Or: England, parts I and III.
We survived a tiny plane and a long layover at Pearson (If you have to e stuck at an airport for five hours Toronto is a very good choice) and a red-eye 777 and a train and a cab and another train and another cab. On the second train (Victoria to Brighton) I am entirely confident that the young woman sitting across from us was a WFC attendee, though I think I didn’t see her again. She had moon tights and was reading a Brian Aldiss book.
I have tights envy.
I also have a lot of photos of the strand at Brighton.
WFC was largely a blur–there was amazing food, and a lot of walking around Brighton, and a lot of bar time. The convention itself was a mad rat’s maze and almost as impossible to navigate as I have ever seen, but I may have drunk a higher than average number of Pimm’s cups and that was fine. I had a very good time at my panel, and Scott’s off-site gathering was a mad success, and in general we got blown from pub to restaurant all over town. Most of my photos that are not of waves are of food. I got an amazing amount of business done, too–and I have an exciting Sekrit Projekt soon.
Karen Lord had sent up a bottle of the best dark rum I’ve ever tasted, too. There was thali at the Chilli Pickle restaurant, and cupcakes in the lanes (a medieval windy maze), and I got to see almost enough of tsubaki_ny to tide me over until next year.
And of the beach. There were amazing seas Sunday morning–huge crashing things
–and then Monday we were off to London!
Which we walked all over (see previous post) despite Scott having a small mishap (nothing serious) that slowed us down a bit.
We had dinner that first night with Scott’s lovely and erudite editor Simon and his wife Jane, who it happens is a fussball MANIAC. (Dinner was at a restaurant called Moro, and it. was. amazing. I had a squab starter, and lamb as an entree, and cardamom rosewater ice cream (stillsostrange, take notice). Then, so as not to take ourselves too seriously, we went and played that aforementioned fussball at Club Kick, across the street.)
Later in the week, we managed a mini-literary pub crawl, including the Wheatsheaf (better food and decor) and the Pillars of Hercules (better ale selection).
London (technically Westminster, as we were staying in Covent Garden, but I think even knowing that marks me as a foreigner) has its holiday glad rags on already. Street lights in Seven Dials:
My signing at Forbidden Planet was a lot of fun–not as well-attended as Pat and Scott’s, but I didn’t expect THAT kind of turnout–but good people and I had time to talk to all of them. Including an old friend I hadn’t talked to in years–what a delight! And then there was wine and amazing south Indian food at a place called Chettinad just off Tottenham Court Road. (By the way, we went to The Jack Horner three times in five days. Not only was it right by our hotel, but the pies are astounding. Although their ability to give you the pie you actually ordered is only about 50%. Still, now I have eaten cock-a-leekie pie, and it was delicious, although Brits will put prunes in anything. We also had something from Gail’s Bakery on Bayley Street, mentioned in the previous post, just about every day we were there. Try the goat cheese brioche.)
It rained pretty much the whole time, which seems pretty appropriate for London in November. And I like rain and stormy skies, so it was all fine.
Here’s a view of London skyline from the chrome and gunmetal warrens of Stately Gollancz Towers:
And here’s some pub crawling documentation to follow.
This is the Lamb and Flag, which I recommend most highly.
The little plaque reads: On the 19th December 1679 in the ally by the Lamb and Flag the poet John Dryden was nearly done to death by rogues hired by the Earl of Rochester.
It has a very satisfactory coal fire.
After this, we visited the Monmouth Coffee Company. And you should, too.
The Wheatstaff also has plaques, which I shall let stand on their own:
And is quite thoroughly beautiful:
I’m very proud of this selfie:
There appear to be no less than six Wheatsheafs in London. This is the one near Tottenham Court road and Oxford Street. So pretty. And friendly barman, too.
This last trio are at the Pillars of Hercules, on Greek Street. It’s the oldest of the three–rebuild last century, but parts date from 1633 or thereabouts–and it had a very fine selection of ales. I had a Fuller’s Black Cat and liked it very much. (Apparently Dickens drank here too. Well, where didn’t Dickens drink?)
Here is a glimpse of some of the streaky original glass, filtering light onto Scott’s hair, for all the Scott Hair Fans out there.
And, to close, here’s a dress made of fabric printed with a cartoon about sewing dresses.