Tag Archive | Planning My London Adventure

Susana’s 2015 English Adventure: Week 1

eastbourne map

For the first three days, Squidgeworth and I were the guests of Jay Dixon, a friend of mine who lives in Eastbourne. She was kind enough to take us around to visit some historical places of interest in the area, including the Redoubt Fortress, a quaint little town called Alfriston, Firle Place, and Chartwell.

Unfortunately, I could not get my laptop to work with her Wifi system, so I had to go cold turkey from the Internet, which was instrumental later on when I arrived in London at my rental flat. It turns out that the previous renters of the flat I was scheduled for had trashed the place, and the company had switched me to another one, but I didn’t get the message because of my Internet blackout. It was a bit harrowing at first, but I was delighted that the flat they switched me to was the one I stayed in last year, near Baker Street, so I already knew the ropes. (I wanted this one, but at the time I was booking, it was already taken. There must have been a cancellation.)

Squidgeworth makes himself at home at our rental flat near Baker Street

Squidgeworth makes himself at home at our rental flat near Baker Street

Eastbourne: The Redoubt

The Redoubt is a circular military fortress that was built in 1804 when it was rumored that Napoleon had plans to invade England.



The Village of Alfriston

On Thursday we visited this quaint little village not far from Eastbourne. In addition to the historic buildings, a highlight was St. Andrew’s Church. The Clergy House was the first property purchased by the National Trust. Unfortunately, it was closed, but I did get photos of the outside.

The Clergy House

The Clergy House

St. Andrew's Church & Cemetery, Alfriston

St. Andrew’s Church & Cemetery, Alfriston



The George Inn, Alfriston


The Star Inn, Alfriston

The Star Inn, Alfriston


Squidge at a The Apiary Café in Alfriston

Squidge at a The Apiary Café in Alfriston


Firle Place

Firle Place is the family seat of the Gages, the current owner being Nicholas Gage, the 8th Viscount Gage. The manor house has been in the family for over 500 years, and the estate includes a village among its 6000 acres of land. Sir John Gage was the executor of Henry VIII’s will. General Thomas Gage was at one time commander-in-chief of the British Army during the American Revolution, but was replaced after the disaster of Bunker Hill.

Squidgeworth at Firle Place

Squidgeworth at Firle Place


Firle Place

Firle Place



Chartwell, in Kent, was the principal residence of Winston Churchill, in his adult life. Henry VIII is believed to have stayed here during his courtship of Anne Boleyn, who lived at nearby Hever Castle.

The Churchills extensively renovated the house and gardens. Winston actually became a licensed brick layer and was noted for his wall building.




Squidgeworth at Chartwell

Squidgeworth at Chartwell


The Victoria & Albert Museum

A visit to the V & A is a must for every trip to London. On this trip, my focus was Vauxhall, as the Handel statue is here, as well as three of the supper-box paintings. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get good photos of the paintings and other pictures due to the darkness of the room (which is true of many other things I tried to photograph). No doubt the low light is an attempt to preserve the aged items as long as possible. But I did get a good photo of the Handel statue, with Squidgeworth getting in on the action, as usual.

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

Squidgeworth and the Handel statue that used to sit in Vauxhall Gardens

My Vauxhall Gardens board on Pinterest is a work in progress, but you can see there two videos about Vauxhall Gardens, one of which I photographed at the V & A and another I found on YouTube. I’ll be adding more photos as I find the time.

Susana’s Vauxhall Gardens Pinterest Board

Coach at the V

Coach at the V & A Museum


Painted silk gown

Painted silk gown at the V & A Museum

Susana’s 2015 English Adventure: Introducing Squidgeworth



Tomorrow afternoon, Susana will be on her way across the pond to London for her 2015 English adventure. This time, however, she won’t be traveling alone. Her dear friend Squidgeworth, who turned chartreuse with envy when his cousin Squidge got to travel there with Ki Pha earlier this year, will be accompanying her on the trip and posing for photos along the way. Squidgeworth and his cousin appear identical—as indeed does every member of the Squidge family—but the Squidgeworths are the aristocratic blue-bloods of the family. He was quite indignant that his commoner cousin got to visit the land of their ancestors before he did. He got over his fit of pique when Susana explained that she was going later this year because she wanted to visit when Buckingham Palace was open to the public. Squidge, after all, didn’t get to go there.

So… where else are Squidgeworth and Susana going this year?


A dear friend invited them to stay a few days in Eastbourne, where they will be visiting Firle Place and/or the Glynde Estate, Chartwell, visiting the quaint village of Alfriston, and Quebec House. They will also be taking in a play called Flare Path.


From there, they will travel to London, where they will be residing in a rented flat near London Bridge. There are always plenty of things to see in or near London, and some of the places on this year’s list include:

  • Buckingham Palace (of course)
  • Osterley Park
  • Kenwood
  • Ham House
  • The White Hart, St. Albans
  • Marble Hill
  • The Foundling Museum
  • The Victoria & Albert Museum: specifically, the Vauxhall exhibit, with the Handel statue and supper-box paintings.


Day Trips from London

  • Petworth, West Sussex
  • Waddesdon Manor
  • Hatfield House, Hertfordshire
  • Burghley House, Lincolnshire
  • Bateman’s House, East Sussex
  • The Bell Inn, Stilton
  • Lyme Park, Cheshire
  • Greenway, Devon
  • Charlecote, Warwickshire
  • Arundel Castle, West Sussex

Overnight Stays

Bath and Devizes

The Bear Hotel

The Bear Hotel

In Devizes, Susana and Squidgeworth will be staying at the historic Bear Inn, which featured in Susana’s Coaching Days & Coaching Ways blog series. Then they will spend two days in Bath, visiting some of the sights that figure in Susana’s story, The Third MacPherson Sister, from the Sweet Summer Kisses box set.


Following that, S & S will be heading north for two nights in York, where they will be paying visits to Harewood, Castle Howard, and Haworth, as well as enjoying the lovely city itself.


England’s Stately Homes By Train

Neither Susana nor Squidgeworth is interested in driving in England, so Cheryl Bolen’s book, English Stately Homes By Train, has been very helpful in planning the trip. Susana used the print version for planning and will take the digital version on her iPad for the trip.

Follow S & S on their wanderings

Squidgeworth will be appearing regularly on Susana’s Facebook Page, and photos will be downloaded to Pinterest as well. Highlights of the week will appear on Mondays on this blog. Please keep in touch so they don’t get too homesick!

À bientôt

Susana & Squidgeworth

Planning My London Adventure, Part II

My previous visits to London having been far too short, this year I took the plunge and rented a flat for a month in late spring. Not cheap, but far cheaper than staying in a hotel, and it’s centrally located, near many of the sites I plan to visit. My aim is to write in the morning—as I do now—and visit in the afternoons. Since my intention is to include as much as I can in that month, I’m keeping a spreadsheet of information about places I want to visit, including those farther afield, like Leeds Castle and Chatsworth. I thought perhaps some of my readers might be interested in some of the resources I’ve discovered.

Scenes of Iconic British Estates

iconic estates

While each featured estate’s remarkable beauty is noteworthy, it’s the hidden stories within the homes that set them apart.

Do you have Amazon Prime? If so, you should be able to watch this wonderful series by PBS. The first season consists of fascinating tales and footage about three prominent British estates. I’ve been to Hampton Court, and plan to take in Chatsworth this year if I can.

Secrets of Henry VIII’s Palace, Hampton Court

A Tudor palace built by the infamous Henry VIII together with a European-style baroque palace built by William III. There are plenty of secrets here with Henry VIII alone. The last king to live here was George II. Magnificent gardens with yew trees and and a fabulous maze.The kitchens alone are worth the price of admission, as Henry loved his food and he also had to feed about a thousand others.

Secrets of Althorp: The Spencers

Althorp is the country estate of the Spencer family. The late Princess Diana grew up here after her father became Earl Spencer. Her brother Charles is the current Earl. She is buried on the grounds here.

Like most of the British aristocratic families, the Spencers of Althorp and the Cavendishes of Chatsworth are related. The infamous Georgiana Cavendish was the daughter of the 1st Earl Spencer, who was the great-grandson of the 1st Duke of Marlborough.

Note: Be sure to visit Spencer House, on St. James Place in London. Tours on Sundays only.



Secrets of Chatsworth

I’ve read quite a bit about Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, but didn’t know that much about the rest of this majestic home’s history. Apparently, the estate was so large (one-fifth the size of Rhode Island) that even after Georgiana’s (pronounced George-ayna) heavy gambling debts were paid after her death, there was still enough money for her son, the Bachelor Duke, to spend millions renovating the grounds.


Adele and Fred Astaire

Did you know that Fred Astaire had a sister named Adele who was his dancing partner for 27 years? She married Charles Cavendish, the second son of the 9th Duke of Devonshire. After their marriage, she was called Lady Charles Cavendish, or Lady Charles.

PC 309 (crop)

Kathleen Kennedy

Did you know that Kathleen Kennedy, sister of John F., Robert, Teddy, etc. married the eldest son of the 10th Duke of Devonshire, and bore the title Marchioness of Hartington? Unfortunately, he died weeks later in WWII, and she was killed in a plane crash four years later. She is buried in the Cavendish family plot near Chatsworth.

chatsworth grounds


I also discovered that the BBC aired a three-episode documentary on Chatsworth in 2011, but the programs are not currently available. Bummer!

Chatsworth website

¡Breaking News!

I just booked a room at the Devonshire Arms on the Chatsworth estate for my birthday! A steal at 99 pounds! Do I know how far it is from the main buildings or the train station. Nope! But I guess there must be some sort of transportation. Not sure I want to try driving in England, on the left side of the road, but hey, I’ll do whatever I have to to get there!

devonshire arms

The Devonshire Arms at Beeley

Frommer’s Memorable Walks in London

I’ve also been reading this 2006 book, which is unfortunately no longer in print. I guess they figured out Americans don’t want to walk as much as all that. But you can still get a used copy on Amazon—mine cost one cent plus the $3.99 shipping, for a total of $4.00. The walks here are a bit longer (up to three hours) than in Louise Allen’s book, and as you might expect, the two books do overlap. The historical information is priceless. Checking the current hours online or in a more current book is a must, however. Tours included are:

  • frommersThe City
  • Dickens’s London
  • A Historic Pub Walk
  • Westminster & Whitehall
  • St. James
  • The East End
  • Clerkenwell
  • Bloomsbury
  • Soho
  • Chelsea
  • Hampstead

What resources have you found helpful in planning your trips to England? Please share!

Planning My London Adventure: Part I

As a longtime reader of historical romances set in London, I’ve picked up bits and pieces of the city over the years. Names like Astley’s Amphitheatre, the British Museum, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Carlton House, and Covent Garden are as familiar to me as my own house. Of course, I’ve never actually seen them—most of them no longer exist, or if they do, they do not bear much resemblance to the places my Regency heroines would have visited. And since my previous visits to London have been of short duration—no more than four or five days at a time—it was impossible to do much more than visit a few museums and places that do exist

But this year, I decided to go all out and rent a flat in the center of London for a whole month! I had to draw a few deep breaths before hitting “Pay now”—a flat on Baker Street during the tourist season carries what I consider an astronomical price—but it is considerably cheaper than the Sherlock Holmes Hotel where I have stayed in the post, and I am familiar with the neighborhood.

However, since I am paying through the nose for this fabulous trip of a lifetime, I’m determined to have a detailed plan of places to visit while I’m there. I’ve purchased several travel guides and researched online, and I thought I’d share my thoughts with you, in case you too get to travel to London at some point in the future.

Daily Schedule

First of all, I’m definitely not going to spend my entire day visiting one sight after another. My back won’t take it, and when I’m in pain, I get cranky. No way do I want to spend a month in London being cranky. Not to mention that I want to be able to get some writing done while I can still feel the magic of the past. (Yes, I will take my noise-canceling headphones with me!)

So the plan is to write in the morning and do my touristy stuff in the afternoon. Of course, I’m planning some trips afield, like to Leeds Castle, which features in my current WIP, but for the most part I’ll be doing my visiting in the afternoons.

The Plan

In future posts, I’ll share some of the places I’ve noted on my spreadsheet, and I hope some of you will share your favorite “must-see” places as well. I’d rather have too many places on my list to choose from than not enough. This won’t be my last trip, but I want to make sure I make good use of the time I have.

Walking Jane Austen’s London: A Tour Guide For the Modern Traveller


AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo

Louise Allen’s book comes in print as well as Kindle. I bought both. My original intention was to leave the print book at home and use the Kindle edition on my iPad mini while there, but I’m reconsidering. The iPad is slippery and the screen is hard to read in the glare of the sun, and I’m always bumping something accidentally and losing my place. The print book isn’t heavy, so I might just have to save on suitcase weight some other way. [Sigh]

The book offers eight walks through various parts of London, designating places of interest to Regency era fans. Many of these are mentioned in Jane Austen’s writings, as places visited by herself and/or her characters. The book is chock-full of images from drawings or paintings, so even if the actual building no longer exists or has significantly changed, you can look at the picture and imagine what it used to be like in the early 19th century. Priceless!

front door

Beau Brummell’s front door on Chesterfield Street

I feel like I know London so much better by just reading the book! Imagine how exciting it will be to actually be there!

Have you tried some of these Jane Austen walks yourself? What are some must-see places I can put on my spreadsheet?