The Time-Traveler’s Guide To London: Being a list of notable places mentioned in Blackout/All Clear

Background: I’m going to London for the first time next month, and that seemed like as good a reason as any to reread Connie Willis’ marvelous time-traveling-historical-WWII-heroism-timey-wimey masterpiece duo, Blackout and All Clear.
 
And not just reread, but reread for the 5th time in three years. Because guys, I love these books so much. If you like London, or time-travel, or Shakespeare, or boys who will go to the ends of the earth to rescue the girl they love, you should probably read these books.
 
And along the way, I thought it would be pretty great to try to go to as many significant spots mentioned in the books as possible. (Wearing my green coat, of course.) So I started making a list.
 
This is in no way an exhaustive list, and I suspect I’ll be adding to it with subsequent re-readings of Blackout/All Clear – and visits to England!
 
Due to the complexities of the text, I’ve used the name the character was using in the place/time referenced, rather than sticking with their “real” name. And needless to say, HEREIN BE SPOILERS.
 
If you spot things I’ve gotten wrong (I’m sure there are many), or find something that should be added, comment and I’ll update this list.
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Oxford
“You’re in Oxford, she told herself … suddenly jubilant. You’re in Oxford. There’s no blackout, no rationing, no Lady Caroline, no Hodbins…” (Eileen)
 
In 2060, the lab and other essential sites are located in Oxford.
 
Historians do research at the Bodlien library; Polly spends time studying there.
 
Transport is located at Oriel.
 
Dunworthy’s rooms and office are in Balliol.
 
Early in Blackout, Polly walks “out Balloil’s gate, up the broad, and down Catte St.”
 
Eileen and Polly walk along High St. to King Edward St. while talking about their assignments.
 
Dover (area)
Mike arrives on the beach near Saltram-on-Sea (fictional town, “30 miles from Dover”)
 
Dunkirk
In 1940, Mike assists in the rescue of men from Dunkirk.
 
Dulwich, Surrey 
Mary is stationed at an ambulance post here in 1944.
 
Orpington
In 1940 Mike is taken to the War Emergency Hospital for injuries sustained while at Dunkirk.
 
Croydon
Mary (stationed at the ambulance post in Dulwich) and Fairchild respond to a V1 incident at a newspaper office in 1944. Unbeknownst to her, the man she is trying to save is Mike, and Colin, the man who has spent years looking for her, arrives just as Mary is leaving, neither knowing the other is there.
 
Kent
Ernest’s work in 1944 spreading misinformation to the Germans is based in Kent, where he writes fake newspaper articles and personal ads, inflates rubber tanks, and confuses German prisoners.
 
Manchester
Mike visits Daphne and her husband in Manchester to try to track down what he thinks is the retrieval team.
 
London:
Sir Godfrey chooses the Phoenix Theatre for the troupe’s pantomime; it is here that he is injured and Polly saves his life.
 
The Phoenix is near the Alahambra (“off Shaftsbury Ave”), where Polly is in ENSA as Air-Raid Adelaide. Unfortunately, the internet tells me that the Alahambra was demolished in 1936, so unless there was another theatre bearing that name in the 1940s, this must just be an error or fictional stretching of the truth.
 
After the Phoenix is destroyed, the pantomime is moved to the Regent Theatre (I can’t find info on whether this was a real theater or not – anyone know?)
 
Holborn Tube Station – Polly spends one of her first nights here observing contemps; receives an Agatha Christie novel from the lending library.
 
Notting Hill Gate station: Polly hears her name being called, thinks it’s the retrieval team – but it’s Lila and Viv. This is the station the troupe & historians shelter in most regularly.
 
Embankment: Eileen stayed with Alf & Binnie here to keep them from going to Bank, which was going to be hit that night.
 
Whitechaple: district where Alf & Binnie live (on the fictious Gargery Lane.)
 
Stepney: district where Theodore lives.
 
St. Martin in the Fields: Polly stares at the spire and thinks “… You’re wrong about my getting through this, unless my retrieval team pulls me out before my deadline. An historian can’t be in the same temporal location twice. And they should have been here yesterday. Yesterday. This is time travel.” 
 
14 Cardle St – Mrs. Rickett’s Boarding house; fictional, but near Notting Hill Gate tube station (“just three streets over”). There’s a Callcott street in about the right spot – could it have just been given a fictional name?
Polly’s drop is on Lampden Road, which also seems to be fictional – but there’s a Campden Road in about the right spot.
Her first day in 1940 London, Polly takes the Bakerloo to Piccadilly Circus, then a bus to St. Paul’s via Trafalgar Sq.  “Five years from now it would be crammed to bursting with cheering crowds celebrating the end of the war, but today even the pigeons had abandoned it.” 
 
Oxford Street:  John Lewis (gutted when she sees it first), Townsend Brothers, Peter Robinson – Polly walks by all of these department stores. She gets a job at Townsend Brothers.
 
Trafalgar Square: Polly (standing on the National Gallery steps) sees Merope in a green coat by the lion ‘with part of his nose missing’, standing with Binnie and Alf. (1945) Alf throws a firecracker that almost hits Colin, who is looking for Polly.
 
Kensington Gardens – Polly goes to wait for the retrieval team, meets up with Mike and Eileen. She waits near the Peter Pan statue, sitting in a bench across from it. After Mike joins the girls, they walk past the Albert Memorial. Mike’s comment is, “Jesus, what IS this thing?” Polly answers, “The Albert Memorial. Possibly the ugliest monument in all of England.” They sit on the steps of the memorial and discuss Polly’s deadline.
 
Kensington Palace: Mike delivers someone to a state dinner here and worries about running into Polly and Eileen, since it’s in their neighborhood.
 
St. Bart’s hospital: Mike is taken here after a wall falls on him, Eileen, Alf and Binnie make ambulance runs to here, they meet Agatha Christie.
 
After Mrs. Rickett’s blows up, they move to a house on Millwright Lane in Bloomsbury, near Russell Square.
 
Modern day London:
 
Imperial War Museum – Colin meets Binnie in 1995.
 
British Library – Colin meets Ann Perry in 1976 while researching.
 
St. Paul’s:
 
“Polly stepped out into the nave. And gasped. Mr Dunworthy had said St. Paul’s was unique, and she’d seen vids and photographs, but they hadn’t begun to convey how beautiful it was. Or how vast.”
 
“…the audible hush St. Paul’s always had. The sound of space and time” 
 
Mentioned often in the books: Light of the World painting, Nelson’s tomb,
 

Firewatch Stone. “The floor where we are standing – ” 

Is where the Fire Watch stone will be,” Polly thought.
 
Geometrical Staircase – boarded up when Polly first sees it.
 
In winter 1941, they hold Mike’s “funeral” here: the vicar, troupe, Alf & Binnie, Miss Snelgrove, firemen, and others. “Coo, this church is fancy!” Alf said. The memorial service is held in the Chapel of the Order or St. Michael and St. George off the south aisle.
Dunworthy gets lost in the “rabbit warren of confusing lanes and maze-like passages.” He also serves as a Fire Watch volunteer in the church.
 
Great West Door: Polly slips through here while Mike and Eileen distract the ARP man
 
Wellington’s Tomb – A chorister minding the shelter leads Polly past this to the shelter in the west end of the church’s basement/crypt. “He led her into a sandbagged arch at the end of the church…” 

What I’ve been up to

Long time no blog … but for a good cause. Since my last post, I’ve:

* traveled to San Antonio for work
* traveled to New York for fun
* helped plan and execute my grandparent’s memorial service
* started renovating a house – still very much a work in progress!

And coming up in the next three weeks, I will go to Kansas City twice, once for a wedding and once for the CD release party for my fav piratical band of awesome, the Musical Blades, and then spend a week in London trying to do ALL the things.

But in the evenings I watch Classic Who (we’re currently in the midst of the second season of Doctor Who – the old stuff) and make envelopes out of maps.

(If you like them, you can even buy them, which that would make me happy.)

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2013: 365 days of good things

Every year I try to have some kind of year-long project: one year I took photos of each day’s outfit. One year I blogged (most days) about my reading life. One year I recorded every new recipe I tried.

ImageIn 2013 I made a little tiny book, and every day I wrote down good one thing in it.ImageIt’s a bitty thing, just a little over two inches square. It was one of those novelty books of horoscopes, which are good for a laugh but which I ultimately think are ridiculous. I like its repurposed self much better. Image I covered it with the paper from a Hallmark bag and painted most of the pages and gradually, day by day, it filled up with good things.

ImageEvery-day things. Tiny things. Big things. … All the things.

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Looking back over the days now, I see records of meeting new people (and then meeting them again!), trying new foods, and experiencing new places.

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There are lots of mentions of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and the scary/wonderful parts of opening an Etsy shop.

ImageThere were kind things people did for me (like a gift of pine nuts from my friend Mrs Pine Nut!)ImageAnd kind things people said to me.ImageAnd a couple pretty awesome internet happenings. ImageAnd some things that were just really unexpected and random. Random is my favorite.

It was a good year. And it’s good to have a record of that.

It’s beginning to feel a little like Christmas

ImageLast year, I didn’t decorate for Christmas at all. I didn’t really intend to this year either … but then it snowed today, and I do love snow – growing up in South Florida without even owning a coat will do that to a girl – and it felt so cozy and wintery that I couldn’t help be just a little jolly.

So I made a Christmas tree out of tree branches, because why not?

ImageI bought this ornament years ago because I liked her sassy, independent attitude.

ImageThe red glass bauble was a Restoration Hardware find (there’s a matching clear glass one too), and I picked up the delicate glass bird last year at a local shop. That’s St. Barbara on the left – I didn’t know anything about her until I looked her up just now, only to find that her feast day was yesterday, and that she’s the patron saint of the US Navy!

Claremore Bluegrass & Chili Fest 2013

I haven’t missed a year since I started going, which I’m going to guess is maybe … fifteen years? (Estimating the passage of time has never been one of my strong points.) Anyway, it’s been a long time.

I was raised on bluegrass and bluegrass festivals, and while I confess that these days I go more for the people watching than the music, it’s something that is deep down in my blood and I’ll never be entirely free of it. And that’s not a bad thing.

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And it makes me happy to see that there’s another generation being exposed to live music, just like I was.

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There’s music …

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… and chili cooking…

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And a multitude of adorable children.

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And the constant thread that has run through my entire life: Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. His band may constantly change, but the sound doesn’t. At the risk of making him feel older than he is, his is literally the first music I can remember hearing growing up.

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And be honest – how could you not like somebody with a stylin’ coat like that?