Thursday, February 28, 2008

Regency Bath - Part VII

Bath is a very hilly city and the higher up the hill you lived the more you were in with the in crowd. Poor Jane Austen. Her family's fortunes slowly went downhill. When they first moved to Bath they lived in Syndney place, a relatively new house. After her father's death they moved down the hill to Gay Street and finally settled in Trim Street. Definitely coming down in the world.
This is Trim Street today. As you can see not one of the beautiful sweeping Terraces, like the Paragon Buildings where the Austens stayed with their relatives.

I thought you might enjoy this view of the colonade, since it includes the Regency gentleman from the Jane Austen center. He hands out leaflets down by the pump room and I couldn't resist taking a picture of him.

And this is a plan of Georgian Bath, as you can see it was much smaller then.

Members of the ton and lots of other people too traveled from London to Bath in this period to take the waters, so I imagine that the population swelled in the summer months.

For the cost of one pound one shilling, one could travel on Mountain's Bristol and Bath and London Post-Coach from the Greyhound (an inn), Market Place Bath to the Saracen's Head, Snow Hill in London. You would leave Bath at 4 pm in the afternoon and arrive at 8am the next morning, well guarded and lighted all the way. It was only fifteen shillings, if you traveled on the roof.

Finally, I wanted to remind you that Bath is a very old city. The wonderful buff-colored sandstone buildings were new in the Regency era. They were Georgian and they were classically styled as we discussed in the very first blog on this topic. However Bath was a Roman City and we saw a little of their baths, and a medieval city. And I was thrilled to find this reminder of that ancient time in the center of the town. The remains of the medieval wall. I could not help but run my hand over it and imagine knights in armor trotting past.

Oh, and we did have supper at Sally Lunds, the home of the Bath bun. The dinner was excellent, I would highly recommend it, and the people were exceeding friendly and made us very welcome. Since it was the last time I went out for dinner with my mum it will always remain close to my heart.

And that is it. No more Bath from me, though I could have gone on for weeks I promise this is the last I will have to say about Bath for sometime to come. Next week will be March and we will begin with Flora and Fauna and Fashion and then move on to a new topic.

Until then, happy rambles.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Big and Beautiful - Musings

To some, until recently that might have seemed like an oxymoron, but more and more we are seeing a change. No more are we satisfied with the catwalk thin models. And that Dove video that showed us a digitally altered perfectly beautiful young woman and how it was impossible for any human to aspire to that image. Some stores are even refusing to carry the very small 'model' sizes any more.

All of this played into my idea for No Regrets and a heroine who was not the slender beauty expected in her day and she worried about it.

Were they worried about weight in the Regency? Was “thin in” then?
Well just look at those gowns. Can you imagine how you would feel if you were well endowed? The beauties of the day...all thin, take Caroline Lamb. The caricatures of the day...happily ridiculed anyone who was overweight—the Prince Regent and his brothers, women falling downstairs. All the women in the fashion plates were pencil slim. You only have to browse through this blog to see it. They had fad diets too! Water biscuits and vinegar. Cold potatoes. Some of the men even wore corsets.

And the Prince of Wales, later King George the fourth rejected his wife because she was fat among other things.

How many of us have wondered, when we are the only person not invited onto the dance floor. What is wrong with me.Are we too fat, or too short, or not pretty. No matter how gifted we are, how kind, or generous, it is all about the packaging. Caro, my heroine, is tormented by the same kind of self-doubts.

I hope my book captures those feelings of insecurity, as well as provides a great read and after some serious trials and tribulations, a satisfying conclusion.

Night Owl Book Reviews
As a reader of historical romance I find it hard to give an author a 5, yet some authors get past me and make me believe in them. Michele Ann Young did this for me with No Regrets. I loved that she didn’t go with the usual heroine but created one who had faults and doubts about her beauty. Most of all is that she is not rail thin or with perfect vision. No, Caroline is your slightly overweight heroine who just wants what any good marriage should have and that is love. She is loyal to her friends and has vulnerability in her that only Lucas can help her with. These two characters were great to read Not only are the main characters great, but also the secondary characters were wonderful to read. What I liked most was that love does prevail above everything, making you believe that it still exists whether your thin, beautiful or even an average spirited person. Great job to Michele Young and can’t wait for more of your novels. 5/5

You can buy no Regrets at your local bookstore or on line at When you have read it, write and let me know what you think at If you would like a bookmark, or a signed bookplate, please write to me and give me your address.

Until next time, Happy Rambles

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Regency Bath - Part VI

I hope that you don't mind me finishing this series. I want to do it while it is fresh in my mind. As I mentioned last time, the next place on our tour was the pump room
The baths in Bath, have been in existence since Roman times. But in the eighteenth and nineteenth century taking the waters, in other words drinking them, was also fashionable. It is very smelly water.

The Grand Pump Room was begun in 1789 by Thomas Baldwin. He resigned in 1791 and John Palmer continued the scheme until its completion in 1799. Today the pump room is a restaurant, and as you can see from my picture, it is just before Christmas. The pump itself is still there and for a nominal fee you can sip the water and cure whatever ails you. Oh, by the way, as I understand it three glasses were required.

Here are a couple of views of the pump room from closer to the Regency that you might find more evocative of the period. Evocative is my word for the week I think. I'm pretty sure I used it somewhere else in the last day or so.

The first picture is from 1798 and the second from 1805. It certainly looks elegant. I expected there to be more places to sit. I really liked the next one because you can see a the couple drinking the water and they are sitting. My picture of the pump as it is today comes next and a shot I took out of the window and down into the Baths, just because I thought it made an interesting view.

Much of the Pump Room now revolves around its modern day function as a restaurant, which of course did not please me at all. I would have much preferred to see people walking around in their long gowns. I really do think I was born in the wrong century.

My next set of pictures are just a few shots of Bath the city, and I will finish those up next time. And we will move on to something else after that.

Until then, Happy Rambles.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Regency Bath Part V -

I hope you all had a happy Valentines Day and are not suffering from chocolate withdrawal. Romance writers love chocolate, but I managed to escape eating more than a couple of pieces.

Last day we took a peek at the evirons for February, but now we are back to Bath. Of course, by now you will realize I am cheating. I use the tags on the blog to keep track of my research and my pictures, as well as pass along what I hope is interesting information. I decided to do Bath in depth as I am planning a story set there. So many stories to write, never enough hours in the day.

Assembly Rooms Cont'd
The rest of the Assembly Rooms, the basement, is =devoted to a fashion museum. On the occasion we visited, it was fashion through the ages, rather than a Regency display, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures you might find of interest.

As you can see, this picture was taken through glass. With permission, I might add. But it is an 1815 muslin gown, so typical of our period I just could not resist. While it has long sleeves it is very light and airy and would have been considered a morning gown. The male navy blue wool coat in the back ground is from the 1830's, so a little bit late, but men's fashions did not change much, except for the trousers, which you can see quite clearly. Men were wearing trousers in the Regency era, but by the 1830's they had replaced pantaloons and breeches almost entirely, except for formal wear.

This light green Woven silk pelisse is from 1807. The curator's notes indicates that a pelisse was the first "coat" and that during this period most people mostly still wore shawls. She also noted that cloaks, capes and mantles were also fashionable during this period. I love cloaks. I adore a man in a cloak, in my imagination, the way it swirls around his body, making him look tall and mysterious. Shiver.
What can I say, I am a romance writer!!

Anyway back to Bath!

The last terrible picture I want to show you is of a coin purse from the 18th century, that would also have been common during the Regency.
Now this is clearly a display of handbags down the ages, or purses or pocketbooks as they are called in North America. But the item that I was interested in was the long black thing hanging over the stand at the front with gold tassels. Sorry for the blurriness but conditions were less than ideal. Anyway how this worked was that there was a slit in the middle of the woven black fabric through which one would insert coins. Then, to stop them falling out one pushed the rings at each end together, so it pretty well looked like the coin rolls we use at the bank today.

Personally, it doesn't look terribly convenient, but with the lack of zippers and other fastenings, I am sure it was helpful in keeping one's change together and handy.
This one is 'very fancy', as my oldest daughter would say, and probably used for evening wear. I am sure there were more everyday types, but it is the fancy ones that are more likely to survive. I mean, my beaded evening bags are all wrapped and put away and dragged out for special occasions, my everyday purses are only fit for the dumpster when I am done with them. So you can imagine which ones will end up being around for future generations to look at. And they will think we all walked around clutching little tiny bags covered in glitter and beading with room for a lipstick and a comb.

Except of course we have so many more records of our day to day lives, they won't be fooled at all.

Well, that's it for the assembly rooms. Moving on to the pump room next time, if you can stand it. And I am going to try to scan a map of Georgian Bath for you. Oh, and by the way, my newsletter went out this week, with a story about Prinny. If you haven't signed up and want to do so, then do it in the next day or so and I will send you this last issue as a bonus.

Until next time, happy rambles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Flora and Fauna of Regency Britain -February

I thought we might start with the naturlists description of February.

...all Nature is wrapped in a robe of dazzling whiteness; and the ‘bitter-biting cold’ showers of sleet, and sudden gusts of wind, drive us to our homes for shelter, against the inclemency of the season. They sudden thaws, also, which take place in February, --the return of frost and snow—and the change again to rain and sleet, contribute to render this month particularly unfavourable to the pedestrian and the lover of out-of-door exercise and amusements.

If you are researching weather in a particular period/month, you might find the this link helpful. What I learned for a variety of February's in this period was that the norm of temperature was about -2C that snow was an occurrence, but heavy snow was always an even worthy of note and that tempteratures fluctuated above and below the norm. I think that frost was much more common that snow. Heavy snow was anything more than a sprinkle.

It must also be remembered that houses were heated with wood or coal burning fires, so your front would be warm and your back cold, that frost would build up on the windowpanes. My husband can remember waking up as a child in the days before central heating with frost on his pillow. There were no down jackets or waterproof boots. You will see something else in the picture of the carter. Wind. England tends to have high winds in Fall and Winter. Gales are often mentioned.

So although it wasn't much colder in England than it is today, it was more difficult to keep warm. Chilblains were a problem for sure. The further north you went, the more snow and of course the colder it became. But nothing like the freezing temperatures here in the North of North America, which of course begs the question about how the pioneers lived. Lots of furs, I suspect.

Okay, so that is the weather, and what about flora and fauna I hear you muttering. Well not much is going on in the natural world, but February is the start of Spring in England. Snowdrops appear, because it really isn't that cold. I had to do a recheck on that because Wiki said something about soldiers in the Crimea, but snowdrops are listed by our Naturlist as something one would find in 1826, so we are safe. whew. I really liked this picture which shows birds and a beloved favorite of childhood the catkin, the flower of the hazel tree, which later produces hazelnuts (like a filbert). Catkins are also known as lambs tails.

The other thing one might see is February, during our time were lambs. Lambing did indeed start in February.

My final entry is
About the beginning of the month, the woodlark, one of our earliest and sweetest songsters, renews his note.

Their habitat was heathland. The male has one of the finest bird songs in Britain, a liquid, flute-like descending song.

Well, I could probably ramble on, but I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse into February, and will join me again as we continue our ramble through Bath, and whatever else takes my fancy over the next little while.

And since my new anthology is out, Satin and Snakeskin in Brides of the West, though not a regency, it is a historical, I am going to offer a free copy to one of my blogreaders. Just in time for Valentine's day. Be daring, leave a comment, and I will draw from a hat.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Regency Bath Part IV - Assembly Rooms

First I want to announce that Brides of the West is now available through Amazon. I have lots of work to do to update the links, but you can find it here. Even more exciting!! One of my co-authors has produced a book trailer, which you can see on the sidebar of this blog. Now how cool is that.

As you know, my Mother passed away on Christmas Eve and she and I visited Bath earlier in December. It has taken me a while to go back to my planned blog on that city. Then I decided that since it was a wonderful Mother/Daughter visit and a very happy memory I would continue with the series.

So I hope you will join me as I continue my tour of Jane Austen's Bath.

After the circus, the next place on our itinerary was the Assembly Rooms on Bennett Street, just east of the circus. Designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769. Known as the Upper Rooms they opened in 1771. I was pleased with this picture, because it shows the columned entrance in beautiful bath stone and to the right the outside of "the rooms" themselves. Hallowed halls. Actual rooms where Jane Austen danced. I took some very nice pictures inside too. the first is of the board which shows the layout. Not great quality, but should give you a sense of the organization.

I took a series of pictures of the octagonal card room, just outside the ballroom, but here I show only one. I asked about the chandeliers in the building and they are all originals, except one that had to be replaced, because it fell. I thought this shot, with the chandelier and the balcony above gave a good impression of this room. In this view you can see two window frames, but they are dark. However on each of the sides there are
windows, which do let in daylight, since they have external exposure. And of course you will notice the fireplaces. Essential, to have several for such a large room.

The Assembly Rooms are still used for functions, even though the building is National Trust. I expect it helps with the upkeep. And I should mention that the people looking after it were incredibly friendly and quite happy for me to take all of these pictures.

This picture of the ballroom I took from the web, because it is a lovely professional picture. The columned end of the room would have served a couple of purposes, first the orchestra would have been located on the balcony. Second, the serving rooms were hidden behind the columns on the main floor. My picture is of a peak through that door. Not that I assume that anything behind it is as original, but the space certainly was.
I also took a picture along the side wall and guess what, more fireplaces and more windows. I thought you might like to see it.

Turning back to look at the door through which we entered I discovered yet another balcony. would a young Prince have stood here watching the company? One can only imagine.

I discover that while I have more to show you, I have run out of room for today's blog and so we will have to ramble through more of the Assembly Rooms next time.
Until then, Happy Rambles.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'm over at Titlewave today. Come visit.

Today I am talking about promoting over at Titlewave, a blog where I share my thoughts with fellow writers from the American Title contest and their friends. Normal programing will resume here on Monday.
Until then Happy Rambles.