That damp English crimate

Thursday I set off for London…in the rain.  I got to London in the rain, wrangled my wheelie up many steps from Paddington (the tube side) and sploshed to my hotel, checked in, dried out, then crossed London in the rain to have tea with Val McDermid, whom I haven’t seen in far, far too long.  After her publicist came to whisk her away, I zipped and snapped up my raincoat, unfurled my umbrella, and set off across Trafalgar Square to the Liberals’ Club (yes, still raining) to join the London Sherlockians for an evening of hearty fare, merry conviviality, and silly games.  (What, those last two are not things you immediately associate with Sherlock Holmes?)

Friday I checked out of my very expensive and apparently unheated hotel (the weather had been lovely and warm the day before, admittedly. Still, you’d think a British hotel would be more suspicious.) to attempt a penetration of the Paddington (the train side)’s defences.  Finding an entrance on the third try, through the bar of the Hilton, I daringly by-passed the ticket queue, fully expecting a lengthy argument with the machinery, but the purchase of a ticket went seamlessly, and I was soon on the Bristol train watching London fade and the countryside begin.

(Amusingly, I recently loaded Peter Dickinson’s Changes trilogy onto my Nook, and have been dipping with such pleasure into his evocative picture of an idyllic summer England.)

Field from trainMore tomorrow–I now have to bundle back into my raincoat and venture into Oxford… although since the visit includes both Blackwells and the Bodleian, it’s no hardship.


  1. Merrily Taylor on May 18, 2015 at 5:29 am

    That all sounds delightfully if damply English, Laurie. You mean you and Val only had tea, no fortifying and warming Scotch? Too early in the day perhaps…
    Love the picture of that beautiful green countryside. I think all the rain is worth it.
    Continuing enjoying!

  2. Deborah on May 18, 2015 at 9:10 am

    It would be fun to see a map with little trail lines of all your travels.

  3. Mary on May 18, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Rain (even English rain) is only romantic when you don’t have to go out in it. Am headed for London in July, then York, then Dundee, which is the wettest and chilliest spot in the UK. Worth it, however, to see daughter and granddaughters…

  4. Frances on May 18, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    The one time I was in England in 1953, they were having a heat wave, with 80-degree temps everywhere we stayed. Until the last day in Manchester, which was thoroughly enveloped in a thick,wet, gray fug. My mother had been born in England and lived there until age 14, so she took me (age 15) and my sister (age 11) back to see siblings she had not seen since. And I fell in love with England and did not want to come home. I could maybe have stayed, as my mum had (without my knowledge) made an appointment for me for an audition with then Sadlers Wells Ballet School, now the Royal Ballet School. I would have lived with my aunt in Oxford. I was too shy to go to the audition, and terrified I was “not good enough” and would be told so. I often think about how different my life might have been had I auditioned and been accepted. Just reminiscing. Love your travel stories. Not to mention all of your other stories!

  5. Laraine on May 18, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Your description of zipping, snapping, raising umbrella . . . reversing the process, drying out . . . repeating, is SO much my experience of many days in England, Scotland and Wales, Laurie. I had no idea how rare the beautiful sunny ‘summer’ days I experienced in London in early August ’86 really were. But, would I go back and do it again? Yes. With better shoes. With boots. With a sturdier umbrella. 🙂

  6. Chris on May 19, 2015 at 3:14 am

    That old saying ‘you should have been here yesterday’ springs to mind! Even up in Scotland we had the driest winter on record, and now the wettest May in ages. It’s a new sport – shower-dodging!

Leave a Comment