Emily’s Walking Book Club & Hampstead


I know I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy reading the Emily Books blog and admire the range and diversity of books that Emily reads and her intelligent and humorous writing. As I was reading her blog a few weeks before my trip I realized that I would be in London on the Sunday of her October walking book club and decided that my friend and I must go. Thankfully, I already owned a copy of the book up for discussion, The Home-maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, and my friend was willing to give it a go. 256

I emailed Emily for directions and information about where to meet and learned that the group meets at the Daunt Books shop on South End Road in Hampstead, nearly across the street from the heath. Emily works for the shop and started the walking book club a few years ago to combine two of her loves: books and walking. You can read more about it here.257

Due to a tube station closure and to getting lost we were late, so instead of trying to find the book shop we waited by the heath entrance to see if we could spot any groups who seemed to be talking about The Home-maker (dove grey books in hand) and just a few minutes later I saw Emily, whom I recognized from photos on her blog, come walking up the street trailed by many enthusiastic readers. After confirming we were in the right place, we joined in the group and had a lively discussion while walking over the green and gorgeous heath. At the midway point we stopped under a huge, ancient tree and revived with delicious plum cake that Emily had made herself. It was a great experience and if I lived in London I would join in every month (though they are currently on a hiatus as Emily has just had her first baby).261

After the discussion we all rambled back to Daunt and I had a nice talk with Emily and a browse in the shop. I bought three books – Love and Summer by William Trevor, Old Filth by Jane Gardam and Pleasures and Landscapes by Sybille Bedford.

When we had made our purchases we set off down a picturesque side street to go to the John Keats House which we had noticed when we were lost and had given up on looking for the book shop (so there was a positive side to our misfortune). We bought our tickets for the next tour at the Keats house then explored the beautiful street where the house is located and discovered the neighborhood library.


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The tour was fantastic and it was a joy to see where Keats had met and fallen in love with Fanny Brawne and where he had penned some of his most beloved poems. I especially enjoyed touring the kitchen and servants’ area of the house, as these are so rarely shown on tours.270

Next, we set off across the heath in search of Kenwood House, which was remodeled by the great architect Robert Adam in the 18th century.  It took us a while to reach Kenwood (I am a slow walker) and we arrived shortly before closing. Sadly, half of the house was already shut off for an evening event so we only got to see one side, but it was beautiful nonetheless, especially the library with its original Adam ceiling and breathtaking hand stitched rug. The artwork is also quite amazing. 276

On my next trip to London I’d like to go back and see the other side.277 279

The day we spent in Hampstead was one of my favorite days in London. I loved the heath, the walking book club and the quiet streets lined with lovely houses. And any day I get to spend in a wonderful book shop is a good day in my eyes.

Sunday Bulletin – October 26


Autumn on Hampstead Heath

I think for the rest of the year I’ll return to my Sunday Bulletins if you don’t mind. It will guarantee that I post every week and helps me to focus. My mind is wandering these days and I am dreaming of new opportunities, goals and plans for my career and my life. Most of this year has been frustrating and disappointing for me, but England put sparkle and vibrancy back into my soul and I am straining to keep it there.

I’ll also post more pictures of my trip in between Sundays.

This week my book club held our October meeting and we discussed We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. We had a good talk about unreliable narrators, stifling small towns and belief in superstition. Next month we’ll discuss Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I recently finished reading a book I bought in London –  Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: the Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes. I loved these short glimpses (some just a few pages) into the lives of normal, middle-class people as they stumble along through their days while the shadow of war taints everything around them. The frank, realistic and honest tone of the stories felt so authentic and believable to me. Yet they’re not bleak; they are reassuringly human and often  quite funny. It is one of my favorite books of 2014.

It might be a bit early to start thinking about Christmas music, but I’m already pondering what albums to purchase this year. I think this one might make the list.

I hope you have a great Sunday!

A Few Photos from England


I’ve been back from England for a week now, but have only today found time to turn on my computer and download my photos. I fell head over heels in love with London and miss its energy, culture and history. I knew I would enjoy my trip, but I didn’t think that I would yearn to go back or dream about the city every night. Now I’m scheming for ways to save money so that I can return next year!

I need to organize and categorize my photos for future posts so today I’ll share just a few highlights:

025The poppy installation at the Tower of London.


Windsor Castle

092St. Paul’s from the balcony at the Tate Modern.


A visit to Persephone Books.

206A day in Bath.


A walk across Hampstead Heath.


The National Gallery on a rainy day.


A walking tour of Oxford.


The gardens at Hampton Court Palace.


A farewell to Big Ben.

Going to England was truly a dream come true.

I hope you’ve all been well!

Going Across the Pond

British-flag-in-the-windBright and early Monday morning I’m boarding a flight for London. This has been a dream of mine for most of my life so you can imagine how excited and thrilled I am to have this opportunity. I’m going with a friend and we’ll be in England for eleven days. It all somehow seems slightly unreal! I will have wifi where we’re staying so I’ll post photos on Instagram and Twitter when we get back to our flat in the evenings as most of my family and friends have demanded it of me. I haven’t scheduled any posts to run in my absence, though I hope to somehow do a post for Margaret Kennedy Reading Week. I’m currently reading her novel Together and Apart and the two long flights I have on Monday should give me plenty of time to finish it. Have a lovely two weeks and I’ll post when I get back!

Final Day of Mary Stewart Reading Week 2014

mstewart books

Mary Stewart Reading Week has come to an end. I’m afraid I was only able to read one of Lady Stewart’s books this week as illness and work got in the way of my plans, but the one I did read was fantastic. Thank you to everyone who participated – I’m so glad that you decided to take the time to devote to her wonderful novels and revive interest in her work. I hope you’ve enjoyed the week!

Here is a list of all Mary Stewart posts for this week:

Four by Mary Stewart – The Emerald City Reader

The Crystal Cave - She Reads Novels

My Brother Michael - The Emerald City Reader

This Rough Magic – I Prefer Reading

Thornyhold - Fleur in Her World

Thornyhold – Quixotic Magpie

Touch Not the Cat - TBR 313

Wildfire at Midnight - Tell Me a Story

Wildfire at Midnight -Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

If I’ve missed any, please let me know.

The winner of Thornyhold is Cat from Tell Me a Story! Cat, email me at gudrunstights at gmail dot com with your address and I’ll get the book in the mail to you as soon as possible.

Thanks again, everyone!