Monday, January 28, 2013

The 200th Anniversary of "Pride and Prejudice" worth a trip back to Chawton

Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Janeites around the world are celebrating in a variety of ways. The Jane Austen Center in Bath is hosting a day-long "readathon" to commemorate "Pride and Prejudice" and the same novel is the  subject of  JASNA's (Jane Austen Society of North America) Annual General Meeting this fall.

This day brought me back to Chawton, one of Jane's residences where, just a year and a half ago, I  visited along with my daughter, Rachel. In 2011, the museum was celebrating a 200th anniversary of another of Jane's novels, "Sense and Sensibility". 

Rachel outside the Chawton House

A copy of  "Sense and Sensibility" written by "A Lady"

Posters highlighting "Sense and Sensibility" were on display

The dining room. The fireplace behind the table is where Jane would have heated the tea kettle.

One of the items owned by Austen's - a quilt made by Jane, Cassandra and their  mother

Jane's bedroom with a costume worn for one of the Sense and Sensibility movies.

A dining room chair owned by the Austen's

Outside the Chawton home. The gardens overlook a tea room across the street.

Appropriately named  "Cassandra's Cup", we had afternoon tea at the Chawton tea room

After our trip to Chawton, we visited Winchester and the famous  cathedral

A display of Austen history at the front of the cathedral 

Inside Winchester Cathedral. Jane Austen is buried here.

Just a short distance from the cathedral is the last residence of Jane Austen, now a private home.

Back to London, we stopped at the original Twinings tea room.  Jane bought her tea here. So did I!
This was a fantastic trip and a nice follow-up to our visit to Bath in 2006 (see previous blog story on The Jane Austen Center and the famous Pump Room). And, there's still more to see. Starting the countdown to England 2015!

Wishing all fans of Jane Austen -  a great tea enthusiast I must add - much felicity and joy on Pride and Prejudice Day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Going back to Bath to learn how to become modern day Mr. Darcy

So far this year at Barb's TEA Shop, we're staying close to home, but still doing a lot of time traveling from the Edwardian Era via Downton Abbey to the Regency Period for all things Jane. With regards to the latter, we came across a great video from the U.K.'s Guardian travel page, featuring Marcel Theroux. A  British broadcaster and author, Theroux recently traveled to Bath to learn how to become a modern day Mr. Darcy. He's introduced to Regency attire, manners and dancing in the day of Jane Austen. Click on the link below to view the entire experience.

Marcel Theroux attends a regency ball a the Bath Pump Room

Did not realize how important it was for gentleman to point their feet in a V-shape. I must confess, if Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy walked into the Pump Room without such effort, I should still think him a fine, fine gentleman. (Mr. Theroux, indeed, looks quite well himself).

As Theroux's video notes, Bath is a beautiful and romantic city and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit back in 2006. During a family vacation to London, we made a day trip to the city touring the Roman baths and the famous Pump Room.

Barb and Rachel in Bath in 2006

There was - of course - a gift shop nearby where I bought a few Jane Austen items as well as a tin of Pump Room loose tea. (As I recall, it was strong and tasty, like Mr. Darcy himself!)

Theroux's instruction on becoming a modern day Regency gentleman is a tribute to Bath and those who keep Austen history alive for us to experience. I'm ready to go back anytime - but when I do, I'll pay more attention to how the gents are pointing their feet.

When one visits Bath, one must come back with Pump Room tea 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

CountDown-ton Abbey: Season 3 Premieres Tonight

The World of Downton Abbey, a lovely companion book 
 Downton Abbey, Season 3, premiers tonight on PBS and I am counting the hours until air time! I have my companion book and tea cup ready, next to my comfy chair, to assist in my trip back in time and across the pond, to join the Dowager Countess, Lord and Lady Grantham and their downstairs servants for an evening of glamour, intrigue, and clever conversation.

I shall ring for Carson to bring my tea, and as noted in The Detroit Tea Examiner's latest article, How will you have your tea when Downton Abbey returns?, he will serve it with milk in last. MIF's and MIL's are as divided and distinct as the one percent and the staff who wait on them.

Edwardian tea dress joins wish list
 I didn't receive the Carson T-shirt from my 2012 wishlist, but I do have the series companion book, "The World of Downton Abbey" written by Jessica Fellowes, neice of Jullian Fellowes, creator of this century's, "Upstairs/Downstairs".  My brother gave me this back in April of last year for my birthday, and along with beautiful pictures, the book offers interesting tidbits on politics and society of the Edwardian era as well as some fun behind-the-scenes shots of cast and crew.

A new item for my updated wish-list is this beautiful Edwardian tea dress from Victorian Trading Company. Although, it's a long time to wait until next Christmas, as noted above, April is not far off.  : )

Until I make that purchase, however, I will spend my Sunday evenings in something a little less formal;  still hat and pearls, but maybe lounge pants and slippers, too. Appropriate dress is required, however, despite Dowager Countess' unfamiliarity with the concept, keep in mind, it still is the week-end!
Ready for DA, Season 3

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top tea gifts from the holiday season: from wish list to what? list

Bingley's Teas from my brother-in-law/wishlist
As a tea enthusiast, I am often the fortunate recipient of tea-related gifts at Christmas and with a published wish-list, it's impossible to say I discourage it.

This year was no exception with two great tea gifts: one straight from said wish-list and one that I didn't even know existed - and maybe still a little unsure as to why it does.

Right off the Barb's TEA Shop Wish List 2012, my brother-in-law surprised me with a great selection of Bingley's Teas, the teas that are inspired by Jane Austen characters.
Elinor's Heart, a sensible black tea
These teas taste wonderful and they are attractively packaged in boxes that resemble hard-covered books. The three teas I received were an herbal, a black and green/black blend.

Of those teas, Elinor's Heart -  named after Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility -  is a no-nonsense black tea that won't disappoint. For a full review of this tea, see The Detroit Tea Examiner's Elinor's Heart: A sensible black tea from Bingley's Tea.
How I play scrabble: fully accessorized and with a tea cosy

Another tea gift I received on Christmas day was the tea cosy from Mastrad. This unique item came from my husband, Chris. Mastrad is a French company and in its native country, this tea cosy is called "chapeau the'"(literal translation: tea hat). That name seems appropriate as it is a covering for your tea cup, that, like a hat, rests on top to keep the contents below warm.

My husband purchased the tea cosy at Sur la Table at the Somerset Collection, but you can also buy it directly on-line from Mastrad.

Have you been feeling the need for  a device that
Insert tea bag in the slit of the silicone tea cosy
would hold your teabag while steeping? Perhaps, yes, but you might want even more. How about a tea hat that will allow you to squeeze your teabag (although it's debatable whether you should) without burning your fingers? And, if that's not enough, a topper for your tea cup that will keep your tea warm. Well, my dear tea friends, you are in luck! Mastrad has just the thing for you, in black or neon green, ranging from $5.99 to $8.00.
The tea hat serves as holder for the tea bag and later, as a warmer

For a more in-depth look on the Tea Cosy from Mastrad, see The Detroit Tea Examiner's review, Mastrad's tea cup cosy: A solution in need of a problem?

Here at Barb's TEA Shop, we enjoyed all our tea gifts as well as non-tea-related gifts.

An embarrassment of riches, it was a "treasure bath" (credit to my brother and Mel Brooks) of jewelry, books, chocolate, theater tickets, embroidered towels and so much more. A cliche, but even more importantly, a time with family and friends that couldn't be beat.

Here's hoping you got something off your wish list and - maybe even better - something completely unexpected!