On 24th February, I will be holding a launch party on Facebook for Stranger Child, and I’d love you to come along and join in the fun. The party lasts from 2 pm to 9 pm (GMT) but just pop in and out when you have the time. There are competitions, lots of great prizes (including a much coveted ‘Come Dine with Tom Douglas’ apron), music, quizzes and a chance to chat with other readers and fire questions at me! Just click on the graphic and choose JOIN, and it will be great to see you there.
My new novel, STRANGER CHILD, is due for release in Kindle format on 24th February – just nine days away. I thought you might like a sneak preview of the prologue. Stranger Child – Prologue Another ten minutes, and she would be safely home. Caroline Joseph gave a shudder of relief that the long journey would soon be over. She never enjoyed driving at night and always felt slightly out of control. Each pair of approaching headlights seemed to draw her towards them, their white light illuminating the car’s interior as she gripped the steering wheel, struggling to point the car straight ahead.
It was a cold start to the morning, but at least it wasn’t raining. I can confess to slight disappointment – I was hoping that it would rain for ten minutes so I could wear my purple poncho – the waterproof version – bought especially for the trip, and up to now unworn. I nearly wore it anyway, to keep me warm.
There’s not much to say about the next two days – they were almost exclusively spent travelling. After leaving the ship, we took the coach and had a tour of the some of the highlights of Mandalay. It’s an interesting city and seemed to me to be cleaner that Yangon – but that could be because I am just more used to Burma. They have a huge problem with rubbish here – plastic bags have entered their world without any thought of how they are going to get rid of them all. As many of the villages don’t even have sewers or running water, I think the idea of garbage collection is quite far down the list. My guide today told me that she volunteers once a month to collect plastic bags from the streets, as do many of the other people who are concerned about keeping their area beautiful.
Today was a funny day, really. It was our last day on the boat, and so I decided to spend the morning trying to pack. The problem I have is that I have a 20 Kg limit on an internal flight to Lake Inle, and I have at least double that! I’m just hoping they charge me money rather than throw me off the plane! The international flights are far more generous, but it’s just these two internal flights that had me worried, so I thought I should do a bit of creative packing while the other trippers went to explore the local town. We leave the boat in the morning at 8 am, and our cases have to be outside our bedroom doors by 6 am. One thing about this trip, there’s no option to laze around in bed! The latest that breakfast is EVER served is 7 – …
I was particularly looking forward to today, because I was told we were going into the jungle, and I thought it would give me a very real feel of the places that my dad must have visited. However, disappointingly it wasn’t the jungle at all. It was a fairly sparse forest with quite a lot of monkeys! If it hadn’t been for the disappointment of the jungle, which is apparently much further north, it would have been a good day. Although we had quite a long coach ride, we visited a place high up in the hills where niches have been carved in the rocks, and every niche contains some kind of Buddha (I have more photos of Buddhas than you would believe possible). It was quite extraordinary, because the Buddhas were actually carved out of the rock too – not just built externally and then added into the niches. …
Today we visited another village, alongside the river. Here, the local people make clay pots. All their materials are free – they gather clay from the river and mix it with sand from the river bank. This forms the basis of their pots.
This has been my favourite day up to now, in spite of having to get up at 5 am! Not the best time of the day for me, it has to be said. The reason for the early rise was a sunrise balloon trip over the wonderful Bagan area – an area with over 2000 pagodas and it is truly extraordinary. We arrived at the launch site at about 6 am, and were served coffee and croissants while we had our safety briefing. To my surprise there were several balloons. The company we were with had six, and there were two other companies. We were the green balloons, and there were eight of us per basket.
Today was the BIG DAY – the day that we visited Bagan, one of the major sites of Myanmar. Bagan has over 2000 pagodas, many of them dating back to the 11th century, and the vast majority are stupas, not temples. If you remember from an earlier post, a stupa is a solid building that you can’t go inside. A temple is a pagoda that you can enter.
Today I decided not to go on the first trip of the day. I know – a bit pathetic – but I really fancied lying on a sun lounger, reading a book. And I also spent some time thinking about my next book and wrote some notes.