20 Years of Travel #8: England Road Trip

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The 20 Years of Travel series continues with a road trip I took with my girlfriend a year ago to England. As any follower of my blog knows, I love reading as much as traveling, so when I have an opportunity to combine my two favorite things, it is heavenly. This road trip through England was inspired by my love of literature, in particular, my love of Jane Austen. 2017 marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen, so my friend and I decided we wanted to see Austen’s England.

Day One: Brighton

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After a very affordable and comfortable flight on Norwegian Air from Miami to Gatwick airport in London, we took a train to Brighton.DSC_0023

“If one could but go to Brighton!” observed Mrs. Bennet.” ~Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

We decided that a little seaside escape, which Austen loved, was the perfect way to begin our adventure. We lounged on the beach, ate cod and explored Brighton Pier.

Day Two: Winchester Cathedral, Jane Austen’s House & Chawton House Library

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We rented a tiny car in Brighton (see picture on right), which would be our main means of transportation forDSC_0045 most of the trip. My friend offered to be the driver and I was the somewhat adequate navigator. We left Brighton and headed for Winchester Cathedral (pictured above), which is the burial location for Jane Austen. As this was an anniversary year, her burial site was respectively decorated.

After a nice visit to Winchester, which is such a peaceful place, we picked up another friend of mine in Southampton and headed for a visit to the Jane Austen House in Chawton.

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We were able to look around the house and see where Austen would write and visit her garden in the backyard. This was her last place of residency, and some say her happiest, before her untimely death. Here you can also get your picture taken in period costumes.

Just a short walk down the street is the Chawton estate, now the Chawton House Library, where Jane Austen’s brother once lived. This is worth a visit if for no other reason then to just explore the vast grounds.

Day Three: Stonehenge & Bath

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If you are going to be traveling around the outskirts of London, you might as well stop at Stonehenge. While Stonehenge does not have a Jane Austen connection, it was featured in Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles, so there is at least that literary connection. My friend and I got up early and made it to Stonehenge just when it was opening, so we were on the first bus to get there, and that is why I was able to get the picture above with no people in it, as it is tends to be heavily packed with tourists on a daily basis. Also, after a bit of clouds and rain, the sun started to beam right down onto Stonehenge, which was glorious timing.

We moved onward to another hometown of Jane Austen – Bath.

“Sir Walter had taken a very good house in Camden Place (pictured just below), a lofty, dignified situation, such as becomes a man of consequence; and both he and Elizabeth were settled there, much to their satisfaction.” ~Jane Austen’s Persuasion

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We were able to find plenty of parking just inside the town and walked to the main cathedral. From there, we decided to take the Hop On Hop Off bus, to get a bit of anIMG_20170727_151433364_HDR overview of Bath and get our bearings. As we disembarked from the bus, we snuck into the tourist center just in time to avoid getting drenched in a sudden English downpour. This worked out marvelously, because we were able to find a Free Jane Austen Walking Tour at the tourist center that began as soon as the rain lifted (see picture on the right). While Bath has embraced Austen as one of their own, it is clear from her writings that Bath never quite felt like home to her. She often preferred the countryside or seaside to the city. Living in Bath consisted less of peace and quiet and more of social engagements.

“Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card table, with six people to look over, and talk nonsense to each other.” ~ Jane Austen writes to her sister Cassandra (May 13, 1801).20431214_469196570121574_8993274907938043534_n

After the walking tour, a stop at the Jane Austen Museum in Bath is a must for all Jane Austen fans. Here you learn more about Jane Austen’s Bath and what inspired her to write about this place in her novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

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After the Jane Austen museum, we relaxed outside the Crescent (pictured above). From there we decided to take a bit of a Jane Austen break and explore the Roman Baths of Bath in the Abbey Church Yard. This was my friend’s idea, and I thought the Roman Bath museum, that displayed what life was like during Roman times, was fascinating.

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Day Four: Bath & Drive to Matlock

20376083_469654430075788_20054859827624028_nSince we enjoyed learning about the Roman Baths so much, we decided to go back into Bath the next morning and have a bit of a soak in a Roman Bath (see photo on left). It was just the kind of relaxation we needed before our 4-hour+ drive to Matlock. They limit the people allowed in the bath at one time, so there was never more than six people in there and for some of the time, it was just my friend and I. 20180702_115024We decided to eat a quick bite before leaving bath and found out about Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House & Museum. When I think back on this trip to England, I don’t often think of the food, but Sally Lunn’s buns and coffee (pictured on the left) was so delicious that I still dream about them.

20374269_469654833409081_2748795384544147043_nOur drive to Matlock in Derbyshire felt long, because there was a bit of traffic, and it rained the whole time, but we finally made it to the place that would be our accommodations for the next two nights, and it was even more adorable than I imagined. It was a family owned B&B called Pig of Lead (see photo on the right). We arrived pretty late, but the hosts were nice enough to provide us with some hot beverages by the fire before we retired for the night.

Day Five: Chatsworth House & Matlock

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This was by far my favorite day of the trip. The weather was just perfect with a lot of sun and comfortable temperatures. After having a quick homemade breakfast at the Pig of Lead, we drove into the Peak District to the Chatsworth House first thing in the morning. We parked outside St. Peter’s church and took a walk on a trail through the countryside. As the path curved around the hillside, the trees parted, and you could clearly see the Chatsworth House (pictured just above and at the very top of the post). For Jane Austen fans, the estate served as Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie. In reality, this estate belongs to the Cavendish family. Some Americans might be familiar with the Cavendish name, because John F. Kennedy’s sister, Kathleen Kennedy married William Cavendish. Just weeks after their marriage, William Cavendish was killed on the battlefield in Belgium during World War II. Not long after that, Kathleen Kennedy was killed in a plane crash. Her grave is near the Cavendish estate in St. Peter’s churchyard, which we visited once the we were done touring the Chatsworth House. We spent a couple hours wandering through the many rooms inside the Chatsworth House and learned a good deal about the Cavendish family, saw exhibits from a member of the Cavendish family who was a famous clothing designer, and marveled at the intricate statues, which were shown in the Pride and Prejudice movie. Then we spent even more time wandering around the grounds, which are extensive.

After our long trek around the Chatsworth House, we headed back to Matlock famished. However, as nice a town as Matlock was, we found it difficult to get a substantial meal and ended walking even more than we desired too, but at least we had pretty views.

Day 6: Oxford

We drove to Oxford and completed our driving portion of our trip. After getting settled at our Hotel, we headed toward Oxford University. No literary adventure would be complete without a stop Blackwell’s bookshop, a Harry Potter walking tour that included a stop at the Bodleian Library, and a beer at The Eagle and Child pub, where the informal literary group called The Inklings would meet on a weekly basis. This group included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.

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Day 7-9: London

As no trip to England is complete without a little stop in London, we took a train from Oxford to London, where we spent the last remaining days of our trip. As it was the end of our trip, we were pretty exhausted but continued our walking and exploring with some literary stops like the British Library, 221b Baker Street, Westminster Abbey (which memorializes many famous British authors, poets, and playwrights) and Harry Potter’s Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross.

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This was an amazing Austen-inspired adventure with some other literary stops. The English countryside is stunning, and I hope to visit it again soon. Many thanks to the friends that housed us, fed us, drank with us, and gave us a London literary pub tour. You are all awesome and we really appreciate it!

HAPPY TRAVELS!!!

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WWW Wednesdays – June 27, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Beloved by Toni Morrison

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I just started reading Beloved for my Classics book club that meets next week. I joined Goodreads in 2010, and I added this book to my TBR list at that time. I’ve held off reading this book for so long, because I try to avoid books that may be devastatingly sad, but as it has also made The Great American Read list, I think it is time to give it a try. I won’t be reading it at work or in public though. I like to ugly cry by myself.

Finished Reading

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

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I just finished Girl Waits With Gun. Though this is a 400-page book, it is a quick read as the story line keeps moving. Constance, the main character, is based off of a real person and the story is based off of real events from the 1910s. This book definitely takes you back to what life was like in New Jersey 100 years ago. While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t love it. The story was just meh for me and probably won’t stick with me very long.

Reading Next

Roomies by Christina Lauren

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After reading Beloved, I thought I would try something a bit more light-hearted and fun. I’ve never read anything by Christina Lauren, so I’m looking forward to this. This came in one of my Bookish Box subscription pages. Side note: I love my book subscriptions.

Let me know what you are currently reading!

HAPPY READING!!!

Summer Reads

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As the official start of summer is fast approaching, I have decided to make a list of books that have been on the top of my TBR list for a long time that I want to complete this summer.

  1. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  2. A Tale of Two Murders by Heather Redmond (ARC)
  3. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  4. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
  5. The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (ARC)
  6. Roomies by Christina Lauren
  7. Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge
  8. The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin
  9. Tiffany Blues by M. J. Rose (ARC)
  10. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

I’m hoping to continue reading for my monthly book clubs as well, but the above list is my priority. What is on your summer reading list? Any recommendations?

 

WWW Wednesdays – June 13, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I semi-regularly join in on WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Pachinko by Min Lee

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I am finally reading Pachinko! It was the first book I received from BOTM last year. It was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Reading Women Award for Fiction (which is a great book related podcast I listen to regularly). It is a generational story of a Korean family living in Japan. I am very much looking forward to reading this one.

Recently Finished

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

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This was my third Murakami read, and I think it might finally be time to admit that no matter how much I want to like Murakami novels (or in this case short stories), I just don’t. His work is just not for me. I do like books that incorporate symbolism and open readers to different views of interpretation, but his stories end with the readers having more questions than answers, and I just can’t stand that.

Reading Next

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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This is one of my favorite book covers. I hope the book itself is as lovely. This is another book club read that will tie in nicely with Reading Women Month.

Feel free to let me know what you are reading.

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – May 30, 2018

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m joining in on WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

Currently Reading

Lowcountry Bookshop by Susan M. Boyer

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I normally don’t read a book in a series if I haven’t started from Book One, but I received this ARC (though I think it came out to the public yesterday) from NetGalley and thought I would give it a try. It seemed like a fun plot. However, this is the 7th book in the series and is causing me some issues as a first-time reader of this series. There is really no good introduction to the main character (or for that matter any of the characters), so it can be confusing. Although, I can say that the mystery plot does seem interesting and will help lead me to finish this book quickly.

Recently Finished

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

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I read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project last year and really enjoyed it. Then I also read Anne Bogel’s Reading People and realized that I was really interested in learning about different personality types. I find books like The Four Tendencies really useful in not just understanding others but understanding yourself. I don’t know…it is nice to feel some justification why I behave the way that I do. It can also assist you in changing on you react to those around you. Watch out everyone…I’m an upholder!

Next Read

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

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This book is a June book club read and will be my third Murakami (technically I started 1Q84 as well but didn’t finish it). This is a collection of short stories, which is not a typical genre I read, so I am excited to expand my reading life a bit. This is why I joined book clubs.

Feel free to let me know what you are reading!

HAPPY READING!

Completed My First BoB Readathon

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As part of my attempt to continue my reading life while working a full-time demanding position, I decided to try to participate in as many readathons, readalongs and book club meetups as I could. I am happy I found the Bout of Books readathon. This was a week-long readathon.

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My main goal for this readathon (stated in this previous post) was to read 700 pages (an average of 100 a day). On a normal day, I tend to read an average of about 50 pages a day, so I thought this was going to be a real challenge, but I surprisingly accomplished this goal without a problem. I actually read a total of 962 pages and completed 2 books (see picture above). I also have started and made progress in The Dry by Jane Harper, We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (see picture below).

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I had the privilege of attending a book talk and signing event for one of the books that I read during this readathon. Paula McLain, well-known author of The Paris Wife, came to my local independent bookstore to discuss her new book Love and Ruin, another historical fiction about one of Hemingway’s wives and their love affair. Here are some pictures from the event:

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Overall, I had a fantastic week of reading. It was just what I needed to help me catch up with my reading backlog, prepare for upcoming book clubs and relax before a very stressful work period. Bout of Books will be hosting another readathon in August, so maybe I’ll see y’all then.

Until the next readathon….

Bout of Books 22 – May 2018

As part of my plan to keep up my reading life, while adjusting to a new full-time (a bit stressful) job, I have decided to participate in as many readalongs and readathons as possible (on top of the few book clubs I attend). So even though I just participated in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon a couple weeks ago (see my post here), I’m excited to continue my new trend with the Bout of Books read-a-thon, which begins tomorrow .

Here is an official description of this read-a-thon:

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 14th and runs through Sunday, May 20th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 22 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

I intend to at read at least 700 pages. These will be the books I hope to read (or at least start) during that time:

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HAPPY READING!!!!