Escape with Joan: #2 Letter from London

Escape with Joan: #2 Letter from London

June 25, 2011

I’m writing my reflections on the Wimbledon Ball—an Alice In wonderland Summer Garden Party—now, a little after midnight, so I won’t forget! We were greeted by Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee, who stood on each other’s shoulders.  The band (violin etc. etc.) at the entrance were dressed in Mad Hatter type hats.  Flamingos and mirror balls decorated the entrance, but I walked in the other direction toward the formal gardens—the Hurlingham Club in Ranelagh Gardens has enormous croquet greens, and bowling greens and grass tennis courts.  I met Hanna Tiller, who belongs to the club and just came there to walk in the garden.  She told me it takes about 15 years to become a member.

We were given the option of drinking Pimm’s in teacups (with refills from teapots), or kir with berries, or champagne in flutes.  I chose the Pimm’s, since I hadn’t had one yet while I’ve been here.  We were so lucky the weather was warm and dry.

Appetizers were salmon and pate de fois gras and sushi and stilton cheese cut in diamonds and clubs and hearts and spades.

I met several ladies with the All England Tennis Club (who sponsor the Wimbledon matches) who told me it’s coincidental that there were tickets available this year.  I should buy a lotto ticket, I’ve been so lucky!

At dinner I sat with a banker and a soldier in the army who met on-line playing chess.  On the opposite site of me were a young man and woman who set up events for BNP Paribas, the bank that sponsors several tennis tournaments around the world.

Supper was lamb—what else?—with a few potatoes, leeks and carrots.  Dessert was various pastries shaped like hearts diamonds, spades & clubs.  Of course we had our choice of white or red wine and sparkling or still water with dinner.

The table centerpieces were enormous flowers made of mesh fabric stretched over wire—very neat!  Of course, you couldn’t see to the other side of the table, but you can never talk to those people anyway!

After dinner, everyone in their tuxes (and kilts! And plaid trousers with cumberbunds!) and long evening dresses went outside to ride in BUMPER CARS (I kid you not) set up outside the ballroom.  I’d never ridden in a bumper car, although I’ve always wanted to.  So now I have.  Much fun!

Inside a DJ was playing music so folks could dance until 2:00 a.m. when “carriages” would be available.  Think CAB.  By the way, it cost for a cab to get there and back, almost half what it cost for the ball itself.  But I wouldn’t have missed it!

Oh, forgot that on the edge of the dance floor, two dozen dishes of different kinds of candy had been set up, with paper bags so you can “fill your own.”  You’d think all those grownups were 10, and couldn’t buy their own candy, the way they crowded around.

Of course, I brought a bag home with me (there goes the diet…) along with a couple of large, multi-colored suckers that were labeled with our names to show our places at the table.  The menu, by the way, was listed on a red queen of hearts card.  So there it is.  Met a bunch of nice folks, had some great drinks, good food, relaxing evening and a little excitement at the Wimbledon Ball.

June 27

I went to London on the Underground yesterday, just to see a movie and to “get out of town.”  There’s no tennis on the “middle Sunday” at Wimbledon.  I saw THE BEAVER with Mel Gibson, which I thought was pretty good–a look at how depression affects an entire family, and how difficult it is to fight it alone.

Sunday is the “dark” day at live theatre venues in England, so I just enjoyed my day in the city and came home with a brochure showing all the great shows I hope to get to see over the summer.

June 28

Big VERY HOT day at Wimbledon today—which I avoided by staying home and watching on the 6 Wimbledon screens available on TV.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will & Kate) were on Centre Court to see Andy Murray beat R. Gasquet.  Also saw Djokovic beat someone not in the same league with him.  Saw Wozniacki (#1 player) get beat by Cibulkova (#24 player) who played absolutely amazing tennis, saw Serena Williams (#7 player)who wasn’t playing well get beat by Marion Bartoli (#?) who was playing great, saw Venus Williams (#23 player) not playing well get beat by Kironkova (you never heard of her, but she beat Venus at Wimbledon last year at the same time in the same round by virtually the same score).  I was pretty sure Venus would lose once Serena did, so the family could head home…

Right now, I’m waiting for my Bangers & Mash (sausage & mashed potatoes) to cook in the microwave, which is going to be my quiet dinner while I watch Nadal and Del Potro play on Centre Court.  After a very hot day, rain is threatening, but they’ve left the roof open…for now.

I’m enjoying the time to chill out (poor choice of words, considering the 90 degree heat today) during this last week of Wimbledon before I start to work on WYOMING BRIDE.

Met up with a friend tonight for dinner at the Butcher’s Hook at the Fulham Broadway tube stop, which is about a ten-minute Underground ride from Wimbleon.  Lots of atmosphere—butcher’s block tables and of course—both lamb and duck.  I chose the duck confit, which was delicious!

June 29

Spent the day at Wimbledon at Centre Court, thanks to a ticket from my friend. I got there early enough to watch part of an “invitational” doubles match between Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna vs. a Czech team.  Martina was fun and funny, clowning with the audience, so you knew she’d done a lot of matches where the tennis was more about entertaining than winning (although I’m sure she wanted to win!).  She stretched out for a shot, lost her balance and then just lay down on the court, arms outstretched.  When she came up, she said, “So much for diving for the ball!”

At Centre Court, Federer somehow LOST to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga.  That was very strange.  Federer was two sets up when Tsonga caught fire.  Even Tsonga found it hard to believe he’d won!  Also watched the Murray vs. Lopez match, which was not very competitive.  Djokovic had a harder time with Tomic (only eighteen!) than he expected to have, while Nadal managed to defeat Mardy Fish.  It was a really lovely day–weather in the 70s and mostly sunny.  I think there are a million steps in London and half of them are at Wimbledon.  I got a good workout while I watched tennis.

Visited the ladies I met at the Wimbledon Ball who work for the AELTC—All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club—above the Wimbledon Museum.  Very nice ladies!

June 30

Missed going to a party last night I was invited to by BBC Correspondent Humphrey Hawksley because I didn’t check phone messages.  Won’t make that mistake again!

Believe it or not, I’ve gotten an invitation to speak at a London golf club from a lady I met on the Underground.  I’ve agreed to do it.  Should be fun!

Today I’m doing laundry (because it’s sunny and there’s no dryer here and I have to hang things outside to dry), and catching up on sleep.  In the weeks before I came here I was too busy writing to read.  Now I’m doing some of the reading I promised myself, mostly W.E.B. Griffin war novels.  Unfortunately, I don’t want to put the book down, so I end up reading till 2 or 3 in the morning.  The sun comes up here around 4:00 so I don’t manage to sleep much past 6:30 or 7:00—which, of course, leads to sleep deprivation.  Just need a nap, I think.

Toyed with taking the train to Henley on Thames for the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat races today–especially since it’s sunny, but laundry and sleep won out.  So much for the glamorous life of an author in London…


1 Comment to Escape with Joan: #2 Letter from London

  1. A few weeks ago we participated in a virtual tea party “The Mad Tea Party”. There was an Alice theme. This has been going on for 4 years though we just learned of it this year. On our blog you will find links to the sponsor and all the other artists who played tea party with us. It was at least as much fun for us as the Wimbeldon Ball. Just thought you might enjoy a little trip through the imaginations of some pretty unusual people. I love your books and can’t wait to read more, Pat