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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Week 1: Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain

Can I help it if I have an over active imagination? If I’m not being bombarded by story lines outside the manuscript I’m supposed to be working on, I’m daydreaming about the places I write about. Fantasizing about winning the lottery (with imaginary ticket), packing up my family, and moving to the UK would be bliss (except maybe during winter).

You see the longer I write and research regency England the more I want to travel. The bonus for me is my DH wants to come with me so I’ve got no obstacles bar winning that pesky lottery. (Must rush out and buy that ticket)

We think, DH and I, that a six month sojourn to our ancestors birthplace would be a lot of fun. So far I’ve corrupted him into watching Time Team, National Trust: National Treasure, Antiques Roadshow, and any BBC produced documentary that I find. Even our youngest boy is keen on the move – although might have something to do with the delusion he’s under that he might acquire *awesome stuff* from an obscenely large lottery win.

Apparently we can’t work in the UK even if we wanted to—there goes our plan to polish the Queen’s silver. Our ages are apparently the issue, so we’ll just have to spend all our time sightseeing! How bad is that?? LOL. Good thing I can write anywhere.

Although I quite like the idea of staying in quaint little pubs and inns, my husband has the idea to put us in a campervan of some description for some of the time. We could become gypsies while we travel the wilds of the English countryside—let’s hope we don’t become permanently lost. But that got me thinking that I should probably start to plan where we’d actually want to go on this six odd month odyssey of ours. So that’s what I’m going to blog about for a while.

After the twenty-three hour flight from Sydney, spending a few nights at a hotel near Heathrow recovering from jet lag seems like a very good idea. Then once we’re relatively lucid again the plan is to gather all our pounds and pence and head south in the general direction of Brighton.

First Stop – Ham House

Ham House, in Richmond, Surrey, is a 400 year old stately home built along the southern bank of the river Thames and a short 30 minute drive from Heathrow Airport. Ham boasts opulent rooms, priceless paintings, porcelain and furniture, and a glimpse of 17th Century courtly life. Once home to Sir Thomas Vavasour, Knight Marshall to King James I, the property passed through various hands, including the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale, until 1948 when it entered the care of the National Trust.

One interesting fact I discovered was that Ham House was the first home in Britain during the 1670’s to have sash windows installed (Good to know if you write Georgian or Regency set novels). Because of its beauty and relatively unchanged interiors the house has appeared frequently on film—the 2007 BBC television adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (in which it played Cleveland), and in the films To Kill a King and Spice World, and also the movie The Young Victoria (where it doubled as Kensington Palace).

When the trust took over management the gardens still boasted the skeleton structure of the 17th Century gardens and those have been restored beautifully. Given the opulence and care previous owners placed on furnishing Ham, it is not surprising that it was a popular social center—guests traveled by river craft often since the roads were so bad.

From today’s research I must remember to look carefully at:

* The paintings on the Great Staircase
* The cabinet pictures and miniatures of the Green Closet
* The Duchess’ bathroom – it dates back to 1677 (Yes, the duchess was ahead of her time – she bathed!)
* Walk beneath the hornbeam arch—a beautiful living tunnel

Ham House and its gardens are open to visitors between March and November. If you’re thinking of dropping in, be sure to check the National Trust website for specifics before you go.


Have you visited or plan to visit England? DH and I would love to hear your recommendations for places to visit. We don’t want to miss a thing on our wishful thinking tour.

Heather Boyd
~Lady Wicked


  1. If you're going, we're coming with you. My family often dream the same dream, how wonderful would it be to just DO IT! And now, Ham house will definitely be on my wish list too. Can't wait to visit your next pit-stop.
    Tam :)

  2. I would love to visit England and there is so much I want to see that I wouldn't know where to start. Maybe is should let you plan my trip.

  3. Hey Tamara - I suppose since this imaginary lottery win is obsencely large we can take your family along too. The more the merrier. :D

    Amy - The second week of the wishful thinking tour will be on my personal blog next Tuesday (heatherboyd.blogspot.com) then week three will post back here again, and so forth. We're both really exited about the tour - even if its imaginary :D

  4. What a FANTASTIC idea for a series of blog posts! There are so many fabulous places I would like to go in my next visit.

    However, a place not to be missed is actually a more modern attraction. Last time in London, my hubby and I visited the Cabinet War Rooms...my goodness, so amazing. It is basically the underground bunker from which Churchill et al ran WWII. They lived, worked, etc. down there under Parliament for quite some time. Apparently, after war was over, they shut the lights off and went back home to their families and no one went back in there until 1984. Everything is as it was... Should NOT be missed, and be sure to take extra time to listen to the entire audio tour.

  5. Hi Heather - You know when we were talking about this imaginary tour I was only thinking of pre 1900's stuff, but DH would love a trip to the Cabinet War Rooms!! We are not visiting London until later in the tour, but I have bookmarked the site (http://cwr.iwm.org.uk/) for later reference. Thanks!

  6. Heather,

    I have never been to England, but I would love to go. My husband and I went to Italy six years ago, and we said we would go to England the next year. Instead, we had a baby. I really want to see the place I've been writing about for the last several years!

  7. Heather -

    You are making me miss England SOOOOO much! I have to get back there. I haven't been to Ham House and now it's on my list. What's next?

  8. I like this--it's like window shopping. :)

    I have been to England once, a LONG long time ago, and I really want to go back. I might have to dig my pictures out so I can relive the experience. . .until I can travel there again. :)

  9. Julie - I've heard having kids gets in the way of travel plans. LOL For me, I only recently got the urge to travel and I cannot wait to take my youngest with us to England. He's a curious boy.

    Lydia - I'm so jealous you've been to England. :) What's next - more of Surrey.

    Donna - Do you have a blog? If so please, please post them so I can see. :)