Tag Archives: christmas

London Revisited – Travel Log 29

I was just checking through my travel blogs as I was sure I had already covered London, and I was right. Travel Log 26 when I visited the UK in 2014 https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/london-travel-log-26/

However, as I was in London yet again only the other week [5th – 13th November 2016], I thought I would add to the previous adventure.

I arrived on Guy Fawkes Night and was pleased to learn from my younger sister that I had been invited to join them at a Fireworks’ Party that night. My sister, Terry and brother-in-law, Rudy met me at Heathrow and drove me back to their home in Totteridge, where I would be staying during my time in London.

Having unpacked [not much as only brought cabin luggage] and had a cup of tea we set off for Beckenham in Kent. The traffic through London was unbelievable and it took over an hour to cover the 30 miles or so from Totteridge. It was a bitterly cold night but the company of friends and the food and drink provided certainly made up for it.

The fireworks were fantastic.

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Sunday was to be a quiet day with our cousins coming over for lunch. Terry prepared a wonderful meal and I did my bit by setting the table:

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The reason for my visit to London was to get my British passport renewed, but also because it was my brother-in-law’s birthday on the 9th; so I thought I would ‘kill two birds with one stone’. It also gave me the opportunity to catch up with friends.

Now that I am residing in the south of France, the trip to England is a lot easier than from Australia; and being so close [2 hours flying time] I’ll be able to do it more regularly. All the same; as it had been two years since my previous visit I had a list of ‘things to do and buy’ whilst in London.

First on the list was to visit Brent Cross Shopping Centre, which was our local haunt when my family lived near there which was before I moved to Australia, and they moved to Golfe Juan. So Monday morning Terry drove us to the shops and I went spending….

Amongst my purchases was a present for Rudy. Rather than buy yet another predictable bottle of wine, I spotted a stall named the Amazing Chocolate Workshop – it was utterly brilliant. Everything from nuts and bolts, spanners, pliers, tools of all sorts, to a deli section displaying cheeses, sausages, ravioli, graters, knives, wooden spoons; and a cosmetics counter with lipsticks, compacts, tubs of makeup… but ALL made of chocolate:

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I ended up buying Rudy a set of pliers and pincers:

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The problem is he said they were too fantastic to eat!! Oh well… one tries :o)

Loaded up with a pair of jeans, Christmas cards, a nativity set, 2017 wall calendar, 2017 refill for my Filofax, crossword puzzles for my sister, Lesley [at Golfe Juan], and a few other odds and ends we returned home for a well-deserved rest.

Tuesday was the day I had booked to have my passport renewed. Having pre-arranged and pre-paid for it prior to leaving France, the appointment was booked for 10.45am. Terry came with me to Victoria – we took the underground train from Totteridge – even with such a brilliant service the journey still took an hour due to the peak time rush. I had forgotten how crowded the trains get in London at that time of the day.

After a small hiccup I was told to return at 3.40pm to collect my new passport. We took the tube to Oxford Circus and walked down Regent Street to a Pret-a-Manger Café for lunch. From there Terry went off to her office – not all of us have retired from work yet – whilst I decided to walk back to Victoria at a leisurely pace as I needed to kill time.

Fortunately although overcast it remained dry. It was all the same quite cold, so the walk was welcome just to get the blood pumping.

Unlike the last time I was in London I saw sights that, although were very familiar, it was nice to see again, and some I had not ever noticed before.

Setting off then from Regent Street I walked its length south to Piccadilly Circus to say ‘hello’ to our old friend “Eros”, and was pleasantly treated to another sculpture I had never seen before – the Horses of Helios [created by London artist Rudy Weller].

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From Piccadilly I walked down Haymarket and came out at Trafalgar Square making sure to acknowledge our famous Sea Lord, Admiral Horatio Nelson atop of his column:

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For those who follow my blogs and/or my writings in general they would know my love of anything historical. Europe, in deed, London in particular is steeped in history, and I could, time permitting, spend endless hours trying to capture all statues and monuments that record those events of the past.

Last week included a day that is held dear to the majority of the world’s population – or at least to those who lived through the two World Wars and survived them, or who had friends and relatives who perished in them; whether, either as civilians, or as combatants. It is also a day remembered by those generations that grew up following those conflicts; and it is hoped that future generations will continue the tradition of observing the 2 minutes silence on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…

It was my original intention to attend the Cenotaph at Whitehall on Friday 11th November to be there at the appropriate hour to pay my respects. Unfortunately my schedule of planned events meant that this would not be possible.

However, as I was at Whitehall on the Tuesday [8th] I took a moment to stand in front of the War Memorial and offer a silent prayer.

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I continued along Whitehall reaching Parliament Square where Big Ben loomed above me, Westminster Abbey before me being prepared for the Armistice Day commemorations, and sighting a statue I certainly wasn’t expecting to see in London… Abraham Lincoln:

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By the time I arrived at Victoria my feet were killing me. I should have known better and worn trainers not boots!!

At least my passport was ready and I was able to return to Totteridge to enjoy a relaxing evening.

I had a day at home on Wednesday, but met up with old friends in the evening – it was great to see them again, even though two of them had come out to Golfe Juan with their respective partners to pay me a visit the previous month. Still – it’s always nice to be with friends!

Thursday was another full day. Terry and I went out shopping yet again, and then made a special visit to pay our respects to our dad who had passed away in June 1989 having lost his battle to cancer; and from there we went to say ‘hello’ to our cousin Ron, who also left us in September 1987 due to a massive heart attack – he was 36. I always make a point of visiting my departed relatives every time I am in London. Both men were a great influence on my life, so it is only fitting that I shall never forget them.

On a lighter note, that afternoon Terry and I headed back into the West End as she was in search of a restaurant for an event she wanted to book up. As it turned out the café at St. James’ Park no longer took bookings so another venue had to be found. We walked across Horse Guards Parade narrowly avoiding a group of mounted soldiers, smiled at the guards on horseback at the gates on Whitehall and headed northwards in search of a suitable venue or two.

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From Whitehall we proceeded onto Covent Garden where we were to meet up with Rudy. Terry had bought tickets for the Musical “Half a Sixpence” being performed at the Noel Coward Theatre in St. Martin’s Lane; but first we were due to meet up with some friends for dinner.

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It was only just after 5pm and we needed to kill some time. Rudy was keen to find some ski gloves so we visited a couple of shops and he was happy to find a pair he liked, and even happier when Terry bought them for him… well it was his birthday after all :o)

Although the Christmas lights have been erected around town it is a shame that, apart from a few shops, they have not been illuminated as yet – I expect it’s too early in the season. The ones in Covent Garden represent giant mistletoes… I reckon they will be wonderful when they are lit.

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Dinner was at an Italian restaurant named “Sartori” is located at 15-18 Great Newport Street. The food was first class and reasonably priced. If you’re ever near there it certainly worth a visit: http://www.sartori-restaurant.com/

On to the show… and what a brilliant performance it was by all the actors – it was a highly enjoyable and entertaining musical. Thanks Terry for such a perfect treat :o)

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There was more shopping to do on Friday, taking 2 minutes out at 11am as a mark of respect, and Saturday it was time to pack. We had another dinner with family on Saturday night, and then a drive to Heathrow on Sunday morning.

The week was over and before I knew it I was back in Golfe Juan.

It certainly was a well-packed, well-planned and entertaining sojourn in London, and perhaps a nice way to end a year that had such a traumatic start for me. Christmas is yet to come, and I shall no doubt enjoy it with my immediate family. If any friends are nearby I’m sure a drink or two will be shared to see the New Year in.

2017 is only six weeks away; what it will bring is anyone’s guess, but we can only hope that it will bring us all peace, well-being, and happiness.

RLB – Tomewriter

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Christmas – A Time for Children

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Everyone loves Christmas especially children when Santa delivers presents overnight and the magic of Christmas Day fills the house with laughter and happiness.

As adults it is nice to remember the days when we too as children enjoyed the warmth of family all gathered around a huge dining table without an inch to spare between us. Food was plentiful, bon-bons [crackers to you poms], paper chains hanging across the ceiling, Christmas tree decked out with lights, baubles, streamers, and much more. In the background, if it can be heard, carols are sung from voices emerging from the gramophone [CD players or MP3s today].

My memory as I’m writing this reminds me of such banquets which my maternal grandmother would host. With my siblings, parents, uncles and aunts, cousins and numerous friends it amazed me how we all crammed into her dining room around her table. Being of Mediterranean background [those like me will know this to be true] the noise of everyone speaking [or should I say shouting] all at once must have been deafening to anyone walking passed in the street.

I would have those days again though as most of all those happy people are no longer with us. Of mum’s generation, only mum remains [may she remain with us for many more long years]; and of my cousins – three out of five are still with us. And of course my two sisters are always here to check up on me from across the miles.

But I would turn the clock back even further for a moment and share with you three happy snaps from my Christmas back in 1953:

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The nativity scene was all hand-made by dad and we [my elder sister and me] were so proud of it.

As I said in my heading: Christmas is a time for children – even though mine [Brad] is now fully grown up [although still a big kid at 31] you can be sure we will be having a jovial time, sharing gifts, good food, and a few drinks to celebrate.

Once upon a time I wrote a few children’s stories for Brad when he was little. In 2012 I e-published three of my favourites in a compendium and called it To Tell Three Tales on Smashwords.

To Tell Three Tales Book Cover

Today I am giving the book away to all kids. If you click on the following link it will take you to the correct page:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/244165

The offer is running until 31st December 2014 so please take advantage of this and tell your friends to grab a copy.

When you log on to Smashwords you will need to enter the coupon code: ME54Z to get the book for free.

Finally let me take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year.

RLB – Tomewriter

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TWENTY THIRTEEN…

… And what a roller-coaster year it has been.

Normally about this time of the year I write a Christmas letter to include in our Christmas cards. This year I thought I would go one better… apart from printing this and including it as intended, I am also downloading it onto my blog to give my followers a peak into what has happened into my family life over the past twelve months as well as a brief preview of what is being planned for 2014.

January

The cast on my right wrist came off [having broken it in November the previous year].

I was told my daytime job after 6+ years there my job function was being moved off-shore to India and I was no longer required; my last day would be 29th March.

I e-published on Smashwords an anthology consisting of poetry written by my mum and I entitled Poetic Whispers.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/273809

February

I began to do the rounds with employment agencies getting registered in the lead up of unemployment.

The annual service on our car saw four new tyres at a cost of just under $800… joy just what we needed. It was to be the start of an expensive year…

Valentine’s Day went by with Sandra and me going out for dinner at the Club on the Hawkesbury at Mooney Mooney. As much as this was one of our favourite eating spots, whether due to new management or culinary staff, we found the food and service had gone downhill.

March

Sandra needed a well-earned rest – her work load at the hospital had increased dramatically with changes to the out-patient clinics which have seen her responsibility spiral out of control. When she first began working at Hornsby Hospital in October 2007 she purely looked after the Chest clinic. Today she looks after a total of seven clinics on her own!!

At the beginning of the month she took herself off for a couple of days in Melbourne and then from there flew up to the Gold Coast for a few more in the sun.

For me March saw me attend several interviews in the hope of finding a new day job quickly.

April

So as not to get too depressed at not having an income coming in, I spent most days applying for jobs, door-knocking at agencies, and writing and editing my Historical Saga the Sword and the Rose.

In the middle of the month was Sandra’s birthday; it was also the 70th birthday of a good friend and we celebrated with her for lunch at The Cowrie restaurant in Terrigal [another favourite restaurant of ours]. For Sandra’s birthday, which was a Monday, Brad took a day off from work and we took Sandra out for lunch at Patonga – it had been a wonderful day – a nice distraction from our woes.

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http://www.patongahotel.com/PBH/Patonga_Beach_Hotel.html

Later that month it was one of our friend’s 50th birthday and we attended a BBQ lunch at her house in Quakers Hill.

Finally that month, having finished my manuscript I submitted my historical saga to Allen & Unwin publishers and kept my fingers crossed.

May

On the first day of the month I had an interview at PepsiCo in Chatswood for a three-month contract. It seemed to go well and was offered the job which I happily accepted on the proviso that I would start on Monday 13th as Sandra and I were heading off to Adelaide for a week to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary on the 7th. We had a wonderful few days. You can read about it on my blog site: https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/

When we returned from South Australia, as I hadn’t heard anything from Allen & Unwin I submitted the manuscript to Harlequin Publishers and began another long wait. Meanwhile I began to write a novella [word count has to be in between 17,000 to 40,000 words], a romance story, entitled Embrace Amidst Orange Blossoms. I took the idea of this story from a scene in my saga and ‘taking it out’ from the main book amplified it into a story of its own.

June & July

Both were relatively quiet months with nothing too exciting happening.

In June I was accepted as a member of the Australian Society of Authors.

During the middle of July however my new employers felt that due to my expertise with a certain customer that it would be of benefit to them to be sent to Adelaide to attend a day-meeting with our sales managers and the customer’s buyer in trying to resolve a long-standing dispute. The outcome had been positive and we were rewarded with the reimbursement of monies close to a million dollars!!

August

August was a sad and happy month. Sad because one of Sandra’s uncles who resides in Frankston, south of Melbourne, Victoria, passed away; he was a nice man and as much as I would have liked to have gone with Sandra to attend his funeral it unfortunately occurred on the same day as I had booked to travel to Fremantle. On Friday 16th August Sandra and I headed off before dawn to Sydney Airport. When her flight left for Melbourne I walked over to my departure gate as my plane was due to leave an hour later.

I had planned the trip earlier in the year to attend the Romance Writers of Australia Conference which was happening in Western Australia that weekend. As it was also my “birthday” weekend I reduced the price of my romance novel Beneath Southern Stars to celebrate both occasions. It was a profitable decision which rewarded me with a few sales. Not as many as I had hoped, but better than nothing! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/211334

Beneath Southern Stars

I returned to Sydney on the 19th and celebrated my actual birthday [20th] by seeing my tax agent and getting the car serviced – exciting stuff!! We celebrated it properly the following Saturday going out for dinner with friends.

September

The month started with Sandra spending a week in Cairns.

On the 15th Sandra had splashed out on some tickets for “Night at the Proms” at the Sydney Opera House. The Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Guy Noble, was simply brilliant and the whole performance was spectacular.

The following weekend our son, Brad, went to Melbourne and Cairns for his up-coming 30th birthday; Sandra and I “shouted it” for him as part of his present. The other part of his present was me taking a week off work to stay at his to look after Riggs, Brad’s 3 year old German shepherd. Whilst there I did a bit of home improvements for him at his house on the Central Coast and worked on completing my novella.

Not having had any success with Harlequin Publishing for my saga I sent it off to another couple of publishers and am still waiting on its outcome from one of the two as I write this.

Whilst Brad was away, Sandra was using his car – a 1992 Toyota Seca Corolla – which, although had been a good vehicle for the best part of the time Brad owned it, had started to have far too many mechanical issues. When Sandra took it for a service which cost her almost $300 and was told it needed a new gearbox I told her to leave it well alone. It was time to replace the car.

October

Happy 30th Birthday, Brad!

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Brad returned to Sydney on 30th September and the next day, Tuesday, after making sure Riggs was taken care of [dogs are amazing creatures: he sensed something was up that morning, perhaps it was my fault because I slightly modified the usual morning procedures, but he was determined to make it as awkward as possible for me to sort him out prior to me leaving for home] I set off for the start of an amazing day.

I arrived home in time for breakfast with Sandra and Brad who had stayed at ours overnight as his plane had got in quite late from Cairns. As planned we left late morning for lunch at Banjo Paterson’s Cottage Restaurant at Gladesville. http://www.banjopaterson.com/    we then told him we would be returning to his house for dessert – cake and champagne. Although slightly puzzled at this, Brad went along with it probably thinking his parents had finally lost their marbles… [For what was to happen next he was probably right].

As Sandra and Brad drove up in the clapped out Toyota, I followed behind in our car having told him to stop at the Holden dealership where he was to pick up his birthday present… You can read about my week at Brad’s and the climax of his birthday on my blog: https://tomewriter.wordpress.com/

Needlesstosay Brad is very happy with his gift!!

The following weekend I submitted my novella to Escape Publishing. And later that month I took Sandra to the Capitol Theatre to see the musical production of In the Mood. It was ok, but I was a little disappointed by it as it didn’t have too many Glenn Miller numbers. It was more of an arrangement of songs during the 1930’s and 1940’s.

I finished the month by booking and paying for my holiday to Europe next year. As usual Sandra won’t be travelling with me. She is due to take some four months long service leave next autumn/winter [May-August] and is thinking about travelling to Ireland and England. I had hoped to have tempted her to join me to France/Malta/England, but once again I’ll be travelling alone.

November

At the end of August my contract at PepsiCo got extended for three more months, as that time came up, it was extended further until next February [2014] – may they keep extending it!!!

The month had been uneventful and the deadlines for the submissions for my two manuscripts have all come and gone, with the exception of one which is not expected until the end of December; but that’s not looking too good either.

December

As I write this today, 1st December, the first day of summer, it’s my World Vision Australia’s sponsored child’s 16th birthday and Brad’s been down for lunch. With him returned home and Sandra reading the Sunday paper I thought I would finish off this summary of our year…

What’s to come? Christmas of course: Christmas day will be spent at Brad’s so we can enjoy Riggs’ company; between now and then there will have to be a few days of shopping, wrapping of gifts, dinners with friends, and decorating the Christmas tree.

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PepsiCo are shutting down for a couple of weeks so I expect during the time off I will be doing a few chores at home and at Brad’s as well as doing some more writing. I am currently “ghost-writing” on behalf of my mum as I re-do her memoirs; and writing my second romance novella Affectionately Yours...

2014

What this will hold for us God only knows… with luck all our plans will fall into place without hiccup.

I will end this by wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a healthy, safe and prosperous New Year.

Robert L J Borg [RLB] – Tomewriter

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Spring Holiday – Day Eight… Last of the land mines!!

Well it’s finally here – the last day at Wyoming. Tomorrow morning I shall be setting off home – for the last day of my holiday [I shan’t have time to blog Day Nine and will save it for the weekend, when I hope to add photos to the other blogs of the holiday].

It has been a busy morning cleaning: the deck furniture, the screen door, and the bathroom. I attempted to clean the windows yesterday, but that Coles Window Cleaner [Smart Buy] is a waste of money. Perhaps it was the cloth I was using or maybe because the windows were exceptionally dirty, but they’ve come up a bit smeary – so I’m not too impressed.

I nipped out to the shops [what again… I hear you say] as I had a few little things I had to do for myself, but also to buy a birthday cake and a bottle of sparkling wine as it’s someone’s 30th Birthday tomorrow.

Sandra and I shall be taking him to lunch at the Banjo Paterson Cottage Restaurant in Gladesville. I’ve booked the table for noon. If you live in Sydney [or visiting] and haven’t been there yet, and you would like to dine somewhere very special, then I can certainly recommend this place. I was there last March and the ambiance and views were beautiful and the food – excellent: http://www.banjopaterson.com/

Afterwards we will head back via Berowra so he can pick up his car to drive home. We shall follow on behind so we can share in the cake and wine – and besides we can’t leave Riggs out of all the celebrations!!

Changing the subject and reverting back to today; I tried out the high pressure cleaner properly. Unfortunately it did not remove the mold from the gyprock panels of the house, but I then tried it on the drive way and paths at the front of the house and it worked beautifully. It even managed to shift a huge oil stain from the car port. I may take it home with me to use to clean up the oil stains his car has made of our communal driveway [the neighbours are up in arms – I mean the driveway is breaking up and looks absolutely shabby, yet they’re whinging because of a few oil stains].

For the last time, I cleared the back garden of Riggs’ land mines. Of all the jobs I have done at Brad’s during this past week this was one job I could have done without doing. Unfortunately, it’s not the dog’s fault, and it’s not really fair on him to not clear up the mess.

On a happy note regarding my novella it is: Finito, Fini, Finished… at just over 19,000 words “To Embrace Amidst Orange Blossoms” has been completed. Now the fun starts with fine tuning it…

I hope I will have good news if and when I can get the novella published.

Also, I will try approaching a couple more publishers for my historical saga: “The Sword and the Rose” as it is looking very unlikely that neither Harlequin nor Momentum are interested as I haven’t heard back from either of them yet.

I am determined to have it published one way or another so unless a third-party publisher takes it on before year-end, I will be self-publishing it on Smashwords in time for Christmas.

For now however I shall sign off and would like to thank you all for following.

RLB – Tomewriter

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H A P P Y N E W Y E A R !!!

Wishing you all a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.

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