"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Traveller's Update

I'm no longer in London. On the day of our departure, I believe Heathrow was the only airport open in Britain, due to the massive amounts of snow piling up. We felt fortunate that our flight was unaffected, and also felt a bit as though we were deserting a country under siege! London was scarcely inconvenienced, only a bit of snow on the ground on our last day there. Flying over the rest of the country, and Ireland, it was a beautifully wintry landscape--unless you needed to get about by car, van, truck, rail, or plane other than one leaving Heathrow!

Playing catch-up with the blog will be a bit of a challenge but I shall make the attempt.

Almost every evening, whether staying in Mayfair or in Bloomsbury, we returned to my favourite pub, a couple of blocks off Piccadilly. One night we dined there.

We spent a Sunday doing the art galleries--the National Portrait Gallery, where we toured the special exhibition on Sir Thomas Lawrence and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize, which was inspiring as always. From there we went next door to the National Gallery. I'd already been the previous week, with the honeymooners, but didn't see the full collection. The Chap and I separated to pursue our separate interests--and I did some shopping. My new mobile phone came in handy, enabling me to locate him when I was finished and needed to arrange a meeting point!

We were in a rush to get back to our Bloomsbury hotel before the scheduled 24-hour Underground strike began at 6 p.m. We succeeded in that, and trotted over to a favourite local Indian restaurant for dinner.

Monday took me back to Covent Garden. With the Tube strike still on, we debated taking a taxi or walking, and settled on the taxi. We got as far as the British Museum when we hit an incredible bottleneck of traffic which showed no sign of abating. So we ditched the cab--our cabbie didn't mind, in fact he suggested it!--and went the rest of the way on foot.

This was a second visit to that area, I'd previously gone in search of dwellings of characters in my novels. The most significant character lived in rooms in the topmost floor of the building that had been, earlier in the 18th Century, Button's Coffee House. To my considerable amusement, the site is now--quite appropriately--a Starbucks!

I lunched with a friend at the Covent Garden Hotel, our usual meet-up spot. Then I walked to the British Museum to meet the Chap. I rang him and learnt he was admiring the clock collection. So I did also. This one, with the milkmaid milking, is so sweet!

This one belonged to King William III, a character in my novel.

We returned to our neighbourhood and had dinner at The Balfour, which sounds as if it's would serve British fare but fact is a fantastic longstanding Italian restaurant.

The next day I went to a friend's house in Chelsea. After a cuppa and a chat, we had lunch at Bibendum, and I toddled off--through the snow flurries--to the Victoria & Albert Museum. Among the wonders I re-visited were:

Actor David Garrick's bed.

An 18th century silk court dress.

18th century jewels.

An atrium of statuary.

Bejewelled snuffboxes.

William III & Queen Mary.

The silver spirits flask belonging to the duke in my previous novel, engraved with his coat of arms.

While we were away, Old England was far colder and whiter than New England. But the bitter cold is finding it's way to us, although so far the snow has come in the form of flurries rather than flakes.

It has been an extremely busy time since our return. I've finally managed to sort through my extensive photo archive from the trip--so little of which has appeared here, and I have plans for sharing more of it.

Ruth & Jewel had their usual pleasant time at their kennel but are happy to be home.

We completed our Christmas decorating very swiftly and thoroughly, cutting a tree and decorating it and the rest of the Lodge. Most of the gifts are purchased and some are wrapped already. I've attended Handel's Messiah, an annual traditional start to the holiday season, and remebered that I stood gazing upon the firs draft of it at the British Library only days before!

The birds are busy at our feeders, but yesterday a kestrel came by and today a different hawk, hoping to snatch up the unwary!

Hope you are enjoying December so far!

No comments: