Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guest Blogging

Today I'm guest blogging over at Terry's Place: http://terryodell.blogspot.com/

My topic is Self Defense for Klutzes, and I'm writing in as Sue Star, my pen name for traditional mystery. Should be fun!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

11 Favorite Books -- 2011

I tried hard to whittle this list down to 5, but couldn't. I really enjoyed them all! Since my TBR piles grow faster than I can read, these books are not from 2011; that's just when I read them:

Open Season, C.J. Box

Ordinary Thunderstorms, William Boyd

Tell No One, Harlan Coben

Dreaming of the Bones, Deborah Crombie

Finding Nouf, Zoe Ferraris

The Devotion of Suspect X, Keigo Higashino

The Ghosts of Belfast, Stuart Neville

Impact, Douglas Preston

To Fetch a Thief, Spencer Quinn

Amazonia, James Rollins

In the Bleak Midwinter, Julia Spencer-Fleming

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Boxing Day--What IS It?

Boxing Day sales rival any Black Friday--except for the queues.

The elusive sun sets over Hyde Park.

Department stores, ablaze with Christmas lights.

Tower Bridge looks pretty nice, too.

Next day, we stroll through Battersea Park...

And Chelsea, where many writers and artists passed through.

I can't wait to pass through again!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Merry English Christmas

Santa plays steel drums on the Jubilee Bridge.

German Christmas market still goes strong under the bridge.

The sun breaks out as we ride the Eye!

Upside down Christmas trees along The Strand.

Christmas Eve dinner at Babur, a fusion Indian restaurant serving Brother Cadfael cocktails--how British is that?

We watch the Queen give her Christmas speech.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Baby sleds, instead of strollers!

The narrowest house in town.

Christmas market packs up and goes away with 4 shopping days still left before Christmas.

Johann Sebastian Bach was born in this town in 1685.

Thuringian bratwurst is the best! Just ask anyone from Eisenach. The bratwurst stands set up first thing in the morning and break down around 6, not long before the town goes to bed.

Luckily, they keep their store windows and Christmas lights on!

Tomorrow we return to London!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wartburg Castle

We hike through a snowy forest, past former mansions now divided into apartments--or else standing derelict.

Ludwig the Springer built the Wartburg in 1067, supposedly after hauling in his own dirt for a foundation. That way, he could claim the castle was built on his own soil.

Knights hung out in this room. This relief shows Ludwig's son, who also founded Eisenach.

Glass mosaic illustrates Saint Elizabeth's life, from the time she came to the castle in 1211 as a 4-year-old, intended to become the child bride of Ludwig IV in 1221. When her husband died on a Crusade, she and her children were expelled from the castle by its new heir. Never mind, she went on to become a nun, advocate of the poor and sick, and eventually a saint after dying at age 24.

Mad King Ludwig II of Bavaria was so taken by this banquet hall on the top floor that he copied it in his fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein.

Martin Luther hid out in this room in 1521, where he translated the New Testament from Greek to German. Stories claim that visitors have taken bits of plaster from the wall where his ink splattered.

Tomorrow we explore more of Eisenach!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Easy Jet takes 1 1/2 hours from London to Berlin, and the autobahn takes another 3 1/2 hours to Eisenach, where daughter Gretchen lives.

Eisenach is a quaint, medieval town on the edge of the Thuringian Forest and in the center of Germany. Its city gates date back to 1200.

No town is too small for at least one Christmas market. Eisenach has two: one at the central market platz, and the other up the hill at the castle.

Christmas market sells candy and gluwein and bratwurst and gluwein and smoking-men incense burners and gluwein. It has blacksmiths and offers kiddie rides (and did I mention gluwein?)

Tomorrow we climb the hill to the castle!

Monday, January 2, 2012

To Europe, for Christmas

First stop: London, to leave Christmas presents under Emily and Dave's tree. Palm trees grow in neighbors' back yard--and all over London!

Near their flat rises One Tree Hill, where Elizabeth 1 went a-maying in 1602 (i.e., she had a picnic under an oak tree). The tree in fence is Honor Oak, for its royal connection, although this is not the original.

We worm through the Christmas crowds at Covent Garden, and we find roses and cherry blossoms still flowering.

The theatre district glitters with Christmas lights.

We end up seeing The Mousetrap.

Tomorrow, on to Germany!