Wednesday 12 July 2017

Research (and romance) can happen anywhere

I ran away to London again for the weekend. It will be the last for a while as my bank balance is screaming at me to step away from those nice hotels with the delicious breakfasts - one of my biggest weaknesses.  This trip was special as it was a reunion for people I knew when I worked in Eaton Square. It was lovely to catch up and see old friends from what was probably the best job of my career (Not counting being a writer, of course.)

As well as the reunion and a trip to see Andrew Scott's Hamlet at the theatre, I also managed a salon at Carlyle's House, in Chelsea, and a trip to the Hampton Court  Flower show. And took pictures.

The evening at Carlyle's House was lovely - a chance to have a brief look at the house, in all it's Victorian  splendor, and drinks in the garden - which had an apricot tree (shades of the Duchess of Malfi) The house would have hosted the likes of Chopin and Dickens in Carlyle's day. We weren't quite so august, but it was a good evening. The talk from Sarah Wise was on the Old Nichol, a notorious Victorian slum in Shoreditch - she had pictures and statistics that prove that you can't always believe the rumours and reputations that are handed down - appealing to me as an historian and a writer.  I prowled the area before the talk too, as it's the part of Chelsea that I chose for Kaz to live in Never Coming Home, and my hero in the novella I'm working on has a flat there. I was able to pick out the sort of place he would have, so that was useful. See - research everywhere.

Then the next day down to Hampton Court, and the flower show. And there was plenty there to attract a romance writer - from the rose of the year, to the vegetable plots, to the food tent with cakes and cocktails. I have a romantic suspense series on the distant horizon that is set in an invented village on the Welsh coast, and I am always on the look out for arts and crafts which might go on there among the normal inhabitants, not the ones who do dark deeds for a living. I collected some good ideas. And, of course, a cake covered in edible petals would be just the thing if there happened to be a wedding ...

This is Carlyle - a bit crooked,
but you get the idea. He was an historian and philosopher.

Carlyle's House. Chelsea. Mr and Mrs C were a Victorian
literary couple, hence the salons.

Hampton Court. I don't know if you can read the caption, but this is a combination of  sweet corn, runner beans and squash, traditionally planted by Native Americans and called Three Sisters - which made me think of the Nora Roberts Three Sisters Island books. Sounds like a very edible mixture too. 

This Alma-Tadema Style backdrop was on the stand with rose of 2017.
Is he proposing and she's being coy?

Rose of 2017 - perfectly named for a romantic novelist ...

... as you can see - Lovestruck.

I loved the colour combination of this. Need to investigate for the garden -
will the slugs leave it alone, though?

The cake with petals from Bee's Bakery - isn't it pretty

Looks like something that would go down
 well with members of the RNA, courtesy of Plants4Presents

I can never resist lavender. The stand from Downderry Nursery was fabulous. All colours from white through pink to deep purple.


  1. Glad you found your hero's house in Chelsea. A friend and I stayed at an AirBnB in Chelsea before Christmas 2015 and we had great fun imagining we actually lived there and finding other haunts we'd quite fancy for ourselves and our characters. That cake is beautiful - and I still need to take my camera and furry friend to lavender fields. Love the stuff.

  2. Hi Kath Now I have to get the book with the hero on the move. the lavender was lovely and the resident bees had found it already.