The Authors of Writes of Passage

The Authors of Writes of Passage

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Oh to be in England now that April’s there...









So begins the poem by Robert Browning. And so begin my thoughts now that it's April.

Hubby in the Cotswolds, England
Julie in Lacock village
My husband and I have been to England twice to research my books. (That’s the reason I write, you know, to justify my long-held desire to visit England! J) Both times we were there in the spring (April and  May). So right about now, I’m longing to go back. I have found such inspiration there—settings, ideas, and accents--so I have to go back, right? (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)






I’ve heard from a few English friends, that this year’s spring is not typical. They’ve had late snows and record colds, and young animals have died and farmers suffered losses. That saddens me, especially when I remember all the newborn lambs we saw there. But even so, it does little to dampen my desire to return.

So, please travel with me as I daydream about where I’d go if and when I’m able to visit again. Hopefully soon, Lord willing!

·        Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton: Where Jane wrote most of her novels.

·        Highclere Castle: A.K.A. Downton Abbey. Many D.A. fans
would love to see this place in person and I am one of them. 
(In fact, according to the web site, tours for summer 2013 are already sold out!)


·        Lacock, Witshire: Quaint village used in the filming of Cranford and other BBC dramas. I was there very briefly and 
would love to return.

·        Bath: we visited this beautiful city as well, but I'd happily go again.

·        Lynmouth & Lynton: Twin coastal towns in North Devon. This is Lorna Doone country and the setting for a novel I’m writing.

·        Upper Slaughter: Really, any place in the Cotswolds. I love the Cotswolds!

·        Tyntesfield: a beautiful estate near Bristol--thanks to a tip 
from author Carrie Turansky, who set her forthcoming novel there (The Governess of Highland Hall, Oct ‘13).

These stops alone would make a nice loop of several days or more—beginning at Chawton 45 minutes southwest of London before
traveling on to Highclere, Lacock, Bath, and Lynmouth, and then circling back through Bristol and the Cotswolds. Some of these places are reachable by public transportation, but others would be better 
explored by car. So now all I need is someone skilled or brave enough to drive on the left side of narrow, stone-wall lined roads. Any takers? J

Thanks for joining me on this mini dream trip to England. What’s your dream trip? Have you been to England? Any places you’d recommend I add to my wish itinerary?

31 comments:

  1. I've never been but I dream of going some day! I def. want to see Highclere Castle and the Jane Austen Museum!

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    1. Thanks, Shelly. Hope your dream trip comes to pass one of these days!

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  2. The only time I was in England was for 10 days in July/August 1999. I was chaperoning with the Red Rose Children's Choir of Lake County. My daughter who was 12 at the time was one of the singers. It was a wonderful experience for both of us, but left us wanting more. We were in Canterbury, London and Stratford-Upon-Avon. We also spent one day in the Cotswolds. I would gladly follow your itinerary! I also want to visit the Lake District. Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, you and other favorite authors, have fueled the fire and made me want to experience the places you've written about!

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    1. Glad you were able to visit. Sounds like a great experience. Hope you're able to return someday.

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  3. Oh Julie! I can verify that it was absolutely FREEZING in the UK. We were in London two weeks ago and then visited Scotland for a few days and we saw our fair share of snow in the UK (also might I add.. in the US!)LOL!
    I adore London,it is so full of history. I enjoyed visitng Bath,Stratford on Avon, The Lakes District and of course "London Proper."

    I was rather excited as I happened on a quaint little Tavern just down from where we were staying and I was clasping my camera tightly I can tell you.:)
    Opposite our hotel was a little lane(I call it a lane) which led to Queens Square. The Tavern is called "The Queens Larder" named in honour of Charlotte, wife of George 111. He was also known as "The Mad King" as he was being treated for a mental illness by a certain Dr of repute.
    Charlotte rented the cellar at the Tavern where she stored all the "health delicacies" and medicines for "Mad George", hence the Tavern was so named!
    Queen Square is also well known for Hospital, Surgeries, and the Foundling Home. I was in my element "snap happy" for sure!:)

    @ just as an update for my friends on WoP. We flew home last Friday night to be with my Mum who is very unwell.Please continue your prayers for her.

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    1. Oh! Where can I see your photos? Sounds fascinating. And sorry to hear about your Mum. Will pray.

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  4. That sounds like a lovely itinerary. My husband and I will be going to the England and Scotland for two weeks this September. We will spend half the time in Scotland, including a few days in the Orkney Islands, the rest in the Highlands. Then train down to Oxford for a few days and onto London.

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to visit any of the places you listed, though I did debate whether to go to Bath or Oxford as a base to stay at. Perhaps next time. If you ever want to break away from the pastoral scenes of England, look up the Orkney Islands. I think they could inspire many stories.

    One fun thing I've been doing to prepare for the trip, is reading my way through British history through fiction. I am in the time period of your books right now! Just finished The Lady of Milkweed Manor. I believe that a lot of the fun of traveling is the dreaming and planning.

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    1. JEALOUS! :) Would love to visit Scotland someday as well. Hope you have a wonderful trip. We had a nice tour through Oxford with a friend who works near there. Beautiful city. You'll enjoy it. And I agree, Julie. Planning and dreaming about a trip extends the fun. Love your idea or reading history via fiction to prepare, too.

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  5. My in-laws took a trip to England this past year and they bought a membership in some kind of tourist package that gained them entrance into dozens of estates. I was so envious. Looking at pictures is wonderful, but it's not the same as being there and breathing in the history, is it?

    Being a fairy tale lover, one of my dream vacations is to tour the castles of Bavarian Germany. Mountain backdrops, towering spires - *sigh* Maybe I should stop setting my books in Texas and move my settings to Europe so I can take some "necessary" research trips. :-)

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    1. I'll bet they bought a National Trust membership or something like that. Did they have a great time? And yes, you should definitely travel abroad for research, Karen. Germany is beautiful and your trip can be deducted, you know. ;^)

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  6. I have only been once - we spent a few days traveling around the Yorkshire Dales - BEAUTIFUL country - lots of fun on the very narrow roads and seeing all the ancient stone walls in all the fields - and, of course, sheep everywhere ;)

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    1. I've never been to Yorkshire. Sounds lovely. Thanks, Kim!

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  7. A year ago I was packing up to go to England for a May wedding in Kent. I wish I was going back this year! We spent a long weekend in Tonbridge and took a day trip to Hever Castle, it was beautiful and I highly recommend it. I wish we had had time to go to Leeds Castle as well. Then we went to London for the next 4 days. There is so much there I can't possibly list it all but I have to say that one of my favorite parts of that trip was going to Borough Market and eating way too much good food. I would love to go back and do the Cotswolds, the Lake District, Highclere Castle,Stratford-Upon-Avon, Bath, Stonehenge, and if we can make it through the wall at Platform 9 3/4 my oldest son would love to make it to Hogwarts. ;)

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    1. Hee hee about Hogwarts--that's what it would take to get my sons interested in England, too. We went to Kent in 2007 (my first novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, was set there and in London). We went to Leeds castle--beautiful but quite "modern" inside (has been renovated--the early 1900s I believe). Will have to look into Hever Castle and Borough market for the future. Thanks, Sundee!

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  8. I've never been to England, but really want to go someday. I would love to visit all the places you mentioned here! My mom is from England and she has an exciting story about how she was meant to come over to Canada as a child during WW2, but her mom decided to take her off the boat at the last minute. That ship was torpedoed and sank. She later came over to Canada when she was 16.

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    1. That IS a great story Cathy. Your mom (or you) should write it sometime. Hope you get to visit--especially since your mom is from England.

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  9. Hi Julie, what great ideas! I love England and would love to see so many of these places...some for the first time and some for the second. I was just telling my husband last night what happy memories I have of our trip last fall. I hope we can do it again. For now we will have to keep writing books set there to share with our friends who love England. Thanks for sharing about Tyntesfield and my new book. Blessings!

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    1. You're welcome, Carrie. Hope you and your hubby get to return soon. And all the best with your new book!

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  10. Hi, Julie--

    I need to break out of my London-habit, and explore more of the England; I was in the Lake District years ago and loved it! Was, in fact, just in London a couple weeks ago and as you mentioned, was hard to hear on the news about the devastated livestock, etc., in the north and other areas.

    You should be a tourguide, sounds like a great itinerary you have planned! I would love to see Highclere Castle--can never get enough Downton Abbey!

    Will you be able to make it to JASNA this Sat.? Hope to see you there. My work schedule allows me again to attend the next couple of meetings.

    Lisa

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    1. Hi Lisa! Thanks for stopping by. How fun that you were in London recently. Yes, you do need to expand your travels beyond London. So much to see! And I should probably return to London one of these days, too. Not sure I'll make this Saturday's meeting. Like to, but lots going on that day.

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  11. Loved this post, Julie (*happy sigh*). I've never been out of the US (except for briefly visiting Mexico years ago) but England seems like a wonderful place to visit. Thanks for highlighting your favorite areas, and if I ever do visit there I'll try to see some of those lovely sights. ~ I've also thought it would be fun to visit Ireland and Scotland, and there are still lots of places here in the US I want to visit too. Thanks again for sharing this today! Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo (who is now ready to pack my luggage, LOL)

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    1. Thanks, Patti Jo. Glad you enjoyed reading the blog. That's why I wrote it--No definite plans to travel at this point, but it's sure fun to think about!

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  12. Julie - My husband and I were blessed to go to England just this past August. It was the trip of a lifetime and I am occasionally guilty of emitting a audible sigh of longing when I think about it. We too visited the Cotswolds and I got to tour a fascinating place called Snowshill Manor and Garden. It was raining when we went but as far as I was concerned it just added to the charm of the visit. We stayed at the Fountain Inn and Lodge in the Royal Forest of Dean - if you haven't made it to the Forest yet you should - so, so beautiful. Fortunately, we had some local friends drive us around - I totally agree with you about those soda straw roads - eek! Also got to visit Highclere Castle - when you get to go you will love it! We also got to see London (after the Olympics). Loved every minute of it - Churchill War Rooms, Imperial War Museum, Tower of London - we had a blast. There is a pub along Bayswater Road that has fabulous fish and chips called The Swan. It has seating in an outdoor balcony and you can look right out over Hyde Park. OK I've gone on waaay too long now. I really enjoy your books and I hope you get to go back to jolly old England soon! :)

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    1. Sounds wonderful, Jen. Love hearing about your trip. (You've got me sighing over it as well.) And no, I haven't been to either Snowshill or the Forest of Dean. I will have to add them to my wish list!

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  13. I've read so many books sent in England so it would be fun to visit. I've always wanted to walk on the moors!

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    1. Hi Pam. I'm not exactly sure what moors are, but they sure sound very moody and Jane Eyre-y don't they? :) Hope you get to go someday.

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  14. Julie, my dream vacation is to visit Ireland. England would be part of the trip, but I have wanted to go to Ireland as far back as I can remember. Not sure when we will get to go, as we are now purchasing our first house and looking at expanding our little family, with the desire of me becoming a stay-at-home mom. So we'll see how God chooses to bless us in our travels.

    Rosie, still praying for you all. I am so thankful ya'll made it home safely!!

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    1. Hi Catherine.
      Ireland is on our "someday" list, too. But you're right, you may be heading into a season of little ones where travel isn't very feasible. But it'll happen one day...I hope! Take care.

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  15. Julie,

    I would love to go!

    When is your next book coming out?

    Anna Labno

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  16. A place to visit I can thoroughly recommend is Castle Combe. This tiny hamlet was originally a group of picturesque cottages built by an enlightened landowner as accommodation for his tenants and workers. It is National Trust property now, thank heavens, and protected against any sort of development. There is also a lovely old building which has been converted into a hotel where you can enjoy a very traditional English tea. (Well, I have to admit that more than twenty years have passed since I was there, so this could conceivably have changed) However, the village can NOT change! Thatched cottages, a babbling brook . . .you'll love it!

    I came across your blog because Bronwing's poem Oh! to be in England, now that April's there ' had been running through my memory all day. More than fifty years have passed since I learned this poem, but when I checked it out online, I only had a couple of words wrong!

    Going to check amazon now to see if your books are available for kindle. .

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  17. A more ancient, but fascinating place to visit is Stonehenge, a group of massive stones arranged in a circle, and approximately 4000 years old . . . Full of atmosphere. When I was a child you could run in and around the stones, but unfortunately now you can only see it through glass . . . .

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