Friday, October 24, 2014

A brief literary tour of a small part of the UK

I have just arrived home from a whirlwind trip to the UK. Although my purpose was study (and I did get a lot of important research done!) I also managed to fit in a bunch of lovely bookish things.

On my first day at the research library, there just happened to be a Richard Ayoade screening nearby. Sam quickly ducked into the BFI bookshop and grabbed a copy of Ayoade on Ayoade and we were one of the last to get our book signed.

I am so heavily jetlagged in that photo I can hardly keep my eyes open! I think I was asleep about 45 minutes after that photo was taken.

I was dragged along to Stratford-upon-Avon against my will to see all of the Shakespeare stuff. I mean, I get why he's so important and acknowledge the impact he has had on the entire Western world but still...I just don't find him that interesting (please don't tell my university in case they take back my English degree!). I did get this lovely shot in his garden, though, so that's one thing.

Next was Chatsworth House.

This is literary for two reasons. It is the adopted ancestral home of the recently passed away Deb Mitford, the youngest of the wonderful Mitford sisters. Deb was responsible for saving Chatsworth by opening it up to the public. 

It is also the house upon which Jane Austen based Pemberly in Pride and Prejudice.

The house was truly spectacular and filled with remarkable treasures...

..and had wonderful gardens and pastures filled with sheep. I would marry Mr Darcy after seeing that house!

The gift shop was selling this gem, which I didn't buy then but am absolutely getting for my mother for Christmas.

On what proved to be the coldest and wet day of my entire trip (and that's saying something because I got rained on 10 out of the 12 days I was there), we stopped at Haworth, the home of the Brontë sisters. It seemed to be a gorgeous town but the weather was just too miserable to do any exploring. I did of course stop by the Parsonage, which was excellent.

Standing in the room where Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights had been written was an odd feeling. I could have stayed there for hours.

The final stop was the Oxford Bar, the hangout of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus. It is a tiny, crowded bar filled with locals and we stood out like a sore thumb. I didn't care though! It was oddly fun to inhabit the same space as a fictional character. I get the Magnolia Bakery thing now.

If I'd had more time (and money - some of these things are very expensive! Visiting Shakespeare's house costs AU$60 per person) I'd have seen more but I really enjoyed every thing I did. I now want to go back and read every Brontë, every Austen and the early Rankin novels all over again :)

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