Monday, 4 May 2009

Jane Austen's Stomping Ground

Okay - I've been very slack and I am so sorry. Note the italics - that means I'm emphasising those words.

So not much has been happening this week... Really not much... Leonore, Miranda and I went to see "Wolverine" on Wednesday in Staines and we all drooled, simultaneously, at Hugh Jackman's amazing man body. Other than that I've been hanging around just recovering from my week of assignments... Today, however, I went to Winchester.

Today is Saturday by the way. Okay so Winchester. We caught the train there and at some point in the day the three of us must have really angered the transport god because no matter what type of public transport we were after - it hated us. We were either just missing it, waiting for ages or it was cancelled. You will understand as I go along.

Anyway we got to Winchester and had a look around the town which was so lovely. It was the prettiest little town. Every single thing was in its right place - flower gardens and vibrant bright green leaves shaded us wherever we went. Then we went to some ancient ruins of a castle built 1000 years ago. It was quiet and peaceful with the blue sky above us and birds singing. Outside the ruins was an ice-cream van so we had ice-cream and ruins in one sitting! Brilliant!

The weather today was really sporadic as one minute the clouds would cover the sky and it would be cold and then the sun would pop out and we'd all shed our jumpers. After contemplating buying another ice-cream (I didn't) we carried on through the little town to the house where Jane Austen died (we did her life in a funny order so just bear with me). This house was the house she lived in for the two months before she died. Apparently, they moved her here for her health in thinking that by being closer to the hospital she would heal better - she died. Oops. But this is the house and the poor thing was only 41 when she died! She was the first of her family members to kick the Victorian bucket. Shame. The house had a sign in the window saying "this is not open to the general public". They must get a lot of people knocking on their door asking to see the room where she died.

We carried on admiring the well dressed school boys - it sounds weird I KNOW. But they are wearing suits to school. It's a nice change from untucked T-shirts with sauce and various other stains as a uniform...

Next we went to the Cathedral where Jane is buried. We went inside and were told there was a tour starting at one that was free - jolly good show. Bought our tickets - "Did you know there is a tour at one?". Went inside "there will be a tour here in about five minutes". OKAY. Miranda later asked one of the employees where the bathroom was waiting to here - "well it's outside round the corn- did you know there is a tour at one?". ANYWAY we got to her grave and Leonore told us to stop and just remember that we were in the dead presence of one the greatest female writers in English literature. It was pretty cosmic. Now for those of you who know me ... I'm not the biggest Jane Austen fan in the world. I have studied her and I appreciate and admire the hard work she put in and also the excellent writing but it's just not my cup of tea. Which is why I did this. Love ya Jane!
The cathedral itself was quite spectacular.

After that we were a bit peckish and decided to get a traditional pasty for lunch. We sat outside and watched the people go by. This had to be one of the highlights of the day. Next to us is this giant spire looking thing (very old) which seemed to be the popular hang-out and meeting place for pre-teens. Sad. So the three of us came up with dialogues and plots for the pre-teens. There was Starving Artist kid (he had lanky long hair and was very gaunt) who was sitting next to Nerdy Girl who was sitting next to Frowning Boy who was sitting next to Forgettable Boy in the Brown Shirt. Nerdy Girl is secretly in love with Frowning Boy who wanted to be more than just friends but she is the girl that he confides his liking of other girls so she can do nothing but be saddened and hopeful. It went on and on as our pasties were steaming hot so we needed to occupy ourselves while we waited.

After laughing profusely at our hilarity we walked up the high street to go to see the table of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. Seriously. We went inside the big castle type building and looked around for the table. We found this plain round wood one and assumed this could be it.
It wasn't. It was just some old table someone had left in there from what looked like IKEA. This is the round table...

Pretty big! I think they mounted it on the wall to stop loons like us recreating a knightly scene and staging a duel. Makes sense. After seeing this we took a walk back the other way to get a bus to Chawton which is where Jane Austen's house is. This house is the one she lived in before she moved to the one you saw earlier. So this is her alive house where she wrote several of her novels. Here is her house - I'm sure the sign saying "Jane Austen's House" wasn't there when she was around. Maybe it was. At least then she wouldn't forget which house was hers.

Here you can see her actual bedroom! Yes I felt the need to pose like a fool every time. I was in a Jane Austen type mood.

This is her actual writing desk. This tiny little thing is where she wrote Pride & Prejudice - how mad is that? And this is in her garden. Her surroundings were much nicer than that of the Bronte sisters I must say.

We wanted to have cream tea (tea and scones) to celebrate our jaunt but the shop was closed. Instead we found a park and played on the swings. We headed back to the bus stop to wait, for what seemed forever, for the bus. We began to get desperate when the bus wasn't showing up began to discuss the possibility of starving in the middle of nowhere. Luckily I remembered we were next to a giant roundabout and in the middle is an island with many rabbits bouncing around. We wouldn't starve - we would go hunting in Bunny Island. We amused ourselves by playing various singing games (no one was around thankfully) until finally the bus came over the rise and we scrambled to stand up "hooray"ing all the while. We got back to Winchester and then went to the train station where our train was cancelled. A different train arrived which was going to Egham but just the longer route so we made it home. Not without having some random teen boys coming up to us - are we magnets for them?? Two of them sat down next to us and said "Hello. How old are you guys? We're 17". Miranda goes "Well I'm 24". To which Leonore added "So keep walking". They left us alone whilst yelling and jostling one another about how "drunk they were". Sad, sad little boys. We finally made it back to Egham.

I was looking forward to a good night sleep but this wasn't going to happen. The people in halls have been SO GOOD lately there has been no noise. But now I have another problem. The boy in the room below me has a very... ahem... vocal girlfriend. 3am. Not the first time either. What am I supposed to do?

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