I’ve played part in the witty banter of Emma Woodhouse, Fallen on the hillside only to be rescued by Mr. Willoughby, and stunned Mr. Darcy with my quick wit, but never did I ever think I would walk the inspired grounds of the one and only, Miss Jane Austen. And yet, that’s where I found myself today.
Chawton played host to Miss Austen from 1809 to 1817. The charming home and garden provided the inspiration she needed after a stint of writer’s block when her family shockingly moved to Bath.
Dressed in time-period clothing, we made bags of lavender and took a turn around the garden as perhaps our beloved author would. Rarely have I ever enjoyed myself as I had in this very moment.
Our lovely photographer turned out to be none other than the great great great grand Nephew of Jane Austen. Shocked and humbled he gave us a little special glimpse into their family history.
And as he caught me looking longingly at the period – piano tucked neatly in the corner, he bade me permission to play it. What kindness. Overwhelmed and blushing red as the hair on my head, I stepped oh so cautiously and with all the grace I could muster hoping to do justice by this magnificent instrument. The notes of Bach and Clementi flowed freely as I imagined the sounds that would have filled the household, perhaps even some of the music that could have inspired the musically driven characters of her novels.
The house was filled with a mixture of original furniture and repurposed copies adding to the reclaimed atmosphere. As we exited, I picked up a silver-plated collectible spoon. I’ve collected spoons since I was a young child from all over the country to remind me of all the fond places I’ve been lucky enough to visit, but I’ve been rather remiss in keeping up with tradition since moving to Europe. I aim to change my course over my last few months here!
Across the way, we ate at Cassandra’s Cafe – named for Jane’s sister. The salmon and cream cheese sandwich was followed by a walnut cake was the perfect English meal.
Julia and I have a habit of taking rather long and adventurous walks across the countries we visit and today was no exception. We walked as Jane would have along the 2.5 hour Jane Austen experience trail visiting the Parish her father preached at, the country hills she would have walked to visit friends, and even walked through the corn field.
Not surprisingly, we ended up slightly lost, but we found some pigs to take pictures with – so really the adventure was just complete.
I think I was made in the wrong time. I belong to the time of glowing gowns, long letters, and gentle walks through the countryside. Although I recognize all can be accomplished at this present age, there is something that I admire with the simplicity of Austen’s time.
How wonderful this life that I’ve been given. I’m overflowing with nothing but pure joy and happiness today as I spend the day with one of my closest friends in the home of the woman who inspired me to read more with her clever plot lines and exuberant characters.
Tonight our dinner table was filled with delicious food and belly-aching laughs and memories that last a lifetime. The night finished when Julia’s mum presented me with a beautiful traditional English dessert (Eton mess,) in none other than my favorite flavor, strawberry! My time here has been nothing short of exceptional.
Other Pictures from Jane Austen’s home and museum!
In Other News:
The Olympics start TODAY!!! I’m beyond thrilled!
And in truly sad news, you may be aware of a stabbing in London a few days ago. The woman was a mother of one of my sorority sisters at FSU and the wife of a Psychology professor. If I may, I would like to ask each of you to pray for FSU, for my sorority, (Delta Alpha Chi,) and more specifically for Shannon, (the daughter.)
My God continue to bless you all and may he keep each of you safe under his wings.
May I wish you a very Happy Sabbath.
With Love Always,