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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ENGLAND 2014: A FEW DAYS IN LONDON

I always love visiting London. When I first arrived there Sept 1, I stayed at my favorite place, the Indian YMCA, a centrally located, reasonably priced hostel-type hotel near Warren Station.  I always enjoy browsing the area. Right across the square is the former home of Virginia Woolf and various other members of the Bloomsbury Group of writers also lived in that area.  Just down the street is the Fitzroy Tavern where writes such as Dylan Thomas hung out while in London. Naturally, I like to stop in there just for the writerly atmosphere.
 
Dylan Thomas and Others

George Orwell

The well-stocked bar


 
The Fitzroy Tavern, London

My main purpose for spending time in London on this trip was to attend the Historical Novel Writer's Conference (Sept 5,6). So after my 3 days visit in Wales, I returned to London and took up residence in a student dorm at the International House in Waterloo,  on London's south side (across the river). It was conveniently located near a tube station in order for me to reach the conference which was at the Marlybone Campus of the University of Westminster.
 
 

 
 Statue of Sherlock Holmes across from the University
 
I went to the meet-and-greet and registration of the first day (Sept 5) and enjoy myself meeting lots of other historical writers. My biggest thrill that day was running into renown writer Margaret George, whose work I admire. I had spoken to her at the Surrey International Writer's Conference two years ago when I attended one of her workshops, and I'd explained my concern over the length of SHADOW OF THE LION.  She had told me "Just don't worry about the length. Keep on writing!" Imagine her surprise (and delight) when I told her that I'd listened to her and now I had a two-book contract, with volume one already published. 

That evening we went for a dinner at a nearby restaurant for the Hardy's Historical supper  and enjoy some good food, wine and camaraderie with a group of the writers.


The next day I attended the all-day sessions of various workshops. And I made sure I went to one that Margaret George was participating in.  I also enjoy hearing from  the keynote speakers and a couple of other presenters who were successful historical fiction writers.  I met one of the writers from Oxford who is a good friend of Robin Lane Fox whose book about Alexander the Great I referred to for some of my research for SHADOW.



My last day in London I chose to go on a London Walk. I love these walks and this time decided on the Dickens & Shakespeare Walk.  The American professor who was our guide proved to be entertaining as well as informative. 


We strolled around all the parts of town where Dickens was inspired to write several of his books such as "Pickwick Papers" and "Great Expectation."
 





We also visited the district near the Jewish Quarter where Shakespeare lived with a Huguenot family and penned many of his famous dramas.  There is a memorial to him and a plaque to his two friends who 'rescued' Shakespeare's folios after his death and saw that they were published. Otherwise we might not have had the privilege to enjoy his work.

 
Monument to William Shakespeare
 

Guildhall
 

Smithfields Market

 

We also toured the noted areas of that time, such as the Guildhall (from the 1400s) the Smithfieds Market that had signs depicting the cruel punishments meted out of people those days, the place nearby where William Wallace (Braveheart) was slaughtered as well a number of other fascinating old London sites.



After the walk, which took about 2 hours (or longer) I went to see St. Paul's Cathedral. By that time I was tired from the walking and headed back to the Indian Y where I had chosen to stay for my last night in London.  The next day, I headed out to Heathrow for my flight to Greece. 





NEXT: GREECE: My first stop: THESSALONIKI.

1 comment:

Ramya k said...

Nice Post. Thanks for sharing this in Your blog