Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Jane Austin, Colin Firth and Teddy's New Hair Do

M and I went to visit Jane Austin's House at Chawton today. It's a place I have long wanted to see  but have been prevented by the threat of outright rebellion from the children. As they are all at school and M is on holiday we are indulging ourselves in some Grown Up Time (heaven).

I consider Jane Austin to be nothing short of a literary genius and Pride and Prejudice is one of my all-time favourite reads. When I shared a house in (very) rural Nottinghamshire with six other girls (a mad story for another time), the TV serialisation with Colin Firth was staple Sunday Night fodder. We would ooh and ahh over Mr Darcy and giggle at some of the lines (my favourite: Elizabeth- "Oh yes, I'm excessively diverted," which we used all the time).
The entrance to the house at Chawton is stuffed full of pictures of Colin Firth, which reminded me of a funny story....

Some years ago Colin's parents lived next door to a friend of a friend in Winchester. She'd had a hell of a day with her children (you know the sort- you just about manage to get dressed by lunchtime but don't notice that you've put on odd socks or that your jeans haven't been cleaned in a month and your tee-shirt is on backwards and has baby sick all down one shoulder; you have no chance of even vaguely introducing a brush to your hair so you scrape it out the way in an untidy straggly fashion with a frayed scrunchy, and you can completely forget about any chance of even thinking about cleaning your teeth). She had just put them to bed when there was a knock on the door. It was a foul, stormy, rainy night, and all she wanted was to put her feet up, pour a large glass of wine and have done with the day, but she answered the door and there stood Colin Firth.

He apologised for disturbing her, explained he was staying with his mum and that one of his children was ill and they had no calpol, so please could he borrow some?
Suddenly horribly aware of her unbrushed hair, her lack of make-up, her scruffy clothes and unwashed teeth (?) and by now completely fed up with the day (how dare a handsome actor turn up at her door now?) she blushed scarlet, muttered something inarticulate about having to fetch the calpol from wherever she'd last left it, turned round too quickly and went straight into the open door of a kitchen cupboard.
She said it was so Bridget Jones it was ridiculous.

There weren't any handsome actors in Chawton today so I was in no danger of walking in to anything. M and I reckoned we had lowered the average age of the visitors by about thirty years. It's a lovely place and worth a visit if you're ever in that neck of the woods. Here are some snaps...

Jane Austin's Donkey Carriage

Bread Oven

Beautiful Ceiling Bricks and Beams

No idea what this is?


A Blackbird's Child

The oak in the middle of the seat is the child of an oak planted by JA and her 
beloved sister Cassandra.

The Kitchen

A letter written by JA. She had the neatest most tiniest hand writing.

A baby's cap. 
If I had put this on L as an infant and taken photographic evidence 
he would have disowned me as a teenager

Lace collar made by JA. 
I've seen lace being made - very clever and intricate. 

Original wallpaper discovered upstairs from the time JA lived here

There is fierce academic debate raging about this picture. 
Some hold that it is JA, others furiously deny it.

The beautiful house next door

After pretending to be a Regency Lord and Lady for an hour, and walking through some pretty woods to work up an appetite we hopped across the road for a Cheese Platter and a pint at the Greyfriar pub.


The Sparrows thought so too

All in all  a Top Day Out (and another place I can tick off my list).

I'll leave you with some pics of the Blue Tit's Child, first seen this morning. 
He is rather fluffy and adorable (and extremely noisy).

And finally one of Teddy, modelling his latest haircut.
He hopes Daisy in particular approves.
 Crikey! He does have eyes!

M says he looks like a Gremlin.


  1. What a lovely day out CT and great photos of your visit. Delighted to hear you got some time to yourselves. That cheese platter looks amazing.

    1. We're lucky that the weather has decided to co-operate and be warm. Usually if you have a week booked off from work you can guarantee rain :-)

  2. Good stuff CT and exceedingly entertaining (especially the Colin Firth story), it looks and sounds like you had a wonderful day.

    I must admit I was once reluctantly dragged to Austin's House by one of my sisters when we happened to be passing through that area, though in the end I actually quite enjoyed it (though don't tell anyone I admitted that).

    1. It isn't so big that you fall asleep half way round (my usual reaction to museums) plus the gardens look lovely at this time of year.

  3. Great photos and sounds like a superb day out. The cheese platter (and pint) sound very enticing :)

    Lovely to see where Jane Austen lived - one of my favourite authors too :)

    Loved the story about Colin Firth too - lol!!

    1. I have wanted to visit for ages so it was great to have the chance to do so without a complaining child in tow! :-)

  4. I've always wanted to visit her house too. Very envious and so pleased you had such a lovely day. I'm afraid I didn't like the Colin Firth adaptation due to ridiculous plunging into lakes etc, and preferred the previous one with David Rintoul (I think that's how you spell it...I worked with him about 25 years ago so should know really) as Mr Darcy.....less glamour and truer to the book. Would be very happy for Colin to knock on the door though....the direction wasn't his fault! My favourite recent adaptation, and book, is Persuasion; I feel more affinity with Ann than Elizabeth, but I've still read P&P eleven times! I'm waffling now so better go and walk Snippet. Love the new hairdo. Have a good afternoon. x

    1. The plunging was the best bit Em!

      You should go if you're ever down this way. Gilbert White's house a few mins down the road at Selborne is also well worth a visit- fab house, exhibition and gardens, I think you'd love it.

  5. A lovely place to go CT, glad you are making the most of your grown up time. I loved that donkey carriage. If it was the yellow flower you weren't sure about it's a type of lily.

    Great story about the Colin Firth visit :-) My favourite Austen novel is Emma.

    Teddy looks very smart. Is he missing his house guest since he went home or is he pleased to be 'top dog' again? :-)

    1. Hi Jan :-)

      I thought it looked lily-ish, rather an impressive one.

      I also like Emma, in particular Mr Knightley who I think is a wonderful character.

      Ted is back to being my dog again- Dougal rather demands time and attention and Teddy is too polite to say "back off! That's my mummy!" so it's always a bit more peaceful when he's gone!

  6. Love the story about Colin Firth, and the photos are lovely. Teddy's new 'do is adorable :)

    1. Hi Dara :-)

      Teddy says thank you very much. He wasn't sure about it at first but now he's getting good reviews he's decided it's OK :-)

  7. Visiting Jane Austin's house is one of the places I want to visit this year, you have got there before me! It looks a great place to visit even more appealing if there are photos of Colin Firth! I had heard that Colin Firth is occasionally seen in Winchester, I hoped my daughter would choose Winchester Uni rather than Portsmouth!
    Teddy's haircut looks great, I'm afraid Daisy did not show as much interest as she had with the squirrels!
    Sarah x

  8. Sounds a fascinating place to visit; I do love museums in the houses of famous people where their lives have been recreated - so personal and interesting. I'd love to visit here; I adore the Jane Austen books, especially P&P. Had to smile at the Colin Firth anecdote, I imagine he will always be associated with Mr Darcy for many women (and I guess a younger generation will create their own Mr Darcy)
    Teddy looks very handsome after his latest haircut!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x