Bath part 5 – An evening soiree

In the evening that day we went back to the house where we’d had the harp workshop because there was an evening soiree to be held there.

Let me tell you about this house first of all. The house is known as Beckford’s Tower, and the “tower” part of the name is there for a reason. Basically because this place is a house, not a massive house but with a BIG tower. William Beckford was a novelist who lived in Bath in the early 19th century and he had a fondness for towers. So he built this house. It is a strange place. Lovely, but strange. The tower is very dominant to the building. And the whole house is situated right in the middle of a graveyard creating a very gothic feeling around the whole place.

Beckford’s Tower, picture from their website as it was dark when we got there

So this is where we had our sioree. Once again this was organized by Helena from our group. She really did a great job putting everything together for this weekend!

To start off with we all had to climb the tower of course. It was quite a climb up these beautiful swirly staris. We used no electric lights so the whole thing was made even more atmospheric by our footman who walked first carrying a candelabra. It made such a perfect light and cast amazing shaddows on the walls. I was so sad that my camera hates places that are not completely lit up so it wouldn’t work to take pictures, because it was really amazing when we walked up all in a row and to see the others. There was Luke (our footman) going first with his wig and his candelabra, then came Rob in his redcoat uniform, after him Oliver in his tailcoat and fourth Ian in a top hat, and just that, going up those stairs in that light looked amazing! It was one of those movie like moments.

At the top it was crowded but cool. Even though it was dark you could see a nice view over Bath and we spent a long time up there taking pictures of each other.

Me and Claire at the top of the tower (once again I’ve borrowerd pictures from Claire, Jeanette and Noora). I love this picture of us!

Me and Isabel

Doing reflection shots like this was lots of fun, we all had ours this way

Once down there was a whole score of activities planned. First out there was food of course. Mike entertanied us with lovely harp music and we, his pupils from earlier in the day even got to perform all together a very simple little piece we had tried out. So I’ve played the harp once and already performed! 😉 We had a little dancing. A lovely fun little dance which sadly I don’t remember the name of which is a pity because it was lots of fun. Then we had games. There were all kinds of games, blind man’s buff, pin the tail on the Emperor (which resulted in roars of laughters from everyone participating), a treasure hunt (which did involve going out in the graveyard in the dark and the rain…) and a score of other games that I don’t know the names of. We also had readings and singing performances.

Food! (wow, clever caption eh? 😛 )

Oliver being the blind man

Love this action shot. Some of us *cough* were hiding behind the curtains 

Luke had to “wear” the picture for “pin the tail on the Emperor”. He did it splendidly though! Sooo much fun!

Another game where we all had to copy whatever Helena (who is sitting on the chair) was doing

Zach reading to us from one of William Beckford’s novels

Napoleonic songs!

It was a lovely evening and a tired group of people who left long after midnight.

Bath part 4 – Finally getting to try playing a harp!

Next day the rain was pouring down, again. I spent the morning NOT in costume going out for lunch with a good friend and getting a few things done. Then in the afternoon I had a lesson planned so I wanted to dress up for that.

This lesson was a harp lesson, or workshop. The Jane Austen center organizes  harp workshops sometimes and I wanted to try that last year but it was sold out, so I was excited to get to try it this year. It was as part of the deal with this group I was staying with. Except it wasn’t the Jane Austen center one as I thought, our wonderful hostess Helena had arranged something privately and we had our own instructor who came to teach us at one of the houses we were renting (not the one I was staying in, this was a different, more special place). So it ended up being only three of us doing this, which meant it was practically a private lesson!

I have wanted to try playing the harp for a really long time now. It is such an elegant and truly beautiful instrument and I’ve been dying to give it a go. So I was very excited to be doing this little workshop. And tell you what, I loved it even more than I thought I would!!

Our instuctor, Mike, is a fantastic harpist and he started off by showing us the instuments and telling us about them and their history before moving on to letting us try to play. The harps he had brought were truly beautiful instruments. They were all old. One of them dated from the time of the French revolution and was from Paris, another was a real Regency harp rumored to have belonged to Princess Charlotte and the third one was also I belive early 19th century by the harp maker John Egan and was the only one of his surviving harps in private ownership. And you know what? HE LET US PLAY THESE HARPS!!!!

The three harps. The little one to the left is the John Egan one, in the middle is the Regency one and the one to the right is the oldest, the one from the French revolution.

Mike, our teacher, playing for us

And then we got to try. We rotated around so we all could try the different ones. I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, they were all so lovely! (oh and thanks again to Claire whom I’ve borrowed some pictures from since I didn’t get any of my own of us playing)

Me, Lyze and Jeanette playing. Oh and there’s my new Spencer too btw. 🙂

See how different they all are? Not sure how well it shows in these photos but they are all decorated in completely different styles. The oldest one has beautiful paintings all over it, like was fashionable at the time it was made. The Regency one is much plainer but with a beautiful elegance to it, just as was in style at that time. I loved you could see the reflections of the times they were constructed on them. Mike also told us they all three have their own personalities and he has given them names! Unfortunately I cannot remember all of their names but I know the little one was Lydia. 🙂

Me with one of the gorgeous harps. I want, I want, I want one!! 

It really was fantastic and I could have kept going all day! It was a little tricky of course because it is a completely new instrument to me, but I do think playing the piano helped me to get a hang of it fairly quickly. I so want to properly learn to play the harp now, I’ve been looking around for places where you can rent them as that sounds like a good thing to start off with. It was just so exciting and fun! And I like how it is an instrument that ladies played in the Regency era, that was so popular then. But also you can do so much with it! And I’d like to learn to play so well that I could eventually accompany myself when I’m singing. Well, that’s a goal at least. First I need to get hold of a harp!

 “A young woman, pretty, lively, with a harp as elegant as herself; and both placed near a window, cut down to the ground, and opening on a little lawn, surrounded in the rich foliage of summer, was enough to catch any man’s heart. The season, the scene, the air, were all favourable to tenderness and sentiment.” ~ Mansfield Park

That evening too was full of fun and I’ll tell you all about that soon!

Bath part 3 – Assembly Room Ball

So. Yes. Post three.

After the promenade we headed back to our house to get ready for the ball as I said. I quite like the getting ready part. As long as you are not in too much of a hurry. I can fully understand how women back in those days could spend hours getting dressed!!

For this ball I decided to wear my blue velvet dress again. It felt a little too wintery perhaps being so heavy but I wanted to wear it. And paired it with pearls and feathers. I’ve got a new thing for feathers. Have never really worn them much before but they really are fun and make an outfit that much more interesting I think. 🙂

The ball in the Assembly Rooms was lovely as always. I had the feeling there were more people than last year, but I can’t say if that was really the case or just my impression.
This ball is, as I’m sure many of you are aware, not officially part of the Jane Austen Festival. It is arranged by some other people, Farthingales, and there seems to be bad feelings or some sort of rivalry between the two organisations (that is at least what the gossip is) and they don’t cooperate. Which is a great pity I think. Because this means that the ball is not advertised anywhere and people who don’t know about it have a hard time finding out there even is one. Some people were telling me they found out about it through my blog which made me happy to hear because I feel like I’ve been able to help out. 🙂 And also because they don’t cooperate they place big events at the same time. So the Regency Fashion show which I would have loved to see because it sounded like such a fun thing was something I missed out on becuase they did that at the same time. And I heard several people saying the same thing, that it was a pity. Oh well. I guess you can’t do everything. But I just think it’s a pity that they don’t work with each other instead, as the same people who go to all these events would be interested.

Anyway, rant over. 😛 Here are some pictures instead

With two of the loveliest ladies in the world, Isabel and Claire!

Dancing in full swing

Beautiful Miss Isabel

And lovely Miss Claire twirling around the ballroom

Me with Isabel and Jeanette. We’ve done so many events together now that no event feels really complete if they are not also there!

Eliane from Switzerland, another lovely lady. Some of the photos for this post I’ve borrowed from her

Me chatting to a couple of the gentlemen, Matthew and Zach, between the dances

I was quite pleased with the way my hair turned out for this evening and I’m glad Claire got a picture of it because I completely forgot to 

Zach, Helena, Ian and Rob at our table for dinner

It was a good evening with lots of lovely dances, many of which I am now very familiar with, and a nice dinner. My table was slightly neglected though and when all the other tables were served marzipan fruits at the end of the meal we were forgotten about. So me and one of the others, Zach, set out for a hunt for marzipans when everyone was heading back to the ballroom. We collected quite a few that were left at the tables and were quite happily stuffing ourselves with our finds.

Our group split at the end of the evening some deciding to take a taxi back home and some wanting to walk. I walked as that is usually my preference. I don’t like walking on my own through the center of Bath on a Saturday evening though. Because you DO get quite a lot of people (most rather drunk) commenting on your outfits and you don’t really go unnoticed by. But as long as I’m not alone that is not really a problem. It can even be rather amusing at times. Highlight this time though was the drunk person who asked us what we were doing (or whatever it was he asked, I can’t remember) and one of the gentlemen in my group offering him some snuff from his snuffbox. I don’t think that drunk person was expecting that and we had some good laughs over that incident.

Sunday was another nice day, and I’ll be telling you all about it soon so stay tuned! 😀

Emma Approved

Ok so I know I’m right in the midst of reporting from Bath, but I just have to get in here with a short little post just to announce that today is the start of the YouTube series “Emma Approved”! What is this? Basically it’s like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries I posted about a short while ago, a video blog version of a Jane Austen book, this time Emma. I missed out on the fun bit of following along the last one and keeping updated with the new episodes and the whole thing around it, so this time I’m going to be watching them as they all come out! I really enjoyed the Lizzie Bennet one so I’m so excited about this one! Plus I have to say, if Emma did live for real and in our modern time, I would not in any way at all be surprised if she did a video blog. It seems like just the kind of thing she would do!

If anyone else is excited about this and wants to follow along too, here is the first episode 🙂

Bath part 2 – Grand Regency Promenade

So, to make up for last posts lack of photos I have now made a rather picture heave post here. I was going to include the evenings ball in the same post, but after seeing how many photos I ended up chosing for this I think I’ll split them in two. 😉

Saturday morning came and to everyone’s delight and relief it was NOT raining! It was a lovely dry though not terribly warm day. Perfect for a promenade in other words. We all got into our parading outfits (for the first time I wore an outfit I’d already worn to the promenade, the same one as last year. Will make something new for next year thought, promise) and headed over to where we were to start.

Jeanette and Isabel, with the rest of my group behind them, walking towards the start of the promenade


Rob and Claire

Albert, Lyze and Rob walking along the Circus

The start this year was from the Royal Crescent where in previous years we have usually ended. So it was almost a reversed route to what it was the first years I was there. I love the moment before we actually start walking, everybody gathering around and meeting and greeting each other. After so many times attending (this was my 5th time in case I haven’t already mentioned that haha) I now know or recognize quite a few people there so it’s such fun to just run around saying hi to all those people I haven’t met for a year perhaps (or more). One of my favorite parts of the festival!

Gathering at the Royal Crescent

Me and Alexia

Me and Justin

We then set off. I didn’t quite know who to walk with, my friends were spread out all along the line of promenaders, and I wanted to walk with them all! So in the end what happened was me and my good friend Isabel ran up and down the line walking with these people here for a little while and then those people there. Was rather a good solution I thoutght.

And we’re off. Note the line of photographers along the road, as always

The young gentleman to the right in this picture is called Darcy as a first name. Really. His mum, as you can imagine, is quite the Jane Austen fan 😉

One always has to include a picture of lace parasols. Just because.

Like last year we ended the promenade at the lovely Parade Gardens (I believe it’s called….? For some reason I can never completely remember this). It is such a nice place. And it has the advantage of you having to pay to get in normally, so the general public (in other words, those not in costume) don’t get as close with their cameras. Not that I mind posing for photos or tourists asking questions, of course not! It’s part of it. But it is kinda nice in a way to just be all us costume people in one place. The tourists stand along the walls with their cameras instead haha.

Now isn’t that a fine-looking group of people?!

Oliver and Robert posing for photos with a lady. I have to say gentlemen attending are probably the ones who have to pose for most pictures! 

I have no idea who this couple is but I just love her pelisse!

Ok, I admit, I do like to take photos of people in costume from behind. I just think there is something that looks so nice about it.

Possibly the one to rival all the gentlemen in being the most photographed participant would be this little chap. I so admire Jennifer for bringing her adorable little boy to take part in this. When/if I have children of my own I am so going to do the same!

The Sense & Sensibility costume group. A lovely group of people! 

It was a lovely promenade, as it always is. And it grows every year it seems. I don’t know the exact number of participants, I’ve heard accounts ranging from 450 to 600. So I would guess somewhere in between those too. 😛

After all that it was time for lunch, and what better place to have lunch than at the gorgeous Pump Rooms? Beautiful room, good food and delightful company, what more could you ask for?

The rest of the day was spent looking through the Regency fair at the Guildhall (I found the most gorgeous hat that I really wanted to buy but it was a tad bit too pricy.. I will atempt to make something similar myself instead I think), having tea at a charming little vintage tea room and then heading back to where I was staying to get ready for the ball at the Assembly Rooms.

Bath and the Jane Austen Fesival part 1

So I’m back home and here is my first post about my recent trip to Bath.

Where to start…. Well at the beginning I suppose. It was an early morning start from home on the Friday. It was a very foggy morning which meant that the plane couldn’t leave on schedule. An hours delay on a flight isn’t really so bad but it did mean that I had to rush from the airport, through London with all my luggag to finally sit down, very sweaty and tired on the train that would take me to Bath. Fortunately I did manage to get on the right one and then spent the next hour conversing with a lovely lady sitting next to me who turned out to know more than a thing or two about the Regency and Georgian era! She had even written a book on the subject! We didn’t struggle to find topics to discuss. 🙂

These days when the train pulls into Bath station it all feels very familiar. I love this city. Not only for its connection to Jane Austen (though that is of course one big thing in its favor) but because it is a truly beautiful and charming place, and the people are, in my experience so friendly and nice.

As those who have followed my blog for a while might know I often stay together with a group of friends at either a B&B or in a rented house. It makes the whole expereince more fun I think (and more affordable) to share it with others. This year I was staying together with the Carlton Set. A group based in London arranging events and get-togethers, and now they had arranged a house party in Bath for the first days of the festival. I knew some people in the group already and one of my friends had suggested I come stay with them. So that’s what I did.

In the evening we had the first event on the schedule. It was an evening in the Georgian Pleasure Gardens. We were all set up and ready to go, we were going as a masked party and having a picnic afterwards. But things don’t always go according to plan. Unfortunately something happened that day which I have never before experienced, to that extent, on a visit to Bath…. it rained. And not a light drizzle, I’ve had that before, but it really was pouring down!

A few of us still decided to brave it and got into our costumes (though not the outfit I had planned to wear, I don’t think the feathers would have approved of the rain..) and set off, huddling under umbrellas and skipping between the puddles.

The event, I’m sorry to say, I cannot report much of. There were supposed to be musicians and theatricals and other exciting things, but after listening to the musicians for a few minutes I gave up and went inside a cafe for a hot chocolate with some of my friends who I bumped in to there. Our picninc obviously was cancelled and instead turned into a lovely candle-lit buffet back at the house we were staying.

Ok I know this post was a bit boring with only three bad pictures. I felt I had to admit the fact that sometimes it’s rainy and miserable (well, as miserable as it could be with lots of amazing people around of course!) at these events too. I promise lots more pictures in my next post; the grand Regency Promenade!

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