I awoke Sunday early, in spite of my determination to sleep in after the ball. Somehow the body clock was convinced I must get up. Oh, well. I packed up and went down to breakfast, then took a last stroll around the Abbey yard and surrounding streets. I do love Bath. It never grows old, and I always look forward to returning!
I woke up early Wednesday, since my body clock was telling me it was 7:30am when it was 6:30, so I decided to try the Minster again, as morning matins are scheduled daily for 7:30am. Walking around to the front entrance at 7:15, I found the door open but saw no one inside. I let myself in and listened, but the only sound that met my ears was that of a vacuum!
Being introduced to a new city is like being handed a Christmas present. You have no idea what’s inside and whether you’ll like it or just be polite about it and say things like Emma Woodhouse would: “When pressed, I say she’s elegant!” Well, I didn’t have to force politeness after my introduction to York by my friends Suzi and Keith, who absolutely adore the place and visit each year.
Because my flight out of the UK was late at night, Cathy and I had a full day to kill on the way to Heathrow. She recommended we stop at the Snibston Discovery Museum, which is just off the motorway. I’d taken my tour group there in 2012, and we enjoyed not only the museum displays but behind-the-scenes study of the fabulous Symington corset collection. Cathy mentioned there was a new display in the costume section, so I readily agreed to the stop.
We had a wonderful, quiet Sunday morning (well, Cathy drove the sitter home while I chilled out with my baby on the couch!), then I happily took up Cathy on her offer to see Kedleston Hall, which is another of Derbyshire’s stately homes that features jaw-dropping Robert Adam architecture (perfectly preserved upstairs) and the wonderful Indian collection of the late Lord and Lady Curzon.
When my husband first surprised me with this special trip, it was early enough that I’d have time to put together my costume for the masquerade ball at the end … but, naturally, grandiose schemes were the first to cross my mind! I could totally see making a 1780s take on the White Queen, from panniers to a towering powdered wig! Then common sense (and the deadline and my actual suitcase space) reined me in, and I decided to go for something far less ambitious but still fun.
Suzi had a morning appointment on Friday and urged Cathy and me to do something on our own. She and Keith would meet us for lunch around 1. So we took the bus to Oxford Street, then walked past Selfridges to Manchester Square, home to the stunning jewel box that contains The Wallace Collection–one of London’s best kept art museum secrets.
As a very early Christmas surprise in 2014, my husband gave me a small gift bag in November and asked me to open it. When I unwrapped the tissue paper inside, I found what looked like a Mardi Gras mask and felt completely puzzled. “You’re sending me to New Orleans?” I asked, incredulously. He laughed and told me to guess again.