|Day Ten: Winchester and Home|
|This was surely the saddest day of our trip. After breakfast the first of the departures took place. Despite the promise many made to themselves not to cry, there were tears aplenty at the time of parting (I blame Farah-Naz.). The rest of us boarded the coach bound for Winchester. Several more people left us at the train station to head for the airports and flights home, while the remainder of our merry party went on to Winchester Cathedral, waving a sad goodbye to the pashmina shop en route (and no doubt the owner was sad to see us go too: he'd opened the shop on Sunday especially for our benefit).|
|At noon, a canon of the cathedral kindly met us at Jane Austen's grave inside Winchester Cathedral for a short thanksgiving service. He read two prayers written by Jane Austen, and described to us how her brothers worded the memorial on her grave. Laraine laid a beautiful wreath on the grave, our card bearing Cassandra's moving tribute to her sister: "the gilder of every pleasure, the soother of every sorrow," which was very cleverly suggested by Carolyn. What else could we have written? Surely those words of Cassandra's, about her beloved sister, encompassed all our feelings of gratitude towards this woman and her genius. For how else would we all have met, a thought no doubt prominent in all our minds as we stood beside her grave? Needless to say, many tears were shed.|
Afterward, the coach left more of us off at the coach stop, and the rest went on to the Winchester train station for the last of the tearful good-byes as we all went our separate ways.
How can we express to Julie how grateful we are to her for planning such an incredible experience? Undoubtedly, Jane Austen would have been able to think of something appropriate. We can only say, thank you.