Here’s to 2017 !!!!

I would very much like to wish my followers a happy and healthy new year.

2016 has been an interesting year for me and 2017 looks to be just as exciting.  With my new book, the second part of my Tudor trilogy of books, due out in a little over a month and the third part hopefully due to be finished by the end of 2017, it looks to be a busy year for me.  Hopefully I will meet some of my readers at the planned book signings and public appearances during the new year – details to follow closer to the time.

So, glass of port in hand, I raise a toast to the end of 2016, and the beginning of another year.

Slainte !!


merry Christmas !!!!

As I sit here tonight, wrapping presents and preparing food for a family meal tomorrow, I think of the many people around the world, who are celebrating this night in so many different ways.

Santa will soon be visiting the Gaffney household !!

So with the best of wishes for however you celebrate today, I wish you all a merry Christmas.  May you all smile at least once this day.

Edward VIII

It is 80 years ago since the British Royal Family was rocked by the decision of Edward VIII to abdicate in order to marry his lover, Wallis Simpson.

Noone had expected that his love for this woman would have ended his reign thus, he had been raised with the expectation of becoming King of England, but his duty to his country came second to his love for Wallis.

Edward became King in January of 1936, upon the death of his father, George V.  His coronation was planned for the following year.  His current relationship with Wallis had been expected to end upon his accession and a suitable bride would be sought, but Edward had different ideas.

He is said to have wanted to marry Wallis and make her his Queen.  This went against the wishes of the people in power, his mother, the wider royal family, politicians, clergy – but Edward was determined to have his woman!

I wonder if, at this stage, he had any idea what he would have to give up in order to wed her?

In any case by December, just 11 months later, his position was untenable and he was forced to make the biggest decision of his life.  On the 11th, he gave that famous statement to his subjects, stating that he could not be King and carry out the duties required of that job, without Wallis by his side.

As most of the English newspapers had not reported on the relationship, the news came as a surprise to some people, and many were saddened, as Edward had been a popular Prince of Wales and was expected to make a popular King.

His brother came to the throne in his place, and took their father’s name of George as his regnal name, becoming George VI.

Will we see a similar situation in years to come with Charles and Camilla?  Time will tell.

I watched an interesting programme on television about this the other day, effectively blaming the Archbishop of Canterbury Cosmo Lang for bringing down the King.  I could not help to draw a comparison with Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey.

In Tudor times, Henry wanted Anne as his queen and told Wolsey to arrange it, he could not and lost his position (would have been his head if he had not conveniently died before getting back to London!).  In 1936, Edward wanted Wallis, the Archbishop said no and the King lost his postion instead!  See my point??

John Glenn

John Glenn has died (geez it has been such a bad year for celebrity deaths!!), and it made me think about space and astronauts.

Originally a US marine, he was chosen by NASA for their astronaut programme and he had the enviable pleasure of being the first American to orbit the earth, in 1962.  When he left the services, he went into politics, becoming a senator.  He got the chance to return to space in 1998 in his late 70’s (hope I am that active in my 70’s!). This made him the oldest astronaut so far.

He passed on the 8th December at the grand old age of 95, after a long decline in his health.

As children we all looked to the skies and spied the stars and the moon, but very few people have actually been out there to see them.  NASA is the big name that we all know in relation to space travel, but the US government are said to be reducing the NASA budget even further, restricting future space travel.

Over the past few years there have been private companies making waves about planes that could carry civilians into space (I won’t say anyone as I can only imagine it will be a costly journey).  Prestwick Airport, near to where I live, has been bidding to be a ‘space port’ for these trips.  It will be an amazing boost for the area if this happens.

I think it sounds like an extremely interesting trip, up into space, though I get panic attacks going up a ladder so going to that height might not be a good idea for me!!

I imagine it would quite take your breath away to look back down on the earth from space.  I have seen it in pictures and films and it is always portrayed as very beautiful.  Some people must think of it as an item on their bucket list, and space tourism could be very popular, I can understand that.  But personally, I will keep my feet on the earth looking up at the stars and admiring them.  Until the day that I gain my wings and fly up to the heavens to play my harp 😉


Robert the Bruce

I read the headlines about Robert the Bruce yesterday with interest.  It is amazing to be able to see exactly what people form the past looked like.  My hubby saw the picture of him and said he looked like a typical Glaswegian !!

I find it very interesting how these scientists can add to a skull and create a face.  I saw the Richard III face at the visitor centre and thought it a little spooky to be looking into such a realistic visage.

Something that puzzled me is the second image that the University released, alledgedly showing the Scottish King with a leprosy damaged face.

The rumour about him having leprosy has been mentioned in articles before, but I am really struggling to find any solid, credible evidence that he actually had the disease.  Which led me to wonder, is this rumour simply English propaganda from medieval times, designed to blacken the name of the King who had beaten them at Bannockburn??

It is not unusual to find that history is altered by one side or another, in order to make their enemies seem unlikable, think of the Tudor propaganda against Richard III.

At the time he was King, leprosy was a highly feared disease among the populace.  If the King had in reality been suffering from it, there would be evidence that his nobles and people in general avoided being anywhere near him.  There is proof that he was ill, a number of times in his later reign he was said to have been so, but leprosy is not the only possible reason for this.  A simple skin condition could account for the reported facial issue, such as exczema or psoriasis.  Nowadays these conditions are easily diagnosable but in those days, they could be seen as a symptom of something worse.  The other reported symptoms could have been TB, cancer or lupus, for instance, among other possibilities.

Leprosy was an easily contractable illness, which Robert would have been aware of if he had been diagnosed with it.  Shortly before his death, he visited his young bride and family, including his heir.  Would he have put them at the risk of catching a disease which, at the time, was an almost certain death sentence?  I think not.

King Robert I fought hard to remove the overlordship of the English against the Scots, and won, in the main.  He was determined that Scotland should not be enveloped by it’s neighbour.  The orginal independence campaigner !!

He managed to gain the throne as Scotland’s King in 1306, and it remained a separate kingdom to England until 1603.  England ran out of legitimate direct heirs and had to look to Scotland to provide them with a monarch, bringing King James VI of Scotland to London as James I.  This should have given Scotland greater influence, but James was keen to be seen as the English monarch more than the Scottish one, England being the richer of the countries at that time.

He gave up the sovereignty of his home country, that Robert had fought so hard to retain, centuries earlier.

Will we ever see separate countries on this island again??  Time will tell.  For now, we can look upon the newly recreated face of one of the greatest ever Scotsmen and wonder.


Grrr rant time, sorry, but you have been warned!!

Am watching a discussion on tv about how parents should only buy four presents for their children at Christmas.

Who are these people who think they can tell us how to treat our OWN children?  What right do they have to say that they are right and we are wrong?

There are SO many people in the world that try to make silly rules for parents that sometimes you can’t be sure which way is right!!

I am a mum of seven children.  Most of them are grown now, but I still buy them presents, and I put lots of thought into what I buy for them.  I do not spend a fortune on them (am an author, it isn’t the highest paid job for us beginners!!) but I love to see that they like what I do give them.

My own rules for Christmas have stayed the same for years.  I set a budget and the bairns get presents up to that limit.  Generally it is one big present that they have asked for and a bunch of smaller ones.  They always get a book (my dad always told me that you can learn anything you ever want to know from a book!), a clothes parcel and some sweets, the rest was fluid between what they wanted and what I could afford in their budget.

I think this was a sensible way to deal with a large family wanting gifts and they all loved to come to the tree on Christmas morning and see a small mountain of pressies.  The bin bags of wrapping paper that followed was always the bane of my life but it was worth it to see their happy faces.

I am not saying that these people who want to give their children four gifts only cannot do so, it is their choice.  But that is what I am saying, IT IS THE CHOICE OF THE INDIVIDUAL PARENTS.  You cannot tell me how to treat my own children, I am sick of people trying.

My bairns will wake up on Christmas morning to their usual pile of gifts and I do not care if people say that I am wrong for this, it is my life and my family.  I have brought up my older children to be ‘mostly’ sane and sensible (it’s fun to be silly sometimes!), and I will not be talked down to by people who probably have one child brought up by a nanny!!!!

Admittedly not all of their presents will be expensive (there will be socks involved…….), but they will be happy and enjoy ripping off the paper to see what is inside and that is all that matters to me.

Enjoy your own Christmas, whatever way you can, I shall enjoy mine.

Rant over !!!!

Margaret Rhodes

We all remember playing with our cousins as children.  They are often our oldest and first friends.  A few days ago, the Queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes passed away.  We can all guess how upset the Queen must be at this.

She was not a royal cousin, being the daughter of the Queen Mother’s sister (there is a distant royal connection back in their family tree, but not royal enough to be considered so).  A similar age to Princess Elizabeth, she spent a lot of time playing with her cousin as children.  During the war she lived at Windsor Castle with her royal cousins, being protected as they were.  On occasion she was also known to stay at Buckingham Palace with them, in later years.

Her parents were the Lord and Lady Elphinstone, and in 1950 she married Denys Rhodes, with Princess Margaret as her bridesmaid.  She had previously been a bridesmaid herself to Princess Elizabeth when she married Phillip Mountbatten.  The couple had four children together.

In the Queen Mother’s later years, Margaret Rhodes became a Lady of the bedchamber to her, a position she held until the formers death in 2002.  She was then given a grace and favour apartment in the grounds of Windsor Castle to live out her days.

In more recent years, she has been a go to person for interviews about her cousin for tv and magazine interviewers, and also wrote a book about her life with the Queen in 2011.  It is said that she stayed close to the Queen right until the end, the Queen having visited her in the week before her death, when she was ill.

It is always sad when someone passes.

I am tended to think of all of the people that I have lost over the years and missed dearly.  The country will not mourn the passing of this lady, though her family will.  It is the family that should be considered at these times, we all have people close to us, alive and already gone.  Blessings should be counted for the people around us and the memories we have of those who are no longer with us.