Friday, May 8, 2020

What We're Writing--Deborah Crombie Missing London


DEBORAH CROMBIE:  I am really missing London these days. Not that I had a definite visit planned for this year, but somehow knowing that I can't even contemplate such a journey (or that ten-hour plane flight each way) until there is a vaccine for Covid-19, or until there is some change from what is now the foreseeable future, has made the longing to be there painfully sharp.

I look at the photos my London photographer friend has sent me of empty streets, of Buckingham Palace with only a few scattered cyclists, of Piccadilly Circus without a living soul, and my heart contracts. It is a ghost city.

So I've been consoling myself with looking at some of my own favorite London photos.

Here's a Portobello Market vegetable stall. The market is always so full of life and activity--I can't imagine it deserted.



The Sun in Spendour pub at the top (south) end of Portobello Road, which used to be my "local" when I stayed in Notting Hill, and I still stop in every time I visit the market.


A flower stall on Portobello market.


And here I am back in 2017, having afternoon tea at St. Ermin's Hotel in Victoria (literally a stone's throw from Scotland Yard!)


Gosh, my hair looks short compared to what I'm seeing in the mirror now! (And, yes, it was tea AND champagne...)

I'm keeping up with the London news. I read the BBC updates every day, and Eater London, because you can judge the pulse of the city from what's going on in the restaurant world. (And that is not much these days...)

My favorite hotel is closed--as are all London hotels--which makes me sad and I wonder how all the lovely people on the staff are doing. But I had a little boost from an email newsletter today. One of my favorite London restaurant groups (which includes the restaurants Church Road, Elystan Street, and Kitchen W8) is providing meals for the NHS workers at the Royal Brompton Hospital!

Of course, I do have the advantage of being able to go to London in my imagination. Although, like most of us, I'm struggling to reconcile writing a pre-pandemic book with a post-pandemic world.
I'm also struggling with the "to prologue, or not to prologue" issue, so here is a little snippet from Kincaid/James #19, which might be a prologue...or might not.


     She stood looking down at her daughter, sleeping, damp hair tangled, her duvet kicked half off. The child had never slept easily. But those nights of walking and rocking, walking and rocking, were too distant now, a memory she struggled to grasp, just as she struggled to recall the warm weight of her baby in her arms. Now, the half-light from the open bedroom door made hieroglyphics of the unicorns dancing across her rumpled pajamas, as if the beasts were dancing in scattered moonlight.
     How could she bear to leave her little girl, perhaps for months? But she must, she knew she must. There were others who needed her more. And she needed to be herself, needed room to breathe, room to think, room to make decisions without the constant weight of his displeasure.
     She felt his presence even before she heard his footstep in the hall and his shadow blocked the light behind her. He grasped her shoulders. “You won’t go.”
    She didn’t turn, tried to stop herself flinching. “I have to. You know I have to. I can help—”
    “That’s your God complex,” he said softly. “Your place is here. A mother. A wife.”
    “Yes, but—” Her protest died away as his fingers bit into the soft flesh of her upper arms.
     His voice was a whisper now, a breath in her ear. “If you do this, my love, you will regret it. I can promise you that.”


So REDS and readers, what things do you want more at the moment, just because you know you can't have them? Including a proper afternoon tea...


86 comments:

  1. Oh, there’s such a sense of foreboding in this piece . . . I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story.

    What do I want that I cannot have? Sitting in church on Sunday [rather than sitting in my living room watching something over the Internet] . . .
    Although London is not on my "wish to travel to" list at the moment, I feel your pain about not being able to travel. I’ll be glad when we can go wherever we want when we want . . . .

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  2. Okay. Now I want to know who she is and what kind of help she can give to whom?
    I’d like to go to a restaurant for a proper sitdown meal. I’d like to be able to cruise over to my neighborhood library. And I’d like to go off on a fabulous trip somewhere!

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  3. Beach, ultimate Frisbee. Either together or separately.

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    1. Mark, one day you'll have to tell us about ultimate Frisbee!

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    2. Today's that day.

      Ultimate Frisbee is a sport usually played on grass (but you can play it on the beach, and I have). There are two teams. You are trying to get the Frisbee into the other team's end zone, but you can only advance the disc by throwing it. If you are holding the disc, you can not run with it. If the disc hits the ground or the other team catches it, then it is their disc.

      I've been playing it since college. It's a lot of fun.

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    3. No helmets needed. It's supposed to be a non-contact sport.

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  4. Debs, I really thought that I would get to England this year, or next year at the latest, for my dream trip. Now, no one can plan any trip with certainty. I always love your photos from London, and I will miss those this year, too. But, in trying to think in a positive manner, maybe the fact that I am forbidden to go to England now will fuel my determination to do so when travel becomes safe again.

    I would say that my number one thing I'm missing is seeing my children and my young granddaughter, but because of the health situation with my MIL, my daughter is coming here once a week to spend the night with her grandmother and give my husband and his sister a break. Granddaughter Isabella is coming with her, and spending the night with us. We have a Van Gogh puzzle going now (ordered and received quickly from The Strand), and Isabella is a whiz at eyeballing the puzzle pieces and putting them together. It's a 1,000 piece, the bedroom scene, and I find myself stumbling behind her quickness. But, we laugh and have had so much fun the last two Wednesdays. And, I'm helping her set up a blog for her Warrior Cats fan fiction she's writing.

    That snippet, Debs, is quite a thrill. What could compel her to leave her daughter? Just what has her husband been doing that she must escape, and how will he make her regret it if she leaves? I am already hooked. I have to say that I am a fan of prologues. I know everyone isn't, but I think a well written prologue can light a fire that the story keeps burning. Your excerpt is such material. Waiting for book #19 (Wow, 19!) is going to be hard.

    And, Lucy, I didn't get to respond to your post yesterday, but I want you to know that I am so excited about having a Haley Snow book to read soon. I bet it's really different without the crowds constantly strolling down Duval St. these days. I need a Key West fix in your book if I can't have it in real life.

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    1. Oh Kathy, I feel your pain! We even had the date picked for our dream trip to England -- about a month from now. Fortunately, we hadn't actually booked anything yet, so we didn't have those hassles. But I'm still devastated. It hits me particularly hard anytime I happen to look at those weeks on the calendar.

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    2. Kathy, what a treat, that you get to spend time with your favorite little. The Warrior Cats sounds like a blast.

      One of the things I'm most enjoying right now are the photos and stories friends and family members are sharing on social media about their children and grandchildren. Otherwise, I'd be missing major milestones of much-loved babies and older children.

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    3. Kathy, I'm envious of your time with your darling granddaughter. And it is wonderful that your daughter is able to give your husband and his sister a break. That is such a difficult time.

      But about England, just think, you'll have more time to plan and research for a trip!

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    4. Kathy, your England (and Paris) trips will happen eventually. Dream and plan until then.

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    5. Susan, we should talk more about our England dream trips and what they include. Email me anytime at Kathy502@aol.com. Karen and Debs, it has been such a joy to spend time with my Isabella. Her love of reading is, of course, so great to share. I gave her a new bookmark yesterday that I had forgotten I had, a wooden surfboard shaped one from Hawaii. Debs and Grace, when I finally get to plan a definite trip to England, I'll be using both of you as resources.

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  5. I do hope we will be able to travel, at least domestically soon. No big trips planned, but I would like to get away from home for a day or two. And see a hairdresser!!

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    1. I'm starting to see the hair thing as a challenge. How long can it get? And how gray is it????

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  6. Lovely photos of London, Debs.

    What do I want to do more of (once I can leave my apartment)? Go somewhere (anywhere) outside of Ottawa. I usually go to Montreal (2-hour trip) for a fun foodie/farmers market/festival Weekend in June but that it a no-go this year, especially since the city is currently the COVID-19 hotspot in Canada.

    My natural wanderlust is aching to just get on a plane and fly to another country, visit intriguing sights, experience new culture and eat wonderful food in a restaurant/cafe/food stall.

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    1. Food festival!!! Wah!! Although I'd be happy just to go to our weekly farmer's market here. Our is open, and my ear, nose, and throat doctor told me that she is going, with mask, so maybe it is okay...

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    2. No Farmers Markets open here yet, Debs. Supposed to open in the summer but the spring produce can be ordered online for delivery.

      I think I am just pining for travel since I just cancelled my hotels for San Francisco and Sacramento in October...Bouchercon 2020 & my extended vacation in the Bay Area are not happening.

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  7. I want more of that book! Does it have a name yet? I can feel your London missing.

    I want to sit around with a certain group of dear women friends, in close proximity, drinking wine eating high-fat appetizers as we've done monthly for nearly thirty years. I want to have been driving to the Cape today for a weekend with the Wicked Authors (funny thing - and drink wine and eat high-fat appetizers...) as we've done yearly for seven years.

    But - what I NEED to do is leave right now for senior shopping hour at Market Basket.

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    1. ...Where I scored THREE kinds of King Arthur flour and twelve rolls of the good kind of TP (among other things)! I feel like I won the lottery.

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    2. Woohoo, a trifecta of flours, and TP. You are all set, Edith!

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    3. Blow a little of your fairy dust (but no germs) our way, Edith. I need that kind of luck the next time I attempt groceries.

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    4. I just need a bag of unbleached flour, and am ready to start restocking toilet paper; the supply we had at the beginning of this mess is beginning to dwindle alarmingly. Costco did not have a single package last week!

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    5. Karen, I got toilet paper! I was so thrilled, not just to have TP but because Costco's Kirkland brand is my fave. So funny, now we will all know each others preferences... AND Costco delivered! I was so shocked when I saw the delivery option that I almost fell out of my chair.

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    6. Edith, it goes have a name, but I'm not sure the publisher is ready to share it!

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    7. Thanks for the tip, Debs! I'm heading over to the Costco site now.

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    8. No joy on the toilet paper. Costco's tp is unavailable until May 31.

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  8. Edith, you did win the lottery today! 3 kinds of KA flour!

    Deborah, first about that snippet: CHILLING! I can hardly wait for your new book! I told you that I listened to Garden of Lamentations on Audible and I'm still amazed at how much I like listening to books. It was just great having one of my favorite books read to me by such a skillful reader. He really does do justice to Gemma's voice.

    We are chomping at the bit to see our grandsons. The 5 year old told his mom how much he misses us the other night as he was going to bed. You know, that did it for me. Unfortunately, that is at least a 5-1/2 hour drive, up to 3 hours on the NJ Tnpk. You have to stop. Irwin is really worried about those stops. And, they live in a beach community and the virus has hit hard in their county. We'll see.

    Our Boston baby turned 3 during this mess and we could get to them without stopping but it's a hard drive without a stop. I expect that the Masspike will not be too crazy if we went soon.

    Anyway, we have planned a big trip with both our kids and their families to go to Disneyworld. We were supposed to do it for my 70th a couple of years ago but we kept postponing it. Now, I do not believe it will really happen until there is a vaccine for C-19. How can they even open if crowds aren't allowed to gather? I do not mind postponing it, but I am not getting any younger, and being able to walk for miles at Disney is the best way to do the parks.

    Enough, stay safe and well, everyone. There is lots to do and see even if all the trips must be postponed. We'll make it through.

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    1. You too Judy, I greatly fear that people are going to start doing really dumb things, and then we will all pay the price...

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  9. Oh, Deb, about the desserts in front of you at the Tea...each one looks big enough to serve a family. Do they consider them to be individual servings? OMG

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    1. Judy, those fabulous platters are meant to be shared! Proper afternoon teas are always quite a production (and usually quite expensive) but the food is not always as good as it might be. But the food at St. Ermin's Hotel tea is fabulous. You won't eat dinner after that!

      It looks like they are planning to reopen in July. Fingers crossed for them, and for all the London hotels and restaurants.

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  10. Debs, I want to go to London with YOU! Don't make this book too scary for me to read:)

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    1. Lucy, I promise it will be okay. I think:-)

      Wouldn't we have fun in London together? we should put that on our bucket list!

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    2. Yes! I want to tag along , too!

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  11. Ooo, great snippet, Debs.

    I really want to go out to my favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner about now.

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    1. Oh, forgot to mention that the stay-at-home order is expected to be lifted in the southwestern portion of Pennsylvania next week, 5/15. Which means businesses will start to reopen, but I don't think restaurants are permitted eat-in services yet. And I still can't get a haircut (although maybe I can take my dog to the groomers for a bath). One step forward though!

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    2. Salons are opening here, Liz, and gyms (!!!!!) next week, but I am not braving the salon and by no stretch of the imagination, the gym. Although I hadn't quite finished my physical therapy for my post-surgery knee when we went into lockdown. I am quite worried that my daughter won't be able to resist going back to the gym. Daily workouts were a big part of her life and she really misses them.

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    3. Gyms and salons are not included the the limited reopening. Neither are dog groomers. Koda and I are going to have to suffer a little bit longer. LOL

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  12. Deborah, I love those kinds of opening scenes--such an intense tease. Ups the anticipation to get into the story and see how it all plays out. The kind of book where you know you can't just read a few pages and come back to it--oh no, block out some major chunks of time and interrupters beware!

    A road trip. Just get in the car and head in any direction--stop when and where I please, eat, drink, savor the sights of the unexpected. (And, yes, London would be nice, although I sure as heck wouldn't try driving when I got there!)

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    1. LOL, Flora. I vowed about twenty years ago that I would never drive in London again, and I've stuck to it! I did drive in the Cotswolds on my last two research trips there, and actually enjoyed it. But the most fun I've ever had driving in the UK was the two research trips I made to Scotland for Now May You Weep. I had a great car, and the little winding roads across the moors almost to myself. Fabulous!

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  13. re: prologue. Oh, no. I sense what's coming for the little girl and her mother.

    We're able to leave the house and walk for miles in uncrowded green space, including a quick chat with neighbors a street width apart.The Met Operas continue every evening. I'm cooking for two, not a family, and if we don't have anything else, eggs make a great dinner. I did venture to the garden center in the pouring down rain to buy herbs (rain means fewer customers). We're healthy and the kids are healthy.

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    1. Savvy point about the rain, Margaret.

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    2. Margaret, I hit the garden center yesterday, masked and gloved. Everyone stayed at least six feet apart, and it was so wonderful to buy flowers and herbs! I didn't find any cherry tomatoes, though...

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  14. That prologue was delicious! I guess I tend to like prologues. I often find myself at some point much later in the book going back to re-read it, given the context I now have.

    Things I'm pining for include a decent haircut and dinner on a patio with live music. Oh, and Mass -- REAL Mass like I'm used to. (I was told recently that our diocese is going to resume Masses at the end of this month, but without choir, without the cup, without the passing of the peace, and with part of the pews roped off for social distancing. So Mass, that will still feel a lot like sitting in your living room watching it on TV. )

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    1. Oh, dinner on patios, yes! And what I am really, really pining for is lunch out with my daughter. We would have excursion days, a run into Dallas for some shopping, and always lunch at one of our favorite restaurants, usually with a glass of wine. We talk on the phone, we talk across the fence, but it's not the same.

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    2. Susan, I do that with prologues, too, going back and rereading it as I read the book.

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  15. The first thing that came to mind when I read your question is: I want to read the rest of your story right now. I know that
    I can't , anymore than I can have big hugs but I know that hey will come, hope is very powerful.
    Your afternoon tea seems very festive, were you celebrating something special ?

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    1. Danielle, that was a get-together with my writer friend Kate Charles, who was also in London that day. (She lives in Ludlow, in Shropshire. So it was a celebration--not that one needs much of an excuse to have afternoon tea.

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  16. The prologue certainly got my interest!

    I think what I’m most pining for is being able to act spontaneously. To be able to decide on a whim to run to the store and not wonder if they’ll have what I want, to call a friend and meet for lunch, or even to take a walk without having to be on high alert for others on the sidewalk near me. . . Everything now takes such planning and attention! I’m looking forward to not having to think so much all the time : -)

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    1. Ha, me, too, Cindy! I'm not quite sure why the grocery ordering is so stressful, but it makes me a nervous wreck. What I really miss is going to my local Trader Joe's, where I shopped every week, and knew all the employees. I know I could shop there with mask and gloves, but I just haven't got up my nerve.

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    2. We always get our fair trade coffee from TJ's and need to brave their 8 am senior shopping hour soon, but it's a forty-minute drive - right in the middle of my sacred writing time!

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    3. I spend so much time on my grocery order— way more than I did back when I did my own shopping. My order gets revised more than any writing I’ve ever done!

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  17. I love that opening, Deb! Talk about conflict, inner turmoil, suspense (what will she do, how will it turn out?)
    What I want RIGHT NOW that I can't have: to pull my grandchildren into my lap and read a story together. Then sing a silly song and dance. Good French bread. Whipped unsalted butter... Yes, a haircut. A walk along the beach.

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    1. Oh, Hallie, I only see Wren across the fence or in our driveway. I know that's better than nothing, but I do so want to hug her, and snuggle and read stories and cook together. She shouts, "I love you, Grammy!" and I shout back, "I love you, too!"

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  18. What am I pining for? Not a trip exactly although we'd planned to do a driving trip in the South of France to celebrate a significant birthday this year. That's not going to happen now.

    We could drive down to the Finger Lakes, less than an hour, but there is the issue of finding a bathroom. And one of us, not me, would be unable to pee behind a tombstone in that roadside cemetery. We do go up to the Big Lake once in a while. However we don't get out of the car. Too many people up there.

    I guess what I'm longing most for is going out to breakfast, such a little thing, and of course I can make pancakes here. But I don't.

    Debs, that article yesterday on all your books was frabjous! I think I have to start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!

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    1. Wasn't that lovely, Ann? I had no idea that was going to run!!
      If anyone else is interested it's https://www.criminalelement.com/deborah-crombies-duncan-kincaid-gemma-james-series/
      A review of the whole series!

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  19. Lots of foreboding and foreshadowing in the excerpt, Debs. I'm worried for the female characters already.

    We had plans to start traveling again this year, a long-awaited trip to the British Isles, and maybe Iceland and Italy. Put on hold, like everything else. But life has gotten so crazy in the last few years, with mass shootings and whatnot, I'm okay with not being in big crowds for awhile. Life is scary enough.

    My husband is a lovely man, and we are doing really well during this stressful time, but I yearn for some girlfriend time. Like Edith, adult beverages and high-fat appetizers sound awfully good at the moment, as long as there's lots of laughs--and HUGS--with my women pals.

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    1. A couple of my lady friends and I have tried a Zoom happy hour. No hugs, and we have to supply our own wine and fatty snacks, but it was nice to see everyone's face again, and we laughed--about the state of our hair, if nothing else.

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    2. Yes, I'm really missing "girl" time, too. Our "hair parties" with Gigi and another friend, and our hair stylist who is also a friend. Cut, color (for me, at least!) wine, and snacks! And catching up with everyone's doings. Or wine evenings, with everyone gathered around my kitchen island.

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  20. I really can't say I am pining for much of anything right now. More good books, but that is always the case!

    Not sure how you do it, Debs, finding such interesting things that I want to immerse myself in. The whisky making, narrowboats on the canals, and most recently for me rowing on the Thames. So looking forward to wherever whatever you take us to next.

    I suppose there is one thing I want but not for myself. my granddaughter has her learners permit and she is ready to take the driving test. But that will not happen for the foreseeable future. Kids have had so much taken away from them. I know, I know, in the big picture this is nothing. But I still feel her pain.

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  21. What am I missing? Hugging friends and family, sitting and laughing around the dinner table and looking forward to being back in England, France, Italy as I am every summer. It’s not being able to plan that’s so hard

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  22. Your snippet is delicious, whether it turns out to be a prologue or not. Just keep writing!

    I like to take little day drives--one-day road trips to towns not more than three hours away, where I can explore towns and history I've never visited before. Places within that range here were way out of range when I lived out west, so it's all unexplored territory for me. But how can I drive all the way out to Jefferson, or Lufkin, or Haskell and not stop for a bite to eat, or spend an hour or so cruising through the antique stores? How can I take to the open road without gas and potty stops?

    One of these days I'll get there, but for now I'm plotting routes and reading up on histories. And sometimes, like yesterday, I wander off the beaten path just a little to places I haven't visited in my own county. Yesterday, on the (long way) home from the feed store, I explored a little no-longer-a-town place called Westminster and, oh, my! I found much more than scenery. I may have even found the plot for a new mystery! You never know what you might stumble onto when you leave the mother ship and embark on a surface exploration in the escape pod.

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  23. Tea and champagne? Why not. Love your pictures. I would love to just be able read and not worry about going to work. Crochet and not feel guilty because I get to leave for work. My sister commented that when I had my planned vacation she noticed that I didn't go anywhere beyond the store, once and the laundry room. I followed the rules. Yet my dream would be to "bend" the rules just enough to travel further than the grocery store.
    And as for you Miss Deborah, GEEZ! I had a massive gut wrenching moment when I read your snippet last night. Talk about panic....who? why? I really need to catch up.

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  24. Can't wait for that new book!!

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  25. Deborah,

    I'll have to pass on the tea and champagne. I'm more of a bacon cheeseburger and chicken tenders kind of guy. Throw in a soda too and I'm good.

    The things I want more of aren't stuff that is out of the ordinary for me. It's more of just wanting to be able to do the things I would normally do in a given week.

    I'd like to be able to go back to the movie theater, the record shop, the comic book store and the book store. I'd like to go back to a concert too. And I'd love to go back to trivia nights both for the thrill of being the smartest person in the room and so that I can go back to flirting in person with the beautiful waitress who has the good sense to be thoroughly uninterested.

    Not being able to do any of these things is a bummer. But since I know there's nothing to be done, I don't stress over it much. That doesn't mean I don't miss them though.

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  26. Debs, that prologue is wonderful, gripping and has me longing for more! We were scheduled to take the next two 10-year old grandkids to England in July so there’s much sadness about having to postpone that until 2021. My county in Pennsylvania still has new cases every day so we’re not reopening yet. I cannot wait to get a haircut but I’m really wary of the lack of social distancing one can do in a salon.

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  27. Deborah, I'm late to the party again! I would love to have afternoon tea. I look forward to seeing relatives and friends again.

    Last night I was watching two documentaries on PBS. The first documentary was about the Ritz Hotel in London and it was so fascinating. My great aunt sailed to England from the USA with her British born husband and their 7 year old son in 1936. They lived at the Claridge Hotel in London and I wonder what it was like in 1936.

    Loved London and I have fond memories. I remember walking through the Kensington Palace Gardens and Hyde Park where we saw the Peter Pan statue. I remember almost getting knocked down by a speeding taxicab while walking in Sloane Square (not such a fond memory after all!). I reported it to the police. I remember the street leading up to the Buckingham Palace from the Mall ? was closed to traffic and people could walk on the big street.

    Wonderful post, as usual. I loved the Bitter Feast novel.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, you reminded me of my first-ever tea, which was at the tearoom at Liberty of London, in London. Two English friends, sisters I'd met online years before, took me there for a real English cream tea. It was lovely. Later that same week I took my mother and daughter to the Orangerie in Kensington Gardens for another, less formal one.

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    2. Karen, you look like an English rose. Beautiful photo of you. Thank you for sharing your stories. I remember reading about Liberty of London in a Maisie Dobbs novel. The Orangerie at Kensington Gardens sound lovely. The next best thing to traveling to England is reading Deborah's novels set in England, right? I love novels set in English villages and sometimes London.

      Diana

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  28. Gah! I need the rest of the book NOW!!!! I'm in that weird place of self-isolation as a writer because I have a book due in 7 days so I can't have anything anyway...waahhhhh! But when I'm done...movies. I want to go to the movies with a huge buttered popcorn and Snocaps.

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  29. London, London, London. Was there last spring; supposed to go to a wedding in August. Will it even happen? No one knows. My daughter said on our last visit, "Mom, I think you are more yourself in London than anywhere else." So I guess I also miss "London me."

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    1. So am I, Laura. It's very strange but I definitely feel more "myself" there.

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  30. Things are opening up here in Colorado - we can pick up our library holds by appointment - salons and eateries are opening up with social distancing - the lakes/rivers/streams are running and people are rafting, swimming, fishing, boating - it is feeling more alive. Our town has hosted the NJCAA World Series every May for over 60 years, but not this year...that makes me really sad, but hopefully next year baseball will return.

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  31. oh , I am so late today! That is… Fabulous. Fabulous fabulous fabulous. You are so good, Debs!

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  33. And oh yes, I am just watching my hair color look different every day. Sigh.

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  34. I miss lunch with friends, going to church, getting a haircut, visiting the library and comic book store, etc. My comic book guy just told me today that there won't even be a shipment until the 20th and longer to get enough books to be worth the half hour drive. Although I didn't expect my county to be in the first group to go from red to yellow, I was disappointed that Dauphin County wasn't in today's group. Stay safe and well, everyone.

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  35. Thank you for the trip to Portobello Road! It's a great place to trinket shop, too.

    I am missing the simple things, lunch with friends, and haircuts - I'm starting to look like a shaggy dog story. Where did all these waves and dips come from? Most of all though, I'm missing the freedom to wander through a store until something catches my eye. Until this happened, I never realized how visual I am. My TBR hardback pile is dwindling and it crossed my mind that a trip to Barnes & Noble is overdue, but of course, it's also out of the question. Yes, there is Amazon, but there is nothing as special as finding a new book because it fits properly in your hand, or the cover caught your eye and you can't do without it. Just this morning I asked my husband if he thought we would ever be able to shop again, the way we used to. He didn't respond.

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  36. I loved my shopping day on Portobello Road, meeting your photographer friend, picking up distinctive gifts for family ands friends. The amazing hat shop - an inside shop with extraordinary, designer hats? Wow. Couldn't take a picture forbidden,and I understood why. Each hat was a unique design. You've seen it, right? Just knowing we can't go makes us desire it more!

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