Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Seduced by stones

            I admit to a fascination with sparkling gems.

French Crown Jewels in The Louvre. Photo by owensdt1
The Côte-de-Bretagne red spinel with the set of Queen Marie Amélie to the left, the bracelets and diadem of the Duchess of Angoulême in the centre and upper right and, between them, the set of Empress Josephine. [Wikipedia]

In museums a display of jewels holds me entranced, lost to time as the gems wink and shine. I'm as hypnotised as the old Councillor in Lorna Doone was by Lorna's diamond necklace.

The magnificent Spoonmaker's Diamond is an 86-carat pear-shaped stone, surrounded by a double-row of 49 Old Mine cut diamonds. It hangs in a glass case on the wall of one of the rooms of the Treasury in TopKapi Palace in Istanbul.  [1]

    Small wonder that jewels often feature in my Regency Tales. Whether it is Louise, the Huguenot goldsmith with a talent for resetting the gems from oldfashioned parures into lighter, more modern styles (The Rake and his Honour), or Nell and Sophie receiving a surprise legacy of jewellery (The Outcasts), or even a deeply-in-love hero offering a fabulous ruby ring to the object of his affections, I do enjoy adding a dash of bling.
Otantik Osmanlı Model Kırmızı Zirkon Tek Taşlı 925 Ayar Gümüş Bayan Yüzük
Ottoman ring by Gittigidiyor, Istanbul
[ ]

[1] For dazzling diamonds to enjoy,  see 

Monday, 21 October 2019

The Rake, his honour and his mission

           A Heavenly Horse, Huguenots, smallpox and silversmithing 
          all feature in the second Montailhac Family tale, 

                                                    The Rake and His Honour

         the story of a breathless pursuit across England and France 
during the Napoleonic Wars.

Monday, 29 April 2019

A pleasant way to end the day

with a Regency Tale – adventure, intrigue and romance 

 "Witty, engaging and totally entertaining." Nicola Cornick,  
          USA Today bestselling author 

The Rake and his Honour starts in an age-old cavern in the Pyrenees where the heroine takes shelter from a storm...only to find a hostile gentleman also hiding there

                 A Merens horse [Pyrenees]

The story soon moves to a smart address in London, with some Society activities, followed by a dash to the French king in exile at Hartwell House at Aylesbury; 
and finally a race by this very ill-matched pair to outwit two of Napoleon's top agents.  Disciplined Huguenot Louise, and charming rake Arnaut are so busy dodging knives and bullets there is never a moment for love. Or is there?

      Looking out from Arnaut's cavern                             

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Fancy some armchair travel to olden days and other ways ?

Beth Elliott’s Regency Talesadventure, intrigue and romance

            "Witty, engaging and totally entertaining." - Nicola Cornick,  
          USA Today bestselling author.


 Ice meets fire in Constantinople

                                 A Montailhac Family Tale

Constantinople 1811

Ice cool Lord Berannes is the chief diplomat negotiating peace between the Ottoman Sultan and Russia. Then he encounters fiery, rebellious artist Olivia Hartford. And after that, nothing goes to plan – for either of them.


Read a short excerpt

'It would be very easy, Olivia,' he insisted, his eyes flashing as she kept shaking her head. 'No servant would hesitate if I gave the order to have you tied in a sack and thrown in the Bosphorus.'
            At this she leapt to her feet. 'You are disgusting!' she shouted, 'I can hardly believe you're human when you talk like that. You take me away by force and plan to use me for your entertainment with no respect for my wishes or my reputation.'
            He rose in one fluid movement and stood over her. 'You have no reputation.'

     Not a promising start to the relationship between the diplomat and the artist....

Kindle edition :      /Scandalous-Lady   

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Ancient Greek and Roman 'coffee' with a twist

The acanthus, a thistle like plant, is found all round the Mediterranean. Since the time of the ancient Greeks its leaves have been used as a motif in decoration, especially on the Corinthian columns of the great antique temples.

About 20 miles inland from the Mediterranean Turkish town of Silifke are the ruins of the vast holy city of Diocaesarea [ now known as Uzuncaburc = Tall columns]. There are plenty of examples of acanthus carved capitals, most sadly tumbled by age and earthquakes.

Acanthus = kenger in Turkish

At the entrance to the site there are a number of basic shops and cafes, where you can buy embroidery, lace or knitted goods; and have a simple meal of 'sikma' - a cheese pancake, and a drink of kenger coffee. This is the same as the ancient Greek / Roman coffee, made from the dried seed pods of the thistle-like acanthus plant - a tradition which has come down many centuries.
The shop sign says Kenger Kahve bulunur
we sell Kenger Coffee

Drinking this brew under the tall columns with their acanthus leaf carvings makes the experience special. 

Saturday, 16 February 2019

La Cantéra

The Outcasts is set in the French Pyrenees at a time when life followed an age-old pattern, dictated by the changing seasons. Livestock was taken up into the high valleys from the end of May to the beginning of October. Shepherds and their dogs were vital for keeping the flocks safe during this time. Bears, wolves, eagles were all a threat, in addition to wild weather.   

Before leaving the shepherd to his lonely life in the mountains, groups of local people accompanied him for a part of the journey while taking large flocks of sheep, goats, cows and horses up to their usual pastures. In the villages en route, there would be a gathering of the people, consumption of food and alcohol, and music. This was generally called a cantéra - a spontaneous concert of traditional ballads, some of them dating from ancient times. Everybody joined in, no matter how well or badly they could sing.
 The Pipe Player is still a popular song, performed at many cantéras across the Pyrenees. You can see a version in this video, uploaded by Ellen Chapoulié

'Il habite la-haut, perdu dans la montagne,
Le soir quand il fait beau un grand chien l’accompagne...’

The pipe player lives up in the mountain,
On fine evenings a large dog accompanies him.

The song goes on to tell how the piper lives so high up he can touch the stars. On his pipe he plays the song of the wind and the music of the birds.

The Pyreneen sheepdog, large, strong and intelligent, is a working dog. Used to the harsh climate of the high mountains, he spends his life protecting his flock from predators.

Not all the animals in the high Pyrenees are dangerous 

Related image
The Pyrenean chamois [called  an "isard"] lives above 2,000 metres. It's shy but curious.

Related image
The marmot also lives at high altitudes. They live in large groups in burrows.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Can you help my hero?

Joachim is the youngest in the family, the only one still at home -a chateau. 
He is in charge of maintaining his father's estates, both the land and the livestock. Hardworking, athletic and earnest, he hasn't had much time for dalliance or developing a relationship with a girl... until now. 

At last he seems to have found someone who has similar ideals and who is athletic enough to keep pace with all his outdoor tasks and the riding involved. So far, so good. But falling in love with him is not enough, unless he can get her to love the wild and remote region in which he lives. So what beauty spots will win her heart?

The mountains 

or the lakes

or perhaps the little towns close to his home


Related image

Which scenes would you advise him to show her ?