Monday, June 18, 2018

My English Love Affair

No, sorry, not an actual love affair in England or with an Englishman, but as I write historical romances set in England (with forays into Scotland), you have to expect a romance-style title.

I visited England in the 1970s—twice. Everything I knew about England came from reading English novels—and 99% of it was true. The only thing that had changed was that it was no longer possible to stash one’s baggage in the Left Luggage office at the train station. Because of bombs, you know.

The taxis were still the old, black ones you see in movies from the 1940s.

London’s tube stations had wonderful posters on the walls, and one of the tube stations we used had escalators with sides and treads of varnished wood—and they were fast! Like something out of a Harry Potter book. The last one was replaced several years ago.

Fish and chips were not generic: they came in different varieties: plaice and chips, sole and chips, haddock and chips, etc., and all of them delicious.

Using an English pay phone required manual dexterity and split-second timing.

The medieval kitchen at Arundel Castle gave me  new insight into what it meant to prepare a medieval meal.

In the British Museum cafeteria, the tea was hot and strong and the cups were lined up, all of them with milk in them, before the tea was poured. 

Ladies like Miss Marple actually existed (presumably minus the crime-solving) aboard the Flying Scotsman, where we shared a compartment (just like in the old movies) with three white-haired Scots ladies in tweed suits who were going home after a shopping trip. They were amused to see us gaping at the old towers that seem to be sprinkled all over the Borders.

The cheese sandwiches on Brit Rail were identical to American cheese sandwiches, but it was possible to buy shortbread, which made up for it.   

And I loved every minute of all of it … well, no, not the severe head cold I suffered toward the end of the trip. Though it did reveal that if you asked for cough syrup at the apothecary, what you got was a brown liquid that tasted like mare sweat. I couldn’t drink it but it worked anyway. It scared my body into cutting back on both coughing and phlegm, lest I attempt another dose.

I’m sure much has changed, some of it for the better (the phones, maybe?).  But I’m glad I experienced England while it still resembled the England of Dorothy Sayers, Marjory Allingham, Agatha Christie, John Dickson Carr, Manning Coles and others; it gave me an even greater appreciation of the English mystery novel.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

N.N. Light's Book Heaven

Lots of fun for readers:

Summertime is here and before you head out to the pool or beach to catch some sunshine, check out this a-m-a-z-i-n-g giveaway hosted by N. N. Light’s Book Heaven. Win bestselling and award-winning books not to mention a tote bag filled with goodies, perfect for heading out to the beach. Enter to win below and good luck! 
Literary Giveaway Portal: