I blame Jane Austen

It’s been half term this week, so I’ve taken the opportunity to remove myself from Zoom and relate to people in three dimensions. The excitement of getting in my car and driving to B&Q and then Marks and Spencer was palpable. Yes, M&S is open people! You can purchase clothes, underwear, household items and so much more in real life and be served by real people who speak to you in real time.

M&S is an anathema to me. The underwear is pseudo sexy and also pseudo comfy, neither one thing nor another!

As if this level of giddiness wasn’t enough, I also discovered the delights of Bridgerton. As a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that I’m a bit of a literary snob. Quite frankly, if it’s not a historically accurate BBC period drama then I’m not interested. I am a geek when it comes to period dramas, having fallen deeply in love with Mr Rochester (played by Timothy Dalton) at primary school when we were shown the BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre.

Quite an impressive weapon

Mr. Rochester...mmmm... my first literary crush was Lawrie from Little Women, which I read for the first time at the tender age of 8, I wanted to be friends with all of them...hindsight does indicate that they would have irritated the living shit out of me, no doubt...

Oh and on Bridgerton - what was with her fringe?

I spent my teenage years devouring the entire works of the Bronte sisters and then worked my way through Austen’s novels. This left me with an over idealised view of dashing men on horseback with swishy shirts and a sense of gallantry. Needles to say, my experience in real life was very different.

I on the other hand devoured Georgette Heyer. I blame her entirely for my unrealistic expectations of the males I have met. I should also point out I hate Jane Austin with a passion. Have you read Emma? At one exciting point this nasty waspish snobby bat breaks her boot lace, this is the entirety of the plot. yawn....

Pip and I have had many disagreements about Jane Austen. I decided she has no taste.

As I watched the Duke of Hastings take his shirt off for the umpteenth time, I wondered when it was I last heard a man say ‘I burn for you’. No matter how hard I wracked my brain, I couldn’t remember. I do recall a very romantic occasion where the man in my life at the time gently washed my hair for me whilst we both languished in the bath surrounded by candles. I was younger then and had drifted off into a reverie of Mr Rochester, Mr Darcy and Harrison Ford as Hans Solo (an odd combo, but its my fantasy so I get to choose), the said man in my life was saying lovely things to me and like a Georgian heroine, I was lapping it up with glee.

Beautiful Daughter and I have had some very non mother daughter discussions of the Duke of Hastings bum...

Sadly, this man was one of those commitment phobes that Pip has had so much trouble with of late and that evening he trotted off to a nightclub with his friends and said I wasn’t allowed to go with him. I think that was when I finally realised that the heady combination of dashing good looks, romantic picnics, bathing experiences etc and a man who is reliable and trustworthy was never going to happen.

I live in hope.

I felt quite cheated by Bronte et al and thereafter resigned myself to a lifetime of spinsterhood and mad dog lady status. I even went out to purchase a dog to complete the picture, much to the delight of my children who were only six and nine at the time. In fact, I would go as far to say as I became rather cynical at that point in time and decided all men were bastards etc.

I am still in this fact my support bubble aka SPB and Lady W are visiting this weekend along with their small personality filled dog (a Jack Russell, who truly believes with every fibre of his being that he is a sabre toothed tiger). Unfortunately for me and my future as mad dog lady, Dude has taken to Riley, which means that I can legitimately acquire a poopy girlfriend for Dude! Someone needs to talk me down....

Whilst Ever Patient Husband is not the Duke of Hastings, he is reliable, trustworthy and makes me laugh. It’s Valentine‘s Day tomorrow, which will mean some lovely flowers and card with mushy sentiments and some nice food will be produced by EPH. I have bought him some wine paraphernalia and I’ll remember there is much more to long term happiness than ‘burning’ for each other, no matter how appealing that might be with dangerous and dashing men who can do the romantic bit, but cannot do the commitment bit.

I have experienced that ‘burning’ thing once or perhaps twice in my life, the first one being when I snogged Steve Coogan (yes, THE Steve Coogan) at a party when I was a teenager and still thought Mr Rochester was real.

Ummm.....I kind of like the burning bit?

Our walks have become something we do together whilst I’m waiting to be able to travel to see Pip and he waits to be able to play golf. He is permitted to play golf in Scotland, but the golf courses are currently sitting under a foot of snow.

Ever Patient Husband and I walked through Edinburgh’s New Town last Sunday on one of our epic walks. We had started at The Water of Leith Visitor Centre and wandered along the Water of Leith Walkway, very helpfully signposted so no maps were needed, until we reached Dean Village.

One of Anthony Gormley’s statue’s in the Water of Leith, just behind the Gallery of Modern Art. It’s about the only culture you’re going to see in this blog so make the most of it.

Old stuff

This is a beautiful place where there were seven flour mills and various bake houses, that kept the ancient city of Edinburgh fed with fresh bread. It also leads spectacularly to St Bernards Well, a Georgian Watering hole and the stunning Stockbridge homes of the wealthy folk of Edinburgh. I count myself extremely lucky to live in such a gorgeous place, Edinburgh boasts of two World Heritage Sites ; The New Town and The Old Town, which whilst not very originally named, are full of history and ghosts.

Dean Village

St Bernard’s Well

As we passed the tall, Georgian buildings of Circus Place, I imagined the Duke of Hastings emerging from one of the imposing doorways, stepping from the raised pavement into his monogrammed carriage, ready to whisk him off to a ball at The Assembly Rooms on George St - yes, even our streets are straight out of an Austen novel. In Charlotte Square, there are even high stones set into the pavement which were for people to mount their horses or enter their carriages from.

How we have old pit heads and strange contraptions that hauled steam trains up unfeasibly steep hills..

I drank my suitably artisan coffee from the Stockbridge bakery and stuffed the dark chocolate caramel brownie into my mouth (I had walked eight miles by that point and was blood ravenous) (NB Bec its bloody ravenous, you aren't a frigging vampire - Pip, the ‘y’ went missing somewhere along the line, I was about to add it back in, but then your vampire joke would have been wasted), and realised that had I been born in Georgian times, I would not have attended such balls as I’d have been a peasant or at most a servant of some kind.

I certainly wouldn't have been a peasant, or a servant - not with my boobs. I imagine my career would have been somewhat short and I would have expired of some vile seepy disorder.

The likes of the Duke of Hastings wouldn’t have given me a second glance, I literally would not have been allowed to wipe his boots. My only hope would have been that some kind of artistic skill would have got me into the realms of a trade. No, life for the ordinary people of Georgian times would have been fairly rotten, women in particular were in constant fear of being ‘ruined’ and finding themselves on the streets or the numerous brothels that existed in the Georgian era.

I suspect that it wouldn't have been his boots that I would have been expected to wipe....There was gin though, and it was really cheap so you could be a properly 'ruined' woman...

Our epic walk ended at home and back to reality. We’d literally walked through history, something not many people experience in their home city. Would we have done this without being in lockdown? No, we would have been in John Lewis browsing, arguing about soft furnishings and eating scones.

All at the same time? Yes - we specifically reserve our soft furnishing arguments when there are scones prevent.

As the week drew to a close, my addiction to Bridgerton got worse and by Friday afternoon I found myself locked away in the living room with my knitting, a cup of tea and a dire warning to Youngest Daughter who spent the half term week building an igloo with her friends, that no one was allowed in because there were ‘rude bits’.

You aren't painting a terribly sexy picture for us there Bec? I could describe heaving bosoms and sweaty biceps, but I felt ‘rude bits’ left more to the reader’s imagination.

Friday at five pm and EPH came home grumpy as hell, just as the Duke and his Duchess consummated their union, I had had to stop knitting whilst I watched and wondered whether we’d be treated to full frontal nudity - sadly not, but made do instead with the Duke’s pert bottom. I was greeted with a grunt, a moan about going out to the walk dog and a series of long, deep impatient sighs that left me wondering whether the commitment and reliable thing was in fact overrated.

I think everyone has my take on this by now.

A short, terse walk together with the dog during which we argued about the up and coming garden project and me walking off before I totally lost my shit, made me realise that you can keep the Duke and his flouncy shirts, romantic hair washing and candles, I’ll stick with the man who loves me when I’m ill, hungry, tired, grumpy, sarcastic, happy and overly optimistic about everything.

Someone said to me this week that I was a stubborn overly independent irritating nightmare and that they wouldn't change that..however they are not necessarily to be trusted.

If the Duke calls though.....

Give him my number - I am after all single?

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