(Originally Posted on October 20, 2008)
This is Day Two of Project Petticoat. A bunch of my pictures are up on SA, though some still need to be edited and posted.
Day Two – Winchester
October 11, 2008
So I’m looking out the window
And I’m drifting off to sleep
With my face pressed up against the pane
With the rhythm of my heart
And the ringing in my ears
It’s the rhythm of the Southbound Train
-Southbound Train, Jon Foreman
We woke up about 7:30 in the morning. After dressing, we went directly to Waterloo. We missed the first train to Winchester, so we headed to Burger King for some breakfast. I got coke, orange juice, a bacon batty and hash browns. I was glad I’d gotten the hash browns because the bacon batty (which was thick bacon and a bun) had ketchup on it. Nicole got a sausage batty, but instead of being a sausage patty and a bun it was a weird coiled sausage. It really can’t be described so…
It had ketchup on it, too. Somehow Nicole managed to eat it. I stuck with my hash browns (which were actually very good).
After eating, we went to catch the second train. Nicole wanted to throw away her trash, but couldn’t find a trashcan in all of Waterloo. Finally she left it on a seat (with a pile of other trash) and we went to catch the train. We missed it. Luckily the next train was just seven minutes later.
It was a foggy train ride through the country on the way to Winchester. I used the time to write in my journal and fill out a few postcards. But whenever I looked up to admire the view, it was absolutely breathtaking. Seriously, the countryside there is so beautiful, particularly with all the fog.
We got to Winchester after about an hour. As we left the train station, we had a lovely view of the little city below us. We followed signs to the Great Hall, the palace of King Henry III and the place where the alleged Round Table sits (from the Knights of the Round Table). It was very big, with stain glass windows covered in coat-of-arms. We went through a little exhibit, which had some of the history of the castle. There were a few Anglo-Saxon manuscripts/pictures of manuscripts, which reminded me a lot of the way Tolkien writes in his calligraphy. We took a little visit to the gift store (which had everything you could ever desire with the Round Table on it). I bought a Round Table postcard and a little knight pen. Then we slipped into the little garden out back. It was very small but quaint and nice.
We exited the Great Hall through the front door. We explored a portion of the city wall remains (I think?) before continuing downhill towards the cathedral.
It was rather crowded in the market area. Winchester is stuffed with little shops, and lots of cute clothes. (As a note: boys in England dress in tight[ish] pants and shirts. Which is a little weird at first… but ultimately I liked it because it was so much nicer looking than all the boys with pants at their knees and short sleeved shirts with sleeves over their hands around here. There were several cute dressed people around, though England certainly has its own branch of What Not To Wear.) There were several bands and music artists along the street. It was pretty neat, and very enjoyable when I wasn’t dodging crowds of people. I think if I lived in England, Winchest would be my happy place.
We arrived at the cathedral. There’s this park around it, with benches and open spaces for playing games. It’s also got quite a few ancient graves, which I thought was cool. We took a few pictures and then went in. It was very tall and grand. We walked to Jane Austen’s grave. There is a golden memorial plaque on the wall, which had flowers under it. The actual grave is on the floor, a simple dark stone.
The cathedral also boasted some murals from medieval times (which were sort of creepy) and a “Holy Hole.” Upstairs you could have a peek at the library and the huge organs. There was also a donated portrait of Jane Austen, which was neat. (It was the normal silohetted picture that was common at the time.) They had a handwritten Bible on the first floor, and some other neat old books. On the way out, I passed a little stand with some suveniors. They had the loviest hand painted Jane Austen cards. I was delighted, and bought several (for myself mostly – they’re too wonderful to give away). The old lady at the desk was relieved and happy that I paid in the exact amount, which was sort of funny.
We went outside and around back on our way to Wolvey Castle and Jane Austen’s Winchester house. As we walked that way, I saw a sign that said, “Books! Books! Books! <—” We turned aside (of course!) to have a look. It was a used book sale. I looked through all the outside boxes and came away with four old books for about $4 (2 pounds). The old gentlemen running the sale were very nice and invited me inside, but I laughed and said, “That’s too much temptation! I have to carry these in my backpack all day.” One old man was like, “Too much temptation! Then you’re exactly the kind of customer we need!” But I politely declined and we went on our way. The books in my bag were a little heavy, but not unbearable.
We walked to Wolvey Castle, but it was closed for the off season. We walked up a driveway to an old house, because others were doing that. There was a sign that said, “Bishop’s house ONLY.” But we figured we looked enough like a bishop’s house to pass without getting thrown out. We took some pictures of the castle ruins across the fence. There were a lot of purple shirts hanging out to dry, which we joked about being the pope’s shirts. Nicole took a picture of them.
We back tracked to look for Jane Austen’s house. However, either both sets of directions were wrong or the plaque had been removed. We could not find it, even after returning to the same place three times.
We stopped at the book sale again. One of the old men greeted me with, “So you’ve come back to see me?” I smiled and asked if that had any Georgette Heyer. It turned out they didn’t, but I left with two more books anyway.
We asked them for food recommendations, and we were directed to the Old Vine. It was a busy 1800th Century refurbished pub. We sat on the platio in the back, because the weather was perfect and there were no smokers. Nicole went in to place our order. I got a coke and a chicken and bacon sandwich. It was very good–fresh and perfect. Until the end of my days, I will look at the fried grub of Mississippi and think with longing of the fresh taste of good bread, chicken and thick bacon.
After eating, we went down the main street to the information center. We picked up a few fliers before crossing the street to the bus stop. We boarded a bus to Chawton after a short wait. It was a beautiful drive through the country side. It’s sort of amazing how you can go from a little crowded city to rolling hills and farmland so quickly in England.
We were dropped off at a little bus stop and we walked about ten minutes to Chawton. It’s very small, consisting mostly of a tavern, a tea house, and Jane Austen’s house.
Jane Austen’s house (now a museum) was cute and little. We bought our tickets and wandered through it. I read most of the information plaques. I was pleasantly surprised how much of the little information matched up with the fictional book about Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, which I read recently. It was interesting to see some of the common, everyday items that Jane references. And it was nice to see some of her family’s possession. It makes her more human, more in reach. There were several costumes, on display, but they were quite obviously not originals.
I stopped at the gift shop and bought a few things.
We walked through the little garden in the back. Then we went back to the bus stop. We waited for about ten minutes. A blue double-decker bus pulled up. We climbed to the top for the ride back. It was fun and there was a wonderful view.
When we got back to Winchester, we walked along an old canal that had been built during the Roman’s occupation and used as a mote during the medieval ages. It was very peaceful, and I liked it a lot. We went and got a drink at a little resturant. Then we attended evensong at the cathedral. It was very beautiful, and made me wish to sing. The priest read from Isaiah 6 and John (I don’t remember the chapter).
After evensong, we walked back to the train station. At first we were on the wrong platform, but one of the men on duty directed us to the right place. We crossed over and caught our train in time. Nicole got us some things to snack on and something to drink at the snack bar. Though I didn’t see it, apparently she got knocked off her feet by the train on the way back. (To her credit, the drinks and cookie-thing-whose-name-escapes-me were not damaged by the fall.)
We got to the room safely and went to bed.