Lemon Meringues and Literature

I’d like to think of myself as a business major in the body of an English nerd. I’m always reading a book—and more often than not, I’m reading more than one book. I’m completely obsessed with comparing movie adaptations to their novel counterparts. I’m a stickler for grammar. I even work at the Undergraduate Writing Center at UT where business majors are a rare find. Because of all this, I would be lying if I didn’t say that my choice to come to Bath—and England at large—had somewhat to do with the fact that it is basically a literati paradise. Mary Shelley, writer of Frankenstein, arrived in Bath the same month she finished her so famous novel. Charles Dickens was a regular visitor of Bath and it is featured in some of his books—most notably The Pickwick Papers. And most famously, Jane Austen lived in Bath for a period. Bath serves as a setting for two of Austen’s novels: Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

With all of this in mind, I set out on a literary excursion, hunting for bookshops, seeing sights, visiting exhibitions, and, of course, desserting. (I will be treating that as a real word for the purposes of this blog.)

Here are some of the literary activities I’ve taken part in the past couple weeks:

  1. Visited the Jane Austen Centre, a permanent exhibition dedicated to Jane focusing primarily on her time in Bath and Northanger Abbey and Persuasion where I got to write with a quill pen and take funny pictures. As a side note, instead of saying Men and Women, the restroom doors said Mr. Darcy and Lizzie Bennet. I loved it so much I took a picture of it.
  2. Travelled with friends to Oxford, where we visited locations used in various Harry Potter movies including the cloisters where Malfoy gets turned into a ferret in Goblet of Fire, the stairway where the first years walk up to be greeted by Professor McGonagall in the Sorcerer’s Stone and where Harry first meets Tom Riddle in Chamber of Secrets, and finally the Great Hall—not the actual Great Hall because that’s on the studio set, but the hall that inspired it. We also visited many shops with Harry Potter memorabilia along the way.
  3. Explored Bath’s city centre looking for any bookshops I could find, eating a lemon meringue tart along the way. Let’s just say I ate the tart too quickly for it to make it to all the shops I found.
  4. Visited the pub in Oxford called The Eagle and Child that was the meeting place of the Inklings, an Oxford writers’ group which included C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Hugo Dyson.
  5. Read seven novels. Yes, seven. So far anyway.

Other than the adventures of a book nerd I’ve been on, I had the pleasure of having my mom come to visit. We spent a weekend in London and a few days exploring Bath. It was great to have a bit of home with me while I’m abroad. I also finally got myself to the Roman Baths after a month and a half of being here! I took a trip to Woolacombe with the University of Bath surfing club where I, you guessed it, surfed. The water was a bit colder here than it is back in Texas, which I’m sure is a huge surprise, right? But hey, how’s that for an experience! Oh, and there’s also university life, but that’s a different story for a different time!

And finally, for this post’s edition of “Funny Things People Have Said to Me/Asked Me Because I’m From America.”

Teacher: *to the class* What do they call jam in America?
Student: Jelly!
Me: Umm well we have jam too…

Teacher: *to the class about 4th of July* They have a whole day in America dedicated to the fact that they broke free from us!

Student: Obama made himself a marketing campaign when he was running for president and everyone loves him in America.
Me: I’ll let all the Republicans know you said that.

Teacher: What’s that thing you lot do before an American football game where you barbecue and drink beer?
Me: Tailgating.
Teacher: *to class* They literally barbecue out of the back of their cars!

A few classes later…

Teacher: *to me* And what is the game called where all the alumni come back?
Me: Homecoming? (When in my head I’m thinking, well that’s every game at UT)
Teacher: Is that the one where you barbecue out of your cars?
Me: Oh no that’s every game.