One of our days in England consisted of a tour to go see Stonehenge and Bath.
We’ll start with Bath.
Once I dated a guy with the last name of Bath, and for some reason, it always creeped me out just a little bit. Bath. Say it slowly. Baaaattthhhhh. *shudder*. I feel the same way about the city’s name.
However, it was a surprisingly lovely city. It was founded by Romans, who discovered hot springs there and used to bathe in them. Hence, Bath. Also an interesting thing about Bath is that it’s a city ordinance that all buildings be built in the Georgian style from the same type of stone…so pretty much the whole city is the same color and shape.
What’s interesting about Bath?
Well, there’s the abbey, which is again, a lovely church:
And there is the Roman bath, still standing and you can visit:
Then there is the Jane Austen Centre.
As a child, Jane Austen visited Bath often with her family on holiday. Later in her adult years, she moved there with her parents and older sister for a few years. Although Jane didn’t love Bath as a place to live and preferred it to be a holiday destination, she still mentions Bath in several of her works.
Though I can’t tell you about that because I’ve only read one of them (Pride and Prejudice). Because I had to for a class. And while I thoroughly enjoy the Emma Thompson adaptation of Sense and Sensibility as well as the Kiera Knightley (blasphemous) version of Pride and Prejudice, I can’t even begin to pretend to be a big Jane Austen fan. I definitely respect her. And I’d read her a thousand times over before I’d touch the Brontë sisters. But for some reason, I just can’t get into it.
Nonetheless, I went to the Jane Austen center and did glean a bit of interesting information there. Mostly about Jane’s life and family. She had six very successful brothers, and the one older sister. I found it quite interesting that Jane and her sister both never married. Jane did receive a proposal once, the kind that was very suitable and practical in those days, but broke it off because she feared she could never love him because he was generally too boring for her. Take that as you will.
In this Jane Austen center, you can have tea with a portrait of Mr. Darcy. I did not do this.
I did, however, get my picture taken with Mr. Bingley in the flesh, who is my personal favorite of all Jane’s male characters (that I’m acquainted with).
And that was the highlight of that part of the trip.
The real highlight of the trip was Stonehenge.
Yes, the frills and the tea parties do nothing for me. But give me some big, heavy rocks in a mysterious circle, and I’m swooning.
Nature, bursting with raw power, overruns this ancient mystery, this mystical spot to whence people have pilgrimed for 3,000 years.
Look at that. Brute strength. Unyielding dominance over the surrounding landscape. The irresistible strong and silent type. Mmm. Love it.
There it is. Hard, stalwart, yet bafflingly welcoming. In a way that just makes you want to fall into it and be wrapped in its healing presence.
Okay. But really, people have no idea why this particular pile of rocks was built this way in this spot. Most guesses are for ancient healing practices due to the type of stones used and what we know about the stone’s properties and other uses.
My personal imagination came up with something much more fantastical that will become a pivotal piece in a novel series I mat write some day. So watch out for that.
Final conclusion: Stonehenge rocks my face off. Jane Austen? Meh.