In The Shadow Of Windsor

Friday night we went to an, uh, fiftieth birthday party at a hotel two minutes’ walk around from Windsor Castle:

The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. [Photo by me, 2016.]
The Queen Victoria statue in front of Windsor Castle. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The castle is along the edge of Windsor. I’d never been to Windsor or so close to the castle before.

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Fifteen Years Ago

Part of a personal experience of mine, placed in September 1994 for fictional purposes:

Excerpt from "Passports." Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports.” Click to expand.

That indoor observation deck was indeed superb. (I’m a bit better with heights now than I was then.馃槈 ) The roof walkaround just above it was reached by escalator with no guided escort being necessary, and was a more “open” viewing experience than the Empire State Building. There was no problem seeing from the top of the old World Trade Center:

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“Lafayette, we are here”

After a false start and second thoughts, a teenage aristocrat and officer from one of France’s then most noble families, Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette, along with several other officers, slipped out of the country in April 1777 from Bordeaux on a small ship called Victorie. (They left without formal permission from King Louis XVI, who had banned officers from traveling to America because England had threatened war with France if France aided the American rebellion.) La Fayette was determined to meet General George Washington and help America in any way he could.

Lafayette Monument: a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Soulac-sur-Mer. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Lafayette Monument: a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Soulac-sur-Mer. [Photo by me, 2016.]

And the rest, as they say, is history. The locality of Soulac-sur-Mer has made it clear on the statue’s base that this was perhaps the last French land that Lafayette saw before reaching America. “Lady Liberty” stands just across from the town’s magnificent beachside promenade.

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“Bonjour” From Soulac-sur-Mer

Well, we’re here: Soulac-sur-Mer, north of Bordeaux, on the coast:

View from our rental house in Soulac-sur-mer, out over the beach to the Bay of Biscay. [Photo by me, 2016.]
View from our rental house in Soulac-sur-Mer, out over the beach to the Bay of Biscay. [Photo by me, 2016.]

The drive up here from the airport vaguely reminded me of Florida – flat and sandy. Brittany is not like this.

Notre-Dame-de-la-Fin-des-Terres Basilica in Soulac-sur-Mer. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Notre-Dame-de-la-Fin-des-Terres Basilica in Soulac-sur-Mer. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Our lunch yesterday. Yes, a bit of a caricature, we knew:

Lunch at our house yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Lunch at our house yesterday. [Photo by me, 2016.]

We went out to dinner last night at a pleasant, small restaurant in the town center….

“Termin茅?” she asked me with a smile.

“Oui, merci,” I replied as she leaned across me and cleared away my empty dessert plate.

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“Journal, Paris, 21 October 1792”

A last post before heading off tomorrow….

JOURNAL, Hertfordshire, 26 August 2016, Early morning.

Weather fine. Another warm day to come it appears. We depart tomorrow for France. Little is packed as of yet, but I’ll do that later today. Much to do before….

In Conventions, a variety of historical figures appear in places, times and contexts that conform to their actual lives (insofar as I can reasonably manage – this is fiction, after all). I strive to make the fictionals similarly “real” and even have “years of birth” in mind: “Robert,” 1765; “Henry,” 1765; “Marie-Th茅r猫se,” 1768; “Carolina,” 1770; “Charles,” 1755; “Jacques,” 1755; “Amandine,” 1774, etc.

Line art representation of a Quill. [Public Domain. Wikipedia.]
Line art representation of a Quill. [Public Domain. Wikipedia.]

I’ve decided also to include what was common in the later 18th century: travel journals. In this case, it will be one kept by “Robert.”

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Shaw’s Corner

I’d posted a few weeks ago that we’d found George Bernard Shaw’s house, known as “Shaw’s Corner,” in neighboring Ayot St Lawrence. The other day – Sunday – with my nephew, who was visiting us for the weekend, we walked back there again and actually went in to see it. Admission is 拢7.50 per adult, and worth it.

Street sign, sending you in the right direction. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Street sign, sending you in the right direction. [Photo by me, 2016.]
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The Gallery Is Open

Having some “artistic” fun this morning messing around with the Prisma app. A photographer friend on Instagram loves it. I thought I’d give it a play myself.

I’ve run a few photos through it. These first two may (I hope!) look familiar to you. I used the app to “artwork” the original front and back cover photographs for Distances:

Front cover of "Distances," in Prisma.
Front cover of “Distances,” in Prisma.

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Avec La France

We’re going to Bordeaux, France, in a couple of weeks’ time for a one week getaway. We’ve rented a holiday house on the coast. I am looking forward to it immensely partly because I’ve already decided the city will feature in the new book…. and getting details on the ground there is a bit like “location scouting” for a film.馃槈

France has been a major part of the backdrop – in case you have somehow missed this – for what I’ve written and write about thus far. I make no claim to being an “expert” on it; but I’ve visited various parts of the country and spent quite a bit of time there over the last nearly thirty years. (OMG, did I just write THIRTY?!) All told, it is by far where I’ve spent the most time in my life after here in Britain.

H么tel des Invalides, Paris. [Photo by me, 1994.]
H么tel des Invalides, Paris. [Photo by me, 1994.]

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Through Ayot St. Lawrence

We took a (longish) walk yesterday from the new house over to the historical village of Ayot St. Lawrence:

Yet another two-way English country road. [Photo by me, 2016.]
Yet another two-way English country road. [Photo by me, 2016.]
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