Only two more months and my friend Elizabeth and I will be winging our way to England. We're trying hard not to be excited. Not yet. There's too much planning to do before we lean back, take a sip of tea, sigh, and allow ourselves to dream of actually being there.
I'm a total Anglophile. I love England. English food. English tea. English television. English literature. And in particular English (or Scottish or Irish) crime fiction. I've been to England twice. Once to London with three girlfriends on our March Break in 2000, and once with Hubby to northern England and Scotland in the summer of 2005.
This is Hubby's shot of me on our first day in Yorkshire in 2005. I was giddy with excitement. "Look," I said, "a stone farmhouse, with a stone barn, and stone fences. Better stop and take a picture. We might not see anything like this again." Ha. If you've ever been to Yorkshire, you'll laugh at that. We saw more stone fences than we could shake a stick at. And we loved them all.
|I look excited to be in Yorkshire, don't you think?|
|I think that Hubby may be calling 999, "Help me. I'm stuck in Haworth with a Bronté nut."|
We both loved the town of Whitby, in North Yorkshire. Reginald Hill frequently used Whitby as a setting in his Daziel and Pascoe novels. Hill is perhaps my favourite mystery writer; both Hubby and I were bereft when he died in 2012. That's the famous whale bone arch, on the West Cliff of Whitby below. You can see the old abbey across the way and, leading up to it, the ninety-nine steps which feature so strongly in Bram Stoker's Dracula. A.S. Byatt set her wonderful novel Possession: A Romance in Whitby. I could go on, but I won't. Whitby has a rich literary heritage, and great fish and chips as well. In fact, for the size and population of Yorkshire, there seem to be a ton of fictional murders there. I found this interesting article exploring the plethora of writers who set their crime novels in Yorkshire, including Reginald Hill and Peter Robinson.
|Whale bone arch looking from West Cliff to East Cliff in Whitby, Yorkshire|
|I think I'm cleaning my glasses in this shot Hubby took of Bernie Scripps' garage.|
|Planning notes early in the process.|
Elizabeth and I had initially planned to go to England in September, but decided to move the trip to October. That way we could avoid the huge crowds that would no doubt be in Bath for the Jane Austen Festival. I love Jane Austen, but in a crowd of hundreds of true devotees, all decked out in Regency dress... maybe not so much. Although I must say that the event dubbed "Rummaging Through the Reticule" does have me intrigued. My first planning job was to check out airfare costs, look at rail tickets and passes, and research how best to get to where we wanted to go. Meanwhile Elizabeth focussed on London accommodation, a big job in itself. She sent me short lists, tried to make bookings, and sent me more short lists. Then once we had booked our London hotel, I booked the air flights, and purchased our rail passes. I researched and booked accommodation in Bath, and Elizabeth did the same for Eastbourne.
We changed our trip itinerary again this week. Based on suggestions made in the comments of a previous post, information in helpful e-mails from Rosie who reads this blog, and ideas from an old friend with whom I had lunch this week... we've decided to jettison our plans to stay in the Cotswolds. Small villages and the surrounding countryside are so much more accessible if one rents a car. But neither of us is confident driving on the "wrong" side of the road, not to mention navigating a roundabout on the left side of the road, while steering from the right side of the car. Plus, as I said to Elizabeth, piloting a right-hand drive vehicle, makes me nauseated. Really. It's the weird feeling I get when I look in the rear view mirror, which seems in the wrong place, and makes everything feel backwards. Add to that my current issues with vertigo, and one can only imagine the potential disasters. So, nope, not happening. That said, we've decided to take Sue's advice and book a one-day bus tour out of Bath to see at least some of the Cotswolds. Then we'll move on from Bath to Stratford. Stratford. One former English teacher, one former editor, both book nerds, what could we possibly find to do there, I wonder?
And after Stratford, we're going to Derbyshire. And Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire, son of Deborah, the late Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, who was the youngest Mitford sister. You can read about Debo here. Oh my, I am so looking forward to finally seeing Chatsworth. I mean, given my obsession with all things Mitford. I've read two of Deborah Devonshire's books, several biographies of one Mitford sister or another, not to mention Nancy Mitford's novels. Let's just say that on top of being an Anglophile, I'm a raging Mitford-phile.
This is me, below, in London, in March 2000. While the other ladies set off one morning to see the Tower of London and Saint Paul's Cathedral, my one friend and I strolled around Bloomsbury. Imagining life in the early twentieth century. Gawking at Gordon Square where Virginia Woolfe lived and where the Bloomsbury Group began. I look kind of smug, don't I? I'm wearing my favourite (at the time) Max Mara blazer. By the way, Dottoressa, who reads this blog, says that Max Mara is much more reasonably priced in the UK. Hmmm.
And after the booking is done. We'll have more reading to do. About what we might get up to in each place, which plays we want to see in London. Maybe even where we might want to shop. That kind of stuff.
And then. Then it will be time to get excited. And to dream that we're actually there. At least for a while. Then the outfit planning will start.
Sigh. And that's the very best kind of planning.
What about you, my friends. How do you go about planning a trip?
Linking up with: Saturday Share over at Not Dressed as Lamb and Thursday Favourite Things at Katherine's Corner.