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Thirteen Holiday Highlights

Thursday Thirteen

Hubby and I had an awesome holiday in September and visited the Baltic area along with parts of the Mediterranean.

Thirteen Holiday Highlights

1. Visiting St Petersburg, Russia and gawking at some of the many treasures displayed in the palaces and mansions. So many valuables everywhere!

Peterhof Palace

Peterhof Palace and the gravity fed fountains in front of the palace. They’re switched on a 11.00am each day.

2. Eating fresh wild blueberries purchased from a Helsinki market. Hubby ate the reindeer meatballs and some tiny fish.

3. Seeing the Viking Museum and the incredible boats, which are still mainly intact in Oslo, Norway.

Viking Ship

4. Visiting the Folk Museum with the range of old buildings that have been relocated to make a village. Loved the Stave Church and the buildings with grass growing on the roofs. Saw a man up on a roof, mowing the grass.

Stave Church

5. The Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The Vasa is an old ship that sank in the harbor on its maiden voyage. The king had ordered more cannons, which wasn’t a good idea! Who was going to argue?

Vasa, Stockholm

6. Dubrovnik  – a place I’ve wanted to visit for ages. We spent far too long in the heat, wandering around the walls of the old city and exploring the buildings inside.

7. Corfu – exploring the old fort and finding a taverna for lunch. Delicious!

8. Venice. I love Venice, and it’s never a hardship to get lost in the back streets. It was the Regatta on the day we were there, and we saw the parade of old gondolas down the Grand Canal. Discovered a fun place to have a drink (The Corner Pub), tried a peach bellini and had a hazelnut gelato. Yum, yum, yum!

Me in a Traghetto on the Grand Canal

9. Visited Gibraltar and caught the cable car up to the top of the Rock. Got up close to the Barbary apes that make the Rock their home.

10. Visited London where we lived for six years and hadn’t realized how much I missed this city. It was the same but different too, with lots of rebuilding going on.

11. Made quick visits to the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museums. So much history and lots of fascinating things to gawk at.

12 Walking around many of the London sights. Walking in Hyde Park and visiting the pubs where we worked in London. Walking, walking, walking until our feet ached.

13. Afternoon tea at the Ritz. Expensive but such a lot of fun and so memorable. Scones with jam and clotted cream, tiny sandwiches and lots of delicious cakes plus lots of tea. Oh, and a glass of champagne to start.

13 Facts Learned from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

Thursday Thirteen

I’m currently reading Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England, How Our Ancestors Lived Two Centuries Ago by Roy & Lesley Adkins. While the title mentions Jane Austen and there are excerpts from her correspondence, this book really deals with birth, life and death during the period of Jane’s life – 1775 to 1817. I find some non-fiction titles a bit dry, but I’m actually reading a lot of this one. A good sign!

Thirteen Interesting Facts Learned from Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

1. Armed with the might of the Bastardy Act (1733) parish overseers would take unmarried mothers to the magistrate where they were forced to reveal the name of their baby’s father. The father was then offered the choice of marrying the woman or paying the parish with the costs of raising the child or a prison sentence

2. Forced marriages were commonplace – either in the case mentioned above or one arranged by parents to ensure their children were secure. Happiness was secondary to wealth.

3. Finding  a suitable husband was difficult and stressful since men were in short supply due to war injuries and fatalities.  Also those in apprenticeships weren’t allowed to marry.

4. Weddings took place in the church, and they were low key compared to our modern day weddings.

5. Weddings took place in the morning due to a canon law, which endured until 1886

6. Divorce was difficult. There was, however, a poor man’s version of divorce where a man could sell his wife. It was thought if a man tied a rope around his wife’s neck and led her to a public place then sold her this was a binding and legal transaction. Sometimes these sales were pre-arranged. Sometimes the wife was agreeable to the sale.

7. When a woman lost her husband she could be thrust into dire straits because property and wealth was generally passed to a male heir. Therefore many widows remarried fairly quickly.

8. A successful marriage was one that produced children. Women were constantly pregnant and many women died in childbirth.

9. Multiple births were rare and were to the people of the time, remarkable. The news of a multiple birth would make the paper.

10. Living conditions were crowded and privacy scarce since most of those with modest incomes housed their servants. Life was a constant round of banging doors and chatter.

11. Servants could be found at hiring fairs or by recommendations from friends or family members. In 1777 there was a tax on male servants and in 1785 those who employed female servants were also taxed.

12. Coal was the main fuel for households and a fire was the central point of each room, providing heat and light. Smoke could be a problem, filling rooms on windy days or if the chimney became blocked.

13. Unattended candles caused a lot of house fires. In larger towns there were fire brigades who mainly dealt with insured properties (those with a fire mark to prove they’d paid their insurance). 

I’ve only read a third of the book so far, and I’m sure there are many interesting facts in store for me. I really need to write a story featuring a wife sale! If you’re interested in checking out this book here is the link to Amazon – Eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s England

My Heroine is Misbehaving!

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I managed to confuse myself with the time difference, and my post is late this week. My Sexy Saturday Snippet comes from One Night of Misbehavior, which is currently on sale for a limited time. Grab your copy for 99c today.

My heroine secretly attended a ball, and she’s speaking with her grandmother the following day.

“They didn’t glance at me twice.”

“I told you so.” Her grandmother’s gaze zeroed in on her neck.

Charlotte recalled the addictive kisses Zorro had trailed down her throat, the sensual bite and suck, and groaned inwardly. Kisses plus suction equaled one thing. Hickeys.

“Did you meet someone special?”

“No,” Charlotte said quickly. Too quickly.

Order ebook at: Amazon| All Romance ebooks| Barnes & Noble| Kobo| iBooks

Read a longer excerpt here.

To read other Sexy Saturday snippets follow the links below:

13 Destinations in My Future


Hubby and I are counting the days until our holiday, which starts in about seven weeks. Here are some of the places we intend to visit.

Thirteen Places We Will Visit

1. Southampton, England

2. London

3. St. Petersburg, Russia

4. Copenhagen, Denmark

5. Oslo, Norway

6. Helsinki, Finland

7. Stockholm, Sweden

8. Tallinn, Estonia

9. Venice, Italy

10. Valetta, Malta

11. Cadiz, Spain

12. Gibraltar

13. Dubrovnik, Croatia

We’ve visited London (lived there for six years), Gibraltar and Venice before and the rest will be an adventure. I’ve wanted to visit Dubrovnik for years, so I’m happy we’re finally getting there.

Have you visited any of these places before? Any tips?

13 Types of Citrus Fruit


Citrus fruits originated in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia. They are acidic and the seeds of the fruit are covered with juicy yet bitter fruit segments. They range in color from bright yellow to orange and green. They’re good for us and delicious to eat.

Thirteen Types of Citrus Fruits


1. Lemon

2. Grapefruit

3. Mandarin

4. Tangelo

5. Lime

6. Clementine

7. Satsuma

8. Kumquat

9. Orange

10. Pomelo – has white flesh

11. Naartje – in China this is known as a seedless mandarin. This is the Afrikaans name for the fruit.

12. Shaddock – has white flesh and a green to yellow skin

13. Tangerine

I like all citrus fruit and gravitate toward lemon desserts. My husband can’t eat grapefruit because it clashes with his medication.

Do you like citrus fruit?

13 Nautical Sayings in Common Usage

Before I get to my TT today – two public service notices!

1. The Covergasm contest closes on 13 June. I’m giving away a $10 Amazon GC. All you need to do is comment on my post, which is here. You can also enter the Grand prize draw and win a larger Amazon gift certificate by completing the rafflecopter

2. Win an e-copy of The Bottom Line at Sidney Bristol’s blog. Sidney is also giving away an Amazon GC and a bundle of e-books.


Mr Munro and I went on a Pacific cruise last year, and each day at midday we were told how far we’d traveled, about the weather and given the history of a nautical term. I was surprised by the number of nautical terms that had been integrated into every day use.

Thirteen Nautical Sayings in Common Usage

1. All at sea – means a state of confusion or disorder. This phrase comes from the days of sail prior to accurate navigational aids. When a ship was out of sight of the land they were in danger of becoming lost, therefore they were all at sea.

2. By and large – means all things considered or on the whole. If the wind was blowing from a point behind the position of a ship’s direction then it was said to be large. By means in the general direction of. If a ship could sail by and large this meant it could sail downwind and also against the wind in order to progress on its voyage.

3. Give a wide berth – means keep a good distance away. Berth used to mean a place where there is sea room to moor a ship, and if a sailor was told to give a wide berth, they had to keep the ship away from a certain object.

4. Batten down the hatches – means to prepare for trouble. A hatch is a hatchway or an opening in the deck of a ship. They were like a skylight and enabled ventilation. If bad weather looked likely then the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and edged with wooden strips known as battens to keep the tarpaulin in place during a gale.

5. Close quarters – means close contact, and in particular, close contact with an enemy. In the nautical world, close quarters were barriers of wood stretching across a merchant ship in several places. They were used as a place to retreat when a ship was boarded by pirates or enemies. They were fitted with loop holes in order for the men to fire out at their enemy.

6. Shake a leg – means to hurry up. It’s said show a leg, which means make an appearance, is related. The nautical meaning is an order to rouse and get out of bed. Sailors were expected to show that they were awake by sticking a leg out from under the covers – a sign they were ready to leave their hammocks.

7. Taken aback – surprised or startled. In nautical terms if the direction of the wind changed suddenly so the ship was facing into the wind, then the ship was taken aback.

8. Mal de mer – seasickness. A ship’s motion is three dimensional, which makes the person suffer illness and misery for a long time. There was no escape.

9. Loose cannon – an unpredictable person or thing. This saying comes from the 17th century when the cannon was the main weapon. They had an enormous recoil after firing and were mounted on rollers and secured with rope. A loose cannon was one which had become free of its restraints.

10. Plain sailing – smooth and easy progress. This meant a the voyage was without trouble. Primarily a US term.

11. Hard and fast – without doubt or debate. In nautical terms a ship that was hard and fast was beached on land and wasn’t coming free without difficulty.

12. Shiver my timbers – this was an oath that expressed annoyance or surprise. If a sailor said shiver my timbers he was hoping that the ship would break into pieces.

13. Push the boat out – to spend generously or to spend more than you usually would. Boats were often too large for one person to push into the sea if they were beached. To help push the boat out was an act of kindness because you were helping a man get his boat ready for use.

Do you suffer from mal de mer?

Source – http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/nautical-phrases.html

13 Things About Gemini

Thursday Thirteen

I picked up a copy of Everyday Astrology for a better life by Sasha Fenton at the library. Astrology always fascinates me, and I find it can be very helpful when “designing” characters.

Thirteen Characteristics of a Gemini

1. The Sun sign Gemini belongs to those who were born between May 22 and June 21.

2.  Gemini is the sign of twins and is a masculine air sign.

3. Gemini is ruled by the planet Mercury.

4. When it comes to health, a Gemini’s weak areas are shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, brain, pupils and tongue.

5. Best forms of exercise – gardening and walking the dog.

6. Biggest indulgences are cigarettes and alcohol.

7. Favorite foods are pasta, seafood and light meals.

8. Gemini people are fussy about their clothes and choose the best that money can buy. They are cautious in their choice of colors.

9. Gemini’s vanity means that they’ll be on a diet for most of their life. They prefer coffee instead of bothering with cooking. They are fans of takeaway meals and ready-cooked meals.

10. Gemini people are friendly and going out and meeting with friends is an important part of your life.

11. A Gemini cannot stand a job where they have to do a repetitive task. An office life suits you, especially if it is a busy office, but you don’t like too much stress.

12. A Gemini worries about money and you’re sensible when it comes to financial manners.

13. A Gemini likes to live in a place where there is plenty of room for gadgets and tools, and they like lots of bookshelves and magazine racks. You’re a good gardener and can make even a small plot look like a picture.

So, that’s a little about the Gemini Sun sign. If you’re a Gemini, does any of this hit the mark? Do you read your star signs?

Thirteen Strange Allergies


Many of our discussions this week have centered around allergies since our poor puppy has been very miserable with a mystery allergy.

I thought allergies would make a good topic for my TT this week.

Thirteen Strange Allergies

1. Money allergy – some people are allergic to the nickel in coins.

2. Vibration allergy – in some people the body mistakes the vibrations as an attack and the immune system responds with skin irritation, welts and rashes.

3. Mobile phones – can either be due to the nickel content or the low levels of radiation and microwaves.

4. Deodorant – sensitivity to the perfumes or other ingredients.

5. Water – experts believe those who are allergic, react to the additives in the water.

6. Shoes – some people react to the glue or resins or cement used to manufacture the shoes.

7. Underwear – some people are allergic to the fabric or elastic.

8. Kissing – kisses are okay, but if the person you are kissing has consumed something you’re allergic to there might be problems. A young Canadian girl died after kissing her boyfriend. The boyfriend had eaten a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.

9. Sex – severe reaction to male ejaculate is possible in some cases.

10. Hormones – estrogen and progesterone can cause allergic reactions in some women. The immune system mistakes these hormones as bad and attacks as a result.

11. Heat – some people break out in welts and swelling after taking a shower or becoming too hot with excess clothes.

12. Cold – severe cold can cause itching and welts. Sufferers need to keep warm.

13. Computers – some people are sensitive to electromagnetic sources while others react to emissions from plastic casings.

I’m very lucky. I don’t seem to have any allergies apart from getting a slight runny nose when I go outside. It seems to invite every bug in the vicinity to fly into my mouth, but I can deal with that Open-mouthed smile

Do you suffer from any allergies?

Source: Online Nurse Practitioner Schools.com

Thirteen Possible Hero Names


I’m currently rereading an older book that I’ve received the rights back for, and I’m updating/amending as necessary. As I do this, I’m also percolating the second book in the series.

One of my weird writer ticks is that I can’t start writing until I settle on my main character names.

I know a little about my hero, but his name is proving elusive.

He’s an alien prince and is first in line to the throne. He’s a good guy who always does the right thing unlike his younger brother. He’s very proper and correct, and some people might call him boring. Deep inside is a rebel, but he hasn’t gone as far as to walk outside the lines. Yet.

Thirteen Names I’ve Discarded for my Hero

1. Kieran

2. Florian

3. Gaile

4. Jermyn

5. Jagger

6. Niran

7. Nairn

8. Shanahan

9. Brecon

10. Devon

11. Timon

12. Thane

13. Oberon

I’ve tried all the above names for several hours, some for several days and none seem right for my alien prince. I want a name that’s unusual and alien sounding, yet one that’s easy for readers to pronounce.

Do you have any suggestions for my poor nameless hero?

13 Items of Wickedness

Thursday Thirteen

In honor of the blog hop I’m currently participating in, today I’m all about wicked. See the post below to join in the Wicked Nights hop and go into the draw to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

Thirteen Wicked Things

1. Wicked is the name of a novel by Gregory Maguire. This book has been turned into a successful musical stage show — the untold story of the Witches of Oz.

2. Wicked Wee Dump near the Hump is the name of motel accommodation in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand. I’ve never stayed their before but it looks lovely. Nice area for walking too.

3. According to the Merriam-Webster Online dictionary wicked means…

morally very bad

4. or… fierce or vicious as in a wicked dog.

5. or… roguish as in wicked impersonations.

6. or… disgustingly unpleasant or vile as in a wicked odor.

7. or… going beyond reasonable or predictable limits or exceptional quality e.g. throws a wicked fastball.

8. The word might originate from Middle English. It’s thought the word is an alteration of wicke or it could be from Old English wicca.

9. The first known use of the word was in the 13th century.

10. Synonyms include black, dark, evil, nefarious, rotten, sinful, bad, wrong, villainous.

11. Antonyms include decent, ethical, good, honest, just, moral, sublime, virtuous

12. The Urban Dictionary says wicked is a slang word that adds emphasis. The synonyms are really, extremely and very. e.g. that tune is wicked hot.

13. Check out this recipe by New Zealand chef Annabel Langbein for Sticky Date Pudding with Wicked Toffee Sauce. Definitely sinful and wicked.

Have you seen the stage show Wicked?