Sunday, 28 June 2009

Not just Jane Austen

Above - my roses again. Below, Gilbert White's house.

Steeped in culture in this part of Hampshire, we are. Not only do we live in Jane Austen country, but nearby is Gilbert White's House which I've finally got around to visiting again after a gap of about 25 years. He is credited with being the first naturalist to observe birds and animals rather than shoot or dissect them. He was also fascinated by botany and re-designing the large garden he inherited. The house is large and higgledy-piggledy in architecture as you see from the various roof styles above, and the garden, too, looks wild and overgrown in parts, but that's deliberate as White believed certain plants should be left to themselves. His book The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne is apparently the fourth most published book (well, something like that.)
In the 1950s the house was up for sale and in need of restoration. Not enough money could be raised by the National Trust but fortunately a member of the Oates family needed a space to display family material and bought the property. Nowadays the two mini-museums live side by side in curious harmony, one about an 18C Hampshire naturalist and one about the 1911 Antarctic. I'm talking about the famously brave Captain Oates, member of the doomed Scott expedition, who left the tent to die, saying 'I'm just going outside. I may be some time.'
Reading -
now finished another Kate Atkinson crime novel, One Good Turn - another cracking read. You have to keep your wits about you to remember who was who and what has happened. The characters aren't quite as sympathetic as those in When Will There be Good News, but I really enjoyed it. KA is so clever the way she twists the clich├ęs of detective fiction.


Debs said...

It sounds like a fascinating place to visit. How interesting to have the two museums nearby too.

Jan Jones said...

I really must get round to visiting both these places one of these days!

cheshire wife said...

Much as I like Jane Austen you can not be reading her novels all of the time.The world would be a vey dull place if that was all that was available.