We left our little cottage in Chawton at about 9:30 a.m. yesterday (Friday), content but touched with sadness. It had been a wonderful home for a week, and I think our only regret was that we hadn't taken a day just to walk around the lovely little village and get to know the neighborhood better. Perhaps we had planned to see a bit too many other places while we were there. This is one of those realizations that hit us both as we were driving away. And so we set out for Bath hoping that perhaps someday we might return to Chawton. Here are a few "fisheye lens" photos of the Chawton cottage...
Our drive to Bath would be less than direct; indeed, we drove first to Lyme Regis, a seaside resort town in Dorset. The expected rain never appeared so the drive through some of southern England's prettiest countryside was really very pleasant. We arrived at Lyme Regis slightly before noon, found a car park, and strolled down the steep, narrow streets to the shore, stopping along the way to browse in a few of the local shops. It was a cool, blustery day, with the wind especially noticeable when we reached the shore. The following photos trace our progress through the town down to the waterfront.
For Jane Austen fans, Lyme Regis is, of course, the site of a crucial scene in her novel, Persuasion. And the Cobb, the man-made breakwater-like structure that forms the town's harbor wall, is where young Louisa Musgrove fell on her head. Movie fans will also remember Meryl Streep struggling along the Cobb in particularly bad weather in The French Lieutenant's Woman. We, however, were content to view the Cobb from afar, since I had no desire to be blown into the sea or crack my head of the stones. You can see the small harbor and the Cobb in the two photos below. You can also view the Cobb live and online via the Lyme Regis webcam.
By now it was refueling time, so we looked for a pub and found the Royal Standard. Like many English pubs it's been around for more than a few years, but the food was fine, although not as good as the ale. Of course, in every pub we visit, Dear Diane and I usually chat up the folks sitting nearby and try to learn a bit more about the place. Here in Lyme Regis the locals told us we were too late and should definitely return during the summer months when so much more is going on. I'm sure it's very nice in the summer, but Lyme Regis in October reminded me of Cape Cod, my former home, in the fall as it once was -- 40, 50 or 60 years ago -- after the summer crowds had left. We both enjoyed our very brief, far too brief, stay in Lyme Regis and hope to return some day and explore the town, perhaps for a few days.
But we had reservations in Bath and had to press on. We arrived at 4 p.m., checked into our B&B, and settled in. The B&B, The Bath House, is quite nice with six guest rooms, two per floor. Because it's a busy weekend in Bath, and I was a bit late making this particular reservation, we ended up on the top floor and got the benefit of some unwanted exercise. The room is large with a very comfortable king-sized bed and a small but nice bathroom. We are served breakfast in our room each morning, so that's a real plus. And it has free, on-site parking, a rarity in compact Bath.
By the time we were ready to head out for a little exploration, it was already dusk. We walked a few blocks to the Circus, one of the remarkable Georgian structures for which Bath is so famous. See my photos below...
As its name implies, the Circus is a circular structure, actually three structures of equal size, made up of many luxury town houses. It's really an architectural wonder, designed by John Wood the Elder, and completed in 1768 by his son, also John Wood. Neo-classical in every sense, the facades of each of the three floors has its supporting columns, with Doric on the ground floor, a composite Ionic on the first floor, and Corinthian on the top floor.
We stopped by a local place for a quick snack (We weren't all that hungry because of our late lunch) and since it had started to drizzle on us decided to call it a night. Here's a view from our room.
Today we strolled through Bath, took a brief bus tour of the city, visited the Jane Austen Center, took the tour of the Roman Baths that gave the city it's name, had another in a series of late lunches, and then got completely soaked by a rainstorm that just didn't want to stop. I believe our hectic schedule these past few days finally caught up with us. By 5 pm we were both exhausted, and sopping wet, and agreed to return to our room to get a little R&R. That's what I'm doing now. I'll try to provide more detail and photos of today's adventures tomorrow.