Wednesday Wander – If You Could Be Anywhere…

if-you-could-be-anywhereIt’s Wednesday, so time for my usual Wander, and it’s also day twenty-eight of the 30 Day Writing Challenge. Today’s prompt is: If.

Initially, I considered the Rudyard Kipling poem If, and doing a Wander related to that. But Kipling was so well-travelled I couldn’t really settle on one place, and unfortunately I’ve not yet been to India, the place with which he is most often associated. Then I considered – if I could be anywhere, where would I be?

This was a tough question to answer. At the moment, I’m pretty happy where I am. And if I did go anywhere it would be somewhere I’ve not visited before, so I couldn’t post about it anyway. I decided to look back through my posts for inspiration, and realised I’ve taken 54 Wednesday Wanders so far – just over a year’s worth of posts! So, as it’s the last Wander of 2016, I decided to look back at the top ten most popular posts, based upon the number of likes, and leave the answer up to you. If you could be anywhere, where would you be?

Starting with the tenth most popular, here is the list of favourites for the year:

The Lion Monument, Lucerne, Switzerland

The Twelve Apostles, Australia

Surfers Paradise, Australia

Coventry Cathedral, Coventry, England

El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Manyana Beach, Australia

Stonehenge, England

Paris, France

Ancient Rome, Italy

And the number one post was:

Niagara Falls, Canada

Thanks for coming along with me on my Wednesday Wanders – I’ve seen a bit of the world but there’s still a lot for me to see, so I’ll keep posting as long as I have places to share

See you next year! xx


If you enjoyed this post, 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 – Lion Monument, Lucerne, Switzerland

lion-monumentThe Wednesday Wander is back! After two weeks off due firstly to an ongoing series of posts, then to me being too ill to post anything at all, I’m back to wander the world (the bit I’ve seen of it, anyway). This week, I’m wandering to Switzerland, to a melancholy monument carved into a cliff face above a small lake. This is the Lion Monument, Lucerne.

Carved around 1820, the monument was designed by famed Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen, and sculpted by Lukas Ahorn. It is dedicated to a regiment of Swiss Guards killed defending the French Royal family during the French Revolution. The guards were part of the King’s household prior to the Revolution, and followed the family to the Tuileries Palace in Paris after they were forced to leave Versailles in 1791. On August 10, 1792, revolutionaries stormed the palace. Overwhelmed by superior numbers and running low on ammunition, the guards were massacred by the mob, even after they had surrendered.

The carving at the top can be translated to read ‘To the fidelity and bravery of the Swiss.’ The monument itself is huge, more than thirteen metres across, and its pale reflection is a poignant reminder of lives lost centuries before. I remember it being a serene place, dappled by leaf shadows and sunlight, an oasis of peace carved from war and revolution, and it appears that not much has changed since it was made. In 1880, Mark Twain described the Lion Monument as follows:

Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion — and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

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

A Journey Through Ambeth, Part II

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post about the real landscapes that had inspired Oak and Mist, my first Ambeth book. With the release of Hills And Valleys, the third book in the series, that landscape has now expanded somewhat. So, with the past week being what it was, I thought I might take a wander through my fantasy world, and share it with you 🙂

I hope this isn’t too much like Toto pulling back the wizard’s curtain in Oz – I just wanted to share the landscapes I had in mind when I wrote the Chronicles. For Alma’s adventures in the human world, I used real locations – places I’d lived in or visited many times that had left an impression on me. However, when I created Ambeth, I didn’t have specific places in mind, wanting instead to write the world I could see in my mind’s eye. Later, when I looked back, I could see where the influences had come from.

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Hearst Castle, California

‘From out of an immense structure of white stone came towers topped with tiles that gleamed like mother of pearl… It shone so brightly in the sun that Alma blinked, shading her eyes.’  Oak and Mist

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Criccieth Castle, Wales

‘My heart rejoices at the thought that our old castle will guard my secret, high on its mound behind its twin-towered gate.’ Hills and Valleys

Notre Dame Doors

Doors to Notre Dame, Paris

‘The large wooden doors… were wondrously crafted, with hinges made from intricately shaped and figured metal that curved across the… wood like living things.’ Oak and Mist

Criccieth, Wales

Criccieth, Wales

‘Alma sat with Merewyn on a low wall near the jetty, looking along the curving beach to the mountains beyond.’ Hills And Valleys

Inspiration comes to us from many places. I recently walked past a grove of trees in my neighbourhood and immediately had another book idea. An unusual outside light on a neighbour’s house inspired a short story. So how about my fellow writers out there? Do you write from the real world, or gather influences to shape a new landscape? And where have you been that has inspired you?

Wednesday Wander – Paris, France

ParisThe first time I saw the Eiffel Tower was at dusk. I was seventeen and just arrived in Paris with my best friend, the two of us having taken a coach, then another coach, then the Hovercraft, then another coach, then the Metro, to find ourselves on the Trocadero overlooking the Champs De Mars as night fell.

We were woefully unprepared, really, other than the fact that I spoke fairly good French. We had an address for our hotel but no real idea where it was, other than that it was ‘close to the Eiffel Tower.’ We’d taken the wrong coach from London to Dover because a group of handsome young men had also boarded it, then found that most of the francs we’d brought with us were out of date and no longer legal tender. However, as we walked across the paved area bounded by statues, the Tower ahead of us lit up as though welcoming us to Paris, and the troubles of the day were forgotten. And we instantly fell in love with the city.

This photo is from a more recent trip to Paris. This time the Eurostar took us there from London in less time than it had taken on the coach from Calais, all those years before. It was winter, but the city sparkled, as it always does, with lights. And this time we came upon the Eiffel Tower via a different route, a short road lined with exquisite apartment buildings opening up to a spectacular view. I still remember the gorgeous girl’s look of wonder when she saw the Tower for the first time.

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

 

Thursday Doors – Notre Dame, Paris

Notre Dame DoorsThis is the Portal of the Last Judgement at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Probably one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, construction was started in 1163 and it opened to the public in 1345. Notre Dame is a marvel of gothic architecture, filled with detail inside and out – these doors are just one example. I particularly love the curling hinges and the way they are almost like lace set against the wood.

There are actually three sets of doors on the front of the building – the Portal of the Virgin, the Portal of the Last Judgement and the Portal of St Anne. When you visit, they bring you in through the left hand set (the Virgin) and you exit through the right hand side (St Anne), having completed a circuit of the cathedral. We visited on a bitterly cold day, just after New Year, yet the cathedral was still full of visitors, the Nativity a gleaming frosty display, candles lighting up chapel ceilings painted with stars.

Notre Dame InteriorI took this quick photo looking down the central nave- it is a bit blurry, as I’m not sure I was supposed to be taking photos inside. However, you can see the rose window and get a sense of the columns and grandeur. You’ll also notice a whole lot of orbs floating around. My daughter took another photo from lower down (she was four at the time) and there are no orbs in hers – however, they seem to be having a party in mine. Of course Notre Dame is an ancient building and there were lots of people there that day, stirring up dust. Still, I wonder. I’ve written a couple of other posts about orbs – interesting how they show up in some photos and not others.

As usual, my Thursday door is part of Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge. So pop on over and check out the other doors from around the world, or add one of your own.

 

 

For Paris

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I first visited Paris when I was seventeen, my friend and I getting lost in the ancient streets, sitting in parks and watching people go by, caught up in the magic of the city. It felt strangely familiar to me; I suppose the fact I spoke French quite well helped.

I have been back several times since, including a recent visit where we saw old friends, went out for dinner and then to a rock concert, as Parisians do most nights of the week. As they did last night.

I will not let such horror and atrocity take away the magic and beauty of Paris.

Sending love and heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by last night’s events, a darkness in the City of Light.

Paris, je t’adore.