Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Catherine and William

overcast, breezy, temps 8

Cool day, cutting cold when the wind is directly in your face. But otherwise very nice.

Thank you so much, Lee Ann, for that beautiful reflection on sacrifice and love.

As you all probably know - yesterday was the big day here in London. Wills and Kate announced their engagement! The capital is abuzz - special editions of newspapers. Wall to wall coverage. Very fun. And wow, do they look happy. And relaxed. Very comfortable in each other's company. So wonderful to see. I think we all remember that image of William walking behind his mother's coffin - such a public grief. If anyone deserves peace and happiness it's him. And you. And me.

And the Queen.

Now, I quite like the royal family, but I think anyone marrying into them must be nuts. Despite my childhood dreams of marrying Prince Charles, I have to say I'm extremely glad I didn't. Or any of them. Though William certainly seems a wonderful young man.

And they announced they want to be known as William and Catherine from now on. Not sure if that will take.

It sure is fun to be here for this moment. sounds silly, but I'm saving The Times from today - to add to our collection of newspapers announcing memorable events.

We're also taking home Marks and Spencer mince tarts - and a couple of their ready-made dinners. If our bags are lost I'm not sure I'd claim them.

Had a wonderful last day in London. Slept in a bit, then Michael and I got dressed and went for a walk. We had 10am reservations for breakfast at The Wolseley, on Piccadilly. So we decided to walk. Cutting through the back streets...a dangerous thing to do given that nothing is as it seems and it's possible to walk for half an hour and end up at the beginning here in London. the streets curve, and meld and head off in unexpected directions.

though that's always part of the fun, and we had plenty of time. Our goal was to head toward Berkely Square, then off to Hyde Park corner and Marble Arch, then across to Green Park - by then we could almost smell the bacon.

It actually went surprisingly well. Normally we spend at least as much time standing on street corners staring at the A to Z as we do walking, but this time Michael had oriented himself, and I just followed. Saying, encouragingly, 'Are we lost?' 'Is this the right way?' 'haven't we been here before?'

Michael, for some reason, ignored me and kept walking.

And sure enough, there we were at the Marble Arch....with the most wicked traffic buzzing in all mad directions between us and the Arch. we stood bewildered. perhaps this was the Great Divide. you can't get there from here.

then we noticed the pedestrian underpass, and were saved. Up we popped right at the spectacularly moving and simple Australian war memorial...and Winged Victory. You can see the photo above.

then we crossed to Green Park. London is riddled with these magnificent parks. Makes walking a genuine pleasure. As you can see. That's Michael strolling through the park at about 9:30 this morning.

We arrived at The Wolseley just as Stephen Fry and David Frost were leaving. Stephen (as I like to call him) and I locked eyes and had a 'moment' - which means he must have mistaken me for a transvestite. Not, perhaps, for the first time. David (as I like to call him) calls me 'Excuse me'.

Michael and I had another terrific breakfast, though this time we were seated at the very back facing the waiter's station. I asked, I hope nicely, if we could possibly get a better table, and were told, 'no'. Still, someone has to sit there, and the food was the same....and after a few minutes the ambiance from the rest of the room catches up.

I started with stewed prunes in an orange syrup, with very thin slivers or orange rind. It's worth the trip to London just for that. Then Michael had the full english breakfast, which means scrambled eggs, toast, grilled tomato and mushrooms, sausages, bacon and blood pudding. Oh, and baked beans. he ate it all and if the server hadn't shown up he was in danger of eating the utensils too. I had scrambled eggs and bacon, on thin whole wheat toast. With marmalade.

And strong 'American' coffee, as they call it. White. Which means with milk. Hot milk.

Such a wonderful place for breakfast. And other meals. the first time I was there was for lunch with Andrew martin, my American publisher. We were both over for the London Book Fair and Andy thought we should meet at the Wolseley for lunch. he was right, as he so often is.

Michael and I walked some more and were planning on going into the Royal Academy, but were getting a bit tired so we hopped on a double decker bus back to the flat.

We also had great fun yesterday, spending most of it at the Victoria and Albert...Michael painting in the garden and me wandering the magnificent museum. The photo above shows the scene from the courtyard garden where Michael painted. We both grabbed coffees and lemon cake - and sipped. He painted, I made notes on the book - then left him in peace.

on the way home we stopped at The Capital Hotel on Basil street for Afternoon Tea - you can see part of our feast, in a photo above.

We're almost packed. Car coming at 11 tomorrow morning - flight about 2pm. Home to Montreal by 5pm (with 5 hour time difference).

Friday I'll be at the Salon du Livres in Montreal...english signing from 5-6pm, french from 7-8:30. Then again on Saturday, English from 11 to noon and French from 1 to 3.

Then home to Sutton on Sunday, after two months away. So much has happened in those 2 months - almost all of it amazingly good. Great.

But I'm almost afraid to imagine what it'll be like to walk through the door, to smell home, to see the gardens and the mountains. And Trudy. To have peace and quiet, and our own rhythm.

But in the meantime we're so enjoying our last evening in London, reading about Catherine and William and their happiness.


John said...

Stephen Fry and David Frost, eh? You keep excellent company, Louise (or, as I like to call you, Louise). Have a safe trip home, and thanks, as always, for sharing your life!


danielle-momo said...

Merci Louise d'avoir partagé avec nous votre séjour à Londres.
J'y ai passé 5 jours inoubliables en mars 2008 et j'aimerais bien y retourner un jour.

J'ai tout de suite reconnu Hyde Park sur la photo mercredi dernier.Quel oasis de paix dans la frénésie londonnienne.

Bon retour au Québec et bon salon du livre de Montréal.


VTSlajer said...

I was really looking forward to the "Farewell, London" part, hoping that you would write it before flying back home, and you did! Thanks, Louise.

In the meantime, duty calls again -Salon du livre in Montreal. See you on Friday evening.

To both of you, have an enjoyable flight back to Montreal. I hope that Mother Air Canada will be good to you.

Anne-Marie said...

Ma belle Louise! Merci, thank you for the London tour through your eyes! Michael's breakfast description reminded me that I had yet to have lunch and my stomach grumbled - but my lips smiled! Merci - I enjoyed his breakfast - and gained not one ounce! Safe trip home - happy signing en Français et in English! As always from Orangeville - Anne-Marie

lil Gluckstern said...

Lovely trip; it just flew by. Safe journey home, and thank you for taking us along.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi all - bonjour!

I'm so glad you came with us to London. Love your comments - you make me laugh, you move me deeply, you let me know i"m not on my own out on the road. Thank you.

merci, mille fois.