Monday, 25 July 2011

A Day Out with Diana

I mentioned the other day that Diana Birchall was coming to Oxford, and of course I wanted to meet up with her. We met on her previous visit to the UK (the current one is her 29th, I believe) and had a fun, fairly speedy chat with her. This time I was determined it would be a little longer.

I hoped I'd be able to attend a talk Diana was giving to various writers groups in Oxford, on her (utterly fascinating) career as a story analyst for a major Hollywood studio, as well as her grandmother Winnifred Eaton/Onoto Watanna's life. And, indeed, it turned out that I could - a rapt audience heard Diana's wonderful talk, and asked many questions.

But this was only Part A of my time with Diana. When we'd been emailing arrangements, Diana had said that she would love to see me on Saturday, but wouldn't be able to see me on Sunday. I railed and stormed, protested and raged - all behind a computer monitor, of course - and *insisted* that she come with me to Jane's Teas. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Diana would love it. Well, with that sort of storming, what could she do but capitulate?

If you haven't heard of Jane's Teas before, have a look at my first blog post about it - and the amusing story behind how we found it.

And Diana loved it, of course. She very kindly treated me and my housemate Debs to scones (for Debs) and the most delicious caramel and date cake (for me) - and herself had an enticing fish 'smokie'. And if this generosity weren't enough, Diana sent us home with some gorgeous-looking honey, and copies of her books about Winnfred Eaton and Emma's Mrs. Elton. Looking forward to them!

Such a wonderful place, and such a wonderful day out. The weather was beautiful, the cake was delicious, the company was literary and fun. A lovely Sunday! How was yours?


  1. what a great day Si - nothing can compare - see you at the end of the week

  2. What a lovely day out! I had no idea Diana Birchall was Onoto Watanna's granddaughter. How fascinating!

  3. What a lovely day and how nice to spend it in such wonderful wonderful surroundings too.

  4. Sounds absolutely delightful! Loved the pics, too

  5. Thank you for the lovely write-up about our time together, which was delicious in every possible way! I've just staggered off the plane, 11 hours plus 2 in customs, at which they confiscated my Jane's Teashop Jam (well, plum chutney), much to my sorrow! Never mind: it was one of the most delightsome afternoons I've ever had, and I loved meeting Debs, too. It'll be a few days before I can assemble my tired thoughts and pictures, so I was really glad that you did. Sakura, I'm fascinated that you know about Onoto Watanna! You might like to get hold of the biography I wrote of her (Onoto Watanna, U. of Illinois Press). I know it's at the Bodleian because Simon is single-handedly responsible for it being there!

  6. Dad & Mum - one day you must visit! Although since they're only open on Sundays, goodness knows when that will be.

    Sakura - ah, do you know about Onoto Watanna? What have you read?

    Simon - you would adore Jane's Teas, I know for a fact.

    Mary - thanks! It is possibly my favourite place in the world. Certainly my favourite place that doesn't have books.

    Diana - so lovely to see you, and the gorgeous honey you bought for us is, indeed, gorgeous! I had some on toast this morning. What a shame customs stole your chutney!

  7. What a wonderful excursion, and the best company too, the sparkling and witty and wise Diana Birchall! Thanks for sharing the day! :-)

  8. Vera - yes, indeed! Thanks for popping by.

  9. Sakura: Sure, I know about Onoto Watanna, as she was my grandmother and I wrote her biography. I've read all her books. How do you know about her? She's pretty obscure, though getting less so, as more of her books are being republished.

  10. Diana, I think you are replying to my question, which I put to Sakura!

  11. Yes, sorry Simon, I got confused by the format. I'd like to know, too, how Sakura knew about Onoto Watanna! I hope she'll see this.

  12. Lovely post, Simon, and as I commented on Diana's report - the next best thing to being involved in a dovemeet is reading reports about them! Thank you, Barbara


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