Snow Day!

I’ve been sick.  To be honest, I haven’t really felt well since before the last term break (mid October).  I keep getting almost better and then coming down with something.  This time it was a nasty cough.  I ended up not going to school Monday through Thursday.  Today (Friday, 18 December) I was up, showered, and looking for warm dress clothes when Palak (my amazing department head, he’s everything an administrator should be) called and said that the school is officially closed.  Last night Piers ‘reckoned’ (which is not hilly-billy over here, actually almost posh) that the kids wouldn’t be going today, but that since I walk I’d be expected to go in.  Fair enough; I can’t remember ever not going to school on a snow day.  And that goes back as far as living in Kelwood and Dad picking teachers up with the sleigh and ponies! (We won’t talk about how many moons ago that was!)

So how much snow does it take to shut the school?  According to the school website and other media sources  this is a ‘heavy snowfall.’  Pfft!

View from the front door at about 9 am. Note the couple of sets of tracks...not much moves when it snows over here.

Seriously, how much snow is this? 6"?? I will concede that it is wet and heavy.

The willows in the field beyond the back garden

This could have been taken in Canada, eh? But it wasn't. Seriously, I'm telling you the truth!

Medieval Fair

It’s taken me a long time to write about what I did on the 12th of September.  My budding romance fizzled out during that weekend and it took me a bit to get over it.  Fast forward a month and not only am I over it, I’ve met a man that is all the things I knew I wanted and all the things I didn’t know I needed!  Life is good.

Back to the Medieval Fair…

Jane Austen's father attended.

Tonbridge School

I started the day off by going on a Jane Austen audio tour put on by Tonbridge Library.  Many generations of the Austen family lived here.  In fact, Jane’s father, William George Austen, was baptized and confirmed at St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church (my parish, but not the congregation that I attend).

He also attended the famous Tonbridge School which has a current tution of about £30,000.  His mother died when he was very young and his father died a few years later.  His stepmother didn’t like her husband’s children and sent them to live elsewhere.  George had an uncle that paid his tuition so that he could get an education. Perhaps it was this generosity that created the milieu that allowed Jane to flourish as a writer.

Wikipedia says that after nearly dying of typhus at one school and then being brought home due to the dear cost of tuition for Jane and her sister:

Austen acquired the remainder of her education by reading books, guided by her father and her brothers James and Henry. George Austen apparently gave his daughters unfettered access to his large and varied library, was tolerant of Austen’s sometimes risque experiments in writing, and provided both sisters with expensive paper and other materials for their writing and drawing. According to Park Honan, a biographer of Austen, life in the Austen home was lived in “an open, amused, easy intellectual atmosphere” where the ideas of those with whom the Austens might disagree politically or socially were considered and discussed.

After teaching at Tonbridge School, George Austen became a rector in an Anglican parish where Jane was born.

There is also some Austen connection to the castle.  Back in May, Auntie Wendy encouraged me to journal because “As much as you think you’ll remember; you’ll forget.”  She must be able to see the future because I’ve forgotten exactly how Jane Austen is related through marriage to the family that owned the castle at one time.  It’s something along the lines of a daughter marrying an Austen, but not a direct ancestor of Jane.

River Medway

River Medway

While walking along the path beside the river, the audio tour mentioned a Tonbridge ware box (a box with a design made with inlaid wood) that one of Austen’s heroines had.  Given the detail that she used to set the scene it seems reasonable to assume Austen had one herself.  The walk took me around the park which in the last century was the site of a racecourse.  During Austen’s time it would have been part of the castle’s estate.

I love this ceiling!

I love this ceiling!

The walk also took me to St Peter’s and St Paul’s.  Since I did the walk on Heritage Weekend (which seems to mean that every village, town, city, historical place showcased their history with events) the church was open.  It was my first (and so far only) time there.  What a stunning building!

Watch your step!

Watch your step!

It is the oldest building in Tonbridge (even older than the castle!) and contains some Saxon stones.  There was a very interesting exhibit listing all the men (hmph!) that have been the Vicar of the parish.  I had trouble with knowing where to walk since there are many, many people buried under the floor!  I’m looking forward to getting to know the building better.

Medieval Hand-to-Hand Combat

Medieval Hand-to-Hand Combat

So glad he didn't ask me!

So glad he didn't ask me!

After the walk and a brief stop at WHSmith that involved buying bulky storage containers for my room, I headed over to the castle for the Medieval Fair.  It was fascinating!  It was so neat to see things that I had only ever read about (mostly in historical romances, one of my past guilty pleasures!) come to life.  I took hundreds of photos of the medieval hand-to-hand combat, but the most intriguing thing was the falconry display.  Watching him work with his birds was unbelievable.  The best part was the fact I wasn’t scared of the birds!  That’s quite the testament to his skills.  They were incredibly graceful and fun to watch.

And then the real knights came out!

And then the real knights came out!

And what good would a day out on the town be without some shopping?

I still haven't learned to not buy bulky stuff when I've got a full day planned!

I still haven't learned to not buy bulky stuff when I've got a full day planned!

Not sure if you can make out the painting or not.  There was an exhibit called “Art on the Rails” near the castle and I bought my first souvenir of Tonbridge.  I don’t care if it’s a good painting or not, it reminds me of the area behind my place (where I run).  No matter where I live it will remind me of this wonderful time in my life!

Walking in the English Countryside

Stile at the end of the street

Stile at the end of the street

Thursday evening Paul pointed out a walk that starts literally at the end of the street.  It takes 2 hours to do the full loop; I went for about 45 minutes.  I had a huge smile the whole time – I WAS WALKING IN THE ENGLISH COUNTRYSIDE.  Mom, you’ll be proud of me, I didn’t actual shout that out, but I was sure thinking it!

So, the first picturesque site was the stile into the sheep pasture.

The Second Stile

The Second Stile

Now, I’m really wondering how I knew the word ‘stile.’  Was it from a nursey rhyme or a fairy tale?  I immediately knew what Paul was talking about when he said it and linked the word with visual when he pointed it out.  (I’ve been finding that sometimes I need to translate the language/accent before comprehending.)

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The white spot is actually a white pony…Welsh perhaps?

I love the sky in this one.

I love the sky in this one.

This picture reminds me of the old Pony Club manual – Keeping a Pony at Grass.

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A cob???

A cob???

He had a number branded on his back, under where a saddle would go.  Seemed odd to me.

Sigh…

Quintessential England

Quintessential England

A brick wall/fence.  This really made me think of fox hunting.

The initial inspiration for brick jumps in hunter classes.

The initial inspiration for brick jumps in hunter classes.

A gate covered in real, honest-to-goodness ivy.

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And then the mother-lode just before I turned around.

I haven't discovered who/what these belong to, but those are jumps!

I haven't discovered who/what these belong to, but those are jumps!