Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where is London Bridge Now?

Visiting the UK surely is a dream come true for most Historical Romance writers.
And when I visited the UK last year, one of my first experiences was discovering their bridges.

Excited to be on the famous Tower Bridge we went below to check out the engine room, where the huge steam engines are that operated the opening up of the bridge in the late 19th century.

Of course a lot of it went over my head, but Hubby was fascinated, him being a fitter and machinist and having done his apprenticeship working with steam engines and the like.
I was more intrigued when we trolled the many rooms and read that the original London Bridge is no longer in UK.   It is in the USA.
Surprised? .... Yeah I know ... so was I. And for some absolutely unprofound, absolutely paranoyic reason, this bothered me. I mean I'm not even British ... lol
Busy with traffic
in the 1900's

   After grilling one of the helpful attendants at the Bridge Museum for as much info as  they knew, I decided when I got home I would start digging about and this is more of what I found out.                                  
It seems that by 1962 the bridge was not sound enough for the increased traffic in London, so it was sold by the city of London and bought by Robert P. McCulloch.

                              The 1831 London bridge was dismantled in 1967 with each exterior granite block numbered for transportation to America. The face of these exterior blocks was sheared off and used to clad a concrete structure.
The bridge was completed in 1971 and links an island in the lake to the main part of Lake Havasu City. Arizona.

The Bridge as it is Today  in Lake Havasu City, Arizona

London Bridge on the River Thames about 1870
If you want to know more interesting facts about this famous bridge popover and read another post on the London Bridge at this site:
  Hoydens and Firebrands

Thanks to the staff at London Bridge and further info collected from Wikipedia:
Information on the relocation of London Bridge.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Writers are often asked where they get their idea for a story. Inspiration can strike in the most unexpected ways and sometimes there is no one trigger point for a story. 

GATHER THE BONES is a story that came from a number of different sources but it is perhaps a little brown book published in 1920 that I found at the back of my parents bookshelves that sowed the seeds of my hero, Paul’s war. Ypres and the Battle for Ypres 1914-1918, An illustrated history and guide”.

 It seems extraordinary that less than two years after the end of the war there was already a tourist industry around the battlefields, but the clue comes from a little insert on the town of Ypres which describes it as the “Centre for English, French and American Pilgrims”. In this little leaflet are advertisements for “Touring Cars” (wreaths by arrangement “placed on graves and photographed”), Hotels bearing the names “The Splendid” and “Hotel Britannique”. A good cup of tea in three minutes can be obtained from the Patisserie and Tea Rooms of Me Ve Vandaele on the Grand Place.

The Michelin Guides are ubiquitous today and I have a small collection of the narrow green guides for parts of France I have visited. It began in 1900 just as the first automobiles were appearing on the roads of  France. Two enterprising brothers, André and Edouard Michelin decided to produce a small guide, given free to motorists, listing petrol stations across France and information on where to get your vehicle repaired as well as crucial information on accommodation and meals.  In 1904 the Guide went international, with the publication of the Michelin Guide Belgium. 

The company must have seen the opportunity that existed and even while the war still raged it started to produce a produced a series of guides to the battlefields. According to a page in the guide, during the war itself, Michelin converted a warehouse into a hospital for the wounded, all funded by the company. It opened on September 22 1914 and the first wounded arrived that night. In all nearly 3000 soldiers were treated at the Michelin Hospital. (An illustrated booklet on how Michelin "did his bit" will be sent "free on application")

We are informed that during the Great War, Ypres was bombarded continuously for four years and 250,000 British fell defending the city. “Today Ypres is being quickly reconstructed,out of 5,000 Houses destroyed, 3,000 will have been rebuild by the end of 1923; thanks to the tenacity of the Population and financial help from the Belgium Government.”
“A number of quite up to date Hotels, providing every comfort: Central Heating, Electricity, Baths etc are already in full swing. ..The country around is agricultural, with villages and farms being rebuilt once more...Every convenience and comfort for Pilgrims and Tourists is to be had in Ypres...”

So we have hired our touring car (with a British Driver), fortified ourself with a 3 minute cup of tea and off we go. The most extraordinary thing about this little book are the illustrations: Before and After shots of little towns, chateau, woods and churches. Our touring car is pictured driving down a road lined by the broken stumps of trees and this is another taken at an intersection in what would have once been the thriving little town of Messines. 

My husband and I visited modern Ypres in 2005. Like the little towns of the Ypres salient it has been rebuilt, reconstructed to look as it did before 1914, but in the flat, green fields of the Ypres salient are the many, many cemeteries and memorials and in places it is still possible to see the craters and trenches that once criss crossed the area. 

Even ninety years after the last gun was silenced, the bodies of the missing were being discovered and a reinternment was occurring while we were there. I tried to imagine what it was like for the families of those young men who had no graveside to mourn and slowly the idea for Gather the Bones took shape.
I had Paul’s war there on my desk. In that non descript little book I had the images of the battlefields, the trenches, the concrete machine gun posts but more importantly I had the pilgrimage. Evelyn, Charlie’s mother, has to see where her son died, to really believe he is dead. It was the Evelyns who bought the 1920 Michelin Guide, booked the Hotel Splendid, bought their wreath and in their hired touring car, laid their ghosts to rest.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Historical Hearts Good News

Maggi Andersen is celebrating her latest release
A Baron in Her Bed
Available now from
Amazon UK
Knox Robinson Publishing andThe Book Depository.
A Baron in Her Bed will be available at
Amazon US in March 2013
Short blurb: London, 1816. A handsome baron. A faux betrothal. And Horatia's plan to join the London literary set takes a dangerous turn.
Alison Stuart is celebrating her latest release
Gather the Bones
Available now from Lyrical Press

Blurb: Set in 1923 against a background of the Great War, grieving war widow, Helen Morrow and her husband’s cousin, the wounded and reclusive Paul are haunted not only by the horrors of the Great War but ghosts from another time and another conflict. A coded diary provides the clues to the mysterious disappearance of Paul’s great grandmother in 1812. As the desperate voice of the young woman reaches out to them from the pages, Paul and Helen are bound together in their search for answers, not only to the old mystery but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Helen’s husband at Passchandaele in 1917. As the two stories become entwined, Paul and Helen will not find peace until the mysteries are solved.


Tamara Gill is celebrating her latest release
A Stolen Season
Available now from Crimson Romance
Amazon, B&N and iTunes

Blurb: Archaeologist Sarah Baxter had a clear directive: travel back to nineteenth century London to retrieve the measuring device she left behind. But her bungled attempt at thievery left an English Earl dead and his brother bent on revenge. Sarah must once again go back in time to find the device and return to her own time before her tragic mistake puts a noose around her neck. Unfortunately, the only way to get close to the device is to befriend the very man who wants her dead.
Eric, the new Earl of Earnston, was determined to catch the woman who killed his brother, but she’d disappeared without a trace. Twelve months on and there are still no clues to her whereabouts. As luck would have it, he finds a distraction. A new family have arrived in town and Miss Sarah Baxter is a delightful diversion among the stale debutantes in the ton.
Sarah knows it is madness to seduce the man who would want her dead should he know who she was, but the Earl is an alarmingly persistent gentleman. Can Sarah procure the device without her secret being revealed? And what will the Earl do when he finds out the woman he’s in love with is not the woman he thought he knew?

We're very proud to announce Cassandra Samuels
who finaled in the RWAust Valerie Parv Award
Placed 2nd overall for her novel
The Wager
Congratulations Cassandra!!
Cass receiving her award at the
RWAust 2012 Gold Coast conference awards dinner.
HH Member Mary deHaas w/a Marianne Theresa
has signed her FIRST contract with
for an erotic short story
(title tba)
Congratulations Mary!!
• Commencing in November, Momentum, the new digital-only imprint of Pan Macmillan Australia will be releasing a series of 13 erotic short stories by new and established Australian romance writers.
You can read more about Momentum Publishing here and the Hot Down Under authors here.

Suzi Love has signed a TWO contract deal with
One story is an historical erotic romance &
the other an early Victorian historical romance.
(titles tba)
Congratulations Suzi!!

Danielle Lisle
was featured in a NT newspaper
The two page feature was due to the fact Danielle is the
NT's only erotic author! And a fantastic writer of course!
Congratulations Danielle!!

What a fantastic round up this month.
Congratulations everyone!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Scotland ~ Her Castles ~ A Little History cont' by Allison Butler


In April I started a series about my first dream trip to Scotland. This post is my next treasured memory as my husband and I continue our journey ~

After leaving the magnificent Caerlaverock Castle, we headed west to Threave Island, situated on the river Dee 14km's from the burgh and port of Kirkcudbright.

Threave Castle and Island

In medieval times, access to the island was either by boat from the west side into the harbour or via the hazardous dog-legged ford at the south end of the island. Today, you have to sit back, relax and allow the ferryman to take you across.

Legend tells that Threave Island was the home of the ancient rulers of Galloway a thousand and more years ago. Today there is no trace of their fortress. The tall, forbidding tower house that now dominates the island was built for Archibald Douglas, better known to history as Archibald 'The Grim', soon after he became Lord of Galloway in 1369.

Forbidding Threave Castle

This tower house was one of the first to be constructed in Scotland

Archibald's castle was much more than just the tower house we see today. There are lumps and grassy bumps where the foundations of other buildings lie buried.

Excavations in the 1970's revealed what some of these buildings were likely to be. A great hall, guest lodgings with chapel, kitchens, bake houses, brew houses, stables, workshops and yards. The conclusion drawn from the artefacts and debris found was that this was once a thriving, self-sufficient community boasting wood-turning, iron-smithing and lead-smelting. They also made their own shoes and other leather items, spun wool, maintained a good standard of animal husbandry, ate well and played board games much as we do.


The tower house was designed to accommodate the family and immediate household of Black Douglas alone. It was a self-contained residence fully capable, when the occasion demanded, of being defended by a modest number of men temporarily stationed within its massive walls.

The ground floor and stairs leading to the next level

The tower house comprised five storeys of accommodation with battlements at the top. It had only one entrance, on the east side.

The spiral staircase leading to the upper storeys

The basement at ground level served as a cellarage, and included a well that was reached from the kitchen via a ladder and hatch.

Threave well was built inside the tower house

A dark, dank prison occupied the basement beneath the reception hall. Adam Crossar, a petty thief, was held prisoner here in 1579.

No, that's not my husband playing the part for the photo.

But he would if asked:)

By the time of his death at Threave in 1400, Archibald Douglas was the most powerful magnate in southern Scotland.
When James II took steps to overthrow the Black Douglases a half century after Archibald's death, it was at Threave that the final act in the drama unfolded. The island fortress withstood a two-month siege in the summer of 1455 before the garrison surrendered. The Black Douglases were finally destroyed, their estates forfeited.

Threave reverted to the Crown and thereafter played an insignificant role in Scotland's history. Following the surrender of its garrison to the Covenanters in 1640, the castle was partially dismantled and the island abandoned.

The ruin was taken into state care shortly before World War I - one of the first great ruined castles to be so protected.

Thanks for dropping by and I hope you'll return to see where we stop next in our Scottish adventure ~
Information care of Historic Scotland