London is one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to have spent quite a bit of time there–my husband and I have enjoyed two sabbaticals in the UK, first in the year after we were married, and again when we had a four year old son (we now have two boys). My parents both come from Britain–my father was born and raised in London and my mother in Wales–and much of my extended family is still over there. Clearly, the UK holds a special place in my heart. I could live there quite happily.
In my first novel (and PS, 10 days to go before it’s released!), a sequence of scenes is set in London. Which was so much fun for me to write, I can’t even tell you.
What do I love about London? There are endless things, of course, and it’s not easy to list just a few. But if you go to London, here are some of your must-see-and-do items.
The Rosetta stone, the Elgin Marbles, the Reading Room…there’s just so much awesome at the British Museum. And it’s all for free (just like all the major museums in London). Well, a donation is suggested, and it seems most people honor this, which is lovely. What I adore about this system is that you’re not prohibited by a hefty admission fee if you just want to pop in for a little dose of culture on your lunch break.
My husband and I saw Twelfth Night performed at Shakespeare’s Globe (which is actually a re-created version of the original Globe Theatre, on the original site in Southwark, on the south bank of the Thames). We saw the performance the way all commoners do, of course: standing in the yard. We had snacks and ale…there was one suitably obnoxious drunk dude in the audience hurling insults at the players, under the mistaken impression he was attending a pantomime. And, in full old-school tradition (with none of those irritating “modernizations”) all the players were male. Yes, even the female roles. It was quite a sight.
There’s so much to do here, you could easily spend the day. And it sounds cliché, but there really is something for everyone here. Be entertained by the buskers in the piazza or attend a ballet at the Royal Opera House. Browse the craft stalls in the Apple Market, or get serious about shopping in the fabulous West End boutiques. Munch on Cornish pasties from a food stall, or enjoy an unforgettable meal in one of the area’s many restaurants and bistros.
This is afternoon tea pumped up to luxurious standards. It’s tea, of course, plus scones, lashings of Devonshire clotted cream, and strawberry jam. My mouth is literally watering as I write this. What time is cream tea time? The afternoon, naturally, and most commonly around 4 pm.
Endless blocks of outdoor markets make up Portobello Road Market, in Notting Hill. Over the years we’ve found many treasures here: an old ship’s compass, an antique magnifying glass, and lots and lots of books.
I don’t love heights, to put it mildly, so I wasn’t wild about this idea. But, as you can see from the photo, the other members of the Foster clan managed to talk me into it. It took most of the ascent for me to relax, but by the time our capsule (and each pod holds 25 people) arrived at the top I was completely enthralled. The view, and the experience, is fantastic.
The last time I went to Harrod’s it was Christmastime. And if there is anything more magical than the mothership for shoppers dressed for Christmas like the Emerald City, complete with animated Wizard of Oz themed windows…well, I’m just not sure what that would be. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything at Harrod’s, you have to go for the Food Emporium alone. It’s amazing.
So, in A Beautiful Heist, what is my protagonist, a professional jewel thief, doing in London, exactly? You’ll have to read the book to find out, of course…
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