"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 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 2013

Jewel and Ruth are awaiting Christmas.
Because of this snowfall last weekend, the day after our big holiday party--we'll have a white one, even though we've not had any snow since then.

The Chap and I are having a very simple and quiet Christmas Week. We'd planned it that way, after such a busy year of transition (new job, new house, new habits) and travel. But our desire for peace and reflection is even stronger following the unexpected death of my father five days ago. Late last evening I returned to New Hampshire after attending his funeral and spending time with family. He lived a long and full and very rich life, was deeply loved and admired by all who knew him. We greatly appreciate the presence of so many relatives and friends--and all those fond and/or funny stories they shared. We who love him are thankful he is at rest now, and we'll forever miss him. He was so very pleased and excited about our move earlier this year, and enjoyed the photographs of our new house and the Christmas and party decorations.

May all who celebrate today and tomorrow have a blessed Christmas. Best wishes also for a happy and prosperous 2014.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Home in London and Home at Home

Yes, I know. Another long gap between posts. Couldn't be helped!
We voted in the municipal election as new residents of the city, and the next day flew to that other city of ours, London. Our arrival coincided with the monthly pub night of London Historians, to which I belong. And our hotel was only steps from the pub where they gather. So after we checked into our suite, the Chap and I trotted over there and were warmly welcomed. Here I am with Mike, the president of the organization. Looking rather chirpy after a 6+ hour flight and a couple of pints of cider!
I believe it was the next evening that we headed to Mayfair to dine at a longtime favourite restaurant. It the first of our 3 dinners in or near Shepherd Market.

We had timed our visit quite well for seeing exhibitions. On a single day we managed to view the Gillray prints and caricatures on special display at the Bank of England Museum, a special Victoriana exhibit at the Guildhall as well as the regular collection, the Cheapside Hoard at the Museum of London. And the Chap took care of some errands as I headed over to the Victoria and Albert Museum for the Pearls exhibition (saw a lot of jewels that day!), and met me after we had both seen all our favourite bits of the museum. I took lots of photographs.
One drizzly day I went to tea with a friend who lives near Notting Hill and we lunched in Westbourne Grove. By the time we left the restaurant-- Granger & Co--the rain was bucketing down. My friend kindly gave me a lift to the Olympia Exhibition Centre where I was meeting the Chap--we had tickets for the Winter Antiques Fair. We spent ages there, and by the time we left the rain had stopped.

The next day, Saturday, was also rainy. We dodged the drops by taking refuge in the shops along Jermyn Street and Piccadilly--Floris and Paxton and Whitfield and Hatchards and Princes Arcade till midday. The Chap's former business partner from Bristol invited him to dine at his club in St. James's Square--the Army & Navy Club, known as "The Rag." We always enjoying going there--it was a lovely reunion and a delicious meal. We parted ways, then met up again in Marylebone for drinks in a hotel bar we've frequented for decades, followed by dinner at our old familiar Indian restaurant nearby.

Despite the two drenching days we were otherwise most fortunate in the weather, as you can see from this photo of Westminster Abbey on Remembrance Sunday. We watched on telly as the Queen and the Royal Family and the representatives of the services laid their wreaths at the Cenotaph. After the parade began we walked over to the Abbey, only a little way down the block.

The Field of Remembrance is a most moving sight to behold, and it fills me with deep emotion every time I see it. It is such a powerful indictment against war...and the most amazing testament to the bravery of the men and women who lost their lives in defence of their nation and empire.
Also on Sunday we changed hotels, returning to the one in Mayfair that we know best. Here's the view from one of our windows.
It was such a glorious day that after settling in we went for a lovely long walk through
the neighbourhood, ending at Hyde Park. It was filled with ramblers, we weren't alone in wanted to be outdoors. In addition to dog walkers and push chairs, there were bench-sitters and many rowboats out on the Serpentine.

Prior to my arrival I had reserved some 17th century letters and other materials for reading at the British Library. The next week I was able to access my materials, and at the end of my reading day the Chap met me and we both explored the magnificent Georgians Revealed special exhibit, which had just opened.

The library's impressive entrance hall was adorned with 18th-century style decorations, and the exhibition shop offered many delights.
I posed for my usual callbox photo--a couple of times. The series is now extensive. At least I know how to escape....

The Father Christmas in Selfridges was there last year. I'm not sure they ever let him out!

Our last day in London was wholly given over to Christmas shopping. We started in Princes Arcade.

 From there I went to Fortnum's & Mason, which has a very foodie window display.

If you visit Fortnum's in the morning, early in the week, you can avoid the scrum. It wasn't that calm when I stopped in briefly on the previous Saturday!

I wasn't as keen on the Selfridges windows this year at I usually am.
 But we were there for the turning on of the Christmas lights in various streets...this is St Christopher's Place, off Oxford Street.

We were already feeling quite Christmas-y. And then we met the man himself at Heathrow, in the British Airways Club Lounge. Like us, Santa was travelling in style!

No time to recover from jet lag. A few days after we returned we attended a neighbour's "Game of Thrones" themed birthday party.

Once our first Thanksgiving in this new house was behind us, it was time for decorating it for our first Christmas here. At the weekend I made a wreath for the primary front door (we've got two, the other has a pine frond and pinecone swag).

We cut our tree at a farm not very far away. On Wednesday I finished stringing the lights, and yesterday I put on the ornaments...including the new ones purchased in London a fortnight ago.

And now, I think, I've caught you up on what's been happening...here and abroad!