Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Kitty McKenzie's Land

After a bit of a delay, I've managed to get the sequel to my novel, Kitty McKenzie, re-released.
Titled, Kitty McKenzie's Land, the story continues of Kitty's new life in Australia after leaving England to follow the man she loves. But not all goes to plan.

This story was previously published in 2006, so it's been a while since it's original 15 minutes of fame. I'm hoping this time around, the story reaches new audiences and readers enjoy the two books about Kitty and her extraordinary life.


Kitty McKenzie's path has taken her from the slums of York to the inhospitable bush of colonial Australia. Yet, when she believes her dreams will never be attained, she is shown that sometimes life can be even better than what you wish for.

Kitty McKenzie is gifted land in the far north of New South Wales. Life at the northern property is full of hardships as she learns how to become a successful landowner.

However, Kitty’s strength of will and belief in herself gives her the courage most women of her time never realize they have. A decided thorn in her side is the arrogant and patronizing Miles Grayson, owner of the adjourning run. He wants her gone so he can have her land, but he wants her even more.

Available 0.99c as an ebook in several formats.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Steam Yacht Parties on Lake Windermere

During the Industrial Revolution the local gentry, rich cotton magnates and entrepreneurs loved to socialise on Lake Windermere. They held weekend steamer and tea parties, the ladies showing off their elegant dresses and parasols, while the gentlemen competed for the finest looking steam launch. These would display the very best in velvet upholstery, carpets and leather seating. Even the boat’s name and their own family crest on the crockery. There would be lace tablecloths and servants would be present to serve lunch or the picnic, perhaps on an island on the lake.


The gentlemen might indulge in a little fishing for salmon, trout or char, while the ladies gossiped and relaxed. Char was considered to be a great delicacy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Regattas, FĂȘtes and Water festivals were an important feature of Lakeland life, a wonderful opportunity to show off a new boat, and take part in water sports, sailing and fishing competitions. Kaiser Wilhelm II visited in 1895, while staying with the Earl of Lonsdale at Lowther Castle. The streets of Bowness and Ambleside were decorated with flags and bunting to celebrate the event. Then there was the ice skating when it froze over, including the winter of 1929. Lily gets involved in many such events, although things do not always turn out quite as she expects.

The Gondola on Ullswater

Lake Windermere has been a focal point of the community since at least the time of the Romans, who could access it from their camp, Galava, at Waterhead. Medieval monks also used the lake as a source of food and transport.

Steam launches still operate on the lake to this day, where visitors can enjoy a sail and even tea out on the lake made on a Windermere kettle. To see a fine display of the most historic, the Windermere Steamboat Museum is most definitely worth a visit.

Excerpt from Lakeland Lily:

The town was humming with people in their best summer dresses. Flags and streamers were everywhere, with much splashing and squealing coming from the lake, everyone enjoying the fun. Besides the sailing races there were always plenty of games for the children: musical chairs at the water’s edge, balloon bursting, eating buns on cycles, tent pegging and apple bobbing. Lily didn’t think herself too old for such fun. Not quite yet.

For the more adventurous, there would be home-made raft races and lots of other silly water games which resulted in the contestants getting a proper soaking if they were anything like her twin brothers. Later there might be a sham sea battle with mock explosions and clouds of smoke as if in a real war. Then the winning side would storm on to the other team’s island and everyone would cheer.

Lily knew her father would take part in the fishermen’s boat race, and likely win it as he so often did. After a picnic tea, which they would take together beneath the trees, they’d loll about and recover from their adventures for a while. Then would follow the grand firework display. It was worth coming to the Water Carnival for that glory alone.

The uncertain Lakes weather had been known to spoil the day in the past, for all it took place in early summer. Lily was delighted that this particular June day was perfect, with a merry blue sky and hardly a puff of cloud, the striped Egyptian cotton sails of the small boats dazzling in the sun. When the figure of Dick emerged from a stand of trees a few yards from the water’s edge, Lily’s happiness was complete.

Sadly, her happiness did not last for long, and what followed set in action a need for revenge which held dire consequences for Lily.However, as with all my books, there is a happy ending.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

Could the daughters of Downton Abbey cope?

Imagine the daughters of Downton Abbey losing their home, their parents, their wealth, their status, their friends.
This is what happens to the characters in my historical novel, Kitty McKenzie.
Kitty has lost everything, and as the eldest daughter, she has to now provide and care for her younger siblings, a task she has no experience or knowledge of how to do. From a life of privilege she is faced with all kinds of adversities to overcome.
How will she manage to cope with these new challenges when the only decisions she used to make was what dress she needed to wear and what book to read after dinner?
How was she to create a home for them all, and an income?
She never realised that buried deep inside her was an inner strength that would come to the fore and allow her to manage, even prosper, in an alien world of the working class.

Could Mary or Edith from Downton Abbey have coped so well? I'd like to think they would.