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Posts Tagged ‘london trip’

where I’ve been; where I’ll be

I was offline for a bit (sort of) because my laptop had to go in for repair, leaving me mostly functioning off a tablet for the duration of its absence. Not conducive to blogging, nor to anything much resembling productivity. 😛

But! There are interesting things afoot, and I would like help from you all, dear readers, in prepping for them.

To whit, the [profile] kniedzw and I are going to England. (Mostly to London, though we’ll be attending a friend’s wedding in Oxfordshire, and I’ll be winding up in Brighton at the end for World Fantasy. Also, we’re probably going to pop over to Paris for a bit to see his old roommate.) We’ll be there from October 11th through the end of the month . . .

. . . and I have no idea where we should stay.

“But [personal profile] swan_tower,” you say, “haven’t you stayed in London, like, a bazillion times?” Why yes, yes I have — for values of “a bazillion” that equal half a dozen or so, that is. But the first of those, I stayed with a friend’s sister, and the last four, I stayed in the cheapest hostel possible, neither of which are really what we’re looking for in this case. (The remaining time — or possibly two — I have no memory at all of where I stayed.) I honestly don’t even know what neighborhood we should aim for. We’re there for sightseeing, not research, so I don’t need to be smack dab in the middle of the City. In fact, I’d prefer not to be, since you can’t get food there after 6 p.m. 😛

Where should we look at? Our price range is flexible; we’re not looking for luxury, but we want better than a backpacker hostel. Convenience to a Tube station is key, though probably not hard to get. Moderately central location preferable, i.e. maybe we could save a bundle by staying somewhere out in Richmond but it isn’t worth trekking back and forth.

Recommendations? And feel free to propose nifty things to see in London that I haven’t already done.

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Answers, Round Final

The last set from the question post. Thanks to everybody who participated!


stevie_carroll asked, Do you have an unlikely favourite place in London (out of your top whatever places in London as opposed to your very favourite place)?

I guess the question is, what makes a place unlikely? I love the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral — not for any reason having to do with it being a big famous landmark, but because of the way the cathedral’s position fits into the City in my head, and the way you can sit on its steps and watch the sun set over the West End and eat your yakisoba from Wasabi or pasta salad from Tesco’s for dinner. It’s my mental “home” in London. But that might class it as “very favorite,” I guess.

I also love the fragment of the old London Wall I found on my first trip and revisited every subsequent time. It’s tucked away from the busy roads, and has a lovely bit of garden around it.

I don’t know if any of those count as “unlikely,” though.


dmstraylight asked, If a PnP RPG based on the Onyx Court series was produced, what system would you want it to use and why? How about for Doppelganger? Driftwood?

The obvious answer for the Onyx Court is Changeling: The Dreaming, since that’s where it came from. But you’d have to do a lot of system hacking at this point to make it work, since Banality doesn’t figure into the Onyx Court, and it’s kind of a central idea for Changeling; rip that out and the whole thing falls apart.

If not Changeling, then maybe Deliria, which I haven’t actually played, but is in my head as a reasonably flexible system for doing faerie-related stuff.

The doppelganger books, I don’t have a ready answer for. I have L5R on the brain at the moment, so that’s the first thing that leaps to mind (especially with the Void and all), but from what I’ve seen of shugenja spells, they don’t lend themselves to the mixed-Element approach of the witches in my novels. Come to think of it, I have a hard time thinking of any magic system that treats conjunctional effects of that sort as a common thing, rather than an occasional exception, though I’m sure such things exist. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

Driftwood, of course, is easy. 1) Grab every gaming core book off your shelf. 2) Drop them on the floor to make a map of Driftwood. 3) Have fun. ^_^


Aaaaaand that’s it for this round of “ask me anything.” Tune in at some indeterminate future point for more!

Fifty days!

The countdown continues. Today, I share with you my research photos from last year.

It is, as usual, only a tiny selection from the whole: 39 pictures, when I took somewhere between five hundred and a thousand. But a lot of those are blurry, terrible reference shots from inside dimly-lit museums, or placards reminding me what the next photo in the sequence is, or things that wouldn’t mean much to anybody but me. I chose these to give you a sense of some of the things, places, and people that are important in the novel, with a few tossed in for sheer aesthetic pleasure, and a couple more for nostalgia.

Plus a whole wodge of shots from the Natural History Museum, because the decoration in there really has to be seen to be believed.

The rest of my photos, including those from previous Onyx Court research trips, are here.

Day Eight (belated): In which I do not go to York

When I was scheduling appointments for this trip, I deliberately left today open, because previous experience told me the preceding week would give me ideas for other things I needed to do — things not already on the schedule. Unfortunately, the major item on that list just isn’t feasible: I can’t get to York, make productive use of the Railway Museum archives, and get back in time for my flight tomorrow morning. But I’ve got plenty of smaller odds and ends with which to fill my day, and those will just have to be enough.


Day Seven: In which I feel like I’m in an episode of The Sandbaggers

All right, so what I did today wasn’t nearly so exciting as a Sandbaggers episode, and for this I am duly grateful. But I spent my morning in an office that called to mind Willie and Denson’s exchange when Diane walked into their hutch — “Sorry, ladies’ loo is down the hall;” “Somewhat larger and better appointed” — sorting through folders of paper not unlike the ones stacked up on Burnside’s desk, listening to guys with English accents discuss topics include the Home and Foreign Offices. Is it any wonder I make the comparison?

Those of you with no idea what I’m talking about may be more interested in (and jealous of) this: I got to page through Inspector Abberline’s personal scrapbook. Yes, the Inspector Abberline who worked on the Whitechapel murders. Sadly, the scrapbook actually makes no mention of Jack the Ripper; in fact; it leapfrogs over that period, going from 1887 to 1891. Maybe he had another scrapbook for those years, kept somewhere more interesting than a bottom drawer in an obscure office in West Brompton. But it was full of carefully-glued newspaper clippings and notes in Abberline’s own handwriting, which affected me as it always does: he immediately stopped being a Historical Figure and became a real person, which never stops being cool.

More sitting on my butt in libraries ensues.

Day Five: In which I am diverted, entertainingly

It’s hard to make myself take it easy. Despite my best efforts, I fail to sleep in; once I wake up, that’s it, there’s no going back. But my appointment isn’t until 11:15, so I sit around the hotel being glad I have Steam’s King’s Quest package on my laptop, because that gives me something to do that isn’t wandering around. If my respiratory system and ankle were in full working order, I’d probably saddle up and walk to Kensington again, but given the circumstances, that would be dumb. (If I could brain at that hour of the morning, I would write — but I can’t, so.)

What I Did With My Day, by Swan Tower, Age 29

Day Four: In which I do not re-tear a ligament

So apparently, coming down with a cold isn’t enough back luck for one trip. This morning, I did the one thing I must not do:

I twisted my ankle.

Yes, THAT ankle. On my way to the Tower Gateway for the DLR, I stepped on the edge of one of the shallow gutters along the footpath and overturned my foot, in exactly the direction it needs to not go. While it’s probably fair to say I did more damage to my nerves than to my foot, that isn’t to say it escaped completely unscathed; it is a bit twingy. Still, “a bit twingy” is much less than I feared, in that first instant of blind unreasoning horror. As soon as I could think, I dropped my bag and downed some Advil, and put my foot up on on the seat on the ride out to the West India Quay, and fortunately, the Museum in Docklands is abundantly supplied with portable folding stools. (Also, while I’m sure it’s possible to walk out there — heck, I’m not surprised to see Google tell me it’s closer than Chelsea, less than four miles — no way on God’s paved earth was I going to do that, even before the ankle incident.)

So I’m largely okay, more rattled than hurt. But definitely rattled, I must admit.

Not that I let that stop me.

Day Two: In which battle plans do not survive contact with the enemy

I dawdle a little this morning because I have to wait for the Bank of England to open at 9:30, so I can go exchange some old pound notes I brought with me. On the way back from that, I detour on impulse to the Guildhall library, where I waste half an hour waiting for a book that turns out to have gone missing. But the visit itself is not a waste, as the helpful librarian (I’ve yet to meet a non-helpful librarian at the Guildhall, or indeed at most libraries) tells me the king of thing I’m looking for — a survey map of London’s Victorian sewers — has been moved to the London Metropolitan Archives. Particularly alert readers will recognize that name from my Ashes-trip adventures in secretary hand. The archives, of course, are in Clerkenwell, and it turns out that on Thursdays they’re open until 7:30. I may also be able to get the info I want at Abbey Mills, but it’s worth trying this first, because it’s closer, and I have a catalogue reference that looks promising. So much for the quiet evening I had planned, eh?

Actually, my whole plan for today is a bit borked. Which turns out to be a bit of a theme.