The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Day of Rest and Recovery

Sunday, October 13.

I'm not feeling well. I won't offer any specifics, except to label it Cornwallis's Revenge. I'm certainly not well enough to attend Mass this morning, something we were looking forward to. We had planned to attend the 11:00 a.m. Mass at the nearest Catholic Church, St. Mary's in Alton, no more than three miles from our cottage. But given my present condition, I don't believe it would be wise. I suspect I am simply experiencing the effects of a change of diet and times and sleep, etc.  At least I hope so. And poor Diane must remain here too, since she will not drive over here.

And so, Dear Diane and I have decided to remain here today, relaxing and recovering. She's upstairs listening to Jane Austen's Persuasion on the new iPod I gave her as an advance birthday gift. And I'm stretched out on the sofa sipping hot tea, munching on a piece of toast, and tapping away on the iPad. Perhaps, if I'm feeling well enough later, we may go for a drive and check out a few of the local attractions. We'll see.

You can see our cottage in the photo below. Not a very impressive facade, but it was once a small barn. Its name is "Clinker's Barn" and is located immediately behind the 16th-century home called "Clinkers." Apparently, the home was once a blacksmith's shop, hence the odd name. [Note: minor correction...I just discovered that "Clinkers" was the name of the blacksmith family that once lived here. A fitting name for a smith.] Jane Austen actually mentions the smithy next door in one of her letters.

Last evening I made the mistake of looking up the local weather forecast. It seems we can expect heavy rain for most of today (Sunday). Even worse, the entire week promises more of the same with only occasional breaks in the soggy weather. We remain undiscouraged, though, and intend to enjoy ourselves despite Nature's attempts to keep us inside...well, after today anyway.

Yesterday (Saturday) was actually a lovely day, brisk but sunny and pleasant. After a breakfast here in the cottage, we drove to nearby Alton, stopped by a local supermarket to buy essentials and a few treats, and then spent an hour or so at a farmer's market and craft fair. See the photos below...

Dear Diane bought some mango chutney and a few pieces of inexpensive but very nice jewelry made by locals; I bought a small framed print of the Austen cottage in Chawton; and we both bought some fudge. A well-spent morning. Here's Diane checking out the jewelry, followed by the artist wrapping my print...

We then returned to Chawton and walked next door to visit the Jane Austen Cottage and Museum. It's really quite wonderful, staffed by competent, knowledgable volunteers who seem to enjoy what they do. Admission is a reasonable £6 (for us senior citizens) and includes a video on the author's life and a self-tour of the cottage and grounds. There is also a very nice gift shop filled with all-things-Austen for the fanatical Janeites who make the pilgrimage from every corner of the globe. Here's a photo (below) of the rear of the cottage taken from the garden, followed by one of Dear Diane and me sitting on a garden bench.

For the Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle fans who enjoyed the excellent 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice, many of the period clothes worn by the actors are on display throughout the museum. In the photo below you can see the wedding garb worn by Colin Firth in the final scene of the mini-series.

After an hour so at the museum we decided once again to have lunch at The Greyfriar pub across the street. Dear Diane sampled the soup of the day and I had the ham and eggs. (Hampshire, we have learned, is quite famous for its ham..lots of pigs.) And again we were served by the lovely Jessie who continues to reap the benefit of my over-tipping. Here's a photo of the pub...

Refreshed and refueled, we made the drive to Steventon, the village where Jane Austen was born and spent her childhood. It took us longer than expected to find the village because of a wrong turn, but we eventually regained our bearings. Actually the extra time driving about the countryside was rather pleasant, except for a few scary moments when encountering opposing traffic on a one-lane country road. I have also never encountered so many pheasant in and along the roads. The birds seemed oblivious to our presence as we almost ran them over. We counted well over a hundred.
The rectory in which the Austen family lived (Jane's father, Rev. George Austen, was the pastor of the local church) was torn down not long after Jane's death, but the medieval church, St. Nicholas, is sill in use today. See the photos below...

We then made our way back "home" and settled in for the night.
Blessings and God's peace...

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