Now that we are headlong into the steamy days of summer (at least, here in Maryland it’s pretty hot and humid; I hope it’s breezier where you are!), it got me to thinking about summer vacations. I imagine we all have our favorite places to go to get away from it all, don’t we? Where we can completely forget about the stresses of daily life and just enjoy ourselves?
I have two destinations that I treasure above all others: Williamsburg, Virginia, and London, England. Well, all of England to be honest.
I suppose that the two are related, aren’t they, since the country’s founding was rooted in those leaving England for a wild new country so full of promise?
Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia
Why I love Williamsburg: There is just something so transforming about walking the cobbled streets of Williamsburg. The Colonial Williamsburg organization has done a tremendous job at creating authenticity while, quite frankly, making everything convenient and easy for the modern tourist, too.
You can take a ride in a horse and carriage, listen to the historical personages of the day orate in the open air, dine at a tavern lit only by candlelight, and witness craftspeople ply their trades in the same manner that they were done in the 18th century.
My absolute favorite place to spend time is the Kings’ Arms Barber Shop, more informally known as the wig shop. The first time I walked into this small shop, I was entranced by the horsehair, the powders, the knotting frames, and so much more. Led by master wigmaker, Betty Myers, this group of artisans is unbelievably talented. And friendly. And fun. I am proud to call them my friends. Pictured are wigmakers Regina Blizzard and Debbie Turpin followed by a photo of Terry Lyons holding a shop creation.
Christine gets her head measured for a wig by Terry Lyons.
Why I love London: I suppose that has an obvious answer—because my books are predominantly set there. Getting to perform on-site research there is great fun. But it’s more than that. There is such an ancient history there, and it is connected to my own American history. There is something awe-inspiring about walking into a thousand-year-old cathedral that leaves you feeling a bit small. London is also home to many great works of art and architecture. I can think of no better way to spend a day than browsing through a museum or nosing my way through a stately home. I’ve had the good fortune to visit the city nine times. I have yet to see everything.
In the words of famed writer Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”
Here I am Tower Bridge. You can see the Tower of London behind me along the Thames riverbank. You can go up into one of the towers of the bridge. I’m afraid of heights so that wasn’t my favorite thing although I did do it.
At the White Tower inside the Tower of London. The Tower of London is an exceedingly popular attraction and there are lots of crowds. But it is a must-see place.
Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London. If you entered the Tower by this gate, you stood a good chance of not ever coming out.
A really windy day on Westminster Bridge outside the Houses of Parliament. I couldn’t get my hair under control and simply gave up.
At Hever Castle on a day trip out of London. A truly bucolic setting. Anne Boleyn watched Henry VIII approach her family’s home for the first time from one of the windows on the front of the castle. If she’d known what was to eventually happen, she probably would have run screaming into the countryside.
Speaking of traveling to fun places, this is a reminder that I will be appearing at the one-day Murder as You Like it conference in Mechanicsburg, PA, this August. There will be various panels and a book signing in an intimate environment. It’s a great way to get to know some new authors while also reconnecting with your favorites.
Murder as You Like it Mystery Conference
Sponsored by the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop
Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church (about 10 minutes from the book store)
5000 Simpson Ferry Road
My panel: “There’s a Mystery for Everyone”
What about you? What is your favorite vacation spot? Are you headed anywhere this summer that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you!