Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Little Goes a Loooog Way!

Hey all,

Sorry about last week.  I was so busy with things around here by the time I remembered the blog, it was too late to do anything about it.  I tried to do one on Sunday, but the internet wouldn't cooperate.  I figured it was a sign and gave up.  LOL's all on me.  I forgot and then didn't get back to doing it when I should have.  For that you have my apologies.

But this is a new week and hopefully a better one schedule wise.  Jonathon and I had an awesome weekend and got to see a couple things I've been looking forward to.

One was a place that is world famous.  Minatur Wunderland.  Jonathon has been looking forward to seeing this since we got to Europe, and while I was intrigued and interested, it wasn't one of my really HOT spots to see, if you know what I mean.

But once I got there, I realized just how wrong I was in my thoughts.  Not only is this an amazing place, it's an attraction you can spend literally weeks appreciating.

What is Minatur Wunderland?

Well, it started off as a miniature railway display.  And then it sorta grew.  A LOT!!!   I won't bother with the actual history of the place, but if you're interested--and it is a pretty cool story--you can check out this LINK for more.  And once you're there, you can check other things out by clinking on the links to the left.  There is a lot of info.

They still bill it as a "model railway system", but it's more like a miniature world. Cities, country and alpine landscapes, castles, rivers, harbors and much, much more.  They've got bits and pieces of countries all over the world, including the USA, Switzerland and of course....Germany.

The most amazing part for most people is the full and complete working airport they have there.  Planes actually take off AND land on a schedule.  You can stand and watch for hours...just like people do at a real airport.  There are gas trucks, little luggage carriers, planes taxiing around, and all the other things that make an airport "live".  It's really fun to watch it all.

And the people at Minature Wunderland have a sense of humor.  After picking my jaw up off the floor at the sight of this HUGE area of displays, I started wandering.  And I found so many little (no pun intended) details. 

On the side of a mountain, I saw Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs.  At an Octoberfest, a Zebra wins a foot race (after trampling another runner), and three horses drink beer from a bucket out of straws.  In the Florida Keys a shark chases a diver around a reef, and in Switzerland, when you push a button (there is a lot of interactive buttons you can push), you can see a group of skiers turn on their torches and ski downhill.

And then there is the sex.  

Yes...I said sex.  While there were just as many children in the attraction as there were adults, Europeans have a healthy, relaxed attitude when it comes to sex.  And it shows here.  This place is so detailed that when you look in some of the windows, you can see couples stripping, flashing, kissing and of course, making love.  And there are several places where you can see couples having sex outside, too.  In a field, in a port-a-potty (ewww), and on the side of the road.  (pic shown)

Once you find one, you can't help but look for others.  It becomes a game.  Find the shagging people and win a prize!  LOL  Even gays are given a chance.  I saw several same-sex couples snogging around town.

And, about every 15 minutes or so, the lights dim and they simulate night.  Street and house lights go on, and off, actions change from what you'd do in the day to what happens more in the evening.  It lasts only a couple of minutes, then the red lights begin to glow, showing dawn is coming.  From one side of the exhibit to the other, daylight approaches until it's full light again.

But I think the thing that I loved the most was the creativity.  There was so many things happening, you could stare for hours and not see everything.  Here are some of the highlights of the place.

1.  A working Space Shuttle takes off and lands in Cape Canaveral.
2.  Castle Lowenstein (apparently a favorite site for arsonists) catches fire and fire trucks come to put out the blaze.  You can almost see the itty, bitty firemen jump out of their trucks to save the day.
3.  The airport.  Watching the planes land and take off was fantastic, but I enjoyed just as much watching the everyday workings of an airport.  I swear, it was just like I was sitting in a bar at JFK gazing out at the tarmac and watching everything.
4.  Festivals everywhere.  If a country has was displayed.  From Octoberfest, to the running of the cows in Switzerland to simple street fairs to elaborate fairs and carnivals.  Everything was there and detailed enough, you could smell the cotton candy and bratwurst.
5.  Area 51.  Not only above ground...if you knelt, you could see the secret base complete with alien ships below.  Great!!!!
6.  There is a building in one of the towns that is on fire.  The trucks are there and if you push a button, you can see the blaze flicker and burn, and the water(actually made with a white feather and air) squirt up to put it out.  Amazing detail.
7. The BoBo Stage in Switzerland, in full glory with it's 20,000 fans.  Every few minutes the stage lights up and the singers perform to a roaring crowd.
8.  A working harbor where boats move in and out of the channel, and you can almost smell the diesel fuel, it's so real looking.
9. The Lindt Chocolate factory complete with a conveyor belt that when you push a button it goes through it's process and finally gives you a miniature chocolate bar when it's done.  Sweet!!!!
10. Hundreds of "hidden" secrets you can find.  Gnomes underground, elves dancing under trees, raptors chasing human prey (what?????), crystal ice caves, aliens, drug labs ( I know...another what????), and so many more.  

 Roads, too are everywhere...winding there way between different scenes.  The cars move so perfectly, even going around other stalled vehicles, I was hard pressed not to believe they weren't being driven by tiny people.

And finally...the trains.  They really are the focal point of the exhibit, running through each scene, binding everything together.  There is a massive--and I do mean massive--system operating behind the scenes.  You can see part of it--watch trains get lifted and moved and re-established elsewhere.  That was just as interesting as the rest of it.

We spent six hours there and could have easily spent six more.  If we lived here, we'd have a annual pass.  You could then really "see" all there is to see.  I know I missed far more than I found.

So, in truth, a little goes a long way.  One of Jonathon's bucket list favorites is now my own.  If we ever come back to Hamburg, we'll go again.  They are building even more cool displays and I'd love to see a "little" bit more!

Be back next week with my last blog from Europe!  Until then, have a great week!

CJ England

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yes...Life IS a Dance

Hey all,

Today I have a bit of shameless self promotion for you, with a little extra.  It's been a long time coming, but for those of you who've been waiting for the last book of the Second Chances series--Second Chances III: Life's a Dance, well, wait no longer.

It's finally out!   Here's a quick blurb...

Can the memory of a single night's desire show two lonely people their destiny is to dance together for the rest of their lives?

When Heather meets the dark, handsome Dustin at the Wildhorse Saloon, she has no idea the single dance he asks of her will lead to the most important moment of her life. But although the connection between them is immediate and powerful, she belongs to another, and all she can take home with her is the memory of a love that can never be.

Dustin St. James lives, breathes and loves music in Nashville. As one of the most sought after studio musicians around, he has his pick of gigs and of the ladies. Yet he's knocked off his feet when the purple-eyed Heather dances her way into his life. Having to let her go leaves a hole in his life and in his heart.

But Fate has plans for these two and when six years later they meet again, the emotions they share have only grown stronger. Can they struggle through the tangles of the years apart, or will their long awaited dance of love end before it's had a chance to begin?


This story has been perking around in my brain for over seven years. In fact, I was writing Waiting in the Wings when I first visited the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville. And, as I sat there watching the dancers and munching on the delicious fried pickles, I realized this was a perfect place to set a book.

There was such a great response to the first of the Second Chances series, I decided to do a trilogy. I remembered how much fun I'd had at the Wildhorse. And I also recalled meeting a certain hunky dancer who had taught me all I wanted to know about doing the two-step. I put both of them together, added a lady in distress, stirred briskly, and Life's A Dance came to be.

And since I truly believe in second chances--this book is a reissue--and I love the idea behind the song by John Michael Montgomery, Life's a Dance, it was very easy to put all of it together to write the last of this award winning series.

As this series targets specific social issues, I chose domestic abuse to highlight in this story. For more on that, check out a previous blog I did at Midnight Seductions. It shares about issues I think are very important.

I hope you all will enjoy this last of the trilogy. At least I think it's the last. There is a new generation toddling around in Nashville. And little J.J., Cláirse, and Treasure definitely are character's themselves. Who knows what might happen in a few years?

Until then, take a look at Life's A Dance.  Read an excerpt at and then go pick up at copy at MUSA...

And please, let me know what you think!

CJ England

 Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some Signage Fun and Laughter..PLUS

Hey all,

I haven't done this for a while, so I thought I'd give us all a chuckle.  Enjoy the signs I've discovered over the last few months!!!

This one I just found in Hamburg.  I cracked up when I saw this window of clothes mannequins.  The words mean reduced, and I guess that's correct since they've reduced the amount of clothes they're wearing!  LOL

And you gotta love Asian signs.  This one made me giggle like a crazy person.  I'm not even going to talk about what this sounds like. 

How about this sign?  Hanging off the side of a museum, it advertizes the temporary exhibit.  But it's an sure is!!!

This sign I found in one of the undergrounds.  It caught my eye and made me go...WTF?  I guess it's an ad for a movie or show, but what it's about????  I have no idea.

Can you tell why I've added this one?  Put your thoughts in the comments below.  I'll give you the answer in a few days.

Hope you enjoyed them!  I'll do it again once I've gathered a few more!!!

Hugs to all!!!!

CJ England
Coming Soon--Life's A Dance

Follow Your Dreams

Thursday, January 3, 2013

From Berlin to Hamburg--Happy New Year!!!

Hey all,

I'm back and hopefully the internet here in our new place will be better than the old one.  CAN'T be much worse.

There was so much I would have liked to share about Berlin.  Overall it was a great town with lots to do and many things to see.  Churches, museums, and memorials were everywhere.  You couldn't turn around without seeing something.

For Jonathon, it was like a dream come true, since he's a WWII buff.  It was interesting to see the many memorials and information placards all over town about the war, the Nazis and how the city handles them.  And then later...when the Berlin wall went up...that, too was quite fascinating to discover all the facts about how it came to be.

One of the things I'd wanted to do while in Berlin was take a weekend trip to Poland and visit Auschwitz.  I knew it would be horrifying and I was right, but I needed to go.  To try and understand what exactly happened.  It's one thing to read about it in a history book, but quite another to see the remains of the tortured and dead.  Too see what they left behind and to experience the pain that still lives on, even to this day. 

For some reason, seeing these shoes, taken from murdered Jews, had me in tears.  The single bright red slipper against all the others was too much for me to handle. 

I knew my empathic gift would make it hard for me, and there were times where I felt so battered, Jonathon had to gently remove me from the area, but down deep I knew it was important for me to feel and understand what had gone on in that place and while I barely managed to deal with it, I feel stronger for making the journey.

There were other concentration camps, closer, but I knew I couldn't handle a second one, so the remaining time we spent in Berlin, I enjoyed the Christmas markets, visited some truly wonderful museums and drank enough Gluhwein and Hot Chocolate with Amaretto to float the whole British Navy!!!

We had a wonderful Christmas, celebrating Berlin style with traditional foods and drink and a tradition for us...going to the movies.  We saw the Hobbit and enjoyed every second of it.  And are extremely irritated we have to wait until NEXT Christmas to see part 2!!!

And on New Years we enjoyed one of the biggest street parties in Germany and watched a magnificent fireworks display from the window of our apartment.  It may have sucked in all other ways, but the housing was AWESOME for location, especially on New Year's Eve!

But now we are in Hamburg.  I'm doing my research as to what is available here and I'm seeing tons of stuff to do.  Within walking distance from our hotel are churches, museums, lakes and shopping.  And there was even a small Christmas market, so we were able to enjoy that the first night here as well.

So the adventure continues.  And if the internet cooperates, I'll be back as usual.  I'll stick to once a week...Thursdays for now until I know I'm caught up and things are on track.  Then I'll try and get back to twice a week.  At least through the end of Hamburg.  Then it's off to South America and who knows what things will be like then!!!

Hugs to all and again...

Happy New Year!!!!!

CJ England
Coming Soon--Life's A Dance

Follow Your Dreams