Thursday, December 31, 2009

Everything Austen Concludes

Well it is time for me to sumarise my Everything Austen completion list those which I have completed off my initial list are noted with a star [completed 5 books off of my initial list and 4 films off of my initial list] Additionally below that enclosed within stars are the "extra credit" Jane Austen things I have done towards the Everything Austen Challenge which were not on the inital list:

Sense & Sensibility *
Pride & Prejudice *
Bridget Jones' Diary
Jane Austen's guide to dating
Persuasion *
Northanger Abbey *
Emma *

BBC Pride & Prejudice [Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle] *
Bridget Jones' diary *
Sense & Sensibility *
Pride & Prejudice [Keira Knightley & Matthew MacFadyen]
Lost in Austen *
Mansfield Park

Extra Credit Janite activities/books/films done after the inital list was drafted and posted:

***Jane Austen HOLIDAY---Visited Jane’s England including attending services at St. Nicholas Steventon where she was christened and on whose grounds she lived, going to Bath and seeing where she lived and attending High Tea at the Pump Room, visiting her home in Chawton where she lived and St. Nicholas church Chawton where she attended services whilst she lived there, staying at the Swan hotel where she attended the annual meetings of the Alton Book Society to which she subscribed, additionally I visited Winchester and saw the house where she died and Winchester Cathedral where she is laid to rest.***

***Watched Becoming Jane ***
** Watched the new BBC production of Emma starring Romola Garai***
**Read Remarkably Jane**
**Read Mansfield Park***
**Read Jane Austen’s Sewing Box**

***Attended the Virtual Pemberly Ball***

While I know that I will not be able to finish them I have also started
--The Darcys and the Bingleys [ which I won at the Pemberly Ball]
--Jane Austen Ruined My life

Happy New Year to one and all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the last two weeks of Everything Austen challenge and Christmas is coming.

I know that it has been almost 3 weeks since my last post, between getting ready for Christmas around home and the holiday festivities at work (not to mention work itself) I have not had the time to blog my readings and goings on as I would have liked to. As the year is winding up and with Mansfield Park now behind me I am now closing in on the remaining items from my fairly long Everything Austen list, while I may not succeed as I have several novels left and with the craziness that is the Christmas season I may get sidetracked. While most of my reading over the past 4 months or so has centred on the challenge I have taken a few days off of the challenge to read a book that my friend has recently had published. I feel that this book is very good and they are justified in being proud of their work which has been many years in the making from conception through publication. In case my next post is delayed may I extend my glad tidings for a joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mansfield moves slowly, and Pemberley prizes

I have been busy helping to organize charity Christmas bake sales and Christmas potlucks at work amongst my busy work schedule and have not had the time to devote to Mansfield Park as I would like to have but as I am using up some of my vacation days before the end of the year this weekend I hope to finish it and start on my last two books [Austenland and Bridget Jones] for the Everything Austen challenge next week. I was checking my non-work e-mail today and found out happily that after they had done the draws from the Pemberley Ball I have won "The Darcys and The Bingleys", hmm now if I finish the other books on my list and I am really good I can finish this up as extra credit for the Everything Austen challenge! : o )

Well I am off to eat and then to finish Mansfield Park before bedtime.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pemberley Ball

Returning to Mansfield Park after attending the Pemberley Ball

I took a break for the past 3 days in my reading for the Everything Austen challenge in order that I, as my alias Lady Elizabeth, might partake in the festivities at the Pemberley Ball and I quite enjoyed myself. Well now that the excitement of the ball has subsided I will again resume my reading of Mansfield Park.

vvb32 reads: Bright Star (2009) movie

vvb32 reads: Bright Star (2009) movie

Before watching the film, I picked up Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne with introduction by Director Jane Campion.

Just like the movie, exquisite.
vvb32 picked up a second copy for some lucky soul out there in the blogosphere.

Interested in receiving a bundle of Keats love letters? Check out the blog site for further details on entering the giveaway.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Northanger Abbey is finished through Persuasion

I apologize now for my near month’s hiatus from posting but I have been very busy and have just lost track of time. I have not, however, been neglecting my Everything Austen challenge list. In my last post I had only started Northanger Abbey, I finished the book a few days after my last post but I was sidetracked by Christmas crafts and the fill a Christmas Charity stocking project at work so, alas, I was so busy that I thought in the back of my mind that I had posted my comments about Jane Austen's Gothic Novel about Miss Catherine Morland and Mr. Henry Tilney. Catherine with her notion of abbeys being possessed of mystery and dark secrets is proved to be without merit in the reality of Northanger. In the end she succeeds in winning of the affection and hand of Mr. Henry Tilney. Having just recently visited Bath again and visited many of the very same places that Catherine and the others do it was quite interesting to reread the work with the pictures, smells and, dare I say tastes, of it still fresh in my memory. While it is not my favourite of Jane's novels, nonetheless I quite enjoyed Northanger Abbey.
Having left Northanger Abbey I continued on to Persuasion; while P&P will always be my favourite of Jane’s novels but for some reason I always teeter between whether Persuasion or S&S is my second favourite (often the teetering will come after I have just read one or the other). Persuasion shows how one can lose their true love but if that love is constant they can get a second chance at it. Anne Elliot is persuaded by her confidant Lady Russell to break off her engagement to the man she loves as the young man is without rank or fortune. When Frederick Wentworth returns some years later with a fortune that he has amassed out of his rising through the ranks of the navy and later proves his muster in the eyes of the same Lady Russell his character is only more firmly entrenched within Anne’s mind and heart. One of the reasons I like Persuasion is that it shows that true love and consistency of feeling within a person of good character will be rewarded and that money does not necessarily a man of character make [where as in most of Jane’s other novels it does: i.e. Darcy, Col. Brandon, Tilney]. I am now on to my next stop on the Everything Austen Challenge that of Mansfield Park and Miss Fanny Price.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Finishing Emma and Delving into Northanger Abbey

As I mentioned in my previous post I have finished Emma and saw that she married Mr. Knightly which, of course, I knew she would. Emma always irks me initially when I start reading it with Emma's notion that she could never speak to or associate with anybody who was not of her standing; hence, her insistence that Harriett not accept the proposal of Mr. Martin. In the end of course Harriett ends up with her beloved Mr. Martin and Emma realises that the person that she was so adamant would never marry, like herself, ends up being the one that she does; alas, lest they never have an heir her poor nephew will lose out on his presumed inheritance. I had brought Northanger Abbey with me on my holiday but never had a moment free to actually read it. I have made up for my lost time and am now about half way through it and Catherine Morland has discovered her brother's intention to marry Isabella and he has just left to obtain their parent's consent.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Recapping my Austentatious holiday.

It has been almost two weeks since my last blog, the delay in my blogging is due to the fact that but for my first night in London I had little to no access to the Internet. I sent quick e-mails to my friends at the Internet cafes in Bath and at Heathrow.
I left for London on Thursday Oct 8th and arrived there about 4:15 PM (16:15) on October 9th; the flight itself was fine and I sat with a couple of nice ladies a little bit older than my Mum so I didn't feel so lonely. The flight was a connector which went to Amsterdam and then I took another plane from Amsterdam to London. The Schiphol Airport is quite nice; it even has an auxiliary gallery from the Amsterdam Museum of art which has changing exhibits which I visited while I waited two hours for my forty-five minute flight to London. I had intended to see The Mousetrap when I arrived but I was so exhausted and didn't feel like taking a cab halfway across the city to the theatre so I decided that I would let that $60 Canadian (£35) go and just relaxed in my hotel room. After dinner I went back to my room and turned on the TV and watched the repeat of the first episode of the new BBC production of Emma with Ramola Garai; it was very good.

The next day I left London around 10:00 AM and took the train to Bath where I promptly checked into my hotel. I admit it wasn't the largest of hotels, but I had no issue with that as I have been to Europe several times before and in smaller hotels than that, it was central and safe being about two blocks up from the rail station and one block up from the police station. After checking in to the hotel I wandered around Bath, taking in the sites and looking at the soon to be opened new shopping promenade which was a construction site two years ago when I was there. I had a low key night and ate at the hotel before retiring as the next day I was going to be up early.

The next day I skipped breakfast at the hotel as I needed to be at the railway station early and intended to eat on the train. I arrived for the 7:45 AM train for Reading and waited at the platform, they came on and announced that the train was going to be late four times before finally stating that the 7:45 AM train had been cancelled and that 8:22 train would be late. I was getting very anxious as I had another train to connect to once I reached Reading and then I had a taxi that would be waiting for me once I reached Basingstoke to take me to my final destination: St. Nicholas Church Steventon for the 11:15 service. The Reading bound train arrived at 8:28 AM and I quickly hopped on board and took my seat and once it started going, as I was in the adjacent carriage, I quickly went to the dining carriage and bought my breakfast. I alighted from the train at Reading (the train itself carried on to London Paddington) and waited a few minutes before I caught the train for Basingstoke where my taxi would be. When I arrived in Basingstoke I was ten minutes early for my cab and it was starting to lightly rain; my cab came a few minutes early and I hopped inside. I arrived at St. Nicholas Steventon at about 10:45 and looked around the grounds. I took several pictures of the church itself as well as its grounds. I had been there about ten minutes when the rector drove up and introduced himself to me and invited me to come into the church itself. The church exterior looks much like it did when Jane Austen would have been attending services but the interior, is slightly different. The private sitting area/box that the family who owned the estate to which the church belonged would have sat has been moved to the entrance area as opposed to being close to the pulpit and the pews that are there are from the Victorian area. As an Anglican I found the opportunity to partake in the service and communion quite memorable. When the service ended I purchased a few little souvenirs and then donated my change to the church; I was also offered by one of the parishioners to come back and join some of them at their house up the road for a sherry, alas I had to politely decline as I knew that my taxi would be there within the next five minutes. I spent the remainder of my time looking around the church and its grounds before taking my leave and getting into the cab for my journey back to the train station. I returned to Bath at about 3 PM and walked around looking at shops and then had the delicious Jane Austen Tea in the gorgeous Pump Room. I spent the rest of the day just enjoying the sites of Bath stopping off to buy a few little trinkets to take home with me before I went for dinner. After dinner I enjoyed the second episode of the new BBC production of Emma before retiring for the night.

The next day I awoke and had a light breakfast before I caught the train to Wales for the day. While I was in Wales I visited Cardiff Castle which unlike many old castles in the UK belongs does not belong to the National Trust, rather the family who owned it, shortly after WWII for financial reasons (this was merely a holiday home for them) chose to give the castle and its lands to the people of Cardiff as opposed to the National Trust or some other conservation organization. The family did this so that the lands could not be sold off. After my day in Wales I returned to Bath around 6:00 PM and had a light dinner in my room as the only restaurant close by was KFC and as I am Canadian and it was Canadian Thanksgiving I wanted something a little nicer. Dinner was being served in the bar at the hotel and they were already fully booked so, as I was not wanting to walk all the way across town in the dark and there were not any take-away meals that I fancied at Boots or Marks & Spencer's I was resigned to ordering room service (which the cook grudgingly agreed to do) of hamburger and chips, the hamburger was covered in fat and I soon wished that I had gone with KFC. I made sure that all of my stuff was packed except for my clothes for the next day before I went to bed and fell asleep to the X-Factor.

In the morning I checked out of my room and, leaving my bags at the hotel, I went to have a gander around Bath and take a few pictures of the town before I collected my things and proceeded to my next destination Alton. I walked all around Bath and went to The Circus and looked at the exterior of some of the houses that Jane Austen lived in while she was there. I strolled the streets, unfortunately I did not have time this trip to visit the Assembly Rooms as their opening times were listed as 9:45 AM and my train was scheduled to leave Bath at 9:22 AM. I returned to my hotel and collected my bags before I strolled down towards the rail station and, with the assistance of a kind gentleman, I climbed the stairs to the platform and boarded the first of my three trains that would eventually result in mine being in Alton. I lucked out at my train at Ashfield to Alton where I was able to get the 11:50 AM train as opposed to waiting until the 12:20 PM train; the result of this was that I was at my hotel by the time the later train would have been leaving. I was not able to check in to my room when I arrived but was told that I was free to leave my bags and go explore the town. I left my bags and hopped a taxi to take me to Chawton, Alton.

It took the taxi driver about five to ten minutes to deliver me to Jane Austen's Chawton home; as was the case when I went to St. Nicholas Church in Steventon I am very glad that I did not walk, despite Google's assertion that I could, as I would have been on the A26 and likely would not have lived to recount my journey. I paid the driver and then I followed the signs to the entrance. I paid my fee and bought an info guide, knowing that I would be buying more mementos at the gift shop when I finished the tour. I took pictures of the exterior of the house and, after asking permission the garden as well. The gentleman who assented to mine taking pictures of the garden stated that so long as I did not use a flash that I was more than welcome to take pictures inside the house as well. I took pictures of everything that I could see from Jane's bedroom, hair and Pelisse coat to her first pay cheque and Last Will and Testament. I spent almost 2 hours at the Jane Austen House Museum, including purchasing a collectible bone china teacup to fountain pens, pictures, postcards and a copy of Emma so that I could finish the novel before I returned home. After I left the museum I ventured about five or so minutes up the street to St. Nicholas Chawton church where Jane's mother and sister are buried. After taking pictures of their graves and the exterior of the church itself I walked back to the museum and called a taxi to take me back to the hotel.

After I finished checking in I carried my suitcases up the large staircase, the main part of the hotel is from the 1500s so there is no lift, and down the never-ending hallway to my room located at the back of the hotel by the fire escape. After dropping my cases of in my room, and figuring out how to lock the door, I returned downstairs and took an early dinner in the pub of steak and chips which I hurriedly gobbled down in a matter of minutes. After finishing my dinner I went out to roam the streets of Alton. The following day would see me going to Winchester and I needed my beauty sleep so I went to bed early.

I awoke early the next morning and, after freshening up, I went downstairs and enjoyed a lovely full English breakfast before I walked the ten minutes to the rail station to board the train to take me to Winchester. I arrived in Winchester about 11:00 in the afternoon and, after taking public transit down the hill, I alighted as near to the cathedral as I could. I entered the cathedral and paid for my entry to the cathedral as well as the tower tour. I wandered around the cathedral and took a picture of Jane Austen's tombstone and the monument with stained glass window honouring her. I looked around the cathedral and its grounds for about an hour before I decided to go and look around the rest of town, as much as I could including having lunch, before I was to return for my tower tour at about 2:00 PM. I looked around Winchester at the buildings and took a tour of a museum of Winchester through the ages stopping only to have a look at the cathedral shop and the lawn of the cathedral to have a warm pasty and a Ribena for lunch. I took the tower tour, forgetting that last time Mum held both my coat and my big purse; I made it up to the top and took some awesome pictures before I very carefully climbed back down again. At the end of the tower tour we were handed a certificate to confirm that we had successfully ascended and descended the tower (this will go in a frame alongside my certificate attesting that I have completed the climb of York Minster). After I finished looking around the cathedral a little more, including the gift shop, I decided to go in search of Jane's last residence on College Street where she breathed her last breath. I had just given up hope of finding College Street when I looked up at the street sign and noted that I had reached College Street. I ventured up the street and found the house, a private residence, the notation of this being Jane's residence is noted in a plaque halfway up. I took a picture of the house and the plaque before I made my way back to the bus station where I boarded a bus to take me back to the rail station. I arrived back at the hotel exhausted and again took dinner in the pub where I enjoyed another order of steak and chips before retiring to my room for the night and washing my jeans, before I fell asleep to the TV.

The morning saw me up early and having another full English breakfast before I wandered around the Alton waiting for Boots to open so I could procure some necessities for my travel to Canterbury and, the following day Dublin. I checked out of the hotel, having booked a taxi the night before; as I did not relish hulling my heavy suitcases up the slight incline towards the station. I arrived at Canterbury around 1:00 PM and leaving my bags at the hotel, with my gate pass in hand, I went to explore the cathedral and then the city outside its walls. I was advised that the gates themselves are closed by 9:00 PM but so long as I hold tight to my pass that I would be able to come and go as I pleased. I looked around the cathedral, slightly awestruck and then confirming the time for Evensong services I went to look around the town. Canterbury was very beautiful, its cathedral is lovely and they are raising money in order to help save the structure which is partially covered in scaffolding as parts of it are structurally in need of repair. I switched rooms as I was uneasy with being in the room that I had been given initially and said that I would rather pay the extra £ and feel safe, I was the only person in the other building, than not pay it and be unable to sleep the entire night; the front desk manager was very understanding about this and had no problem this. The second room I got looked directly out at the cathedral so I was quite happy with the view and very comfortable with the room itself. The hotel itself belongs to the cathedral there is even a picture of the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams hanging in the lobby.
The next day, after a light breakfast and a few minutes to stroll and take some early morning shots of the cathedral, I took a cab from my hotel back to the rail station and boarded my train for London. I read on the train and snacked on cookies with my suitcases in one seat and me in another. I arrived in London and, after getting some £ at the cash point I took a taxi from London Victoria to London Paddington to catch my Heathrow Express to take me to the airport and then on to Ireland. My flight from London to Dublin was delayed an hour and a half during which time I ate lunch and wrote in my travel journal that I had brought with me, as it was then that I realised that I had forgotten to take Emma out of my outside pocket of my suitcase before I checked my bags in. During my seventy minute flight I jotted down my thoughts in my travel journal and munched on cookies.

My plane landed in Dublin around five thirty in the afternoon and after I cleared customs, where I added another stamp to my passport, I went out into the cool breeze and joined the taxi queue. Mt hotel in Dublin is located right at the end of the Temple Bar area across the street from Christ Church Cathedral. Exhausted as I was, despite having several pubs literally on my doorstep I chose to dine at the pub inside the hotel so I wouldn't have to worry about trying to find my way back to my hotel late at night. I relaxed with a nice warm bath before watching a little TV and going to sleep as I had a ton of things I wanted to see the next day.

I awoke early the next day and headed downstairs around seven to be one of the first for breakfast. After having a fuel English, sans black pudding, I headed out to see and experience Dublin. I decided that I was going to go to Trinity College first since I would be able to go to St. Patrick's and Christ Church for services later if I could not make it there during the opening/ touring times. I loved Trinity College; the grounds, the Book of Kells (I studied Art History beginning in high school, one of my BAs is in it too, so as was the case last year with the Louvre I thought it was neat to see something up close that I had only seen pictures of, it made it more real somehow), and the long room (gorgeous library of ancient texts). After walking at a snail's pace up and down the long room I descended the stairs and perused the gift shop for about an hour. Having finished there I decided that my next stop would be at the Guinness Storehouse, I had made my way back down the street from Trinity College to my hotel and the front desk clerk was good enough to provide me with a Guinness map of Dublin where she marked out where the hotel was and where the storehouse was. I asked how long it would take to walk and she advised me it would take about fifteen to twenty minutes to walk there. I decided that I would try walking there and after walking through a less high-end commercial part of town I finally made it there. I spent a good two and a half hours at the Guinness storehouse, during which time I learned more about how beer, and Guinness in particular (obviously), is manufactured from the cultivating and harvesting of the hops and barley through to the pouring of the perfect pint.I went to the tasting lab to tru Guinness draught and then went up to the bar at the top of the building for my complimentary pint stein full of the golden brew. After finishing three-quarters of it I left and went down two levels to the restaurant and had a lovely braised beef with a cola. I looked around a bit more after my meal including having my picture taken and becoming a Guinness apprentice and buying some mementos before I exited. I decided that I did not relish walking all the way back to the hotel so I hopped aboard the hop on/hop off bus whose tickets are now valid for 24 hours and not merely the one day as they had been before. I purchased my ticket and took my seat as it would let me of across the street from my hotel. I decided to get off the bus at the Kilmainham Gaol and taker a tour of the former prison. The prison is key to the Irish Republic's history and it was very interesting to hear the history of the building and its former residents. After the prison I got back on the bus and took it to the beginning of Temple Bar which was its last stop. I got off and walked back towards my hotel, passing the Clarence Hotel whcih is owned by Bono and The Edge (my brother stayed here before for business and said it was quite nice); I stopped off at the small bookstore Books Upstairs before continuing up the street in search of a place to eat. I found a neat little pub called The Bank which was a Victorian era Bank [Belfast Bank to be exact] which has been sympathetically converted into a gastro-pub; the food was very good and the decor was fabulous.
That night I watched Morse and relaxed while I contemplated how I was going to be able to get the most into my day in the morning as, since it was Sunday, almost everything was not open before noon.
Sunday morning I watched Jeeves and Wooster and one and a half episodes of Heartbeat before I went down for a quick breakfast. I ate and then I made it my mission that I wanted to ensure that I got myself an Irish Aran sweater, this was the one thing I wanted to buy myself from Ireland and I did not want to have to leave without it. In-between my seemingly futile searches for my sweater I took in the Dublinia exhibit in the old Synod building of the Church of Ireland which is adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral, it is joined by a walkway. I had hoped to attend the morning service at Christ Church but was halfway through the Dublinia exhibit and did not make it; when I had finished exiting the church I was told by the verger that the church would not be open for visitors for more than an hour so I decided to take another look around the city. With my hop-on/ hop-off bus pass still valid I jumped aboard and took the bus around the city getting off at the Dublin Writer's museum which is housed in a Georgian Era townhouse. The museum was very interesting and included displays of famous Irish writers from Jonathan Swift, to Oscar Wilde to Samuel Becket just to name but a very few. After looking around the museum I decided I really needed to find my Irish Sweater as it was getting on to two-o'clock, so after consulting the receptionist there I set off in search of my woolen prize. I had almost given up hope when I saw the sign for the Irish Celtic Craftshop and I walked in thinking to myself as I did that if they didn't have it I would be resigned to going home without my sweater. I entered and out of the corner of my eye I saw a small display of souvenir shirts and beside them a small sampling of sweaters both cardigans and jumpers(pull-overs); like a moth to a flame I made my way through the two small aisles towards my celtic collectible. I looked at a greyish-cream coloured cardigan and a similarly jumper, I finally decided on the cardigan and eagerly made my purchase choosing to pay for it in Canadian so I would not have to worry about exchange rate fluctuations. With my self much calmer I walked up the street towards Christ Church Cathedral and went inside. The church was beautiful and sacred. After strohling through Christ Church I walked up the street towards St. Patrick's and looked around inside, I saw the monument to Jonathan Swift and its lovely interior and stained glass before I took my seat and enjoyed the Evensong and Matins service. I then, seeing my cash was low, went in search of a cash point so I would be able to pay the taxi driver in the morning. I searched and I searched as the one located in the corner store beside my hotel was out of service. I went into the heart of Temple Bar and eventually found one at the grocery store. With my cash in hand I went in search of someplace to eat. I looked around and finally decided that I would take room service instead of trying to deal with trying to find a pub that I liked. I ate my dinner while I watched the third episode of Emma and then finished packing for my flight home the next day.

I awoke early the next day in order to make sure that I did not leave anything in the hotel. After packing I went down to have a nice light breakfast before I checked out and made my way back to the airport to my flight home. Durring my flight home I was able to finish my last few pages of Emma, and I watched Mama Mia (it was very hard for me not to belt out the songs on the plane). My flight touched down back home at about four in the afternoon where my sister and mum were waiting to great my flight.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I have been busy playing the tetris game of packing my carry on and while I am doing a footsteps of Jane holiday I am alas unable to bring the Austen books I have remaining with me due to carryon weight restrictions. My flight leaves today at 6:45 PM PST [18:45 PST]. I am packed and eager to go, despite not being very comfortable when I fly, world traveler that I am. I am bringing a travel journal in order to record my thoughts and also to serve as a reference when I am showing people my pictures. So I will now finish my breakfast before grabbing some more batteries at the store and then head off to the airport because as the iconic song says : I'm leaving on a jet plane.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Packing and Excitement.

"Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We will know where we have gone – we will recollect what we have seen. Lakes, mountains and rivers shall not be jumbled together in our imaginations; more when we attempt to describe a particular scene, we will begin by quarreling about about its relative situation. Let our effusions be less insupportable than those of the generality of travellers". These are the words that Elizabeth Bennett says to her Aunt when they are discussing their holidaying in Derbyshire in my favourite of Jane Austen's novels Pride & Prejudice; as I feel that this is likely to be my Bon-Voyage post before my holiday that it seemed quite apt, especially as I will be connecting flights and taking trains, tubes and taxis in order to accomplish it.

Well, as of 3:00 P.M. PST this afternoon my holiday officially began. As one might imagine I am in a state of bliss; despite the fact that my plane does not leave for another 46 hrs and 20 minutes. While I am excited I also have a tiny bit of trepidation, not of the trip itself but rather how I can get 12 days of clothes, sundries camera, batteries, 2 mobile phones and my mP3 player into a carryon suitcase and a rather large purse. I know I will enjoy myself, after all that is the purpose of a holiday, I will try to be good and not spend too much on trinkets nor, when in Ireland, drink too much [I only get one free pint of Guinness on the tour] and not to take more pictures than is in the Louvre’s collection. In my final preparations for my trip I have discovered, not to any surprise, that I am not the first to do the Janeite trip having found blogs of others, and books where others have taken the same steps before me, the earliest that I have found being Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends by Constance Hill with illustrations by Ellen G. Hill. For each Janeite the experience of the journey is as unique as our interpretations of Jane Austen’s works. The chance I have of being able to attend service at the same church that Jane was christened in is an experience that I am particularly excited about. I have still a few more things to do when I return for my Everything Austen challenge which will await me when I return, though I may throw an Austen book in my bag to read onboard but as to my watching Colin Firth as Darcy I am resigned to the fact that, lest I be able to watch it on a BBC Pride & Prejudice marathon on BBC1 or BBC 3, I will have to wait until my return for that pleasure. I will endeavour to savour every moment, remembering to look at the world outside of my camera lens at least 3 times as much as I look into it. The clock on the side will flash 0:00 on the day my sojourn commences whilst my plane will not leave the tarmac for several hours after that. I am intending to finish Emma tonight though in my excited mindset and with packing still to do I may not be at liberty to provide my opinion on it until I have returned.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Emma, Mrs. Elton and take off in 4 days.

Between work and the excitement encountered in putting the finishing details on my holiday I have been less attentive to my Everything Austen project than I wish to be. With the exception of last night I have only been able to spare the time to read Emma on my commutes to and from work so hence I am still plodding along; while I am obviously not finished I am delighted that I have just under 1/3 of the book left unread.

I have just left Emma who has had to endure the new Mrs. Elton at her dinner party where the woman ignored Jane Fairfax's pleas to do nothing about procuring a governess placement as of yet. Emma's displeasure with the way in which Mrs. Elton conducts herself and interacts with Emma's friends and family is growing with every encounter.

As one can see the countdown clock is into single digits now which means this time next week I will be in England [at the time I am writing this blog it will Bath to be exact] hurrah!!

Well I must make haste since I still have tons of stuff left to accomplish [including ensuring that I finish Emma and watch the Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehlee Pride & Prejudice) before I can be seated comfortably while my flight taxis down the runway. too.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Emma, Elton, Christmas and St..Nicholas

I have been reading Emma, yes not finished yet I have had parties to help plan at work and am still nursing a cold; all that considered I have just left the Knightlys, Woodhouses and Mr. Elton in the carriage on their way to Christmas Eve dinner at the Watsons. Emma thinks it is quite odd that Elton is not staying home from the party as her only reason for inviting him was to push him and Harriet closer together and try to cajole him into proposing to Miss Smith. Miss Smith has a terrible cold/flu and has had to beg pardon of the Watsons and even "poor" Miss Woodhouse as she is very unwell and must stay home. After blogging I will again return to Emma.

I have been working on putting the final preparations on my trip, including arranging to see the church connected to the long gone rectory that Jane Austen called home for 25 years; I am quite excited as I have just heard back from its vicar, and I will be able to attend services at St. Nicholas Steventon on my holiday. I am very happy about this. I have, as my countdown clock will attest less than 2 weeks until I leave on holiday [technically my flight leaves in the afternoon, so the clock is simply a countdown until the day].

I also have noted that I have not yet really talked at all of music, and my blog is entitled Travel, Tomes & Tunes. My musical tastes vary; my collection is well stocked in Opera, Jazz, Adult Contemporary and Showtunes; however, this is not to say that I do not sway from this. In addition to the artists you would suppose to find on my mp3 player are: Alice Cooper, Green Day, Elvis Presley, and Band from TV, Elvis Costello, Madonna and Adam Sandler. Additionally, I enjoy as some of my hobbies putting all those years, 6 years, of piano and flute lessons to use as well as 10+ years of choir by both singing and playing for enjoyment. In terms of my holiday I hope to be able to take in a West End show while I am in London or perhaps a concert at Canterbury Cathedral if there is one while I am there.

Well with my tunes acknowledged I am now going to return to my reading to see how the merry group get on at their dinner engagement and to see if Miss Woodhouse will set aside attestations to never marry and succumb to love.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Emma Woodhouse and Harriet

I had hoped to be further along in Emma by now but I have been nursing a little bit of a headache this week and could not really focus on it as much as I had wanted to, I hope with a 3 day weekend that I might be able to be further along, if not finished the novel by next Saturday.
Miss Emma Woodhouse fancies herself the best matchmaker in the British Empire, after hazarding to assume responsibility for the marriage of Mr. Watson to her former governess and lifelong family friend Miss Taylor; basing this on her introducing the two parties after he brought umbrellas to their need in the rain. Soon after Emma has made the acquaintance of Miss Harriet Smith and is quite determined to make a match for her with Mr. Elton who she feels in more in keeping with the presumed station from which Miss Smith comes from. She meets the farmer Mr. Martin with whom Harriet was mildly smitten; because of his profession and lack of a public school education (Emma stresses he is illiterate and can't read, yet Harriet has already mentioned that he knows how to read and has read at least The Vicar of Wakefield); for Emma this mere farmer is somebody who, even if his fortunes were to increase modestly, he would always be below her worth to associate. This bias has so far been pressed to Harriet to such an extent that she too is beginning to be manipulated towards Emma's outlook on things. It was there that I was forced to leave the novel as a headache came upon me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Darcys and the Binglys.,,, Enter Miss Woodhouse

Errands delayed my completion of reading Pride and Prejudice before the end of the weekend; however, I have completed it tonight. I became giddy, as I always do, when I reached those poignant parts of the novel: Bingly & Jane becoming engaged, Elizabeth's dressing down of Lady Catherine De Bourgh, Darcy's second proposal and the double wedding. I was happy to see that my affection for the novel has not changed but grows with each time I read it. Having read the novel as many times as I have one would assume that I would not wonder that the two couples find and pledge themselves to one another in the end but I do; I am always happy in the end that everything turns out as it should.
Having thus completed another thing off of my list for the Everything Austen Challenge I have already delved into Emma; off I go to read of the young matchmaker and see if she succeeds in obtaining her own match...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Visions of Pemberley & Mr. Darcy

I have been busy this week, which has delayed my reading and, consequently my update of what I have read and done. This week I purchased my Brit-Rail pass; yippee less than three and a half weeks until I will be back in England so but for packing and exchanging a little bit of money to take with me that I am ready to go. This week also had the solemn nature yesterday of the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks; several of us at work were discussing where we were when we saw the planes fly into the Twin Towers, it was very reflective of how all our lives had changed since then (I saw it live on TV while I was eating my breakfast before heading off to University).
Regarding Miss Elizabeth Bennet she has seen her silly and dangerously flirtatious sister Lydia be allowed to go with Mrs. Foster to Brighton despite her pleas to her father to stop it. Elizabeth has also had the good fortune of accompanying her Aunt and Uncle as they tour Derbyshire. When I last left her she and her relations had just enjoyed a grand tour of the Pemberley mansion and were looking around the garden and grounds when Mr. Darcy himself, who was not expected until the next day, appeared and Elizabeth, still flustered with what he had gleaned about his true character from the maid, introduced him to her aunt and uncle. So now I will continue my readings and by nightfall I hope to see Darcy and Elizabeth as man and wife.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rosings Park and Lady Catherine De Bourgh

Last night I watched the making of and bonus DVD for the BBC Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice, alas I will have to wait until the weekend to have the 5 hours free in succession in which to watch the mini-series in its entirety ( I prefer to watch it straight from start to finish, its first airing on television was a trial for me since it only showed one episode a week over 6 weeks). Today I have spent my commute on the train continuing my read of Pride & Prejudice. Currently Miss Elizabeth Bennet has endured the introduction to, along with the pompous condescension and company of the Right, Honourable Lady Catherine De Bourgh of Rosings Park . Along with this my mind is drifting to my trip which is now as a write this (if one goes based on time as a countdown measure like myself) less than 30 days until I depart for Britain and Ireland I can hardly wait!!! Well off I go to watch the love, hidden between the banter, blossom between Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pride & Prejudice

I started rereading it this morning and, as of 2 hours ago, am now a 3rd of the way through my second novel for the Everything Austen Challenge; Pride and Prejudice, which just happens also to be my favourite novel. Mr. Collins is just as slimy as ever and George Wickham has yet to be proven to be the biggest jerk in the British Militia. Darcy is haughty as ever trying to dissuade himself from coming under the influence and falling deeper in love with Miss Elizabeth Bennet as behooves his position. Every time I read it when Wickham gives that account to Elizabeth I have to remember that she does not yet know of his true character and dealings with Darcy because I always want to contradict him and his tall tale.
I will take a little break from Pride & Prejudice to sort through and ready my travel things as I have but four and a half weeks before my holiday in Britain & Ireland begins.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Dashwoods Sisters are married, now to see the same results for the Bennets

I have finished the first of my Jane Austen novels for Everything Austen. Rev. Edward Ferrars has won Miss Elinor and Col. Christopher Brandon has succeeded in confirmation of his love and marriage to Miss Marianne. Oh could there be more felicity then two pairs of lovers finding happiness with one another; I do not think that possible. Now, as I have seen the elder two of the three Dashwood sisters safely married, I will now turn my attentions to the Bennet sisters and their inevitable trials in pursuit of love.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Holiday planning finalisation along with Marianne and Elinor Dashwood.

I have been busy finalising my hotel accommodations over this past week and a half so I have not been able to record my Austen activities. I will be staying at the Swan in Alton, a traditional coaching hotel that was around in Jane's time; when I found that out it won me over, I wonder if my trip in the steps of Jane could count as part of my Everything Austen Challange? The hotel is also a short walk or bus ride to the Jane Austen house in Chawton, and a mere 1.5 hour train ride to Winchester. I will also be spending a couple of days in Bath at a small hotel that is in a converted Georgian town house. In less than 5 weeks I will be in Bath, hurrah!!!
With my vacation plans decided and booked I have been able to return to the Dashwoods and their troubles. Oh that John Willoughby, how he hurt poor Marianne it vexes me so; however, the good Col. Brandon, the better man in my opinion, will soon, in a few pages, have her hand I can't wait.
One thing that my trip will allow me to do is to read most, if not all, of the books remaining on my Everything Austen list as I will be on a 10 hour flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam before catching my 2 hr connecter to London. I am off now to see the good Col. Brandon have his love for Marianne confirmed and consecrated.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Planes and Lost , and Jane

I "celebrated" my booking of my flight portion of my trip by watching the rest of Lost in Austen [another thing completed on my Everything Austen List], I love the scene where Amanda has Darcy go into the pool just to have her postmodern moment. Then after I poked around looking at the hotels available in the Hampshire area I retired for the night; I turned on the TV and was flipping through the channels and found that Becoming Jane was starting so I flipped to it and watched it. While I liked it I thought there were parts of it that were a little far-fetched, like people speaking lines directly from Austen's books [this does not include the voice-overs of Jane talking as she writes]. Watching the film it is interesting to remember that Jane herself, not even having the benefit of the typewriter let alone a word processor or computer things that we take for granted. I must admit I would love to have a script as elegant as hers and those of her era, mine looks like I should be a Dr. of medicine half the time. I am a little bit sleep deprived as the film didn't end until 2:30 AM this morning but I can always go to sleep early today so it is all good.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Everything Austen So Far

I have been pretty busy over the past 10 days so I have not had the opportunity to blog my Everything Austen accomplishments. I am well into reading Sense and Sensibility and took a break from my reading time to watch Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Bridget Jones' Diary and half of Lost in Austen[the rest of it airs later this week], I have lucked out that they have been on TV ;o). I have also decided to make my holiday this year all about Jane. I have been to England several times before including going to Bath (I took the picture of Bath Abbey above on one of my previous trips) and have seen many of its sites including the Jane Austen Centre but this time I will make the pilgrimage to more Jane Austen landmarks. I will visit Winchester Cathedral and Chawton as well as Steventon and as many other areas related to Jane's life and her works as I am able to fit into an 8- 10 day trip.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Everything Austen

It is a truth universally acknowledged, by those who know me, that when I read about something Jane Austen it piques my interest. It is for that reason that I have taken on the challenge of Everything Austen. I am not going to let my late start deter me from rising to the challenge, I have decided that I will rise to the challenge by reading the following books and watching the following films:

Sense & Sensibility
Pride & Prejudice
Bridget Jones' Diary
Jane Austen's guide to dating
Northanger Abbey

BBC Pride & Prejudice [Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle]
Bridget Jones' diary
Sense & Sensibility
Pride & Prejudice [Keira Knightley & Matthew MacFadyen]
Lost in Austen
Mansfield Park

So wish me well and now off to continue Sense & Sensibility.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I know, I should have started with the explanation of my blog first but the bibliophile in me just couldn't wait to share with other Austenites that I was about to get stuck into another of Jane Austen's novels. I will therefore begin the explanation of what brought me to begin this blog now.

The American Chef Julia Child said of work “Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it". I agree with Child's mantra and think that it is even more important for how one chooses to spend their hours away from work. In this modern age the amount of time that we have to enjoy and indulge in our passions for the pure and unencumbered enjoyment of them, even if one's means of employment is their passion, is less than it was even a generation ago. I can quote from many medical and social research studies that show that people who take time to relax and take time to employ themselves in passions, or leisure activities that they enjoy tend to be healthier, happier and even more productive than those who do not. The important thing about taking the time to partake in one's passions is that one is partaking in them purely for the pleasure it brings to oneself, provided it is legal and does not harm anybody else.

For me three of my biggest passions are travelling, reading and music; hence, the title of the blog. In addition to, and sometimes as a result of these passions, I am able to indulge in other passions including: photography, writing, cooking and theatre, amongst others, which connect themselves nicely to the three large passions. This blog will be a journalising of my experiences in enjoying my passions. I never want to be the person on their deathbed who says that they wish that they had had taken the time to indulge in at least some of their passions. If one loves opera music and their partner would rather listen to the screeching of nails on a chalkboard I believe that one shouldn’t give up on their passion entirely. In the case of the opera-lover and the opera-hater the opera lover could rent a CD from the library and listen on headphones, or one could try if it is possible to see a live performance, whether armature or professional. If one loves to write poetry one needn’t feel that their prose, or verse, needs to impress others; often, the best poetry stems from the writer casting aside the perception that others will not approve. While my passions tend to the more artistic side the need to partake in one’s passions is true for the more athletically inclined as well. If one has a golf handicap that would have more numbers in it than are currently known to follow the decimal in PI one need not toss one’s clubs into the lake. If proficiency were a precedent to enjoyment of passions few people would have hobbies. Will you who golf and have PI length handicaps be the next Tiger Woods?, likely not, but you will be a happier person at the end of your days if you took yourself to the green every now and then. I therefore hope to encourage those of you who read my blog to follow your bliss!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sense & Sensibility

They were showing the 1995 version of Sense & Sensibility with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet & Hugh Grant on TV the other night so I watched it twice both the Eastern [early] and Pacific [late] airings of it. Incidentally Hugh Laurie is also in this fillm as Mr. Jennings, the husband of the Dashwood's friend Mrs. Charlotte Jennings Palmer. Rewatching the film has given me the inspiration to reread this book, something I haven't done in ..gasp... two years. I will be updating the blog with my progress.