After a childhood and young adulthood based in Hong Kong, husband Victor and I moved to the UK in 1981. We had a son, Paul, who now lives in London. Over the years, although we visited our old home regularly, we also laid down roots in a new one. In 1962, my parents discovered the Italian hillside town of Asolo and bought an old farmhouse nearby. This became a favourite holiday destination and Victor and I have been living here since September 2012.
Asolo is situated in the Veneto Region of Northern Italy, about an hour’s drive from Venice. I blog about my life here and the background to my writing.
When I was growing up in Hong Kong, one of my treats was to have an ice-cream soda in the lobby of the Peninsula after a visit to the dentist.
Then, on New Year’s Day, we would be invited to a fabulous party, also in the Lobby, with Bloody Marys or Black Velvet cocktails and music.
Known as the Grand Old Dame of Hong Kong hotels, the Peninsula epitomises the luxury of a bygone age. It was established in 1928, but expanded in 1994 to include a 30 storey tower topped off by a helipad, so the hotel combines colonial and modern elements. It even has a large fleet of Rolls-Royce cars painted the distinctive “Peninsula green”.
It was here that the Governor surrendered the colony to the Japanese on Christmas Day, 1941, and they renamed it the “Toa Hotel”. After the British regained control of the colony in 1945 the hotel became the Peninsula again, or “the Pen” as we used to call it.
The hotel is far too posh for the likes of me nowadays, but I have fond memories of great times there, including dining at Gaddi’s Restaurant when I was in my twenties. There is a charity ball in the Peninsula in my novel.
This is what the hotel looked like then:
And here it is now: