…and then buy it here. 😊
Scroll down to read the first chapter.
My Children’s eBook, Yeovangya’s Quest, is available on Amazon Kindle to buy or to read for free if you are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. Yeovangya’s Quest (a 10-chapter book) is good, clean reading for children, packed with adventure and action and even contains a few life lessons and is perfect for young readers between the ages of 9 and 14. Yeovangya has enough action to keep boys’ attention captive and plentiful romance for girls of all ages.
Yeovangya’s Quest is the true fairy tale of a princess past her ‘marriage age’ who doesn’t want to marry through arrangement, but only for true love – just like her parents did. She decides to determine the outcome of her future herself, by embarking on a journey looking for the love of her life. She concocts a plan with her father’s confidant, cuts her hair, dresses as a boy and sets off with her two closest companions – Blaffi, her brave and loyal dog, and Prr, the lazy, upstairs palace cat. Together they face many adventures and dangers, such as a dual with a man who can’t handle his beer, almost becoming lunch to a hungry lion, being attacked by three bad princes and even being shipwrecked.
Yeovangya finds more than what she looked for. She learns about her own weaknesses and about the consequences of selfishness. Above all, she learns to love in more ways than she expected to. She experiences abundant joy and the hurt of loss and having to let go – before she eventually learns to embrace what life offers.
Enjoy the first chapter.
“Prince Magique from the island of Coffca.., Prince Lauro, also from Coffca.., Prince Danelyos from the island of Glorios…”
The master of ceremony looked at Princess Yeovangya and wondered if she was even listening. To her, the whole affair felt more like a funeral than an engagement feast. She sat through the introduction of the Kingdom of Fabelia’s unmarried princes without any expectation. Her sweet smile seemed to fool everyone except her father. The princes paraded past her and King Yeovaijk’s thrones. The King acknowledged every one of them with a courteous wave of the hand and a smile. Yeovangya heard him sigh when the master of ceremony announced the last prince. He knew her long enough to realise that none of the princes introduced succeeded to make an impression on his daughter. All his hopes for a future son-in-law and an heir were focussed on this feast. Yeovangya looked at her father’s absent smile and knew that he was disappointed in her unwillingness to choose anyone from the available suitors.
The orchestra started to play and King Yeovaijk led Yeovangya to the dance floor. He smiled at her, dazzled by her beauty that reminded him so much of his late wife. After the dance, Prince Ormael, the younger of the two Zaburaju princes, asked her for a dance. He was an attractive man with a very imposing stature. He kept an intelligent conversation and seemed to be the perfect gentleman.
He would have been a perfect choice. He is everything a princess could hope for – except that being so close to him had absolutely no effect on my heart rate, Yeovangya thought. And he smelled funny.
When the music stopped, she looked up, smiled at him and thanked him politely for the dance.
She danced with a few more princes before retreating to her father’s table. He wasn’t there and she sat back, sipping her French champagne. She gazed through the guests. A few of them had gotten acquainted very well.
At least one or two other princesses will find the missing part of their hearts tonight! She was still busy with her thoughts when Quemonne suddenly spoke beside her.
“The king was wondering if you had come to a decision, Princess? And uh,” he cleaned his throat theatrically, “me too.”
She looked at him in his immaculate uniform, his hands behind his back. His calmness always unnerved her, yet she loved being in his presence. She felt save with him – just as when she was with her father. Her eyes narrowed as she looked up at him. “Only the rest of my life is in the balance here and you two are wondering!”
“I’m sorry, Yeova, but you know what the purpose of this feast is. You were to choose a husband tonight. Your father just wants you to be happy… and to settle.”
Yeovangya’s eyes were full of fury now. “To marry someone that I do not love will not make me settle happily! It will break my heart! It will be a tragedy! You know that and Daddy knows it. Go and tell him that he can stop wondering. I am not marrying anyone for any reason other than love!”
Quemonne nodded, lifted one eyebrow, as was his manner, and started turning away when she continued. “And tell him to send these peacocks home!”
Now Quemonne smiled. He adored her, although she was somewhat spoiled and hard-headed. She could be very melodramatic at times, and she had her own ideas about things, but then again, that was who she was – someone who believed in herself and who always got what she wanted. So far. He felt sorry for her though. There was so much pressure on her to get married, and her dream in life was to marry for true love and have a good marriage – as her parents did. She was a ruthless romantic and not even the great King Yeovaijk, ruler of Yeodomme and the Island Kingdoms of Fabelia, would ever change that.
“There must be a true love for me, Quemonne, and I will find him even if I have to go look for him myself!”
He held up a hand to calm her. “You know that your father will never allow that, Princess.” His voice was soft but commanding. He was stirred by her passion. He was responsible for her safety. He had to calm her down and try to talk any crazy, dangerous ideas she might have, out of her head. “And neither will I! You better forget any such thoughts you’re having!” He was serious and couldn’t help wondering how serious she was.
“King Yeovaijk, sire, you absolutely cannot allow that!” The old man was red in his face with anguish as he accentuated every word he uttered.
“That’s right, your majesty, she absolutely has to get married now! She is four years past the age of marriage already.”
“Hear, hear!” Another one supported his view and a few more objections were expressed.
King Yeovaijk held his hand up in the air. Silence fell in the room. “I have made my decision.” The king stopped speaking and looked at everyone in the court before he continued firmly. “I will give her exactly one year to choose her own husband. If she fails to do that, I will announce my choice of a husband on her behalf, whom she will be marrying three hundred and sixty-six days from today! Until that time, General Quemonne will be officially second-in-charge of the kingdom. In case of my death before the year’s end, he will act as her guardian – and if she hadn’t found a suitor after three hundred and sixty-five days, he will marry her, and they will become the rulers of Yeodomme and Quiano and the whole Kingdom of Fabelia.” The king paused and looked at his shocked audience and a bewildered Quemonne.
“I, Yeovaijk, protector of the Island Kingdoms of Fabelia appreciate your co-operation in this regard. I also believe that it is not necessary for me to ask you to keep this to yourselves. I do not want my daughter’s choice of a husband being influenced by anything or anyone. Therefore, I declare this information top secret. Anyone who fails to comply will receive the punishment for high treason!” The king stood up from the throne and looked at the still astonished Quemonne. “General, let the assembly adjourn.”
Yeovangya frowned at herself in the mirror while her servant, Yotu, brushed her hair out to redo it after the morning’s horseback riding. She knew that she was a good-looking girl. She had big blue eyes, high cheek bones, and full, beautiful lips. Her reddish-brown hair hung in wild curls over her narrow shoulders. Her eyes moved lower. Her body was in excellent shape, thanks to the hours she spent on Tan-Tan’s back daily. And she had a good intellect. Why couldn’t she find the right husband? Why weren’t any of the princes able to catch and hold her attention? She dreamed of her future king since she was a little girl, playing with her mother’s jewellery and clothes. She could still remember her mother’s face when she looked at her father. It was that look in her eyes, which made Yeovangya vow that she wouldn’t settle for anything less. She dreamed of her own husband to be strong and gentleman-like at the same time – just like her daddy. Only, he would have dark features. He would be older than she was, and he would be headstrong too – to handle her every mood. He wouldn’t be a softy, like those princes she met tonight. They were just saying what they thought she wanted to hear. She didn’t want a spineless man!
“Yotu, what do you think of me?”
Yotu frowned. “What do mean, Princess?”
Yeovangya looked at herself in the mirror again, making dramatic faces while inspecting her image in the mirror. “Do you think I’m desirable?” She saw the confusion on Yotu’s face and continued irritably. “To a man, Yotu!”
“Oh,” Yotu looked at her with a smile. “Of course, Prin…”
”Yotu, you’re my best friend!” The interruption was meant as a reprimand to the young girl. Yotu and all Yeovangya’s immediate servants knew that they had to be honest with her at all times. She might be a bit spoiled, but she was a sincere, good-mannered girl, whom they all loved. She was also a very sharp girl when it came to emotions and character. She knew exactly when they were not honest with or true to her.
“Yeova,” she liked to call her friend by her pet name, but only when they were alone and serious about something, “as your friend I can tell you that you are the most desirable woman in all of Fabelia and probably the whole world. You are absolutely gorgeous! Every boy and every man in the kingdom want to marry you and every woman and every little girl wish they were you. You are also the dearest friend I have and you have a beautiful soul…”
“But what, Yotu? What?” Yeovangya prompted impatiently.
Yotu continued hesitantly. “How many people do you know who married for love? You learn to love, my mother always says… I’m sure if you marry Prince Danelyos, you will learn to love him! He’s a wonderful man.”
”Yotu, I don’t believe my ears! To marry for love is my destiny!” It seemed as if she was in pain as she tried to dramatise the situation enough so that her servant-friend could understand. “Do you still not understand that after all these years? And yes, I do know people who married for love. My father nearly lost his throne because he wanted to marry my mother and not some other princess. You can marry prince Danelyos if you want to, but I will most certainly not!”
Yotu blushed and continued brushing her princess’ hair and went on bravely. “And besides your mother and your father?”
Yeovangya’s lips curled up and she frowned. She was so unaware of her beauty, Yotu thought. When she was in deep thought, she had a way of moving her lips around, from the one side to the other. And with that, her eyebrows went up and down. Her father found it adorable, her servants crumbled before her when she did it and men of all ages just drooled and became clay in her hands. Even the level-headed General Quemonne had no resistance against that.
“Yeova, if people would sit around, waiting for the right person to come along, this whole kingdom would seize to exist. Why do you think people all over the world arrange their children’s marriages? Life must go on!”
“Don’t you want to get married to someone you love, Yotu?”
For a moment Yotu was silenced. Yeovangya knew that she was madly in love with Quemonne’s twin brother, Tanaka, but for a servant to marry outside her class was impossible and although Tanaka wasn’t royalty, he was a well-known scribe, writer and poet in the king’s court. Yotu looked a little bit sad when she answered Yeovangya.
“Yeova, you are going to be the queen. You have everything your heart desires. Will it be so hard to marry a decent prince and live happily ever after?”
Yeovangya stared at herself, but her eyes didn’t really see the picture in the mirror anymore. She saw a plan taking shape instead. “It’s my destiny, my purpose to love someone with my whole heart.” She turned around to face Yotu. “You’ll see, Yotu, I will find him. I have a plan!”
“What? Are you going to hire someone to find all the unmarried men in the kingdom to come here so that you can choose the love of your life?” Yotu laughed, but when she saw the impression on the princess’ face, she felt quiet immediately.
Yeovangya smiled at her, suddenly bursting with energy. “Not exactly, Yotu. I have a better plan.” She looked around as if to make sure there was no one around to hear her and continued, whispering. “I’m going to look for him myself!”
Yotu gasped for air. “Are you out of your royal mind? You father will never allow that!”
“You’re right. My father will not,” and she leant forward and whispered, “but you are going to help me, Yotu. You and Quemonne.” She put a forefinger on her lips. “Please, don’t tell anyone anything. This is our secret. Do you understand me?”
Yotu looked panicky. Fear gripped her throat so that she could not utter a word. She nodded. She knew that look. And she knew that nothing would stop Yeovangya when she had that look.
“You have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone anything, Yotu! Promise?”
“And lie to the king?” Yotu shivered at the mere thought.
“That would be Quemonne’s job. You just have to keep quiet. Promise?”
Yotu breathed out heavily and nodded in defeat. “Promise.”
“And Yotu,” her voice was but a whisper, “you have to bring me my father’s knapsack and a pair of sharp scissors tomorrow, please.”
Yotu’s eyes widened and her hands trembled. She opened her mouth to say something, but Yeovangya’s finger on her lips prevented her.
Yeovangya whistled to her dog. “Blaffi! Blaffi!”
The large, clumsy Saint Bernard appeared around the corner of the garden house. He barked and jumped up and down in front of her and waited impatiently for her to pat him on his head.
“Hello, my dearest little doggie.” She hugged and kissed him, pulled his ears and rubbed his belly when he rolled over on his back. When he sat up straight again, she whispered: “I must tell you a secret. I am going on a journey. You must look after Prr and Daddy and Yotu and Quemonne for me, will you?” She kissed him between his eyes. “Ooh, I will miss you and that lazy cat so-o-o much!”
Yeovangya lifted her head as she heard someone nearing the garden house. She peeped through the window, pleased to recognise Quemonne’s familiar profile against the dusky evening sky. She took a deep breath. He wouldn’t be a push over. She wished that she didn’t have to involve him, but she needed him on her side. He was the only one who could help her execute her plan and protect everyone involved.
Quemonne’s figure filled the door. He smiled at Yeovangya with somewhat of a frown between his eyes, knowing that their secret meeting was precisely that – secret. And that bothered him.
“Princess, something tells me that I’m not exactly here to be wined and dined?”
Yeovangya breathed in deeply and lifted her chin. “I love men with intellect. Now, if you were only an unmarried prince, General Quemonne…”
Quemonne smiled and wanted to respond to her remark, but decided against it. If only she knew about her father’s directive to the assembly that afternoon.
“What is it, Yeovangya? What are you up to?”
Yeovangya suppressed an urge to rebel against his tone of voice. He knew her too well and if she gave him the satisfaction of showing him that, he would give her his ‘I told you so’ look. “I’m going away for a while.”
Quemonne looked amazed. “I didn’t know the king had plans.”
She nodded. “The king doesn’t. I have.”
He frowned. His initial inability to understand changed into the realisation that his suspicions were correct. His eyes searched for confirmation in hers. “What are you planning?”
“Before I tell you I want to know that I can trust you.”
He was upset. “Yeovangya, you know that you can trust me!”
She held up her hands to calm him. “Yes, yes, I know I can normally trust you with my life and all those important things, but this is different. It’s not the kind of trust you’re used to.”
Quemonne threw his hands into the air and nodded his head fiercely, suddenly understanding where the conversation was going. “Oh, no! I am not going to lie to the king!”
“You don’t have to lie, Quemonne, you just have to withhold some information from him at first so that I can get away and then you must think of a strategy to keep him from coming after me.” She did the thing with her lips and eyebrows. She was stressed. This was where her plan was going to fail or succeed – by Quemonne’s co-operation or lack thereof.
Quemonne looked away. He shook his head again, pressed his lips together and looked her in the eye. “You know I can’t do that! Your father trusts me. And when it’s about his only child…”
“Quemonne, I need your help. My whole life is in this plan. I am not prepared to marry someone I don’t love and live unhappily ever after. You know that better than anyone does. I have to do this and you have to help me. Please?” Her initial dramatic pleading became desperate. “Please, Quemonne, you always say that I can trust you with anything. Can I trust you with my heart?”
Quemonne ran a hand through his dark brown curls. His eyes were fixed on the ground. How he wanted her to trust him with her heart!
Yeovangya knew that she had put him in an impossible position. She knew how highly her father thought of him and she knew that Quemonne would do everything in his power never to fail his king in any way. But, she needed his help even if it could cost him his job – and his life. He was her permit to happiness. Only him. This was the one time in her life that her father could not help her. She had to do this on her own.
“Please, Quemonne? My life, my future, my spirit, my heart… everything is in your hands…”
He looked at her as if he didn’t hear her talking. “Yeova, you’re asking the impossible!” His eyes pierced through hers.
For the first time in her life she wasn’t sure what she saw in them. He had beautiful eyes. Eyes with the heaven in them, she thought. It was as if she saw him for the first time as a man. He had a rugged attractiveness about him. His very dark brown hair curled behind his ears and made him look manly and playful at the same time. He had a strong, but kind face. But it was his eyes that kept her captive, now.
“Please, Quemonne, I cannot see myself with any of those men. Please…?”
Quemonne’s heart was beating painfully in his head. She was the dearest thing on earth to him. He knew that he couldn’t do what she asked of him, but he also knew that he couldn’t refuse. He loved her too much to see her life wasted away by a loveless marriage – if it was to him or anyone else.
He whispered. “I will help you. I don’t know how, but I will think of something.” There was only one thing to do. And if she had a plan, he had to make a better one.
She yelled, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him on his cheek. He took her arms from his neck and held her hands in his. His eyes were serious. “We have to plan this very well. Your father will kill me if anything happens to you.”
“Thank you, Quemonne.” She stood on the tips of her toes and kissed him on the cheek again.
She made sure to be in time for breakfast with her father. They talked and laughed and Yeovangya felt guilty for what she was about to do to him. It would be her last day in the palace before she left. She took extra care to spend as much time as possible with him the past few days. She still had a lot of things to take care of that afternoon. She had to pack the knapsack Yotu brought her from her father’s cupboard. She had to fit the clothes Quemonne brought her from his brother, Tanaka’s closet. Yotu did some alterations to fit Yeovangya’s much smaller frame. And then Yotu had to cut her hair after everyone had gone to bed. She and Quemonne arranged for him to fake a horse accident so that he could overnight in a room in her father’s wing of the palace instead of in his quarters. They would leave together in the dark hours of the next morning before the servants woke up.
“You seemed distracted, my love.” Her father’s voice was deep and calm, although she thought that he looked a bit off this morning.
“I… was thinking about this whole engagement thing.” It was true in a way. Her plans to leave and go on a husband finding expedition had everything to do with her getting engaged. “I’m really thankful for the extra time, Daddy. I promise you, if I haven’t found the right man when the year is over, I will marry whoever you choose for me.”
“Were none of those princes any good?”
Yeovangya did the lip thing. “Oh, they are all very fine, Father.” She paused. “Except for Prince Zazor and his brothers. I don’t like them at all.“ She sighed. “There were really good prospects. It’s just that no one seemed to get my heartbeat up.” She took a sip of her orange juice and gazed over the green lawns of the palace gardens. “Prince Ormael is pretty awesome. He’s intelligent and handsome, but he’ll bore me to death. Prince Danelyos has a great personality and he seems to have a sensitive soul also. He won’t be a bad choice. But I wouldn’t make him happy. Then there are a few others, but they wouldn’t do either.”
King Yeovaijk laughed out loud about his daughter’s remarks. She was a kind soul, despite of being an only, spoiled child of a lonesome king, and he would have given his whole kingdom and his life for her happiness and welfare. How he wished that she would find real love! He desired nothing less for himself years ago. Maybe if he didn’t experience it himself, he would have been more adamant for her to settle down. But he knew what true love was and that is what he prayed his only daughter would find. He couldn’t stand the thought of her being unhappy for even one day.
“Now you’re the one who’s distracted.”
“I’m sorry. I was thinking…” He picked up his fork. “I really want you to live a fulfilling life, my child, and I will try to give you enough time and space for it to happen. I pray every day that you will find the kind of love that your mother and I had. I just pray that you will experience it for longer than we did.”
“Thanks, Daddy. Do you have someone in mind for me, Daddy?”
He smiled, nodded and raised an eyebrow.
Her mouthed opened in surprise. “Who is it?”
“If you don’t find your true love in three hundred and sixty days, you will see.” He laughed, loving to see his daughter lost for words.
Yeovangya had to look down at her food for a while, so that her father couldn’t see the tears in her eyes. He knew her too well. He put his hand under her chin and forced her to look him in the eye. She saw the emotion glistening in his eyes too.
“Whatever happens, dear, I love you.”
She was surprised by his words, as if he knew that she was planning something. But how could he?
Everything worked out as planned. The knapsack was packed with her journal and feather ink pen, a few personal things, bandages and two sets of Tanaka’s altered clothes. She had an extra set waiting on her bed for the journey. Lamya, Quemonne and Tanaka’s sister and Yeovangya’s dear friend, came to visit and without her knowing, Yeovangya said her good-byes. They were like sisters, as Quiana – Quemonne, Tanaka and Lamya’s mother – was a regular guest of the king. She became the king’s trusted friend and companion since Yeovangya was still a very young girl. Sometimes they felt like one big family when they were together. She wished that her father would marry Quiana, so that he wouldn’t be that alone anymore. She couldn’t leave without at least seeing Lamya again, but Quemonne warned her not to let anyone else but him and Yotu in on the plan. She was going to miss them all so much, she realised with a bit of sadness creeping into her heart.
After Lamya left, Yotu brought the scissors with which she gave Yeovangya a whole new look. She cried when she cut off the first of the curly locks, but Yeovangya raised her eyebrows, gave her a stern look and commanded her to be a good servant.
Yeovangya looked at herself in the mirror. A stranger looked back. The figure in the mirror looked like that of a young, nerdish boy. She smiled satisfied and complimented Yotu’s work.
Yotu left with a heavy heart after they finally said farewell.
The palace was quiet. She went out onto the balcony of her chambers. She could see every corner of the moonlit gardens. She wondered how many times in the next few months she would long for the peace and calmness of the long shadows, the outstretched lawns and the fragrance of all her favourite flowers. She adored it. She loved strolling through it with her father and sometimes with Quemonne, Lamya or Yotu. Some nights she went out secretly with Blaffi and Prr, just to find Quemonne at her side after a few minutes, protecting her against the evil that the darkness never brought. After her mother died, she used to go out to the little bench in the middle of her father’s private garden in the evenings, where the three of them used to sit before she had to go to bed. Sometimes she would find her father there and she would cry herself to sleep on his lap. She would wake up in his bed the next morning, with Blaffi and Prr patiently watching over her.
Her heart beat faster as her thoughts was forced back to her upcoming journey. What a crazy, crazy adventure she was about to embark on! She took a last look at the trees, the cobbled paths, the little fountains, the flowers, and the big tree with the bench underneath it. She looked at the windows of the quarters where Quemonne was staying. She wondered what he was doing as there was still light in his window. She looked at the dark windows of her father’s quarters and took a deep breath.
She closed her eyes. “Oh, please keep me safe on this journey and help me find the husband who was made for me in time.”
She opened her eyes and looked up at the moon and remembered that the same moon shining over her father’s palace at night, will be lighting her way throughout the journey. She smiled, went into her bedroom and closed the doors behind her.
They managed to get out of the palace’s sight without any problems. They let the horses walk in the direction of the harbour for about a kilometre. Quemonne forced her to take Blaffi and Prr with her, “so that she would not be so alone on her journey”. She was relieved that they were going to accompany her. At least she would have someone from home with her. Blaffi was walking with them, while Prr snuggled up in the basket Quemonne attached for her on Tan-Tan’s back. She was a spoiled palace brat, who behaved as if she was the queen of the castle, but she would be a great companion if she managed not to anger Blaffi too much.
“We can go now.”
Quemonne waited for her to get on Tan-Tan’s back, before he got onto his stallion, Croxley’s. They had arranged that Quemonne would see her off at the harbour. He would help her to get on the boat to Quiano and then he would be back at the palace before first light and before anyone noticed that he was gone. They rode in silence almost all the way.
There was a buzz in the still-dark harbour when they arrived. Quemonne bought a ticket at the office and made certain that Yeovangya had everything she needed. He gave Blaffi and Prr and the horses some water to drink. He would take both the horses back to the palace’s stables and told the king that she sent someone back to deliver Tan-Tan safely, together with a letter to tell her father about her plans and asking him not to come after her. Quemonne would then have happened to be at the stables when the ‘person’ arrived.
Yeovangya was glad that everything worked out well and that Quemonne was in on her plan. Without him, her journey would have been doomed. She would be thankful to him for the rest of her life, even if she didn’t find the love of her life and had to settle for her father’s choice of a husband. At least she would know that she had followed her heart and tried.
“So, this is it.” Quemonne said softly.
“Yes.” She looked up at him. She was wondering what he thought about her boyish look. “Thank you, Quemonne.”
She couldn’t see his eyes in the dim light of the lamp. They stood alone at the end of the harbour, between the horses. Prr and Blaffi hung around excitedly, unsure of what was happening.
Quemonne took her hands in his. To a bystander it would look like a father seeing off his young son, who was about to take his first trip into the world.
“Look after yourself, Yeovangya.” He rarely called her by her full name. “My prayers will be all about you.”
“Thank you, Quemonne.” She whispered and looked at him, uncertain of how the farewell was supposed to go. “I must be off now.”
She turned around; ready to start the toughest thing she had ever done in her life. Just as suddenly as she turned, she was held back by Quemonne’s strong grip around her upper arm. Without any warning, he took her in his arms and kissed her. At first, she was so taken aback that she stood motionless in his embrace. Then something happened within her and for a moment, that tender kiss became her whole life. Then, again as unexpectedly as he pulled her to him, Quemonne let her go, took Tan-Tan’s bridle, got onto Croxley’s back and became one with the early, dark morning.
Unable to move, Yeovangya stared into the darkness. She stood listening to the sound of the two horses’ hooves against the cobbled path, her heart galloping to their rhythm.
It was her first ever kiss.
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© 2021 Fielies De Kock
Awesomest wife. Finest mom. Hopefullest writer. Foreverest dreamer. Living in a coastal village in the Overberg, South Africa, with a husband and two dogs in a small heritage house, and an adult, recently-graduated, and now, content-writing-job-seeking son in the garden cottage. His CV is available on request. 🙂