English Flowers

There were flowers everywhere in England. Beautiful plants thick with leaves and blooms. The plants seemed thicker and stronger in England, as if the weather and conditions were perfect for them.

There were flowers on windowsills in London
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There were even plants growing on the sides of buildings
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There were beautiful gardens at the historic houses and in Reading a short distance from our hotel.
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So imagine my shock when next to a London town house with beautiful flowers, I found this–
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Plastic!!

Back from England, The Land of Shopkeepers

I’m back! I came back from England with a cold and have pretty much been useless for a few days. I didn’t even realize I’d missed Thursday! But I’m feeling better today.

At Risky Regencies this week I talked about our visit to Walmer Castle and its connection to the Duke of Wellington (he died there). But here I thought I would tell you about shopping!

Napoleon famously said, “England is a nation of shopkeepers.” I say, yes, indeed, and I’m glad it is so!

IMG_0716One of the first things my sister and I did in London was walk around Sloane Square where our first hotel was located. We found lots of lovely shops in walking distance, lots of charming boutiques. In one the display in the window caught our eye. My sister fell in love with this outfit and, with much urging on my part, we went in.

She didn’t buy that jacket, but one in the same color and boiled wool that was even prettier and fit her perfectly!

IMG_0260Another day we went to Floris, the fragrance shop on Jermyn Street that has been in existence since the 1700s. Floris is one of the most beautiful shops I have ever seen. It’s mahogany counters and display cabinets were from the Prince Albert’s Great Exhibition of 1851. I purchased a gift for my husband here, a lovely wooden dish and shaving soap set. I am so very pleased that he actually likes the fragrance!

No London shopping trip would be complete without a stop in Hatchard’s Book Shop on Piccadilly, the shop where my Regency characters often go.

IMG_0261Next door is Fortnum & Mason, another shop that has been there for 300 years. I fell in love with this china display. I was bound and determined to purchase something at Fortnum and Mason. I settled on a tea diffuser and tea, of which there were countless blends.

We also did some ordinary, non-Regency shopping in London, like visiting Harrod’s. The food court was mind-boggling, but Harrod’s was way beyond my means. I did find a nice gray and black top in Marks and Spencer that was in my price range!

Of course, in every historic site we visited, we stopped in the gift shop, so I have some lovely little souvenirs (including a small bust of Wellington from Apsley House). At Wellington’s country house, Stratfield Saye, we visited its Farm Shop where there was lovely fresh produce, meats, and cheese to ogle. Too bad we were not cooking for ourselves. I would have loved to try some of the food we found there.

In Windsor we visited a lovely antique shop, a Scottish shop, and several tourist shops for those tacky souvenirs that are irresistible.

I do think I need to go back to England, though. There are so many shops I must have missed!! Anyone have any suggestions for a shopping spree on my next (wished for) England trip?

Gone On Vacation

I’ll be in England for the first two weeks in September (and frantically getting ready only days before). Come back on Sept 18 for my report, What I Did On My (After) Summer Vacation. I promise photos and tales of adventure.

Like what we saw at Buckingham Palace!
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I leave you with a lovely quote about England by George Orwell:

George_Orwell_press_photoEngland is not the jewelled isle of Shakespeare’s much-quoted message, nor is it the inferno depicted by Dr Goebbels. More than either it resembles a family, a rather stuffy Victorian family, with not many black sheep in it but with all its cupboards bursting with skeletons. It has rich relations who have to be kow-towed to and poor relations who are horribly sat upon, and there is a deep conspiracy of silence about the source of the family income. It is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control – that, perhaps is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.”

Cheerio!

Lost Thursday

1880_Pierre_Auguste_Cot_-_The_StormYesterday felt like a lost day. I was busy morning until night.
Morning was my husband’s first visit back to the surgeon since his operation. The verdict?? He’s a star patient. But he still has to watch out not to do too much for a couple of months.

Then I went to my Critique Group with the fabulous Darlene Gardner and Lisa Dyson. Before we get down to work, we always get a carry out lunch at Panisa Thai and catch up on our lives, writing and otherwise.

box setLisa and Darlene are writing fabulous stuff, so it is always a pleasure to read and discuss their work. They’ve both been so helpful to me, seeing where my stories are going astray when I can’t, finding those inconsistencies I’ve missed, or catching typos.

Darlene is finishing up a wonderful New Adult series, The Dead Ringer series, written in serial fashion. I would really recommend this one. If you try the first in the serial, Illusion, you’ll be hooked.

APerfectHomecomingCoverLisa’s debut novel, A Perfect Homecoming, a wonderful reunion story from Superromance, is still available.

After critique it was on to the grocery store for everything.

By the time I was home and had finished dinner, I needed to work on my revisions on Bound by Duty, the first book of my new series, The Scandalous Summerfields.

The very last thing I thought about was my blog! That is why I’m writing it today instead of yesterday.

What does a busy day for you look like?

Don’t forget. Read A Romance Month is still on! Today’s authors are St. Martin’s author, Lucy March, the fabulous Historical author, Grace Burrows, and my fellow Harlequin Historical author, Kathryn Albright.

Be Happy

On Facebook, I’ve seen several “friends” posting lists of things that make them happy. In the news this week there have been so many unhappy events, I am in great need of this sort of happiness project!

Thomas_Rowlandson_-_An_Elderly_Buck_walking_with_a_Lady_-_Google_Art_ProjectSo here are 5 random things that are making me happy today.

1. My grandson. He turned one year old a few weeks ago and just keeps getting cuter and cuter! He is healthy and happy and growing like a weed, changing a little each time we see him. I can think of no greater blessing!

2. My husband is making a great recovery from his back surgery. He already feels better than before the surgery. We can take walks again!

3. The weather. We are having the most beautiful weather in the Washington, D.C., area this week. Of course, we did have a torrential rainfall, but it has left us with cool temperatures and clear skies and low humidity. We’ve not needed air conditioning for the last couple days.

Gillray-Three-Graces-in-High-Wind4. I’m happily planning my trip to England with the Duke of Wellington tour, buying things I need, making (mental) lists, starting some packing. It just makes me happy to think that I’ll be in London in just a couple of weeks.

5. Skirts. I love that midi skirts are coming back in fashion and I’ve purchased a few. Skirts are so comfortable. I’d rather wear them than jeans. They are cool when it is hot and warm when it is chilly. I’m taking some midi skirts with me to England!

What’s making you happy today? Can you think of 5 things?

(Come see my essay and interview on Celebrate Romance-Read a Romance Month on August 18. Today’s essay is by Carly Phillips!)

Read A Romance Month

imageRead A Romance Month is an idea conceived by romance fan, NPR feature writer and Kirkus reviewer, Bobbi Dumas, as a way for romance authors and fans to come together to celebrate the genre they love–Romance!

Bobbi has 93 authors lined up to write essays about celebrating romance and who answer some fun interview questions. I’m delighted to be a part of it. You can read my essay on August  18.

What is wonderful about this is that each of the authors has a different take on why they love Romance or what it means to them, but we are all celebrating love. And believing in hope, the hope that when things are hard in life, they will get better. When we are alone, somewhere, sometime, love awaits us.

I am so proud of the Romance genre for promoting hope and love. In a Romance novel, love always triumphs over adversity. We always find a happy ending.

So…take a look at these wonderful essays and get to know authors who write Romance and believe in its power.

Read the current essays here

Read the 2013 essays here

(My husband is doing great, by the way. He’s almost back to normal and feels so much better than before the surgery!)

HGTV and Me

I didn’t blog last week. My dh was home from the hospital but was in need of lots of TLC (tender loving care) and that was about all I could do.

Home_&_Garden_Television_original_logo.svgExcept watch a lot of HGTV. HGTV is the cable TV station that airs lots of real estate and renovation shows and watching show after show was one of the ways I dealt with the stress.

House Hunters is a perennial favorite. I never get tired of watching people tour houses and select one, even if they sometimes drive me crazy. Oh, we can’t buy a house with stairs. It’s too dangerous for the children. They might fall down! (As if children were not reared in two story houses through the last few centuries). And then there are the people on House Hunters International who want an American-style house in–say–Paris.

income-property-with-scott-mcgillivray_b277-incomepropertyscottmcgillivrayseason7_2Another show I like is Property Brothers or any of the shows Drew and Jonathan Scott are on. I like Jonathan’s decorating style, whereas I’m not fond of the Kitchen Cousins’ choices of decor.

I also enjoy Income Property, because who wouldn’t with Scott McGillivray? Sometimes I don’t understand why the owners select the lesser renovation when the more expensive one is only a few thousand more.

flip.or.flopMy current favorite, though, is Flip or Flop. I love seeing Tarek and Christina select a house and then go through the process of renovating it. I find them appealing as a couple and definitely good at what they do.

If you think these shows are fluff, then consider that my other favorites are Say Yes to the Dress (both New York and Atlanta), and I Found The Gown. I just never get tired of watching women select their wedding gowns!

What shows are your favorites? Or do you dislike TV?

All I know is that HGTV helped me get through the most stressful part of helping my dh recuperate. He still has a ways to go, but he is definitely on the mend and progressing very well!