Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Deb and Ann

bright sunny day, cool, temps 10

Gorgeous day here in London! Michael and I woke up and had breakfast in the flat - then he headed out for lunch with his sister Carol and David and I headed out to meet up with Deborah Crombie and Ann Cleeves for lunch. Deb had chosen a restaurant in Notting Hill called Le Pain Quotidien - french for Daily Bread. It's a very good chain of bistro type restaurants. Great soups and breads...a bakery essentially.

Since it was such a lovely day (and there was no easy underground or bus route from Knightbridge to Notting Hill) I decided to walk. London is a magnificent walking city. Almost no building is over four floors. Many are Victorian or older. the newer ones are because of the Nazi bombings in WW2. There's no grid system. Streets meander, alleys and mews' appear - and end abruptly in a wall or a house.

After studying the map I decided the best, and prettiest way, would be to get up to Hyde Park and walk across it, cutting over to Kensington Park.

It really is a perfect day to stroll through Hyde park. I wandered over to see the Albert Memorial - put up by Queen Victoria when her beloved husband Albert died. It's magnificent and aches. Always so sad to see the huge, gold statue. It's above.

Then walked down the tree lined path through the park.

Made it to the restaurant early and drove the waitresses mad by moving from section to section. The first had too many screaming children and inattentive mothers. The second had no kids, but a very loud speaker playing music right above it. And the third? it was just right.

We Canadians long for the middle bear.

Ann arrived first and we had a wonderful time getting caught up. If you don't know her series - she has two. There're her 'Vera' books, which have just been made into a TV series here in Britain and will air in the spring...and the other series is set on the Shetland Islands in Scotland. Wonderfully written - beautifully atmospheric. That is a four book series and might I suggest you read them in order? The first is called Black Raven and won Ann the Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the year.

The Deborah Crombie swept in. Rooms always brighten when Deb arrives. Smiling - filled with energy and warmth. Deborah is a writer I loved even before I started writing. Her latest is called Necessary as Blood, and is just brilliant! She and Ann had never met but they immediately hit it off and talked about people they had in common - then eventually we began comparing notes....things we hate about the publishing world. Things that break our hearts (mostly dashed hopes...we hope a book will do well, find a huge audience, and when it doesn't, and we can't even find a copy in the bookstores - it really does break your heart). And things we really love about it - like just getting to do it. making up stories. Writing them. Meeting other writers. But mostly, meeting readers.

Because we're readers too. We have so much in common with people who read our books. It's such fun.

So we ate and gabbed for hours. Then Ann was off to meet her publicist and Deb and I walked back through Hyde Park - to Harrods. Talking about our latest books, our series - choices we'd made - things we weren't sure of. Such a relief to find my fears are Debs. Are Ann's. I'm not alone. And if I'm nuts, so are they!

The photo above, obviously, is of Ann, Deb and me. Ann is on the left of the photo - I'm in the middle - and Deb is on the right.

Honestly - it doesn't get much better than to meet two of the best crime writer's in the business - whose books I love to read - for lunch in London.

Pinch me. OK, that's enough.


Jodi said...

Looks loverly! Wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

By the way, if that's the same Pain Quotidien we have in NYC (and it looks it), you must, must try the chocolate hazelnut spread (and the jam too).

lil Gluckstern said...

"Oh the sights you'll see"-it is so much fun accompanying you. I must admit that the description of your walk seemed to put me in the middle of a Regency novel. All I see is three incredible writers having a wonderful time. How lovely.

Kaye Barley said...

I agree with Lil - I see three incredible writers having a wonderful time! Lovely to see, indeed.

Linda said...

You are so generous Louise! Sharing your exciting life with us. You *do* know how to live! Sounds such fun. Enjoy every minute.

Diane said...

I have never read any of Ann's books - thanks for the recommendation, always looking for authors. Of course, read everyone of yours and Deb's.

Would love, like the others, to be there, a little fly on the wall. Beautiful pics by the way.

donna said...

Sounds great - but how did you do at Harrods?

Donna K said...

Thanks for bringing us to London. Hope to get there this yr.nd Deborah C...I love her books too and have read them all. How lucky you all are and deserving. But I am glad to hear that you move from section to section to get the right 'feel'. It's worth it. I do that friends and I went to Milwaukee last week-end (definitely not London)and by Sunday a.m. they announced they wil NOT be moving anymore....sometimes they pick noisy places with a bright light hanging down. I feel like I'm in a commercial and edgy.So for Sunday brunch I kept my mouth shut but it was definitely not 'the right place'....happy walking. Donna K

Louise Penny Author said...

Ha - love that I'm not alone! On this visit, and in my quest for just the 'right' place. but it can be tiring for people who love us. It really was a 'pinch me' day. but so many are. And I'm so glad you're enjoying the visit.

haven't actually made it inside Harrod's yet!! Was planning tea, but we were too tired. Perhaps tomorrow. Imagine being too tired for tea at Harrods. is it possible???