The Traveller Returns (with giveaway)

All Saints Fulham 250

Giveaway winner: Congratulations to Barbara Elness, Random.org drew you out the hat for the giveaway. I’ll be in touch to get your details!

As some of you know, or would have guessed by my last two posts, I have just spent the last month on a trip to Europe. It was great fun, and I got to see my family and indulge in some wonderful research and visits to the places set in my novels.

I have some videos as well. I’m going to upload them and see how embarrassing they are before sharing them with the world. They are very much a rough and ready affairs, with my filming myself with my iPhone and not a lot of slick preparation. We’ll see . . .

I was able to visit All Saints Church in Fulham, London, and see the only remaining work most likely by Susanna Horenbout, the heroine of my Susanna Horenbout and John Parker novels. Really, really very exciting, the Christmas tree blocking the brass plaque notwithstanding! :) I was also lucky enough to get to the V & A Museum in London, and see the Miniatures Portrait Gallery, which contained miniatures by Lucas Horenbout, the brother of my heroine, as well as Hans Holbein the Younger and Levina Teerlinc, Lucas and Susanna’s younger contemporary who later worked as a court painter to Elizabeth I.

Tower Bridge at NightI also travelled up to the Lake District, and almost didn’t get to leave it, because the day we headed up for Scotland it rained so hard, the lake began lapping across the road, and quite frankly, we almost got locked in. My husband and I both love the Lake District. We’ve visited there before and had such a wonderful time, we had to take the kids back. We went for a walk through the pristine Grizedale Forest, where you could really imagine all manner of mythical creatures peeping out at you, and visited the Beatrix Potter Exhibition Centre, which has been set up since we were last there and was well worth the visit.

In Scotland we celebrated Hogmanay with my cousin and her husband, and then set off for Stirling Castle. When I was in New York two years ago, I was really sorry I didn’t have time to get to the Cloisters Museum to see the Unicorn Tapestries. However, what a treat awaited me at Stirling Castle, where I discovered the Unicorn Tapestries had been recreated using the medieval and renaissance methods to duplicate them. Stirling Castle The Unicorn At BayMaster weavers from all over the world have been drafted into the project, and they work at Stirling Castle itself and at West Dean in Scotland. They painstakingly copied the original tapestries at Cloisters Museum, and the result is so beautiful. Of course, these tapestries look like the originals would have looked when they were first made in the early 1500s, whereas the originals are in much worse condition, having at one point thought to be used to cover potatoes in a barn!

The reason the Unicorn Tapestries have been duplicated to hang on the walls of the Queen’s Inner Chamber at Stirling is because in the 16th Century inventories found at the castle, a series of tapestries referred to as The Unicorn Tapestries is mentioned as having been purchased. These tapestries have disappeared and it was felt that given they would also have been commissioned from the same artists and weavers who created the Unicorn Tapestries which now hang in the Cloisters Museum, recreating those works would most closely match what would have hung on the walls in Stirling. The result is spectacular.

Blue Mosque IstanbulAfter a bit longer in London, we headed for Istanbul to stay with my sister who has been living there for the last three years. My children had been desperate for snow, southern hemisphere kids that they are, and they finally got their wish in Istanbul with two days of constant snow. Lots of snow balls were thrown and snowmen built. We explored The Cistern, the amazing underground waterways designed by the Romans to bring a fresh supply of water to the city. At the bottom of one of the pillars is the upside-down head of Medusa, and on another, one of Medusa with her head on the side. We also got to see the magnificent Hagia Sophia Museum and the absolutely breathtaking Blue Mosque. Really, the atmosphere in all these places is palpable and the art and architecture is really lovely.

Holiday swagSo, given that today is my day for a giveaway, I’m giving away three momentos of my trip: a keyring depicting one of the unicorn tapestries, a London keyring, and a fridge magnet of the London skyline, along with a $10 Amazon voucher. Just comment and tell me your favorite holiday destination, or one you’d really love to visit, by end of Friday this week, when I’ll use random.org to draw a winner.

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction for Gallery Books. Her debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, released in August, 2011, is set in the court of Henry VIII. It features the real historical figures of illuminator and painter, Susanna Horenbout, and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes, John Parker. A second book, also featuring Susanna and Parker, THE KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, was published on April 3rd, 2012. THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, a historical novel set in London during the Napoleonic Wars, is set for a November 27th, 2012 release.
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29 Responses to The Traveller Returns (with giveaway)

  1. Edie Ramer says:

    Your entire trip sounds wonderful! I love the unicorn tapestry. Just beautiful. So glad you and your family had such a wonderful time. But the next time you want snow, come to Wisconsin and visit me and Liz! I can’t speak for Liz, who lives a bit south of me, but I have snow and cold and an icy driveway.

    • Liz Kreger says:

      Yep … we have some snow, but mostly ice. Nasty ice storm last week and its been so cold that not even the salt is melting it off the driveway. Makes for trecherous footing. And … yes, you gotta come to Wisconsin to visit.

      My all time favorite destination will always be Australia and I’m trying to make some plans to return in the near future. So be prepared for my dropping in on you since I’ve never been to the Western coast. Told hubby that he and the little darlin’ can come with me to see my friend in Victoria, explore Sydney and perhaps pop on over to Ayers Rock, but then I’m puttin’ them on a plane home and would love to come see you in WA.

      • Edie, I’m sure my kids would LOVE to visit Wisconsin in winter :)

        My sister who lives in Istanbul is moving to Washington DC, so maybe I will get to come over and see you when I visit her!

        Liz, you would be so welcome! I’d love to have you come stay. (And you, too, Edie!) Liz, the RWAus conference is in Fremantle (which is right next to Perth) in August this year, if you want to hang with some Aussie writers. :)

  2. Misty Evans says:

    Oh, Michelle! I got goosebumps reading about your adventures. I’d love to travel to all of those places now.

    I’m researching Vatican City for my current work-in-progress, and so I’d love to visit Rome…or really, anywhere in Italy for that matter. I love the language, the music, the food – all of it!

    And I’m with Edie, if you ever want snow, come visit us in winter. We’ve always got plenty to spare!

    • Rome is fantastic, Misty! I also love Florence but most of all, Venice. Absolutely love it.

      I’d love to explore Italy more, like on bikes or on a walking holiday. I only hit the big cities by train last time I was there, and I’d love to have a calmer, more relaxed holiday there.

  3. Dale Mayer says:

    Hi Michelle,

    Welcome back and oh my, what lovely pictures! The whole trip sounds fabulous and once again, I’m jealous! :)

    And I think when compared to Edie and Misty – Canada is THE winter holiday experience! So waving my hands in the air and waving madly, shouting, “Me, come to me for snow!”
    Lol
    Dale Mayer`s last blog was …Deadly Designs is Free – today and tomorrow (9th & 10th)

  4. Welcome back, Michelle!!
    And, oh, what fabulous adventures you had in Europe! From Scotland to Istanbul (wow!!), you and your family really got to visit some wonderful sites. Glad it was such a fun and memorable trip, and thank you for sharing a little of it with us! :)

  5. Amy R says:

    Welcome back! You were missed but glad you had such a nice time. The way you describe all those places is awesome and really makes me want to go there, while normally they would not have been high on my list of places to go. I guess with a little history lesson, it makes things more exciting! Traveling so much with your kids will be awesome experiences for them to remember, too. Oh, and I would be happy to send you some snow and ice. :-)

    • Given how hot things are in Australia at the moment, Amy, I’ll take that ice and snow with both hands!

      Yes, it was great to travel with the kids and they really loved it.

  6. Jane says:

    Welcome back, Michelle. I would love to visit Europe and its awesome museums someday like the Uffizi, Prado and the Louvre. I really want to take a Mediterranean cruise so that I can visit Petra and the Celsus Library in Ephesus.

  7. Liz Kreger says:

    Incidently, sounds like you had an absolutely fabulous time in Europe. London is also on my “wish list” of places to visit. The history there is just incredible. Besides London and several destinations in Australia, I gotta say I’d love to visit Venice, Italy; Paris, France; various Greek islands … hmm, that’s enough to keep me busy for awhile. :shock:

  8. Liz, I’s love to go to Greece, too. I’ve never been and have always wanted to go, based mainly on loving Mary Stewart’s books which are set there.

  9. amyc says:

    Oh, Michelle! You are so lucky! I have always wanted to visit Northern Ireland where my aunts and uncles live.

    • Thanks, Amy. Yes, I feel lucky. I’ve only been to the Republic of Ireland and loved it. I’d go back in a heart beat if I had the opportunity. One of the most beautiful places in the world.

  10. Pingback: Adventures in Europe - Website of author Michelle Diener

  11. Heather Hall says:

    I have two Uncles, one was in WWI and the other was in WWII. One is buried in Inverness, Scotland and the other has a memorial headstone in France. I would like to visit these places and pay my respect to two Uncles I have heard alot about, but never got to meet them. They gave their lives so that I might live in freedom. They are my heros.

  12. Nicole Laverdure says:

    Welcome back Michelle. It looks like you has an amazing trip.
    You must have had lots of fun in Scotland celebrating Hogmanay.
    Wow, I hope you come and visit Canada, I live in Quebec near Montreal.
    By the way, I did several bookmarks with ribbons and beads. I’ll send
    you a photo. So nice, to hear your trip went well! My husband and I are going for a 2 weeks trip in Scotland next June. It’s a dream come true for me!

    • Thanks for the photo, Nicole, and enjoy your trip to Scotland! It’s a wonderful place (and I’m not just saying that because most of my family originates there :))

  13. Nicole Laverdure says:

    ooops, I forgot my email nlaverdure88@videotron.ca
    Nicole Laverdure

  14. Kimh says:

    How fun, great pics and prizes thanks
    Asturalia, would e great :cool:

  15. Barbara Elness says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit Great Britain, and I hope to one day. That would be my dream vacation. Your trip sounds wonderful to me, I’m so envious of your lovely time. I’d love to go on an Alaska cruise as well, I think that would be fantastic too. :D

  16. Pamk says:

    My wish consists of lots of places London, Paris, Australia, Greece, new zealand, and almost forgot Italy. Would also love to do Egypt Israel., and Petra in Pakistan.

  17. Margay says:

    London is right up there, but I’ve always wanted to visit Paris.

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