Menton – Travel Log 28

Menton is reachable by car along the A8 motorway, or if time isn’t pressing you could take the coast road. We however went by train. An adult return fare from Vallauris-Golfe Juan to Menton is €14.66 for a journey that takes just over the hour.

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Menton Railway Station

The area itself has been inhabited since pre-historic times but only gained some importance when under Roman influence. However it was in the 11th century that an initial permanent settlement was created. Since then control of the town passed from one noble to another until after the French Revolution when it was annexed to France.

From around the late-1800’s tourism became a major factor in the town’s growth. This was mainly due to Doctor James Henry Bennett who encouraged tuberculosis sufferers to visit the area as a way to improve their health.

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Doctor James Henry Bennett

The town was popularised by English and Russian aristocrats who constructed luxurious villas, hotels and palaces. A frequent visitor was the writer Robert Louis Stevenson. Queen Victoria also visited Menton.

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The Winter Palace                   The Orient                               Le Balmoral

We stayed at Le Balmoral – a quaint hotel. Certainly not to the standards of hotels that I have been used to in Australia: for one thing there were no beverage making facilities in the room nor a fridge, but classed as a 3 star hotel so perhaps being France it doesn’t qualify for those facilities. The staff, on the other hand were friendly, helpful and efficient. We had dinner at the hotel on the first night of arrival [Monday 18th] and the food was superb. Breakfast the following morning was another story and was most disappointing. The single room I occupied was another let down. Although the room in itself was adequate the bed was possibly intended for a child. It was extremely low and narrower than one would expect a normal single bed. The rate for the night was €87 which I thought was high for a 3 star hotel and for the “lack” of facilities in the room. Oh! They did have a TV – at least that was something.

However I didn’t go to Menton for the hotel. I spent most of the time walking around the town sight-seeing; and there was so much to see.

Although Menton is nice to visit in summer, I am told the best time is February for their Lemon Festival. I guess I will be heading off again then to witness this event, although I shall not be staying at Le Balmoral.

As pictures speak louder than words here are a just a few snaps of the place for your pleasure:

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A word about the beaches they are consisted of a conglomerate of stones rather than sand – so a bit tough on the feet. If you are after sandy beaches then you won’t find any until you reach Golfe-Juan.

If the beaches aren’t for you then there is a vast array of boutiques, shoe shops, museums, galleries, cafés, restaurants, and gardens, as well as a casino to keep you more than occupied.

Menton is a beautiful town, one worth a visit, and even worth returning to.

For more information check out the Menton Visitors’ Guide at:

http://www.tourisme-menton.fr/

Until the next time – Happy Travelling!!

 

RLB – Tomewriter

 

 

 

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Baking Day

Anyone following my blog will know that as of the 2nd March this year [2016] I have been living in the south of France.

I retired from my 45 year career in the field of commercial credit management at the end of January and decided it was time for a sea change. As my personal circumstances changed at the same time it seemed logical to leave Australia that has been my home for the past 28 years and return to Europe.

Although I have been writing on a part-time basis, mostly as a hobby on an as and when I have time basis I have now decided to turn my hand to writing full-time. However with my move to Europe has also come a period of adjustment. For a start I am temporarily living with my mum and elder sister in their flat at Golfe Juan located close to Cannes on the Cote d’Azur. It’s a wonderful part of the world and the view from their apartment is spectacular. The view across the Mediterranean Sea is breath-taking. There is always so much to see – huge cruise ships on the horizon, exotic yachts of every size entering and exiting the port of Camille Rayon, sailing boats filling their sails as they skim across the bay of Le Golfe Juan, and occasionally, as moments ago, a show of fire fighting seaplanes practicing their skills in the event of the return of the bush fire season.

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Apart from carrying out a bit of research for my next book and a short blog from time to time I haven’t done much writing. My excuse is that I am unable to concentrate. I have bought a flat but I don’t finalise exchange until 7th June 2016, and I am waiting until I move in before I dedicate the lion’s share of my time to writing.

Until then I am killing time playing scrabble with my mother [a note on this: mum is 91 years old, has limited vision due to macular degeneration, but when it comes to playing Bridge and Scrabble she is champion]. I do manage to win sometimes though.

I have also spent time reading – never have I read so many books in such a short time – I have been averaging two to three a month depending on the book. In addition I have completed a hundred or so crosswords and I have been watching endless TV quiz shows… in French: It is a great way to improve my language skills. French isn’t my first language although I have known it since my youth – I am more comfortable with Italian and English [obviously], but since I have chosen to live in France it only seems sensible to improve my mastery of French.

So onto Baking Day…. As another diversion to keep me occupied I have offered on a few occasions to offer to cook for my family. I have prepared omelette; meatballs in a tomato sauce served with pasta; Ivory Coast Beef with rice; a salad or two, and today I experimented in preparing a fruit tart: a first for me. There were some cherries, grapes, a few prunes, and a couple of nectarines looking sad in the fridge. My sister suggested we have a fruit salad, but I said I would do something better. So this morning I nipped down the road to a local Spar supermarket and bought some short crust pastry then returned home to attack the fruit.

The photos speak for themselves [yes that’s me, Koala apron included]:

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Ready for the oven:                                        Baked:

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Presentation:            And of course, ready for eating:

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Served with custard it was quite good – not bad for a first attempt.

I expect the next time I cook anything will be at my new flat.

It’s an exciting prospect.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Easter 2016

If someone had told me that I would be spending Easter in France in 2016 I would have contradicted them, but here we are on Sunday, or should I say Dimanche, 27th March 2016 typing this blog at Golfe Juan-Vallauris on the Cote d’Azur.

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Accompanied with my family I attended church and tried to follow the Mass in French. Not an easy task. I would have done better had it been in Latin. Anyway, duty done we proceeded to the Hotel de Provence located at the Avenue de la Gare for a coffee – typically French tradition.

Hotel La Provence

Before heading home we stopped by the Patisserie to purchase a freshly baked fruit tart for our dessert at lunchtime which is to be with friends.

Home now, whilst typing this, Lesley is in kitchen creating a gastronomic masterpiece, and mum is relaxing in an armchair. This is living.

So as my first Easter gets underway I will wish you all peace and happiness for the future.

As for me I am looking forward to a new beginning in this beautiful corner of the world.

RLB – Tomewriter

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SIXTH Book-Signing in ONE Year for Author Justin Sheedy at Australia’s Premier Bookstore

Reblogging this to support my friend and fellow author Justin Sheedy. If you haven’t already read his first two books in this wonderful trilogy, namely “Nor the Years Condemn” and “Ghosts of the Empire” hurry down to your local bookshop or Amazon and get copies…. start reading.

Goodbye, Crackernight

Justin Sheedy and Books

On the eve of ANZAC Day 2016, Justin Sheedy will be signing Books 1 & 2 in his warmly-received Australian war historical fiction series, Nor the Years Condemnand Ghosts of the Empire, in which he brings to life an untold story in our great ANZAC tradition – yet not one of heroic defeat but of stunning victory at staggering cost.

Nor the Years Condemntells the story of Sydney Uni Rugby Union player, Daniel Quinn, who leaves his peace time life behind to fly Spitfires against Nazi tyranny in Sheedy’s portrait of doomed, brilliant youth. Ghosts of the Empire is the saga of Sydney tradie, Mick O’Regan, who takes on the most dangerous job of World War II: flying for RAF Bomber Command.

In the lead-up to this year’s release of Book 3 in the trilogy, No Greater Love, this will be Sheedy’s 6th book-signing event at…

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That’s it for me… I’m done!!

That’s it for me… I’m done!!

No more getting up at 5.30 a.m. unless it’s to go somewhere nice.

No more commuting on Sydney trains.

No more trudging to and from the station through Sydney’s weather extremes of blistering heat, torrential rains, hurricane strength winds that destroy umbrellas.

No more account reconciliations.

No more phoning customers to pay their bills.

No more having to put up with sanctimonious salesmen who forget who pays them?

No more having to work with colleagues who walk around with long faces and are just plain miserable bastards.

That’s it for me… I’m done at being a credit controller.

From 4pm on Friday 29th January 2016 I finished up from a profession that has spanned 45 years.

You know when it’s time to quit and in my case it came earlier than planned.

I had hoped to have phased it out gradually after reaching my 65th birthday in August 2016, but personal circumstances have brought it to an immediate halt. Am I sorry? Yes and no. Dealing with no regular income will be a challenge but it is just one more of life’s problems to overcome.

After 27 years of marriage my wife decided it was time to end our relationship; so as part of the transition process back to bachelorhood I have decided to finish working. This is mainly because of my decision to relocate to Europe to be close to my 91-year-old mother and my two sisters.

I chose to end work now so as to allow me freedom to wind up my affairs here in Australia and make the necessary preparations to set up my new life on the Cote d’Azur in southern France.

All is slowly falling into place and depending on how quickly I can get my superannuation account closed and transferred, and how fast our respective lawyers can finalize the separation agreement will determine when I can finally leave.

In a way I am sad it has come to this – after knowing someone for thirty years to give up such a relationship isn’t easy.

Dealing with the emotional wrenching of separation, leaving a job, packing one’s possessions into several boxes [64 years of one’s life all wrapped up in 11 boxes doesn’t say much – pretty sad really], arranging bank accounts in a foreign country, leaving people you have got to know, is all very stressful. Any one of them could lead to a nervous breakdown… to do all of them at the same time: well there aren’t any words that can describe how I feel.

But life goes on… I have always been a fighter. Whenever I have been knocked down by some personal disaster or set back I have always bounced back. And so it will be again…

As one door closes another opens: for me it is a new start in a new country.

I may be scared at the unknown, but I am also so very excited at the challenges awaiting me.

I hope you will follow my progress in the months and years to come :o)

RLB – Tomewriter

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A new chapter, a new location…

A new chapter is about to unfold in my life effective early 2016 [end of February/beginning of March].

Although we have been married for just over 27 years and been together for almost 30 years, Sandra and I have come to a decision to legally separate.

I will therefore be relocating back to Europe.

As my mum and elder sister both live in the south of France I have chosen to join them there:

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The move to France will allow me to finally achieve my heart’s desire to become a full-time writer.

I currently have three stories waiting to be published:

  • The Sword and the Rose [Book 1 – The Sword and the Rose Series]
  • Embrace Amidst Orange Blossoms [Book 2 – The Sword and the Rose Series]
  • Out of the Darkness [Book 2 – The Mark Lander Chronicles]

Three pending to be finished:

  • Passionate Harvest [Book 3 – The Sword and the Rose Series]
  • Dragoon Serenade [Book 2 – Romance in War Series]
  • When Doves Weep [Book 1 – The Mark Lander Chronicles]

New ones to begin:

  • Neptune’s Landing [Book 3 – Romance in War Series]
  • Warm Nights in Alex [Book 4 – Romance in War Series]
  • Lady of Seville [Book 4 – The Sword and the Rose Series]
  • Nightsafe [Book 3 – The Mark Lander Chronicles]
  • Guardian Angel [Book 4 – The Mark Lander Chronicles]

It is hoped that surrounded by the beauty of the Cote d’Azur, as well as the care and love of family and friends I will be able to conquer my fears as I restart my life far away from Australia.

RLB – Tomewriter

 

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Having a clear out………

Over the last couple of weekends I have been under taking in clearing out some of my files, tearing up and throwing away old papers, documents, receipts, completed manuscripts – books now published and others that have been typed and saved onto memory sticks waiting to be published. Plus going through the mountains of books that have been read and just gathering dust.  The ones I no longer want to keep will be taken to a charity shop to hopefully find a new home and at the same time benefit the charity.

So too are some of my clothes; things I haven’t worn in a long time, others that no longer fit.

All is going out of here one way or another.

Today, as I was sorting out some stuff I stumbled upon a few minor writings scribbled on note paper and possibly never seen or read by anyone but me… until now.

I was about to tear them up and throw away, but instead here they are saved on my blog… now I can throw out the scribbling:

There are no dates when these were written so I have no idea which came first.  Therefore I am presenting them in alphabetical order:

All writings below are Copyright© Robert L J Borg 2015

 

Abandoned

I’m lying down in a comfortable place. The sky above is an azure blue. It’s not cloudless though. There are clouds, big white fluffy ones – like balls of cotton wool which have been pulled apart so they become stretched; thin in parts, bulky in others.

The sun breaks through them occasionally and bathes me in its warmth; when it disappears behind the clouds their shadows dance across my body.

Then a round face, bright, brown-eyed appears before me; lustrous hair in pig-tails. Then it speaks in a high-pitched voice: “MUM! A baby’s been abandoned on our front step!”

*

Cloud Shadows

Like a pestilence they rush upon us

From the outer reaches of the sea;

Unstoppable forces of nature

They bound over every hill and valley

A deep-throated rumble is heard

Carried on the breeze;

A dazzling flash of lightning

Dissects the sky, incinerating trees

 

The sun fights to dominate

Its place amongst the heavens;

But the wind drives the clouds on

Blocking out the sun’s radiance.

Cloud shadows race quickly

Across a fragile land they assemble;

Storm clouds show their mastery

In fear man and beast tremble.

*

Cold Front

Pushing against the wind I trudge on. Collar up, scarf wrapped around my neck in a failed attempt to keep warm. Hands gloved, one deep in my pocket; the other gripping the brolly in a strained attempt to keep dry.

Rains slants at an angle; sheets of it bucketing down. Wrestling with the brolly as it bends, twists and finally snaps, exposing my fragile body to winter’s bitterly cold front.

*

In Too Deep

It was hard to sleep

Amongst the constant chatter,

I tried counting sheep

Though it could hardly matter.

I knew the hotel was cheap

Even the curtains were a tatters,

The room was a shit heap

I should have known better.

Hiding out from some creep

To avoid a promised batter,

Each sound made me leap

Thinking how my bones would shatter.

 

Wondering if my safety would keep

Concentrating through the noisy clatter,

I knew I was in too deep

And my head would soon be on a platter.

*

Remote Control

I am in a remote place, restrained by wilderness; without persons or beasts about me. I feel my senses tested.

At night the cold is so intense my mind feels numb. By day as the warmth of the sun bathes my body I become so alive.

There is no fear amidst the loneliness, only happiness in the knowledge that I am alert to my surroundings.

I do not weep, but permit tears of joy to flow freely at the grace of being utterly in full control.

*

Third Time Lucky

What’s that old saying of try, and try again? But how often must one “try” to get it right? Or should the saying be: How many times are we allowed to get it wrong? Whichever way you look at it, whether you get it right or wrong there are times we should ask ourselves: Should we try it at all?

Worse, if we have tried it and failed, why would we want to even try it again? Let alone more than once!

So what fool came up with the remark of “Third Time Lucky”?

Obviously someone with unshakeable optimism………… stupid sod!!

*

Unusual Engagement

He glanced up slightly bewildered. A light streamed in through a crack in the curtains. Surely it wasn’t morning already?

He pulled at the bedclothes trying to block out the intrusion; burying his face into the pillow.

It was no good. Curiosity at what the light was got the better of him. He rose from the bed and padded to the window. Drawing the curtains back revealed a sight he would never had imagined.

In a floodlit street a kneeling dwarf seemed to be offering a huge diamond ring to an Amazonian woman.

It was the most unusual engagement he had ever witnessed.

*

That’s the end of my diversion for the day… getting back to clearing out more rubbish!!

RLB – Tomewriter

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FRIDAY FREEBIE: Juanita Chavez

How can I not reblog this? Especially when the story centres around ice cream, chocolate, and most importantly… Romance: All the very best with this novel Juanita

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LovingEvie

Friday Freebie with Juanita Chavez

Tell us about Friday Freebie book:
Aidan and Evie are lovers who parted company on a misunderstanding. Evie is terrified of commitment and having her heart broken again while Aidan knows there’s only one woman who can make him happy—and that’s Evie. There’s only one way he can convince her they have a future together—a long coastal ride on his Harley from Newcastle to Sydney where he pulls out all the stops to convince her.

Loving Evie is a short novella originally published as Never on a Sundae, part of the Edible Delights anthologies from Secret Cravings Publishing, who are now sadly out of business. I wrote it under the pen name Seanna Smythe. Because the story is a lot sexier than I normally write, I thought it needed a more exotic pen name to go with it, so Juanita Chavez was born. Ms Chavez…

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RELEASE DAY ALERT: Camille Taylors’ ‘Not Forgotten’

Loved the blurb… so will add this to my “to read” list. Great cover as well.

AusRomToday

Not Forgotten

Not Forgotten
Camille Taylor

Detective Matt Murphy is assigned the case no one else wants.

The Butcher is a ghost, killing all over Australia for years, and now he’s made the coastal city of Harbour Bay his hunting ground. Up against a brick wall, Matt has no choice but to contact the only surviving witness-seventeen-year-old Hallie Walker. But Hallie has been in a psychological rehabilitation centre since the double murder five years ago, and Matt needs help.

Gifted psychologist Natalie Miller sees a lot of herself in Hallie and vows to help her heal.

Natalie is no stranger to a violent past, and is usually wary of men. She is stunned by her response to the hot detective, and becomes determined to not only see Hallie released-as she believes the girl has been misdiagnosed-but to help Matt solve this unsolvable case.

Matt and Natalie face danger at every turn, but…

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Fried Brain?

I had hoped that the writers’ conference I attended the last month in Melbourne would have done something towards creating that spark one needs to kick-start my writing again.

Fat chance: For some unknown reason I just can’t seem to get into my current works in progress. I had high hopes that I would have at least finished my two novellas by now to leave me time to write my prequel to Out of the Darkness. It is becoming rather disheartening that my motivation seems to have fizzled out… for now at least.

What didn’t help of course was the collapse of my US publisher at the commencement of this month. Even though they have reverted my publishing rights for my two books [and mum’s novel] it does mean that I have to start all over again trying to find a publisher willing to take them on.

That, and also waiting to hear back from the publishers that I had pitched to at the RWA Conference for Out of the Darkness. Of the three publishers [not mentioning any names for fear of jinxing myself] I haven’t heard back at all just yet. What caught me off guard though this week was receiving an email from a publisher I had submitted the book to in April and had totally discounted due to five months that had elapsed from when I had sent the book to them with the following response:

Thank you for your manuscript submission.

We apologise for the delay in response, we have had a change in staff which has unfortunately resulted in a backlog of submissions.

We appreciate your patience, and we endeavour to assess your manuscript over the next month.

So there’s still hope out there then??

There is also hope for The Sword and the Rose; Embrace Amidst Orange Blossoms; and Mum’s book A Tangled Web when the publisher I contacted in the UK [again not mentioning any names – I’m not usually superstitious, but it doesn’t hurt to keep quiet just in case] regarding them sent me the following acknowledgement:

Hi Robert,

How lovely to hear from you – and I am sorry to hear about what’s happened to Secret Cravings.

I’ve actually moved on and work on a different imprint, but will send these over to my colleagues on the acquisition team, who I’m sure will be in touch in due course.

So with all these things happening in my writing world and having recently started with a new day job to keep the income coming in to pay the bills my brain seems to have fried itself to the point where I am getting headaches and dizzy spells. So much so that a visit to the doctor got me referred to have an MRI of my brain resulting to a further referral to see a specialist. The appointment has been scheduled [at a cost of $400 for the consultation] and I’m due to see him in a couple of weeks. No doubt he’ll confirm there is a brain, but will he be able to tell whether it is truly fried?

My free time these days comprises of being either on Facebook, LinkedIn, watching TV, helping around the house or reading. I just wish I could do some writing… I do miss my characters and the mischief they get into. I expect there will come a time that something will snap and I’ll be joining in their adventures once again.

RLB – Tomewriter

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