Thursday, May 28, 2015

Tea, Mice, Box Hill and the Queen's Quarter. . .

I'm hoping to catch up with this blogpost. We have been on the run for some time, but the last two days we slowed down a bit. Yesterday I celebrated my birthday in two cities: York and London. If the truth be told, if we had to live in a city in England (one we have visited), it would definitely be York! It has everything. Culture, history, shops, charm, fairly easily navigated, and the most lovely tea room . . .Bettys.

That's were I chose to have my birthday breakfast. It was so nice to relax with a pot of Yorkshire Tea (the best. . .even when strong, it's not bitter), poached eggs with asparagus and a bun. (A once in a blue moon treat)!

We were relieved to drop off our rental car (a Vauxhall) the night before. The two of us cheered when I turned off the ignition for the last time. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed our travels. But the narrow streets and the constant dodging of parked cars, bikers, hikers and the occasional sheep left me tense at the very end of it all. But, I'm so grateful for God's protection through it all.

So, on to London. We took the rail, found our way to the hotel, rested a bit, then headed to dinner and a play. The crowds were enormous. Discovered today that the Queen was in town with pomp and ceremony to open the first day of Parliment since the election. The buses took forever, and we were unsure of what stop to exit at, so a kind man got off at the same stop and walked us half way there!

We have found everyone SO helpful with directions, almost going overboard for us. Another blessing!

After dinner, we walked to our theatre, St. Martins, which featured the longest running play in London. . .over 60 years! Mousetrap, an Agatha Christie mystery, never made it to publication, but was made into a very popular stage production.

We weren't allowed to take photos, so here is a pic of the cast from a poster in the lobby:

And the curtains . . .

It was very well done, and, as usual, I couldn't work out the plot, and was surprised by the ending. We took the tube home, and even at 22h30, the station was mobbed with people. When we arrived at Paddington Station, it took us a good ten minutes to find the way out that would lead to our hotel. We ended up walking through an empty parking garage and up a ramp to get there! Thankfully, there were security guards around.

Today, friends took us to Box Hill, a scene in Austen's novel, "Emma". She has never been out of her district, so going quite a few miles from her home is a big deal. Emma and a number of friends go on a picnic, but it is ruined when Emma plays a silly game that thoughtlessly offends one of the older women on her party. Mr. Knightly chides her with "Badly done, Emma. Badly done!"

The view is stunning. . .there were even picnickers where Emma and her party would have sat!

Here was a funny tombstone we found along the way:

After Box Hill, we took a drive to Eton and Windsor (the Queen was NOT in residence):

The town of Eton, home of the well-known Eton College boy's school.




Some of the boy's Eton 'house' (think: fraternity) uniforms. . . 

The boy's houses, or dorms. . .

The Eton College library. . .

Olivia tries to 'get into' Eton. . .with no luck!

Then, we walked over the bridge and took a stroll down the Thames on the Windsor side:

A swarm of swans. . .

The Thames. . .

Egyptian Ducks

Then, into town . . .the Old and the Newer

The original Victoria rail station:

Windsor Castle. . .with a statue of Queen Victoria:

A lovely time was had by all. Tomorrow, Olivia and I will meet another friend for breakfast, and attempt to fit in three museums in one day. Cherrio!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Writer's Inspiration: Lees and Edges

Today has been fantastic as we immersed ourselves fully into Charlotte Brontë's environment, looking for clues to the inspirations that caused her to create and write her well-loved novel, Jane Eyre.

Through many questions, inquiries, maps, online sources and texts, we finally found the two hidden gems we were searching for: North Lees Hall (the inspiration for Thornfield Hall, Rochester's residence) and Stanage Edge, the rocks on which Jane despairingly threw herself after fleeing Mr. Rochester and losing herself in the moors. You can see them from North Lees Hall. 

Charlotte Brontë visited the Eyre's family (a popular name in Derbyshire) who lived in this house, and obviously drew her story from its walls. It just occurred to me that 'Thornfield Hall' was named after 'North Lees Hall'. How, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

The word 'lees' means field. They were both called halls. But, what just occurred to me was the fact that 'Thorn' is a reshuffling of the word 'north'!  Clever girl. (I suppose I could put myself in that category in this case.) 

We were told by the housekeeper who took us through the place (can't ordinarily do it, but it just so happened the guests were changing hands this morning, so we could: another God moment!), that on a dismal foggy day, it truly looks mysterious and forlorn. I'm sure Charlotte, during one visit or another, saw it in that light.

We were shown the tiny room at the top of the stairs, the inspiration for the first Mrs. Rochester, an insane character, sequestered to be kept safe from herself and from harming others. Now it is a storage room, and its walls have been plastered.

When I noticed this open window, I was immediately reminded of the scarlet scarf she would fly from the open window of her tower room.

In the great room, or reception area in those days, Charlotte would have noticed the plaster relief in the ceiling, which Jane describes as she tours Thornfield Hall.

The garden wasn't much here, but the view towards the fields was simply pastoral!

Here are some other views of this historic hall, over two hundred years old. Although they have been remodeling it as a rental property, they have maintained many of the original features:

The bedroom, evidently, is much the same as it would have been during Charlotte's time.

Looking through these windows brings me back to another era!

Original door. . .

And floors. . .

And stairs. . .

And one more of the gorgeous grounds. . .

We actually visited Stanage Edge first, in a wide hilly area the British call a dale. The wind swept through the valley as in the moors. There were sheep on the hillside, bleating as we went by. I could almost hear Mr. Rochester calling out through the miles, "Jaaaaane. . .Jaaaaaane" as he beckoned her back to his side.

We left our vehicle in the car park, and walked up the lonely path to rocks. It seemed a long way off, but, I was surprised at how easy the trek was!

Here we are looking down at the car park. . .

The rocky path we encountered . . .

The massive flat rocks (boulders?) at the top . . .

Olivia and me standing on the rock. . . I'm afraid of heights, so it was a challenge! My legs were shaking, and made it impossible for me to stand up straight:

Olivia felt more secure. . .

The view down below. North Lees Hall is close to the center of the photo:

Here is Stanage Edge from North Lees:

So, as you can see, it's been a delightful journey into a writer's world! Tomorrow we head off to London from York via rail, so there won't be much to blog about, but, you never know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Of This Place, I Might Have Been Mistress!

So says Lizzie when she visits Pemberley, Darcy's magnificent estate with her aunt and uncle. Because her sister, through her improper behavior, has tainted the family's reputation, Lizzie is sure, especially after refusing his offer of marriage once, that he will never ask her again.

Since we are on the Jane Austen/Eyre trail, we planned to visit both 'Pemberleys' from the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth (our favorite), and the latest Kiera Knightley version. We tried the impossible and succeeded to see those two and Haddon Hall, which is where our favorite 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre was filmed. Two were only three miles apart, but our favorite Pemberley was over an hour away. I can't tell you all the people who helped us get to our destinations, and the situations that made it possible, but, it was truly amazing to us. 

First, we visited Chatsworth House, which is where Kiera's version was filmed:

The outside was featured, as well as two locations in the house itself:

The Great Hall. . .

And, of course, the sculpture gallery (not my usual photography, but I wanted to be discreet):


                       A little angel caught my eye . . .

This house original owners were Bess of Hartwick (Henry VIII) and her husband, and eventually was completely remodeled and became the resident of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The present D&D love modern art, and have pieces in almost every room. It was a little irritating to see it mixed in with Tudor and Medieval art! But, there were a few fascinating pieces:

A cozy library and seating area. . . 

A chair in the sculpture gallery. . .

And the DNA of the present family interpreted as a 3D wall covering!

This one is more my taste: a former duchess painted as Diana, goddess of the moon and hunt. . .

Well, this post isn't about art, so on we go to our favorite Pemberley . . .owned by Colin Firth as Darcy:

They call this the 'iconic' view of Pemberley. The one you see in all the photos. Funny thing is, in the film, Lizzie and her aunt and uncle were brought to the back door via the circular drive:

Here is the area where Lizzie and Darcy took a 'turn' in the garden together, which is to the right of the back door:

And here is the gate through which she would have come:

And just look at the beautiful scenery around Lyme Park:

Unfortunately, we arrived to late in the afternoon to take the tour of the interior, but, since nothing was filmed inside, we didn't really mind. We were just thrilled that we made it onto the grounds so we could take pics. The Vistor's center was just closing as we walked up, but the young lady gave us ample information to make our visit a success!

In between the Pemberleys, we toured Haddon Hall, the location for the filming of our favorite 2006 BBC version of 'Jane Eyre':

I can't even describe what it was like to see this 'castle' . . .we were oooing and ahhhing the entire visit. Feeling as if we fell back into time, we fully expected to see Jane walk down these stairs:

Here is the great hall were many scenes were filmed. I was disappointed that the 'Tudors' were doing their reenactments, but you can get an idea of the space:

Here is the little room where Adele, her charge, took her lessons:

Then we went into the garden and were completely overwhelmed with its charm:




Some views of the backside of Haddon Hall (Thornfield, Mr. Rochester's home in Jane Eyre):




And the beautiful surroundings:

And a few parting shots of us . . .

We just couldn't get enough of this place! So, next time, it will be a full Jane Eyre experience . . .

Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
From Egypt to Israel