparently so shy she would turn her back on people mid-conversation, unable to speak any more. She never married, yet she was able to plumb the heights and depths of passion and create an enduring legend of romance that is still considered one of the greatest literary novels ever.

But that was then and this is now, and we are all writers trying to make our mark on a world saturated with choice. And so the bio is rewritten and inflated by agents and publishers, ostensibly to create interest, though I confess I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Oh, I’m reading a book by X because, did you know, she wrestles alligators and has a pet monkey?’

Therefore, in the interest of giving us all a leg up in the bio-writing stakes, I’ve decided to put together an Easy Author Bio Generator.* It’s basically like Mad Libs – just insert whatever words you think will work:

(your name) was born (time, place) and grew up in (place, dimension etc) learning to (do something odd). They left (your birthplace) for (a far flung destination) where they (did something amazing). (your name) now lives in (somewhere fabulous and unusual) with their (living companions). When not writing bestselling novels, (your name) likes to (do some sort of unusual and creative hobby).

And here’s my attempt:

Helen Jones was born at the turning of the tide on a remote Scottish Island and grew up with gypsies, learning to yodel at the moon. She left the island for the bright lights of Paris, where she wrote dramatic novels in between creating coffee confections for demanding French patrons. She now lives in a yurt hidden in a Welsh valley with her husband, three children and six goats. When not writing bestselling novels, she likes to party with rock stars and dance the tango under a full moon, letting out the occasional yodel.

See? Aren’t I more interesting now? 😀 Go on, give it a try – you know you want to.

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*Disclaimers:

  • This is just a bit of fun
  • I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of doing this
  • I may, or may not, change up some of my bios to see if anyone even notices
  • I mean no offense to those of you out there who already have fabulous and interesting bios – well done, you.