Am just back from London, a visit so packed with activity that I feel quite disorientated to be back in my quiet house ...
I was staying with best friend, walking companion and Chief Plotting Advisor and on Saturday we decided on a little warm up for the Dingle Way with an 8 mile walk in Kent.
We started with a visit to Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. It’s a place we have been trying to get to for at least five years. Every time we made a plan before, there was some kind of crisis and we had to cancel, but this time we got there, it was absolutely worth the wait. It is a lovely building, smaller than I was expecting, but extraordinarily atmospheric and somehow intimate.
We ended up spending twice as long as expected going round the castle, but by then the sun had come out and we had a beautiful afternoon to walk from Hever to Leigh, across open fields, along rivers, past two more impressive castles, through peaceful churchyards, around the ancient chiding stone and into the pub at Chiddingstone for a top lunch. A very English day.
A complete contrast yesterday right in the centre of London. I started with coffee at the top of the National Portrait Gallery, with its view across Trafalgar Square to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Then lunch with my fellow authors from Mills & Boon on the RoNA Rose shortlist and our editors, followed by a trot round the corner to the RNA Awards ceremony in the grand setting of the Gladstone Library, with pink champagne and canapés and, later, chocolate mousses decorated with sparklers.
No rose bowl for me this year; the RoNA Rose award went to Sarah Mallory for her wonderful historical, The Dangerous Lord Darrington, so huge congratulations to her. Sarah was sitting on our table, so at least we were all able to bask in her reflected glow!
I always think I’m not going to know anyone at these events, but there were lots of familiar faces to kiss – here’s Jennifer Taylor, with Julie Cohen and Fiona Harper, for instance – and I got to mwah-mwah with the best of them before heading off for cocktails over the road to top off a glamorous day in suitable style.
Not so glamorous today with an early start to catch the train home, and square up to the 'to do' list once more ... looks like it's back to earth with a bump!