by Abigail Reynolds Picture: Jane Odiwe, Abigail Reynolds, and Monica Fairview in Regents Park How lucky can a girl get? Last week I unexpectedly found myself with several days to kill in London and Bath, and almost no plans. It was a little strange, I grant you, to have no idea what I was going to do, but somehow I was certain that I wouldn’t be bored. Indeed, I had a lovely and busy time with Austen friends and historical sights, and I can’t resist sharing it all with you. I started in London with a quick visit to the Wallace Collection, a museum of fine art displayed in a Regency mansion. It’s a hidden treasure, and I only wish that I could have sat on one of their settees with a notebook for hours. But it was not to be, since I had a date for lunch in the crypt of St. Marylebone Church. There I met several of my fellow Austen Authors – Juliet Archer, Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview and Victoria Connelly – for several delightful hours of chat about our books, publishing, and of course, Jane Austen. Then it was off to Bath for me, where I made the foolish mistake of thinking I could manage a five minute walk from the train station to my B&B with my luggage, not realizing it was a steep hill all the way. It was worth it when I arrived, though, for the view across the city to the Royal Crescent. I could go on for hours about the beauty of Bath and still not do it justice, so I’ll skip to my delightful dinner with Jane Odiwe in her flat overlooking the garden of Jane Austen’s house on Sydney Road. It gave me shivers to think of our Jane sitting there! The next day brought another Austen writer, Sandra Platt, whose stories can be found at Pen & Ink, who generously drove me to stunningly picturesque Stourhead Landscape Gardens where Matthew MacFadyen made his first proposal to Keira Knightly in the 2005 movie of Pride & Prejudice. Fortunately, we managed to avoid the pouring rain from that scene and took a walk around the lake and through the various follies. To give equal time to the 1995 A&E miniseries, our next stop was Lacock Village, better known to many of us as Meryton, a charming village preserved by the National Trust and frequently used as a setting for period dramas. It was a thrill to stand in front of the Red Lion pub, better known as the exterior for the Meryton Assembly. I could practically see the carriages pulling up. To top off a wonderful day, Sandra and I talked plot, troubleshooting some issues in my new Pemberley Variation, providing much needed inspiration. It was lovely to finally meet so many Jane Austen friends. How many people, after all, understand my obsession? It was wonderful to have the chance to slip back in time to Regency England, not least because the drama in my home town of Madison, Wisconsin was finding its way into the headlines even in the UK. I’m already trying to come up with excuses to go back to England. After all, there are so many other Austen-related places to visit! What Austen sites do you wish you could see?