I made it. I made it back to the beautiful little seaside village of Lyme Regis which has inspired so many writers. Jane Austen. John Fowles. Tracy Chevalier. Joan Thomas. Ian MacEwan. (See my original musings, 5/1/11.)
The Literary Lyme Jane Austen Walking Tour was a highlight of my June tour of the UK. Natalie Manifold escorted us through the narrow tilting streets, to the mailbox, the guest houses, up steps and down, along the beachfront promenade, and on to the Cobb. With her visual aids stitching the past to the present, she set the Austen visits into the context of the Napoleonic era. She outlined the conflicting opinions about where Louisa actually jumped (Persuasion) and what really she was trying to do. Is "pull" an expression which Jane Austen would recognize?
I also enjoyed Natalie's Mary Anning walk coordinated through the Lyme Regis Museum. The town is different when explored through the eyes of its residents, the Anning family. Two hundred years ago, fishermen, commercial sailing fleets, smugglers, quarrymen, carpenters made a living independent of holidayers or tourists. The ancient family church is most impressive, with its Mary Anning stained glass window. As is the Anning family headstone outside, with the tumble of ammonites laid at its foot in homage to Mary whose fossil "finds" so attracted the scientists of the era.
I regret that my schedule did not permit me to attend the French Lieutenant's Woman tour with the walk along the undercliff. This evocative shot of Natalie "gazing" will have to suffice.
And the image of the Cobb which on this sunny day appears to beckon, to promise shelter, safe harbour, where land, sea, and sky connect.