On pleasure bent again: Planning
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy! “
wrote the dashing Robert Burns. I’m rarely left with nought but grief and pain, but my schemes gang aft agley with regularity. Because the nature of my business is riddled with last minute auditions, jobs, and “must dos”, it’s hard to see past the next couple of days. My husband Robert works in the design field and juggles the same sort of madness. We really should plan for those kind of vacations where you stay in one place and lay spread out like starfish in blessed idleness to recharge. We don’t. We never have.
This plan to rush right into activity has come back to bite us. Jet lag has played a part in many misadventures. The foggy fatigue and disorientation leads us into some strange territory. That is the only logic behind why Robert and I thought the best idea, after he accidentally broke a lid to a hotel toilet seat in Florence, was to smuggle it out in our luggage and dispose of it at the next stop. Obviously, we aren’t criminal masterminds. Reason prevailed and we brought the lid in two pieces down to the front desk with abject apologies on both sides: ours for the breakage, the hotel management’s for not providing a sturdier seat. This muddled state is also to blame for the time I accidentally held my menu too close to a candle in a Parisian restaurant and was nearly known throughout Europe as “The Torch”. Clouded travel judgment is also why I managed to knock out the power on an entire floor of a hotel, also in Paris.It was a laundry incident. Let’s not go there…I’m just grateful the French let me return.
And now we are planning a trip to the UK, trying to include a couple of dance events, visits to friends, much needed doses of culture and history, plus a little Anglophile Channel business. All this involves sorting out the housesitter, planes, trains, hotels and many wardrobe changes. I long for the days of the steamer trunk and chauffeur.
We will hit the ground running. I sometimes watch programs about the luxurious lives of the monied and frivolous and am plunged into entourage envy. O, to have a whole troupe of people whose purpose is to prop one up and arrange every whim..and so much money that one never asks what it costs.
That, alas, is not our life. Packing up and moving around is never the fun part. We try to pack light, but it is spring and so any sort of weather is possible. My current list has me jamming half the contents of my closet into a spacebag. We have full Regency costumes for three events. It looks like the Anglophile Channel will be attending a posh press conference so that is another ensemble apart from the leggings, comfy boots and layers of black I live in while on holiday, hence my desire for the steamer trunk.
I look at the piles of what I want to carry across the Atlantic and despair. This trip involves a lot of trains, which means transfers, and with our two for one rail card we are busily booking tickets and praying all stations have lifts. Robert is a wizard with credit card points and air miles and using them to pay for lodging as well as travel. Usually I am the one scouring Tripadvisor for information, but he has taken up the gauntlet while I have been busy with work and the flu, and has done me proud. I think. He had a frustrating morning wondering why the confirmation numbers wouldn’t work until I noticed he had reserved rooms on two different websites. This doesn’t bode well as it will be— at the very least— a four hotel fortnight. A rail strike looms. It’s snowing in the UK. So much could gang aft agley. We must retain that sense of humour as plans keep changing.
We’re visiting dear friends in Waterlooville who should be able to keep us from hurting ourselves and others, then attending a Regency ball in Lichfield. The George Hotel (such an appropriate name) also promises to be the rowdy Regency party hotel as many of us are staying there for the festivities.
The following day there is a costumed stroll through the town. I’ve read The Wedgewood Circle in preparation and am excited to see this historical area. We’re being taken to visit Moorcroft pottery in Stoke-On-Trent by the most generous of new Regency dance friends who only knows us from Facebook.
Another Regency style ball in Worcester is on the itinerary and just a short waddle away on sore dancing feet from our chosen hotel, The Crown, which has the same name as the ball venue in Austen’s Emma. Anglophile geek-out! It’s a bit intimidating to be dancing with English dancers.
We will have a lot to learn from them. Remember that scene in Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers” in which Lady Brightlingsea commented on “such a very odd performance” while observing the Americans dancing”? I’m a little afraid of that. I do tend to whoop it up on the dance floor. We’ve met such lovely people through dancing that it’s not likely they will be anything less than kind but still we hope to represent the US well enough to avoid shaming the former colonies. And in between all fancy footwork we go to London!
London was my home for a time, and I’m always thrilled to return. We don’t have to stay in a posh hotel, but we do spend a bit more for location. We so enjoyed our stay at what was The Charing Cross Hotel– even while it underwent a massive, noisy renovation–that Robert searched high and low until he found a room within our budget now it is freshly redone and newly named “Amba”. Hopefully the new electrical wiring is beyond my fatal meddling. Breakfast on the glass enclosed terrace overlooking the Strand was a magical way to begin even a rainy day. The waitress greeted several regulars by name and had us all smiling and laughing and making cross table conversation. The location is perfect for walking to museums and theatres. Our lovely room was spacious which is a rare and wonderful thing in our budget. What absolutely sealed Robert’s favor was a surprise cake and champagne sent up for his birthday by a very attentive staff.
We are looking forward to seeing the “improvements” to our temporary home when we descend to zip around London. I’m now scouring the web and making my lists of possible plays, art exhibits and music to enjoy. As always, there is never enough time to do it all.
We have something special to look forward to this trip as we will be mixing business and pleasure. The Anglophile Channel has been invited to a press conference at Windsor castle for the Royal birthday festivities. The timing couldn’t be better. I was already planning to be in England and Marlise and Juliette are going to be flying in like the jet-setters they are for the occasion. I’ve never been to Windsor and am pleased it’s been added to the itinerary. Ever since I was a little girl living in the projects,breakfasting with a necklace plopped on my head, dunking my powdered sugar “Donette” into my mug of Lipton tea flourishing an extended pinkie with what I imagined was the height of elegance, I pretended to have tea with the Queen.
Now we are invited for sandwiches and drinks in the Royal Reception room, which is not too shabby. I’m getting closer….and know well enough not to do the pinkie and certainly not to dunk, but there is always the travel brain fogginess which could render me capable of any mortifying behaviour.
I will try to stay away from electrical outlets and open flames as I certainly don’t want to be banned from all Royal properties. Marlise, Juliette and I will be posting pictures, indulging in many tea time treats and reporting on the fun as well as the challenges of those best laid schemes on TAC. I very much hope I will have nothing embarrassing to confess. Stay tuned….