Friday, October 28, 2016

A Trip To the Past With a Nature Chaser

Hey all,

Before I start with today's blog, I just wanted to remind you all about my latest book. 

Out today just in time for Halloween fun, it's a story you can read any time of the year.  Check it out at...

Now that the advertisement is over--*smile*--Jonathon and I had a great two days off this week. Monday was a errand day. Lazy morning, doctor appointments, then an exciting trip to the grocery store.  LOL

Back in time for a relaxing night watching the last two of the Bourne series. Hadn't seen either of them, so it was fun.  Nothing like having a snuggle with your Sweet Baboo while watching Matt Damon. *snerk*

Then on Tuesday we got up early and headed out for a road trip.  Our Blue Mountain trip has been postponed until next week due to scheduling conflicts, but that day we grabbed a car and headed south. We wanted to go to the Botany Bay landing site where the English first arrived in Australia, and then on to the Royal National Forest.

The Captain Cook Monument

The small stone monument on the rocks is the actual landing spot.

And this is what it says...under bird poop. LOL

Botany Bay was REALLY interesting. Even though it was another nation's history, we knew enough about the founding of Australia to make it informative. And we always enjoy learning new facts about places we live. And to stand on the rock where the English first set foot on the continent was pretty cool.

I liked that they didn't overwhelm us with the idea of how wonderful the British were to take over Australia. In fact, they were very open about how the British had displaced the Aborigines, the ramifications of that action and what happened in history because of it.

But they did show and tell us about the eight days they spent in Botany Bay. Which included a lot of scientific discovery. Much more than the actual colonization. (that came later) In fact, Botany Bay was named that BECAUSE of the botanical work done in the area.

The park has built a great walk down to the actual landing site, then signage all along the bay. I learned a lot and enjoyed the displays inside the visitor's center. If any of you have a chance to visit, do it. Inexpensive day of learning and a beautiful park to do it in.

After Botany Bay we drove down to the Royal National Forest Park. And wow! What an amazing park. We stopped at the Visitor's Centre first and found out information about different hikes. We were excited, wanting to discover as much of the countryside as possible.

We started with a bush walk down to a waterfall.  It was a beautiful day and the walk was quite nice. Mostly flat, except the last little bit. That was steep and rocky, so we had to be careful. We didn't see any critters, other than some birds like Cockatoos and a Kookaburra, but there was lots of flora that were quite odd--some we'd never seen before. Here is some of what we saw...


Winifred Bush Fire Trail

The waterfall wasn't much, but it was a small oasis of cool quiet water in the middle of the bush. We were surprised at the number of people around, since it's so remote, but it was worth the walk with all it's arid beauty.

Next we went to the Wattamolla Beach Cliffs.  And WOW... We've seen some beautiful seaside views in a lot of countries, but these were just amazing. On Providential Head point, we thought we might have seen a whale spout or two. And the cliff walk... All I can say is we had difficulty deciding whether it was terrifyingly scary or one of the most amazing places I've ever been to. You decide...

So we'd wandered through the bush and climbed the sea cliffs, now it was time to head to one of the prettiest places in the park. The Forest Path Walk consists of some really beautiful countryside--all rainforest oriented. It's VERY different from the other two walks we did. This has palms and wetlands and many of the trees you'd expect in a rainforest. BUT there are also gums trees and regular Australian flora as well. The mixture of the two makes this is a unique and lovely landscape. See what I mean?

As you can see, things are VERY different as you wander around different parts of the park. But it's like visiting different parts of Australia all in one place. And that's pretty cool. I wonder if locals know how great this park is? They talk a lot about the Blue Mountains, but very little about this amazing place.

Isn't it just like that though? So many times familiarity breeds contempt or more likely...apathy. If I've learned anything in our years abroad it's that when we do finally retire back to the states, I will make sure I look around and see what the USA really has to offer. Not just those famous sites like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls or the California Redwoods, but something much, much closer.

My own backyard.

Have a great weekend!

CJ England

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

He's Bad.... Bad to the Bone

Hey all,

Today I'm sharing my latest story. It's the fifth in the Wandering Star Collection, and this one is set in The Czech Republic. 

Bad to the Bones is set in the cities of both Prague and Kutná Hora, which is where the Sedlec Ossuary or Bone Church is located. This story, about a couple of cursed ghosts who ask for help from two mortals is filled with romance, suspense and a few twists that will hopefully keep you on the edge of your seat.

This novella goes on sale on October 28 at Amazon, KOBO, B&N and ARE.  Only $2.99, it's a wonderful Halloween treat!

Here's a blurb and a link to an excerpt. Enjoy!!!

With a little ghostly help, two new lovers find the promise of eternal love.

Haley Addams has dreamed her whole life of learning the art of dance well enough to become a teacher and pass the joy of the craft on to her students. And when she is given the chance to hone her skills in the beautiful city of Prague in the Czech Republic, she’s overwhelmed with excitement. That is…until the dreams start. Sexy, heart-pounding visions of two young lovers enjoying their wedding night.

Aleš Rynt has lived his whole life in the shadow of the Sedlec Oussary. As the great-great-great-great-great grandson of František Rint, the imaginative artist who created the elaborate and macabre bone sculptures in the “Bone Church”, he’s always felt a part of the small quiet chapel. But for the last few months he can’t seem to fight the compulsion to visit every day. And after a beautiful American woman faints at his feet, he’s really glad he didn’t try.

Blindsided by inexplicable attraction, Haley and Aleš are shocked to realize her dreams and his compulsions are connected. Suddenly, a door is opened into the Ethereal world, and their lives become entangled with two spirits who desperately need their help. And as the couples work together to battle a six centuries old curse, they all discover that the promise of everlasting love is the only thing truly worth fighting for.

And here is the link for you to read an excerpt! Enjoy!!!

I'll see you next Friday with a blog about our trip to the Blue Mountains!

CJ England

Friday, October 21, 2016

Renovating Can Restore Your House...And Your Soul

Hey all,

Finally, the last of my renovation posts. I actually forgot last week...sorry. So today's post covers the last three rooms.  The downstairs bathroom, the guest room (aka Jasiah's room) and the master bedroom.

I really like how these turned out.  The guest room is nice...yet generic, but my son has made it his own.  The bathroom and the master turned out even better than I expected. Nothing is 100% complete, but it'll do for the next year until we get back.

So let's start with the guest room, shall we?  :-)

This was the worst room we had.  It was the one with the major leak and the floor was covered with water when the appraiser went in.

 As you can see, there was mold that had been caused by the previous owner using a dryer in this room and not venting out the wet air. Add that to the leaky plumbing, and it wound up being the area we were most concerned with. Toxic mold is nothing to mess around with. BUT... we took care of it and with our realtor's help, we attacked and conquered!!!  Woot!

And once we pulled up the nasty carpet, this is what we discovered. I love bright colors, but this...not so much. Bleah!

Like the other rooms, we painted it in the butter cream color and trimmed it with wood. We took out the closet doors because my son is a gamer and he wanted to make a gaming area to play in.  Made the room a bit snug, but he's happy, and that's what is important.

On to the downstair's bathroom which turned out to be one of my favorite rooms. It had been a mess. One of the leaks wound up being in the bathroom ceiling, and one day when I was in doing my hair the whole thing came down on me.  Not my happiest moment.  But see what I started with...

As you can see, I had a mess to start with. But I think I turned it into something kinda wonderful. And I did it all myself! Except the ceiling. The boys helped me with that! What do you think?

And finally, the master bedroom. This wasn't meant to be a bedroom at all, but a den or extra game room. But because it had a fireplace, I totally wanted it to be our bedroom. One of my most favorite things is laying in bed with my sweet baboo and watching the flickering flames.

But, as I said, it didn't start out as a bedroom. This is what I had to work with. Not bad by itself but it was wide open to the rest of the house And needing privacy, a lot of things had to change...

You can see the open space behind us. It leads to the staircase and hallway, and it was the first thing we had to deal with so I could have an acutal private room.

But since this was our private place, I wanted to make it as special as I could. It's not complete by any means, but it will give us that privacy and do until we do a major downstairs renovation in a few years. But for now, it's a nice place to enjoy a fire and each other.

Two days before I left for Australia, the mantel fell down, nearly hitting me. (I'm seeing a pattern here.), but the actual fireplace is hidden behind the fan.

 As you can see, we now have a bookcase and door instead of things being wide open. The bookcase was built by my darling son, Jasiah. And it doesn't come close to properly holding all the books I own. LOL

So there you have it. A whole house renovation pretty much in three months. Not too shabby, and now Jonathon and I have a comfortable place to come home to whenever we have a break between tours.

I'll be back on Tuesday with my latest upcoming story. A ghostly Halloween offering that is completely Bad to the Bone.

CJ England

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

How About that Fall Programming?

Hey all,

Even overseas I try and keep up with the latest offerings for TV programming. And every year there are both Good and What the Hell Were They Thinking moments.  For example, this year, there were several interesting shows that I've watched. Some excellent and at least one like...really????

For example...

This series takes the old movie Westworld that starred Yul Brenner and gives it a slightly modern twist. Similar to the original, this HBO offering is gritty, real (except for the whole android thing) and a sometimes disturbing look at what could be if our technology takes a leap forward.

But it was just those things that made us enjoy it. It was interesting and a little bit creepy to watch. Figuring out who was a robot and deciding who exactly was a bad guy made it very entertaining. I will warn you all, it isn't for the faint hearted. It's HBO, so there is nudity, language and adult situations. In fact, the first episode deals with rape, and had a lot of graphic violence.

But if you don't mind that sort of thing, give it a try. I've only seen two episodes, but so far, we're looking forward to more.

Designated Survivor
This show I wasn't sure about when I saw the premise. I'm picky when it comes to political dramas. For example I adored watching The West Wing back in the day and I do like Madam Secretary even though it's a veiled showcase for Hillary Clinton. (I'm not a fan.) So when I first watched this one, I was already predisposed to be leery.

But I have to say I was VERY pleasantly surprised. I like Keifer Sutherland and his portrayal of a normal, slightly befuddled professor who abruptly becomes president was dead on.  The show seems very real. It shows the office--warts and all--and how he is overwhelmed by the sudden responsibility. It also gives a great look at his family and how it affects them.

And of course, there are those who think a man who was appointed to be the HUD head should have NEVER been sworn in as president. So not only does he have to fight his own insecurities, he has covert enemies as well.

Overall, it's one we REALLY like. It's definitely on our to watch list.

But then there was this one...


Honestly, I'm not sure about this show. I LOVED the original MacGyver. Loved Richard Dean Anderson and the whole premise about a guy who who take anything and make it into something else. And the fact his name has become a word in our language... From the Oxford Dictionary...

To Macgyver

  • Make or repair (an object) in an improvised or inventive way, making use of whatever items are at hand.

  • ‘he MacGyvered a makeshift jack with a log’

    ‘he has a shock of short red hair and a pair of rectangular-framed glasses MacGyvered with duct tape’
I've used it myself and almost everyone knows what I mean when I say it.

And that was part of the problem I had with the new and supposedly improved MacGyver. First off, the new Mac is too brash and smug for my taste. He's a little young, but I can work with that. I just don't like the way he plays MacGyver. And even with a great sidekick (I do like how George Eads plays the irrepressible Jack Dalton), the writing falls a bit flat.

But the thing I dislike the most is when Mac does something Macgyverish and they put cheat captions over the top of it.  REALLY???? Are we so stupid we can't figure out what he's doing ourselves? And seriously, part of the fun of the original was trying to understand WHAT he was building. *sigh* So them telling us, destroys part of what made the original so fun.

But we'll try a couple more episodes before we give up on it. I want to give the new show a chance before I write it off forever.

So what new shows are you enjoying this year? Comedy? Drama? Horror? Tell me what you think in the comments

Until Next Friday!!!

CJ England