Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home is the Sailor, home from the sea.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Off tomorrow

I'm heading off tomorrow on the Queen Mary 2 to New York. So there won't be many posts for the next few days but a full report at the end.

And if you'd llike to see the pix of the manor house party, please check out my Facebook page. It's Rhys Bowen,author.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Mayhem at the Manor

Sorry I've been quiet for a few days. Touring around Engand and meeting old friends, none of whom had wifi and only strange old computers. I've also been dealing with English weather--absolute downpours for several days. Now I'm finally in Cornwall.

If you want to know where I get the inspiration for the Lady Georgie books--I can tell you. I'm at my sister-in-law's manor house where a big party is to be held this weekend. One son celebrates his 50th birthday, another his 40th. So the whole family is here. We were 16 at dinner last night. More arriving today. There is a big marquee on the lawn, decorated inside with trees, flowers, fairylights. 2 bands are coming.

It's the classic grand English party--exactly the sort of thing that Lady Georgie would attend. Pimms to drink, lots of people with funny names, definintely a crazy stunt or two. I'll take pictures and post them tomorrow.

And watch out for a story about a manor house and a party like this coming out in October....

Friday, August 10, 2012

A little taste of culture

After being totally focused on Olympic sport for a week, I decided I needed a little culture as well. So on Wednesday I went with a friend to the summer exhibition of the Royal Academy. This is an open exhibition in which the public as well as members of the Academy can submit works of art. And my first impression was--I can paint better than many of the works here! There were fabulous pictures, of course, but many that looked as though somebody's great Aunt Mabel had just taken a painting course. I'm going to enter next year!

On Thursday I went with friends around Shakespeare's Globe theater--very interesting, and then lunched at the Tate Modern. Art a little too modern for me, I'm afraid. I'm still drooling over those lovely Impressionist paintings in Paris.

And today I reached the height of culture, going on the Harry Potter movie tour. It is fabulous--all the sets still preserved--Hogwarts great hall, Harry's dorm room, Hagrid's hut etc etc and especially Diagon Alley. I didn't want to leave and wished the stores were open. Also saw the Knight bus and flying car. And saw how the special effects were done. It was fun to be among people who were all Potter fans and knew every little detail. I almost bought a robe, then decided that I'd look stupid.

Our time in London is drawing to a close and we've been so impressed with the way the transportation has worked, the friendliness of the Games volunteers and everything about the Olympics that has run smoothly.

If you want my complete summary of the Olympics, do check out my group blog where I posted pictures on Thursday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dream Day at Wimbledon

I've just had two amazing days at Wimbledon. As a real tennis fan I was completely starstruck when John Isner walked right past me, and the Williams sisters were playing so close to me on an outside court. Today I had tickets for a show court so I was further away but I got to see a lot of my favorite stars, including the marathon between Federer and Del Potro. I wasn't on the right court to watch Andy Murray in person, but I joined the throng on Henman Hill (or is it now Murray Mound?) sitting on the wet grass and getting colder and colder. But I did watch him going through to the gold medal round. So exciting.

My husband couldn't understand this star-struck attitude. He'd rather watch on TV than see players in person. I love the atmosphere--people waving their national flags, chanting and clapping. It's like a giant collective heartbeat, feeling that one is part of an organism.

A couple of things surprised me: one was that so much alcohol is consumed. People were buying beer at ten this morning. There was Pimms and champagne for the more sophisticated. The group next to me on Murray Mound were buying bottles of champagne and kindly offered me a glass. I had a few sips, not wanting to drink in the middle of the day.
The other thing that surprised and annoyed me was that the volunteers are not allowed to fill empty seats. These people have given up two weeks of their lives to be Olympic volunteers. They pay their own expenses, sometimes including hotel bills in London. All they get for it is a uniform. And yet the organizers are being so strict that they let seats remain empty rather than let volunteers fill them during their free time. So wrong.

I think it's disheartening to the athletes to see rows of empty seats. Why not offer them to the military, to nurses, firemen, people who do public service?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guess where I went yesterday?
No, not the Olympics but to Buckingham Palace. I'm afraid I wasn't invited to tea with the queen (although I did really have tea with her when I was young). The queen wasn't even in residence and I went as an ordinary tourist. But I'd never been round all the state rooms before and since my heroine Lady Georgie is always popping in to the palace to see her relatives I wanted to soak up as much atmosphere as possible.

And the interesting this was this overwhelming sense of deja vue. We entered through the Ambassador's Entrance and my first thought was oh yes, I remember Georgie came in this way once. We stood looking onto the huge central quadrangle and I found myself looking up at the rooms to my left--the private apartments of the royal family. Ah yes--Georgie was up there once and nearly knocked over the queen when she tripped over a footman's foot. (Now I know why they are called footmen!)

As we progressed through the rooms I kept seeing large and valuable objects that might be knocked over by someone rather clumsy like Georgie (or me?) And I was astounded that we were walking on lovely, lovely carpets throughout the palace. No strip down for us peasants. I asked one of the young girl wardens how often the carpets need to be cleaned. "Well they are good quality carpets, you know," she said.
At the end of the tour we find ourselves at the palace cafe and the palace shop. The shop is full of lovely things at a very lovely price. I'm sure it costs a lot to keep a house with 247 bedrooms going, so I bite the bullet and buy a little gold crown to go around my neck (for when I do talks and signings of course). And a complete guide to the palace to remind me.
But I draw the line at towels with Buckingham Palace on them--I would be rather pretentious to dry one's back on the queen's monogram, don't you think?

We exit through the gardens, around a pretty lake and through quite dense shrubbery (a potential place for evil deeds in a future book??)

All in all very useful (and reaffirming that I really did get it right in all the books) and at least now I'll know where I'm going when I arrive to be made a dame!  (My husband commented that I'll come from a-broad to become a dame)