Actually I was home again on June 27th, a little jet-lagged but quite happy that the long return journey was over. But it’s taken a while to think over the entire wonderful trip which was nearly two weeks long.
The first week was the D.E. Stevenson gathering with lots of sightseeing and conversations in Edinburgh and side trips to North Berwick, Tantallon Castle, Dirleton, and Moffat, her home from the early 40s until her death in December, 1973.The second week was a tour of the Lake District and Beatrix Potter’s home and the Arthur Ransome Swallows and Amazons country on the way to Somerset and the home of our generous host, Anne S.
(Meanwhile in Ohio there were enormous storms. A huge tree fell in my yard, luckily not on the house, and my neighbor’s telephone pole snapped in half, flew up in the air and impaled itself vertically in his front yard, according to my son, Andy. No power, no cable, no phone. The first two have resolved themselves but I still have no telephone. And am still trying to find someone to deal with the tree, which was huge.)
I’m also having more than usual problems getting Word press to put the text where I would like it to be, so if the arrangement seems strange to you, I can’t improve it at the moment.
In Edinburgh we stayed in wonderful University of Edinburgh housing, in the newest dorms, Chancellor’s Court. Every morning we were treated to an astonishing Scottish breakfast buffet which included, along with normal eggs and oatmeal and toast and pancakes, rather Scottish offerings of black pudding (blood sausage), both real and vegetarian haggis, two kinds of kippers and sometimes other, unknown, fish, mushrooms, broiled tomatoes and other things too numerous to list here. This fortified us for days of sightseeing at the Castle, the Georgian House, the wonderful National Gallery, the Royal Mile with its great shops and museums, Holyrood Castle, St. John’s, the church in which DES was married in 1916 and a sampling of restaurants and cafes as well. We visited the assembly rooms in which Tonia danced with Robert when we attended a book fair on the ground floor where the fictional Tonia and Robert had supper (and narrowly avoided being overwhelmed by the arrival of 400 little girls for a “Princess Party” in the ballroom above, which we were lucky enough to see briefly before being ordered out as possible child molesters, or so it seemed. But in fairness I should say that if I were arranging such a party for so many seven to nine year olds, I might be a bit overwrought too.
We spent a day in North Berwick enjoying the summer holiday site of the Stevenson family and saw nearby Tantallon Castle, visited by Dinah Savage and her children in The Young Mrs. Savage.
Many of our rooms at the University had great views of spectacular Arthur’s seat which can be climbed or driven up to for fantastic views of the city below. I was charmed when my friend Sulie, skyping with her husband Jack at home in the state of Washington, held her laptop up to the window so he could see the view.
At the writer’s museum, where DES is not mentioned, I found two bound notebooks of Scottish writer biographies with a note to write if there were someone we believed should have been included and was not. I wrote a great deal about DES.
On one day we attended a tea held by Persephone books at Annabelle’s. DES’s great grandaughter, singer Fiona Bevan gave us a lovely talk with lots of personal information about DES and Nicola Beauman who owns Persephone spoke of the surprising popularity of their reprinting of Miss Buncle’s book. They did an initial printing of 3,000 books which quickly sold out to be followed by a second printing of 3,000 which is also gone now. They are waiting for the third printing to come out next month, and are planning to publish the sequel, Miss Buncle Married. What good news for all of us.
And Sunday we took a tour bus to Moffat and met DES’s granddaughter Wendy who had arranged a catered lunch for us which was delicious. She had old family photos and albums out for us to enjoy looking at. And we were also able to visit DES’s old home in North Park. It was a very happy time for us all, one to be long remembered with joy.