Launch Extravaganza for FALLEN FOR ROCK by Nicky Wells

Launch Day is here for FALLEN FOR ROCK!

Fallen for RockBlurb:

‘A thrilling and delicious story of love and self-discovery woven around a broken romance that will make you turn page after page and cheer to the end.’

Love, life, loyalties. Nothing stays the same when Emily gets drawn into the world of rock.

Glossy and sophisticated professional high-flyer Emily has no time for nonsense such as the rock music her ex-boyfriend Nate adored so much. Yet when she unexpectedly comes into possession of VIP tickets—access all areas—for new rock band phenomenon, MonX, she can’t resist the temptation.

The fateful gig turns into more than one night, and Emily finds herself strangely drawn to this new and unfamiliar glittery world. However, only weeks later, MonX and her own universe fall apart with devastating consequences for all. When MonX lead singer Mike appeals for her help, she reluctantly embraces a new opportunity. But she soon discovers that while she may be a rock chick after all, a groupie she is not… Or is she?

Just exactly where do her loyalties lie? And what direction will her life take now that she’s left behind everything she treasured?

Warning! Fallen For Rock contains some explicit content and strong language that may not be suitable for readers under eighteen years of age.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Proudly introducing: Mike Loud, rock guitarist and “I’m hell to live with” lead singer in Fallen for Rock

Welcome, Mike, and thanks for taking the time to chat with me today. How are you?

I’m fine, thanks so much for having me. It’s a bit early in the day, so please nudge me if seem a bit spaced out. And thanks for the extra strong coffee!

Late night recording, was it?

Absolutely. We didn’t leave the studio until four in the morning. That’s like…five hours ago.

Goodness. I’m doubly honoured that you made it, then.

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world, chick.

I’m very glad to hear that you’re back recording again. It was all a bit touch and go after the MonX break up for a while, wasn’t it?

Well. *coughs* You could say that. We didn’t part on the most amicable of terms.

You’ve been keeping very quiet about what happened. You never gave a statement to the press at the time, but you did reveal all to Nicky Wells for her latest novel, Fallen for Rock. How come?

Technically, I didn’t reveal anything to anyone. Nicky was primarily chatting with Emily, and Emily shared what I’d told her. Obviously I met Nicky a few times as well, and I read the whole book before it ever went to print…

You did?

Of course I did. I’m a fast reader. I’m not adverse to a bit of romance, although it was a little strange seeing… um… well… some of Emily and my… physical encounters…rendered on the page. In written words. Not that I’m a prude or anything. It was just odd to read that stuff about me.

Ha! I bet. So what happened with MonX?

*Mike grins* You’ll have to read the book for the gory details. I swear I was innocent, really.

Tell me about the book. How does it feel to be not only a rock star but also a romantic hero?

A romantic hero, crikey! *guffaws loudly* I’d never considered it like that. It feels surreal, to say the least. I’d never planned to ‘star’ in a book. A movie, perhaps, but not a book. Although who knows… maybe one day Fallen for Rock will hit the big screen.

Anything’s possible. I hear Nicky had an offer for a movie deal on her first novel before now?

She certainly did.

And?

She turned it down, or so she told me. Apparently she didn’t like the terms of the deal, and they wanted to change the location too.

Crazy. But Fallen for Rock…?

I guess if the right deal comes along, we’ll have to talk casting.

Who’d be you, do you think?

Me? *laughs loudly* I’d play myself. Like a tour?

A tour would be great, but even a single gig would be awesome. Just imagine… me and Jon, performing a song we wrote together. Ah, there’s a lifetime’s ambition.

It’s interesting to hear about what drives you.

Ha! Some would say I’m too driven. Emily nearly chucked me out way back when because I was such an arsehole while I was writing music. She was really worried for me too, and all I did in response was snap at her. Although in fairness, I had warned her that I’m hell to live with.

And that’s also in the book. Am I thinking of the right scene here?

You certainly are. That bit’s in the book, as is our whole story from start to finish. How we met, how MonX broke up, and what happened next to me, and to her.

Why “Fallen for Rock”?

Great question. Nicky says it’s because Emily goes through such a turnaround. You know, from rock-hater to rock-lover. Me, I think the title works on many levels. I took a fall, too, although not so much ‘for rock’ as ‘from grace.’ And Emily quite literally had a fall. A fall that would change everything! So it’s a fab title, and the meaning just gets more and more powerful as the story unfolds.

Thanks so much, Mike, it’s been brilliant talking with you. You take care now!

You too. And rock on, as Nicky would say.

Rock on indeed…

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fallen for Rock SWAG Giveaway!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATo celebrate the launch of Fallen for Rock and to spread some joy, I’m giving away the following items:

One Large Signed Poster of “Fallen for Rock”

Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Swag (Postcards and Bookmarks)

Three Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock SWAG SPECIAL” including 2 bookmarks, 2 postcards and 2 guitar picks

Five Sets of Signed “Fallen for Rock” Guitar Picks (two picks per set)

One Set of “The Complete Nicky Wells Swag” (signed): Bookmarks and postcards for Sophie’s Turn, Sophie’s Run, Sophie’s Encore, Spirits of Christmas and Fallen for Rock

One Audio CD: Bon Jovi “Greatest Hits” (2010)

One Amazon Gift Certificate for £5/$7 or equivalent

Enter HERE:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Portrait6About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

You can buy Fallen For Rock here:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Amazon.ca | Amazon.au

Join Nicky:Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association |Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads| Pinterest

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.

RomanceRockBanner_NickyWells

Day 15 – Glasgow to Toronto

Day 15 – Glasgow to Toronto – August 25, 2013

We were checked out of the hotel and over at the airport before 8:00. When I booked the room, I went with room only because I knew there were plenty of places in the airport to go get breakfast.

The Air Transat desk opened at 8:15 so we went and got checked in so we could get rid of our two big bags. After passing through security, we found a place reasonably close to our gate where we could have a meal (and me, a coffee). We decided on the Beardmore Bar and Restaurant. After all the huge, cooked breakfasts I’d eaten in the two weeks, and having already mowed down a packet of Prawn Cocktail crisps, I only had fried eggs on toast.

I’m not sure how it happened, but when I went to fasten my belt in the WC, the buckle came off in my hand and a belt without a buckle isn’t much use to anyone, so the entire thing went into the trash. At least for the time being, we didn’t have a lot of walking to do so I didn’t have to worry about losing my pants… LOL.

While we waited in the departure lounge for our flight to arrive, I took advantage of the free wi-fi and checked my email. I discovered that an interview I had done with Stacy Claflin before our trip went live the day before. I went to her blog and thanked her for hosting me before my half hour expired.

Before our plane arrived, a fire engine arrived and parked by the gate. It doesn’t exactly inspire a warm, fuzzy feeling. Shortly after that, an ambulance arrived and parked next to the building below where we were sitting.

Our plane at arriving at Glasgow Airport
Our plane at arriving at Glasgow Airport

We waited and watched to see what would take place next. Once the plane taxied in to location, the fire engine went out and parked by the left, rear emergency exit. Once the gangway was in place, two paramedics sprinted up the outside stairs.

For the longest time, nothing happened. Well, there was likely a lot going on in the plane but from our vantage point, we couldn’t see.

Eventually, a paramedic descended followed by a man carrying some cabin luggage and a purse. He was followed by a woman and a paramedic. She and her ‘husband’ were bundled into the ambulance.

When hubby came back from a walk, he told me he’d overheard a couple of flight crew members saying that they didn’t know exactly what happened but the woman was taken to Royal Glasgow and would be spending the night there for observation. Not a very nice way to spend the beginning of your vacation or arriving back home.

The flight boarded and left on time. We thought for sure it would be late with all the earlier excitement.

Except for hitting a few patches of turbulence, one severe enough to suspend beverage service – it was rough – but other than that, everything went to plan and we landed in Toronto on time and I phoned my cousin who was picking us up to let her know.

Walking through the airport, I had to continually tug at my pants to keep them from falling down. I thought for sure, my actions would create suspicion but we had no problems at all, well except for the self-serve customs scanners not reading our passports or declaration form the first time. It wasn’t until the girl started towards us that it worked. I told her it had to be her aura.

When we finally got our bags, which seemed to take forever (trouble with checking in so early – bags are the last to come off the plane), we headed outside and found a place by one of the posts and called my cousin again. Within minutes, she and her husband were there and our luggage loaded into their car.

Back at her place, we transferred our stuff from her vehicle into the trunk of mine. I had bought something for them to say thank you for letting us leave the car at their place for the two weeks and for putting us down at and later uplifting us from the airport, so got it out of hubby’s CPAP machine bag so I could give it to them when we got inside. I quickly discovered the price tag was still on it so I had to get it off and into the garbage without them seeing. I was successful.

So what was the gift you ask? It was a wee sign with a picture of a cat and wording to the effect “household staff here”.

We visited with them for a while before leaving for home and pulled into our driveway shortly before 9:00 pm.

What a trip! I can’t wait until we can do it again… so I guess I best get my second book finished and published so I can take it on a UK (or maybe elsewhere) book tour.

Day 14 – Largs to Glasgow

Day 14 – Largs to Glasgow – August 24, 2013

What a difference a day makes. Late yesterday afternoon when we arrived in Largs, it was dull and overcast, not to mention, cold with showers. This morning, it was bright and sunny. Over breakfast, I chatted with Pica, the lady who runs Tigh-An-Struan Guest House. She knew I was a writer from my email signature and asked about my book and could she buy a copy. Since I still had some in the boot of the car, I was more than happy to oblige. I gave her the price and told her I would even sign it for her. While I was at the car getting a copy and the book swag to go with it, I made a note to myself to tell hubby I wanted to go back down to the beach and take pictures since it was so different than when we arrived. Book signed, bill paid, hugs from Pica (especially after I showed her the page I had signed on), we headed to the car only for me to have to go back because I’d left my warm poncho in our room. She handed me the key and I dashed upstairs. Not only had I left my poncho on the bed, but hubby had left his shampoo and body wash in the shower. Before we left, we put as much of our stuff as possible into the suitcases since for the most part, any extra bags from purchases had just been tossed into the boot. Our rental car would be going back later today and the fewer items we had to contend with, the easier it would make our lives. Before leaving Largs, we walked down to the beach so I could take pictures.

Seaside at Largs
Seaside at Largs looking towards Great Cumbrae
Seaside at Largs
Seaside at Largs looking towards Great Cumbrae
Ferry at Largs
Ferry at Largs

As we’d done the day before and back on Day 8 when we headed south, I wanted to stay along the coast for as much of the drive to Johnstone where we would catch the train into Glasgow as possible.

River Clyde near Langbank
River Clyde near Langbank

Same day return tickets purchased, we went out onto the platform to wait for our train. We weren’t there more than ten minutes before it pulled into the station.

Train arriving in Johnstone
Johnstone Station platform

As soon as we were off the train and out of the station, we immediately headed for Argyle Street where we turned left and made our way to the High Street and up to the Necropolis.

Corner of The Trongate and Albion Street
Corner of The Trongate and Albion Street
The mercat cross in Glasgow
The Mercat Cross
The Tolbooth Steeple and McChuills from High Street
The Tolbooth Steeple and McChuills from High Street

Call me weird, but I love cemeteries – especially old ones. The stonework in these older monuments is amazing, not to mention the architecture of the mausoleums.

Me on the Bridge of Sighs
Me on the Bridge of Sighs
Necropolis from the Bridge of Sighs
Necropolis from the Bridge of Sighs
Grave of William Miller author of Wee Willie Winkie
Grave of William Miller author of Wee Willie Winkie
Grave in the Necropolis
Headstone in the Necropolis
Grave in the Necropolis
Mausoleum in the Necropolis
Grave in the Necropolis
Headstone in the Necropolis

We had barely scratched the surface of this amazing ‘City of the Dead’ when it was time to move on. From here we went to George Square where there used to be a tourist information shop but was closed and relocated to Buchanan Street. So off we went but not before taking a slight detour down to Royal Exchange Square to see the Duke of Wellington Statue.

The Duke of Wellington statue
The Duke of Wellington statue

Yes, that’s a traffic cone on his head. If my murky memory serves, back in the day people would climb up and put it on the statue only to have the city come along and take it down. Finally, once it was up there it was left as is because the statue was being damaged. Now it’s illegal to remove the ‘jaunty chapeau’. Buchanan Street was alive with bands playing and buskers on almost every block.

Clanadonia playing on Buchanan Street
Clanadonia playing on Buchanan Street

We stopped in at the tourist information looking to see how far out the new transportation museum was, only to discover it was far from being within walking distance. I had toyed with the idea of buying the guys something from here but that didn’t happen. From here, we walked down to Argyle Street and went into the St Enoch Centre where I visited my favourite department store – Debenhams along with a few others but didn’t find what I was looking for. On our way back to the train station, we went into The Glasgow Kilt Company on Union Street. Much to my delight, they had the tartan corset I’ve ogled and drooled over for a few years and decided that buying online wasn’t an option. There was no change room here, and with UK sizes being different than North American, I needed to be able to try it on. One of the staff was extremely helpful. He told us of their other store on Hope Street which had more tartans to choose from plus, the needed change room. He even came out onto the pavement with us and told us how to get there so off we went. What a score! It took some time trying on various sizes (hubby was even allowed to come and help me) until I found the right size. I got my corset (one that fit and less expensive than online), a couple of fridge magnets and ‘Glasgow’ hoodies for the guys. Here it is, what do you think? I’m seeing some new author photos done wearing it. Maybe up at St Lawrence Park after the leaves change since it’s gorgeous up there in the the autumn.

tartan corset
tartan corset

When we finally got back to the airport complex to return the car and check into our room, we decided to return the rental car first. It wasn’t a long walk between the two places. We made sure all of our loot was out and got one of the baggage carts to put most of the stuff on to go back. They were quite pleased at the condition the car came back in, and surprised when hubby told them that one of the back-up lights was out. I guess they don’t get a lot of people fess up?

Our room at the Holiday Inn
Our room at the Holiday Inn
Our room at the Holiday Inn
Our room at the Holiday Inn
Our room at the Holiday Inn
Our room at the Holiday Inn

After we got checked into the hotel, the first thing we did was re-pack up the suitcases ensuring they weren’t overweight and that said weight was relatively equal, and a few pounds below the maximum allowable so that we’d have the wiggle room we needed in the morning to put our ‘can’t pack until the end’ stuff in. Despite having a well stocked mini-fridge in the hall just inside the door and a bottle of wine on the desk, we steered clear of them (well, I used a wine glass later so I could finish up the bottle of red wine I’d brought with me from Earlsfield Farm) and visited the bar downstairs where we had a bite to eat and a few well-deserved pints of Becks, and toasted a very successful trip. It’s really hard to believe it’s gone by so fast. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be trundling our luggage over to the airport and flying home.

But one last time before we leave Scotland, let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Day 13 – Gretna to Largs

Day 13 – Gretna to Largs – August 23, 2013

Our first stop this morning after getting checked out was back up to Smiths Hotel to see if my lens cap had been turned in. We did a cursory glance as we walked through the area we’d sat in the night before but saw nothing so went to reception and asked if one had been turned in. When the girl on the desk heard where we’d sat the previous night, she said check with the bar staff because it would have likely been turned in there. We did and were told to go to reception which we replied we’ve already done that and were told to come here. Then the girl asked if we’d had a good look around where we sat, which we hadn’t. I mean, going through the area, patting down chairs, looking under them without anyone knowing why would look rather suspicious. She then told us it was okay to have a good look so we did. Hubby ran his hand down between the side of the chair and the cushion where I’d made myself comfortable the night before and voila, he came up with the missing lens cap. Before we left, we made sure that reception and the girl in the bar knew we’d found the elusive contraption hiding in the chair. Yay!

Now that the lens cap mystery had been solved we could get on with our day starting with our stop at Caerlaverock Castle. I wanted to go here when we were last in this area in 2005 but time didn’t permit so I ensured a visit on this trip.

Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle

What an impressive ruin! It’s likely to be the most intact of the ruined castles we’ve visited in all of our visits to Scotland.

Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle

While we were inside one of the chambers here, a couple of kids were throwing stones down from one of the upper levels. Hubby, stinker that he can be, said to them in a ghostly sort of voice, “Do you want me to throw them back?” Funny, they quit throwing stones. Go figure.

Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle
Caerlaverock Castle

After our visit here, well worth waiting for I might add, we headed to our next stop Sweetheart Abbey but driving along the Nith Estuary, I had to stop. Not only was it at low tide but one of the signs we’d seen at a lay-by mentioned quicksand. How can a body resit such a photo op?

The Nith Estuary
The Nith Estuary
The Nith Estuary
The Nith Estuary

By the time we arrived at Sweetheart Abbey, it had started to spit rain. Just what one needs when you need a WC. Thankfully (tongue in cheek), there were public toilets in the car park. I don’t know who maintains ownership of these ones but they were functional and that was all.

Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey

The story behind this abbey can be found at Historic Scotland. Talk about true love…

Lady Dervorgilla's resting place with a cast of her husband's urn
Lady Dervorgilla’s resting place with a cast of her husband’s urn
Sweetheart Abbey
Sweetheart Abbey from the churchyard

As we did after leaving Kennethmont, I wanted to drive along the coast, despite the weather being grey and gloomy with occasional showers. Our trip was coming to an end so maybe that was the reason behind it. Still, I wasn’t nearly as weepy as I was during the drive from Kennethmont to Kelso.

We passed by Cardoness and Carsluith Castles vowing to put them on the next trip. By taking the coast road, our trip was longer, but despite the cloud cover and occasional showers, far more scenic than the more direct inland route.

Near Girvan, we stopped in one of the lay-bys (part of the old road) for a photo op.

Ailsa Craig shrowded in fog
Ailsa Craig shrowded in fog
mainland scenery across the firth from Ailsa Craig
mainland scenery across the firth from Ailsa Craig

By now we really had to make tracks since we wanted to go over to Quarriers Village and see our friends there who had made the journey up to Kennethmont for my book launch. Off and on during the entire day it continued to rain – sometimes harder than others. “Sat Nav Sally” took us to the M77 (not a bad thing since we needed to make up time) and onto the M8… in rush hour. No worse than driving across Toronto, but still not the easiest. Knowing where we were and where we had to exit helped immensely so it wasn’t the end of the world.

After a visit with our friends, we made tracks for Largs, taking the ‘back’ roads. Looking back, we probably should have gone and checked in first, then headed over to Quarriers Village but seeing our friends was far more important at the time than getting to our room.

Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House 2
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House
Our room at Tigh-An-Struan Guest House

Before going off for a bite of supper, we walked the other way to the beach and I was able to get a few pictures.

Seaside at Largs
Seaside at Largs
Seaside at Largs
Seaside at Largs

We went up into the town and had our supper at an Indian Restaurant next to the Royal Bank of Scotland. It was an excellent meal, and although the onion bhajias we had weren’t on the same level as the ones in Kelso, they were delicious and served on a bed of fresh, sliced onion. Yum, yum! And no heartburn later!

So before I fall asleep after a long yet fulfilling day, let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow will be our last full day in Scotland and the plan is to drive to Johnstone and take the train from there into Glasgow to go shopping and visit the Necropolis. Fingers crossed the weather cooperates.

Day 12 – Harrogate to Gretna

Day 12 – Harrogate to Gretna – August 22, 2013

Before we had breakfast, we looked up some of the possible things we could do between Harrogate and my friend’s house just outside the Lake District. One option was to take the steam train that stopped at, among other points along the line, Haworth which is home to the Bronte Parsonage Museum – the former home of the literary sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

This idea was soon dismissed when we discovered it would be better to have a full day for the journey so it’s now on the bucket list for our next trip. My friend expected us after lunch and had we done this, it would have been after supper, if at all, since we had to get to Gretna.

We debated on driving straight through to Drybeck but a signpost along the road got our attention. Bolton Abbey. Since we like poking around ruins and what not, we thought why not? We weren’t disappointed.

Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbey
Bolton Abbery from across the River Wharfe
Bolton Abbery from across the River Wharfe
Bolton Abbey from the churchyard
Bolton Abbey from the churchyard

We spent a few enjoyable hours here before making our way back up the hill to the car park. Along the way, we stopped in at a used bookstore in the village then in the Bolton Abbey gift shop. I bought a bracelet here (among other things) but haven’t worn it yet.

Back on the road, with another bag of loot stuffed into the boot, we began the trek to Drybeck. Soon after taking the exit at Penrith, we were on narrower roads (not that I mind) going over the mountains. We passed over at cattle grid and soon after, had to be on the lookout for sheep. Some were grazing well away from the road’s surface, others next to it.

The narrow road into Drybeck was extremely so with virtually no place to get over if you met an oncoming car. Thankfully, we didn’t. Once we got into the hamlet, we had no idea which house was my friend’s. We drove right past it! Anyway, a lady was riding her horse a bit ahead of us, so when we got close, Don put his window down and asked if she knew where our friend lived. She did and pointed us in the right direction – except we counted cottages wrong. One, which looked like a semi-detached, we counted as two so ended up at the house next door. Being in a valley, cell phone reception was the pits, but after losing Pam trying to call on Don’s mobile, he finally got a signal and got her back. He suggested she come out into the road and she did. She was so close to where we were, we heard her door close! I had backed the car into the driveway next door so I didn’t have far to drive to get into the proper driveway.

The weather was gorgeous – warm and sunny and perfect for sitting in the garden. My friend’s dog, Sid, loves to play ball, but he doesn’t like to give it up when he brings it back all slobbery and slimy.

Sid
Sid

In addition to her dog, her ‘grand-dog’ Zen was there. Not as into playing ball as Sid, but he was more into wading in the pond, much to my friend’s chagrin.

Zen
Zen

After an enjoyable afternoon abeit much too short, we began our drive to Gretna. This time we weren’t as fortunate to not meet cars on the narrow road with no passing places. This time we met oncoming cars and had to back up down the road until I could slip into the driveway for a farmer’s field. Nae fun.

We made one final stop before we hit the Scottish border to see if we had the directions to Barrasgate House from back in 2005 when we stayed there. I didn’t have anything in my emails on my laptop but after some searching, hubby found the information on his iPad. Not that it mattered, “Sat Nav Sally” got us there in the end, just brought us in from the other direction so that it was on our right instead of our left. Now we were back in familiar territory. I didn’t need the sat nav or the atlas for the rest of today.

Our room at Barrasgate
Our room at Barrasgate House
Our room at Barrasgate
Our room at Barrasgate House
Our room at Barrasgate
Our room at Barrasgate House

Once we got settled, we did a quick online search for a place for supper and decided on Smiths Hotel at Gretna Green just up and over the road from the historic Blacksmith’s Shop.

There had been mixed reviews about the restaurant but we had an excellent meal, the service was great so our only issue was this modern place (and if memory serves, it was under construction in 2005 when we were in the area) so close to the Blacksmiths’ Shop. It just seemed so out of place.

Once we got back to Barrasgate House, I realized the lens cap for my camera was gone. I’d had it all along and even at supper so we decided that since the hotel wasn’t too far out of our way, we’d stop by there before our leaving the area and see if it had been turned in.

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow we’ll be off to Largs with stops at Caerlaverock Castle and Sweetheart Abbey and more if time permits. It’s really hard to believe that our holiday is almost over.

Day 11 – East Kennett to Harrogate

Day 11 – East Kennett to Harrogate – August 21, 2013

Today is going to be another fun day. After checking out, we headed the short distance to Avebury to see the stone circle and the avenue of standing stones leading to it. Alongside the West Kennet Avenue, is a small lay-by you can park in with a permanently parked police car with banners in all of the windows reminding folks to take their valuables or put them out of sight and lock their cars.

West Kennet Avenue
West Kennet Avenue
Me at West Kennet Avenue
Me on West Kennet Avenue

With the way the avenue sweeps up and over the hill, some of the stones wind up on the other side of the road.

One of the West Kennet Avenue stones on the other side of the road
One of the West Kennet Avenue stones on the other side of the road
Don at West Kennet Avenue
Don on West Kennet Avenue
West Kennet Avenue from the top of the hill
West Kennet Avenue from the top of the hill

After our time on the avenue, we went in to Avebury to see the other stones. There was a great car park along the way – pay and display (not a problem) – but the machines were all locked down or wrapped in bin bags. Was it safe to park? Not being sure, we moved on and went to the car park at The Red Lion, yet another pay and display. I hopped out and got some photos whilst hubby attempted to program “Sat Nav Sally” for our next destination but she was having none of it.

The stones across from The Red Lion in Avebury
The stones across from The Red Lion in Avebury
One of the stone circles at Avebury
One of the stone circles at Avebury

We went back to the lay-by alongside West Kennet Avenue, hoping that our ‘electronic travelling companion’ regain her satellite signal and find herself. I left hubby to it and got a couple of interesting pics of things I hadn’t seen before but when you really stopped and looked, it couldn’t have been more obvious.

I think this stone looks like a shark. When we were walking along the avenue earlier, I never gave it a thought. But a second look and… well what do you think? A shark? Or something else?

The shark stone
The shark stone

Here’s another one with different appearances depending on the angle you view it from. This first angle looks like a face with a rather large nose.

From this angle a face
From this angle a face

And from this angle, perhaps a chess piece? I’m thinking the knight. What do you think?

From this angle a chess piece
From this angle a chess piece

“Sat Nav Sally” finally found herself and our final destination was programmed in along with our stop for lunch. There were a number of other ‘white horses’ in the area and one on our way to Tewkesbury. We thought that since it was a short drive we’d have time to go check it out… that was until we hit a construction tailback and we were in it for what seemed to be forever. We were sat for at least half an hour. So much for a side trip to photograph another white horse.

If not for the motorway, we would have been late for our lunch date at The Bell Hotel (another place I found on google maps) with Linn B Halton and her husband.

Linn was one of the winners of my book swag pack from my e-launch splash so we had agreed I would bring it with me since we were getting together anyway. Much to my surprise, she gave me a pink, agate angel related to her Angels series (being published by HarperImpulse as Falling). I can spill the beans now about her publishing deal because she’s made it public.

Me with Linn Halton at The Bell Hotel in Tewkesbury
Me with Linn Halton at The Bell Hotel in Tewkesbury

It was great to meet Linn and her husband but yet again, too much to talk about and too little time. Still it was a brilliant time and I know we’ll do it again in the future.

Back onto the motorway, we headed through the West Midlands and saw places from the opposite side as we did the day before on our way south.

Since we had a lot of driving to do, stops for photo ops weren’t included in the grand scheme of things – at least until we got to Harrogate.

We passed some interesting castle/abbey ruins but will have to add them to our bucket list of places to visit.

Even with arriving in the area at rush hour compounded with the festival at Leeds, traffic wasn’t unbearable. Okay, it took a bit to whoa down the wee rental car, or perhaps it was my lead foot, as I’d been cruising along at speeds up to 80 mph. What can I say… keep up with the flow of traffic or get run over.

Maybe it was just the map but I thought when we arrived in Harrogate, our accommodations would be on our left, but it was on the right. A quick turnaround at the first set of traffic lights and I found us a place to park on the street a few doors down.

Fountains Guest House
Fountains Guest House

We were quickly made comfortable and shown our room. A bit of finagling and I could get our rental car into the car park, or take advantage of the complimentary pay and display badge. The badge won out.

Our room at Fountains
Our room at Fountains Guest House
Our room at Fountains
Our room at Fountains Guest House
Our room at Fountains
Our room at Fountains Guest House
Our room at Fountains
Our room at Fountains Guest House

After the obligatory room photos had been taken, we went out for a walk about looking for a place to grab a bite to eat and a bevvie.

Royal Hall Harrogate
Royal Hall, Harrogate
Council offices in Harrogate
Council offices in Harrogate

The impressive Royal Baths building is now host to a number of other businesses. The centre section is home to what appears to be an upmarket Chinese Restaurant. We got that impression from the attire folks who were coming and going from there. Definitely not a t-shirt and jeans venue.

The Royal Baths
The Royal Baths

We walked up Parliament Street and found the entrance to Wetherspoons through the former Turkish Baths/Winter Gardens entrance to the building. Very impressive! We found a table downstairs and sat for a bit before ordering a beer each and our meal. Unbeknownst to us, we had to do the business at the bar and let them know our table number. Hubby brought our drinks back to the table and our meal was brought by the staff. It was supposedly a 20 minute wait for food because they were busy but neither one of us think it took that long.

Fed, watered (okay, it was beered) and content, we made our way back to the guest house and got settled in for the night.

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow, we’ll be back in Scotland but not before a visit with a friend who used to work for Quarriers who we’ve not seen in ten years. Will be brilliant to see her again and get caught up on all the goss(ip).

Day 10 – Market Rasen to East Kennett

Day 10 – Market Rasen to East Kennett (near Avebury) – August 20, 2013

See I told you it would be a long day, although it wasn’t as long as we expected it to be.

In the back of my mind, I thought we would do Stonehenge AND the Avebury stones the following day but we arrived early enough that we had time for at least the former and this was before we even found the B&B where we’d be spending the night!

Stonehenge
Stonehenge
Me at Stonehenge
Me at Stonehenge

The next two photos are of The Heel Stone. Don’t you think it looks like a face? A creepy face, but a face nonetheless.

The Heel Stone
The Heel Stone
The Heel Stone
The Heel Stone
Stonehenge with the Slaughter Stone lying in the foreground
Stonehenge with the Slaughter Stone lying in the foreground

After we left Stonehenge, we came up on a tailback for something. There was a road off to the right and I took it not having any idea where we would end up. Obviously, the others either thought I knew where I was going or they did because they followed me.

This detour from our planned route paid huge dividends because we came across this…

The White Horse at Milk Hill
The Alton Barnes White Horse on Milk Hill

Next on our quest for the day was to find the Old Forge B&B. The first time we drove by, we missed it but once we turned around and came from the other direction, it stood out – especially the green B&B  sign in the grass verge across the road from the house.

Like when we stayed at Fernbank House at Dufftown, we had a private bathroom. Not quite so close to our room but our own.

The Old Forge B&B
The Old Forge B&B
Our room at Old Forge
Our room at Old Forge B&B
Our room at Old Forge
Our room at Old Forge B&B
Our room at Old Forge
Our room at Old Forge B&B

We walked to The Bell only to find it didn’t open until 6:00. This was about 4:30 so we walked back to the B&B by way of the back roads (much safer). One of the fields along the road was home to rabbits. We counted less than ten but think there were more.

Horses near The Bell
Horses near The Bell

After a short rest and WC stop, we wandered back towards the pub. This time we took advantage of a footpath that took a good chunk off the walk if you stuck to the road.

Walking path near East Kennett
Footpath near East Kennett

The pub still wasn’t open when we got back but it was close enough to 6:00 and we were parched enough that we waited. Whilst we ‘loitered’ about the car park, a family arrived so we waited together, although when the doors finally opened, they went to the restaurant while we were content to sit in the bar.

The menu we had seen at the B&B was the lunch menu so we couldn’t get any of the dishes listed on it. So, we had fish and chips and mushy peas. I had mushy peas. They were served in a small sealer jar. I ate mine and hubby’s as they didn’t do a thing for him.

After all the walking we’d done during the day but especially before and after supper, we were tired so had an early night.

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

If you think you know where the pictures were taken, leave a comment with your answers or email me at melanie@melanierobertson-king.com You could win a 2014 A Shadow in the Past calendar!

Tomorrow is going to be another long day as we’re back north to Harrogate with a stop in Tewkesbury to meet another online author friend, Linn B Halton. Woo hoo!

Day 9 – Kelso to Market Rasen

Day 9 – Kelso to Market Rasen – August 19, 2013

Today’s the day I meet Nicky Wells. Squee!!! We’ve planned this for ages and I found a location near Whitby where we could meet for lunch that was convenient for everyone. But that’s getting ahead of myself. After all, we’ve got to get from Scotland into England.

Before breakfast this morning, we went out for a short walk. First to the Bank of Scotland in the square then dropped in to the newsagent’s on the way back for copy of today’s The Scotsman.

We sat in the lounge at Duncan House while we waited for breakfast to finish cooking. While we were there, the owner came in from his walk, although we didn’t meet him straight away, we did meet his black lab who charged into the lounge and practically turned himself inside out getting someone to pay attention to him. At one point, he did a backwards somersault.

Jeff, the owner, greeted us at the breakfast table where we were served yet another hearty start to the day. He felt bad about leaving the note on the door for me the day before but to us, that was part of the charm.

When we were finally ready to check out, not only did I get a handshake from our host, but also a wee kiss on the cheek.

At the Scotland/England border we stopped so I could take photos. There’s a huge lay-by with parking for cars and buses (and whilst we were there a bus filled with tourists pulled in).

Scenery at the Scottish border
Scenery at the Scottish border

Beyond here, you’re in England. On the small table that was set up beside the boulder marking the border, were CDs you could buy for £5.00 and a tray with a paperweight where you could put your money.

English border
English Border

I crossed into England and got this photo of Scotland. The red car in the background was well and truly in Scottish lands as was ours although with it being closer, it got cropped out of the picture. Was it difficult leaving Scotland? Sort of, but I had a number of adventures ahead of me and I knew that I would be returning to Scotland before we came home.

Scottish border
Scottish Border

While we were at the border, the piper arrived and soon he was playing. I bought one of his CDs and when I asked hubby to take a picture of me with the Scottish border sign, the piper turned so that he was facing the camera along with me. It was windy here as you can tell from my hair. I wonder if that’s why my Robertsons all had such wild curly hair?

Me with the piper at the Scottish border
Me with the piper at the Scottish border

After spending some time (too much) here, we had to get on the road. The plan was to meet Nicky and her family around 12:00 ish. Well that wasn’t going to happen and I texted or had hubby text and advise we were running late. I think it was about 1:15 when we finally blew in at The Cross Butts Stable Restaurant.

I really had no idea exactly how close to Whitby the restaurant was but as we crested the last hill before there, Whitby Abbey came in to view. We’d visited the abbey when we stayed in Whitby back in 2005 but this view of it was totally different than what we had seen on our previous trip.

I had brought two wee (not sure of the scale) die cast models for Nicky’s sons since they love “all things lorry” and the TV program Ice Road Truckers. They went down a real treat with the boys.

Really hoping that our hubbies had the chance to at least talk to each other because Nicky and I were so involved in talking writing, publishers and the like that we rather neglected them. I really like the phrase Nicky used over on her blog – “we talked nineteen to the dozen”.

Nicky and me at the Cross Butts Stable Restaurant
Nicky and me at the Cross Butts Stable Restaurant

It was so much fun finally meeting the entire family that it was sad when it came time to say our goodbyes and go our separate ways.

The initial part of the trip over the North Yorkshire Moors to Market Rasen was so familiar – partly because we had travelled these roads in 2005 and partly from watching the TV programs Heartbeat and The Royal.

When we reached Beechwood Guesthouse and checked in, we had the same room as when we stayed there in 2005. Other than Earlsfield Farm at Kennethmont, this was the first of two repeat accommodations from previous trips.

Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse
Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse
Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse
Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse
Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse
Our room at Beechwood Guesthouse

After getting settled in our room in Market Rasen, I gave my cousin who lives in Dragonby a call so we could go meet him. He gave me his post code so we could program it in to “Sat Nav Sally” and off we went. I knew this cousin existed but had only discovered where he was living in the last 3-4 years and made the initial contact. Since then, it’s been via email and/or Facebook that we’ve gotten to know each other.

One of the cool things that the hamlet of Dragonby has going for it is the Dragonby Dragon – a rock formation that resembles, you guessed it – a dragon.

The Dragonby Dragon
The Dragonby Dragon
Don and Eric at the Dragonby Dragon
Don and Eric at the Dragonby Dragon

After visiting the dragon, which is almost in my cousin’s back yard, we went back to the house for a cuppa and a chinwag. The photo albums came out and I was able to identify some of the people in the pictures that were taken on this side of the pond.

Eric and me
Eric and me

Since we had a long day ahead of us, said our goodbyes and hubby and I returned to the Guesthouse in Market Rasen.

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

As I said earlier, tomorrow is going to be a long day. We’re headed south to Avebury.

Day 8 – Kennethmont to Kelso

Day 8 – Kennethmont to Kelso – August 18, 2013

There were likely faster ways of getting from Kennethmont to Kelso but they wouldn’t have been as much fun. I wanted to go the back way to Banchory then over to Stonehaven and down the coast – well at least as far as Dundee.

It was mid morning by the time we got away from Earlsfield Farm but we expected that and not just because of the late night. We had so much fun when we stayed here it was really hard to say goodbye.

We stopped in at Kildrummy Castle in the heart of Aberdeenshire – another Historic Scotland property – on our way south. It’s well-maintained, has a small, but well-stocked gift shop and WCs! The gentleman working there had a brother who used to live less than 30 miles from where we currently live. Talk about a small world.

Approaching Kildrummy Castle
Approaching Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle
Kildrummy Castle

The further we got away from Kennethmont, the more melancholy I felt. There were a couple of times that I could have pulled the car off the road and bawled my eyes out. Thankfully, we had an argument or two with “Sat Nav Sally” over where we were going which temporarily took my mind off things. I knew the route I wanted to take (been there, taken it before so knew where I was going) and she refused to recalculate and get on the same page… or perhaps I should say the same road.

We stopped briefly at Dunnottar Castle just south of Stonehaven on the North Sea, primarily for a photo op and maybe make a point. Long story…

Stonehaven war memorial
Stonehaven war memorial
Dunnottar Castle sign
Dunnottar Castle sign
Dunottar Castle
Dunnottar Castle
Piper at Dunnottar Castle
Piper at Dunnottar Castle

Okay, back to my long story. Some years ago, I started reading a novel set in Scotland (author and title shall remain nameless) and a castle on the North Sea south of Stonehaven was wrongly named Kildrummy Castle. Having been to both castles, I knew it was WRONG! The only castle fitting this locational description was Dunnottar. Try as I might, I couldn’t get past this glaring error. I might have passed up a good author but that was a chance I was willing to take. I mean, if the author didn’t want to use the ‘real’ name, then make up a fictitonal one, don’t just plunk an inland castle on the coast. Rant over now.

At Dundee, we agreed to “Sat Nav Sally’s” route and we continued on without her nagging “turn around when possible”. The rest of the trip to Kelso was quiet (well at least on the sat nav front). I was still sad but not so much as before. Now, I had new territory to get excited about. Yes, we’d been to The Borders before but not Kelso.

When we arrived in Kelso, I couldn’t remember the name of the street the B&B was on, only that it was a one way street. It seemed most of the way in to the town centre was just that. I wanted to stop in the square where the Tourist Information was located but I missed the turning and ended up going up yet another one way street. And guess what! It was the right one. Just at the top of the hill was the sign for Duncan House and their car park. How fortuitous was that?

The Square in Kelso
The Square in Kelso

There was a note on the door addressed to me, telling me where the keys were and how to get to our room so we began the process of unloading the car. On one of our trips to the car, we opened the front door at Duncan House to be greeted by a young couple wondering if we were the owners and was there a room going for the night, We disappointed them but told them to try the phone number on the note in the window. Making sure the front door was securely locked behind us, we got the rest of our loot from the boot of the car.

One of the first things I had to do was plug my laptop in and charge it as the battery was almost flat and I didn’t want to give it a case of “chargus-interruptus” before we left Kennethmont.

Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House
Our room at Duncan House

Once we were settled, it was time to go exploring but first we stopped off for a bite to eat at The Empress of India, just down the street from our B&B.

Roxburgh Street
Roxburgh Street

After a fantastic meal, an Indian beer (Cobra) and the best onion bhajias I’ve ever had, we headed to the abbey. Unfortunately, the gates were locked but I still got some great photos – likely even better than from within the gated part of the grounds.

Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey
Kelso Abbey

Let’s play SEEKING SARAH SHAND!

Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand
Seeking Sarah Shand

Tomorrow will be another big day! We’re going ‘south of the border’ with our final destination being Market Rasen, but on our way we’re stopping near Whitby to meet my author friend, Nicky Wells, and her family and my cousin in Lincolnshire that I’ve not met in person before. How exciting!

Day 7 – Launch Day at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont!

Day 7 – Launch Day at the Rannes Hall in Kennethmont! – August 17, 2013

The big day was finally here! Was I nervous? A wee bit. Mostly because I still had no idea how many people were coming.

Besides my book launch today at the Rannes Hall, I appeared virtually on two blogs – one is my author friend, Nicky Wells’ Romance That Rocks Your World blog and I did an interview with Peggy Stanton over at Famous Five Plus so I hope you’ll pop over to these wonderful sites.

Compared to other days (especially our ‘free’ day), we did nothing. We both think we went in to Huntly that morning but for what, we can’t remember. We’d been there the night before. Still, we did something/went somewhere nearby in the morning and for the life of us, we have no recall whatsoever.

Fast forward to the afternoon… we loaded the car with books, book swag, door prizes and my silver sharpie pen for signing and made the short journey down the road. We could have easily walked, but trundling a suitcase behind us and me in my ‘ruby’ slippers, it wouldn’t have been a very comfortable walk.

I’m not sure when this sign popped up. I don’t remember seeing it the day before when we walked to the Old Kirkyard and we walked right past here – trash day, wheelie bin in front of the hall. I guess it ‘grew’ overnight.

Sign on the grass verge across from the Rannes Hall
Sign on the grass verge across from the Rannes Hall

Here it is – the venue for my book launch. Isn’t it a grand looking building? It’s home to many a Robbie Burns night and other functions.

The Rannes Hall
The Rannes Hall
Rannes Hall corner stone
Rannes Hall corner stone

When we pulled in to the car park, I was gobsmacked to see my friend, Bill Dunbar, still sitting in the vehicle beside us while his wife chatted by the side entrance with David, my Rannes Hall connection (and owner of Earlsfield Farm). He and Helen made the drive up from Quarriers Village for my launch. I got a huge hug from him as did Don (who insisted on it, since they’d come so far).

So, let’s go inside and see what it looks like in there. I have an advantage having been to a dance here in 2000 and seeing photos from Burns Night celebrations online.

Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall
Inside the Rannes Hall

My table was set up in front of the stage with alternating Canadian and Scottish flags affixed to it and three rows of seats were arranged in a semi-circle.

With the hall empty, it seemed even bigger than it really was. It was between 1:30 and 2:00 pm and so far it was only Bill and Helen, David, and Don and me. Nail biting time.

Soon, it went from hardly anyone to almost every seat filled. The original plan of doing my reading, followed by a Q&A session, then signing and selling kind of went out the window as people wanted to purchase their copy right away, or if they already had one, get it signed. Who was I to argue? It worked.

talking about A Shadow in the Past
talking about A Shadow in the Past
some of the guests
some of the guests

I had three draws for the following door prizes.

mouse pad
A Shadow in the Past mouse pad

David wanted one of these so it was sheer serendipity when it was his wife’s ticket number that was drawn.

tote bag
A Shadow in the Past tote bag

If our murky memories are correct, Helen Dunbar won the tote bag.

a shadow in the past 2014 calendar
A Shadow in the Past 2014 calendar

And the calendar was headed off to Dubai with a teenaged cousin of mine. And speaking of cousins…

3 1st cousins
Ian (back), me and Norman

Ian’s and Norman’s fathers were two of my Dad’s brothers who remained in Scotland. And it was Norman’s great-granddaughter who won the calendar.

Me with my cousin Jill
Me with my cousin Jill

By the time the afternoon’s event was over I sold… drum roll, please…

17

copies of A Shadow in the Past! Yippee!!!

People mingled afterwards over tea/coffee and shortbread before gradually saying their goodbyes and heading homeward. Once everyone was out of the hall, we did the same and went back to Earlsfield Farm to change and relax before going out to supper at The Hunters Moon in Auchleven.

In the end there were ten of us who went to supper. The food was amazing!

After our meal, we went over to Rhynie for the dance at the gala. There was a dance the night before for the younger crowd but they were all back in full force. I got bowled over trying to get in when security couldn’t wrestle a drunk out. Not the most auspicious start to the rest of the evening.

It was well after 1:00 the next morning when we finally got back to Earlsfield farm and we would be back on the road that morning heading south to Kelso.

No SEEKING SARAH SHAND today… we all know where she was. It will resume on Day 8.

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