Interview with Janet Gover

Christina here and today I’m delighted to welcome Janet Gover to the blog! Janet is an Australian author who lives in the UK, but writes about her native country. She recently won the RWAust’s Romantic Book of the Year Award – for a mainstream novel with a strong romance running through it at this year’s RWA conference in Sydney with her book THE LIBRARY AT WAGTAIL RIDGE. Wench Anne was present and has kindly provided some photos of the occasion (thank you Anne!)

Janet and Anne

Janet and Anne

Welcome to the blog, Janet! It’s lovely to have you here. First of all, huge congratulations on winning the award! How did it feel when they announced your name and what does this award mean to you?

This was such a thrill. My journey to being an author started at a RWAust conference in Sydney in 199…  Oh dear. That does make me sound old. Nora Roberts was the guest speaker at that conference. I have always been such a fan of her work. I confess I did have a bit of a fan girl melt-down over her, which was so embarrassing. Meeting so many writers at the conference was such an inspiration. And now, to receive this award from the same organisation really is an honour.

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National Days!

by Mary FireworksatWashingtonMonumentJo

Most countries of the world have national days that celebrate their identity. That usually usually means the day that independence was proclaimed, as in the US, or negotiated, as was the case in many countries that had been colonized like much of Africa. But there can be lots of variations.

Hungary, for example, celebrates St. Stephen's Day. The United Kingdom doesn't exactly have a national day, though sometimes the Queen's Official Birthday the second weekend in June is treated as such. (Her birthday is actually April 21st, but the weather is better for speeches and parades in June.) 

However, the UK is composed of four separate countries and they all have celebrations on the day of their patron saints: St. George for England, St. Andrew for Scotland, St. David for Wales, and St. Patrick for Northern Ireland.

A lot of countries have a Constitution Day since creating and affirming a constitution creates a nation in a real sense. (There are Americans who believe crafting and confirming the US Constitution was more vital than declaring independence, and they have a good case for that.)

There are other interesting national days. Albania celebrates Albanian DuckinCanada2Day on November 28th, for example, and it's a celebration of its independence. Alderney, one of Britain's Channel Isles, celebrates Homecoming Day on December 15, which was the day in 1945 when the German occupation ended and islanders who had fled were able to return home.

Our neighbor Canada has a neighboring national day as well: July 1st is Canada Day, which commemorates the 1867 joining of several British colonies into one, the AnniversaryFlagDominion of Canada. Happy 151st birthday, Canada!  Here's a picture of the giant rubber ducky that visited for last year's sesquicentennial celebration. (I love that duck. <G>)

France's national day is Bastille Day, July 14th, and it commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789, which is considered the beginning of the French Revolution.  France and the US have a lot of history in common Australia_Day 2004 by Philip Whitehouse  Wikipedia Commons

Australia Day is January 26th and commemorates the 1788 landing of the First Fleet of British ships when they arrived in New South Wales and raised the British flag in Sydney Cove, which became the site of the great city of Sydney.

Celebrations are similar around the world. Parades are always popular. In my Maryland county there are three Independence Day parades in different areas of the county, and the timing is staggered so that local politicians can attend all three, riding in convertibles and waving at their constituents, which is about as close as we usually get to them.  Fireworks are definitely popular world wide because–noisy and pretty, something for everyone.  <G>

There are floats and bands and social clubs marching together, but my very favorite local parade entry was the tattooed and bearded biker slowly cruising along on his hog, with his two very well behaved basset hounds draped over the big  fenders. Great fun!

The Fourth of July is also a time for family gatherings and barbecues with hot dogs, hamburgers, and watermelon. From what I've heard from friends in other EiffelTowerFireworks.Pierre.Caradoc.WikipediaCommonscountries, this kind of celebration is global, though the food and drink might vary. 

But mostly, national days are for honoring our countries and the best that is in them. What are your national days, and what do you do on them? Because all nations are special, and we are part of our nations.

Wherever you live, what are your special days and how do you celebrate them?  With pride and gusto, I hope!

Mary Jo


A Plethora of Pictures

by Mary Jo 

All the Wenches are madly busy at the moment, with books to finish and travels to take, so I volunteered to post some of my travel pictures from various places. 

Here's a gorgeous display from the Larco Herrara Museum in Lima, Peru.


Gold jewelry  Larco Herrara Museum

















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Oz Adventures

Koala2Pat here:
All my life I have read of the natural wonders of Australia and the history of prison ships sent from England to Botany Bay. Kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian Devils, and those poor prisoners were in my head more as cartoon characters or words on the page than as living creatures. One of the problems with reading so much and living inside one’s head is that one learns a great deal but experiences little. Tree

So I was determined to one day see at least some small portion of that great continent. When our son offered to meet us there to do some exploring, we immediately researched plane tickets. A hint, should you decide to explore, Air New Zealand has unique seats that make the overnight journey almost a pleasure.

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Driving … Left or Right

Hansom cab 1877 If you’ve ever been in a car, you’ve noticed there’s a certain widely practiced custom. Everybody sends their car down one preferred side of the road — left or right — depending on what country they happen to be in. Drivers are pretty consistent about this, and thus everybody’s somewhat less likely to ram into another car nose-to-nose.

 Sticking to your side of the road . . . it’s not just a good idea. It’s the law. 


A more complicated view of traffic

 About 65% of the world keeps to the right — this is the US and Canada, and about all of South and Central America, Europe and China.
The other 35% of humanity drive to the left. This is significantly the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, and Australia.

 In one of those weird coincidence-type things, folks who live on islands are mostly left handers.  Go figure

 Are there are ancient usages involved?


one of those Roman streets

There are those who say the Romans drove on the left, taking as evidence wear in a tract leading to a Roman quarry in Swindon. And if we’re willing to look at 1300 as an indication of ancient custom, in that year Pope Boniface VIII set rules for keeping to one side on the bridges of Rome.

Both of those seem to have favored left-hand diving. (Point for England.)

Drivers meeting 1903

drivers meeting

There is much back-and-forth speculation about whether armed men would be more likely to quarrel if they walked to the left or right of each other. Did army units have to pass each other on the left so they wouldn’t come to blows? Did jousting make folks in mule carts want to copy the style? 

Do you know what I think?

I think before about the Eighteenth Century, folks mixed it up. They walked left, right, and center, and wove back and forth to avoid pot holes in the road. The narrow alleys of the cities were a right disorganized shambles where carts were lucky to pass at all, regardless of who was on the left or right.

I think troops of armed men marched right down the center of the road and everybody else scampered out of their way.

Cdets marching

army marching where it chooses

In the Eighteenth Century they got around to making laws for the ordering of traffic. England made a general recommendation that all horse traffic should keep to the left. Russia issued an edict for traffic to keep to the right. In Revolutionary France also, traffic was required to drive to the right.

So why don’t we have a patchwork of left- and right- hand driving across the nations of Europe with everybody nipping from one lane to the other at every border crossing?

We can blame this — and so much else — on Napoleon. When he conquered his way across Europe he brought metrification, robust Burgundies, and right-hand driving with him. Only England, unconquered, stayed left-handed, (and unmetrified.)

Australia followed the left-hand driving custom of England.  The United States and Canada — who knows why — chose right-hand.

So …are you one of those people who enjoy getting behind the wheel and taking off … or is driving a chore?

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