Τετάρτη, 8 Δεκεμβρίου 2010

Visiting Brontes' Haworth

Two weeks ago a dream of mine came unexpectedly true. Not that it requires superhuman power to get to Haworth from Greece, but after several times that I had postponed the trip, I found myself arranging with my boyfriend (within only a week) to travel there before continuing our trip to London. We slept two nights in the village (unfortunately the most part of the first day was spent getting there from the airport), but I was thankful enough to get there anyway and with mild weather too.

The next morning we visited the "Bronte Waterfalls" and had all the good intention of keep walking to "Top Withins" but as I was worried lest I miss the chance to see "The Parsonage Museum" in good light, we decided to go back. Anyway we had walked enough and we could see the building from afar and with me being mostly a devoted "Jane Eyre" person, than a "Wuthering Heights" one, it didn't matter much (not that I don't like your book Emily, but I have a most tender regard for your sister Charlotte). What I frankly didn't expect was how much I enjoyed that walk. Without knowing it I chose to come to the moors a time of the year that more colors than green or yellow or brown were present. There were many reddish weeds and during the previous days it had rained enough for the waterfalls to have plenty of water. Anyway I have many photos of the moors but I put only those where we or our faces do not show and those are not plenty. Unfortunately, I hadn't planned this blog or text then to know better.

On our way back we tried to get the attention of the English sheep, but they were either too dignified to bother with us or too tired after playing paintball (as their backs showed) to even bleat, no matter how much bleating we did to encourage them. Clearly the Greek sheep are a lot more noisy and lively and they surely don't look alike (they are either all white or brown and not white with black faces and feet).

Coming back to Haworth we visited the church photographing every single plaque devoted to the family (I have many friends that are fans of the Brontes and I had to please them as well) and we also offered some little money for the restoration of its roof. We wandered in the graveyard searching their servants' graves and playing "find Tabby's grave" (for those that haven't found it, it's because the first name on the stone is George and then follows Tabitha Ackroyd). My boyfriend found it first and also took a great shot of a huge black cat that looked quite eerie and spooky and perhaps a little annoyed (and now you may think that we did our best to annoy every animal in Haworth but this time we did nothing at all, I swear).

 We passed the Sunday school where Charlotte taught and got inside their house, The Bronte Parsonage Museum. No photos were allowed there and I became anxious lest I forget to take a mental note of everything in there. I stayed long enough in every room and to tell you the truth I expected it to look smaller on the inside (it was by no means huge but after the alterations that Charlotte did most rooms would have been spacious enough, especially after the death of her siblings). For those interested to see 360o pictures of the inside, here is a useful link. The floor was covered in stone and I really think it would be cold during the winter so auntie Branwell was not so very eccentric after all for wearing clogs. A great surprise was that there were three exhibitions going on: Sue Blackwell's "Remnants" (which was great, especially the paper soldiers and cannons in the children's room and the sheet of words flying of Emily's book in the kitchen) and another one devoted to Branwell named if I remember correctly "Sex, drugs and literature" and a third one made of glass that showed some little tiles with various drawings of Bronte dresses in them. In the second aforementioned exhibition there was a paper of Branwell's were he had sketched a couple embracing and three men sitting down: the first two smoking and the third possibly masturbating (way to go Branwell, Lol!). In Charlotte's room I saw her wedding bonnet and the dress she wore before leaving for her honeymoon. It was very puffy in the sleeves and skirt and did actually not made me feel how very tiny she was as everyone that knew her said. I imagine she would look way tinier in today's clothes. Her shoes were very slim though. I enjoyed also the fact that there were some clothes of the era available to dress with (probably for younger ages, but I chose to get in contact with the child in me and tried to balance a tiny bonnet on my head anyway). My boyfriend had better luck with a top.

The only thing that disappointed me was that a certain exhibit that I wanted to see, namely the collection of locks of hair of the family, was not available at the moment. Thankfully there was a lock of hair of Charlotte's but I could not compare it with her sisters and with those lights on, it seemed so fair, I could have sworn she was either blonder than I imagined or that it belonged to Anne. A parenthesis: has any one else thought that with so much hair we could make clones of the Bronte family to see how they were really like or I am the only one with a morbid imagination? No need to answer that, it was rather rhetorical.

Leaving by the gift shop I bought three books and a post card and did not lose the chance to take a photo of the sprig that was Emily's favorite flower. The streets in Haworth were lit for Christmas and we took a shot of the drugstore and the pub that Branwell helped to keep by depositing his and his family money for some years. The next day we had to leave for London and I did a very stupid thing omitting to take a picture of what must have been Charlotte's lane where she met with her husband to be, Arthur Bell Nicholls. If only I had one more day to visit Top Withins, I would be perfectly satisfied. In fact it was weird that I came longing to see their house mostly, but in a way felt more near them in the moors. I can't explain why that is. Maybe because nature remains in its greater part unchanged as they knew it, while a museum, even if it is hosted in their own house, feels relatively cold and reminds you more vividly the fact that they are dead.

On the train to London, I informed my boyfriend that there is a written competition for a Bronte-related short story, essay or poem and I was wondering whether I should try my hand on the first. He announced to me that in that case he offered to write a poem about the woes of being in love with a Bronte fan and the things one needs to tolerate. Lol! It is not that he doesn't appreciate literature, but he came to Haworth mostly to indulge my wish and because he likes countryside and good food. I am grateful to him anyway but I wonder how the committee that judges those entries would react if he really did what he threatens. Would they find it amusing or disrespectful to the Bronte heritage?

P.S: I forgot to mention that in London I saw Charlotte's original portrait by Richmont and Emily's by Branwell, as well as his famous portrait of the three sisters (all of which are located in the National Portrait Gallery) and of course Jane Eyre's original manuscript (in the British Library - it was open in the "Reader I married him" chapter) so my Bronte tour was nearly complete :)