A visit with Charles Dickens made the top of my list as I traveled by train from Gatwick to London. So far, the trip to Europe had exceeded anything in my crazy imagination. I brought comfy shoes and planned to walk everywhere. After recent terror attacks, I hoped it would be enjoyable and police presence wouldn’t spoil the mood. Quite the opposite happened. I discussed how Londoners fight terrorism. So very simple, isn’t it? (Adopting the English manner of speaking to get you in the mood.) Instead, the city was filled with families enjoying the day. Any sort of trepidation melted away in the London sunshine.
The Grange Wellington Hotel, chosen by the crew from the Bloggers Bash, proved to be a great location for sightseeing. Many tourist attractions were located nearby.
First stop: Buckingham Palace.
The timing couldn’t have been better. As my husband, Danny, and I approached the Palace, the Changing of the Guard began. I didn’t know they had a marching band too. Very cool! I walked by the gate and snapped a photo while security kept me moving.
I wonder what that little boy is thinking. Did toilet paper stick to my shoe?
This photo needs a caption:
St. James Park
From there, my husband and I wandered around the park. It was just as serene as the last time I visited. Yes, those are swans on the pond. Dickens must have spent some time there.
Charles (Chuck) Dickens House and Haunts
We made our way towards the Chuck Dickens Museum; his house on Doughty Street. Why Chuck instead of Charles? Because the more I know about him, the more confident I am that we would have hung out if he lived today. He was the type of friendly out-going guy who would go by the name Chuck. I mean, the guy stood on a chair when reciting passages from his books to his friends while they dined on fine cuisine rustled up by the cook two floors down. Eccentric and self-confident. How cool was he? While writing, Chuck would recite lines in the mirror. If they didn’t look right, he would rewrite them. I read passages out loud when writing novels, but I haven’t tried while looking in a mirror. Let me know if that works for you.
His Fascination with People
Another reason we would have hung out. Chuck and I have the same curiosity about all different types of people. He would walk the back alleys and talk to the indigent, homeless, and forgotten. His father spent time in debtors prison, so injustice became a running theme in his writing. I can relate to his affinity to strangers. Danny worries I’d follow just about anyone down a dark alley if I thought they were interesting in some way. Definitely! How do you think I found these guys?
Dickens published his first book, The Pickwick Papers over twenty monthly installments. This new form of storytelling became so popular, he published six more in this fashion, including Bleak House, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist. Instead of writing the book in its entirety, he would write and publish a chapter, then ask readers their opinions. He constructed the story as he went along, similar to The Martian, which was produced from blog to book to movie. Love that idea!
Did you notice Chuck’s desk is positioned away from the window? I’ve been watching birds in the feeder all morning. Oh, look at that one!
Chuck’s Old Haunts
After the enlightening tour, we searched the neighborhood for the pubs Charles frequented. I was especially inspired inside The Swan. I even wrote a short story while sitting at the corner table. I wonder if Chuck sat there.
This was my view. A perfect place to observe people and eavesdrop.
Covent Garden and Ladurée
On our way back to the hotel, we swung by Covent Garden just in time for tea. I can’t believe we don’t have tea time in the US. We’re really missing out. I wish there was a Ladurée in Boulder. A girl can dream…
Check out the slide show below! More of Dickens’ haunts and Covent Garden.
Envisioning authors like Dickens absorbing the environment and community for setting and characters in his books inspired me. Safe and full of families, a stroll in London was a great way to spend a day. We walked almost ten miles!
Is there a novelist from the past you would love to meet? Have you been to London? What were your favorite haunts? Did you think of a caption?
Click here for more posts from the Wild Ride!
Scotland: So Far, So Very Good: Photo Essay
Crossing Paths with Mary Queen of Scots: Photo Essay
Scotland’s Culloden House, Loch Ness and Barb Taub’s Arran Island: Photo Essay
Susie! These were some great journey pics! I love the dessert pics of course. Loooooove. I like the fact that you got inspired being there and absorbed the energy. It’s so cool when you go to a place like that and get jazzed up to write. I had no idea about his publishing ways via The Martian style. That’s a great story 🙂 Hope for us all 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your trip and are sharing those pics!
Thanks so much, Guat!
He invented the serial and would have been a SUPER BLOGGER! Ha! Almost every place we went gave me a different vibe to work from. The weirdest was in that pub when I started writing from a man’s POV! Ha!
I love Laudree – and Pierre Herme too if you like macaron;)
I haven’t tried Herme! Next time. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Dicken’s is one of my favorite authors as well. Don’t know if I could get any with calling him Chuck, but I’d want to hang around long enough to find out. And I’m with you on a fascination with writing a novel in installments. The blog is a great forum to pull this off.
I don’t have the skill (or discipline for it yet), but Im sure you do. I’ll be hanging around here to see if this is a future project you might dip into…
Until then, I’m happy to be able to call u Susie.
Hey, Gabe! I missed your comment!
A long time ago, I wrote flash fictions on Fridays, in fact, I coined the name, Flash Fictioneers. One of my micro stories became a 385-page thriller. At one point, I wrote a series for a few consecutive Fridays, but decided to return to standalone flash. I quit writing them when I discovered my ideas were being ripped off. I’m sure they still are through search. I am intrigued by the idea of running a serial since it would only be one story and easy to watch for copyright infringement, but I’d hate to go down that rabbit hole. We’ll see…..
I really enjoyed this post Susie. I don’t live far from London and always enjoy a day out there. Would love to follow your Charles Dicksons tour route. I’m partial to tea and cake too!
It was a fabulous day. I don’t know why we don’t have tea time here. Most are off work at 5:00. A quick trip for tea and biscuits and then revived so we aren’t falling asleep in our dinner! Is that the same time you’re off work or do workers in the UK get off earlier?
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It depends where you work Susie and what kind of job you do. Office work finishes around 5.30 shop work later. And if you are a High powered executive who knows what time you’ll finish! Tea and cake is always welcome!