A Lovely Blogger’s Day Out

When Darlene said she was coming to London several weeks ago, I was overjoyed to finally get the opportunity to meet her! Simon, Mary and I were delighted to form a little British contingent of blogger visitors to greet our Canadian friend as she arrived on our shores. I was first to meet Darlene outside the National Gallery cafe and was instantly overwhelmed by her warmth; it’s wonderful to meet people you have known for so long online and find them such as lovely in person as you thought they would be. Darlene is also wonderfully glamorous; I felt quite dowdy next to her!

Mary was next to arrive – we have met many times before but I hadn’t seen her in over a year so it was lovely to catch up. The always lovely Simon then breezed in and our gathering was complete! We gorged ourselves on the delicious cakes – thanks to Jane Brocket’s post I had heard about how amazing the National Gallery’s cakes were but I didn’t expect them to be this good. They were absolutely magnificent and there was so much tempting choice that I didn’t know what to do with myself and ended up being greedy and choosing two! In for a penny!

We had such fun chatting and chatting and chatting – it felt like we always met up to do just that, and it was made even more delightful by the addition of bookish gifts – Simon had brought me Helen Thomas’ As it Was, a book I have been wanting to read since I read his review of it many moons ago, and Red Pottage by Mary Cholmondeley, a New Woman type book I have wanted to read for ages and couldn’t get hold of, so Simon kindly offered to lend me his copy. After spending plenty of time over tea and cake, we decided to show Darlene the delights of the Charing Cross Road book shops. We took her to my favourite, Any Amount of Books, where Simon smugly (joking!) said ‘Hmmm…yes, I’ve got that’ to EVERY SINGLE BOOK I picked off the shelves that I thought he might like, and I bought a very nice first edition of Elizabeth Von Arnim’s Christopher and Columbus, on Simon’s recommendation. Darlene went away with spoils that included a beautiful illustrated first edition of The Diary of A Provincial Lady that Simon found gathering dust amongst a pile of books on the floor! We perused a few more of the shops, and I picked up a little pocket hardback of Anthony Trollope’s Can You Forgive Her? which will be my first foray into Trollope and one I plan on starting next month, before heading off to Bloomsbury to join a free walking tour of Virginia Woolf’s Bloomsbury that Mary had seen advertised.

We arrived on the scene to find a huge group of Woolf fans, and after following on through Bloomsbury’s leafy and quiet squares all the way to Coram’s Fields, we decided to split from the group and go and get some more tea. We had taken in the site of the Omega Workshops and Virginia Woolf’s first Bloomsbury home, both in Fitzroy Square, and Tavistock Square, where Virginia and Leonard lived before their house was bombed during the war, so it was very interesting and it was lovely to get a bit more context about the Bloomsbury Group’s living arrangements and moves around the Bloomsbury area.

A wander down Lamb’s Conduit Street and a peep in the window at the Persephone Books book shop (it was a Sunday, so the shop was closed) followed our aborted tour, before we popped in to Bea’s of Bloomsbury for take away tea and cakes which we ate on a nearby doorstep, as Bea’s was totally crammed. Simon realised we were on the same street as E M Delafield’s wartime flat, but unfortunately I had to head off, so I left my lovely fellow bloggers to go and stand at the site of one of my favourite author’s homes while I went to catch a bus back through the streets of Bloomsbury on my way to Charing Cross.

What a wonderful day; it just goes to show that blogging really does widen your world and allows you to form friendships with lovely, fascinating people who share your interests. I just wish that Darlene didn’t live so far away! I was also sad not to get to see Claire while she was in London; unfortunately flat hunting got in the way. I hope there will be another occasion for us to meet soon!

23 comments

  1. Well, you already know what fun I had! So lovely to see you, I love your wicked sense of humour. You’re coming to Oxford soon, aren’t you? I will pass over the book Darlene got for you – if I don’t nab it myself first… Lovely write-up, thanks🙂 (And I’m looking forward to seeing what nice things Darlene will write about us! Somehow I can’t imagine she’ll be calling me glamarous… I also felt a right scruff-bag next to her.)

    1. Oh Simon you are too lovely! I am…I can’t wait!! I can’t imagine Darlene will describe us as glamorous either…overly talkative…obsessed with stopping for tea…these would probably be better descriptors!

  2. Ooh, I didn’t realise it was Peyton & Byrne cakes at the National Gallery… I may just have to pop in on my lunchbreak. The P&B cookbook is divine.

    I heard all about your lovely meet-up firsthand from Darlene; I’m very sorry I missed it.

    1. A cookbook you say?! I’m off to buy that!! If I can recreate even partially that deliciousness at home then I will be happy!

      I’m sorry I missed you! We must have tea soon!

  3. Enchanting.
    I’m enchanted – and jealous, and too old to feel guilty. What a magnificent day you all had and how sweet of you, Rachel, to share with us here. Such treasures, such finds, and such a blogging friendship you have all formed. It is delightful, isn’t it, the rewards that come from penning (or keyboarding?) one’s thoughts on a blog? Thank you for yours.

    We visited a Laura Ingalls Wilder site on Friday. It was quite interesting and I will post about it soon.

    1. Oh thank you Penny – I’m glad you enjoyed reading all about it. I really do never cease to marvel at how fulfilling blogging has been and how many wonderful doors it has opened.

      Oh Penny – fantastic! I am so jealous and I can’t wait to hear about it!!

  4. Sounds like an amazing day, and I hope you enjoy your foray into Trollope. His Barchester series, particularly Barchester Towers, is a favorite in our home. My husband and I don’t enjoy his later books quite as much because Trollope’s writing became increasingly pessimistic in his later years and we enjoy the gentle humor and wit of his earlier books. Still, can’t go wrong with Trollope in any year!

    1. Thanks Sarah – I’m looking forward to experimenting with Trollope. I can’t believe – as a self confessed Victorianist – that I’ve never picked up one of his books. I very much enjoyed a TV adaptation of The Way We Live Now some years ago though so I am pretty certain his plots and characters will appeal. I’ll keep you updated with how I get on!

  5. You should have seen me today tramping through a rain-soaked park in my wellies with a hoodie pulled over my head!

    I hope you’re ready for a reunion tour the next time I’m in town, Rachel. More books (if Simon leaves any for us) and more cake! That strange bit with the parade for a bunch of bricks will never happen again…but the rest was lovely and so are you!

    1. Darlene, nothing will convince me that you ever look less than perfect – I’ve met you now!

      Oh yes absolutely – ready whenever, wherever! I had such fun with such lovely people too! I had forgotten about that brick parade…definitely not a usual London experience!

    1. Thanks Killian – I’m really excited to getting stuck in and I suspect Trollope will become a new obsession…this is why I have put off reading him for so long as his books are so long and I know I’ll want to read them all!

    1. Thank you Sakura! I’m sorry too – it was such fun. We need to do it more often – so many of us live in London it’s a shame we’ve only done it a few times!

  6. You know, you Londoners should start up a book bloggers welcome party!🙂 I had the lovely opportunity of meeting a few bloggers when I was in town earlier in the year and, like you said, it was so lovely to find everybody as friendly as they sound on their blog. We’re quite a nice bunch, aren’t we, us book lovers?😉

    1. There’s an idea, Mae! Maybe we will!🙂 I’m so glad you got to enjoy the book blogger hospitality – I think we’re a lovely bunch indeed – what’s not to love?!😉

  7. Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful, fantastic and fun day out. Isn’t it brilliant when that happens? I like Mae’s idea, too. Meeting up with other bloggers is an excellent idea. Thanks for sharing a great day with us, Rachel.

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