Happy Ever After and Queenstown

I love Queenstown. Absolutely adore it. It’s why Happy Ever After is the 2nd of my books to feature it as a location – Wish You Were Here was the first.

Anyways, these are some of the locations in Queenstown and surrounds that I’ve used…so far…

Lake Wakatipu

Of course. Framed by The Remarkables Lake Wakatipu is so amazingly beautiful. In fact, it’s so beautiful that it takes me by surprise. Every time I see the lake and mountains it’s as if I’ve never seen them before.

The SS Earnslaw

The Sun rolls it’s way through, lighting different parts of the peaks- almost in time with the breath of the breeze. That in itself is an interesting concept in that the lake rises and falls by up to 20cm every half hour or so, yet it isn’t tidal. It’s as if the lake is breathing.

And that’s all part of the Maori legend of the lake.

Apparently, a local ogre named Matau (they had local ogres in those days) was burned to death for taking advantage of the daughter of an important chief.  The resultant fire melted the snow and ice of the surrounding mountains and it all ran into the deep hole where Matau fell- creating Lake Wakatipu. Yet the ogre was so strong that his pulse survives in the daily rise and fall.

I love stories like this.

Vudu Cafe & Larder

My absolute favourite place for brekky. They have another cafe now – Bespoke Kitchen, but the original is still the place to be in my humble opinion.

Down on the lake, I reinvented this place as Jess’s Beach Road Cafe in Wish You Were Here and it has a role in Happy Ever After as well.

Madame Woo

The absolute best street food Asian in Queenstown – and possibly the best I’ve had in NZ – and you know I love my Asian street food…#bigcall

The Road to Glenorchy

Check that view. Is that inspiring, or is that inspiring?

Glenorchy

There’s a pub here, a general store and trading post, a photogenic wharf and it’s also the jumping off place for the Dart River adventures (absolutely recommended) and a few tramping tracks.

Just down the road is Paradise – the scene of many ads, movies and TV shows…plus a rather spicy love scene in Wish You Were Here

Arrowtown

A charming gold-rush town at its absolute picturesque best in the autumn.

Cardrona Hotel

A great place for a Sunday session, the Cardrona is on the Crown Range Road between Queenstown and Wanaka – another road with spectacular scenery.

Bannockburn

An old gold mining area now famous for amazing wines. I loved it for the fields of wild thyme and other wild flowers in late spring.

Old Cromwell

As opposed to Cromwell town which is the new Cromwell.

“Upon the completion of the Clyde Dam in 1992, the valley behind the dam was flooded to create Lake Dunstan. To preserve the town’s gold mining and pioneering past, dedicated volunteers painstakingly moved the buildings from Cromwell’s original town centre to higher ground.” (From the official tourism site…)

In case you missed it…

From next week all my personal, travel, wrap-up and linky posts will be over at And Anyways. I explained why here. I’d love to see you there.

This site will be devoted to books and writing – and the business of writing… I’m hoping that it’s the right way to be going…

It’s Lovin’ Life Linky time…

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to look for our happy and share it about a bit. The Lovin’ Life Linky is brought to you by Team Lovin’ Life: Deep Fried Fruit, DebbishWrite of the Middle50 Shades of Age,  and, of course, me.


Q is for…

I’ve taken on the challenge of an A-Z during April – one post each day on a chosen theme. My theme? Books and writing, of course…

Q is for Queenstown

I’ve told you how much I love New Zealand before, but Queenstown? If you haven’t been to this town you simply must.

Framed by The Remarkables mountain range – one of the few ranges in the world that runs truly north-south. That in itself is a remarkable fact, but I’m more inclined to believe they were named because of just how remarkable they look.

They, and Lake Wakatipu, change almost by the minute as the sun changes position and the light varies. Moody one minute, dramatic the next, but always, well, remarkable.

So remarkable that I’ve (so far) set two books there – Wish You Were Here and One More Dance (previously known as Book No. 5). I’ve also been percolating a new series all set in and around Queenstown.

The pic above is in a cafe in town – my favourite place for breakfast, Vudu Cafe and Larder. This cafe was the inspiration for Jess’s cafe, Beach Road, in Wish You Were Here and One More Dance.

The lookout spot on the road to Glenorchy

I’ve also taken my characters out to Glenorchy and Paradise. They’ve walked parts of the Routeburn Track and all of The Milford Track.

Paradise

In One More Dance, they get to explore Arrowtown and also get a glimpse of the wineries in the Gibbston Valley.

I haven’t yet allowed them to stroll through Old Cromwell or smell the wild thyme under their feet around Bannockburn. No doubt that will come.

Naturally, setting a novel in a place requires research – and lots of it. But in this case, it’s research that I’m more than happy to do.

 

 

Welcome to Brookford…

Stunning vibrant Autumn foggy sunrise English countryside landsc

If you’ve read Wish You Were Here, you’ll have been introduced to Brookford. But where is Brookford? Unlike Queenstown – which is, of course, a real place – Brookford is mostly from my imagination.

Burford
Burford

Essentially it’s an amalgam of any number of quintessentially Cotswolds villages. It has symmetrical streets lined with old yellow stone-walled cottages similar to those in Burford and Broadway and many other Cotswolds villages. It has a village pub – like all good Cotswolds villages do – named The Lamb.

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Given the Cotswolds tradition of wool and fortunes made from wool, there are a number of pubs with similar names, although The Lamb in my story is actually based on the Crown Inn – a 16th century pub in Frampton Mansell.

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As an aside, The Bell at Sapperton (mentioned in Chapter 1) does exist – and does have a fabulous wine list, great food, and even a place to tether your horse. If you’re in the area, I’d recommend both it and The Crown Inn for a good meal.

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As for physical location? If Brookford were to exist outside of the pages of Wish You Were Here, it would be located roughly somewhere between Stroud and Cirencester. It’s a gorgeous part of the general gorgeousness that is the Cotswolds. It’s an area with sweeping green hills dotted with sheep, dry-stone walls, and views that go for miles. According to Instagram, those fields are dotted with buttercups in the summer- although I’ve never visited in the summer. Max and Richie’s bluebell wood is a figment of my imagination, but could very easily be there. Somewhere.

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Cockshutt Cottage

Max and James’s cottage in Brookford was inspired by Star Cottage in Burford, and Old Balwil in Buchlyvie, Scotland.  Curlew Cottage is modelled on a cottage we stayed in last December – Cockshutt Cottage at Westley Farm, Cowcombe Hill, near Chalford and Minchinhampton. Don’t you just love those names?

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It was in that cottage that at least 10,000 words of this book were written. And yes, the donkeys down the lane exist – as does Bella the collie. I recall watching a group of kids attempting to herd a gaggle of geese up the dirt road one grey morning.

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Just up the road at Frampton Mansell is Jolly Nice – a farm shop, café, butchery, and maker of great coffee and (in the summer) ice-cream. When we were there in December, the area behind the shop was dedicated to Christmas trees – real ones – and the yurt out the back was full of produce for Christmas. The sorts of food that made you wish you had an old stone house with a huge fireplace – lavishly decorated for Christmas – and a long wooden table with enough photogenic family (who got along with each other) to make it all look like an ad from a Christmas catalogue.

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I remember that when the owner of Westley told us they had Jolly Nice food shop up the road, I thought she was saying that the shop up the road stocked some jolly nice food. Anyways, Blossoms & Buds – the garden centre that Max and Richie work at – is partly modelled on Jolly Nice; and partly on a nursery we bought firewood from in Aberfoyle (near Buchlyvie in the Trossachs); and partly on Woodhouse Farm Shop at Kippen on the road to Stirling (in Scotland) where I bought a journal with a spaniel on the front cover.

As for Queenstown, the other major location in Wish You Were Here? Obviously it does exist, and I’m heading back there on Friday to tramp Milford Track – and to get some more location ideas for a future bookie project. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for some pics and posts as I show you around this vibrant and remarkably picturesque city.