A visit to Charles Dickens’ house

Charles Dickens Doughty Street London Sonya Heaney February 2017

The view down Doughty Street.

Charles Dickens lived in many different places in his lifetime, but this house near my old home in Holborn, London is the one that has been turned into a museum about his life (and was recently – expensively – renovated).

Even though I lived and worked within a short walk of this house for a couple of years, I never actually visited. And so one chilly day at the end of February, on a short break in London on the way home from Italy, I marched from Covent Garden to pretty Doughty Street to finally pay a visit.

It is an interesting house in its own right, a recreation of middle class life in the Victorian era. I am not a fan of Dickens, the family man (or should I say, Dickens, the man who abandoned his family!), but there is no denying the impact he made on the world.

Naturally, the museum errs on the side of worship, rather than presenting some of the less savoury facts about his life beyond his books.

Dickens’ writing desk.

This is the bedroom where his teenaged sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, died unexpectedly. Dickens had a rather unhealthy obsession with this girl and her “purity”, which would carry over to a fascination with other very young women throughout his life.

The Enterprise and The Dolphin Red Lion Street London February 2017 Sonya Oksana Heaney Holborn Pubs

And, of course, the day wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to my old home – Red Lion Street!

The Week: 13th – 19th March

What you see above are two shots driving home – Jugiong to Canberra – from the book festival yesterday evening (obviously the second picture was taken before the first one – the sun was setting as we drove). This whole section of Australia looks like this: dry, yellow, bright light.

So, I spent Saturday afternoon  moderating at the wonderful, friendly Jugiong Writers Festival. I was stunned that a book festival in a country town could pull in both so many celebrities, and SUCH big crowds. It was a little bit intimidating!

The wonderful book launch at the end of the day (with essential, free sparkling wine!) was a nice bonus.

Also – they have a GREAT pub! I’ve already planned a weekend trip back with my brother and his partner.

I stole a couple of pictures from Sulari Gentill’s Facebook page.

Here is the worst photograph ever, of me (and also Margareta Osborn), looking like we want to murder each other. It was put online by ABC reporter Pip Courtney. I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it!

(That weird stripe across my face is actually the pot plant next to me!)

Autumn light on Friday evening in Canberra.

Thursday evening.

Finnish Ski Troops in 1940

Monday was the anniversary of the end of the Winter War, when Moscow decided to randomly invade Finland and steal regions of their country while the world was distracted by Hitler. (Anything about this situation seem relevant to 2017 – just change Finland to Ukraine and Hitler to Trump!). The Kremlin’s hybrid warfare tactics then are near-identical to what they are currently doing to their neighbours.

History is constantly running on repeat.

My review of Someone to Hold (Westcott #2) by Mary Balogh

My review of Seven Minutes in Heaven (Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers #3) by Eloisa James

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Follow-up on Mem Fox

Happy Canberra Day!

The Week: 6th – 12th March

Bright Blue Sky Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney Autumn 6th March 2017

First day back home. Blue sky, sunshine, summer temperatures – and half a new deck!

We went to Canberra’s Enlighten festival last night. The national buildings (National Library – above, National Science and Technology Centre, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House etc.) are lit up. There are also bars and food stalls and opera performances and a whole lot of things.

I will find some better pictures tomorrow.

This possum has moved in (not our first one, but the smallest so far), right outside my bedroom window. The night-time fights with other animals kept me awake all night a few nights ago!

It has been absolutely gorgeous in Canberra this week. Temperatures up around thirty degrees, bright blue skies, sunshine. It feels more like summer than autumn most of the time.

Chris Miller 11th March 2017 Russia invaded Ukraine

A timely reminder from a very respected journalist in Europe.

A Ukrainian woman is behind bars in the United Arab Emirates at the moment because doctors found out she is pregnant to her fiancé. They are “testing” her to find out how long she has been sexually active, which sounds like an appalling abuse of a woman’s basic rights.

You’re not allowed to have premarital sex in the UAE, and women are imprisoned for reporting rapes. Please be aware that just because Dubai and Abu Dhabi look shiny and tourists love them doesn’t mean it isn’t an Islamic country with some terribly restrictive laws – especially for women.

I have to travel through there are few more times this year, and I really wish I wasn’t. Qantas sends their flights through there a lot now, and codeshares with Emirates, which is one of the worst airlines I have ever experienced.

Also on my list of “things that annoyed me this week”, this article:

Pope may allow married Catholic men as priests

The reason it annoys me? Ukrainian Catholic men – married, soon to be married, planning to be married – have ALWAYS been able to become priests. For centuries. Most of the priests I’ve ever known have been married – with children.

This is allegedly such a groundbreaking idea, but once again people totally ignore the fact this is already, and always has been, a thing.

Nobody knows anything about Ukraine, but you’d think a journalist or two might mention this extremely relevant fact!

And then there’s:

Muhammad Ali’s son detained at US airport for second time

He’s a flipping US citizen! What is wrong with Trump’s version of America??!

My review of Outback Cowboy (Hot Aussie Heroes Book 1) by Margareta Osborn

My review of Devil in Spring (Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas

My review of A Temporary Family by Sherri Shackelford

Patricia Briggs’ New Book

Excuse me, cover designers…

Home…

Okay, I’m home, and likely to crash at some point soon! Qantas messed up a couple of A380s worth of people’s flights, and so people were sent off on random flights all around the world in order to get where they needed to be.

dubai-international-airport-terminal-3-sonya-heaney-march-2017

In Dubai, waiting at yet another departure gate.

I was meant to fly directly home, but instead ended up on Emirates (whose staff really need to get their act together – the service and the food were appalling), paying unexpected visits to the United Arab Emirates (where airport shopping was done), and to Thailand (where our departure gate was showing a propaganda video about the greatness of their king – apparently he just about invented everything in the universe).

We were late arriving in rainy Sydney, and very nearly missed our flight to Canberra. However, luck was finally on our side, and here I am back in summer clothes and enjoying the sunny afternoon!

Adding it all up, it was about two and a half days of travel, which is insane.

devil-in-spring-ravenels-book-3-by-lisa-kleypas-uk-cover

The book I most recently finished – and loved – was Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Spring, which I intend to type a review for tomorrow.

Heading Home

We are flying out of London today, provided the airline sorts out the mess they created by cancelling the original flight!

With any luck I will be home by Sunday afternoon (yes, that’s how long it takes!). Then this blog will be back running as it’s meant to.

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