This is the fourth in a series of posts describing my recent trip to England, Ireland, the Netherlands and Wales, from writing course to school reunion and more.

A free day! I didn’t have many of those on this trip. In the morning I went to “Ripping Yarns” bookshop, which I’d heard about through Jen Campbell (who works there) and Catdownunder.

Ripping Yarns Bookshop

Ripping Yarns Bookshop

Unfortunately, Jen wasn’t there that day. In fact I was lucky anyone was there because I’d forgotten the shop wasn’t supposed to be open that day. It’s a fascinating shop and well worth a visit if you’re near Highgate Station. I’d have loved to have bought up the whole shop, but I made do with a signed copy of Jen’s book: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.

Later, I went to sit in  Hampstead Heath with an ice cream in the continuing heatwave. I sought out the shade, but I noticed a lot of people sitting under the burning sun. I also noticed a lack of sun hats. Mad dogs and Englishmen?

The next day, I took a train and a bus to the Hilton in Watford, so I can say I didn’t go north of Watford on this trip. I’d recently discovered that my A level Applied Maths teacher attends the swimming club there along with her husband, and they invited me to meet them there. They even invited me to breakfast with them afterwards, but I had to refuse because of a prior engagement.

She and I had a very pleasant conversation until near the end when, as old people sometimes do, she said something that upset me, so although they were both very nice, I was glad I wasn’t able to take up their invitation.

From there I went straight to King’s Cross where I met Jean Davison and her husband, Ian, for the first time. We ate in Pizza Express and visited the very interesting Propaganda exhibition in the British Library. In both of those places, the air conditioning was turned up too high, but it made a pleasant change from the heat outside and in the Underground. Afterwards we had tea outside.

With Jean Davison outside the British Museum

With Jean Davison outside the British Library

Ian surprised me by sprouting some expressions in Hebrew. He’d spent two years on a kibbutz some years ago and had remembered them.

A lot of the conversation centred on social anxiety. Jean had always thought of herself as shy until she read about social anxiety on my blog and realised that it describes her much better than “shyness.” In fact, during our conversation, we discovered that she and I have a lot in common.

I enjoyed my afternoon with Jean and Ian very much. I’m so glad we finally met, and hope we can meet again in the near future.

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