A Literary Tour Of The UK
Today’s Brew: Cherry Chip Swirl with French Vanilla.
When a veteran boy scout leader is at the helm of your trip, you can guarantee one thing: you are going to see a lot of stuff. And do a lot of walking. (Okay, two things.) My goodness, there are a lot of stairs in the United Kingdom! Everyone in our group left the country with thigh muscles worthy of a Radio City Rockette.
Not only did I get to meet the fantastic and beautiful Chynna-Blue Scott, I got to see the royal birth announcement. The Cliffs of Scotland. Stonehenge! Big Ben. Parliament. I saw men in kilts. I ate fish and chips. I drank tea in a tea room. I saw more royal jewels than I can shake a stick at. The 13 year old boy in me will forever giggle at “royal jewels.”
I also saw a lot of cool literary stuff I didn’t expect to see. We spent a few days in the tiny town of Wincanton, in the southwestern part of the country. A beautiful, classic English farm town, they don’t get a lot of American tourists. So imagine what happens when five models, me, and a photographer show up. Some old man kissed my hand while he proclaimed his drunken man love of John Wayne.
Wincanton is Terry Pratchett’s hometown. I knew of Pratchett, but I didn’t know much about him before the trip. Even before I knew it belonged to him, I was curious about the Discworld boutique on Wincanton’s main street. Inside, in addition to some very friendly rescued cats, you will find everything Pratchett. All of his books. Discworld merchandise. And one of his assistants, working the shop that day. We wound up chatting for a while, which was fascinating. He helps with Pratchett’s research, makes props for movies, and helps run the store. He was an expert of all things Pratchett. We talked a little bit about the state of publishing, since I mentioned I wrote too. He credited the internet and digital readers with spreading the world about Pratchett to American readers. He also acknowledged what a mess publishing is right now. Since I’m a newb to Pratchett’s work, he pointed me in the direction of the The Truth, which is about a newspaper editor. I liked the fact that you can read the Discworld novels in any order. I’m pretty sure everyone in the group left with a new book.
As some of you know, I’ve never read Harry Potter. I’ve only sort of seen the first movie once. So when I had the chance to go on the Harry Potter backlot tour in Watson with some of the ladies in my group, I declined. Not only would all the references be lost on me, I work in film. A backlot tour would be a busman’s holiday for me. I did see Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station, but didn’t get a picture like some of my traveling companions.
When exploring Edinburgh, some of the girls and I got the bus day pass so we could hop on and hop off as we wished. We were looking for somewhere to have dinner on a cool rainy evening, and when the bus drove by The Black Medicine Coffee Shop, it was a unanimous decision to hop off the bus. It looked so cool, with totem poles painted on the side of the building. We didn’t expect to see this plaque:
The Black Medicine Coffee Co. was closing for the night when we went inside, so I could only hope to soak up some JK Rowling mojo from this incredibly cool looking cafe before leaving.
We also went by The Elephant Cafe, another favorite writing haunt of Rowling’s. Edinburgh, which by the way is everything I expected London to be (London seemed very much like Boston to me), also offered Literary walking tours. I didn’t have a chance to go on one of these, as we were only in the city for a little less than 48 hours, instead opting for the Necrobus Ghost Tour of the city.