Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Blood, Sweat, toil and strawberry jam

mainly sunny, blustery, temps 20

wonderful day. No rain. Don't know if you've heard, but there's been horrendous flooding in the UK - not here in Cambridge, but in many other regions. Eight people killed and a number of villages cut off. So a day without rain isn't simply convenient. It's a Godsend.

Our lovely time continues. Made straight for the Fellow's Garden at Christ's College this morning. This is a beautiful and peaceful oasis in the centre of the bustling old city. It's walled, with tall trees, open lawn, perennial borders. Apple trees, ponds, roses and a weary old tree they call Milton's Tree. I sat down close to it and edited about 25 pages of book 5. Honestly, it's a writer's dream.

Then Michael and I headed for a large cappuccino at one of the cafes. Then the real mission of the day. Michael's been longing to see Churchill College - one of the most recent additions to Cambridge, and built after his time here. It's slightly outside of the centre of town and today, with the sun, seemed the best day to go. Mostly Michael wanted to see it because it was designed by LeCorbusier.

On our way, just opposite the spectactular Trinity College, we stopped at Heffers Bookstore. It's one of the great independent bookstores anywhere - though it was recently bought by one of the chairs...can't remember which - though you'd never know remains unchanged. There Ibought a copy of Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar. I've never read it and it's the book we'll all be discussing at Magna Cum Murder in Muncie this year. And we also wanted to say 'hi' to our great friend Richard Reynolds, who runs the Crime section of the bookstore. He was in and we chatted for a few minutes - made arrangements to meet tomorrow for coffee. Then he mentioned they're having a reading at Heffers tonight. 6:30. Two authors who write under one name. Mysteries set in Prussia.

So Michael and I are going. What fun!

Then we set off for Churchill college. Quite a long walk-but well worth it. A really quite unusual design. for those of you familiar with Habitat in Montreal - designed for Expo 67 - it looks similar. Like cubes piled one on top of the other. We walked all around - including the amazing cricket pitch. Then decided to head back.

Walking back was fun. We decided to try all the little footpaths winding through Cambridge, and that aren't on a map, so it's unclear where they're going. Only had to turn back once. But what discoveries. We walked through hidden forests and over small stone bridges over rivers, past garden and small cottages - then suddenly we were right at Trinity and king's College again.

This called for a celebration, and since it was 3:30 and we hadn't yet had lunch we stopped at the University Arms for Afternoon Tea. Finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off, scones and clotted cream with strawberry preserve. And pastries. Yum.

I did more editing on the fifth book. So when you buy your copy, in about a year, and it has strawberry jam on it, you'll know what happened.

Must be off. Just out of a quick shower. Michael having a nap. Must wake him and head to Heffers for the authors reading. So nice to be in the audience and support another author. I know how intimidating these can be.

speak tomorrow. hope you're enjoying your time in Cambridge. I sure am.


Elizabeth said...

This is the week for vicarious visits to England! My other favourite blogger, Stephanie McPhee, is there also (with photos too). So envious of you both. Keep on telling us all about it, please.

humble.pie said...

an enchanted part of the blog.

It's like having a personal guide who's a former master, or a poet in residence.

Will the Cambridge stories reappear in some form in a future book, do you think. As long as they don't get left behind on the trail.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Elizabeth,

What fun! But Stephanie and I are really rubbing your nose in the UK - poor woman.

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Pie, or may I call you Humble?

I'm pretty certain they'll be re-cycled in a mystery. In fact, Richard Reynolds has all but convinced me that since Gamache is a Christ's College grad I should set one of his murder mysteries in Christ's College. That would be fun - God knows there's a lot of fodder.

So glad you're enjoying the tour. Thank you for being so supportive.

Rebecca said...

Ever since you revealed to us that Michael was a Christ’s graduate I have been in awe. People from Christ’s are so very very very clever. Now my cup floweth over. The highlight of his visit to Cambridge was seeing Churchill? How marvellous.
I’m afraid it was not Le Corbusier that drew us there back in the 70s (when it was disparagingly referred to by some members of more ancient colleges as Madingley Road Tech). The central heating WORKED, which any full-blooded Canadian will appreciate. AND there were bathrooms and kitchens on every staircase. (Which is more than can be said for those graceful colleges on the Backs).
Regarding murders in Cambridge, have you come across the series about college nurse cum sleuth Isobel Quy?

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Rebecca,

No, I haven't found her books, but wonderful Richard Reynolds at Heffers gave us a novella by AP Baker, called 'A College Mystery'. It's set in Christ's College about a hundred years ago - it was also written then. Will look for Ms Quy. Thank you!

Love the story about the central heating - and Michael loved your perception of Christ's men!

True about the colleges on the Backs - I wonder if their beauty makes up for their shortcomings?

Did you go to Churchill College?

Rebecca said...

Yes I was at Churchill, a very ordinary student. Glad you enjoyed your visit. I'm afraid the undergraduates were [are?] not always so respectful of the great artworks.
Love your blog - discovered it in April and it's beena note of cheer in a somewhat gloomy year.
Oh - IMOGEN Quy (my mistake) by Jill Paton Walsh, published in UK by Hodders/Headline (or something of that ilk). Yes Heffers mystery/murder section is a gem. On my rare visits I find authors and books I didn't know existed. (And I live in hope of finding my would-be hero, or someone like him, brought to life by someone else - it'd save him the agony of being ineptly portrayed by me and thus consigned to unpublished oblivion)