In mapping out the plans for our next two series of England-based books, we discovered an issue. Although it’s easy to determine how a particular locale looks today—there are any number of online tools and search engines that can display images or satellite photos—it’s harder to determine what they looked like (or if they even existed) two hundred years ago. Was the land covered in forest? Or was it farmland? What were the buildings like? Who lived there?
Old maps help. We own an entire series of maps of the United Kingdom going back at least two hundred years. So does all the genealogical research our mother has spent the last forty-five years collecting into a huge database and dozens of binders. But there comes a time when you realize it’s time to take a trip. Time to simply put boots to the ground and do the research yourself.
As a subscriber to Anglotopia -The Website for Anglophiles, we knew about Across the Pond Vacations. ATP Vacations LLC plans tours for individuals and groups. Their expertise is travel in the UK—they only arrange tours for UK-bound travelers, so we knew they would know their stuff. We submitted a list of locales we figured we needed to visit (those where our current books have been set as well as where we were considering setting future books), provided a general budget and timeframe, and paid a $75 downpayment for a proposed itinerary. When they contacted us, the first question was, “Have you seen all these men without their shirts on in person?”
We realized right away that Anne Marie, one of the tour operators at ATP Vacations, had checked out our website, www.lindaraesande.com, and that she was referring to the men who grace the covers of our Regency romances. We had to admit that we had, indeed, seen a few of them in various states of undress, but not all. There are a few we haven’t even met (yet).
After a few more serious questions, she started her work. A proposed itinerary followed, one that included every single city, village, castle or attraction we had requested except for one (Lindisfarne Castle, very remote and currently under renovation). Once we accepted and signed the contract, ATP VAcations made reservations, lined up vouchers, arranged accommodations, and put together the final itinerary. Here’s the map of where we’ll be going. We’ll be sure to post more about the trip while we’re doing it!