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From Belgium, With Love

Hi, all! 🙂 Where am I now, you wonder? Well, the title of this post says it all. I’m in Belgium staying with Terry Milien, one of my besties. I’ll be here until Thursday when I head off for Germany, the final destination in this whirlwind adventure of mine. Today we have plans on visiting a dolphinarium. I ❀ dolphins, and I know they have other cute sea creatures like seals and sea lions, so I’m looking forward to checking it out!

2013-07-08 14.09.45Since I last updated, I went on a tour of Bath and Stonehenge. In Bath, Sue and I met up with Josephine Myles, who after our official tour of the Roman Baths, gave us a more unofficial tour of the town itself. We’d had lunch with her shortly after we arrived, broke for the tour of the baths, and then we walked around with her a bit. Knowing I’m a major Jane Austen fan, she showed us to one of the houses where Jane Austen had lived, took us past the Jane Austen Centre, and then showed us a couple of spots any Austen fan might recognize from the books/movies — the Circus and the Royal Crescent (pictured above). It was a lovely town and I enjoyed it very much, and being in the Roman Baths left me in awe thinking of the people who had first built it thousands of years ago. A bit surreal. Stonehenge was even more so after that, especially with all the speculation surrounding the actual use of the stones. We’ll never know, it’ll all be conjecture unless someone finds a magical, as-yet-undiscovered answer. Mysteries like that intrigue me. I must have taken a hundred pictures, one of which you can see below. 

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The day after our Stonehenge/Bath tour, Sue and I headed down to Brighton with Marie Sexton. We met with Chris, a Brighton Greeter, who took us through the town and showed us various sights while giving us some historical background. For a volunteer who claimed not to be an “official” tour guide, he was certainly very knowledgeable, and he made our visit that much more enjoyable.

2013-07-09 17.03.19After parting with him, we did lunch, and then we left Marie behind in the center of town to shop while Sue and I went to have our tattoos done. You can see mine to the right. It’s Harry Potter inspired and also serves to commemorate this trip, as a part of it I was most looking forward to was our visit to the Harry Potter studio at the beginning of the month. 

Being friends with the tattooist who did my work, Melanie Tushmore was waiting for us at the tattoo parlor. She stayed for our tattoos and then helped us get back to the town center via bus, where Sue and I went down to the beach to dip our toes in the English Channel (And, man, was that beach rocky and killer on our feet! I don’t get how people were lying on those rocks bare-skinned, lol). Then we hung out with Tush and a friend of hers for a little bit before heading back to London. It had been a long day with lots of walking around, and we were tired.

That was on the 10th and the last of our official tours. Below, to the left, you can see a pic of the Royal Pavilion, which was one of my favorite 2013-07-09 10.34.24buildings in Brighton, and I just loved its back-story. Then on the 11th, our last day in London, Sue and I split up for a bit. She went to check out the Natural History Museum while I met up with Marie Sexton at the London Dungeon. For those who don’t know, this isn’t an actual dungeon, but a haunted house type of attraction that blends history/folklore with trying to scare the hell out of you. As Marie said to Rowan later that day, we didn’t know each other very well at the beginning of our visit, but we did by the end. Clinging to someone in terror will do that to you! lol. Some of it was cheesy, it has to be said, but there were a few scary moments that had me screaming and holding on to Marie’s arm for dear life. I don’t feel too bad, though, because there were moments she grabbed me too. Hehe.

The day after the London Dungeon, we took a train to Manchester for the UK Meet Up. It was so great meeting new people and seeing some familiar faces. I got to meet some peeps I’d been talking to on Twitter and FB for a while, which was awesome, and the adorable Ashlyn Kane, who wrote one of my favorite M/M rocker romances, which was an unexpected pleasure, as I hadn’t realized she was going. Also saw some of the Dreamspinner crew, which is always a pleasure. Mainly we ate, drank (well, I drank pop/juice/water, the others mainly had wine :P), and talked and laughed. I enjoyed the panel discussions that went on throughout the day on Saturday, and then on Sunday, we only hung around long enough to have breakfast with Susan, and sit in on another couple of panels, and I got to chat with Kay Berrisford for a few minutes, who I’d been looking forward to meeting and had spoken to briefly the day before. The signing on Saturday evening went well. I had a few people stop by, managed to sell all my books, and even picked up a few books and signatures myself! JL Merrow was there and she wrote what is probably my favorite humorous M/M romance to date, so I was thrilled to meet her and have her sign my book, and I also bought books from Henrietta Clarke and Julie Bozza, which I am really excited to start reading!

Well, I must go off and shower so we can begin our day over here. Hope you are all having a beautiful summer. This time next week, I’ll be back home. Much as I’m looking forward to seeing my friend Carolin in Germany and spending a few days there, I’m also anxious to get back home. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from my family, and I’m really missing my son.


Halfway through our adventure

2013-06-24 11.53.22Hey, all! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. My friend Sue and I have been going almost non-stop since we left Chicago on June 23rd. :)First, we hit Rome, which was just amazing. I could have easily spent an entire month just exploring Italy, and I definitely want to go back one day. We did a few tours while we were there. One of ancient Rome, which took us to sights like the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Trevi Fountain. That was a hard tour — three hours of walking under a blazing sun on one of the hottest days we’ve experienced so far — and yet, it was probably my favorite for all that. There was a moment where we were sitting across the street from the Colosseum having lunch (see pic above), which stands out as one of the coolest moments of my life so far. Then we did a tour of the Tuscan countryside and also a tour of a few crypts and old churches. It was a ton of fun and a lot of activities packed into a short amount of time. The only downside was that I got sick the day after the ancient Rome tour and still haven’t fully recovered, though I’m doing loads better. 

2013-06-30 15.07.10After Rome, we moved on to Paris, where we met my friend, Terry, and his husband, A. We hit up as much as we could — the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, Saint-Chapelle, Champs-ÉlysĂ©es, Montmarte (that’s a pic of the real Moulin Rouge on the left) — as well as attending the gay pride parade on the 29th and having some truly decadent hot chocolate at Angelina (I thought I’d go into a diabetic coma!). By the time it was all over, we were old pros at getting around on the Metro (though, mainly we just followed behind wherever A. led like ducklings :P). Then Terry and A. accompanied us to London via the Eurostar.

Once we were in London, we found our nearest tube stop and familiarized ourselves with the area a bit. Then the next day we went to Warner Bros. Studio in Leavesdon for the Harry Potter tour, which was awesome! My favorite part was the model of Hogwarts, which you can see a bit further down.

We’ve definitely gotten to know the London underground very well, and we’ve both even gone on it by ourselves when we went to 2013-07-02 15.04.40separate activities the other day. Definitely much easier (and cheaper) than hailing cabs everywhere. So far in London, we did a “snapshot” tour, which took us to the Tower of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Covent Garden, the London Eye, and gave us a general overview of things like the Parliament and Big Ben. Then another day we did a Jack the Ripper tour with Marie Sexton and Rowan Speedwell, who are over here to attend the UK Meet. Yesterday, I met up with Melanie Tushmore, who took me on a brief tour of the markets at Camden. And today Sue and I had tea at The Tea Room on the 2nd floor of Harrods and checked out the market in Notting Hill. Tomorrow, we’re doing a tour that includes Stonehenge and Bath, which I’m really looking forward to! Josephine Myles will be meeting us in Bath since she lives nearby and giving us a tour and showing me all the spots any Jane Austen fan would appreciate. 😀 Later in the week, we’re doing a tour of Brighton with Marie and Rowan, Sue and I are getting tattoos to commemorate our trip (it was the first time overseas for both of us!), and on Wed or Thurs, I will likely be going to check out the London Dungeon before we move on to Manchester. 

My trip will be going on for an entire month, so right now I’m only halfway through. Sue only has another week, as she’s leaving for home right after the UK Meet. I still have two more countries to visit after we’re done in England. I’m looking forward to it! 🙂

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