Annemarie Rawson is a New Zealander who collects new ‘best friends’ wherever she goes. In her 50s, she and her husband, Steve, packed up the house, rented it out, kissed her family and friends goodbye and moved 12,000 km to Southwest France to work as estate managers for several private families — swapping corporate, city life for animal husbandry and the French countryside.
She recorded their French lives in two books – My French Platter and My French Platter Replenished. Annemarie talks to NZ Booklovers about her latest book, Late Life Adventures in London and Beyond.
Tell us a little about Late Life Adventure in London and Beyond.
It describes our transition, at 60 and 61, to live and work in London, detailing our exciting discovery of that city, and as much of the UK and Europe as we could – while living our best life, while fit and healthy.
What inspired you to write this book?
To share with others our experience of moving to London at a much later stage in life, instead of in our 20s, in the hope that others would not let life pass them by and be stimulated to do something similar. Also my need to show friends and family the landscape around me and the exciting new places we visited. They too, could then see and experience what we had. The positive and interested feedback from my Facebook blogs was another inspiration to get it all down on paper.
What research was involved?
Very little. We were ‘living’ the life and seeing and experiencing everything I wrote about, so it was just a matter of digging a little deeper to give the reader a snippet of history of any one particular place.
What was your routine or process when writing this book?
I’m terrible! I have no routine or process when it comes to writing. I would try and capture the essence of where we had been and what we’d seen at the end of each day or within several days, so that it was fresh in my mind. My photos helped me enormously to then show through my words, what we’d experienced.
If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.
Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks – we spent so much time in London’s Waterloo station as it was our central hub, getting to and from Teddington.
The classical Four Seasons - Vivaldi
A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square – Vera Lynn. Describes my affair with London
What did you enjoy the most about writing this travel adventure?
Being able to re-live it all and taking a reader with me on our fabulous adventures.
If you had to choose, what is your favourite travel story from the book? Or if you can’t pick just one, your top three!
1. Journeying to the Gorbals area of Glasgow to discover where Steve’s mother and grandmother were born and lived.
2. Discovering the Spanish Andalucian towns and cities.
3. Christmas in London and Cornwall.
What is one tip you’d like to share that you learnt from living in London that would help other travellers?
Download the CityMapper app as soon as you arrive. You will never get lost! It gives all of your connections, timings and directions for walking and using every form of transport available.
What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?
‘Still Life’ by Sarah Winman. I was taken with Ulysses and friends from post-war East End, London to the fringes of Florence in Italy, where life is so perfectly detailed. You can almost taste the food and wine in the piazzas. There are so many layers to this story and you feel part of the unconditional love and friendships described. The funny (and sad) interactions between the characters draws you in.
There’s no speech marks around the dialogue so it takes a few chapters to get used to this style of writing, but I absolutely loved this book, so beautifully written.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
Completing Book 2 in the travel series of Late Life Adventures in London & Beyond.
Returning to the UK and Europe later this year to continue our adventures.
Finding and inspiring a multi-millionaire to create a Netflix or TV series of my other two books, My French Platter and My French Platter Replenished, which describe us moving to southwest France to work as Estate Managers for a London couple, telling of all the drama that unfolds, the fabulous people we met, the food markets and delicious wine and our disastrous sacking at the first house. Do you know anyone???