Derby and Kedelston Hall

On my England trip with Kristine Hughes Patrone of Number One London Tours, we stopped in Derby. Kristine was thinking about using a hotel in Derby as the main place to stay during her upcoming country house tours, but the city wasn’t really quite what we had in mind.

It did have a lovely cathedral, though:

And a short distance away we discovered Kedelston Hall.
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Kedelston Hall has been the country seat of the Curzon family since the 1200s. The Curzons were the second most wealthy landowners in Derbyshire, second only to the Cavendishes–the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. (To hear about our visit to Chatsworth, see my Risky Regencies Post.)

Sir Nathanial Curzon, later Baron Scarsdale, commissioned the house in 1759. The architects he originally hired designed the house in the Palladian style, but Curzon fired them and hired a relatively new architect to complete the house. The new architect was Robert Adam.

Robert Adam designed a beautiful neoclassical building and continued to design the interior in that style. The state rooms are beautiful examples of Adams’ use of decorative plasterwork, symmetry, and color.
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He also designed the gardens.
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Especially lovely about Kedelston Hall were the docents in each room. All we had to do was say, “Tell us about this room” and they told us everything, including some secrets hidden behind the walls!

It was a lovely day and a lovely surprise!

Holt Medallion Winner!

holtwinnerDiane’s Bound By Duty won, not one, but two Holt Medallions, Virginia Romance Writers contest for published authors. Bound By Duty, first book in the Scandalous Summerfields series, won for Best Historical and Best Book By A Virginia Author, a special honor. Diane calls Virginia home .

Walking Through Regency London

On our second day in England, Kristine Hughes Patrone and I walked the streets of London. We started in Mayfair, shopping and just plain enjoying ourselves.

We stopped at Lock’s, a hattery that has been in business longer than any other hat shop in the world. It moved into #6 St. James’s Street in 1765 and still uses the conformateur, a head-measuring device invented in France in 1852 by Allié-Maillard to fit hard hats to this day.
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We shopped at Floris and smelled its line of historic scents, some dating back to the 1700s, just as a Regency lady might do.
We saw streets that could transport one right back to Regency London.
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And took a break at the National Portrait Gallery.
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We ended our day at St. Martin’s Theatre to see Agatha Christie’s Mousetrap, a play with the longest run in history – 63 years. But I can’t tell you whodunit. I promised!
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A fabulous day two in England!

I’m Back!

My England trip was fabulous! I owe it all to Kristine Hughes of Number One London. If not for her invitation for me to tag along while she scouted out locations and experts for her upcoming tours, none of this would have happened.

IMG_0082XX1XDay one found us having tea and scones with Ian Fletcher, author of Napoleonic war histories like Galloping At Everything and owner of his own tour company, Ian Fletcher Battlefield Tours.

We met Ian at Buckingham Palace and walked back to our hotel, St. Jame’s Court Hotel, which was about halfway between the Palace and Westminster Abbey. Perfect location! The hotel was fabulous and they served great tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam.

 

IMG_0086XX1XAfter our tea, Kristine and I walked back to Buckingham Palace for the last small group tour of the season. Tour guides led about twelve of us around the public rooms of the Palace, explaining the events that take place in each room and showing the fabulous art work. We were not allowed to take photos inside, but here’s what we looked like after we finished. All smiles!

In fact, I don’t think I stopped smiling anytime during the whole trip!

I promise more about my trip later!

Off to England!

Here’s a little about what I’ll be seeing in England.

Apsley House

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The Regency Town House

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I’ll be with my friend Kristine Hughes of Number One London blog. Check out Facebook pages for photos of the trip!

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Reunion!

Tomorrow I leave for my high school reunion–I won’t tell you what year!

I’m flying to my best high school friend’s home in Florida and together we’re driving to Jacksonville, Alabama, where we went to high school. Our fathers were in the army and stationed at nearby Fort McClellan, which is no longer an army post. The street where we lived, though, Buckner Circle, is now a historic site.

Here’s a photo of Barbara and me, having come from the Officer’s Club swimming pool, standing in her back yard.
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The Jacksonville High School building where we went to school, was demolished years ago.
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My favorite teacher, Mrs. Lindblom:
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And me, as a senior:
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I was voted Most Dependable, an honor about which I always had mixed feelings.
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I fully expect to have a wonderful time. There is something special about being among high school classmates.

Have you been to your high school reunion?

Packing

IMG_0229Shortly after I knew I would be going to England with the incomparable Kristine Hughes of Number One London, I began to obsess about what to pack. Kristine and I decided to travel light since we will be managing our own bags on trains and to hotels.

Unbeknownst to the other, we each bought the same size and brand of luggage. Mine was my birthday gift way back in February.

I usually am of the pack-everything-you-own club when traveling, just in case you might need something, but this time I’m going to try to take essentials only. I’m going to choose a narrow color palette–black–so everything goes with everything. I’m going to wash things out in the hotel rooms.

But how to dress for the temperature? When we went on the Great North Road tour in June 2006, we nearly froze. I had to buy a cardigan to wear under my coat and still I froze. So this time, do I pack a warmer coat or just more layers?

Footwear is another obsession. I don’t want to walk around in athletic shoes, but I don’t want my feet to hurt either–or to be cold. I have not decided yet what shoes to take.

IMG_0024When I travel I forego my usual purse, which probably exceeds airline weight limits, for something smaller and lighter. Then I also carry a tote bag so I can accommodate a camera, a pashmina (in case I get cold), an umbrella, and whatever souvenirs I must purchase.

Not this weekend but next I’ll get to have a practice run. I’m traveling to Jacksonville, AL, for my high school reunion. We’ll see how I do packing for only a weekend!

How about you? Do you travel light or heavy?

Revisions…Done!

Stone10Yesterday at about 6 am I could finally say Revisions Done!
The revised manuscript, Book 3 in my Scandalous Summerfields series, titled (at this point) Bound By A Scandalous Secret, was sent through cyberspace to my editor in London.

For those non-writers among us, we write a book and then send it to our editor who then sends it back asking for revisions. This is actually a good thing, because my editors’ suggestions have always made the book better.

What I do is read through the editor’s notes several times, think about them, talk to my critique partners, and decide how I’m going to do this. Then I go through the manuscript from page 1.

Sometimes I cringe at what I wrote originally. Oh, the repetition, the clumsy sentence structure, the sheer wordiness! It is so easy to see these problems when looking at them weeks later after the revision letter comes. I also find clumsy mistakes like spelling errors, calling the characters by the wrong names, time sequence problems.

As I go through, I fix the problems that my editor pointed out. Another thing that happens is I get excited about the book all over again. I can actually say, “Hey, this isn’t that bad!”

The manuscript is by no means finished at this point, though. I get another chance to look at it after it has been copy edited and you’d be surprised at how many other errors the copy editor finds (and how many of her errors I have to correct!)

But, today, I have that satisfying feeling that I’m finished…except for Book 4 which I need to start writing right now!

Just Walk Beside Me

Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend. –Albert Camus

Now that it is light outside, my daughter and I have been taking walks in the evening, sometimes as much as four miles. We are so lucky. Where I live–in beautiful Virginia–there are plenty of walking paths. Here’s some of the beauty we see along the way:
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I love to walk. It is my favorite type of exercise and there is a special joy about walking with one’s daughter. I treasure these times (which is probably why I’m willing to walk four miles!)

Do you like to take walks? Where? What’s your favorite place to walk?