Week 3: Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain

One thing the recent news has convinced me of is that when we do go to Britain we should try to avoid traveling anywhere during the Christmas season, and I will be packing the best thermal underwear I can find. That last is not terribly sexy. However, I think it far preferable to freezing to death if we’re unfortunate enough to be stuck anywhere during bad weather. England might look pretty in white but I’d like to keep a healthy glow about me.

Something new I discovered this past week—I’d probably forgotten it as soon as I heard it the first time— is that England is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games between 27 July to 12 August 2012. Depending on your level of enthusisasm this either good or bad. My husband will be in heaven if we were in England for it. Me—I’ll suffer through some events with a fair amount of sullen silence. LOL. I’m not really the sporty type, yet there is such a wonderful atmosphere at any Olymic Games that you just have to go.

This week we’re moving further east into West Sussex.

First stop: Petworth House and Park
~ Petworth, West Sussex
~ 12 miles—25 minutes from our last stop at Oakhurst Cottage near Hambledon, Surrey.

Petworth House is a magnificent late 17th century mansion set in a 700 acre deer park landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown and immortalised in Turner’s paintings. It houses a collection of pictures in the care of The National Trust with numerous works by Turner, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Blake. The state rooms also have a large collection of sculpture, furniture, Chinese porcelain and carvings by Grinling Gibbons. The Servants’ Quarters contain Victorian kitchens that include a 1000 piece copper Batterie de Cuisine.

The house is open March through to November, the Pleasure grounds February to December – Saturday till Wednesday. For specific opening hours go to the National Trust website . On weekdays additional rooms in the house are open by kind permission of Lord and Lady Egremont so be sure to check when.

Arundel Castle
~ Arundel, West Sussex
~ 12 miles—25 minutes—from Petworth House and Park

I could not let another week go by without setting foot inside a castle. Arundel Castle was built at the end of the 11th century by Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel. The seat of The Dukes of Norfolk and set in 40 acres of sweeping grounds and gardens, Arundel Castle has been open to visitors seasonally for nearly 200 years.

Arundel has a fascinating history.  Apart from the occasional reversion to the Crown, Arundel Castle has descended directly from 1138 to the present day, carried by female heiresses from the d’Albinis to the Fitzalans in the 13th century and then from the Fitzalans to the Howards in the 16th century and it has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 850 years. Wow. All that family in one place.

The Howard’s were at the forefront of English history, from the Wars of the Roses to the Civil War. It makes me want to bury my head in the family genealogy again just to see if there is a connection. There are even personal possessions belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots on display.

Unfortunately, photography isn’t permitted within the castle itself, but if you’re able to climb the 131 steps up the Keep there are views of the River Arun, the sea and district that are reputed to be worth the effort. A shame about the photography – I would have liked a picture with a suit of armour.  

The castle is open late April to October, Tuesday to Sunday. Guided tours available on request. Go to the Arundel Castle website  for visiting hours.

 Last stop: Seattle Hotel on the waterfront at Brighton Marina.
~ Brighton, East Sussex
~ 27 miles—47 minutes—from Arundel Castle

Oops, we’ve slipped over into East Sussex, but this stop is a surprise for my husband because after three weeks of inland trekking he’ll be missing his usual water views and the sounds of both sail and motor boats. (If I say he’s a fanatic that’s putting it mildly). The Seattle is a no pets but friendly to children kind of place but really we’re just here for the sea views of the English Channel and pretty, shiny, boaty things. My husband will cringe at that description, but I just can’t tell the difference between one boat motor and the next simply by listening to them rumble. LOL

Brighton boasts the The Royal Pavilion, the famous seaside palace of King George IV. The Pavilion is just a short walk along the beach, turn right at Brighton Pier so that’s where we’re headed next week. Until next time.

If you missed any of the previous weeks go here for week 1 and here for week 2.

Merry Christmas

It’s the eve before Christmas Eve and all through the house … Heather is running about in a mad panic because she has 14 guests expected on Christmas Day for dinner and isn’t quite as ready as she should be. LOL.

SoMerry Christmas!!! Drive safe, be Merry, and enjoy your festivities as much as humanly possible. 

See you all next Tuesday for the next installment of The Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain.

Week 2: Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain

Last week I blogged at the LadyScribes about our ambitious plan to win the lottery and tour Britain. The first stop after landing at Heathrow and letting jetlag have it’s way with me was a visit to Ham House. This week we’re still in Surrey.

I have to say planning to spend a year in Britain might sound like fun, but it is hard work working out the details. There are so many places in one county to choose from that deciding where to go next is a challenge. I really must thank my iPad for help with directions and distances for these blogs. The map feature is outstanding. It gives me distances and times based on my mode of transport. And also displays the route to get there. (Note to self: do NOT forget the iPad – I can get lost in a teacup)

First stop: Clandon Park
~ West Clandon, nr Guildford, Surrey
~ 25 miles—50 minutes from our last stop of Ham House.

Clandon Park was rebuilt around 1730-33 by Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni for the 2nd Lord Onslow into a Palladian mansion. Clandon, currently under the care of the National Trust, boasts a gorgeous two story Marble Hall, a Grotto (I’m desperate to see a grotto), a Maori meeting house, and sunken Dutch gardens. From my reading the house is supposed to boast the Meissen collection of Italian Comedy Figures and also house the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment Museum. But if I were you I would go to www.clandonpark.co.uk and take the virtual tour today. While the outside virtual 360 degree tour is excellent, the tours of the Marble Hall and The Tapestry Room is to die for. DO NOT FORGET TO LOOK UP AT THE CEILINGS! It could almost be as good as being there!

The house and garden is open mid March to October (but not every day of the week) as is the Queen’s Royal Surrey Regiment Museum. For specific opening hours go to the National Trust website. Clandon Park is also a wedding and function venue so if you’re lucky, and you love weddings, you might get to see a bride too!

 Shalford Mill
~ Shalford, near Guildford, Surrey
~ Five miles—15 minutes—from Clandon Park

Shalford Mill is a large timber-framed watermill on the River Tillingbourne dating back to the 18th Century.  The present timber-framed building, built around 1750, originally housed two separate mills. The eastern half of the mill ceased operation in the 19th Century and is used for residential purposes. But the western half operated as a mill until 1914 and is open to the public since its features are almost unaltered since that time.

The mill is open late March to October two days a week. Visit the National Trust for visiting hours. Guided tours are available by arrangement.

Last stop:Oakhurst Cottage
~ Hambledon, Godalming, Surrey
~ Under a mile from Shalford Mill

A small half-timbered house built in the 16th century, Oakhurst has been refurbished by the National Trust as a farm laborers dwelling with displays relating to four centuries of occupation. The gardens are filled with plants popular during the Victorian era.

The cottage is open from late March to late October a few days a week. For specific’s go to the National Trust website for visiting hours.


That certainly isn’t all there is to see in Surrey, there were so many great places to visit. Next week we’re off to explore West Sussex country. However, right now I’m off to purchase this week’s lottery ticket to make our wishful thinking tour of Britain a reality. Fingers, toes and eyes crossed! Although that last one makes it hard to find the publish button. Cheers!

Promo Tip: 3 Rules to Better Tweets

As I mentioned last week, Twitter is my favourite social networking site. But building a solid social network is a marathon adventure, not a sprint. You’ll burn out trying to do everything at once.

So what can and should a newbie author do with Twitter? 

1. Be nice. You attract followers who like the way you sound. If you tweet about every bad mood, social disaster or catastrophe in your life you run the risk of alienating the very people you’re trying to impress. Keep your tweets professional and friendly at all times. Take your bad mood out on your voodoo dolls or a punch bag. 

->Publishers, editors, and agents use Twitter. If you have submitted a project in the hopes of publication don’t ruin your chances with rants. They do look you up. 

2. Talk about your work/book a little. Some tweeters get a bit spammy over time. The point of twitter is to interact in real time with people with similar interests. I don’t know about you but I have no interest in following someone who says ‘buy my book’ fifteen times a day.

–> Facebook, Blogspot, and WordPress can be linked to Twitter, but be careful of message duplication (more on linking social networking sites later)

3. Pass along good information. The retweet button on twitter is probably the worst used feature. You could theoretically retweet every link that comes into your twitter stream but before you do think about the people that follow you. What you retweet they see. I have had 20 consecutive tweets from one person and all had links to follow. Do you believe anyone has the time for all of that? No, of course not. But one or two I would explore.

—>Use URL shorteners like ShrinkThisLink when adding website links to your twitter messages, and be sure to post a description of what the link is about. No one likes to follow a link blindly.

The point I’m trying to make about twitter is that your participation should not become spam to others. Keep it real, and make sure you leave time to write.

Week 1: Wishful Thinking Tour of Britain

I’m blogging over at the Lady Scribes blog today-but here’s a sneak peak …

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

click here to see the whole post.