When I booked my ticket for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s winter party, I had no idea that it was to be held at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. At One Birdcage Walk the building is just around the corner from Westminster Palace and about a 30 minute walk from Waterloo. Fortunately, by the time my train arrived, the wind had died down and the rain had turned to drizzle. Even though I’d been advised to wear glitter tights, my outfit of black trousers and a top seemed appropriate and also suitable for travelling. My only concession to party-wear were my shoes: pointy with kitten heels. Although my toes cried for mercy with every step I managed to see the evening out without crumpling in a corner and although the acoustics in the library were appalling, I was able to chat with a number of writing friends.
It’s not often that I go to London these days, so to discover a delicious new building was quite a treat. The site for the building was purchased in 1895 at a cost of £9,500 and the building was designed in the Queen Anne ‘streaky bacon’ style of red brick and Portland Stone. Now that I live in Dorset, buildings that are made from Portland stone are of particular interest. Notable buildings like St Paul’s Cathedral, the Port of Liverpool Building and 100 King Street, Manchester are all made from Portland stone and account for the quarries that have gouged the isle of Portland since Roman times.
Funny to think that besides the ‘down from London’ residents of the county (a term which includes me), there are older ties that link Dorset with the major cities of the country.