Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yesterday, Delycia and I had breakfast with an English professor from Canada, who is a Thomas Hardy specialist and is preparing a paper on one of his lesser-known novels, to deliver at a Hardy conference in Dorcester, down in his home country. I loved our conversation, all about books and reading and Victorian literature. Imagine my good luck -- an English teacher and a lover of British literature enjoying a stimulating conversation with a distinguished professor in the heart of literary London!

Later in the morning, we set out for a 3-hour walk up to the poet John Keats' home in Hampstead. It was a delightful though tiring walk. We wandered along the picturesque canal, passing old and new houseboats and barges, and occasionally being passed by bikers and runners and other walkers. We paused for lunch at the top of Primrose Hill, where we sat on the windy summit and enjoyed sandwiches and chips and lots of water and lemonade, looking out over the London skyline. As I scanned the people resting at the top of this fairly steep climb, I was proud that we were easily the oldest ones up there!

Primrose Hill, London
Soon we reached Keats' house, where I felt like falling to my knees in worship at the end of our pilgrimage. I have been reading and loving Keats' poems for 50 years, so this, indeed, was a special afternoon for me. We spent lots of time touring the small rooms in the house, reading the explanations and picturing Keats and Fanny and his friends enjoying great literature and each others' company here. After our visit, we sat outside in the shade and talked quietly of the special things we noticed.

On our way back to the hotel, we rode on the top deck of a bus as it barged its way through the crooked streets -- a bit of a harrowing experience for me.

Dinner was a spinach and mushroom pizza and fishcakes at an outdoor cafe, and then a walk back on a lovely London evening.

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