A Fantastic Night Out

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Last week my husband and I were lucky enough to be invited to a Literary Dinner at Blenheim Palace. The evening was part of their Literary Festival and combined good food with lovely bookish entertainment.

Blenheim Palace was a stunning venue – the drive up to the gate was particularly beautiful:

Lake in the Grounds of Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace

Once into the palace we were treated to a champagne reception and then taken through to our tables for dinner.

Me and my husband in the Orangery

It was the poshest event I’ve ever been to. HRH The Duke of Gloucester was present, along with a vast array of other important people. It was quite amusing that all the speakers had to say “Your Royal Highness, Lords, Ladies, Your Graces, Other Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen….” before saying anything – even if it was just introducing the next person!

Frederick Forsyth

 
The main highlight of the evening was Frederick Forsyth. I hadn’t read any of his books, but he was an entertaining public speaker and I was persuaded to give one of his books a try (review for The Dogs of War coming soon). He captivated the entire room with his life story; explaining how he became a fighter pilot in the RAF, a journalist and then a novelist.
 
He attributed his success as a novelist to finding fantastic plots. I’m not sure I agree with him, but he thinks the perfect book is 80% great plot, 20% good writing. He admitted that his characters were two dimensional, but claimed it didn’t matter if the stories were compelling. I’ll let you know whether his style works for me soon!

Me with Frederick Forsyth


Ken Hom

During the night I also met Ken Hom. He was a lovely man – so warm and welcoming. I’ve added him to my list of people I’d love to have as a next door neighbour!

Me with Ken Hom

My husband and I had a wonderful evening. I highly recommend attending this event, so if you get the chance ensure you attend the Literary Dinner at next year’s Blenheim Palace Literary Festival.

My tickets to the event were kindly provided by The Landmark London who sponsor the Blenheim Palace Literary Festival. As a big thank you to them I’ve included some information about their hotel below. It sounds like an amazing place too! 

 

THE LANDMARK LONDON, Marylebone

The elegant five-star Landmark London in central London was built as the last of the great railway hotels and is a favourite with A-list celebrities. Now offering 51 suites, out of the 300 bedrooms available, The Landmark London offers the most choice of suite options in London.

The Landmark London offers a choice of four unique bars and restaurants. The Winter Garden, situated beneath a stunning eight storey glass atrium, creates a fantastic backdrop for any meal, especially its renowned Afternoon Tea and sumptuous Champagne Sunday Brunch. It is overlooked on a mezzanine level by The Gazebo, a relaxing area perfect for coffee and light meals. The stylish bar and brasserie, Twotwentytwo offers fantastic cocktails, a vast selection of beers, spirits and carefully chosen wines, with a modern-European menu.  The Mirror Bar serves up Champagne, cocktails and some of the world’s finest Cognacs and Whiskies in its glamorous surroundings.

The Spa & Health Club at The Landmark London is one of the leading destination spas in the Capital. This exclusive urban sanctuary in the heart of Marylebone offers a contemporary and luxurious environment in which to relax and be pampered.  The spa is complete with a 15-metre chlorine-free heated swimming pool, a glass-walled poolside Klafs sanarium, menthol and sandalwood showers, steam rooms, a whirlpool, plus lavish treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art gymnasium. The spa offers wide range of ESPA & newly introduced VOYA treatments and products. The spa also offers relaxing and revitalizing Ayurvedic treatments, based on traditional Indian medicinal therapies.

For more information visit www.landmarklondon.co.uk or call 020 7631 8000


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35 Comments

  1. Teresa says:

    Turning positively green with envy here! Looking forward to seeing your review of Mr Forsyth’s novel – he certainly has a large fan base. Lovely photos too, Jackie. ps Any good cooking tips to share?? ;-)

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, Yes. Forsyth does have a huge fanbase and so it will be interesting to see how much I enjoy his book. I’m at the half way stage right now and so far it is only average)

      I wasn’t brave enough to ask Ken Hom for some cooking tips, but I have a few of his books here and have been trying some more of his recipes this week. All I can say is “buy his books!” All of his recipes have worked perfectly so far!

  2. Caroline says:

    Now that must have been something.
    You look like you are very used to posh “parties” at ease, radiant.
    Thanks for sharing the photos. I don’t think I have ever really seen you before.
    I remember Litlove calling you “dignified” looking which in my head didn’t go with small boys as it made me picture and elderly little lady with a hat. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Caroline, I’m not sure I’m used to posh parties, but I’m happy to practise until I perfect the art!

      I remember Litlove saying I was dignified too – I think that is the only time that word has ever been used to describe me! At least you can now see photos and judge for yourself :-)

  3. How wonderful to go to something so very refined. I’d be terrified of all the formalities but you look so relaxed! :)

    I’ve never read any Forsyth but am intrigued by his 80/20 split for plot and writing, it explains why he’s always on sale in the airport where readers want total escapism…

    1. Jackie says:

      Alex, I found all the formalities amusing rather than scary – good job I wasn’t on a table with anyone who took it all seriously!

  4. Ros says:

    Looks like an amazing night Jackie. I think I saw photos on Facebook but hadn’t realised where you were. And I recommend the Landmark. I travel in and out of Marylebone station when I’m going to London so it’s right opposite. Great loos!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Ros, I’ve never been to the Landmark – Marlyebone Station isn’t one I normally go through. Glad to hear it is good :-)

      1. Ros says:

        Actually it’s a wonderful place and well worth a visit for more than the loos. You might need to re-mortgage your house to eat there but a drink is just about affordable!

  5. Oh how fun! I need events like this close to me ;)

    1. Jackie says:

      Sheila, I hope one comes near you soon! :-)

  6. Sandy says:

    I can’t even imagine a literary festival in a place like that. Holy cow! Gorgeous! It’s events like this that make everything all worthwhile.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, Yes. Whenever I think about giving up blogging I remember events like this – it makes it all worthwhile.

  7. JoV says:

    You look so stunning in that violet dress. I would feel like ants crawling all over me in such refined places. It is beautiful. I am glad you have a good time Jackie.
    I walk by Landmark everytime I walk to Westminster Marylebone library at work, it is really a beautiful hotel.

    1. Jackie says:

      Jo, Thank you for the kind comments. I hope that you get the opportunity to go somewhere like this soon and that you can enjoy it, despite the strangeness of it all.

  8. Wow, what a night out! Blenheim Palace is beautiful even without all the literary guests so this must have been quite some evening. Lucky woman! And you look lovely in that dress.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, Yes – it is a special place. Perfect for literary events. :-) Thanks for the kind words.

  9. Ifi says:

    Wow, makes me want to stat my own blog just so that I can be invited to events like this!!! Shallow, yes I know, but hey, I’m sure i’m not alone in wishing this!!!!

    Jackie!!!!!!, I love the way you ” highly recommend attending this event”!!!! how does one go about doing that? :)

    Nice post. I always love the personal snippets you include once in a blue moon.

    1. Jackie says:

      Ifi, It is possible for anyone to attend this meal – you just have to be rich enough to buy the tickets for £120 each! So glad I got mine for free. :-)

      Glad you’re liking the personal posts. I’m becoming more comfortable with posting them.

  10. Wow Jackie, I feel like I know some royalty now…LOL Seriously, it sounded like an amazing and envious evening.

    1. Jackie says:

      Diane, I think it is the closet I’m ever going to get to royalty! Hope you manage to get closer one day :-)

  11. Chinoiseries says:

    What an amazing event, Jackie and you two look dazzling :-) I can’t believe you met Frederick Forsyth and Ken Hom! Did you bring/buy some books to be signed? Or is that a no-no at such a posh event?

    1. Jackie says:

      Chinoiseries, I didn’t bring any books to be signed, but everyone at the dinner was given a copy of Forsyth’s ‘The Day of the Jackal’ which I went to get signed. This was OK, but I got a few tuts from people around me when I asked for a photograph – that is obviously not the done thing!

      1. Well I wouldn’t about that, Jackie. YOU now do have a photograph of yourself with the author and these tutting people don’t! :-)

        1. Chinoiseries says:

          True! I’d throw caution to the wind and strike a pose ;-)

  12. Beth F says:

    Wow!!! What an event! How cool that you got to go.

    1. Jackie says:

      Beth, Yes. I’m very lucky :-)

  13. kimbofo says:

    Ahhh, have been waiting for this post, Jackie! :-)

    You look great — don’t think I have ever seen you with your hair down!

    And how exciting you also got to meet Ken Hom!! I recently watched his latest TV show “Exploring China: a Culinary Adventure” and it was wonderful — he does seem like a really lovely man.

    1. Jackie says:

      Kim, I think Ken Hom is my favourite TV chef – I have lots of his books and all his recipes seem to work. It is so nice that he is such a lovely man. Such a shame you couldn’t be there too.

  14. Jenners says:

    Now THAT is a night out! Wow!

  15. asithi says:

    What a wonderful revenue. The last time I got dressed up was for a wedding for a run of the mill restaurant.

    I’ll ask for a photo too. Who knows when you’ll run into Forsyth again. I bet you half the people are probably kicking themselves for not asking for a photo because that is against the ‘rule.’

    1. Jackie says:

      asithi, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!

      I doubt I’ll ever see Frederick Forsyth again so I don’t regret asking for a photo. I’m sure some celebrities get fed up with being asked to pose for a photo, but he was there to sign books so I don’t really see the difference – I’m proud of my photo with him :-)

  16. Christy says:

    What an awesome night for you! It looks and sounds like you had fun. When I was studying abroad in England (almost a decade ago now), we took a tour of Blenheim Palace, so I must admit that some of my delight in your post is simply that of “ooh, I’ve been there.”

    Anyway, yay for posh literary parties. :)

  17. mee says:

    Lucky you getting to such a nice event, and meet Ken Hom! I recently watched his tv series Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, and he does seem like a very nice person! (and that’s a fantastic series to watch too!)

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