I was delighted to meet up with my lovely writer friend, Avril. We met through leaving messages on each other's blogs. Sitting at The English Pen Literary Cafe, we chatted about family and our writing dilemmas and successes. It's so heart-warming to talk about a passion for writing with like-minded people. My closest friend in Nottingham doesn't read for pleasure and has no desire to write. She's never asked to read any of my work even though she's proud of my achievements. So it was a delight to catch up with Avril in person. I also met my agent Juliet, who had a very hectic schedule as you can imagine. I managed to say hello inbetween her appointments, as I thought it would have been such a shame to have been in the same building and not said hello. My WIP is a second contemporary women's fiction novel called, Sugar and Spite. In Chapter 5 my protagonist, Erin, meets her best friend Libby at The Parlour Restaurant on the first floor of Fortnum and Mason on Piccadilly. (For my overseas blog visitors, it's an iconic British store which sells high quality goods.) As a sub-plot, Libby is failing to conceive and also struggling to recover from the sudden death of her brother. This in turn leads to a stupid mistake which gets her into serious trouble after leaving Erin at The Parlour. Of course I had to sample their cream tea whilst jotting down the atmosphere, decor, lay-out, smells, colours, staff......! Below is my favourite park in London - St. James's Park. It's set in Westminster and is the oldest royal park. It has two islands in its lake and the park is full of wonderful waterfowl. I love this view from the middle of the bridge over-looking the lake. The London Eye is on the right and Horse Guard's Parade on the left. It was a warm sunny day in the park, where people lounged on the soft grass eating picnics, lovers held hands, children chased ducks and joggers seemed to run with a spring in their step. No doubt the sunshine made their exercise a lot more enjoyable! A little wander in the sunshine took me to Piccadilly Circus where I found the usual chaotic hubbub. Sirens wailing, street sellers shouting, taxis and red buses vying for right of way, bustling pedestrians, cyclists' shrill bells, mobiles ringing...a far cry from peaceful St. James's Park! Circus comes from the Latin word meaning, circle. Nowadays we call it a roundabout! It's also famous for its neon signs on the side of this corner building. They say birds sing louder in the City in order to be heard. I find that sad. I imagine them with sore throats, struggling to be heard above the cacophony of the capital! I live in a small village called Car Colston in Nottingham. It doesn't have any shops, just a quaint pub called The Royal Oak. I've written about it in my first novel, Lies and Linguine. It's where my protagonist first sees the hero of my novel, whilst sipping Pimms on the village green. The birds in Car Colston have got it made! They live in the gentle buzz of the countryside, whereas the poor old Cockney Sparrows live amongst the deafening roar of the metropolis. The photograph above is of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is the nickname for the bell of the clock and it's the largest four-faced clock in the world. (sorry for sounding like a history teacher, but you never know when you'll be invited on to Mastermind!) The London Eye is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe. It makes an appearance in my second novel, Sugar and Spite. I find it so much easier to write about places I've been to. Even better, to make notes whilst actually visiting a place. Touching the surroundings, smelling the street life and feeling the atmosphere help to evoke a clearer picture when I'm back at home telling the story with my fingertips. I visited Amsterdam's Red Light District for that very reason! My antagonist in Lies and Linguine made a terrible mistake whilst on a stag weekend there; but that's another story.... Buckingham Palace - the home of the British monarchy. It's going to be a very busy place on 29th April 2011. Congratulations William and Catherine. It's a shame all the glorious daffodils and tulips will have died away by then.
I always pop into Harrods in Knightsbridge. I might shun Topshop for The London Book Fair, but with over one million square feet of shopping space, a girl can't say no! I treated myself to a bottle of Jo Malone's Pommegrante Noir perfume as I'd run out. The only celebrity I saw was Joe Pasquali who coughed as he passed me! I had to smile because even his cough is squeaky! And so another year's book fair is over. I look back to when I visited last year and think of my achievements. My lovely agent Juliet Burton is now representing me and Lies and Linguine, I've joined a second writing group, I've been invited onto the committee of Nottingham Writers' Club, I've read my work in public, I have three trophies in my writing room for my novel, poetry and a YA story and I'm about to join The Walk's Book Club. I've also accumulated even more notebooks to add to my bulging collection. It's just a shame that they're all too pretty to write in!
To see Avril's blog, visit http://www.onthewhitepage.com/