Celtic Cable

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rule Britannia!


I spent most of the past week in England and Wales, seeing the sights with a friend. I had a marvelous time. I carried my knitting around with me everywhere, but I didn't knit much. 

We went to the Jane Austen house in Chawton, where we saw beautiful gardens and got to walk around the house. This is the room where Jane wrote, and the little plastic-enclosed desk by the window is where she sat! I really wanted to sit at that little desk, but I guess everyone else does too, so they closed it off. For the record: Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, and the 1996 BBC version is my favorite film. (Keira Knightly aspiring to play Elizabeth Bennet is about as ludicrous as Demi Moore playing Hester Prynne!)

Winchester Cathedral, where Jane Austen is interred. It's a beautiful cathedral, and worth the price of the tour.

The next day we went to Stratford-on-Avon, where we walked through Anne Hathaway's gardens. I thought this little straw man looked cold, so I stepped in amongst the cabbages to give him a hand.

An improbably large leaf in the garden ... no idea what plant this is! To give you a sense of scale, that shoe is about a size 10.

The walk behind a tea house across from Anne Hathaway's cottage.


This is Stratford-upon-Avon. We rode around on a big red tour bus.

  There is an enormous statue of The Bard in the Shakespeare museum we went to, but there was also a docent there, and she probably wouldn't have let me climb up on the pedestal and hang the shawl over the quill in his hand. So I settled for Lady MacBeth in the park by the river.

  This is Bath ... the Jane Austen Centre, which is two doors down from one of the houses she lived in. This was the poorest time of Jane's life, and she was very unhappy in Bath.

Below is the Roman Baths, in Bath. This is the Central Pool, I think.My traveling companion told me a couple of guys were so distracted by watching me arrange my shawl that they nearly ran into things. That made me happy.

 A succulent lion.

And on to Wales! This is Castell Dinefwr. The view was splendid.

Me, trying to display my shawl at the top of Castell Raghlan. It was a little windy ... 

Monmouth Castle ... this is a Russian cannon that was captured during the Crimean War. It fired a cannonball a whole 2500 yards! Or feet. I forget which.


 This is Tintern Abbey, the last place we visited during our trip. It was enormous!

    I had a fabulous time. I am a Jane Austen fan, and it was wonderful to see two of the places she lived. I learned that she actually did accept a marriage proposal once ... but rescinded her acceptance the next morning.

     Britain was interesting. Here are some things I learned:
  • My name (Beth) in Welsh means "what."
  • England loves roundabouts. Driving on the left in a roundabout is scary.
  • A cup of decent, filter-brewed coffee is impossible to find.
  • A sign reading "End of Diversion" doesn't mean there will be no more fun. It means the detour is over. 
  • "Avon" is the Celtic word for river. When the Romans asked the natives what the rivers were called, the mischievous Celts said "avon." So there are eight rivers named Avon. 
  • The Welsh word for river is aber.
  • The Welsh language is seriously in need of vowels.
  • When the Brits say "Please mind your children" they mean it.
  • Clotted cream is such a heavenly substance, I wish I could fill a tub with it. 
    I had a great time with my friend, and I'd like to thank her especially for planning the itinerary and doing all the driving (I was too freaked out by the clockwise roundabouts to be of any use). I saw five castles and two Jane Austen sites and Shakespeare-town, a play, and had some really good cream teas! And yes, I have no discernible eyebrows when photographed. Now you know the truth!


  1. You need to read, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen written by Syrie James. It's a fictional story based on the real events of her life. What if there was a real Mr. Ashford. ooooh, I get chills just thinking about it. I loaned out my copy and now I want to re-read it. Darn it!

    If I had any time period in life to live, I would have wanted to be Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte or Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

  2. It was a pleasure accompanying you on your jaunt through Austin and Shakespeare country. I've been reading and enjoying your blog even though I have no interest in starting to knit. Your descriptions of the textures and colors of yarn are very scrumptious and, honestly, rather sensuous. The title of your blog does you a disservice.
    Please try, when possible, to continue using spin offs of book titles to head each blog. They are witty. Unfortunately, Jane used the names of people,nouns,or places for her books.

  3. I had great fun being your tour guide through Southern England and Wales...where should we go next?


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