Saying no to chocolate
I was in Antwerp the weekend before last, mainly to see a wooden printing press operated at the Plantin-Moretus museum there. Never been to Belgium before or on the Eurostar so these were new experiences enjoyed with Jess. She wanted to eat Belgian the first night, which resulted in a HUGE pot of mussels for her (and this was a half order) followed by steak. The vegetarian options were a Japanese soup and then lasagne with ratatouille and polenta - hardly redolent of the lowlands. The next night we went Thai and we had one Italian lunch but we could have had Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, Mexican- all within a couple of streets.
She went off to photograph Art Nouveau buildings while I did my museum - very useful for City of Secrets - and we both went to the Acquarium and two art galleries. I was disappointed in the main collection BUT they had a Simone Martini! Four little panels actually, which made it worthwhile.
Antwerp also has "chocolate cafes" - purgatory for someone on a pre-summer-holiday diet. I chastely drank black coffee. I was amazed at what a melting-pot culture it is - equivalent to London for BEM population. We had a Rastafarian taxi driver who was so very much to type he even played Bob Marley's One Love on his stereo system!
I've done the Frances Lincoln sales conference, an appearance at the Kingston Festival - in a lovely RC Girls' Secondary School where one of the most avid readers and intelligent listeners was a Muslim girl - and last night had a launch of The Falconer's Knot shared with two other writers of historical fiction - Viv Richardson and Linda Press Wulf.
And now I'm whacked and ready for my holiday.
I saw the judging bit of the Eurovision Song contest on our hotel TV. And the DVD of The History Boys - twice. I found it fascinating - a plot about real things for a change. Also saw an amateur production of Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author, which I had never seen before. I was very disappointed in it as a play, although the central idea must have been very striking in 1921. It's really 6 characters in search of an Ending, since they all have a story and are looking for a way out of it.It's his best known play and I'm amazed that he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I finished reading Carolyne Larrington's Arthur's Enchantresses, which is really a very good exploration of all the matter of Britain has to say about Morgan and her sisters and the Lady of the Lake.