Friday, 28 August 2015

An Antipodean's English Adventure


As an Australian living in a small town, I've always thought there is something magical about visiting far off lands. Recently I was extremely blessed to visit my sister in England, managing to see several places I’ve only ever dreamed about—or ‘seen’ in books, films or TV. 

The Assembly Rooms, Bath
A writer of Regency romance, my first port of call had to be Bath. A visit to this World Heritage-listed town, filled with grand Georgian buildings and cobblestoned streets, helped me understand the need for sedan chairs instead of carriages (many streets are steep), whilst ‘taking the waters’ at the Pump Room and seeing the Assembly rooms gave new insight into Austen’s references to such activities in her novels. A visit to the Jane Austen Centre (and enjoying high tea there) also helped with those little details, such as what it feels like to put on a bonnet or write using a quill, which I hope will add greater authenticity to my writing. 
                                                                                                   
Church of St Mary and Holy Cross, Alderminster
From Bath we travelled through the Cotswolds to Gloucestershire, the setting of my novel ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’. I was on the lookout for the perfect church to cement the ideas I’d created on the other side of the world. With so many beautiful buildings and locales to choose from I found my camera phone running out of battery every afternoon! I found the perfect church in Alderminster, surrounded by bluebells. We arrived after a service had concluded, the kindly parishioners allowing us entry even as they departed. Peaceful, inside and out, the church’s structure, activities and mission so closely aligned with my imagined church of 200 years ago I could only smile and thank God. 

View of Gloucestershire countryside from North Nibley
Another key place I had researched online was near North Nibley. Here a grand monument was built atop a hill to recognise the efforts of William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English. Actually walking the path I’d written about (I’d envisaged a picnic excursion to this site) was another goosebump-inducing experience, again providing further colour to my writing through adding specific details that help make fiction seem real.
      


                                                              

Mansions lining Grosvenor Square
London was another treasure trove of inspiration. I spent several hours enjoying Hyde Park (and viewing its Regency-era ‘Rotten Row’ bridle path and ‘Serpentine’ water feature), appreciating the grandeur of Grosvenor Square (where I’d set my Earl’s townhouse), and viewing various museums. The Victoria and Albert museum has a wonderful collection of clothing and jewellery through the ages, as well as showcasing furnishings and even whole rooms from particular eras. Of the many London museums I visited, I enjoyed the V&A the most and highly recommend it to anyone fortunate enough to spend time in London.


Travelling certainly deepens one’s understanding of an era or location, but when one has invested hours of research into crafting a work of fiction, visiting the places only imagined helps the dreams come alive.

Carolyn Miller



                                   Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her novels have won or finaled in over a dozen contests, including the 2014 RWA ‘Touched by Love’ and 2014 ACFW Genesis contests. Carolyn is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with her:       http://carolynmiller.wix.com/carolyn-miller    
                                    http://www.pinterest.com/camillering

10 comments:

  1. What a wonderful and inspiring journey it looks!

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    1. Thanks, Autumn, it was. (Love your name by the way - meant to be an author with a name like yours!)
      This was only a snippet of the trip. We also squeezed in a trip to Ireland to see the 'family' castle, and a (very) long weekend in Scotland, which necessitated seeing 'Pemberley' (x2) along the way.

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  2. Wonderful post, Carolyn. I recall visiting Fontainebleau outside Paris a number of years ago and getting those same goosebumps as it cemented the images I'd created in my mind from my research for Angelguard.

    The travel experience is so heightened when our characters join us and take us to new places that we could have only dreamed about (or researched).

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    1. Yes, Ian! Some places are magical, aren't they, and to get the opportunity to visit is a real blessing.

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  3. Lovely to read your post here, Carolyn, and enjoyed the great photos too. Thank you so much for sharing these experiences. So glad you have been able to be inspired for settings for your books. Were you surprised by some of those places in Bath not being what you've thought they would be after reading historical novels - especially by Georgette Heyer? Afraid I was. Couldn't get over how small that Assembly Room was. Did you taste the "waters" in the Pump Room? We didn't as warned they tasted pretty vile! LOL. I look forward to reading your books.

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    1. Thanks, Mary - glad you enjoyed it. Yes I did 'take the waters' and it wasn't too bad, slightly sulphurous, but interesting too to see how many minerals and trace elements the water does contain. I love the idea of assembly rooms, and visiting certainly gave an idea if their social importance. Did you visit the Abbey? I loved the huge glassed windows, and the memorial to Arthur Philip - who knew such an important man in Australian history would be memorialised there?

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  4. Sounds like a wonderful trip Carolyn. I do remember getting goose bumps on the top of the Acropolis in Athens as my studies in Classical Greek history came alive. I can imagine it must have been wonderful to see your own stories come alive (and a relief to know that your research had helped you re-create places you'd never been before - until now). Lovely post.

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    1. Thanks Jeanette! Goose bump moments are gold, aren't they? And yes, a big relief :)

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  5. Hi Carolyn, I love research trips! Seeing and experiencing our book settings in real life can add a richness to our stories and provide greater authenticity in our sensory details. Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip with us :)

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    1. My pleasure, Narelle! Thanks for the opportunity :)

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