Lost Thursday

Stone10Yipes. I’ve missed two Thursdays of blogging! I have no excuse, really. Last Thursday I got my hair cut, but that’s not enough to miss blogging. This week I just needed a day to veg.

Do you ever need that? A day to do nothing useful, to just sit and watch endless episodes of House Hunters or Hallmark Channel movies or a Law and Order marathon? That was my yesterday and it sure felt good!

I was supposed to go out of town to help my in-laws, but they cancelled at the last minute. I didn’t even unpack my suitcase. I just relaxed and watched TV all day.

It was glorious.

Did you ever have a day like that?

Dover Castle

One of the stops on the Duke of Wellington tour was Dover Castle. Dover Castle is the largest castle in England and dates from medieval times. Its use as a defensive place may have predated the Roman invasion in 43AD, but it took its now familiar shape during the reign of Henry II in the late 1100s. Its history continued to the Napoleonic Wars and even to World War II.

It is a grand structure!
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We had to take a little trolley up to the main area of the castle where there were several exhibits, including this model of the castle during Henry II’s time.
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There was a model of a medieval dining hall (that’s my sister Marilyn!)
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Marilyn and I climbed up to the highest point possible and were rewarded by these spectacular views!
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And what could be more inspiring that this view?
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Notice, too, that the weather was absolutely beautiful that day!

Where have you been that you’ve seen such a breath-taking view?

#FallBackinTime

This Saturday, November 1, is the day we in the US “Fall Back,” turning our clocks back  one hour and returning to standard time. Over 200 Historical Romance authors (including me!) are using this day to Fall Back in a different way.

Fall Back in Time
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We want readers to celebrate Historical Romance, that genre where we can all escape into an earlier time, when men were men and women may or may not have been ladies.

It is my special joy to escape into Regency England, a time of great drama and beauty, a period of social change where the old rules are questioned and where one constant prevails–true love is the path to happiness.

So we Historical Romance authors want to get a huge buzz going for Historical Romance and we need the help of all our readers and fellow authors.

It’s easy to do!
1. Take a selfie with a favourite/recently read Historical Romance.
2. Post it to social media sites starting on 10 am CST 1 November 2014. Please include the hashtag #FallBackinTime. If pictures start sneaking out on the 31st and continue through the 2nd that’s okay, too!
3. Post to the Fall Back in Time facebook page or the Historical Romance Author facebook page on Nov. 1st.
4. Spread the word about our love for historical romance through tweets and facebook posts.

Here are some generic tweets you can use:
#FallBackinTime to your first historical romance. This was mine! (pix)
#FallBackinTime with this historical romance! (pix)
Look, it’s me in the [middle ages/regency era/etc] (pix)
If I could #FallBackinTime, it’d be to this book, this era: (pix)
Where would you #FallBackinTime to? I’d go here: (pix)
My favorite time machine is a book. #FallBackinTime (pix)

If you don’t want to do a selfie, then just post to facebook or tweet without it. Just join us in celebrating Historical Romance!

I’m getting ready!!
IMG_1013See you November 1!

Highclere Castle

One of our stops on the Duke of Wellington tour was to Highclere Castle. What does Highclere Castle have to do with Wellington?

Not a thing.

But who could resist visiting the country estate that plays Downton Abbey?

It was every bit as beautiful as in the series.
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We could not take photos inside the house, but the grounds made up for that. They were just lovely.

There was a folly, Jackdaws Castle, built in 1743 using Corinthian columns salvaged from Berkeley House in London which burned down in 1733. Its main purpose is to be admired from the Castle.
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There were lovely views.
This was through a garden gate archway.
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Here’s a picturesque wall.
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And another view.
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And, finally, some topiary.
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Playing Downton Abbey rescued Highclere Castle for the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The house and estate require much upkeep and the building was facing expensive repairs when this opportunity came for them. Now the house is secure for years.

When I was walking the grounds of Highclere Castle, I imagined living there, taking leisurely walks in the evening. What a life that would be!

Floating on the Thames

On our last day of my England trip we took a boat trip on the Thames. While we waited for the boat, we were entertained by what I assumed were Royal Swans.
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We passed by a few houses like this one. Can you imagine living there?
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And we passed by Ascot Racecourse, where the Royal Ascot is run.
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There were all sorts of boats. People live on some.
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And we saw all sorts of dogs. Dogs walking the trails. Dogs riding in boats. Dogs everywhere.
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During the whole trip, I only saw one cat. Kristine Hughes made the coach driver stop and back up so I could see a black cat sitting in a garden. I think the rest of the group thought we were nuts.

Okay. Weigh in. Are you a cat person or a dog person?

A Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum

Before the Duke of Wellington tour began, my sister and I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum had a special exhibit of wedding dresses, spanning from the 1770s to the present day, which we could not photograph, but after we oohed and ahhed over wedding dresses, we toured as much of the rest of the museum as we had time for.

We looked at the permanent collection of fashions, including these Regency clothes and this lovely turn of the century coat:
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We saw a replica of Rome’s Trajan’s column:
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And this lovely mosaic:
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We looked at jewelry, too. I found some of Princess Charlotte’s (Princess Charlotte was the only daughter of the Prince Regent. She died in childbirth in 1817)
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And I even found Wellington there! This miniature from 1808 was by Cosway.
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Can you tell I’m not over England yet????

A London Walk

During our England trip, sometimes we just walked around the Mayfair and St. James’s Street area of London, gazing at its streets and buildings. Much of what existed in the Regency is still there and if you erase the cars, the high-rises in the background and the people in short skirts and Docker pants, you can almost image how it was in 1815.
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There was construction everywhere in London, as if the whole city was being spruced up. Lots of the construction was behind barricades, but what barricades they were!
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No walk in Mayfair would be complete without paying homage to White’s Gentleman’s Club, a place familiar to all readers of Regency Romance and still a gentleman’s club today. Among its members are Prince William and Prince Charles. White’s most famous member may have been Beau Brummell who sat at a table in front of the window and passed judgement on those who passed by.
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Across the street was Brooks Club, also in existence during the Regency and favored by the liberal Whigs.
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Young gentlemen in the Regency might have taken rooms at the Albany. The building is still there.
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One building that did not survive was Almack’s, where exclusive assemblies controlled by the high-society Patronesses were held on Wednesday nights during the Season. The building erected in its place pays homage to it, however. It is called Almack House.
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I never get tired of seeing these sights. Can you tell I’m still missing England?