Browsing Archives for September 2009

I just finished a book called The Wicked Wit of Jane Austen compiled by Dominique Enright. To put together this formidable collection of wit, Enright combed through Jane’s personal letters and books and put all the wittiest Jane Austen remarks in one handy spot. I bought the book while I was in Bath… not in the bath… but Bath… the famous town in England.

Did you know I went to England?

And also Paris?

Yes.

I did.

It was a hellish trip and I still can’t think about it without dissolving into a hurricane of lurching grief, but I also can’t mention this book without alluding to Bath. Because Bath and this book, are kind of married in my mind… just like I am also kind of married in my mind. Well… actually I am very married in my mind. Very married… very, very, very married. And occasionally marriage requires a bit of lurching around in grief. Even among the very, very very married. And yes, I ask myself all the time… why did I not just get over it? Why did I not just determine to stop the ludicrous lurching in grief? What was wrong with me? I wish I could answer this question. All I know is that I do not get myself into lurching grief easily. I usually laugh at lurching grief! Ha ha ha! Lurching grief! So funny! But there is only so much lurching grief at which one can laugh. Eventually, the lurching grief is not laughable anymore. Eventually, one’s defenses against the lurching grief break down. I have discovered that they break down even faster in Paris. Paris is perhaps the most beautiful city in the world!  How can one’s marriage become so full of lurching grief while one is in Paris?  I have theories about lurching grief and Paris and marriage… many, many, many theories. Someday I hope to write these theories down and have them published in Popular Science or National Geographic or Country Living or in a cookbook called The Pioneer Woman Lurches in Grief.  I have no idea why I would call it by that title, except that someone might actually buy it if I did.  Because evidently if you add the words ‘Pioneer Woman’ to anything millions of people will read it.  Even if it is totally inane.  

But let’s skip the lurching grief part of this fabulous European vacation and just remember the good parts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay… there are no good parts. But there is a lovely, ancient city in England called Bath which was the first place we visited after arriving back from Paris… and I am sorry to tell you this… but during our time in Bath, the lurching grief was still clinging to me like moldering grave cloths.

Exhibit A.

This is me – in Bath – in moldering grave cloths.

I am standing in front of the ancient Roman Bath… which is in Bath… hence it’s name… Bath.

Is not a picture worth a thousand words?

 

 

The Romans called this town, Aquae Sulis after the Celtic God, Sulis.

They kept the Celtic name because they believed very strongly in multi-culturalism… at least, after they conquered your Celtic ass, they believed in it!

 

 

 

 

Bath is the site of the only hot springs in the entire country of England. Archeologists have found evidence of the springs being regarded as a sacred place dating as far back as 700 BC.

The Romans built their temple at Bath (or Aquae Sulis) in 43 AD. They maintained, enlarged, and re-built the structures over the next four centuries.

 

 

 

After the Romans left Great Britain, the baths fell into disuse as they required an immense amount of labor to maintain.

The town continued to grow however and eventually a church was built over the old ruins of the Roman temple.

 

 

The Roman ruins were re-discovered in the 18th century.  

In 1987, Bath was chosen as a world heritage site.

The city is truly an open air museum of architectural wonder and ancient history.

Also – there are a lot of great shops and dining if anyone is so base… so primal… so uncivilized as to care.

 

 

 

Here are my feet walking on the very stones that the Romans would have walked upon.

 

 

 


 We got to sample the water. One of the reasons that Bath’s water was imbued with mystical properties by ancient peoples was not only it’s seemingly inexplicable heat, but also the fact that it stained the stones that it fell upon red. The water is full of minerals, especially iron. Early physicians strongly believed in the water’s curative properties and prescribed both bathing in it and drinking it in mass quantities. Perhaps the iron in the water counter balanced all the ‘bleeding’ they were always up to back then.

 

 

 

Adjacent to the Roman Bath is the legendary Pump Room.

 

 

 

The Pump Room is a setting for a scene in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey as are many other sites in Bath.

 

 

 

We eventually made our way to the Jane Austen Center, replete with grim fake Jane standing outside waiting to greet us. Her countenance did nothing to dispel my gloom nor shake me from my moldering grave cloths. Thanks fake Jane. Thanks for nothing fake Jane!

 

 

 

My boys saw the fake Jane and fled for their lives to a nearby mini-golf course while I toured Jane’s house.

 

 

 

You will be happy to know that the correct Mr. Darcy is prominently displayed in several areas throughout the museum.

 

 


Here he is again looking over the tea room on the second floor.

Jane drew on her experiences in Bath in both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

 

 

 

We departed the Jane Austen Center and wandered around Bath for several hours.

 

 

Famed architect John Wood built two famous residences in Bath. The one in the above photo is known as the Royal Crescent. It is a semi-circular string of attached mansions.

 

 

 

He also designed the Circus which is just a few blocks over. The Circus is a circle of attached mansions cut by an intersection of three streets with a park in between. This aerial view gives you a much better effect than a street shot does.

 

 

 

Sally Lunn has been selling her buns in Bath since 1680. These are bread buns… and not uh… the other kind of buns. Sally is not still selling the buns herself as her buns are buried in the nearby Bath Abbey.

 

 

 

Actually, I don’t know where Sally Lunn’s buns are buried. But there are seemingly thousands of people buried at Bath Abbey.

 

 

 

The grave markers are all over the church

 

 

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Clad in moldering grave cloths as I was, the tombstones caused more than a fleeting shudder, but my eyes were also drawn upwards to the marvellous heights.

 

 

As I sat in a pew, I wondered if possibly Jane had sat here herself. And did she ever feel shroud in moldering grave cloths?

 

 

After touring the Abbey, we left Bath and made our way to Stonehenge via Castle Combe (the prettiest village in England).

 

 

Here are my boys standing by Stonehenge.

You might note that we are outside the perimeter fence.

This is as close as we got.

Because…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Really?

Really Stonehenge?

Closed Stonehenge?

Why Stonehenge?

Why?

You are stones Stonehenge.

Massive stones in a field Stonehenge!

You are not a Seven Eleven with cigarettes and chewing tobacco Stonehenge!

You are not an Abercrombie and Fitch Stonehenge!

You should be open 24/7 Stonehenge!

You don’t even have a door to CLOSE Stonehenge!

Ah well…

What’s another tragic disappointment when one is already lurching about in grief and clad in moldering grave cloths?