Friday, 30 December 2011

Happy New Year!


I do hope you all had a good 2011.  Looking back on my year, as my regular followers know, it was a very busy - and enjoyable - one.

I electronically published two of my crime novels which are both selling well.  For those who haven't read about them they are called "Homicide in Hampshire" and "Writing can be Murder".  Both are available at:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbarabothwell which has it in all formats, including download to computer but does not have an Amazon format.  I can see from the charts that it is particularly popular on APPLE I-PAD.

For Kindle users the books are available on www.amazon.com and www.amazon.co.uk. (as well as other Amazon versions).

As well as writing books I also managed to fit in some travel.  In the UK I visited Norwich, the Ironbridge Gorge, Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and even went Swan-upping.  My overseas trip was to Croatia to visit Dubrovnik, also taking the opportunity to travel further south into Montenegro and east into Bosnia & Herzegovena to see Mostar.

Those of you who follow me on www.thetraveleditor.com will already have read about those trips.

My first trip in 2012 will to Palma, Mallorca, a city I used to know well as I lived and worked there for seven years.  Rather like seven years in Tibet except that I worked as a hotel rep for Cosmos.

Wishing you a very Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Christmas Season


Some of my best Christmas's were, of course, those of my childhood.  About two weeks before Christmas my parents would put up the decorations and the weekend before the big day we would all decorate the large tree in the lounge.

Usually a set of grandparents would stay with us and sometimes an aunt and uncle.  I enjoyed all of the spoiling - what child doesn't? - but I particularly loved it when my Uncle Ron (Dad's brother) and his wife came.  This was because Ron was a super pianist and played the latest songs and the golden-oldies.  I could have sat and listened for hours.  Probably did!

Christmas wasn't so much fun once I grew up but memorable ones include a Caribbean cruise.  No, not as a guest, but as a crew member who ate in the restaurant with the clients and joined in the evening's entertainment.

Sometimes I take a city break as there are fewer tourists around.  Among places I have visited are Brussels, Bruges, Malta and Lisbon.  I remember in Lisbon taking a stroll along by the river enjoying the sunshine and seeing a lady sitting on her own - knitting.  At first I felt sorry for her then realised that, like me, she was probably enjoying Christmas Day in her own favourite way.

We often read or hear the pundits expounding about single people being lonely at Christmas.  I suspect that most, if not all of them, aren't single and don't realise that not ALL singletons are lonely.  Everyone has their own ideal of the Christmas holiday. 

Sometimes I like a quiet one at home.  This year?  I have 300 pages of the manuscript of another crime novel to work on.  I'm really looking forward to that.  Will I e-publish it?  Of course. 

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.

[Illustration:  The Creche at Grand Place in Brussels]

Saturday, 5 November 2011

My Holiday in Croatia

The Croatian Village of Mlini
I'm not sure whether to call my holiday a trip to Croatia or a three country tour.

My main reason had been to fulfill a lifetime wish to see Dubrovnik which is on the Dalmatian coast. That thin strip of Croatia that is separated from the main part of the country by a narrow band of Bosnia Herzegovina.

Yes, I saw the walled city of Dubrovnik and it lived up to my expectations. And I visited two other countries - on day trips.

The first was south to Montenegro where we drove around one of the fabulous fiords to visit the walled city of Kotor. Following that we continued our journey to Budva for the lunch break - hotel picnic lunches are not to be recommended! Then it was a stroll around that small walled city.

Another day we went to Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina. Yes, that much bombed city of the Balkans War. We ambled through the Turkish Quarter and saw the rebuilt Old Bridge which is the city's symbol and which, along with the other five bridges was destroyed.

Mostar isn't for the faint-hearted with its bombed out buildings and the cemeteries. But, give it a few more years and the buildings will have been restored and the bright white tombstones will have mellowed and everyone will want to go there.

Me? I appreciated it, Croatia and Montenegro. It is heartening to see how the countries are recovering and rebuilding.

I will be writing articles about these fascinating places and putting them onto http://www.thetraveleditor.com/ so keep checking. There will, of course, also be some of my photos.


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Great Update on my Books

"Homicide in Hampshire" now has 5* on Amazon.com along with a fantastic review and the recommendation that everyone should read this book!

"Writing can be Murder" is selling well and am keeping my fingers crossed for another fantastic review.

Thanks to everyone who has bought the books which, as well as being available on Amazon.com/co.uk/fr/de, is also available on Smashwords - especially for those who prefer to download to their computer.

www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbarabothwell

I would love it if you were to recommend my books to your friends, relatives and acquaintances.  Even the boss!

Saturday, 8 October 2011

"Writing can be Murder"

Yes, sometimes we writers can find it murderous - especially when the ideas don't work! But in this instance I am, of course, talking about my latest e-published book, Writing can be Murder.

The action takes place in Florida where Trudi Johnson lives. She is a travel writer and is befriended by Marcia Annenburg who introduces her to a writers' circle. There Trudi makes friends with Lucia O'Mahoney. Marcia is a realtor with ambitions to be a writer. She copies other people's ideas and presents them as her own. Is it a member of the circle who got fed up with this and killed her and another circle member? From information garnered by Trudi and Lucia, Detective Ricardo Gomez solves the crimes. Nearly too late for Trudi and Lucia who almost become victims.

As I lived for many years in Florida it was inevitable that I would be tempted to write at least one book set in the Sunshine State. Although the town in which the action takes place is situated on the Gulf Coast, it is an entirely fictitious one.

This book is now available via Amazon/Kindle and from Smashwords for other formats such as Apple I-Pad, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo and for downloading onto the computer.

I have had many favourable comments about my previously published book "Homicide in Hampshire" and am looking forward to hearing from readers of "Writing can be Murder". Thank you all for your continued support.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Christmas and Diamonds

Yes, I know it's the end of September and I imagine that those of you who follow me on thetraveleditor.com think I'm crazy for putting a Christmas related article on there this early. The fact of the matter is that the Bluebell Railway is already advertising and selling its very popular Christmas events. Which, of course, means booking early. http://www.thetraveleditor.com/article/8113/Things_to_do_Attractions_Historic_Railway_Christmas_Entertainment_on_the_Bluebell_Railway.html

The State Rooms at Buckingham Palace close to the public on 2nd October. That is, until 2012 which is also a very special year for the Monarchy. Not because of the Olympic Games, but because it will be the Diamond Jubilee of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. Needless to say there will be loads of special events around the country, including at the various royal castles and palaces.

So far planned for the Buckingham Palace opening is "Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration". This will show how diamonds have been used by British monarchs over the past 200 years. On display will be some of Her Majesty's personal jewels - inherited and acquired during her reign. The exhibition will also show how many of these stones have been re-cut or incorporated into new settings. This exhibition is, at the moment, expected to be open during August and September 2012, but additional dates may well be added. As they say - watch this space.

For my book fans, sales of "Homicide in Hampshire" continue and I am now currently working on the manuscript of another crime novel which I hope to publish within the next few weeks. This one is set in Florida and I suspect that my fans there will be looking forward to reading it.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

"Homicide in Hampshire"

First I want to thank all of you who have bought copies of the book. For those of you with a Kindle the good news is that the book is now available on Amazon.

Now to clear up a misconception. The other day someone told me he hadn't downloaded a copy of the book because he thinks e-publishing is the same as vanity publishing. (Vanity publishing being where the author pays for publication). E-publishing IS NOT vanity publishing.

Before the book is accepted for e-publication it is vetted.

If you still aren't convinced, check the author's qualifications. For example, I am a member of the Society of Authors and of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Both well-respected organisations for professional writers.

Now I have to get back to work on the manuscript of one of my others books that I am planning to e-publish in the near future. 



Thursday, 1 September 2011

Buckingham Palace, Faberge and a Wedding Dress

This summer there have been two special exhibitions at Buckingham Palace. One is of items from the Royal Collection of Faberge. Absolutely exquisite. I could have spend hours looking at them. Some of those wonderful Easter eggs, miniature furniture, animals, cigarette cases - almost anything you can think of.

The other exhibit is THE wedding dress of the year. That worn by Kate Middleton when, in April, she married Prince William and became the Duchess of Cambridge.

Seeing it on display is the only way to get the full impact of the beauty - and the delicate handiwork - of this gown. Magazine pictures just don't do it justice. Delicate hand-made lace attached to the fabric with miniscule stitches, the buttons down the back and - the matching shoes.

Buckingham Palace and these two exhibitions are open the public until 3rd October, 2011.

A very good idea to save queuing and, of course, to make sure you get in is to pre-book via www.royalcollection.org.uk/

http://www.thetraveleditor.com/article/7086/Things_to_do_Historic_Castles_Palaces_Buckingham_Palace_State_Rooms.html




The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery
riding past Buckingham Palace.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Remembering Slovenia

This past week or so I've been working on some articles about Slovenia, one of my favourite European countries. I first visited it on a day trip from Italy when it was still a part of Yugoslavia. On that trip we went to Lipica and the caves at Postojna before being driven to the coast to take the ferry back to Italy.

My next visit was two weeks at Kranska Gora, a ski resort - except that I was there in the summer. Unless you are into walking and climbing, not a lot to do but, as a writer, I was able to keep myself occupied in this beautiful village. Since then my trips have been press ones and I've now covered almost the whole of the country from Maribor in the east to the Adriatic Coast and, of course, Lake Bled in the north.

If you want to read about some of these places then I suggest you go to my page on www.thetravelwriter.com. The three articles which I put on this past week have proved to be very popular - the number of people reading them even surprised me! One article is about Maribor and Ptuj, another about Lake Bled, Lipica (lovely picture of a Lipizzana) and the caves at Postojna and the third article about the capital, Ljubljana which has a wonderful mix of architecture and loads to do both during the day and in the evenings.

An update on Homicide in Hampshire - still selling well. Thanks to everyone who has bought a copy. This is available in all formats including downloading onto the computer (using Adobe Digital). Also thank you to everyone who has contacted me with their lovely comments. I'm so glad you like the flamboyant Cleo.

Now it is time to get on with writing another book.


              Lake Bled and the Julian Mountains

Links:  www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/
           www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbarabothwell

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Homicide in Hampshire

Pleased to report that people are buying this e-published book……

"Late one evening Cleo Mainwaring comes home from London to find that her housekeeper has apparently drowned in the swimming pool. The housekeeper's husband and Cleo's Volvo are both missing.

"They are both found - the husband dead, and the Volvo in the Forest.

"Later in the book the village gossip is found dead in Cleo's garden. She had been strangled with one of Cleo's scarves in an attempt to frame her. That failed as Cleo was known to have been in London that day.

"Towards the end of the book there is a very strange car chase - keeping to speed limits and obeying traffic lights…..

"The DCI in charge of the case is 'Steaming' Kettle - a one time neighbour and schoolfriend of Cleo's. Yes, they do get it together."

The advantage of having published it through Smashwords is that it is available for all e-readers. And that includes Kindle!

As well as that it is gradually appearing on various e-book sites such as Apple, Diesel e-books and several others. It will also shortly be on Amazon and Sony.

The price is only $1.99(99p.) so it won't break the bank.

Later in the year I am planning on e-publishing another crime novel so, as they say, watch this space.






Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Swan-upping on the River Thames

The Queen's Swan-uppers with David Barber,
The Queen's Swan Marker
My day on the press boat was great fun, sometimes we'd be following, sometimes ahead and sometimes alongside the skiffs carrying the swan-uppers. Needless to say I managed to get some terrific shots on my camera.

It was fascinating watching the six skiffs manoeuvre around a family of swans to either lift them into the boats or lay them on the river bank. There would be much squeaking from the cygnets and anxiety from the parents but swan-uppers are experts in calming them down so you feel the swans realise that it is for their own good - health checks, weighing and ringing the cygnets.

A couple of times David Barber, the Queen's Swan Marker, came on board the press boat for interviews. As a large part of his job is conservation and education, it was fascinating talking to him.

I asked how he got his job. "When the previous Swan Marker retired, twenty-two of us applied and were interviewed at Buckingham Palace. I got the job."

A part of that interview dealt with the future and as David is avid about the River and the swans, his aim is education, particularly with schoolchildren. He often goes to schools to give talks. The major problems for water fowl, especially swans, are swallowing fishing hooks, getting entangled in discarded fishing lines, people throwing stones and kids with air rifles. Not an easy life being a swan.

When we had embarked at Eton Bridge I noticed a huge flock of swans and asked David about it. "That's the singles club. Shortly they'll pair up and move along the river to claim their territory."

Swan-upping takes place in July. For details of observations points log on to www.royalswan.co.uk/




Monday, 25 July 2011

Fabulous Exhibitions at Buckingham Palace

Oh wow! Both of this year's exhibitions are breathtaking. The first one is a selection of Faberge items that the Royal Family have been collecting since Queen Victoria. It has to be one of the largest collections in the world. Everything from the Mosaic Easter Egg to art deco cigarette cases and small carved animals. Then there are delicate flowers, a tiny miniature tea set, desk seals and even a clockwork elephant.

The other exhibit is Kate Middleton's Wedding Dress. As HM The Queen said to the Duchess of Cambridge when she inspected the exhibit - it looks like a ghost!

It is on a stand in the centre of the Ballroom with the veil and diamond Cartier 'Halo' tiara suspended above it. There is a video about the making of the dress, behind glass a panel of the lace to be examined and a chance to walk around the stand to get a good look at the dress.

http://www.thetraveleditor.com/article/7817/Feature_Article_Leisure_A_Ghostly_Wedding_Dress.html

(Copyright the Royal collection)                                      

Buckingham Palace is open to the public until 3rd October and tickets really are a 'hot ticket' item this year so it is advisable to book early.



Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Busy Week Ahead

Yes, very busy. On Tuesday I will be counting swans; Wednesday visiting a castle; Thursday evening attending a beach party in London and on Friday strolling through some fabulous rooms.

As you can imagine, I am hoping for good weather on Tuesday when I embark from Eton Bridge to sail up the River Thames to Cookham watching the Swan-uppers. This is an annual event led by the Queen's Swan Master to count the Mute Swan population, ring the cygnets and, most importantly, check the health of these beautiful birds.

I will be staying in Windsor so that on Wednesday I can make my umpteenth visit to the Castle, the oldest still inhabited castle in the world. (You can read about some of it on my TravelEditor page).

The beach party is a bit of an exaggeration. I've been invited to what I assume is a sales junket for the City of Sarasota on Florida's west coast. I used to live in the adjoining city, know Sarasota very well and, of course, know some of their tourism people. And, naturally, they want more press coverage! (Again, check out my TravelEditor page - so far there are three Sarasota based articles).

The fabulous rooms are those of Buckingham Palace which opens to the public on 23rd July. For sheer exuberance the d├ęcor of the State Rooms takes some beating. What a good job there is a 'pause' where you can relax among some of the most famous paintings in the world - in the Picture Gallery. (Guess what? There are two Buckingham Palace articles on TravelEditor!).

This year's special exhibition is of some of the Faberge items owned by the Royal Family. But probably the most popular exhibit will be a very special Wedding Dress. Yes, that worn by Kate Middleton when she married Prince William earlier this year. (No prizes - go to TravelEditor).

Back to the Swan-upping. If any of you are in the vicinity on Tuesday, do give me a wave on the Press Boat! That's the one with the cameras - natch. For details of viewing points go to the Royal Family web site. (www.royal.gov.uk/LatestNewsandDiary/Pressreleases/2011/SwanUpping).

My link to TravelEditor: www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/


People leaving Buckingham Palace from the Bow Room - into the back garden.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Homicide in Hampshire

I'm so excited.  My first crime novel has been published.  Admittedly its an e-book but after years of trying to get my books into print.....  Which doesn't mean that it isn't any good, just that publishers weren't interested.

I have several more books that I will, in time, e-publish but in the meantime, if you have an e-reader, you can buy this one.  Priced very low at $1.99.

To find out more go to:  www.smashwords.com/profile/view/barbarabothwell

Enjoy!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Tiffany in Florida

The first thing most people think when hearing the name Tiffany is "Breakfast at Tiffany's", that wonderful film starring Audrey Hepburn. But that is the Tiffany jewellery shop in New York.

Then come stained glass windows, lampshades and vases.

The Morse Museum in Winter Haven (not far from Orlando) has one of the largest collections Tiffany-ware. The full title of the museum is actually the Charles Mosmer Morse Museum of American Art. In 1942 Hugh and Jeannette McKean opened the museum and added to it for the next 50 years, including the acquisition of a number of Tiffany items.

In 1957 Laurelton Hall on Long Island was destroyed by fire. Laurelton had been the home of Louis Comfort Tiffany and, of course, had a lot of windows and other items created by Tiffany. Or, to be exact, created at the Tiffany works.

After the fire one of his daughters contacted the McKeans to see if they were interested in buying a window, or part thereof. They bought a lot more.

Over the years they and the museum collected more items and some years ago opened the restored Chapel (a work of art in mosaic) at the Museum. In February this year the Laurelton Hall Galleries opened with the restored Daffodil Terrace, windows, parts of windows, vases and many other artefacts on display.

When visiting the Orlando area do go to the Museum, it is wonderful.

If visiting St. Augustine on Florida's north-east coast you can still see Tiffany-ware - at the Flagler College and in the Lightner Museum.

You can read about both the Tiffany Chapel and the Laurelton Hall Galleries on my page of The Travel Editor:  www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwel/



The Fabulous Tiffany Chapel.  Copyright the Morse Museum.


Friday, 10 June 2011

Ironbridge Gorge and Beyond

That was a hectic couple of days, but fun.  It is very difficult when looking at all of the trees and the clean water of the River Severn to believe that this was once the heart of the Victorian Industrial Revolution.  Between heavy industry leaving the area and Mother Nature, the whole area has a new lease of life.

I began my 'tour' in the town of Ironbridge - walking across the famous bridge, of course - and subsequently strolled alongside the river to visit the Jackfield Tile Museum and from there strolled along to a footbridge over the river to go to the Coalport Museum (lots of very lush chinaware on display).  My journey sounds easy, doesn't it?  Had to be two or three miles.  The reason for walking was that I couldn't find a bus going in that direction.  There is a public service bus that goes to most of the museums but it only has a 2-hourly service.

So much for the first day.  The other two areas still to do were Blists Victorian Village at Blists Hill and Coalbrookdale where the Darby Houses and iron museums are.  Unfortunately these areas are at either end of the gorge and very hilly areas.  Yes, I had to rely on that bus.

Advice?  Take a car or go at the weekend when the tourist board has a bus service running between the museums.

This year at Trooping the Colour (June 12) Prince William, now the Duke of Cambridge, will be a part of the parade, riding a horse behind the Queen's carriage and wearing a very big hat.

Since my last blog I have put a couple more articles onto theTravelEditor - one about Paphos in Cyprus and the other about Clarence House, home of the Prince of Wales and former home of the Duke of Cambridge.  I will shortly be putting some articles about my Ironbridge experience onto TravelEditor so keep checking.

The Iron Bridge.......


Original London Underground Tiling....
Quickest way to access my articles is: www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Busy, busy, busy

As always, I am busy - both with writing articles for TheTravelEditor.com and trying to organise the manuscript of one of my books.  I have decided that as nobody wants to publish my books, I will have to e-publish them.  Unfortunately, I still haven't mastered the rules of Monopoly so you can imagine the problems I am having trying to understand the technical jargon from Smashwords!

Next week I am going to visit the Ironbridge Gorge - the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. This is something I have been promising myself for many years that I would do.  Obviously I am hoping that it won't rain as I would like to get some nice photographs with which to illustrate the articles. 

Watch this space!  Better still, check me out on www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/

The picture with this Blog is a lump of blue ice that I saw in Alaska http://www.thetraveleditor.com/article/7485/Feature_Article_Experience_Blue_Ice_of_Alaska.html
and is one of six pix that illustrate the article on TheTravelEditor.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Trooping the Colour

John Ringling's House in Sarasota

Yes, the article is now on traveleditor.com.  Harald Joergens supplied me with the pix which include the colourful soldiers and HM The Queen.  Sticking to the royal theme, yesterday I put an article about Windsor Castle onto that site. 

Life has been somewhat confusing during the past couple of weeks with people supposedly coming to do jobs and not turning up (so what's new!) and other people coming to check something, then actually doing the job (hurrah).  Hopefully on Monday 16th an engineer will come and repair my washer/dryer.  The washer is okay but when you live in a flat/apartment you do need a dryer and mine has been out of action since March! 

Workwise, apart from the recent articles put onto traveleditor - including one about Sarasota - I am working on some more, such as a Western Caribbean cruise (when I kissed a dolphin) and Charleston, SC.

As they say..... watch this space and log onto: www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

A Beautiful Royal Wedding

Last Friday was a wonderful day - sitting watching William and Kate get married and toasting them with a glass of gin and tonic!  Every time I watch pageantry in this country I have to admit that nobody does it like the Brits.

Our next bit of pomp and circumstance will be Trooping the Colour on 11 June.  No seats left for that one either but still plenty of room to stand along the Mall.  Yes, there will be a Balcony Scene and an RAF Fly Past.

I've been quite busy recently - spent a few days in Norwich which is a busy and historical city.  I am working on some articles about the trip which will appear on http://www.thetraveleditor.com/.  At the moment my writing for them seems to sticking to the Regal.  I have an article about the Royal Carriages which are on view to the public at the Royal Mews and am hoping to put on an article about Trooping the Colour within the next day or two.  My problem with that article is that I don't have any photos and am waiting for someone to supply them!

If you want to go directly to my page on thetraveleditor:  www.thetraveleditor.com/authors/6261/Barbara_Bothwell/

Friday, 15 April 2011

Don't Close our Libraries!

One of the worst things that any government could countenance is the closure of our libraries. They are not just a place from where we can borrow books, but an integral part of our education.

Being a war baby, my early education was sadly lacking due to unqualified teachers. Fortunately my mother introduced me to the library and I could read before I went to school. Later through reading books by Georgette Heyer and Jean Plaidy I was introduced to history. My curiosity about the characters and their eras made me curious to learn more – which I did. With books from the library.

Not everyone can afford to buy books, nor do they necessarily have storage space for them so the library is vitally important for the bookworms.

The unemployed can make use of the library, not just for the books, but for the newspapers – checking the sits. vac.

So far as the elderly and disabled are concerned, the local library is a life-line.

Having lived in America, I have seen how their library system works. Qualified librarians run them with the aid of volunteers. And they are even open for a few hours on Sunday afternoon which allows people who work six days a week the chance to browse.

I think it is time that the Government brought in legislation making charitable donations tax free. Then we could have a charity for the libraries and people would happily contribute to the fund. It would also encourage those wealthy people who hide their money away to keep more of it in this country and give it to charity!

Friday, 8 April 2011

On Wings of Time

Oh dear, how time flies! I’ve been so busy I hadn’t realised how long ago it is since I put something onto my blog.

As it is now two years since I returned to England, March was an expensive and complicated month. Plus trying to put plenty of articles onto thetraveleditor.com and time disappeared in the proverbial flash.

The articles include a couple of my “Alaska” experiences; on-shore excursions from a cruise. The latest one is about Glacier Gardens in Juneau where I saw the upside-down trees. The other one is about the New Archangel Dancers of Sitka, a troupe of enthusiastic ladies who perform Russian dances.

At the end of July Buckingham Palace will open its State Rooms to the public so there is also an article about some of them. Best advice – book early via their web site.

Other recent articles include the Lake District, the Pena Palace in Portugal, Mount Dora (Florida), Ghosts in San Diego, Florida’s Keys, Madeira and Monet’s Gardens. And probably some I’ve missed.

To read any of these articles and find useful links click on The TravelEditor link – it now goes directly to my page! Yes, I’m learning new things every day.

           Me at the lookout point in Glacier Gardens at Juneau, Alaska


Thursday, 17 February 2011

George Pullman, American Entrepreneur and Creator of the Pullman Car


In the 19th century Pullman improved rail travel with comfortable railroad cars. He started with sleepers and expanded from there. He was also involved in other projects.

Nowadays the most famous Pullman cars are those that make up the Orient Express with its cream and brown livery. Although these carriages were built in the 20th century, they were invented in the mid-19th century.

George Mortimer Pullman - the Early Years

George was born in 1831 in Brockton, New York. His father was a farmer and his mother’s uncle owned a general store. After 4th grade George left school and went to work in the store.

In 1845 his father, Lewis, gave up farming and moved to Albion, NY, where he worked as a carpenter on the Erie Canal.

A few years later George joined his parents, as did two of his brothers.

Lewis invented a method of moving buildings and, when he died, George took over his place in the family cabinet making business. In 1854 he contracted with New York State to move about 20 buildings away from the canal.

In 1857 he helped raise buildings in Chicago so that a sewer system could be installed to control the annual flooding.

The First Sleeping Cars

There are an overnight train from Buffalo to Westfield, NY, but it was very uncomfortable and Pullman saw the potential for a more comfortable sleeping car.

In 1857 he formed a partnership with one of his friends, Benjamin C. Field, to build and operate these cars. They received a contract from the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad.

To being with they converted two cars, Pullman drawing on his experience of sleeping accommodation on the canal boats.

Field, who had been a New York State Senator, was more interested in politics so left the partnership.

The 1859 Colorado Gold Rush

George Pullman found another way to make money. Not by panning for gold but by providing (with James E. Lyon) a freight business and an ore crushing mill.

The partnership didn’t last long and shortly thereafter, along with Spafford C. Field (Benjamin’s brother), Pullman acquired acreage for Cold Spring Ranch. This became a base camp for the miners.

Back to Chicago and the Pullman Cars

In 1863 Springfield and Pioneer were built. They were expensive but they were clean, comfortable and beautiful. Each cost $18,000.

Following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the President’s body was taken to his home in Springfield, Illinois, in a Pullman.

The publicity engendered piqued Andrew Carnegie’s interest and he became a major investor in the Pullman Company.

In 1867 Pullman created his first sleeper with attached kitchen and dining car and named it the President. The following year Delmonico joined the fleet, offering fine cuisine.

In 1869 Pullman consolidated his manufacturing operations in Chicago. The company produced five classes of carriages: hotel, parlor, reclining room, sleepers and diners.

Marriage, Family and Homes

George’s wife was Harriet (nee Sanger) whom he married in 1867. They had four children: Florence, Harriet, George Jr and Walter Sanger - the latter pair being twins.

Ten years later George had a house built on S. Prairie Ave, Chicago. It was demolished in 1922 under the provisions of Mrs. Pullman’s Will.

In 1888 George had another house built. This was on Pullman Island in Alexandria Bay. He also had homes in Albion, NY and Long Branch, NJ.

The Final Years

In 1880 Pullman purchased 4,000 acres near Lake Calumet (about 14 miles south of Chicago). Here he built his plant and adjacent town and called it Pullman.

Following employee unrest and a strike in 1894, the Illinois Supreme Court made the Pullman Company divest its ownership of the town. This was in 1898.

George Pullman didn’t live to hear of this ruling. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1897. He was 66 and was buried at the Graceland Cemetery.

The Bluebell Railway in Sussex uses Pullman coaches for special events. (www.bluebell-railway.co.uk)

References: Pullman-museum.org

Pullman-car.com

Monday, 7 February 2011

Single Room Supplements

Many years ago I campaigned against single room supplements and here I go again.

Why?  Because we single travellers are still being discriminated against. 
In European hotels we are given rooms not much bigger than broom cupboards, no balcony and, if we are lucky, a shower (no bath).  I have even ended up in rooms with h&c.  And for this privilege we are charged extra.
Doesn’t make sense, does it, especially as the hotels only charge the tour operators half price (or thereabouts) for those rooms.  But it does make sense when you look through the brochures and see how many operators offer family holidays with ‘free’ child places.  Who is paying for their flights?
Single people.
As one friend said to me, “I am single, I don’t have children, I don’t even like children, so why should I pay for their holidays?”
In America there is one small consolation – you get a full sized room.  BUT, you only use one bed and one person’s set of towels and only make one person’s mess.  Ergo the hotel is saving on linens, laundry and maid time.
For single people there is one type of holiday that is fantastic as you get to meet people very quickly – cruising.  Unfortunately, you are also expected to pay for two people.  Why?  You only use one bed and one person’s set of towels, added to which, you only eat one person’s FOOD. 
Recently while researching for this article I discovered that there are singles holidays either by specialist agencies or the tour operators.  I checked the prices of those and compared them to regular brochure prices.  Sure there isn’t a single room supplement added to the price – IT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE.
So, all you singles out there, how about complaining long and loudly to whoever you can about this discrimination.  Letters to the press are a good way, as well as via the internet.

PS - Don't forget to check out my articles on http://www.thetraveleditor.com/

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Wonderfully Romantic Island of Capri

Whenever I go to Sorrento I have to take the ferry to Capri.  This island in the Bay of Naples lives up to its romantic image with tree covered ‘mountains’, lush valleys, beautiful villas and the gorgeous azure and turquoise sea which surrounds it.  Unmissable!
Capri Town itself has shops and restaurants, Medieval alleys to investigate and narrow lanes which go up and down between multi-coloured villas and gardens.  The intermingling aromas of garlic and cheese and of the abundant flowers greet you.  Especially prolific is the bougainvillea with its purple or crimson flowers scaling house walls or draped over garden fences.
For the energetic there are walks around the coastline.  Or climb up to the ruins of Villa Jovis, once the palace of Emperor Tiberius.  At the villa you can see the remains of the Roman Baths and the servants’ quarters.  Over the centuries, until laws were enacted to prevent it, these ancient ruins were systematically pillaged.  For example, to see some of the African marble floor that was once here you have to go into the church of St. Stephen where it is now the floor of the High Altar. 
Another walk is the Tragara Walking Passage.  Along the way you can see many elegant villas, splendid views including unexpected ones of the sea or sheer cliffs.  What is wonderful is the sound of silence.  Until you stand still and, even on the calmest day, you can hear the plashing of the sea against the bottom of the cliffs.
Before leaving Capri I took a boat trip.  There is, of course, the famous Blue Grotto but, be warned, it is best visited in the morning and to enter it, one has to lie flat in the boat, so I took the coastal cruise.  The craggy, shrub spattered cliffs rise almost sheer from the sea.  Look up and there is someone sunbathing on top of a rocky outcrop.  No it isn’t.  It is a very lifelike black statue.
I may have missed the Blue Grotto but I wasn’t disappointed.  There is another one that is open to the sea.  Here are the most wonderful rock formations seemingly stretching up into infinity.  And the sea is the most gorgeous turquoise you have ever seen.
Wherever you are planning to go on holiday this year – have a great time and, of course, a very Happy New Year!
Don’t forget – if you enjoy travel articles you can read more of mine on www.theTravelEditor.com.  I am on their listing or you can “Google” me!