Monday, 3 November 2008

Lost in Austen



I think that it was on the second or third morning of our stay in Bath that Big Sister reminded me of an email I'd received from Michele months ago asking if I might one day come to visit her in Bath. Well, by the strange power of blogging, here I was, my second visit in three months to this beautiful city, lying in Michele's bed gazing out through the window at the most fantastic bedroom view I had ever seen! Michele, I hasten to add, was not by my side, nor in any other room for that matter - The Ragged Roses had come to stay chez the Custards whilst the Custards had gone on holiday.



The strangeness of this situation lessened with every hour and by the end of our stay it felt like the most normal thing to be doing. As normal as waking up and seeing one of these floating past your bedroom window ... by the third morning I was use to this amazing sight too. I can honestly say that we have never stayed anywhere before where we have felt so much "at home", the warmth, kindness and generosity of this lovely family seems to have imbued the walls of their beautiful home and welcomed us in and completely enchanted us.



For various reasons us Ragged Roses had arrived in Bath in relay. Big Sister and I turned up a whole 24 hours later than M and Little Sister and I was incredibly twitchy about wanting to make up time on my first afternoon. Within a few minutes I had turned into a bonafide Mrs Bennet and was busy clucking and fussing and herding us all down to the Roman Baths. I have visited here before but had somehow forgotten the beauty and majesty of these buildings. My earlier visit had been many years ago in the height of the summer season, this time was a very different experience. Late afternoon on the first winter's afternoon of the year, the number of visitors were dwindling and the light was fading.



The Baths suddenly took on an air of mystery and it was so easy to imagine the intrigues and assignations that had gone on here centuries before. If only we'd had a fan or two to hold and hide behind - it was all too easy to imagine the ladies lowering themselves into the waters and spending the season floating around the Pump and Assembly rooms.



It may well have been the end of October but the mornings were as bright and beautiful as any we had seen this summer. The sunlight hitting the golden Bath stone of the magnificent buildings and urging us to get out walking as soon as we could. So each day we set off early climbing us hills, admiring the breathtaking views, choosing our Georgian dream houses



(this one is mine - we ended up with one each and several in reserve for visitors!).



We promenaded along the Crescents, admiring the architecture and sheer endless beauty of the buildings.



England in October, surely not -



more like the South of France, or Italy ...



We walked down into the base of the bowl that is Bath and had the best walk along the canal.




Peaceful, undisturbed, the sun streaming through the trees, Regency splendour appearing over bridges,



canal boats moored on the banks and our minds free of the day to day hurly burly we'd left behind in Sussex.



We rummaged through treasure troves of vintage clothes (Big Sister heaven), and marvelled at the scale of beauty here. It was like visiting the most ornate wedding cake you could imagine, tier upon tier of carefully crafted beauty.



Beauty in expected



and beauty in the unexpected detail.



Isn't it strange that most days I can't remember why I've gone upstairs, left my keys, parked the car and yet, here I was remembering street names from Northanger Abbey, a book I'd read over twenty years ago at school! I took the girls to the Jane Austen Centre and we spent an afternoon retracing Jane Austen's stay in Bath. It wasn't her favourite place to stay but it offered her so much material for her novels and allowed Big Sister to have more than one Lizzie Bennet moment.



Across the valley from Mrs C stands the most beautiful house . Big Sister would spend every chance she had gazing out the window and saying out loud "Netherfield Park is let at last", hoping for a sight of Mr Darcy or Mr Bingley! And Mr Darcy we found indeed... not a proud, aloof Mr Darcy



but a fun loving guy who was as handsome as we had been led to believe and who managed to steal our hearts - a real pussycat in fact!



Thank you Michele for so many wonderful memories. I have thought hard about my favourite bits of our week, the walks, the views etc and yet the image I am always left with, is the four of us sitting around your kitchen table smiling, eating biscuits and enjoying ourselves so very much.

45 comments:

Hen said...

Looks wonderful! A really good idea to house swap (or "borrow") too, especially such a lovely home where you felt so welcome.
Hen x

Cowboys and Custard said...

We couldn't have wished for nicer guests Kim... I am just so happy that you had a good time and the weather behaved for you. My only regret of course is that we weren't here to share it with you!

Mr Darcy (Pickles) is still showing tendencies of being utterly spoilt. Did you mention the 'prawn' word?

Lovely to see Bath through your eyes.. !

With love from The Custards! xxx

Charmingdesigns said...

I just stumbled across your incredible blog. I spent a considerable amount of time pouring over your wonderful photos and went on you journey. I will be back for more, for sure!!! Laurie

thriftymrs said...

Wow, seems like you a really lovely time. Bath couldn't be a nicer city if it tried. What a terrific idea to house sit/make use of a friend/bloggers house.

driftwood said...

looks like you had a truly wonderful time, I've never been to Bath, but know I feel I have

Cocoa and blankets said...

What lovely photos, Bath looks lovely I havent ben for twenty years but I should visit as my daughter is a real Austen fan. My little green van is certainly going to be doing some miles this year!
Thank you for sharing your lovely holiday with us and sun to! What more could you want!

Cottage45 said...

Wow that architecture! Amazing. Beautiful pictures, looks like you had fun.

Gingham and Flowers said...

Sounds like an absolutely perfect week. Lucky you to spend time in lovely Mrs Custards home. Bath is the most beautiful place. Unfortunately the last time I was there it was to do a very bad craft fair. Michele was in bed ill with flu at the time but sent Mr Custard down the hill to say hello to me! I must go back and visit the city again before long.

ShabbyInTheCity said...

You have a charmed life! I'm convinced of it!
House swapping is the coolest thing...I first learned of it in the Holiday movie.

Nostalgia at the Stone House said...

Lovely to see your gorgeous photographs Kim - Bath is beautiful!
(Me?...Bias?...Surely not!)

Glad that you had such a wonderful half term break with your girls,
Niki x

lou said...

It looks lovely! we are going to bath for the xmas market. I will look forward to it even more now. lou x

Elizabethd said...

Lovely, my favourite city, too. I imagined you following in Miss Austen's footsteps, and wished I was there.

Sal said...

Gorgeous photos, Kim! It was lovely to join you on your holiday!
;-)

The domestic novice said...

What lovely photos, and rather bizarrely I'm reading Northanger Abbey at the moment. Catherine has just been given permission to go and stay with the Tilneys...

Suzie Sews said...

you have brought many happy memories back to me, I have a soft spot for Bath and you have shown it off with true beauty...

Carol said...

I was right! how lucky to stay in such a lovely home.
I adore Bath and would love to visit again oneday.
The Roman Baths were amazing.
I did a house swap last year, my cottage for a lovely cottage in the New Forest.
Cx

Lark said...

Oh how lovely, I adore Bath, thanks for sharing your photos!

Allison xx

aromatic said...

What a brilliant idea! Bath looks absolutely gorgeous... as does the cat!!Glad you enjoyed your stay, great times had by all!!
Lovely photographs also, I have never been to Bath but can see its certainly a great place to spend a few days.
Jane xxx

serenitymeadow said...

What lovely photos you took. And the kitty pictures...so sweet. Wish I could visit England because your pictures make it look heavenly to me.

MelMel said...

Thank you for the nice comment, i feel a bit sad still but i know we will see each other soon,just s big cahnge for him, new school etc...
Oh well......:>)
Sure he will bounce back!
XX

Tracy said...

How wonderful!! Everyone got a holiday! ;o) Your images here a pure delight, Kim...Bath is one of my very favorite cities in England...Oh, to see it again...*SIGH* Happy Days ((HUGS))

Linda said...

Oh what a lovely place, I love the sense of history, that is one thing that we don't have much of here in Australia, we have history of cause but compared to most countries we are only babies.
Sounds like you had a wonderful time.
Cheers Linda

periwinkle said...

what a lovely place to stay, maybe there should be more of this housw swapping..
lisa x

BeachysCapeCodCupboard said...

How fortunate to holiday in such a beautiful place! It's one of the spots hubby and I visited. Your photos bring back happy memories. We never made it to the canal; that is going on my to-do list (for when, I'm not sure)! =) Did you go to Sally Lunn's? We missed that one as well (we were typical tourists trying to cram everything in)! Lovely that you were able stay at the Custards' home!

meggie said...

What a beautiful post!
Love all the photos.

Petticoat Lane said...

I guessed correctly! Glad you had a wonderful stay in Bath. I am in Bath at least twice a week and you soon take it for granted, but I like nothing better than every now and again, taking a step back and seeing it through new eyes!! I love to visit all the 'touristy' places every now and again and remind myself of all the beautiful places that Bath has to offer!
Hope you found the 'Mee Boutique', beautiful shop to mooch in!
Jane. x

Willow said...

Lovely post, Kim - makes me want to go on a tour of Bath right now! The weather looked stunning and provided such a beautiful backdrop for your lovely photos. As for Mr Darcy ... well, what can I say? ... what a hottie!!!!
Willow xx

Sea Angels said...

What a wonderful idea, oh and did'nt you have a super time...I hope you were wearing flats cos it looks like you did some serious walking, beautiful pictures Kim...I love Bath
Hugs Lynn xx

Mrs. T. Potts said...

Kim
That brought back some wonderful memories.
Thanks
Wendy

Thimbleanna said...

Ohmygosh Kim -- I didn't realize you were going to Bath to stay in a house like we did -- I just thought it was for a blog-meet-up. Your posts cracked me up -- just change the names and pictures of the places and they could be my posts -- I took lots of pictures of doors too. And fed kitties prawns. How Funny! We returned to a dead computer so I have no way to download my pictures -- if it doesn't soon get fixed I'll be hand-drawing my photos!

kiwicarole said...

Wow! Thank you so much for taking me on a trip thru Bath! How incredible, I am such a Jane Austin fan! Lucky you!
:) Carole in New Zealand

Goosey said...

Weirdly I have some similar photos that I took last saturday on my blog...we obviously walked under the same bridges! They are really lovely although I was a bit tired by the time I got to Bath!

Elizabeth said...

If I'm not mistaken that crescent you've photographed is Lansdown Crescent. Many years ago I lived just up behind that crescent, later on I moved to live in a flat in the centre of Bath. It was a wonderful place to live (if a little touristy at times) and I still miss those happy days there. Beautiful photos, by the way.

Heidi said...

I knew it was Bath! How fun! I just love it there. I think your entire stay sounds magical. Was it school break for the girls then? I think your Mr. Darcy is rather handsome. I just an entry earlier this week about English literature. Come by and take a look...

Hugs ~
Heidi

Primrose Corner said...

A lovely post. I'd forgotten how beautiful Bath is. So, much beauty round about it too. You've been so lucky with the weather lately too.

Simone said...

The Baths look spectacular. I have been there a couple of times and would love to go back.

Fancy Elastic said...

We really live very close to Bath and have only been for one quick trip since we moved down this way. We did the roman baths which was great... I was about to pop with M and waddled around. Your gorgeous pics remind me we must go again.

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

Sounds wonderful Kim, and heartwarming to hear of a real life friendship developing from the world of blogging. I'm sure you'll spend a holiday together with Mr & Mrs C someday, wouldn't it be fun!

Gill

This Vintage Life... said...

Well, I don't need to visit Bath now Kim because as usual, you've described everything so beautifully that I could have been there with you.
Deb x

She'sSewPretty said...

What a wonderful trip Kim! It all sounds so magical and filled with wonderful memories! I'd invite you to swap with me but I don't think your daughter could sleep in my son's messy, boy smelling, bedrooms. LOL
I hope your daughters are still excited about last night!! We haven't come down yet!

Anonymous said...

About those prawns!?

Mr Darcy x

Gina said...

Looks divine! Absolutely inspiring.

Isabelle said...

How funny that you too were having a house/catsitting experience with a blogger! If you ever fancy a house-swap to Edinburgh in school holiday time, just let us know (seriously). We can't expect to import Anna from the American midwest every time we go away (alas). (Scottish school holidays aren't always exactly the same as English ones.)

Olivia said...

How lovely!

Kay said...

I enjoyed reading your account of your holiday in Bath, which happens to be a favorite destination of mine, as well. Your photos brought back such happy memories...the Abbey, Pulteney Bridge, the Royal Crescent and Circus. "Sigh" Thank you for sharing your experience.
Kay Flynn-The Wrought Iron Gate