No holiday is complete for me without a book (preferably 3 or 4) and the perfect spot in which to enjoy them. This week’s top ten topic about favourite reading places has given me the excuse to go delving into memories of holidays past and the books I was reading at that time. From shady gardens to riverside locations, from balconies to heritage sites, here are some of my memorable spots from years past.
Gardens and Parks
Villefranche, South of France
The compact size of the apartment we rented at Villefranche in Provence was more than compensated for by its large garden. When I wasn’t reading I could watch cruise ships coming into the harbour far below. I was re-reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and The Awakening by Kate Chopin at the time. Why? I needed to prepare for the final assignment of an Open University course that was due within a few weeks. (hence why I’m on the laptop in this photo).
Nelson, New Zealand
A garden of a different kind next. This is a Japanese garden I discovered in the town of Nelson, on South Island. It offered exactly the kind of tranquility I needed at the moment — my husband was in hospital having had unplanned, emergency surgery. While he was recovering in hospital I was left to my own devices. Not the holiday we had planned! Fortunately I had stacked my e-reader with plenty of books for the trip. That particular afternoon I was reading Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield.
Strictly speaking I wasn’t on holiday since I was in Shanghai for a business trip. But it was the weekend so I gave myself a mini break. On the Sunday afternoon having had enough of sightseeing and shopping I went in search of a park. I had a copy of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton with me but I didn’t read many pages because it was far more interesting to watch this group practising their Tai Chi.
Stoke Gabriel, Devon, England
I’ll say a huge thanks to the person who thought to put this bench in such an idyllic spot over looking a creek of the River Dart. Agatha Christie’s house was just up the river so it would have been fitting to be reading Dead Man’s Folly whose setting bears more than a passing resemblance to her treasured home. Instead I remember I was reading The Sugar Mother by Australian author Elizabeth Jolley. I’d never heard of this author until Lisa at ANZLitLovers decided to host an Elizabeth Jolley reading week.
Ashford in the Water, Derbyshire, England
Mr BookerTalk graciously posed for this photo of our riverside idyll. We’d just been the village of Eyam which chose to go into isolation to prevent infection spreading after bubonic plague was discovered there in 1665. Appropriately I was reading Year Of Wonders by Geraldine Brookes which is set in Eyam and depicts the decision to quarantine the village and its effects on the inhabitants.
Camps Bay, South Africa
Who needs a park or a riverside when you have a view like this? It was hard to drag ourselves away from watching the Atlantic waves rolling in but there was the rest of the Cape Peninsula to see. And we had to be back in time to watch the incredible sunsets. What was I reading? With all this going on I didn’t read all that much but I did have Cry The Beloved Country by Alan Paton to remind me of South Africa’s tarnished past.
Cameron Highlands, Malaysia
Here i am again and this time yes I am reading not tapping away on a keyboard! The Cameron Highlands is where the wealthy British settlers sought refuge from the heat of Malaysian summers. The journey there was tortuous — 20 plus miles of a switchback road — but the cooler temperatures and lower humidity were blissful. In between reading of Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess ( a book I don’t think I really understood), I could look out onto the tea plantations.
Pisa , Italy
I couldn’t find a decent photograph of my own that showed the spot where I sat on the grass with my nose in a copy of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford. So I had to doctor a shot from the city’s tourism bureau. I don’t know what time of day they took this but the day I was there, the place was awash with people all keen to be photographed “holding” up the leaning tower.
This rather grand residence provided a backdrop for an hour on the lawn with my copy of The Secret River by Kate Granvile. Chatsworth is one of the grandest of the stately homes, the seat of the Duke of Devonshire. I don’t go in much for touring the inside of estates like this but the gardens are always a treat. My photograph can’t hope to do justice to the vastness of the formal gardens, meadows and rock garden all designed by one of the masters of landscaping: “Capability” Brown. I
Unable to sleep any longer I took myself around the corner from our hotel to the rear entrance into Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. For one blissful hour I had this spot to myself. Of course I had a book with me — The North Water by Ian McGuire which became one of my favourite books of 2016.
Do you have any favourite holiday reading memories? I’d love to hear which places have been special for you so just pop a comment in the box below. Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules and the list of topics visit the Top Ten Tuesday page on her blog.