Thursday 2 July 2009

The Outside of Houses

At the moment Pride and Prejudice is beating Persuasion (which is my way of thinking too) but I'll leave the vote for a few more days to see if you Anne-fans can help her beat our Lizzie.

Yesterday I went with two friends from the Masters course on a road trip to Sissinghurst - we're all fans o
f Vita Sackville-West and/or the Bloomsbury Group in general, so this was a post-dissertation-hand-in treat for us. And we drove for hours, including a scenic tour of Reading (if such a thing is possible?) only to discover that... it was closed. Whoops. We didn't think to check the website... just thought, perhaps, in the middle of summer they'd be open during the week. It's what Vita would have wanted. Regardless, we had a really fun day - we could explore round the outside of the buildings, walk down to the lake, have a lovely picnic and buy lots and lots of postcards. (Note - I will never be happy in future with a picnic unless there is a melon - it was perfect food for the weather). And then we also took a trip to Knole, a Vita tour of Kent - which was, again, beautiful. And there were deer roaming around the park too, so it was like a Magdalen home-from-home.

And I did 7 hours of driving! Including my first proper motorway. When in Devon we were briefly on a motorway, but it was a 50 mph stretch, so the M25 was a different kettle of fish. And it was mostly fine - except for one near-miss. Actually, that was on an A road - and it wasn't even my fault. A van was coming on from a slip road; I was in the left lane and couldn't pull over as there were a couple cars adjacent in the right lane. This didn't deter the van - instead of giving way, or pulling behind me, the driver decided simply to move into my lane, where I actually was. So I had to swerve into the right lane, where the other cars were. Luckily they were both alert, and had also pulled over a bit - we had three vehicles in two lanes. Terrifying moment, but thankfully we were all fine, just a little shaken up. And the van sped off as quickly as possible, having almost caused a big accident. Goodo. (And sorry Our Vicar and Our Vicar's Wife, who are finding out for the first time, reading this - I tried to call you yesterday!)

I must be a proper driver now, I'm complaining about other motorists. But the positives outweighed the negatives - a really fun day out with some good friends, and some great literary sites to be seen.


  1. Sounds like everyone managed to have a splendid day out despite the locked doors. Don't get me started on the lack of courtesy on the highway, glad you came out of it alright.

  2. HELLO-

    Adore your blog!
    You must go back--and see Vita's study in the tower. You must write about it.
    Loved hearing about your visit to Knole--where you can usually wander with noone around.
    I hope you are having a wonderful summer--with news of all the great books you and your pals are reading.
    you must, also, write more about your 'non-driving' and your 'first time on the freeway/motorway' someone in California this seems hardly possible, that (unless you are 16) you have never driven on the motorway and write about it as an exotic adventure. Here you could not go anywhere if you did not have the nerve to get on the freeway--which are wonderful around San Francisco, heading north and driving south. Cheers and get to Sissinghurst asap.

  3. It's Persuasion, but then I'm 47 -- so the whole second, or final (?) chance at love seems so much more bittersweet and satisfying. . .

  4. I agree with Diane, you need to go back to Sissinghurst when it is open. I wanted to climb under the rope in Vita's office, sit in her desk chair, and see what volumes she had surrounding her. The same was true for the library in the house. Alas, I didn't breach security and stayed on the proper side of the rope.


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