Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Day 4: Monk's House and Charleston

Today was the first day we were out of the city. We rose early again and took the train with the intention of going to Lewes. We didn't know that we had to change trains so we ended up in Brighton and had to back track a little, but it worked out in the end. Being out in Rodmell and Firle was so refreshing. Being able to see the sun and breathe the fresh air made everyone feel better. Our first stop was Monks House where Leonard and Virginia lived out the later parts of their lives. The house had a traditional rustic feel, but there were bits of Virginia's personality stuck in. There were books by Thomas Carlyle and Clive Bell on the shelves and Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell paintings on the walls. The gardens were gorgeous and we couldn't stop taking pictures of the flowers and statues. I can see how Virginia would have been inspired there and been able to relax. On a slightly more morbid note, we eventually found our way to the river Ouse and saw where Virginia drowned herself. The mood was lightened a bit when we got to talk to some men who were fixing the erosion problems by the river. They suggested some places to eat and we joked about Virginia Woolf. Lunch was at the Abervagenny Arms which was whereLeonard ate when he lived at Monks House. The fish and chips were amazing and just what we needed to help us get through the rest of the day. We also visited Charleston which was where Vanessa, Clive, Duncan, and their children lived. Every surface had been painted in some fashion giving the house a quirky yet beautiful look. The rooms were full of books and I was really upset that we couldn't take pictures of the inside. The last room we saw was the studio where everyone let out a collective gasp when we entered. Once again there was art everywhere and the smell of clay was still in the air. The paintings that were there were beautiful and the space was full of light and inspiration. Unfortunately we had to catch the the train so we did not get to spend a lot of time in the gardens, but they definitely rivaled those of Monks House. We all agreed that if we lived in England we would have a country home like one of these where we could escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

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