Google photos reminded me today that three years ago I was on a tour of Kensington Palace. I'd recently reconnected with my childhood classmate, TB Markinson, who was living in the UK at the time, and the upcoming royal wedding of Harry and Meghan had prompted a vague idea of wanting to retell one of my favorite movies, Roman Holiday, as a modern lesfic romance set in the best city in the world, London. With a $290 round trip ticket from Boston, (which I was convinced at that price would probably put me in the belly of the plane with the dogs and cats), and the promise of a spot to sleep on TB's couch for a week, I set off.
I'd watched Roman Holiday twice through before leaving, so I had a checklist of important scenes that I would need to reinterpret in my as yet not outlined book, and which would need their settings translated from Rome to a suitable location in London. TB and I spent much of my first day in a pub, (actually more like ten pubs, but who's counting?), brainstorming possible places for each scene and creating an admittedly ambitious itinerary for visiting them all in seven days.
At this point I knew I would have a runaway princess, and that she would be escaping from Kensington Palace to begin her adventure. This is how TB and I came to be wandering through the palace three years ago, cameras at the ready. Most people probably go on the tour for the art displays, which were lovely, or to hear gossip about the royal family from a cheeky security guard, (which also happened, and for the record, I think he was making a lot of things up), but I would bet we were the only two people that day taking pictures of random draperies and service doors and asking, "Could an average size woman hide behind that?" and, "Do you think someone could sneak from this door and all the way through the gift shop without being seen?"
I also had a chance to go shopping at the Portobello Road market, something I wanted to do since hearing the song about it while watching Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a kid. While there I bought an Edwardian mother of pearl handled fruit knife and fork set. As one does. And then I remembered I couldn't take knives on the plane, so TB had to mail them back to my when I got home. They did, however, make us feel so much safer to be armed with fruit knives when walking along a sketchy section of the canals before ending up at a great restaurant inside a canal boat for lunch.
It's hard to believe this trip was real when for the past year I've pretty much gone nowhere. With the pandemic raging, a thirty minute drive across the New Hampshire border to Nashua feels like an impossibly exotic trip, something I dream of when things are maybe, finally, better this summer. So these pictures of my trip bring a big smile to my face, just like it does to remember the crazy adventures Jordan and Abby had in London Holiday.
By the way, the burlesque club in the book where Abby and Jordan first meet is a real place, (but no, I didn't get to go to a show).