Okay, it's official, the missus and me are moving back to England. We just returned from a three week research tour for my next two novels and decided it's the place for us. London was stupendous with its amazing museums and incredible architecture. Somerset was green and glorious. We visited the cathedral at Wells and decided that the this charming city (the smallest in England) would make a good place to live. We also visited Surrey and Sussex. Very lovely places, but I don't think we can afford a private farm with a built-in swimming pool, polo pitch and a string of polo ponies just yet. Still, all will provide future locations for my novels.
The main reason for the trip was research for the next two novels in the Paranormal Casebook Series. I spent time in The British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of London. the British Library, the National Gallery and many others. The fact that these world-class museums are absolutely free to the public (you are encouraged to make donations and we did), made me proud to be a Brit. Theses museums are filled with some of civilization's greatest treasures and ensuring access to all, regardless of financial means, is wonderfully egalitarian.
As I mentioned, this was a working holiday for me, and I spent hours accumulating research that will be incorporated into my novels. Along this line we visited Lydford Gorge in Dartmoor, an amazing water carved gorge with waterfalls, pools, and boiling cauldrons that will feature as a location in my third novel, currently being outlined. As a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I had to make a pilgrimage to Hindhead, Surrey to visit Undershaw, the home that Conan Doyle designed and had specially constructed for his family. The move to Surrey was to partake of the cleaner air, necessary to prolonging the life of his invalid wife, Louise, who lived many years with consumption (the dread disease of the Victorian age) but who survived, much longer than most victims, thanks, in large part, to Conan Doyle's diligent care. The house had a specially constructed shallow staircase to enable "Touie" as he lovingly called her, to climb the stairs with minimal effort. Sadly, these days Undershaw is in a sad state of dereliction and is the center of a struggle between developers, who wish to split the property into luxury flats and build additional housing units on what are currently the gardens. To counter this, a society has been formed by the actor, novelist and producer Mark Gatiss (Mycroft Holmes in the current BBC Sherlock) to preserve Undershaw as an important cultural landmark: The Undershaw Preservation Trust: www.saveundershaw.com.
Used briefly as a hotel, this lovely house with beautiful gardens, is but a ghost of its former self.
The broken windows are boarded up tight. Vandals have stolen the lead from the roof. Many of the rooms are in ruins, but the building could and should be restored. To lend your help, please join the Friends of Undershaw by visiting their web site at www.saveundershaw.com and help preserve the home of one of history's most influential writers.