WEDNESDAY, JULY 31
Our final day was one delight after another. We arrived at Lacock in the rain and promptly descended upon the National Trust shop and bought all their umbrellas. This historic and charming village is overseen by the National Trust and was the filming location for Meryton in P&P2 and Highbury in Emma3.
MicheleS: The last day - is there enough gushing in the world to do it justice? Walking the streets of Meryton...trotting up the road a bit to visit Harry Potter's classrooms....
While there, The South Bank Show, a British Arts Programme, which was doing a documentary about Andrew Davies, interviewed a number of us. Our ladies (Myretta, Laraine, Ann2, Kate, and Constanza) acquitted themselves admirably and we look forward to seeing the finished product when the show is aired in November on ITV.
Lunch was eaten at The Red Lion on High Street, whose exterior was the site of the Meryton Assembly in P&P2. The food was excellent and the ambience very comfortable.
From thence, we proceeded to Luckington Court, home of the Bennets in P&P2. Upon hearing of our destination, our coach driver protested "Luckington? But there's nothing there!" Julie said, "Just wait."
JulieW: Our very wonderful driver asking me why we wanted to go to Luckington as "there is nothing there.."
Being allowed inside the house!!!! Inside!! Yes, really!!!
As we rounded the corner a cry went up "Oh! There's the church!" in the gushing voice that characterized what JenK labeled the "RoP Regency Tour-ettes Syndrome" and our driver let out the most amazing combination snort/guffaw. He must have thought we were mad, but decided we were mostly harmless.
Kathleen: I enjoyed watching Cheryl play Anne Elliot to everybody's Mary Musgrove ("I'll move over so that you can have the dry place on the bench"!)
We were a Gaggle of Giddies as we scampered about the grounds of Luckington Court, taking pictures in the rain of prettyish bits of wilderness, letter-reading trees, marguerites, individual and group shots in front of the entrance, a group photo on the lawn and visited with a Jack Russell Terrier named Elizabeth Bennet.
Happy and wet, we were halfway back to the coach when word came that we had been invited into the house! This never happens, and we were fully cognizant of the great treat we had been granted. We looked about the dining room (which still had the same wallpaper from P&P2), the sitting room and Mr. Bennet's study. We were fairly delirious when we finally boarded the coach.
Major Ablutions were needed to make ourselves fit to be seen at the Upper Assembly Rooms that evening. Fortunately, we were up to it and were turned out most respectably.
We received a private tour of the Assembly Rooms, thrilled to be in the rooms in which Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland danced, where Anne Elliot met Captain Wentworth, and where Jane Austen herself spent many evenings.
JulieW:The tour of the Museum of Costume with the wonderfully eccentric guide.
Our guide then took us to the basement of the building which houses the wonderful Costume Museum with clothing examples from Elizabethan times to our own. There was a special exhibit for Queen Elizabeth's Jubilee Celebration of many of her dresses with, regrettably, too many unfortunate choices from the 1970's
Then, upstairs for the Civic Reception where we were welcomed by The Freakin' Lord Mayor of Bath ("Call me Del") and in turn welcomed Andrew Davies, screenwriter of P&P2, Emma3, and many, many other favorites. During this reception, many of us discovered the delight of Pimms for the first time. We decided that if TimTams are the official chocolate of Pemberley Annual Meetings, that Pimms must be made the official alcoholic beverage.
Kathleen: From the tour of the Costume Exhibit, to the Lord Mayor ("Just Call Me Del"), to dinner in the Tea Rooms, and then Andrew Davies - I cannot imagine a nicer way to finish the "I Blame Jane" 2002 Tour.
Dinner inside the gorgeous Tea Room was delicious. We were serenaded during dinner by the harpist Amanda-Jane Whiting who played for the premiere of Sensibility and Sensibility in London. Her presence was a gift from Julie and greatly appreciated, and added much when we sang Happy Birthday to Candace.
MicheleS: ...and finally the Costume Museum, Pimms, and dinner with Andrew Davies. Who has days like that?
Andrew Davies was very charming and slightly naughty as he spoke to us and answered questions and signed many, many autographs. Fortunately, while most of us were tickled and enthralled, Mary-L was busy taking notes. And so, we have her account of Andrew Davies' address.
We presented him with a tote bag, which held a set of coffee mugs adorned with Pemberley FUPs from his P&P2 script.
Myretta: We did our best to thank Julie, but it is really not possible to thank her enough for entertaining 46 of her closest friends in such high style
We also thanked Julie W (who, we are convinced, knows everyone in England) for her tireless efforts to make this the incredibly special trip it was. None of this would have happened without her. We presented her with the gift of a British Airways gift certificate with which she can travel to our Annual Meeting in Craigville, Cape Cod next year. So you see, though it was given to Julie, it is really a gift to ourselves.
As happens every year, we are loath to go to bed on our last night. So Constanza brought out the last of the chocolate she had been hording and we took over the hotel Lounge, rearranging the furniture and talking late into the night. Eventually we did have to go to bed, for there were trains and coaches to catch in the morning
Miri: I had the time of my life. I am seriously planning to come to the meeting next year, and that keeps me going and happy.
Linda: The warmth and generosity and caring of all Pemberleans assembled. The help and friendliness of so many of the English people.
Cheryl ran The Pemberley Shuttle, making seven trips to the Bath Rail Station; others shared taxis into town, while yet more rented cars to sally forth into further England Adventures. It is always hard to say goodbye and so many wonderful experiences merely served to strengthen the bonds already in place when we arrived the previous week. We will always remember this time together, the joy and laughter, the tears and love.