Monthly Archives: July 2012

Getting Published

All the obstacles and hurdles you have to face and get over to get published is an utter nightmare – I should be used to it by now, but it still leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth as you hit wall after wall. Even self-publishing is no walk in the park. I’ve re-written, re-edited and re-formatted my novel Beneath Southern Stars so many times since originally writing it in the early 1990’s that it makes my head spin. The latest changes have been for Smashwords.com whom I hope to use to self-publish the book before the end of this year. First I need a cover for it. Not being a brilliant artist [as I have previously shown my paintings are landscapes and seascapes only – trying to draw people is another story {excuse the pun} and are limited to matchstick men]. So I am now on the hunt for a graphic artist to create a cover worthy of the story and one which will attract potential buyers. I have made a few enquiries and hopefully I will be rewarded. I then need to obtain an ISBN for it. I remember getting one for free when I self-published Smithy’s War in 2005, but that was through a firm in Melbourne as the book was published in Australia. As Smashwords are in the USA I expect I would need to apply for an ISBN from there – I doubt this would be free? Does anyone know? I guess I’ll have to make a few enquiries.

As the saying goes: “Watch this space” for the continuing saga of “Getting Published”….

RLB – Tomewriter

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Broome, WA – Travel Log 3

Broome, WA – Travel Log 3

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2012

Located 222 kilometres southwest of Derby and 612 kilometres north east of Port Headland in Western Australia, Broome really is in the middle of nowhere.

Regardless of its remoteness Broome is famous for several things, the most important of which occurred in 1889. The telegraph undersea cable linking Australia to Singapore and from there to England was laid; the site where it came ashore being aptly named “Cable Beach”. Today Cable Beach is famous for its exotic resorts, camel rides and fantastic sunsets over the Indian Ocean.Sunset at Cable Beach

Sunset at Cable Beach

Broome was discovered by Europeans in the late 17th century by the explorer William Dampier, but was so named in honour of Sir Frederick Napier Broome (1842–1896) who had been appointed Governor of Western Australia on 14 December 1882.

Also in the 1880’s Broome became popular with the commencement of harvesting oysters for mother of pearl and developed into the cultivation of pearls. Today this has become a multi-million dollar industry. These riches did not come cheap. The cost to human life was astronomical. There were many ethnic groups of peoples who dived for the pearls, but the principle divers were the Japanese. Broome’s Japanese cemetery is the resting place of 919 divers. How many more were lost at sea is unknown. In the south of the town is a bronze statue which, although unmarked, is dedicated to pregnant aboriginal women who were some of the best divers.

Aboriginal Pearl Divers

Aboriginal Pearl Divers

To fully appreciate the extent of the Pearling Industry it is recommended that you book up with one of the many tours on offer. We attended the one arranged through Willie Creek Pearl Farm and thoroughly enjoyed the day, including a five minute helicopter flight over the farm.

Aerial View of Willie Creek Pearl Farm

Aerial View of Willie Creek Pearl Farm

The Aboriginal Pearl Divers’ statue faces Roebuck Bay which is highly important as a resting place for millions of waders and shorebirds that use it seasonally on migration from their breeding grounds in northern Asia. They feed on the extensive intertidal mudflats and also roost at high tide on the red sand beaches of the Bay. In 1988, in woodland located on the northern shore of Roebuck Bay the Broome Bird Observatory was established.

Roebuck Bay was named after HMS Roebuck which was captained by William Dampier. It has a very large tidal range which exposes some 160 sq. km of mudflats. During full moons the mudflats become famous for a phenomenon known as the “Staircase to the Moon”. This can be viewed from Town Beach or from the highly recommended restaurant (booking is essential) the Black Pearl [from personal experience the food is superb whether, breakfast or dinner]:

Black Pearl Restaurant

Facing the restaurant is the town museum which is certainly worth a visit. The town itself has a variety of restaurants and shops and is a stone’s throw from the airport. Although only a small place I would certainly recommend hiring a car, especially if based in the town as we were. The car gives you the freedom of getting to the outskirts of the town, as well as to Cable Beach, the race course, and the deep water wharf and jetty. The latter is incredible and I can’t believe I walked its entire length. On the landfall side there is a small seafood restaurant which is definitely worth having a meal at.

Deep Water Wharf & Jetty

Deep Water Jetty

Getting to Broome is probably best by air. We flew in from Darwin using Air North Airways – most impressive: The service was second to none and the crew were really helpful and friendly. We hired a car through budget and were pleasantly surprised with a free upgrade to a Hyundai ix35 SUV which stumped me for a minute when I couldn’t see how to start it – until I found the push button start!

We stayed at the Mercure hotel in Weld Street. The room was adequate, but found some of the other guests a bit too noisy for our liking. The restaurant was a bit expensive for its location and ambiance. However on a positive note parking was secure and plentiful and it boasted two swimming pools – both clean and refreshingly uncrowded.

If we ever do go back to Broome, which I doubt as once seen there’s no real point going back, we shall spend the extra money and stay at the Cable Beach Resort.

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My Mum – Viviane Elisabeth Borg

When I was young I always remember my mum singing to herself as she pottered around the house, either doing the housework or whilst in the kitchen conjuring up some exotic dish. Dad however, was always happy for a plateful of pasta; but even the simple pasta dish was always prepared with flair. Mum, like most people, learnt to cook from her own mother who was not only a great cook but an accomplished pianist. I’m getting sidetracked – sorry! Getting back to my mum. As I mentioned in my previous blog “My Creativity” mum, Viviane Elisabeth Borg (née Fleri) , is 87 years of age and has failing eyesight due to macular degeneration; but apart from that – touch wood – she is reasonably healthy for a woman of her age. Mum was always a keen reader, an artist (watercolours and oils), a poet and an author. She loved doing crosswords, playing cards – mostly Bridge, and no matter how much I tried to beat her at scrabble she would always thrash me into submission.

Mum was born in Alexandria Egypt in January 1925; British of Maltese descent she had a totally Italian upbringing and received an extensive French education at the French Lycée.  Being a great lover of poetry and literature she aspired at becoming a writer. Her studies were cut short as World War II erupted over Europe. At the age of 18 she was called up to join the military forces and gave her services working at the British Admiralty in Alexandria, where she met my dad, and they were married in 1946. In 1952 my dad obtained a managerial position at a shipping agency at the small town of Port Said where we moved to. We lived there happily until political disruptions between the Egyptian government and Anglo-French interests in the Suez Canal Zone resulted in military intervention. The result of the week-long conflict in 1956, which became known in history as the Suez Crisis, forced the evacuation of all European nationals out of Egypt.

When my parents set up our new home in London, they became a magnet for the rest of our family. Over the next few years since our arrival in 1957 my mum’s family was to join us. First to arrive was our mum’s elder sister with her family, then our grandparents, and soon after her elder brother with his family. Then one by one cousins and friends all came to live in London.

As time progressed however friends and family dispersed around the world and some left the world completely. In 1997 my mum wrote and self published a memoir entitled When the Wind Blows (ISBN: 978-0953681907) [Author name missplet by publishers]. Proceeds from the sale of the books were donated to Cancer Research in memory of her husband (my dad) Hubert who died of bowel cancer in 1989.When The Wind Blows

Today, mum lives in a flat which she shares with my elder sister in the south of France. I’m counting the days when I plan to visit them in September this year.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Round Robin

You might recall in my earlier post of Hawkesbury River Writers I had mentioned our in-house writing competition which we set ourselves and then submit anonymously to be commented and voted on by all members; the winning entry is then announced at our next meeting following closure of the competition.

The following piece was my entry in our latest Round Robin competition. It is followed by comments made from some of the members. These comments are invaluable as they help provide positive feedback on how your writing entry is perceived by others and helps you identify where improvements could be made [if any].

Enlightenment

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2012

There was a sense of stillness around me as I walked silently through the bush. I had woken early having not had a decent night’s sleep. Too many thoughts had raged my mind; too many unanswered questions; the usual uncertainties of life playing havoc with my feelings and emotions.

Although the start of winter it was pleasantly mild and the crispness of the early morning air was exhilarating. I had been walking for about an hour and now stood on an outcrop of sandstone which had been weathered black by eons of time. Looking towards the east the sun had yet to rise and the sky where it met the horizon seemed painted by a hue of pale grey.

I breathed deeply inhaling the morning filling my lungs, my being, with nature’s beauty. It was time to move on and I stepped down from my vantage point. Only the occasional rustling of foliage reminded me I was not alone in this wilderness; small mammals and marsupials hunted for food or were being hunted, scurried away from my approach.

Ducking beneath an outcrop I was pleasantly confronted with art worked onto the rock surface. Red and brown, ochre and yellow, black and white, used to mark out shapes of animals, stick men and women, plants and symbols, each recording hidden meanings to a race of people who had lived in the distant past. It was a delightful distraction to my troubled mind. As I gazed at the paintings, greedily absorbing their primitiveness I felt drawn closer to them. I reached out to touch the cold stone; my hand appeared to sink into it. The unexpectedness of the sensation made me stumble forward and I found myself falling into a crevice at the base of the rock wall. I staggered to my feet and found myself in a cave. An ochre glow emanated from deep within it. I cautiously walked to its source. A low murmur of conversation could be heard from somewhere ahead. As I neared the sound, shadows danced eerily on the cave walls until at long last the outline of two shapes sitting cross-legged in front of a meagre fire could be made out.

“Come in Joseph; sit; we’ve been expecting you” said one of the two shapes, a man of ancient years; with a shock of white long, scraggly hair upon his head and chin. “This is Nick,” he continued as the other man reached out his hand in welcome, “You may call me, Al”.

As I shook Nick’s hand I noticed how dark-skinned he was. Although his features were European his skin was black as ebony. He was scantily dressed in a loin cloth and a fur cloak. His grip was strong making me glance down at his hand. It was delicately manicured; fingernails cut to a point and polished as though claws. I lowered myself to the ground realising Al was still speaking so I turned my attention to him letting go of Nick’s hand in the process.

“We guided you here so we could offer you some advice.” Al was saying.

“I’m not sure anyone can do that?” I answered dejectedly.

“Try us?” Nick offered.

It was the first time I had heard him speak and his voice was almost a deep growl. I could feel my skin prick up and my stomach muscles tense as I became extremely uneasy at being in their presence. I looked at Al, he was of Middle-Eastern appearance and only now did I realise he was wearing a white cotton kaftan interwoven with silk. I forced myself to look away and stared into the fire. The two men were silent waiting for me to start; so without looking at either of them I spoke.

“Have I made the right choices? Have I truly made so many mistakes? Where is my future heading?” I rambled.

“These are questions everyone asks at one time or another in their lives, Joseph” Al said, lightness to his voice as though he were laughing inside. “Now in your sixtieth year is it time to begin to question how your life has panned out?”

“I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I think of my life I believe I have achieved nothing, contributed nothing; opportunities missed. It makes me want to cringe at the mistakes I have made.”

“You can only do what you’re capable of. No mistakes are truly made.” Al said kindly. “You make choices which lead you along certain paths in your journey through time.”

“How much time do I have?”

“We are all immortals, Joseph.” Nick growled “How we deal with our time during our various stages of physical “life” depends on our own instincts.”

“I don’t understand? How can we be immortal?”

“What is often referred to as your soul is in fact your true self, Joseph. Souls wander through the Universe as incorporeal mindless beings until either I or Old Nick here decide the time is right for a soul to inhibit a creature on one of our many planets.” Al explained. “Which planet is chosen depends on how well the soul has behaved during its material existence.”

“We keep score,” Nick said. “The more selfless acts you do, your chances of progression to better times are in your favour.”

“How would I know what wrong I am doing?”

“You don’t. Only Old Nick and I know how a scorecard works; you have to trust your feelings; you will never know the outcome, Joseph. Nor will you ever remember previous existences.”

“That doesn’t seem fair?”

“Whoever said life was fair?” Al chuckled.

I scrambled out of the cave shaking my head from the strange dream I’d experienced whilst momentarily unconscious. High in the treetops a solitary magpie announces the arrival of the dawn; its call soon answered by another until before too long the air is filled with delightful chirping and shrills heralding a new day; a day of enlightenment.

*

Members’ Comments

4. Enlightenment (Robert)

Rogi: I found this an interesting story, though I’m not quite sure if either the character or myself found true enlightenment at the end. There are a few punctuation and grammar errors, in the 3rd paragraph and a couple of other places that affected the readability.

Julianne: What an adventure; what an imagination!Throughout this journey of highly imaginative meanderings which probably could do with a little tidying up, I confess to lying in wait for the time when I will become thoroughly lost and confused, but with all credit to the writer…this never happens. This story’s simplicity of style and suspenseful content makes it highly readable, and the twist at the end when it is revealed that it had all been a dream, is received by this reader, with great jubilation and relief. A sweet, sweet story!

 Barry: An outback experience with a twist. The central character falls into a crevice and finds himself in a very strange place. There he meets two unusual, remarkably powerful characters and an interesting discussion follows. (In case you were wondering, I don’t share their philosophy, but it doesn’t matter.) Suddenly our hero wakes up to the sound of bird calls heralding a new day. His philosophical encounter had been a dream!The idea works well, I think. Minor distractions were long sentences without punctuation, question marks where they didn’t belong, etc.

Jan: I was intrigued by the concept, though it took a little while to discover where the morning walk was leading. “God’s” physical appearance (and name Al? Almighty?) and ‘Nick’s” name I found to be a little stereotypical. But I was blown away by the thought that we don’t make ‘mistakes’, we only make choices that take us on different paths… and presumably leading to different destinations which may or may not be helpful. Is this a new and original idea, or an old idea told in a new and refreshing way? I takes “I did what I thought right at the time” to a new level. It certainly packed a punch. The ending however was disappointing. The magic was shattered by a bland statement that it was only a dream. As a reader I would prefer to be left with the tantalizing question…

Meryl: I liked the concept of this story. In my opinion it could do with work on the punctuation, which would make it easier to read.

Robert: My Entry: I did enjoy writing it and wondered what it would truly be like to be able to have a conversation with God [Al – short for Allah] and Satan [Old Nick].

*

This entry did not win. The winner was actually written by Rogi Moulton a retired TV Script Writer who always writes wonderful children stories. His entry got my top vote, and it would seem the other members also thought the same as me.

RLB – Tomewriter

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A walk around Uluru – Travel Log 2

 

A walk around Uluru

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2007

  

In the darkness of early morning, Uluru gives a sinister appearance as it looms up from the ground. It can barely be made out amongst the surrounding landscape. There is stillness in the air, which feels heavy and listless. People around are talking in whispers, as though by speaking loudly, they may awaken some mystic creature or stir the spirits of people a long time dead. They slowly mingle, finding vantage points in which to witness the promised sights to come. They sit on folding camping chairs or just stand around setting up tripods for their cameras, or simply nestling a hot drink in cupped hands to take the morning chill out of their bones.

Soon the dawn begins to waken the sleeping world. One hardly notices the birds which are the first of nature’s sounds. As the sun inches its path upwards, a simple thread of light begins to infuse the surrounding landscape. Slowly, ever so slowly, the Rock takes on a purple hue, defining its outline against the lightening sky.  Seeing its colour begin to blend with the soil, richly deep ochre, around it, is wondrous. In the blink of an eye the colour changes again. This time my view is feasting the brightest of all oranges. The brilliance lasting only moments until at last, morning returns it to its natural shade of brown.

ULURU at sunrise 1 ULURU - at sunrise 2ULURU - at sunrise 3

Chairs are folded, cameras packed up, and coffee cups discarded into waste disposal bags provided. We tourists re-board our allocated coaches to be deposited at the next point of interest. Here the face of Uluru takes on a different appearance. It seems knarred and angry, as though years of exposure to the elements has roughened its character. Yet, in some respects, its ruggedness makes it seem truly beautiful, drawing you in, willing you to embrace it. Behind its visible exterior, as we follow our tour guide along a winding path, we are treated to an unexpected sight in the middle of this desert plain – water. A small pond of captured rain water is found hidden within the rocky outcrop. It is wide and deep enough to cater for water birds and animals alike. Vegetation springs up around it. Thick and luscious, and so very, very green!

water amidst rock

Nearby, beneath an outcrop which is more like a shallow cave, evidence of indigenous drawings are to be seen scratched and painted on the walls and ceiling. Crude, swirling patterns and other shapes representing wildlife of sorts reach out in their earthy colours of white, red, brown and black. In this wild, remote place it seems strangely comforting to witness evidence of human life from a very distant past. The sensation in ones mind is such that despite being amongst others, walking around Uluru gives a feeling of being at peace.

Aboriginal rock art 1 Aboriginal Rock Art - 2Aboriginal Rock Art - 3

The closeness to such a large geological and ancient outcrop of rock which has been thrust upwards from beneath the surface, then tilted so far over that the sedimentary layers are seen standing vertically, takes your breath away. When you see with your own eyes the forces of nature at work, you can’t help but feel of a greater being’s hand controlling and shaping our beautiful planet.

From Uluru we are returned to our hotel, the Desert Gardens, to freshen up and relax in preparation for the evening’s planned dinner – “The Sounds of Silence” is an experience as delightful as Uluru itself. Having been driven out into the desert we are greeted by a team of professional catering personnel. We find ourselves standing on a small sand dune with Uluru in the distance once again a menacing shade of purple on one side, and the, just as magnificent, Kata Tjuta range on the other. Here we are offered glasses of champagne and appetisers to enjoy whilst taking in the view. As the sun descends plunging us into darkness we are led to our tables which are all illuminated by candle light.

Sound of Silence Dinner

Dinner itself is a buffet style meal of the help yourself variety. A vast array of salads and meats, including kangaroo, crocodile, and Emu, are available to sample and enjoy. With wine flowing never-endingly it is little wonder you are made to feel special. The magic of the night only truly becomes apparent when an astrologer makes his entrance to “show” us the night sky, with its billions of stars and constellations. We are awe-struck as he indicates using a laser pointer, Alpha Centauri amongst the richly thick Milky Way Galaxy and the ever present Crux Australis or Southern Cross as we best know it. He then points further out in the deeper reaches of space to show us Hydra and Virgo telling us of distances to them which are unimaginable, and one can’t help but wonder whether the make-believe stories of Star Trek and Star Wars will ever come to reality for Mankind in our distant future? Will man ever be able to travel faster than the speed of light to reach these wondrous destinations? One can only hope and believe it will happen, and because of my own personal beliefs I hope I will live again during that time so that I can experience such a wondrous feat.

After the meal is ended we are once again driven to our respective hotels, to enjoy a well-deserved night of slumber and to look forward to another day amongst the ancient landscape. Early the following morning, before the sun rises, we make our way onto the hotel’s roof terrace and wait to see the magical colour changes of Uluru. Though we are not “up close and personal” with it this particular morning, even from this great distance the transformation of the different hues of the rock as the sun slowly rises has a haunting effect. You cannot help but stare at it, feeling absorbed by it, feeling Goosebumps crawling over your skin. With a sigh of satisfaction we return to our room and prepare for the day. We are off for a walk around Kata Tjuta followed by a planned barbeque at sunset. No doubt it will be another superb day; the last of our mini-break before we fly back to Sydney and step back into reality with only the memories of our trip to keep us going until the next adventure………

RLB – Tomewriter

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Pinpoints of Light

In 1999 I experienced a mild heart attack which led to various tests being conducted. One of those tests was an angiogram and what I didn’t know until then was that I was allergic to intravenous iodine. The doctors have to inject you with the stuff so that it lights up any blockages in the arteries; what it also does, if you are allergic to it, is that you go into cardiac arrest.

On Monday 9th July 2012 I was at my desk working when I was hit by a series of sharp pains and tightness across the chest, the last of which was so intense I knew something was terribly wrong. The paramedics were subsequently called and I was rushed to the Emergency Department at the Royal North Shore hospital where I was subjected to vast array of tests. I was admitted for overnight observation followed by more tests. The stress test showed a positive result, I thought that meant I was OK – wrong! It meant I wasn’t; when the Cardiac Specialist suggested I need to have an angiogram I felt the blood drain from my body and I told her there is no way I am going to have this. Instead it seems I shall be subjected to a Persantine Sestamibi test which is a scan of the heart muscle. The test in itself lasts for 5 hours. I was scheduled for it for this Friday, but because I am also gripped by a severe cold – probably caught the germ at the hospital – it’s been pushed back a week. However if I fail this then I shall have no option but to have an angiogram. I just hope history doesn’t repeat.

The following short story is an account of my experience back in 1999…………

Pinpoints of Light

Copyright © Robert L J Borg 2009

If you have to drive across France from north to south, then it’s wise to start early in order to get through Paris before the population awakes and takes to the streets. Getting off the Channel ferry at Calais at around midnight you drive along darkened roads, passing dimly lit villages heading towards the grand metropolis.

In my little white, two-seater sports car I feel relaxed and secure. Despite the darkness and loneliness of the empty roads, the gentle glow from the instrument panel and the soft music playing on the radio are soothing. It’s a cloudless and moonless night. The stars, tiny pinpoints of light, are my only companions on this first leg of my long journey. The yellowed headlights bathe the road ahead showing me the way. Driving at a steady pace I appear to speed along although I am well within the speed limit, as regardless of the time the French gendarmes are always out and about ready to catch unsuspecting motorists, particularly holiday-makers who try to break the road rules.

The road, straight and long, never seems to diminish and the darkness is almost overbearing. Where village houses hug the streets’ edge, their cracked walls and peeling paintwork give an impression of neglect and sorrow. Only occasional window boxes reveal a splash of colour where a white or red geranium struggles to survive amidst the fumes from passing traffic. So different from the roads in England that frequently pass through tidy, picturesque villages, with ancient thatched cottages and their glorious gardens, church greens, and compulsory taverns with low ceilings and gravelled driveways.

On the horizon a beam of light comes into view suggesting an oncoming vehicle, yet another lonely traveller upon this lonely road. The gap closes quickly, as the other vehicle’s headlights become larger, filling the view before me. It seems to be a truck of some sort, no doubt heading for the port, taking its load across the water to the United Kingdom. The road is narrow here, so I hug the side and slow down, hoping he will do the same as the alternative could be dangerous. It becomes apparent, as he nears, that slowing down is not on his agenda. I can feel sweat begin to trickle above my eyes and my stomach tighten. My heart beats faster and louder as the truck’s headlights get closer and closer. What can I do? Do I force myself off the road into the ditch? Do I have time? He is almost upon me – Oh My God!

My eyes snap open as I cry out. I hear my voice, but it is muffled as though I’m speaking through a mask. I am speaking through a mask; an oxygen mask. Where am I? I am disorientated. I am lying down in a brightly lit room. I sense people around me. Above me monitors are displaying strange tree like images; a dishevelled man in a white coat is bearing his clenched fists down on my chest. As I feel the impact, I hear my name being called out by several voices sensing their urgency and distress.

I close my eyes to seek out the pinpoints of light. Those stars which only moments before were a comfort, a beckoning peace, but it’s not to be. I am revived one more time amid chaos and anguish, and the sound of voices calling out “Wake up Robert, wake up!” screaming in my ears. I begin to remember my whereabouts. I am in Concord hospital; it’s June 1999, aren’t I having an angiogram? I’m sure I was told to not to fall asleep during the test, but dreaming of the trip across France in 1977 was so captivating and felt so real. I was only asleep, wasn’t I?

RLB – Tomewriter

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Antibes – South of France – Travel Log 1

I wrote the following travel log on Antibes in 2009 following a trip to that part of the world in 2007. I shall be heading back in September 2012 and can’t wait. Both my mum and elder sister live in Golfe Juan, where today the town is celebrating the feast of St Pierre. Yesterday they held the annual Sardines Festival and according to my sister the town was close to bursting with locals and tourists alike. Golfe Juan is minutes away from Cannes and not too far from Antibes – my favourite of all the coastal towns along the Côte d’Azur.

Antibes – A Traveller’s Guide

Antibes is located 11 km northeast of Cannes and 15 km southeast of Nice, on the Côte d’Azur. Whether you approach the waterfront from the Gare d’Antibes at the Place Pierre Sémard, or park the car along the Avenue de Verdun, you cannot help but notice the Fort Carre which dominates Port Vauban. It stands majestically as though protecting the vast array of luxury yachts.

To visit the old town stroll across the Avenue de Verdun where you enter via Rue Aubernon. Here, near the old city gate, is Heidi’s English bookshop, where Dame Vera Lynn held a book signing of her memoirs: “Some Sunny Day”. To your right is Boulevard d’Aguillon, where Geoffrey’s of London provides English and American foods to ex-pats.

 Antibes Food Market

 As you walk up Rue Aubernon you enter the open air food market at the Cours Masséna. No sooner do you pass beneath the wooden roof than your senses are assaulted by the various produce of Provence. The bustling market offers an abundance of vegetables and fruit to delight your eyes and taste buds, whilst the aroma of fresh lavender, wild herbs and exotic spices tease your nostrils. The choice is vast and diverse – from honey to goat’s cheese, olive oils to olives, freshly caught fish to dried meats and sausages, jams and chutneys – the market is open daily until 1pm.

Leaving the market you meander through a maze of narrow cobbled alleys, giving the feeling of walking through an Arabian bazaar, filled with tiny art galleries, boutiques, and curiosity shops. On the Place Nationale an antiques and flea market takes place every Thursday and Saturday from 7am until 6pm.

Antibes was founded by the Greeks in 4BC, but only flourished during Roman occupation, when an amphitheatre, aqueducts and baths were built. In the middle ages kings of France began fortifying the town due to its key position on the Mediterranean coast. During the reign of King Louis XIV this culminated with the construction of distinct star-shaped ramparts designed by the military architectural engineer, Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban. This stronghold was once headed by a young general Napoleon Bonaparte, who lived with his family in a humble house in the old town.

 Antibes’s Fort Carre and Port

From the narrow alleyways you emerge into the large, bright square of Place des Martyrs. At its centre, the heroics of the Resistance Fighters of World War Two are depicted in a remembrance memorial. Around the square are numerous shops of every variety. Restaurants and cafes, with tables spilling out on the footpath, offer the tired shopper a chance to sit, rest and have a meal whilst watching others walking to and fro. During the summer months, children can have fun on the carousel rides set up in the square.

Walking further uphill, you soon reach the Place General De Gaulle where you are awakened from the sleepiness of the old town and, somewhat, rudely brought back to the reality of modern France. Nearby, the bus terminus which connects to other towns and cities along the coast, as well as to Nice Airport, adds to the hustle and bustle of a very popular town. There is a regular bus, the number 200, which runs between Cannes and Nice via Antibes.

During December, the square is transformed into a winter wonderland, where surrounding a Christmas tree numerous stalls sell a variety of goods and rides, attracting tourists and locals alike. In the evenings the aroma of roasting chestnuts brings warmth to the cold night air. The Pièce de résistance is the son et lumière show which is performed nightly where coloured lasers light up the surrounding buildings.

Off the square, tree-lined avenues with prestigious apartment blocks, commercial and office buildings, add to the diversity of Antibes and contrast to the beauty of the old town. It is little wonder Pablo Picasso was attracted here and was invited to stay at the Chateau Grimaldi in 1946. He remained for six months, painting and drawing numerous pieces of art, including some ceramics and tapestries of the surrounding area. On his departure he left all his works behind, and the Chateau became officially known as the Picasso Museum.

 Antibes – Picasso Museum

Visitors can use Antibes as a base or stay in one of the nearby towns, such as Golfe Juan or Jaun-les-Pins. At the southernmost tip of the Cap d’Antibes the five star hôtel du Cap Eden is situated in a private 9-hectare park and offers a superior room for €670 per night during autumn. The hôtel de la Mer, Golfe Juan is located only 5 minutes walking from a fine sandy beach and offers accommodation from €72 a night at low season. Regardless where you choose to stay there are a vast array of hotels to suit any budget.

Along 25 km of coastline between Antibes and Juan-les-Pins there are some 48 beaches. Antibes has three public beaches – La Gravette is situated below the port and is a tiny sandy inlet protected by a breakwater making it safe for children. Another 1.5 km further on the larger beaches of Plage de Ponteil and Plage de la Salis are good, but get crowded during peak season. Many beaches are privately operated, renting parasols and sun loungers. Fees average between €6 – €10 for a changing room and lounge chair and €2 – €4 for a parasol. Juan-les-Pins is one large beach, lined by a promenade which is dotted with cafes and restaurants. Most are open only from April to October.

Leaving it all behind and heading off to other destinations along the Côte d’Azur, you will long for the day when you can return to wonderful Antibes.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Pen Names

In 1990 I decided that as much as I liked reading a variety of genres of books I believed that I too could write a novel. Afterall what was needed but a bit of imagination, time, and the ability to write. So having thought of a story line I started to write my very first novel. Sure I did some research and worked out plan for the story and when I completed it thought of a title for the 60,000 + words I’d put down on paper – I didn’t have a computer at that time so I bought a typewriter. Afterwards I thought about using a Pen Name as I didn’t think my own name had a nice ring to it. I played around with a few ideas, but then settled on Alexander Grant. Why you may ask? I have always liked the name “Alexander” – Firstly he’s the guy that founded the city of my birth, and secondly it’s an expansion for my wife’s name: “Sandra”. “Grant” is my stepson’s middle name. The title of the book is Out of the Darkness it is set in present day [1990] and is a murder/thriller. It’s okay, but before I even attempt to try to sell it, it will require major work done on it – especially more specialist research in the way the Australian police services operate in conjunction with Interpol and various other national police forces.

Since writing Out of the Darkness I then moved on to writing a non-fiction history book which was based on the diary of a Sydney-born gentleman who was a radio operator aboard an oil tanker during World War Two. He was also uncle to a colleague whom I worked with at a company named Magic Door Industries that is based in Alexandria, NSW [ Alexandria – it’s that name again]. It was at his suggestion I should write the book. It took ten years to complete in between my day job, family life, and other writings. I did write it using my own name as author.

When I wrote the first of my two Historical novels, using Robert Borg as the author name received endless rejection letters; and in fact, it was Mills & Boon who were the first to be honest and let me know that romance novels are always written by women authors, and that unless I had a woman’s name I wouldn’t be considered. Thanks for the honesty, but they still knocked me back! So as a result Louise Roberts was born. “Louise” being the female version of my own middle name “Louis” and “Roberts” – well I think you can work that one out?

RLB – Tomewriter

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My Creativity

As far back as I can remember I have always had an active imagination. Some refer it as day dreaming, to me however it is creating images and stories to steer me away from reality. In my youth I enjoyed putting together model aircraft, ships, cars. Then I would conjure up anything using whatever materials came to hand – usually bits of plywood, cardboard and paper. I once built an entire World War I battlefield using a sheet of hard board as its base. I then ran a series of wiring powered by a couple of batteries with small torch bulbs at strategic points before covering the entire base with an undulating cardboard frame which was covered in strips of paper pre-soaked in floured water. When it was all dry I painted it in a yucky brown-green colour to represent churned up soil. The lights were the trenches and it gave a eerie effect when the room was plunged into darkness. Using match sticks I made up some ladders and obstacles, and fuse wire [wrapped around a pencil for shaping] to represent barbed wire, I then  proceeded to place the soldiers of the opposing armies on it. It took about a month to complete and was left on the floor of my bedroom for longer, much to my mother’s frustrations as it was difficult to get into my room with it where it was. In the end it had to go – so I sat on my bed one day with an air pistol and destroyed it in less than an hour.

I also loved colouring in. This later progressed to sketching using pencils, graphite and ink. Painting followed; first with water colours, then acrylics and oil paints. At the same time I began to write short stories and poetry.

Snow Period

My Artwork – “Snow Period” – Drawn and Painted in the early 1970’s

Where did it all come from? I expect it’s genetic; both my mother and her sister were both excellent artists, especially my aunt who excelled using crayons. Unfortunately my aunt passed away several years ago. My mother, at the age of 87 has failing eyesight so she is limited in what she can do [more of her later]. For me however, I haven’t painted in years [except for re-painting my study a few weeks ago – but that doesn’t count]. I do enjoy photography these days though, and although I only possess a small digital camera [Sony DSC-L1 Cyber-shot] it is more than enough for my needs.

My true passion however is writing. The nice thing about writing is that all my frustrations, emotions, and anger can be channeled through my characters. I let them live out my feelings so the only people who get hurt are fictitious. Good therapy really…..

RLB – Tomewriter

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