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!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Austen Country

Saturday, October 12.

Yesterday, Friday, it rained...and rained...and rained.

After a wonderful breakfast prepared by our hostess, Leslie, Diane and I ignored the weather, left our B&B in Bethersden, Kent, and drove a few miles north to the town of Ashford where we  made a brief visit to the grave of one of my heroines, Simone Weil, who died in 1943 at the too young age of 34. A brilliant philosopher, this young Jewish academic was forced to leave France or fall prey to the Nazis. She spent the remaining years of her brief life in England. As we drove through the gates of the large cemetery, I did not expect to be able to find her grave among the thousands of others. After driving around randomly for several minutes, I finally stopped the car, got out, and began to look at headstones. Ten seconds later I stood in front of her grave, only 20 feet from the car. A small miracle, but a miracle nonetheless.

We then drove father north and stopped at Godmersham Park to see the home of Jane Austen's brother, Edward. Edward's parents allowed childless, wealthy relatives to adopt him as a boy, and he ultimately inherited his new father's large estates in Kent and Hampshire. Godmersham, the Kent estate, now seems to be a college and although we drove through the gates, we stopped long enough only to take a single photograph. (See the photo below.)

We managed to find and visit the ancient church, St. Lawrence the Martyr, located on the grounds, where Jane Austen worshipped during her frequent visits to her brother's estate. I took the below photo of the church's interior.

We continued north to Canterbury, took the bus into the city center from the Park and Ride, and strolled through the drizzle and occasional downpours while window shopping. We made our way to the famous cathedral where the archbishop, St. Thomas Becket, was martyred in 1170 at the behest of Henry II. It's a beautiful old cathedral but because of the weather I was unable to fully appreciate its architecture except from the inside. The below photo shows the spot where the saint died.

We faced a good two to three hour drive to our cottage in Chawton. The rain, the very heavy Friday afternoon traffic, and the strangeness of driving on the left side of the road made the drive a bit of a challenge. But we arrived without incident, found the key to the cottage, and settled in. The Greyfriar, a delightful local pub right across the street, served us a fine meal and allowed me to sample one of their excellent ales. Our waitress, the lovely young Jessie, treated us as if we were regulars. I, of course, gave her too large a tip.  See The Greyfriar below with the pretty Jessie preparing our bill...

And so Friday, the first of our seven days in Chawton, came to an end. I'll relate what we did today (Saturday) sometime tomorrow. Too tired to play with the iPad.


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