Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bath II: The Jane Austen Centre & the Streets of Bath

As any good reader (OK, any good female reader) will tell you, Jane Austen was heavily influenced by the time she and her family spent in Bath. While she didn't care for the town's society, her mother and father insisted upon spending time there to find their notorious spinster daughters suitable husbands. As we know, it didn't really work out. Jane remained unmarried until the time of her death in 1817 from Addison's disease.

Bath is home to both The Jane Austen Centre and the annual Jane Austen Festival. The Centre is quite small, focusing more on period replicas of clothing featured on the BBC and teaching the history of Austen's literary career than collecting memorabilia. But really, they have an excellent programme for a reasonable price (students pay £4.95) and a great gift shop. It took all of my will-power not to buy every fancy hat and pretty comb on display. (My self-sacrificing nature gave out later that day in a jewelry store, and I got myself an absolutely gorgeous new necklace.) They also have a Regency Tea Room, which we opted not to try, but it looked like it might be worth a second trip if we ever go to Bath again. The dress in that picture is a reassembled piece made from raspberry and crème striped silk discovered in a 19th Century dress shop.

1) Standing next to a mannequin wearing Fanny Price's wedding dress.

2) Much more exciting - standing on The Centre's steps with a gentleman who looked remarkably like Timothy Spall.

We also spent a large portion of our afternoon walking around and taking pictures of Bath's exquisite scenery. The town has a number of exciting statues, fountains, parks, and bridges.

1) A statue of *something* outside the Bath Abbey. My best guess is that He's Jesus throwing off His wrappings and exiting the tomb, but it looks like a drag-queen mummy doing a fashion shoot to me.

2) The fountain and park in the town centre. I'm not sure what this fountain is dedicated to, but directly behind it is one of the most beautiful parks we've seen since arriving in England.

3) A spire for something, possibly another church. I just thought it looked pretty. This street, with all of its grey buildings and pedestrians, is fairly typical of the ones we saw.

4) The river Avon flowing through an arched bridge and down a series of steps. We saw a man with a small boat fishing just a little further down stream.

And now for a bought of the "just plain weird..." Bath is full of street performers and troubadours, but these two acts took first and second place respectively.

These are two middle-aged men in gym-sock-padded thongs.

This is a middle-aged man in a gym-sock-padded thong doing a hand stand.

This is a middle-aged man wearing a gym-sock-padded thong doing a hand stand with a sparkler up his butt.

Yes, you read that right.

Middle-aged man.
Hand stand.
Sparkler up his butt.

Zoom in if you don't believe me.

This guy was playing a violin with his hands and a guitar with his feet! Not as cool as shoving a sparkler up your half-exposed ass, but still pretty sweet. Can you even imagine the coordination needed?

And, just because I think it's cute in a semi-fetal meets Harry Potter kind of way, this is Chad's sugar mouse. We found them in one of the candy stores we visited!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What did you get me??? I want a sugar mouse... why does Chad get everything??? I was glad to see pictures of YOU... YOU'RE my favorite, YOU know... XXXOOO But really... this place looks cool.. I love reading about your journies!