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Archive for March, 2008

In 1799 Jane Austen travelled to Bath with her mother, brother Edward and his wife, Elizabeth. The following is an extract from a letter she wrote to her sister.

I saw some gauzes in a shop in Bath Street yesterday at only 4d. a yard, but they were not so good or so pretty as mine. Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers’, but I have never seen any of them in hats. A plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap one, near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in quest of something for you. I have never seen an old woman at the pump-room.

Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza’s, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . .

I imagined Jane rushing around the shops looking for adornments for her bonnet and painted her striding along Bath Street, against a backdrop of gossips catching up with the latest news.

Here is another photo of yours truly standing in front of the Pump Rooms. You can just glimpse a magnificent chandelier through the window.

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In 1799 Jane Austen travelled to Bath with her mother, brother Edward and his wife, Elizabeth. The following is an extract from a letter she wrote to her sister.

I saw some gauzes in a shop in Bath Street yesterday at only 4d. a yard, but they were not so good or so pretty as mine. Flowers are very much worn, and fruit is still more the thing. Elizabeth has a bunch of strawberries, and I have seen grapes, cherries, plums, and apricots. There are likewise almonds and raisins, French plums, and tamarinds at the grocers’, but I have never seen any of them in hats. A plum or greengage would cost three shillings; cherries and grapes about five, I believe, but this is at some of the dearest shops. My aunt has told me of a very cheap one, near Walcot Church, to which I shall go in quest of something for you. I have never seen an old woman at the pump-room.

Elizabeth has given me a hat, and it is not only a pretty hat, but a pretty style of hat too. It is something like Eliza’s, only, instead of being all straw, half of it is narrow purple ribbon. I flatter myself, however, that you can understand very little of it from this description. Heaven forbid that I should ever offer such encouragement to explanations as to give a clear one on any occasion myself! But I must write no more of this. . .

I imagined Jane rushing around the shops looking for adornments for her bonnet and painted her striding along Bath Street, against a backdrop of gossips catching up with the latest news.

Here is another photo of yours truly standing in front of the Pump Rooms. You can just glimpse a magnificent chandelier through the window.

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It doesn’t look as though there will be much opportunity for donning our Easter bonnets here in the UK. It feels more like Christmas and we’ve had snow flurries today. Wherever you are in the world I hope you all have a chance to have a lovely weekend, whether you are celebrating Easter or not. And, whatever the weather, dust down that bonnet and give it a whirl!

Jane Odiwe

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It doesn’t look as though there will be much opportunity for donning our Easter bonnets here in the UK. It feels more like Christmas and we’ve had snow flurries today. Wherever you are in the world I hope you all have a chance to have a lovely weekend, whether you are celebrating Easter or not. And, whatever the weather, dust down that bonnet and give it a whirl!

Jane Odiwe

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The Pump Room at Bath has always been a place for social gathering, where people take the water dispensed by the pumper who stands behind a bar and fills glasses with the warm spa water. If you have ever been to Bath, you will know that you can still sample the waters today in the Pump Room.

This extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story takes place in Bath. Lydia is accompanied by her friend Isabella and brother Alexander who have promised to help her discover the real truth behind some dreadful news. Isabella’s beau, Mr Freddie Rowlandson and his sister Eleanor have just arrived in town.

They planned to start the day with a trip to the Pump Rooms but Isabella was clearly more excited than she had been previously at the thought of meeting Mr Rowlandson. They hastened down to the town, with Alexander in tow, urging them both to slow down and were instantly gratified to see their friends already there and waiting for them under the clock. The usual felicitations preceded a request from Miss Rowlandson to take a turn about the room. She latched onto Isabella and pulled Lydia over to her other side.

“We must walk together so, we will cause a little stir, will we not? See, how the gentlemen cannot help but be drawn in our direction.”

Lydia glanced behind her to see Alexander and Freddie deep in companionable chatter and could have laughed out loud. It was clear they were not impressed by the ladies’ efforts to attract the notice of young men and were completely oblivious to their charms.

“We are planning to go to the Upper Rooms tomorrow evening,” said Eleanor. “I confess I am excited at the prospect. Will you be going too?”

“I am not sure if we will be able. Mrs Wickham is here for her health and has been quite unwell, I do not think she will be up to dancing,” answered Isabella, conscious that Lydia, for all her brave words might prefer to remain at home.

“Nonsense,” Lydia cried. “I insist that you go, Isabella, and besides, I am sure I shall enjoy some dancing. It will be good for my spirits. I am determined to enjoy my holiday and am feeling much better, I assure you.”

“Can you guess who else is in town?” Eleanor said, but did not wait for an answer. “Ralph Howard, that lovely man who danced with me at Netherfield is here and not far in Laura Place; which is as elegant as it is exclusive. He has called a few times at HighCross recently and mentioned he was coming here for a couple of weeks but I daresay we will not see him.”

“I am sure you will,” cried Lydia, as she and Isabella exchanged glances. Her mention of Ralph Howard calling at HighCross had not been missed by either of them. “Bath is a big town but it seems everyone follows the same pursuits, just like they do in Brighton.”

“Oh, I should like to go to Brighton,” Eleanor declared, “but there is never enough money for too many expeditions.”

“What are you talking of, my dear?” asked her brother Freddie.

“I was just saying I should like to go to Brighton, but visits are so expensive, it is impossible to go everywhere one should like.”

“Aye,” said Freddie, “but you were as keen to come to Bath as I, were you not, Eleanor?”

She blushed at his words and quickly turned the conversation to join Lydia and Isabella who were discussing the morning gowns of the fashionables.


A very old pic of me with Martin the Pumper

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The Pump Room at Bath has always been a place for social gathering, where people take the water dispensed by the pumper who stands behind a bar and fills glasses with the warm spa water. If you have ever been to Bath, you will know that you can still sample the waters today in the Pump Room.

This extract from Lydia Bennet’s Story takes place in Bath. Lydia is accompanied by her friend Isabella and brother Alexander who have promised to help her discover the real truth behind some dreadful news. Isabella’s beau, Mr Freddie Rowlandson and his sister Eleanor have just arrived in town.

They planned to start the day with a trip to the Pump Rooms but Isabella was clearly more excited than she had been previously at the thought of meeting Mr Rowlandson. They hastened down to the town, with Alexander in tow, urging them both to slow down and were instantly gratified to see their friends already there and waiting for them under the clock. The usual felicitations preceded a request from Miss Rowlandson to take a turn about the room. She latched onto Isabella and pulled Lydia over to her other side.

“We must walk together so, we will cause a little stir, will we not? See, how the gentlemen cannot help but be drawn in our direction.”

Lydia glanced behind her to see Alexander and Freddie deep in companionable chatter and could have laughed out loud. It was clear they were not impressed by the ladies’ efforts to attract the notice of young men and were completely oblivious to their charms.

“We are planning to go to the Upper Rooms tomorrow evening,” said Eleanor. “I confess I am excited at the prospect. Will you be going too?”

“I am not sure if we will be able. Mrs Wickham is here for her health and has been quite unwell, I do not think she will be up to dancing,” answered Isabella, conscious that Lydia, for all her brave words might prefer to remain at home.

“Nonsense,” Lydia cried. “I insist that you go, Isabella, and besides, I am sure I shall enjoy some dancing. It will be good for my spirits. I am determined to enjoy my holiday and am feeling much better, I assure you.”

“Can you guess who else is in town?” Eleanor said, but did not wait for an answer. “Ralph Howard, that lovely man who danced with me at Netherfield is here and not far in Laura Place; which is as elegant as it is exclusive. He has called a few times at HighCross recently and mentioned he was coming here for a couple of weeks but I daresay we will not see him.”

“I am sure you will,” cried Lydia, as she and Isabella exchanged glances. Her mention of Ralph Howard calling at HighCross had not been missed by either of them. “Bath is a big town but it seems everyone follows the same pursuits, just like they do in Brighton.”

“Oh, I should like to go to Brighton,” Eleanor declared, “but there is never enough money for too many expeditions.”

“What are you talking of, my dear?” asked her brother Freddie.

“I was just saying I should like to go to Brighton, but visits are so expensive, it is impossible to go everywhere one should like.”

“Aye,” said Freddie, “but you were as keen to come to Bath as I, were you not, Eleanor?”

She blushed at his words and quickly turned the conversation to join Lydia and Isabella who were discussing the morning gowns of the fashionables.


A very old pic of me with Martin the Pumper

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I am very lucky to consider amongst my friends two writers who are not only very talented but are achieving the success they deserve. Kathryn L. Nelson has been nominated for an award in the Jane Austen’s Regency World Awards for best new fiction for her novel, Pemberley Manor. There are many nominations for all sorts of categories including awards for adaptations. You can vote by clicking here.
Diana Birchall’s novel, Mrs Darcy’s Dilemma, has been taken up by Sourcebooks for international publication and is now available across the US in Barnes and Noble stores.
Both these writers have written fabulous sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and it’s lovely to see their work being deservedly recognised for excellence.
You can order both books online from Sourcebooks Inc. Click here for Pemberley Manor.
Click here for Mrs Darcy’s Dilemma

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