Stephanie Burgis
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Out on the town!
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Well, sort of. Out of the house, anyway! Yesterday afternoon I went with Patrick to the University of Leeds staff festival, and it was great. Cheap, good food and drink (although of course I only had a sip of his lovely, cheap, fairtrade red wine), wonderful arts and crafts and food stalls, an 18th-century swordfighting demonstration (heaven!), and best of all, free neck and back massages. Mmmmm....! I couldn't have a full back massage because that would have entailed lying flat on my stomach on a hard table (NOT something the baby would have enjoyed!), but I got an incredible 15-minute neck massage that left me purring with contentment.

And ohhh, those food stalls! First, I bought a box of handmade truffles with exotic flavors, some of which worked better than others. (The Earl Grey-mixed-with-dark-chocolate truffles were interesting but not a total success; on the other hand, the lemon-and-white-chocolate truffles, which I'd been dubious about, turned out to taste amazing!) But the very best food on offer turned out to be the Yorkshire honey sold by the BeezNeez Apiary. Soooooo good! Just tasting my sample at the food stand made me go weak in the knees. I bought a large jar and slathered it over my morning toast. When it runs out, I'll definitely be ordering more.

On our way home, we stopped at a café (where I sampled some of my truffles), bought bagels for dinner, then braved the heavy, cold rain to rush to the bus stop and get back to Maya - who was, by then, very ready for cuddles and play all evening long! It was a wonderful day out.

Today I've been reading a wonderfully fun guide to Regency England, The Jane Austen Handbook: A Sensible Yet Elegant Guide to Her World, by Margaret Sullivan. It's addressed to young ladies desiring to enter Regency society, it's witty and helpful, and one of my favorite things about it is that it focuses on the world of Jane Austen's heroines - i.e., the gentry rather than the aristocracy (which soooo many Regency histories focus on to the exclusion of all others). Of course, it isn't perfect - I caught a mistake about the political history of the period in the first chapter - but it is generally really good at the social history it focuses on, I love the practical (and well-illustrated!) sections on how-to-fold-a-letter, how-to-ride-a-sidesaddle, etc., and it has actually clarified a couple of points of Regency property law that I'd still been fuzzy on (and which are directly relevant to Kat - hooray!). For me, at least, it's been a really fun read, and I'm so glad to have bought a copy.

And ohhh, how I want to own Mark Twain's writing hut...the photos, in combination with his own descriptions, are to die for. Check it out!

Now, inspired by my new book, imagining myself in a perfect writing hut, and still tasting that luscious Yorkshire honey, I'm going to go start my morning revising session. Wish me luck!

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