Friends of Russell, on the road
Two of the long-time Friends of Russell are on a tour of the British Isles, and have sent messages and photos (and, I admit, have assisted Russell herself in the posting of Twitter photos.) Please click on each photo below to enlarge. Here’s Alice:
Two Devoted Fans Russellian Pilgrimage
The Adventures of Alice and Merrily — Part I
Being asked to contribute a “fan” blog piece…or two..by your favorite author is a bit daunting, but who can turn down the opportunity? If I didn’t “give it a go” as the Brits say, I would be kicking myself from one side of England to another, as I am currently in the U.K. doing a sort of Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes tour with my good friend Merrily.
We flew to London on June 6th and spent a few days and a few pounds in London. Staying at the Sherlock Holmes Hotel just a few blocks from the Sherlock Holmes Museum and shop can put a dent in your pocketbook. We were just trying to spur on the economy – honestly.
This trip (we were here in 2007 and spent most of our time in London) we have focused on places and towns that have significance in the Russell Books. London is lovely, but Oxford, and Sussex are more what the Russellian craves and of course Dartmoor has the double pleasure of being in Canon and Kanon (the Doyle stories and the Russell books).
It rained the entire time we were in London, no big surprise there, if you have ever traveled to the U.K. you know it will rain. Imagine our surprise when we picked up the rental car and it was not raining, just threatening. In fact the entire drive was dry all the way to Blenheim Palace, not far from Oxford and a must see if only for the reason it was the birthplace of Winston Churchill.
It was, of course, now raining as we pointed the nose of the car toward Oxford, and it was getting late in the day. My first impression of Oxford was how small it was, a compact city with many streets, more impressive buildings than any city has a right to, and students, lots and lots of students on foot and on bicycles. There were bicycles darting every which way, making it quite the adventure to try to follow the directions of our navigation system (affectionately called Phillida by us, for her upper crust accent), watch the road, remembering to drive on the left and not crash into the Martyrs Monument conveniently located where several streets come together and just where we needed to turn right across several lanes of heavy traffic to pull in front of our hotel. It took our going around the block, which isn’t actually around the block, as none of the streets go straight, they curve, dead end, and even loop back on themselves, before we could try that turn and gratefully surrender the automobile over to the door man. You do not want to drive in Oxford, walk, even if it is pouring rain as it did the next day the entire time we were out experiencing the town, walk. After negotiating the wet and student filled streets we had to reward ourselves with a drink in the bar (aptly named The Morse Bar).
One sight that fascinated us, as Americans, was all the students walking about in short black gowns, which are worn for examinations; the ones in white tie were, we were told, taking their first exams. We saw them scurrying on the streets in the early morning, obviously on their way to exams, and then coming back, carrying or wearing flowers and often, bottles of champagne. Clearly in Oxford they know how to do final examinations “right”!
Oh, and if you are a fan of the Inspector Morse series, Oxford is a double treat, it is not only Russell’s second home, but the site of many, many locations for the TV series starring John Thaw. As we were walking through a quad at the back of the Sheldonian our guide, one of the librarians from the Bodelian, casually said, “Yes, there was a body in one of the Morse episodes just there, shot from one of the upper windows of the Bodley. Quite exciting.” (And yes, it was the episode with the obnoxious opera singer.)
Next, a walk through the Bodley.