Tag Archives: London

Author Parties and Aching Thighs…

At the beginning of September I attended my first lunch/cocktail party given by my dream publisher. I was pretty excited and a tad nervous, too, but I was lucky to attend with a dear friend of mine who has been an author with this publisher for many years. My friend decided this was going to be a really special and memorable day for me. It was certainly that, and for more reasons than anticipated.

We took the train to London and headed to the venue close to London Bridge. We had a great lunch and I spent most of the time fan-girling and meeting authors I’d read for many years. They were all really lovely and so welcoming. Then it came time for the cocktail party held across the road at the publisher’s HQ. Since this happened to be on the 18th floor, it meant negotiating an elevator! As I’m slightly claustrophobic, this did not fill me with glee. But having gritted my teeth and made it up there, I was rewarded by the most spectacular views across London, and again made to feel very welcome by authors and staff. The whole experience was great.

Too soon it was time to leave and head back to Paddington for the journey home. Since my friend was already waiting back at the lunch venue (long story), I said my goodbyes and headed out to the bank of elevators.  Somehow I took a wrong turn and ended up walking through a small corridor and into a landing which contained access to the stairs as well as a lone elevator with no call button! Realizing my mistake, I tried to get back to the main area, but since I was a visitor and had no security card, the door had closed behind me and I couldn’t get back out. I had no choice but to start walking down the stairs.

By this time most of the building was empty and it was getting dark outside. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to get out. There was no cell phone signal so I couldn’t call anyone, no sounds except my footsteps echoing as I hurried down the stone stairs, and no sign of anybody. I was starting to panic. Breathless, I made it to the basement only to find a barred and alarmed door with a warning that it was to be opened only in an emergency. I had visions of setting off alarms. the building being evacuated, and the London Fire Brigade summoned. There was no option but to start walking back up, checking each floor along the way to see if there was any sign of life outside the locked and secured landing, and hoping to find help. By this time, I had visions of getting stuck there forever.

I made it back up to the 6th floor, heart pounding, legs shaking, lungs burning, and on checking the landing saw a huge red phone on the wall. ‘This phone will alert security’ it declared. ‘Please do not use unless in an emergency’. Well, I didn’t really have any choice, did I? Within seconds, a man answered. Sheer relief made me babble…

“Please help me,” I virtually wailed. “I’m stuck in the stairwell on the 6th floor!”

There was a slight hesitation. “Why don’t you use your security pass to get out, madam?”

“I don’t have one. I’m a visitor at a party on the 18th floor.”

Another hesitation. “Then what are you doing on the 6th floor, madam?”

I went through the whole sorry tale and several minutes later a lovely security guard arrived to free me. I almost hugged him, I was so happy to see him.

When I met up with my friend she was starting to get frantic, not knowing where I’d been. After much commisseration, a stiff drink or two, and some much needed chocolate to calm my still raw nerves, we ended up being able to laugh about it. On the train home we decided that at least the objective for the day had been met. My first author lunch/party with my dream publisher had certainly been memorable.

And I’ve still got sore and aching thigh muscles to prove it!

 

 

July Happenings

July has been hectic even manic at times! A Roller-coaster of a month so far and it’s not over yet!! A red letter day was 10th when my youngest grandaughter Alice aged 10 appeared on the West End Stage, in London, with her Stage School. The Shaftesbury Theatre is at the heart of Theatreland. A coach full of excited performers and their families left the West Country, where we live, and drove to London. Anxious parents (and grandparents) dropped the children, with their teachers, off outside the theatre then we had a whole afternoon to spend in London. We chose to go to Covent Garden which was a short walk away. We made straight for an Italian Restaurant, one of Evie’s favourite places (Alice’s older sister aged 12) where she chose her usual ham and mushroom thin based pizza. Oh and olives to start with mini ciabatta rolls sizzling in garlic butter. Peter (known as BapBap by the grandchildren) and I (NanNan) had a delicious, rich, beef stew with gnocchi and Kate (Mum, our daughter) had roasted vegetable calzone. Perfect to set us all up. The olds also had an excellent glass of red wine each. Feeling suitably revived we wandered the stalls. Street musicians, acrobats, and students from the Royal Opera House sang, danced and performed around the squares. Tourists from many different countries followed their tour guides or just sat absorbing the scene. Sun shone gloriously, we managed to eat various flavoured gelatos to round off the afternoon, oh and fitted in some retail therapy. BapBap carried the bags patiently! Then it was time for the show.

The theatre is beautifully decorated, three tiers soared into the roof but we were in the front of the stalls. 16 different Stage Coach Schools from around the country as well as London gathered to perform, the standard of each school was incredibly high. We cheered loudly when our school came on in the second half but they got a standing ovation at the end of their performance. The theme of their piece was Land Girls (and boys) in the Second World War. The hair was in 40s style, with a modern twist, and uniforms of dungarees and shorts. They looked great. I know I was a proud grandma! They sang a selection of popular songs from the time with back-shots of real people projected onto a screen. Ages ranged from 10 to 16, the polished performance was worthy of that great theatre. FB_IMG_1468739361811Freddie Underwood, the Principal and Director beamed with pride. What a night.

A trip to Wales to see my niece Rhiannon graduate on 14th with a Masters Degree in Education. You have seen photos of Rhiannon in a previous blog. We were pleased to be invited and again proud of her achievements, a single mum who teaches full time.  On 19th her daughter Kerys graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, we were unable to attend but what a pair of amazing women they are. 20160714_161836

The other big occasion was between these two events on 17th when we hosted a family reunion at our small house. Luckily the sun shone as a total of 35 of us gathered (all my immediate family plus some of my cousins) aged from 84 down to 3. It was the first time for 15 years since the majority of us last met, none of the 7 young children were born then. My 5 grandchildren were there aged 3-12, my 8 year old great-nephew, a 6 year old cousin, 3 other great-nephews aged 16 and 18 and Kerys 21. Plus of course their parents and grandparents. Lots of champagne flowed, everyone brought food ranging from vegetarian pies, home-cooked gammon and beef, chicken dishes, salads galore, desserts, cheese, cakes you name it. Not much was left by the time everyone had gone home! The photo gives a small flavour of the day. received_1042511749178271

Wednesday 20th was my big Choir Concert. We sang the song we wrote earlier this year, When Will I See The Sun, for only the second time in public plus a range of other music from old English folk songs to a moving song, Pura Mame, from Figi honouring our ancestors. Another wonderful night, a dear friend was there to cheer me on and might submit a comment!20160720_195234_Burst05[1]

My birthday is on 30th but my son Matthew is 45 on 27th and my grandson Pete is 7 on 1st August so more celebrations to follow! Pete will be in New York with 16 members of the American branch of his family.

August will settle down and we can recharge, maybe.

Champagne, Laughs and Manolos

I imagine most of us have heard a variation of Hunter S Thompson’s quote:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand and chocolate in another, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming ‘WooHoo! What a ride’.

Well, with these words in mind, a friend and I have spent the last couple of days in London after we decided to slide into our pensioner-status birthdays in a memorable way.

Me and Dee at Covent Garden

Covent Garden

We booked into a lovely little hotel near London’s West End and headed for Covent Garden with its lovely markets and quirky shops just made for browsing. Soon the late afternoon chill called for a glass of mulled wine around the Christmas tree, then it was off to see Beautiful, the Carole King musical. It was fabulous, as was the pre-theatre dinner we enjoyed at The Waldorf where we treated ourselves to a glass of champagne (or two).

Cheers! At The Waldorf

Living it up at The Waldorf

Next day, following a leisurely and rather late breakfast, we headed to the shops. First stop was Liberty, where we enjoyed morning coffee and some serious lusting after Manolo Blahnik shoes.

I'll have a pair in each colour, please

“I’ll take a pair in each size, please.”

Liberty

Covent Garden

Then it was Fortnum and Mason and their Christmas shop and fabulous selection of seasonal fare. So tempting, but I (mostly) managed to keep a tight hold on the purse-strings. Since all that restraint was very tiring we soon needed sustenance again. All I will say is that afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an experience…and necessitated a deep dig into that hitherto tightly closed purse 🙂

But we had an amazing couple of days and created some fab memories. Can’t put a price on that, right?

Welcome to 2012

Welcome 2012. I hope this will be an amazing year for all of us. I’m enjoying being a part of this blogging community and think all of you are wonderful ladies and I’m lucky to have you all in my lives. We don’t say it enough in this life and I wanted to take this moment when the year is new and tell you all how much each of you have been a blessing in my life.

It’s funny how we make friendships on line and feel more of a bond with the folks we have things in common with all around the world than sometimes we have with our own backyard neighbors.  This blog is well-named since we are all a long way from each other, but we’ve gotten to know each other as if we were having a cup of coffee or tea over the fence.

I’m happy to have you all as my neighbors and wanted to say so. Now, enough of all the sentimentality, and let me show you a couple of cool shots I took when I was way away from my own backyard fence and in England for Christmas. I was lucky enough to have the chance to spend a week over there and have some quality time with the family.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.