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Posts Tagged ‘Bath’

Summer has arrived in England – I’ve been to Bath a the weekend and couldn’t resist taking some photos for my Bath album. The ones here show Henrietta Park and a walk I took up to Beechen Cliff. I hope you enjoy them!
Cherry tree in flower in Henrietta Park
A pigeon enjoys the sun
The magnolias are out!
Henrietta Park
House at the foot of Lyncombe Hill
View looking back to Bath from Jacob’s Ladder
Looking through trees on Beechen Cliff
Dappled light through the trees
Wild garlic on the slopes of Beechen Cliff
Views from the top
Looking towards the Royal Crescent
Bath Abbey from Beechen Cliff
Bath from Beechen Cliff
Northanger Abbey – My illustration showing the Abbey from Beechen Cliff. Catherine Morland is taking a walk with Isabella and Henry Tilney.

 

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Spring has finally sprung here in England! I was beginning to think winter would never end; we’ve been experiencing very cold weather and lots of snow.
Jane Austen refers often to the seasons in her writing and with spring, it seems, the season often heralds a change or action of some sort. In this first example, Mrs Dashwood is thinking about Barton Cottage and the changes she might make to the building when the weather improves.


From Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility:

With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many additions to the latter indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her; and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments. “As for the house itself, to be sure,” said she, “it is too small for our family, but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about building. These parlours are both too small for such parties of our friends as I hope to see often collected here; and I have some thoughts of throwing the passage into one of them with perhaps a part of the other, and so leave the remainder of that other for an entrance; this, with a new drawing-room which may be easily added, and a bed-chamber and garret above, will make it a very snug little cottage. I could wish the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect everything; though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them. I shall see how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring, and we will plan our improvements accordingly.”

The next extract is from Northanger Abbey. Isabella Thorpe writes to Catherine Morland from Bath. Jane Austen uses the season to illustrate Isabella’s silly and shallow character. Although she professes one minute to be missing Catherine and expressing her love for Catherine’s brother, in the next second she is talking about fashion and hats. 

Bath, April
My dearest Catherine, I received your two kind letters with the greatest delight, and have a thousand apologies to make for not answering them sooner. I really am quite ashamed of my idleness; but in this horrid place one can find time for nothing. I have had my pen in my hand to begin a letter to you almost every day since you left Bath, but have always been prevented by some silly trifler or other. Pray write to me soon, and direct to my own home. Thank God, we leave this vile place tomorrow. Since you went away, I have had no pleasure in it — the dust is beyond anything; and everybody one cares for is gone. I believe if I could see you I should not mind the rest, for you are dearer to me than anybody can conceive. I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right: he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me.
 
Lastly, from Pride and Prejudice, Jane has become engaged to Mr Bingley and finds out that his sister Caroline had done everything to keep them apart last spring:


Mr Bingley and Jane Bennet

“He has made me so happy,” said she one evening, “by telling me, that he was totally ignorant of my being in town last spring! I had not believed it possible.”


   “I suspected as much,” replied Elizabeth. “But how did he account for it?”
   “It must have been his sister’s doing. They were certainly no friends to his acquaintance with me, which I cannot wonder at, since he might have chosen so much more advantageously in many respects. But when they see, as I trust they will, that their brother is happy with me, they will learn to be contented, and we shall be on good terms again; though we can never be what we once were to each other.”
   “That is the most unforgiving speech,” said Elizabeth, “that I ever heard you utter. Good girl! It would vex me, indeed, to see you again the dupe of Miss Bingley’s pretended regard.”
   “Would you believe it, Lizzy, that when he went to town last November, he really loved me, and nothing but a persuasion of my being indifferent would have prevented his coming down again?”
   “He made a little mistake, to be sure; but it is to the credit of his modesty.”
   This naturally introduced a panegyric from Jane on his diffidence, and the little value he put on his own good qualities.
   Elizabeth was pleased to find that he had not betrayed the interference of his friend; for, though Jane had the most generous and forgiving heart in the world, she knew it was a circumstance which must prejudice her against him.
   “I am certainly the most fortunate creature that ever existed!” cried Jane. “Oh! Lizzy, why am I thus singled from my family, and blessed above them all! If I could but see you as happy! If there were but such another man for you!”
   “If you were to give me forty such men, I never could be so happy as you. Till I have your disposition, your goodness, I never can have your happiness. No, no, let me shift for myself; and perhaps, if I have very good luck, I may meet with another Mr. Collins in time.”

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I am having a very exciting week!

Jane Austen, inspired by Cassandra’s portrait by Jane Odiwe

Yesterday, David Sillito, the charming BBC Arts Correspondent interviewed me for a short piece about Jane Austen and my books – if I don’t end up on the cutting room floor you might see a little of me on Monday morning on BBC Breakfast Television. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old on Monday and there is a special tribute to her being put together – one of many, I believe, over the coming months. Having ‘tasted’ the delights of filming on Masterchef which was aired last year, (sorry about the pun) yesterday’s interview was not quite as scary as I thought it would be – David and the cameraman were absolutely lovely and put me at my ease. The horror was having to run round before they arrived trying to tidy up my very untidy house for my guests. I always forget what a pleasure it is to see a neat house until I’m forced into action – well, now I don’t know myself – it looks a treat!
Anyone who knows me is aware that I can ‘talk for England’ on the subject of Jane Austen and it was lovely to indulge that pleasure!

B.R.A.G. Medallion for Searching for Captain Wentworth

A little later I received a wonderful email from the president of B.R.A.G. Medallion to tell me that I had been selected to receive this fantastic award. Although traditionally published in the past, I decided to go Indie this time with Searching for Captain Wentworth. B.R.A.G. Medallion was set up to recognise the achievements of Indie authors. I am very pleased and proud to be a “B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree”!
If you know someone whose book deserves this kind of notice you can suggest one. Here is a little about them.

From their website:

Who We Are

BRAGMedallion.com is owned and operated by indieBRAG, LLC, a privately held organization that has brought together a large group of readers, both individuals and members of book clubs, located throughout the United States, Canada, and the European Union. The word “indie” refers to self or independently published books, while B.R.A.G. is an acronym for Book Readers Appreciation Group. By their nature, our readers are passionate about all books, but for the purposes of the service we provide, we focus exclusively on the work of self-published authors of print and digital books.

What We Do

Our mission is to recognize quality on the part of authors who self-publish both print and digital books. As such, we are constantly on the lookout for the work of talented men and women who have written indie books across a wide range of genres. Our primary focus is fiction, however, we selectively consider non-fiction books as well.

How We Do It

From the large and rapidly growing library of indie books that are available today, we select those that we believe deserve to be considered. These books are then read and evaluated by members drawn from our reader group. The readers judge the merits of the books based on our proprietary list of criteria. The single most important criterion that we ask our readers to use in judging a book is whether or not they would recommend it to their best friend. Once a book meets this standard of quality, we award it our B.R.A.G. Medallion™, and along with other medallion recipients, it is presented on this website. 

Then, as if it couldn’t get any better I received notice of this lovely review for Searching for Captain Wentworth from Kim of Reflections of a Book Addict

My Persuasion-inspired novel, Searching for Captain Wentworth


What do Jane Austen, time-traveling, “Captain Wentworth”, and a pair of white gloves all have in common?  They’re all major parts of Jane Odiwe’s newest novel Searching for Captain Wentworth, a time-travelling tale that puts us smack dab in the middle of Jane Austen’s life!
Sophie Elliot is in a bit of a slump, to put it mildly.  Her boyfriend has cheated on her, with her best friend, no less.  Totally distraught, she can’t focus on the book she is attempting to write, and is quite depressed indeed.  So, in order to help her recuperate and focus on her writing, her great-aunt gives her the keys to the family townhouse in Bath.  She is shocked to learn that the home is located right next to the former home of none other than Jane Austen herself.  She is not alone, however, as she meets a somewhat mysterious man in the townhouse named Josh Strafford.  After Strafford drops an old glove, Sophie grabs it in order to return it to him.  Instead of simply picking up the glove, something extremely unexpected happens.  She finds herself transplanted into the body of her namesake, in Jane Austen’s time!  She is able to live out her wildest dream as she befriends Austen and experiences life in Regency-era bath.  She soon becomes caught in the dizzying travel between these two eras separated by 200 years.  She learns more about Austen than she ever thought possible.  What will become of Sophie now that this magical transformation has occurred?  What will happen with Josh once she tells him about the magical properties his glove seems to possess?
Right off the bat I was impressed with this book.  I loved how Odiwe was able to make Austen herself personify traits that fit all of her heroines.  She had the wit of Elizabeth, the matchmaking skills of Emma, the lost love like Anne, etc.  I personally like to believe that Jane truly did have traits from all of her heroines.  Knowing her characters so well and then believing they’re little parts of Jane herself makes me feel closer to her work for some reason. (Any one else feel this way??)  Also, can I talk about Charles Austen and Josh for a second?  What wonderfully male creations Odiwe has invented.  They were both written with such superbly gentleman-like characteristics that I couldn’t help but swoon over them.  Overall, Odiwe fleshed out each character quite well, with my opinions on them matching what I thought Odiwe would want to happen, making the story progress that much faster and drawing me in more.
Finally, I have to give Odiwe a lot of credit for her inspiring words throughout the work.  I was touched by several quotes, my personal favorite being:  Time is but a shadow; Too slow, too swift, but for those who love, time does not exist.  How amazing is that?  It’s all too true in our society today.  It makes the maxim “take time to stop and smell the roses” all that more important, as we are constantly bombarded by stimuli and fail to take in the importance of the people and places around us.  Between the exquisitely written story and  intriguing characters, I was hooked from cover to cover.  Even if time travelling books aren’t normally your style, I’d suggest that you still give this a try.  After all, haven’t we all wanted to be Jane’s best friend?
5 out of 5 Stars


Lastly, but by no means least, this lovely week will be topped off on Friday by a visit to my local library in High Barnet. I am giving a talk at the Chipping Barnet branch to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. My books and paintings will feature so if you’re curious to know more I’d be delighted to see you. It’s free!

Event Details

Author talk: Jane Odiwe

Date: Friday 25 January 2013
Location: Chipping Barnet library
Author Jane Odiwe will be talking about her love of Jane Austen and about her own writing.
Times: 18:30 – 19:30
Cost: Free
This month sees the 200th anniversary of the first publication of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen. Help us to celebrate this landmark with a talk by Jane Odiwe – a lifelong Austen enthusiast who has written a series of successful books and sequels inspired by Austen’s works.

For more information please contact Chipping Barnet library on 020 8359 4040.

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I had a lovely time in Castle Combe recently, a pretty village some 12 miles out of Bath. We were very lucky on the day I chose to go with my camera – there are often a lot of tourists, but I think the extremely hot weather that day had kept people inside and in the shade!
The area is thought to have been inhabited for around 10,000 years and the river Bybrook which you can see in my photos is thought to have flowed through the same route for more than a million years. The village was established in the fifteenth century, expanding to its peak population in the middle 16th century when the woollen industry was most active. (Info from the Castle Combe Cookbook, which is so much more than a cookbook!)

The market cross provides the focal point of the village and has been in place since the fourteenth century when the privilege to hold a weekly market was first granted.
Here I am sitting in the Castle Inn restaurant – although we arrived quite late for lunch we were made to feel very welcome, nothing was too much trouble, and we had a gorgeous lunch. The Inn has all those lovely higgledy piggledy passages and beautiful features of panelling and timbered beams that you expect to find in a building of this age – it would make a wonderful setting for a novel! Castle Combe is often used for film and television locations – Doctor Doolittle and Poirot amongst others were filmed here.
We went for a walk around the village and stopped in at the church where I found an amazing medieval, faceless clock, beautiful stained glass windows, and bought a wonderful cookbook ‘Food for Fetes and Festivals’ with such tempting recipes as Ecclefechan Butter Tart, Lobster Royals with Oysters, and Chocolate and Orange pudding!
For more information on Castle Combe click here to see their website.




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Last Thursday evening I was invited along by Helen Wilkinson of P and P tours to come and do a reading of Willoughby’s Return to a group she was leading on their Persuasion/Sense and Sensibility tour. Most exciting was the fact that the house I was to be giving my talk in was the very one they used in the BBC 1995 version of Persuasion which is a favourite film of mine. The house is stunningly beautiful and is also a B&B so you can actually stay in the house where Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds played Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Here is a link to a website about the house:Bathwick Gardens
I was invited to supper beforehand which was taken in the dining room. Apparently, the BBC painted the walls especially for the film – the swags of fabric you can see in the photo are painted – a wonderful trompe l’oeil. Everyone had dressed for dinner and all looked so gorgeous – quite a few ladies, and two very brave gentlemen! I also met Hazel Jones, the author of Jane Austen and Marriage – click here for her website which has information on Jane Austen courses that she runs.
We made our way upstairs to the splendid drawing room afterwards passing a large window on the stairs which I recognised (and its view) from the film. The drawing room is beautiful with so many lovely features from the floor length windows to the fireplace. I was made very welcome by everyone and had a really lovely time even though I felt very nervous. I enjoy reading aloud very much and always used to love reading to my children and to the pupils I used to teach. I realised how much I miss it – now my children are grown up and I no longer teach – I really would like to do readings more often.
After a mug of hot chocolate I left them all watching Persuasion in the very room where Captain Wentworth tells Sir Walter that he wishes to marry Anne. I only wished I could be joining them on their further travels!
Thank you so much Helen, I do hope you’ll ask me again!
Jane Odiwe

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Regular visitors to my blog know that I have a long-standing love affair with the City of Bath. We know that Jane Austen lived here from 1801-1806 and that her feelings about the place may well have been very mixed as time went on. I can feel a whole other blogpost coming on about Austen’s feelings but I wanted to share some pictures that were taken of a walk from Lyncombe Hill to Combe Down. I have to thank Janet Aylmer for the directions to part of this walk. Her book In the footsteps of Jane Austen outlines a walk that Jane Austen took with a friend, Mrs Chamberlayne, through Bath to Lyncombe and Widcombe in May 1801. The book is annotated with lots of facts and pictures of Bath in Jane’s time – a very enjoyable book and without it I would never have discovered this walk!
In a letter to her sister Cassandra, Jane wrote:

Tuesday 26 May 1801
…I walked yesterday morning with Mrs Chamberlayne to Lyncombe and Widcombe, and in the evening I drank tea with the Holders. – Mrs Chamberlayne’s pace was not quite so magnificent on this second trial as in the first; it was nothing more than I could keep up with, without effort, & for many, many Yards together on a raised narrow footpath I led the way. – The Walk was very beautiful as my companion agreed, whenever I made the observation…

Now to my photos.

The first two show Lyncombe Hill, what was known as Lyncombe Lane in Jane’s day. Believe me, the word hill is the better descriptive and I have to say at the start, this is not a walk for the faint-hearted! I’m not sure this pic of yours truly standing near the bottom really shows how steep it gets, but it does incline far more as you carry on up. The delightful pussy cat who I am sure must have been human in another life had quite a conversation with us – it also provided me with an excuse to stop and catch my breath – one of many! From here, it was downhill for a while before turning into Lyncombe Vale.

Now, the next photo shows me on the raised footpath which is most likely the very same one that Jane walked along with her friend. Opposite the path there is a terrace of pretty Victorian houses, but of course these would not have been there in Jane’s day. On one side of the path runs a stream and beyond that there are fields and trees.
From Lyncombe Vale we turned into Perrymead or Pope’s Walk where there are some interesting buildings and from here climbed ever higher. It tends to get a bit muddy here but the views are stunning and the air is scented with green shoots of wild garlic. Spring has only just arrived in this part of the world but there’s nothing so lovely as spotting those new buds on the trees.





We came out at the top of Combe Down and after resting for a short while at a local pub for refreshment, we then took the short cut back down Prior Park Road to Widcombe. It did feel good to be walking downhill!

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One of my favourite walks in Bath starts at Jane Austen’s house at no. 4 Sydney Place and takes me through the gardens opposite where we know our favourite novelist walked. Although the gardens do not look the same as they did in Jane’s day, they are still a lovely place for a stroll or provide the starting point for something a little more energetic. There is a gate almost hidden amongst the greenery which leads onto the Kennet and Avon canal path and if you turn left after passing through it you can follow the canal for a good twenty minute walk to the village of Bathampton and beyond if you’ve the stamina!

The photos below are a selection of ones taken over time, but I hope they give you an idea of what you might see in Sydney Gardens and on the canal path.

In 1819 Pierce Egan wrote about the gardens and canal in his book of Walks through Bath –The Kennet and Avon Canal runs through the gardens, with two elegant cast-iron bridges thrown over it, after the manner of the Chinese; and the romantic and picturesque scenery, by which they are surrounded, is fascinating beyond measure. Great opposition, it seems, was originally made to the canal running through these gardens by the proprietor; but it gives such a variety to the walks, that its introduction is now viewed as a great addition. It would be a matter of some difficulty to point out a spot of ground so tastefully laid out as SYDNEY-GARDENS.

When you finally reach Bathampton there is a very nice pub – The George Inn, where you can stop and take some refreshment before turning round to go home again.

If you’d like to read more about the gardens in Jane Austen’s time Julie from Austen Only has written some excellent posts on their history.












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