Time travel, the Jane Austen way

Somehow, this Saturday my week culminated into a day of awesome, uninterrupted exploring and literary bliss.

I had the fortune to set off in the English countryside to the city of Bath, a medium-sized city which sits between London and Bristol (which is on England’s west coast). Bath is surrounded by nothing but picturesque English countryside, rivers and canals.

In the heart of Bath, the Jane Austen Centre hosts museum tours and houses Mr. Darcy's Tearoom.
In the heart of Bath, the Jane Austen Centre hosts museum tours and houses Mr. Darcy’s Tearoom.

Somehow, I managed to experience every female literary nerd’s dream: pretending I was in a Jane Austen novel.

Before you judge (judge away), I must explain a few things:

(1) There are building codes in Bath which require all new construction to take on Gregorian architecture of the 18th century, as it would have been in Jane’s time living/visiting there. Most of the original Gregorian buildings are still there, but as the building codes are so strict, even the new buildings seem old. There are also strict advertising and upkeep rules, so most shops and restaurants have a Gregorian air about them, too.

(2) I was by myself on a tour filled with a bunch of other people who didn’t know me, and therefore didn’t need to earn anyone’s good opinion. Unlike Elizabeth Bennett, I did not care if one’s “good opinion, once gone, is lost forever.”

Perhaps it was the 200th publication anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this year. Perhaps it was my newfound obsession with the web series The Lizzie Bennett Diaries. Perhaps it was my innate desire to possess the matchmaking skills of Emma, or my want to be Catherine of Northanger Abbey. Or maybe it was just my slight obsession with Colin Firth and Matthew Macfadyen.

Whatever it was, my day in Bath was the perfect time to live out all of my long-harbored Jane Austen fantasies.

All silliness aside, the city of Bath offers visitors the perfect amount of pastoral charm with city amenities. There are shopping malls and tea parlours. There is a Jane Austen museum, men in tophats roaming the streets, and a bus station that looks like it parks hovercrafts. The visit seems perfect for a day trip, or a weekend for those who want to get out of London.

The tranquility mixed with the quiteness London lost centuries ago have a sort-of draw after being in the city so long without reprise.

Is it possible that my love of the city in general is dwindling in favor of pastoral towns?

Most likely not.

But, after spending just a few hours there, it became instantly clear why this town was the summer and vacation home for so many of London’s elite for centuries. Just far enough away to be seemingly in a different world, it’s the kind of place that allows you to forget your real life, even if just for a few hours.

 

(Check out pondhoppassport.wordpress.com for a commemoration of what such a Gregorian, “Austen-filled” day was like.)