Tag Archives: England

Bucket List accomplished: Blackpool Tower, done!

I made it! It wasn’t even scary!

I did it! I accomplished most of the details of my Bucket List event, visiting the Eye of the Blackpool Tower, in Blackpool, England. Some of the specifics weren’t possible, but I’m okay with that!


For example, I wasn’t able to do this at sunset to watch the sun go down over the Irish Sea, but that’s only because the Tower closes at 5:30 and the sun doesn’t go down until 9:38.

I also didn’t dance with Jeff in the Blackpool Ballroom, although we did have tea and scones, which was one of the things I wanted to do while we were there. We didn’t dance because, hoo buddy, the people who were out there dancing obviously keep Arthur Murray in business. These folks were serious about their ballroom dancing and our clumsy fumbling about would have just gotten in their way.

But before we visited the Ballroom, we hurried to the top of the Tower before the weather made it difficult (it’s been rainy all week and a major storm is expected here). I was truly surprised by how not scary it was to walk out onto the glass floor and look down, as long as I waited until I was well out there before looking down. Otherwise, it really wasn’t bad at all.

Below is a photo I took of the Comedy Carpet, which is installed into the ground below the Tower. I mentioned in a previous blog about psychic dreams that I have had about this years before it was even built. I didn’t have any of the spooky feelings that I had last week when I was being flooded with memories of dreams, but perhaps that’s because I already knew where this was, and the other dreams were of a town I hadn’t seen yet in online photos.

If anything psychic happened today, it was a strong intuitive hit from either a past-life or picking up a ghost of a memory from some woman who was in the Ballroom during World War II.

Every time I looked at a certain spot on the ornately painted ceiling, I was washed over with sorrow as this woman felt the loss of a man she loved who had either been killed or was fighting overseas and she feared for his life. It wasn’t clear exactly what the situation was, but the sense of despair was palpable. It felt like she was sitting in a spot very near where I was and she was trying to “keep calm and carry on”, even though her heart was breaking. When she would feel herself tearing up, she’d cast her eyes upward to keep from crying. There was something about this view, looking at the same spot she gazed upon, that brought that feeling home to me.

On a lighter note, though, here are some fun and random pics from today. We had a marvelous time and I hope to make it back here again someday.

The famous Wurlitzer organ in the Blackpool Ballrom, which rises up from beneath the floor of the stage.

Standing directly below the Tower, you can see the Eye (the glass floor).

I don’t think I need to say anything about this one.

It’s kind of hard to see, but those are pictures of a Rod Stewart impersonator in the windows.

This one goes to eleven.

Finally, here’s you some Blackpool dogs:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

 

A Visit to the Queen of the Fairies

I know that I’ve been talking a lot about riding to the top of the Blackpool Tower as a Bucket List event, but there is another one I’ve been quieter about, and that’s the one I accomplished today. Today I visited Janet’s Foss in Malham, England, the fabled dwelling place of the Queen of the Fairies.


“Why?” you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

My first novel (a metaphysical comedy which was originally published in 2009 as Be Careful What You Witch For! and will be re-released later this summer with a new ending, under the new title of The Poppet Master) includes a character who comes from here. She’s a fairy named Aethelwyne Eglantina, but the stupid human who she’s been assigned to assist calls her by the embarrassing name of Twink.

In Book 1, we don’t know much about Twink or where she comes from but in Book 2, which is still in the works, we discover that she’s from Janet’s Foss. And, although I’ve done extensive research about the spot and there are lots of gorgeous photos of it online, there’s nothing like an in-person visit to give one a real sense of the look and feel of a place.

The photos I’ve seen online simply don’t do it justice and, I’m quite sure, neither will mine, but I’ll share a few anyway.

Janet’s Foss is a waterfall about a mile outside of a quaint village called Malham. Jeff and I are staying at the Buck Inn, just to take a break from being in the camper, to take a real shower and sleep in a real bed.

The walk to the Foss is breathtaking, even if it was cold and windy, with a hint of rain in the air. I took a bazillion pictures, and here are some of the best to give you an idea of what it looks like on the way there:

There it is, in the photo above, my first view of the waterfall. You can just barely see it through the trees. It literally took my breath away.

And there it is, in all its glory. It’s much higher and impressive than the pictures show. Best of all, as we were leaving to go back to the Inn, I saw these:

And, of course, before I go, here’s you some dogs, playing in the pond at the foot of the Foss.


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Money … tickets … passport … holy water

We’re leaving tomorrow for our trip to the UK so it’s crunch time! Do I have everything? Money? Tickets? Passports? My sanity?


I’ve been planning this trip since 2013 and it feels like a lifetime. But now that we’re less than 24 hours from departure out of Phoenix, we’re zooming through time at the speed of light and if that isn’t enough to bend the time/space continuum, I don’t know what is.

It’s not just the physicality of what we’re doing … money, tickets, passport … that’s looming large. It’s the psychicality (is that a word? it is now!) that’s blowing my mind.

See, there’s a lot going on here. I’m not just going to fly across the Pond for the first time, I’m going to achieve a Bucket List event — visiting the glass-floored “Eye” of the Blackpool Tower. But even more importantly, I’m also doing research for two books, including genealogy research into a witch trial in my family’s past AND doing what I can to break the resulting curse.

Although I’m ecstatic that we’re going, I’m also on the verge of empathic overload. Those of you who have at least one foot consciously in the psychic realm will know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who don’t, I probably already lost you when I wrote about breaking curses.

But, for those of you who are still with me, I’m what some would call “overly sensitive” to the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s easy to sometimes lose track of where I end and the “external” world begins. So, therefore, all of what I’ll be doing over the next few weeks is a little overwhelming.

But I’ve learned, from many years of experience, to just put one foot in front of the other. And for today, that means … money, tickets, passports.

Before I go, here’s you a traveling dog:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Bucket Lists are scary as hell

Anyone who’s been reading my blog for any length of time knows that my biggest Bucket List item is to visit the Blackpool Tower in Blackpool, England. Well, it’s FINALLY  about to happen and I’m freaking out!


I’ve been yearning for this since 2013 (and having psychic dreams about it for far longer). It’s taken years to materialize, no matter how much “Law of Attraction” work I’ve done. I realize now that there were some very good reasons for it to take so long.

In “New Age” speak, it’s because I didn’t vibe with it yet. I get that—I understand that “like attracts like” and I wasn’t “like” this yet. But understanding that didn’t make the waiting any easier.

Turns out there were things I didn’t know yet—important information that I needed before heading off on the second leg of the journey, to Scotland.

For example, I didn’t yet know about the Scottish curse on my family, or what to do about it (I’ll talk about that in another blog). I also didn’t know a lot of the things I’ve recently discovered in my genealogy research which I can only follow up on when I’m there, where the original records lie. If I had been able to make the Bucket List trip back when I first conceived of it, I would have completely missed out on my chance to easily visit these places.

The Blackpool Tower, on the coast of the Irish Sea.

It’s also clear now, when I look back at my original reasons for wanting to do this, that my motives have changed entirely. I didn’t realize then that the Blackpool Tower was merely acting as an antenna, drawing my undivided attention to the UK, but for much different purposes than I ever could have known back then.

However, the most important thing at this stage is my “Duh!” realization that Bucket List items are hard to attain—unlike everyday life—because they scare the crap out of you. I’m not big on facing fears head-on, hence the long delay.

The view, straight down, from the “Eye” of the Blackpool Tower. The Comedy Carpet is to the right, and the Irish Sea is just beyond that.

For some unknown reason, I’m drawn to the Blackpool Tower (which is similar to the Eiffel Tower) to ride to the top, step out onto the glass floor and look down at the Comedy Carpet. Then, while I’m up there, I’ll watch the sun set over the Irish Sea.

Have I mentioned that I’m terrified of heights?

I’m also afraid of flying across the ocean. I’m afraid of driving on the “wrong side” of the road. I’m afraid of being in another country, on the other side of the planet, and not having everything I need. The list of things that cause me crippling anxiety goes on and on.

And yet … I persisted.

I think the reason I’m finally able to go is because I’ve finally matured enough to do this. I have all of my research ducks in a row and I’m go for takeoff. I may still be terrified, but I’m now actually looking forward to facing these challenges.

I better be, because we’re leaving in a little over three weeks.

FINALLY!

Here’s you a scared dog:


Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author. Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first is entitled The Poppet Master (previously published as Be Careful What You Witch For!, now revamped and with a new ending). The Poppet Master is a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. The Poppet Master will be available in summer 2019. Its sequel is in the works.

Lisa is also writing The Maxwell Curse, a fictionalized version of a story she found in her own ancestral lineage about a witch trial, a generational curse, and massive mine explosion, all of which left ripples of destruction in their wake, devastating one family’s tree.

http://www.lisabonnice.com

Martha McGrath, 1851, Bradford England

I think Martha McGrath was my mom’s mom’s dad’s dad’s mom (my third great-grandmother). I say “I think” because I’m not 100% sure. All signs point in that direction, but I hesitate to state it as fact. One of her sons shows up in a stranger’s Ancestry.com family tree with matching information to my own, so it’s safe to assume they are the same person, but I’m always cautious if I can’t confirm it more than once.

According to the 1851 England census,  Martha lived in Bradford, England (Bradford was mentioned in the Doctor Who episode The Crimson Horror) with her three children at 120 Longland St. I can actually see that building on Google Maps. When Jeff and I go to England this summer, I’ll see it in person.

Born in 1807, Martha was a 44-year-old widow at the time and worked as a dress maker. She was born in Ireland, as was her husband and father of her three children. Beyond this, there is no information about him anywhere, at least not where I can find it.

My second great-grandfather, James McGrath, was 12 at the time. He was born in Bradford and worked as a “boot closer”. His little brother Alexander was 8, and their little sister, Mary, was 4.

By the time James was 22, he had moved to Manchester and lived as a lodger at 65 Fleet St, Ashton-under-Lyne–according to the 1861 census. He worked as a cordwainer, so apparently shoe-making agreed with him.

By 1870, he had somehow emigrated to the US (I can’t find his name on any passenger lists), because he shows up in Detroit, in the census, married to my second great-grandmother Josephine. He was employed as a brewer, which he apparently continued to do for the rest of his life–that is, at least, according to what my mom has been told.

I get the sense that he was being deliberately sketchy about being kept track of. In various places, he lists his birthplace as either Ireland or England. I can’t find him or any other dependents in any census records after that, until my great-grandfather Charlie McGrath moves out and starts his own life, with his marriage to his first wife, Maggie O’Leary, in 1894.

Maggie died, leaving him with two daughters, Marie and Grace. He eventually married Emma Gelinski, and they gave birth to my mom’s mom, Mildred in 1904.

Great-Grandpa Charlie, with my mom, Joann circa 1937

Great-Grandpa Charlie, with my mom, Joann circa 1937

In 1910, the census lists Charles McGrath as an agent in a tea store, and in 1920, he was employed as a tool clerk in an auto factory (this was Detroit, after all). He disappears from the records after that. My mom tells me that he became a brewer and ran a drinking establishment before Prohibition. The front room held a bar for the men, and the ladies would go into the back room to sit in the parlor to drink. He had to close this business down when Prohibition began.

Charlie died in 1940. This picture of him is as far back as his lineage goes, in our family photos.

But it all began with Martha, in Ireland, in 1807. And whomever came before her … and before her … and before her …


Looking for Experts: Sponsorship

I’ve reached a point in planning this trip where I am ready to take the next step: looking for sponsors. I’ve done a lot of research into “who” and “why”, and I have a pretty good list of the kinds of companies to approach. What I need from the experts is advice and/or assistance in “how”.

What I’ll be pitching:

WHO: I am a best-selling author of four books and part of my planned “Bucket List” trip to the UK is to do research for two (or more) upcoming books. My husband Jeff and I are both former standup comedians, and we make great traveling companions and story tellers. You can read one of our month-long adventures beginning with this blog.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall.(zpqt)

Tintagel Castle (Photo credit: Bob Linsdell)

WHAT: We’re planning a summer-long trip to the UK in 2014. We will be exploring Arthurian legend sites, tracking Doctor Who shooting locations, visiting ancestral sites (we both have extensive and interesting ancestor stories from all over the UK), interviewing the occasional celebrity that we’ve seen on BBC America (we’ve already successfully started booking interviews), taking gorgeous nature walks, blogging and writing restaurant reviews. The pinnacle of the trip, for me, will be to face my intense fear of heights and take a photo of the sunset over the Irish Sea from the top of the Blackpool Tower.

English: Blackpool Tower

Blackpool Tower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WHERE: England, Wales, Scotland and possibly Ireland.

WHEN: We’re shooting for next summer, from the start of June until the end of August. We’ve been invited to a Druid Solstice ritual shortly after we arrive, and we’ll spend June in southern England and Wales, exploring Camelot and Avalon, and Jeff’s ancestry and Doctor Who locations.

In July, we’ll spend time in Liverpool, because we’re Beatles fans, then head to Janet’s Foss, a waterfall in central England where the Queen of the Faeries is supposed to have lived. Along the way, we’ll be taking long nature walks to see the beauty that is the United Kingdom. Then we’ll head up to Scotland for a visit, to find where my ancestors ranged from dirt-poor coalminers to ancient royalty.

English: Janet's Foss

Janet’s Foss (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In August, we’ll still be in Scotland and possibly Ireland, but then we’ll come back south in time to spend a week in Blackpool during their annual Illuminations celebration. We’ll be tracking down shooting locations for the incredible BBC miniseries, Blackpool (starring David Tennant, Sarah Parish and David Morrissey). We’ll wrap up the trip in London and head home.

WHY: Why not? Life is short and the world is waiting.

Regarding sponsors, I have a list of several companies to approach. I’ve already started to build a platform. I have very good reasons why each of these companies may be interested in trading goods/cash in exchange for shameless pluggery. We’re going anyway. They may as well come along for the ride.

So … now what? How do I make this happen? What kind of presentation should I create? How do I pitch this? Do you want to sponsor us? Do you want to help us find sponsors in exchange for sponsorship? Your expertise is requested and appreciated. Fill in the form below, or email me at lisa @ lisabonnice.com.  Meantime, I will continue to plug away with research.

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Synchronicity from Scotland

Mel Gibson's version of Robert the Bruce

Mel Gibson’s version of Robert the Bruce

There was a flaw in my family tree. Years ago, I had traced my mom’s dad’s lineage all the way up to Robert the Bruce (the cutie pie* King of Scotland, in Braveheart) but it just didn’t feel right. I didn’t know how or even what to fix. I was reluctant to mention this factoid in blogs about the planning of our trip to Scotland, because I wanted to be accurate but sensed that I wasn’t.

Turns out, I was wrong, but what I love most about this story is how I found out.

As part of the trip, I’m tracking down our family trees so we can visit ancestral sites. Part of Jeff’s family comes from Wales and England, and much of mine comes from Scotland, England and Ireland. I’ve been actively searching again for my Scottish roots, looking for the flaw that I knew was there, but coming up empty.

Out of the blue, I got a message on the Ancestry.com site from a probable distant relative in Scotland with a brief message about the information I had found, years ago, for my great-grandmother. The message said only: “I have doubts about her parents.”

Sure enough, that was the branch that led us to royalty.

With the new information he offered in subsequent emails, I redid the whole thing, and along the way found actual addresses for my great-grandparents! I learned that my grandfather, who I didn’t know, lived in desperate conditions in a coal-mining family, and all of his direct ancestors did as well. They lived in hard times, a far cry from princes and princesses. It’s a fascinating story, and the local historical societies are bubbling with all of the information I need to actually stand in the same locations as my ancestors.

Once I learned as much as I could about the most recent generations, I started to go up the branches to see how far back I could take it this time. I didn’t expect much, because no one cared enough about the unwashed masses back then to keep track of them beyond the census. But eventually I discovered a pretty strong limb that was taking me back into the same surnames that I recognized from last time: Bruce and Stewart.

It turns out that I am not, indeed, the 22nd granddaughter of Robert I, King of Scots. I am, however, the 22nd granddaughter of his brother, Edward the Bruce, King of Ireland!

I love how the Big U delivered this information to me in such a quirky way. It feels like a hole was punched into the time/space continuum at the perfect time to open this portal to my Scottish heritage. I’m doing a wee jig, as we speak!


* in reality, King Robert was probably horribly disfigured from leprosy.

What he probably actually looked like.

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Looking for experts: travel itinerary budgeting

From The Blackpool Tower's facebook page.

From The Blackpool Tower’s facebook page.

As you may know, I’m planning an extensive “Bucket List” trip to Great Britain for next summer, to take a photo of the sunset over the Irish Sea from the top of the Blackpool Tower. (You can read about that, and further blogs on the topic, here.) I’m at the let’s-make-a-budget stage, and I could sure use some advice from experts!

According to the research I’ve done, an allowance of $100 per day, per person, is typical. That would include gas/food/lodging. Is that realistic, considering we’ll be traveling all around the island for three months? Some places are bound to be more expensive than others, but we also intend to do some couchsurfing and staying in a hostel here and there, cooking our own meals.

Our plan is to go from June 1 through August 31. That’s a total of about $22K. I’d like to shave that down a bit. Any suggestions or feedback from experts is much appreciated!

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Testing my camera–wanna see?

In anticipation of our trip to England & Scotland next summer, which I will be blogging extensively, I took my camera/phone with me on my morning walk today. I am learning a few things: how to take good pictures while walking fast; which site to use for uploading purposes; best way(s) to carry the phone to keep it handy, yet out of the way; and how lightweight my new one will need to be.

For now, I’m using my cheapo cellphone camera because I don’t really need a fancy phone yet. I work out of my house, so I’m always near my tech. Once I’m on the road, however, I’ll definitely need a much higher end phone with a really good camera in it. (I have a good camera, but I’m not taking that for these walks–too heavy and unwieldy.)

Anyway, that will all come in time. I have until next summer to research for the right equipment. Meantime, here are some pictures I took this morning. I don’t promise that they’ll be interesting. This is just an experiment:

October 4 2013 morning walk

Added to the itinerary: “Broadchurch”

I just watched the final episode of Broadchurch on BBC America. Even though Broadchurch is a fictional town, the shooting location is now on the list of “things to see” that BBC America has shown to us because of this:

West Bay Beach and East Cliff (photo from the Daily Mail)

The show was mostly shot in West Bay on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. That’s where these cliffs are. Here is an article from the Daily Mail, telling how the filming of this show has brought in a bunch of tourists:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2312826/Broadchurch-West-Bay-Dorset-ITV-series-filmed-sees-record-tourist-numbers.html

Olivia Colman and David Tennant
in Broadchurch
(photo from the Mirror Online)

It looks like we’re going to be some of those tourists! We wouldn’t have seen these gorgeous cliffs if not for programming on BBC America.

I watched Broadchurch because it stars David Tennant, who I think is a terrific actor, Arthur Darvill (who was such fun as Rory Williams, Amy Pond’s husband, on Doctor Who) and Olivia Colman. Also in the cast is David Bradley, who was in Blackpool, Doctor Who and the Harry Potter movies.

Ms. Colman was also on an episode of Doctor Who–Matt Smith’s first. If you haven’t seen Broadchurch yet, be prepared for a tour de force performance on her part, especially in the final episode. WOW! That woman is an incredible actress.

Anyway, we may make the Jurassic Coast our first stop, after landing in London and spending a few days there. Then we’re thinking about heading north toward Cardiff, stopping a few places on the way. After finding some ancestral spots in Wales, we’ll buzz up to Liverpool to see the standard Beatles sites, then head up to Scotland for more ancestral spots. We’re saving Blackpool for last.

This itinerary isn’t set in stone, but it’s a start. I’ll be tweaking the details as the plan evolves. Meantime, I’m researching the best travel sites/apps and the best mobile phone service providers for our purposes. I have a lot to do before next summer to make something of this magnitude happen!

Wish me luck.

Here’s you a dog. (This little fella did NOT like me walking past his yard this morning!)