5.23.2011

a very Jane Austen day

Caversham: May 23rd
My dear ---,

I will first talk of my visit to Bath, as previous descriptions cannot have given you a very particular picture. On Saturday last Bernadette and I travelled 70 miles of good road to our destination. We took refreshments while changing horses in ---shire and made the town limit in good time. To my particular delight we happened upon a coffee festival. Though it fashionable to drink tea, I prefer a strong cuppa and rarely have I the opportunity to partake. B complained the caffeine made her nervous, but valiantly pushed forward. I was able to secure a coffee cone for reproducing the delights at home. This is particularly pleasurable as my own was lost in the last move.

Okay okay okay. I'm not Jane Austen and can't, for the life of me, write in the style of 200 years ago. And I really can't if the 5 people who read this blog will continue to return. I did, in fact, go to Bath last weekend. And it was my "Very Jane Austen Day" with my homie Bernie. She pretends to tolerate my American enthusiasm, but secretly she loves it (I'm including the forced Royal Wedding viewing in this which she will vehemently deny deny deny). And I wasn't kidding about the coffee "festival" that consisted of one large tent. One large tent populated with an unnatural number of tea stalls for a coffee festival. There was one guy serving his coffee using the line of coffee cones one finds in farmers' markets of the Pacific Northwest. He took pity on me and sold me one of his cones and a stack of filters for a Fiver (that's £5). The day was already a smashing success and we hadn't even started our Jane Austen audio tour.

The tour itself was fantastic. At the beginning, B. has a very strong need to do these things in order no matter where you find yourself on the map at the start of your day, the tour guide voice said we should feel free to pause the tour at our leisure. With that explicit permission our estimated 1 and a half hour tour took about 5 and a half hours. I almost knocked on Jane Austen's front door (the first of the 3 she occupied in Bath and the most fancy), learned how triumvirate of men shaped the look of the city through shameless self-promotion, had cream tea at the Jane Austen Centre (just down the street from her 2nd house at 25 Gay St.), and promenaded along the Royal Crescent. The city loved Jane Austen (present) and Jane Austen detested it (200 years ago); so many conniving, insipid, gossiping, and ridiculous characters stem from the city of Bath that their current residents can do nothing but shrug, acknowledge their own history, and hold out their hand as you buy a button from the BBC production of "Pride and Prejudice." It's a fun relationship.

Other things of note, they tried to make us pay £1 each to sit by the River Avon as we ate our take-away sandwiches for lunch. Instead we decided to sit in a nice round-about across the road that had plenty of grass, a statue, and some trees. It was a fine little spot that even afforded us the pleasure of witnessing a taxi/tour bus battle. I can only assume that the slew of insults and vulgar hand movements we saw is a frequent occurrence. I was quite pleased we saw this side of Bath because it is a beautiful city. Perhaps the fact that Bath has been a tourist destination for so long has something to do with it. They know how to keep the crowds coming back.

Things that I need to return to Bath for: ridiculous fancy dinner and actual promenading in the manner of Jane Austen ("We did not walk long in the Crescent yesterday. It was hot and not crowded enough."), taking the waters, tour of the actual (rebuilt) Roman Bath, taking a turn in the Upper Room. This last one might require an invitation to something fancy which would be more difficult to achieve.

My very Jane Austen day was a smashing success. Even after being interrogated and made to speak for ALL OF AMERICA at a pub. Because it wouldn't be fair to mention that and not give the shining snippet of mostly one-sided conversation, at one point the dude said to me, "I believe all humans have the ability to judge a good horse." The context doesn't help that at all, trust me.

2 comments:

Ginny said...

Fab photos and blogging, as usual! Sniff...we did love Bath soooo much, but there's much to return for, that's for sure.
There, now let's hear from the other 4 people who read your blog. :p

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