#AtoZChallenge – U is for Unicorn


unicornA unicorn is a legendary animal with a large, spiraling horn protruding from its forehead. In folklore, it is always white but can look like a horse or a goat. This wild, woodland creature was a symbol of purity and grace and could only be captured by a virgin.

A mercat cross is the market cross which be found in many Scottish towns, cities and villages. The cross is a symbol of the right to hold a regular market or fair which was granted by the monarch, a bishop or a baron. It indicated a burgh’s relative prosperity and marked the settlement’s focal point. In many cases, these crosses are topped with the Royal Unicorn.

There are more crosses with the Royal Unicorn, but these are a few.

Aberdeen Mercat Cross:

Aberdeen Mercat cross with unicorn

Richard Slessor [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Edinburgh Mercat Cross:

Edinburgh Mercat Cross with Unicorn

By User:Kim Traynor (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Glasgow Mercat Cross:

Glasgow Mercat Cross with unicorn and the Mercat Building

Thomas Nugent [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

And to end my post, here are the Irish Rovers to sing you out…

#PostfromParis – Day 4 Cimetière du Père Lachaise et de plus

This is a bit late getting posted but had problems accessing the Internet yesterday morning. Call me weird but I like to wander through cemeteries. I like to see the variety of the architecture of the monuments. And for doing just that, this is a fantastic place to do it! And you can do it from the comfort of your own home by visiting pere-lachaise.com.

The weather was dark and gloomy (perfect atmosphere for cemetery wandering) and it spit rain the entire time we were there (another prerequisite of cemetery prowling). The sun tried to break through a few times but the heavy cloud cover kept it at bay.

When I was first here back in 2003, a security guard was posted at Jim Morrison’s grave. Now, a fence has been erected to keep people away from it. Obviously, it’s not keeping his ardent fans away entirely or how else would these flowers and other things end up on his grave?

Cimetière du Père LachaiseVictor Noir is also interred here in Cimetière du Père Lachaise. I’m not sure where the story started, but apparently his bronze effigy represents fertility and women who wish to become preganant come and rub his crotch. It looks strangely amusing to see the bronze sculpture green with age except for that one polished area.

Cimetière du Père LachaiseOscar Wilde is also buried here and for years, women would kiss his monument. Now, a wall of clear Plexiglass surrounds it keeping the lipstick prints off. It was really strange seeing Oscar’s grave so clean after having seen it with lip prints of many shades of red all over it before.

Cimetière du Père LachaiseAfter getting our cemetery fix, we decided to return to the Champs-Élysées but this time walk down the other side of the street. This is almost a must since there is so much to see on each side of the avenue.

when we walked by the Toyota dealership, we were surprised to see this race car in the showroom. You could go in and take photographs of it, selfies with it in the background, pretty much anything you wanted as long as you didn’t touch. There was a security guard watching to ensure that you didn’t.

Rolex series ToyotaTwo doors down at the Renault dealership, it was the same thing except they had two cars in the showroom – an older F1 car and last year’s model. Again, a security guard stood watch.

Old F1 carRenault F1 carWe carried on down to Place de la Concorde again before deciding where we would go next. While waiting at one of the traffic lights, a guy on a bicycle when tearing through the crowd (still surprised how he didn’t hit anyone) and didn’t bother to stop for the red light. Big mistake. I didn’t see it but I heard the crash. Mr MR-K said he saw the bike go flying in the air and almost twice as high as one of the buses that was in the intersection. We both figured when we got there, he’d be laid out on the cobbles – dead – but no, he was standing, hopping on one foot and his legs were scratched, cut and bruised from the pedals of the bike. The taxi that hit him had a broken fog lamp.

Some (a lot of) more walking and we were at Hotel de Ville on our way to The Auld Alliance.

Hotel de VilleWhen we walked down Rue Francois Miron, we passed by the oldest house in Paris.

oldest house in ParisThirsty now, we stopped in for a pint of the amber nectar – Caledonian 80. By now my leg was getting tired and a refreshing pint was just the ticket. We enjoyed our drinks then gradually worked our way back to the restaurant for supper and our hotel.

busker on pont marieAnd that was it for Day 4. Oh, and if you can go by the accuracy of the pedometer (seemed closer to what it felt like), we walked 28,589 steps or 9.02 miles.


#AtoZChallenge – T is for Travel


Travel is defined as the movement of people on foot, a bicycle, car, boat, or airplane. Whatever your preferred mode, the anticipation of visiting someplace new, or even returning to the same place is exciting.

We all have places we want to see, things we want to do on our “Bucket Lists”. I’ve been fortunate and have crossed a few things off my list of places I have to see. First on that list was my father’s birthplace in Scotland and the Orphanage where he was raised before he came to Canada. You can see some of the photos from that trip here.

Since that first trip, I’ve travelled back to Scotland six more times and each time have added at least one new ‘thing to see and do’ to my trip along with returning to favourite places and visiting family and friends.

I don’t know about you, but part of the excitement (at least for me) is in the planning stages. Choosing where to go, where to stay and what to do in the area.

travel - Old bridge at Carrbridge

Old bridge at Carrbridge

Carrbridge is a perfect example of someplace new and it was only because of the need for a public convenience that my husband and I found ourselves here. I knew of the old bridge and had seen pictures of it, but I since I was here I had to see it for myself.

What’s your favourite travel destination? Do you like the planning process?


Paparazzi Pair – Roxie Rebel’s Photographs

able caneAble Cane coming to you from the City of Lights. My capable cohort, Roxie Rebel, has been able to catch up with the world-famous author, Melanie Robertson-King.

So, Roxie, what can you tell us – or better yet, show us?

Roxie RebelWell, Able, it’s been hard to get her photo without being spotted and even harder to get good shots with my best zoom lens broken. But this is what I’ve managed so far with what equipment I’ve got.

paparazzi Paparazzi Paparazzi Paparazzi Paparazzi
Thanks for… ahem… sharing those photos with us, Roxie. Hopefully, you’ll get your camera fixed soon so that you’ll be able to get some better pictures.

This is Able Cane signing off from Paris.

#AtoZChallenge – S is for SHADOWS FROM HER PAST

Shadows from Her Past

I’m currently sitting at just over 62,000 words in my first draft and my target length is 85,000. This book hasn’t progressed as quickly as I had hoped but I’ve not totally thrown in the towel yet, either.

I don’t have a cover to show you but as the book hasn’t progressed to that stage, I can’t.

a shadow in the past cover 500x773Here is the cover image for my first book. I see my name and the title Shadows from Her Past exactly how they are here. Keep the ‘author brand’ continuity if you will.

I also see the past and present being represented much as they are here but, shall we say, in a more modest setting. Present looking into the past and the two characters who are most important to the heroine appearing with her in the mirror’s reflection.

What do you think of my vision?

Blurb for Shadows from Her Past:

Sarah finds herself back in her time without her husband, Robert, and adopted daughter, Jenny. When she sees visions of them appear, Sarah doesn’t know if it’s her imagination or if they’re really there trying to break through the constraints of time and space.

David Robb, a student doctor at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary who has been assigned to her case, bears a familial resemblance to Robert. Sarah develops feelings for him but also feels like she is betraying her husband, despite them being centuries apart.

Will Sarah make a new life with David in the present, or will she find her way back to her husband and daughter in the past?


Keep coming back for news regarding Shadows from her Past. In the meantime, you can purchase book one in the series - A Shadow in the Past in paperback from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters, and local bricks ‘n mortar bookstores.

If you’d prefer to buy it as an ebook, all you have to do is click on the logo of your choice to download it. The link for all the amazon domains is the same, you just have to change the .co.uk to your own.

#PostfromParis – Day 3 Parc des Buttes Chaumont +

I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by. Day 3 already. After breakfast we headed to our first destination of the day – Parc des Buttes Chaumont. We’re becoming quite familiar with the metro stations and are finding it easier to get around in the underground maze of tunnels and tracks.

When we got off the metro at the Buttes Chaumont stop, we were rescued from walking up 300+ stairs to get out of the station by a young woman who told us that there was an elevator available to get you to the top. I know I would never have been able to climb that far.

Buttes Chaumont

Paris skyline and Temple Sibylle (right)

We knew there was waterfall in the park so when we heard the rushing water, we walked in that direction. This one wasn’t the one we expected to find but it was pretty.

waterfall in butte chaumont

One of the two waterfalls in Parc des Buttes Chaumont

After a brief stop here for photos, we walked across the viaduct and made our way to the Temple de la Sibylle. I might look like I’m walking at a good pace in this photo but not really. Thank to our pedometer, we’re able to keep track of our speed which ranges from .7 to .8 mph. Almost a snail’s pace.

butte chaumont

On our first day here in Paris, we walked from our hotel to Sacre Coeur so you can see how far we are now from there.

buttes chaumont

Sacre Coeur from the Temple de la Sibylle

After enjoying the view, we made our way back down the hill from the Temple and across a bridge which bounced up and down with each step we took. Of course, someone who shall remain nameless thought it would be great fun to jump up and down to really get it bouncing and while I was attempting to take a photo. Yeesh…

buttes chaumont

We walked across this bridge over the lake

We walked down this set of stairs so that we could walk under the viaduct we had walked on earlier.

buttes chaumont

One of the stone staircases in Parc des Buttes Chaumont

buttes chaumont

Viaduct we walked on to get to the Temple de la Sibylle

After walking under the viaduct, we heard the roar of waterfalls again so continued in the direction of the sound. This turned out to be the one we were looking for in the man-made cave complete with stalactites hanging from above.

butte chaumont

Waterfall inside the cave

buttes chaumont

Standing in the cave in front of the waterfall

After our “fun” in the park, we returned to the metro and headed off to our next destination – Opera.


Opera Garnier

From here we walked to Place Vendôme. It being Sunday (and probably even more importantly Easter Sunday) the shops were closed. This is an area of exclusive ones, too. Had Cartier’s been open, I likely wouldn’t have been able to get my picture taken standing so close to the place. When I was here in 2003, security guards stood at every entrance.

place vendome

Standing outside one of the Cartier locations

place vendome

The Vendôme Column

Back to the metro and over to Trocadero…


WWI Memorial on the wall of the Passy Cemetery near the Trocadero

Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower where we’ll be drinking champagne at the summit on Tuesday.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

We walked down to street level along the river to the Pont de Bir Hakeim, crossed back to the Rive Gauche and made our way back to the Eiffel Tower to see where the statue of Gustave Eiffel is located where we’re to meet for our Tuesday tour.

By now we were getting hungry and in need of a WC, so we continued down along the river and stopped at La Frégate for a late lunch/early supper. Very nice place and we’ll likely stop in again before we go home.

And that’s day 3…

#AtoZChallenge – R is for Reading



Whatever your genre, or preferred medium, curling up and reading a good book on a cold wintry day is fab and in my corner of the world, there have been a pile of them this season.

There are loads of genres to choose from – crime, romance, paranormal, Young Adult, New Adult, non-fiction, memoirs and literary fiction.

A great place to get your reading material is at your local independent bookstore. Mine is Leeds County Books. If I find a book whilst shopping elsewhere, I take down the details and then go here and order my copy, if it isn’t already on the shelf.

I also have a great collection of ebooks on my ipad in the Kindle app.

And I’m going to do a wee bit of shameless, self-promotion here. If you’re looking for a great read, check out A Shadow in the Past and The Consequences Collection, written by yours truly.

#PostfromParis – Day 2 Champs-Élysées and more

The leg started out a bit stiff first thing but the more I walked, the better it got… well, to a point. Our first stop was the local metro station where we took the subway to Chatelet where the plan was to take Line 1 to the Charles de Gaulle Etoille station. Well, that part of the line was down for maintenance this weekend. Of all times – Easter weekend? Anyway, I digress. We were directed to take the RER A train and it would take us exactly where we wanted to go.

selfie at the arc de triompheMy plan was a leisurely stroll down the Champs-Élysées and see what happened from there. Well follow along and you’ll see what all happened and where…

arc de triomphe from pedestrian island in the middle of the Champs-ÉlyséesI really wanted to go to the top but with my leg, I knew that there was no way I could do the stairs, even though there is a lift that takes you approximately 2/3 of the way to the top. And with scaffolding around it, not being able to go to the top wasn’t a huge disappointment.

looking towards place de la concorde from a pedestrian island on the Champs-ÉlyséesToday, we remembered to bring the pedometer purchased specifically for the trip. We were curious to know how far we walked each day.

grand palaisThe Grand Palais is an impressive building but I was more taken with the bronze statue with the horses than the rest. Does that make me bad?

fountain at place de al concorde

me at one of the fountains in place de la concordeSo by now, we’ve traversed the length of the Champs-Élysées and haven’t been trampled by pedestrians or run over by cars, the drivers of which begrudge having to stop for those of us on foot.

the louvreWe didn’t go inside the Louvre but here’s a photo of one of the buildings just to give you an idea of how far we walked… so far.

After crossing over to the Left Bank, we continued towards Notre Dame cathedral. Unfortunately, the sidewalks were no place for me with my cane with the number of people there, so we took to the lower walkway along the Seine. It wasn’t much better because of all the cobblestones, but at least (for the most part) there were fewer pedestrians.

along the seineThe bridge in the background here is where lovers bring padlocks with their names/initials on them and fasten them to the sides. The street vendors above even sell locks to those who didn’t bring theirs with them.

notre dame cathedralI knew it would be a zoo around Notre Dame with it being Easter weekend, but I had affixed the zoom lens to my camera so i could get photos of the chimeras from the ground as I wouldn’t be able to climb 380+ steps. I had told Mr MR-K about the guy feeding the birds there when I first visited Paris in 2003. I didn’t see him, but there was another man there feeding corn to the pigeons.

feeding the birdsfeeding the birdsHe put some of the corn in our hands (and on our heads) and the birds flocked to us. Having them pecking corn off our heads didn’t hurt, but their claws were a bit on the sharp side.

So this trip, I had to settle for the zoom lens to get my chimera pictures – no up close and personal with them. Oh well, I think these pictures turned out not too bad at all.

notre dame chimeras some of the chimeras 2 some of the chimeras 3By now we were parched and I knew The Highlander (one of the Scottish pubs) in Paris was close by so we headed there, passing by the Shakespeare and Company bookstore.

shakespeare and companyWe looked for the Greek restaurant where I’d had a meal back in 2003 since it was between here and the pub but it’s no longer in business – or at least no longer in business under that name.

outside the highlanderTwo pints of Caledonian 80 each later, we thought we would stroll to the Eiffel Tower to get an idea where we would have to meet for our tour on Tuesday but my leg had other plans. We made our way to a metro stop – stopping first at a public toilet. Convience and having to go were the only things it had going for it.

When we finally got back to our hotel, we stopped in to the small supermarket beside it and picked up something for our supper and a small bottle of champagne rose.

According to the pedometer, we walked 25,255 steps. Trust me, it felt like twice that many.

So what’s on for day 3? You’ll have to come back later and find out.



#AtoZChallenge – Q is for Quadratic Equation

Quadratic Equation

This algebra function struck fear into the hearts of many a high school math student. I don’t recall having to solve quadratic equations below grade 9, but from that year through grade 12 there was always a segment in the math curriculum for the study of these.

quadratic equation

By Jennifer Ledwith [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Even though, once I got the knack and found quadratic equations easy to solve, I still hated them.

What memories of high school math set your teeth on edge?

#PostfromParis – Day 1 Montmartre

Let me backtrack a bit first. After we checked in at the airport and were waiting at the departure gate, our name was called “King, party of two” and we were asked to present ourselves to the airline representative at the check in line. We were… drum roll please… given a complimentary upgrade to Club Class – aka First Class! What treatment! Real china plates, stainless cutlery, stemless wine glasses. The champagne was offered while we were still waiting for the rest of the people to board… did I mention we got to board first, too?

As our meal was being served, there was a medical emergency (apparently in the seat directly behind me) and they called out over the PA system asking if there was a doctor on board and if so, would he make himself known to the cabin crew. Yikes! Scary moments but eventually, normalcy was restored and we got out meal.

Our airport to hotel shuttle never did show up and after a number of phone calls made by a wonderful man at the airport on our behalf, they sent a private mini van to collect us. This van wasn’t even one of the company’s that I hired’s fleet. In the end, we did get to the hotel, checked in (about 2 hours after our plane landed) but our room wouldn’t be ready until at 2:30.

Paparazzi Pair -

able caneAble Cane here with a breaking news story. Roxie Rebel and I have discovered world famous author, Melanie Robertson-King’s, whereabouts. She’s in the Montmartre area of Paris, but once again she gave us the slip. It’s amazing how fast she can move with her cane.

Roxie, did you manage to get any pictures?

Roxie RebelSorry, Able. She was too quick. I did get shots of places she’d been but by the time I was able to preview them on my computer, she wasn’t in the frame.

Well what did you manage to get then, girl?

See for yourself.


Montmartre Steps


Sacre Coeur


Gare du Nord

Excellent shots, Roxie, well if you don’t count the fact that Melanie isn’t in any of them.
But we don’t want our followers to be disappointed. We’ll track her down and maybe even she’ll agree to an interview.

This is Able Cane signing off for now…