Friday, June 18, 2010

Jane Austen's Poetry - A Summer Wedding!

Jane Austen wrote this poem for her niece, Fanny Knight, on the occasion of Captain Francis Austen's wedding to Mary Gibson at Ramsgate 24 July 1806. Jane's brother Francis and his new wife were to spend their honeymoon at their brother Edward's house, Godmersham Park, which was also Fanny's home.
I love the the rhythm of the words that sound like cantering horse's hooves - it almost gives you the sensation that you are sharing the carriage ride along with them! Try saying it out loud for the best effect!

See they come, post haste from Thanet,
Lovely couple, side by side;
They've left behind them Richard Kennet
With the Parents of the Bride!
Canterbury they have passed through;
Next succeeded Stamford-bridge;
Chilham village they came fast through;
Now they've mounted yonder ridge.

Down the hill they're swift proceeding,
Now they skirt the Park around;
Lo! The Cattle sweetly feeding
Scamper, startled at the sound!

Run, my Brothers, to the Pier gate!
Throw it open, very wide!
Let it not be said that we're late
In welcoming my Uncle's Bride!

To the house the chaise advances;
Now it stops -They're here, they're here!
How d'ye do, my Uncle Francis?
How does do your Lady dear?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Castle Combe, a pretty English Village

I had a lovely time in Castle Combe recently, a pretty village some 12 miles out of Bath. We were very lucky on the day I chose to go with my camera - there are often a lot of tourists, but I think the extremely hot weather that day had kept people inside and in the shade!
The area is thought to have been inhabited for around 10,000 years and the river Bybrook which you can see in my photos is thought to have flowed through the same route for more than a million years. The village was established in the fifteenth century, expanding to its peak population in the middle 16th century when the woollen industry was most active. (Info from the Castle Combe Cookbook, which is so much more than a cookbook!)

The market cross provides the focal point of the village and has been in place since the fourteenth century when the privilege to hold a weekly market was first granted.
Here I am sitting in the Castle Inn restaurant - although we arrived quite late for lunch we were made to feel very welcome, nothing was too much trouble, and we had a gorgeous lunch. The Inn has all those lovely higgledy piggledy passages and beautiful features of panelling and timbered beams that you expect to find in a building of this age - it would make a wonderful setting for a novel! Castle Combe is often used for film and television locations - Doctor Doolittle and Poirot amongst others were filmed here.
We went for a walk around the village and stopped in at the church where I found an amazing medieval, faceless clock, beautiful stained glass windows, and bought a wonderful cookbook 'Food for Fetes and Festivals' with such tempting recipes as Ecclefechan Butter Tart, Lobster Royals with Oysters, and Chocolate and Orange pudding!
For more information on Castle Combe click here to see their website.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Denzel Washington, Bob Marley, and Mrs Jennings

An unlikely trio, I hear you say, but here they all are in my post today. I found these pictures of my cats, Denzel and Marley, who love to listen to me talking about Jane Austen - yes, really. I'm not certain if Jane Austen liked cats, I suspect if the Austens had a cat, its use was probably functional. On a working farm a cat would be very useful for keeping numbers of rats and mice down.

I could only find one reference to cats in the novels in Sense and Sensibility and though Mrs Jennings voices her opinion, I can't help wondering if Jane shared her point of view. "Ah! Colonel, I do not know what you and I shall do without the Miss Dashwoods;" - was Mrs. Jennings's address to him when he first called on her, after their leaving her was settled - "for they are quite resolved upon going home from the Palmers; - and how forlorn we shall be, when I come back! - Lord! we shall sit and gape at one another as dull as two cats."

A google search led me to this fun website!

I do love my cats. They don't have a favourite book but love to hear Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion, read aloud on a continuous loop!
Dear Friends and Passers-by, I'd love to hear about your pets. Do you love cats or are you partial to some other four-legged, or even two-legged friends?