Tag Archives: travel

Historical Romance Brought to Life

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to London. In three and a half days, I squeezed in sight-seeing all around the city, plus trips to the Cotswolds, Bath, and Stonehenge. Suffice to say, my Fitbit got quite the workout!

Those of you who have been following this blog (or, more particularly, my Goodreads reviews) know of my love for historical romance. Well, this trip made me feel as if I’d stepped into the pages of some of my favorite books. Best of all, the settings exceeded my imagination (no easy feat).

For example, take Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, and also the family estate of the 12th Duke of Marlborough (and his ancestors).

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire

I imagine this might be something like the Duke of Bewcastle’s grand estate (from Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous). By the way, that’s still one of my favorite books. And yes, this was actually one family’s home. The current Duke still keeps apartments there, although obviously it is open to touring as well. This is where he and his family still celebrate Christmas dinner!IMG_7610

Then we have Windsor Castle, which is where the Queen sometimes lives, and is also home to St. George’s Chapel (where Henry. How many historicals mention the King’s court and St. George’s? Many! It was beyond exciting to be there.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle

I also toured the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are kept.

Tower of London

Tower of London

Sadly, we weren’t permitted to take photos of those, but those crowns had jewels as big as lumps of coal. This is also the place where many executions occurred, including Anne Boleyn. It was haunting to read the dozens of etched texts left by past prisoners.

Prisoner's inscription

Prisoner’s inscription

This one was my favorite. In case you can’t read it, it reads: Wise men ought circumspectly to see what they do, to examine before they speake, to prove before they take in hand, to beware whose company they use and, above all things, to whom they trust.

The history is phenomenal.

I strolled down “Rotten Row” in Hyde Park. Saw the former mansions in Mayfair. Visited Covent Garden and saw a show in a theater built in the 1800s. Luckily, however, I was not forced to do all of this while wearing a corset, long dress, and slippers!

Finally, we went to Bath, a beautiful little town. It’s been described in so many of my beloved historical romance novels, I nearly floated across its streets from the excitement of being there.

Bath

Bath

I wish I could return and spend time there writing (possibly in the very place where Jane Austen used to meet up with her contemporaries).

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

Assembly Room where Jane Austen used to hang out!

 

 

 

 

I feel so blessed to have been able to take the trip. Now every time I read another historical romance, I will be transported again and again.

Is there a setting you’ve read about in a story and would love to visit? Do share!

XO-Jamie

 

Weddings–Near and Far

IMG_6678

La Cana Golf & Beach Club

As some of you know, I just returned from a week-long vacation with six of my friends. We escaped the fall weather by traveling to the lush tropical paradise of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Of course, we could have been holed up in a tornado bunker in Kansas and still had a great time together, but the DR proved to be infinitely more beautiful and relaxing.

We expected white sands and clear, turquoise-colored water, palm trees and plenty of rum punch. But one thing we didn’t expect was to run into wedding receptions everywhere we went. Whether at the beach club, a restaurant in downtown Punta Cana, or brunch at the Tortuga Bay hotel, we kept crossing paths with wedding parties. We swooned a bit at the romance of it all despite the fact that the seven of us–married a combined total of 110 years–were all carousing around the island without our husbands!

But that’s beside the point.IMG_6720

Seeing these weddings prompted a conversation about destination versus hometown weddings. Some of my friends were firmly in favor of local weddings. They preferred to invite large groups of friends and family and spare guests the costs associated with traveling too far. Some were willing to make an exception to the hometown wedding provided the destination held special meaning to the couple (they met there or got engaged there, or something like that).

Having planned my own wedding in Italy and attended several other destination weddings (Florida, Aruba, Vermont), I argued in favor of the intimate yet exotic destination wedding. Personally, I preferred a small affair over hundreds of guests, half of whom–like parents’ colleagues and distant relatives–I probably wouldn’t have known. And as a guest, I’ve always turned a destination wedding invitation into a mini-vacation, so that made the extra cost worthwhile.

But in the end, the most important element of any wedding has nothing to do with its location. It doesn’t even have to do with the guests, the dress, the cake, or the music. All that truly matters is that the bride and groom come together and make a commitment to love and honor each other until the end of their days. That HEA is not just for romance novels, after all.

Where was the last wedding you attended?

XO-Jamie