Time for an update from the valley on my progress with Thomas Hardy The Time-Torn Man by Claire Tomalin.
Biographies I find make excellent pre-sleep reading.
I don't mean they send me to sleep especially because all books do that eventually.It's just that the content isn't usually anything so disturbing that it gives you insomnia or nightmares.However fiction will often butt in insistently and refuse to be put down and of course then you face the perils of dreaming accordingly or just lying there with the maelstrom of a plot swirling round in your head.
That's happened recently so I'm only just heading to London with young Thomas in 1862 and his first employment.
He was in good company if he had but known it as a steady stream of eminent writers made their way to the capital with him.Henry James arriving with a credit note for £1000 and thus able to find decidedly comfortable lodgings in Mayfair .
Whilst Henry was busy dining with Leslie (Stephen), John (Ruskin) and William (Morris) and meeting the pre-Raphaelite painters poor Thomas had to settle for a shared room in the then rural area of Kilburn, 3 Clarence Place still surrounded by farms and fields.Is it still there?
But luck was on his side and he wasn't on job seeker's benefit for long.
Wanted by Blomfield's, London's top architects, someone who could do Gothic ecclesiastical drawing for an annual salary of £110. So young Thomas now had the daily commute into the offices at 9 St Martin's Lane, just off Trafalgar Square.
Do we know what's there now? Could someone from Orion nip round and have a look?
Thomas threw himself into the London tourist scene, went to hear Charles Dickens read, did the galleries, churches, libraries, museums, theatres, heard Palmerston speak in the House and went to his funeral at Westminster Abbey. I can only imagine what a heady sense of pure excitement all this must have meant to the country-bred lad from Dorset. Anyone lucky enough to find themselves living in London for the first time must still go through the same experience, well I did.
My first read in the Hardy-thon will be A Pair of Blue Eyes set in North Cornwall which means we can finally get around to that long promised trip up to Boscastle and see just how things have moved on since the great flash flood of 2004.
Now that was a night to remember down here.
It was actually the Valency Valley where the flood waters rose as I recall and that's were we'll head to find St Juliot's Church and like so many churches around here it's best seen when the snowdrops are out.
Dig out your stout walking shoes and Bookhound will get started on the egg sandwiches.He does a wicked picnic, form an orderly queue and expect cafetieres of fresh coffee to be produced from the back of the Land Rover (once it's parked up that is)