My guest today is Susan Lodge, noted Regency romance author. Susan appears to have guest with her. Who do you have here, Susan?
I have brought along Hetty Avebury who is the heroine of Only a Hero Will Do. She wishes to share some advice about traveling at sea in the nineteenth century. Hetty unfortunately found herself trapped on a naval ship, uninvited and…
Excuse me, Susan. If I am not mistaken, you did say I could do this blog – after all I am the person who experienced the stressful, but enlightening, voyage and I don’t want you to say anything indelicate. Perhaps you can go and arrange the refreshments. I will look after the visitors. Oh! Where are my guests precisely?
Okay, Hetty, you carry on. Trust me, they are out there listening, just talk – you’re good at that. But don’t give away too much of the plot before I come back.
Good! She has gone. Good day – are you there? Well I shall continue even though I fear my author has become quite addle brained. Did you know, dear guests, Susan’s ambition is to travel into space. Ha! What a strange thought. A coach that takes flight into the sky- without horses!
I hope she brings back some scones as I have a weakness for scones. In fact I have a few weaknesses. Gambling is one – luckily I am very good at it. My scheming family do not realize that I am able to gain funds this way. Therefore you might say it is also a strength.
Another weakness is books. I do love books! I can never get enough of the exciting informative kind (if you understand my meaning). The attendant at the library back home always examined my choices, so they were limited to the mundane. However, whilst I was at sea, Dr Withington lent me some books which were very informative.
But I must return our attentions to the purpose of this blog, where I will share some useful tips about sea travel.
So here are eight things a Regency lady needs to know about traveling (uninvited) on a naval ship in hostile waters.
1. Make sure you know which is the leeward side (the sheltered side) of the ship. It is important to know which way the wind is blowing when you are prone to seasickness. It was a shame about Doctor Withington’s coat-but luckily it was only his second best.
2. Do not stray from the quarterdeck. The stern end is the civilized end of the ship. Although it is a lot more colourful down the pointed end.
3. Prepare for your sleep to be interrupted. The ringing of the ship’s bell and the beating of drums occur at regular and unsociable times.
4. Do not complain of boredom, believe me that is a good sign. If you see a French ship approaching things will get very unpleasant, and you will soon wish to be bored again.
5. If you have a chance to pack for the journey (which I did not) include warm clothing. Also a supply of lemon juice is useful to bathe freckles, which multiply like a plague of insects across your skin once exposed to the sea air.
6. Prepare to be stoic. You will witness the misery and sacrifice of war. Even If you are lucky enough to avoid battle, deaths on board from injury and disease occur frequently.
7. Do remember to knock the weevils from the ships biscuits, and do not try to cut biscuits into delicate pieces; they resist all attempts.
8. If there is a tall, sombre physician around, whose job it is to keep you out of trouble, and looks at you with eyes … Oh, no – she is coming back with the tea – but alas no scones.
There is much more to tell, and if you feel like indulging in a romantic adventure and discovering what happened during and after my unscheduled voyage, please take a look at Only a Hero Will Do. (I haven’t even begun to tell you about Doctor Withington and you need to know about him.)
Marriage to a cruel dandy is not how Hetty Avebury envisions spending the rest of her life. Determined to avoid the match, she raises funds the only way she knows how – gambling. Her plans go astray and she finds herself on board a man-of-war under the care of its high handed physician. But Hetty soon realizes that Doctor Withington is not quite the stuffed shirt she had first imagined.
If it wasn’t bad enough declaring one of the pressed men as a woman, Robert has been tasked with the tiresome job of returning her safely back to her dysfunctional family. It was ten years ago when his father gambled away his inheritance, home, and any chance of marrying the woman he loved. So when Robert discovers Hetty gambling he takes drastic action to cure her of the habit.
Susan Lodge’s first publication was a story for a UK national woman’s magazine. Heady with this breakthrough, she went on to write her first novel. She loves writing contemporary and historical romance, usually with a large dose of humour. Susan believes the romance genre lends itself superbly to funny moments, as love can make people act very oddly.
Susan has a science degree and always wanted to be an astronaut, but instead spent most of her career in the Civil Service. She would love to secure a seat on Richard Branson’s space flight. However, to find the funds she needs to either write a best seller or win the lottery.
After working in several cities including London and Bristol, she and her husband moved down to the Hampshire coast to raise their family.