Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Taking Tea in Bath

I've been having a little break - holidaying in England and visiting the south coast, Devon and Bath. I've lots of news and lovely pictures to share of some of the places I've been to, and I thought I'd start with Bath. First up is a fabulous new teashop I've discovered. Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms, 6-8 Saville Row, Bath BA1 2QP, has not been open long - I'd have visited earlier if not for my poor old hip, as it's quite a climb up to Saville Row, just by the Assembly Rooms.
Bea's Vintage Tea Rooms
From the second you walk through the door and the bell tinkles in response, you're transported back in time. A soundtrack of songs from the thirties and forties, tables adorned with embroidered linen, dressers full of china, fresh flowers and a cabinet full of cake all help to create the perfect ambience for taking tea. The friendly staff look as if they might just have stepped out of an art deco magazine themselves - waitresses dressed in black with white pinafores are cheerful and friendly. Nothing is too much trouble - you can see I'm a huge fan of this establishment!
A pot of Earl Grey Tea and a Ginger Beer
I had a toasted sandwich and a pot of Earl Grey tea - both delicious! The menu offers tempting plates from savoury to sweet. Breakfast fare, lunches, soup and sandwiches, pies and quiche, cream teas and cake - all are homemade. My husband had scrambled eggs on toast, and was full of praise. On another occasion we were tempted by scones with cream and jam and a piece of coffee cake - truly wonderful!
A Glass Cabinet of Cake
The attention to detail is what helps to make it feel so authentic. The eclectic mix of china - pretty porcelain cups and saucers, patterned teapots, mirrors and lighting all add to the atmosphere - I can't think of a nicer way to while away an hour or so!

Jane Austen talked of Molland's in Persuasion. This was a real tea shop in Milsom Street, a pastry cook's and confectioners. It's the scene of one of the most heart-stopping parts of the book.
Libby, one of the lovely waitresses, laying the table

Another lovely cafe in Bath is The Wild Cafe in Queen Street, a stone's throw from Trim Street where Jane used to live. Not only did she live up the road, but it seems she actually loved this establishment for its breakfast fare.
This always makes me smile! Board outside The Wild Cafe

The mint tea and salads are my particular favourites, but I'm sure Jane knew what she was talking about : ) More tea rooms coming soon! (Someone has to research tea rooms, after all!!!)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Searching for Captain Wentworth - coming soon!

Jane Austen's House in Bath
I'm getting very excited because Searching for Captain Wentworth, my new book is going to be ready in time for September. The cover is almost finished, and I hope it will be up on Amazon soon. Persuasion is my favourite of Jane Austen's novels for so many reasons - one of which being that you can visit the places where she set her fantastic book. Bath and Lyme are wonderful places to go, and you can still walk along streets that Jane mentioned like Bond Street, Milsom Street, Great Pulteney Street, Rivers Street, Gay Street and the Gravel Walk, or visit well-known landmarks such as the Assembly Rooms, and the Pump Rooms in Bath. In Lyme, you can still walk along the Cobb, though I wouldn't recommend jumping down any steps - the set known as 'Granny's Teeth are particularly treacherous! Jane doesn't name the 'principal street almost hurrying into the water', but you can still walk down Broad Street and visit all the lovely shops which take you down to the sea. Charmouth and Uplyme are also mentioned and not far from Lyme Regis itself, as is Pinny or Pinhay.
Sydney Gardens
I decided I wanted to write something a little different this time, and the idea of a time travel book really appealed. If you've ever been to Bath you'll know what an atmospheric city it is, especially when it's rainy and misty in winter or at night when the street lamps still give the impression of old gas lighting. I've had several inexplicable experiences in Bath, which some might say are the result of an overactive imagination and several haunting dreams which provided a lot of the inspiration for this book. Whether it has anything to do with the fact that I can see Jane Austen's garden from my window, and catch a glimpse of Sydney Gardens and the Holburne Museum, I cannot say, but to me my dreams were so real that I felt I'd gone back in time.
Here's a little blurb about the book.

  When aspiring writer, Sophie Elliot, receives the keys to the family townhouse in Bath, it's an invitation she can’t turn down, especially when she learns that she will be living next door to the house her favourite author, Jane Austen, lived in. But, the neglected house is harbouring more than the antiquated furniture and nesting mice, though initially Sophie tries to dismiss the haunting visions of a young girl. On discovering that an ancient glove belonging to her mysterious neighbour, Josh Strafford, will transport her back in time to Regency Bath, she questions her sanity, but Sophie is soon caught up in two dimensions, each reality as certain as the other. Torn between her life in the modern world, and that of her ancestor who befriends Jane Austen and her fascinating brother Charles, Sophie's story travels two hundred years across time, and back again, to unite this modern heroine with her own Captain Wentworth. Blending fact and fiction together the tale of Jane Austen’s own quest for happiness weaves alongside, creating a believable world of new possibilities for the inspiration behind the beloved novel, Persuasion.

Granny's Steps on the Cobb