My wonderful publisher Choc Lit are celebrating their 7th birthday today on the 15th June, and I thought I’d blog about something 7-related. So, here are my 7 favourite places in London, and why.
1. The Victoria & Albert Museum
A treasure trove for anyone who loves to look at beautiful and interesting artefacts, some from far-flung corners of the Earth, others just very old. When I was doing research for my swashbuckling historical romance The Highwayman’s Daughter, I spent several hours there studying clothing, furniture, jewellery, and other items relating to the 18th century, the period I was writing in. One dress, worn by the hero’s cousin, is inspired by one in the V&A collection.
2. The British Film Institute
I love the cinema, but the BFI is a slightly different cinematic experience. The films showing aren’t the new releases, and the monthly programme is often thematically put together. In the last 6 months I’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life, The Big Sleep, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Each of these different films have been a source of inspiration to me. Love the dialogue in The Big Sleep – the quips just keep coming!
3. Kew Gardens
Come rain or shine, each season has its own special beauty in Kew Gardens, and the many greenhouses their unique environments. The Palm House and the Temperate House are the 2 biggest and most famous, but there’s also the Waterlily House and the Princess of Wales House. The first is self-explanatory – it’s a big indoor pond with numerous varieties of waterlilies, but in contrast the Princess of Wales House has rooms for plants needing hot dry conditions and other rooms for moisture loving plants. Go and see the orchids growing on the bare walls!
A large compound with a lot to see, e.g. the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s Gallery, and the Cutty Sark. Greenwich and surroundings have been used in films many time, from Patriot Games and Four Weddings and a Funeral to Pirates of the Caribbean and Les Miserables. The park is the perfect place for a picnic, and if it’s overcast, there are plenty of cafés and restaurants in Greenwich itself as well as the Trafalgar Tavern on the riverfront. And travelling to Greenwich on a Thames riverboat makes it an extra special day out.
5. Royal Albert Hall
I recently attended a concert here comprised of music from science fiction films, e.g. Star Wars, Star Trek, and Space Odyssey 2001, just to mention a few, but also music with an astrological theme like The Planet Suite by Gustav Holst. The acoustics in the Royal Albert Hall isn’t perhaps the best, although experts have done a lot to improve it with weird shapes suspended from the ceiling (which incidentally look like flying saucers…) , but the stunning Victorian architecture makes up for it.
6. Heathrow Terminal 5
Am I mad, you might ask. An airport as a favourite place? Well, as airports go, it’s not too bad. There were some teething problems in the beginning (once had to wait 2 hours for my luggage), but these seem to have been ironed out. It’s used exclusively by British Airways and Iberia airlines, the building is sleek and stylish, it never feels too crowded, and they even keep you updated on how busy the security desks are. (And, no, they’re not paying me to say this!)
7. My house
2 years ago I bought a bijou 1930s cottage, and have been working at making it a home ever since. This hasn’t been too difficult – although the house was perhaps aesthetically challenged, as some might say :-), it was as if it put its arm around me the day I moved in (okay, houses don’t have arms, but go with me here…). Since then it has provided me with comfort and security, somewhere to think, to write, to be me.