My Literary Trip to Scotland

Standard

Ever since I wrote about my top literary places to visit, I have been chomping at the bit to get exploring! I’m always drawn to places where people lived/live that I admire. For example, in August, I visited Oxford, home of CS Lewis, Tolkien, and various Harry Potter filming locations, and this October just passed I visited Scotland! I was drawn to Edinburgh in particular because of its literary links but also for its historical element, as it was the home of Mary Queen of Scots. (Blog post about her coming soon!)

IMG_v3tlaz

Above: On the train journey to Scotland.

Scotland is home to one of my favourite series, Harry Potter, as JK Rowling lived (and still lives) in Edinburgh whilst she was writing the stories. We went to various locations around the city that held history for Harry. The first stop we went to was the Greyfriars Kirkyard filled with graves which Rowling stole names from for characters for the series. We managed to find Tom Riddle, a McGonagall and a Scrimgeour! Victoria Street, just around the corner from the graveyard, also claims to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley.

Above: McGonagall, Riddell and Scrymgeour graves and Victoria Street.

We also visited The Elephant House where JK Rowling wrote a lot of Philosopher’s Stone and also another cafe named Spoon. But Rowling isn’t the old city’s claim to fame. Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of Sherlock Holmes, was born in Edinburgh, in the home of 11 Picardy Place. To commemorate, there is a statue of Sherlock outside the home which has now become a restaurant. Across the road, there is also a pub, named the Conan Doyle, after the author.

Above: The Elephant House cafe, the Sherlock Holmes statue, and the Conan Doyle pub.

We also visited the Writer’s Museum (which is also free to enter!) which chronicled the lives of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. Having only read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he was the only author that I knew a little bit about but still didn’t know his full story. The museum was also doing an installation on Ian Rankin, another Scottish novelist.

20171022_135554.jpg

Above: The bust of Robert Louis Stevenson inside the Writer’s Museum.

There was so much to see and do in Edinburgh when it came to literary themes, not just history. There were even historical walks that lead you through the lives of writer’s, but we didn’t get a chance to go on that, and it’s something that I would really recommend any literary fiend doing.

As I said in my blog post on literary places, I’m hoping to work my way through them and so next on the list is hopefully Haworth where the Bronte’s lived!

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Or have I made you want to take on your own literary pilgrimage? Let me know in the comments!

Advertisements

My Literary Trip to Oxford

Standard

In a blog post earlier in the year, I made a list of bookish places to visit in England, the first of which was Oxford, one of the most literary places in the world. It is home to the famous literary group, the Inklings, who amongst it members were C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Roger Lancelyn Green, to name a few.

20170807_172610.jpg

(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

I, by rights, would consider C.S. Lewis one of my favourite authors, as his Chronicles of Narnia are some of my best loved go-to comfort reads. For the past twenty years, I have read and re-read those tales that provided (along with Tolkien and many others) the cornerstones of children’s fantasy. I like many others travelled with the Pevensies and poured my heart into the destruction of the White Witch. For Narnia, and for Aslan!

20170807_154444.jpg20170807_154459.jpg

(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

But how much did I know about the man behind the magic? Who was C.S. Lewis? So this was reason number one why I decided to visit Oxford, where Lewis spent a large chunk of his life. The Kilns, where Lewis used to live, gives tours by appointment and is situated in Risinghurst, just outside of the city center. Not only can you find Lewis’s home there, but also his parish, which is only a ten-minute walk away. The church is also his resting place, as people flock from all over the world to pay their respects to the author who transported them through the wardrobe. His brother, Warren Lewis, affectionately known as Warnie, who died ten years later, is also buried with his brother, who liked to be known as Jack.

20170808_132114.jpg

(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Taking a tour of the Kilns was like being reacquainted with an old friend. I knew bits of trivia about Lewis’s life, but our guide shed light on just what an imaginative, gracious and fun-loving person he really was. One story stood out to me in particular. After his cat, Tom, had lost his teeth, Lewis’s wife, Joy, wanted to have the cat put down. Lewis would hear nothing of the sort, and every third day went to the market to get fish for Tom to eat, which he ground small enough so the cat didn’t have to chew, and declared it would be Tom’s pension. As he passed Tom in the garden, he usually doffed his hat, citing to a baffled friend, “Tom’s a pensioner, don’t you know. We treat pensioners with respect.”

20170808_145119

(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

Oxford history doesn’t just hold references to Lewis’s life and works, it also plays host to a large chunk of filming locations, particularly for the first Harry Potter film, directed by Christopher Columbus. I visited the Divinity School in the Bodleian Library, where the scenes for the Hogwarts Infirmary were filmed, and also Christ Church, where the Golden Trio meet again after the events of Philosopher’s Stone. Finally, I also visited New College, where a particular scene from The Goblet of Fire was filmed. Visiting New College was like stepping into Hogwarts itself. It’s safe to say this trip was filled with magic!

20170807_161608.jpg

20170808_114902.jpg20170809_120352.jpg

(c) Clare Holman-Hobbs

I was only in Oxford for four days but I absolutely loved every minute of it! I wouldn’t hesitate to go back again and I would definitely recommend it, especially if you’re a big literary geek like me!

Has my blog post convinced you to visit Oxford? Or are there other places on your list? Let me know in the comments!

Popular Books I’ve Not Read (Yet!)

Standard

When talking about books, so many people love to gasp in horror that I’ve not read their favourites, but in my 25 short years I guess I just haven’t got around to it yet! Here are the top books that I haven’t had the chance to pick up (yet).

These books are in no particular order.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

727798

In a sleepy village in the Shire, a young hobbit is entrusted with an immense task. He must make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ruling Ring of Power – the only thing that prevents the Dark Lord’s evil dominion. – from Goodreads.com

The amount of people that have told me I MUST read LoTR, especially since I am such a fan of fantasy, but I completely missed the boat when it comes to this series. It has such an incredibly large following and many dedicated readers, and I know one day I’ll finally get around to picking this series up.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

11047554

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. – from Goodreads.com

A few years ago this book BURST onto the scene, and garnered the same popularity that Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train earned in it’s wake. To be honest, I don’t know why I haven’t got round to reading it yet because it’s right up my alley, so perhaps I’ll place it higher up on my TBR from now on.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

19288043

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer? – from Goodreads.com

Again, speaking of Gone Girl, it’s another book I haven’t gotten around to reading yet which is crazy because I love mystery/thrillers. I have seen the movie adaptation though which was a crazy ride in itself, but I’m hoping to complete the experience by reading the book one day.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

893136

Liesel, a nine-year-old girl, is living with her foster family on Himmel Street. Her parents have been taken away to a concentration camp. Liesel steals books. This is her story and the story of the inhabitants of her street when the bombs begin to fall. – from Goodreads.com

Just about everyone and their mothers have read this book and I can understand why, it is narrated by death after all, which is enough to make me pick it up too. It’s just a case of ‘so many books and so little time’ but it’s definitely one I’ll be eyeing up once my TBR pile gets a bit lower.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

13578351.jpg

When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? – from Goodreads.com

Like many other hardcore Potterheads, I ran to my nearest bookstore and pre-ordered The Casual Vacancy when it was announced. Soon, the gorgeous hardback was in my hands but then the reviews started to roll in and I got scared. I didn’t want anything to tarnish my precious JK Rowling, so I put the book down, un-read and waited… and waited… and never picked it back up again. I know I’ll read it one day and I know I’ll probably love it as it’s similar to one of my favourite movies Hot Fuzz, so I’m quite happy that this little gem is waiting for me for a rainy day.

So these are the top five books I’ve got on my ‘long list TBR’. Do you have them on yours too? What other books have you not gotten around to reading yet? Let me know in the comments!