Holiday advice from Jane Austen

The summer has long been synonymous with getting away and having a break. Perhaps originating from a combination of supposed sunny weather and school holidays. We’re now well and truly in the midst of the holidays season. The few months where battles commence over booking annual leave, we moan and groan at the increase in travel costs and we suddenly realise that preparation for a summer body perhaps ought to have happened, well, before the summer. 

Of course getting abroad isn’t on everyone’s agenda and ‘staycations’ are seemingly becoming more popular, or perhaps as I’m getting older it simply becomes a more viable option. 

As someone who melts in the sun, wilts in humidity and gets bored out of their wits sunbathing, going away in the UK is something I’ve always been more than happy to do, in fact I would say seeing the amazing and diverse places on offer in my own country is favourable to an all inclusive hotel, that’s merely a clone of hundreds of others. 

Of course holidaying has changed phenomenonly over the last few hundred years, but even all those generations ago, people still had that burning desire and unequivocal need for a good break. 

Someone who knows a thing or two about staycations is Jane Austen. Alive during the Georgian times her existence was unrecognisable in many ways to those of her counterparts today. Women weren’t even considered able to just pop to the shops for some ribbon or lace on their own, let alone plan a girls night away on the lash. It took hours and hours on a rickety horse drawn cart to get anywhere, and where you stayed could make or break your place in society. However, this was also a time when doctors prescribed getting away as a cure for illnesses, and I bet it sometimes worked better than a medicine could. 

Now, bringing you back to 2017, and you might not be about to hop on easyJet with a holdall full of bikinis destined for the sandy beaches of Majorca, so instead let Miss Austen take you on a journey through the literary get aways, trips and adventures of her heroines which you might even still be able to relate to today.

A summer picnic with friends, as seen in Emma

Frank is flirting with Emma. Emma doesn’t like Frank in that way, but is a flirtatious person and simply can’t help herself. Everyone can see the flirting. The quiet ones get even quieter and Emma offends her innocent and kindly guests whilst Mr Knightley gets all haughty and adult-like with his condescending attitude. Proof that quaint country excursions don’t always avoid the drama. Bring plentiful supplies of strawberries and cream to detract from awkward conversation.

Staying with friends far fancier than you are, as seen in Northanger Abbey

Admittedly it’s unlikely your great pal from across the country is living in a vast and gothic abbey, unfortunately, but the rules still apply. 

Don’t go snooping through drawers and chests, the only thing worse than finding something scandalous is not finding anything at all. And being caught at it, too. After this doesn’t succeed don’t then go peeking around the house into rooms you know you shouldn’t be in, because you’ll have a hard job talking yourself out of it if your friend’s bother, AKA, love of your life, catches you red handed. Don’t offend family members, no matter how on-the-money you are, there is nowhere to escape. Make it astoundingly clear you’re naught but a simple pauper, because you don’t want to be kicked out when it comes to light you can’t actually be used to benefit the family fortunes in any way. 

Looking around stately homes whilst on holiday with your relatives, as seen in Pride and Prejudice

Never, ever turn down the chance to get away from your siblings and go on holiday with your relatives. Also, it might be a good idea to start hanging round large houses and castles when you do so, because as you’re wondering around you may just bump into the handsome owner of said establishment and, to cut a long story short and handily omit several dramas, that place could one day be yours. In fact, best take a tape measure and Ikea brochure with you just in case…

Moving to a cottage on the coast, as seen in Sense and Sensibility

It’s hard to believe that being forced to move into a cute and slightly ramshackled cottage in the middle of nowhere by the coast would be a bad thing, but when it’s because you’ve lost your father and your real home has been taken as inheritance from your evil half brother, it’s not so appealing. But little coastal cottages can bring with them drama in such an adundance you realise that actually, you can never escape twisted love triangles and squares and quadrangles no matter where you live, not even Timbuktu probably. Best just get the kettle on, leave the door open and ask the gentleman to please form an orderly queue.

A walk along the seafront of Lyme Regis, as seen in Persuasion

Ah the sea air, nothing could be better than taking a stroll along the sea front with the salty breeze gently blowing out those cobwebs. Unless of course this stroll also involves your former flame, the same one your family made you call off an engagement to several years ago but whom you still love. And not only is he there but he’s basically flirting away with some hot young thing. Well, karma may well work her charms, an accident may happen to silly hot young thing and you can save the day, thus drawing attention back to you. Or equally, something less dramatic and dangerous. 
Staying in the country may not bring with it glorious sunshine, which you need to shelter from underneath a palm tree with a cocktail in hand, as a handsome local waiter takes your order for a seafood lunch, but as Austen proves, plenty can happen a little closer to home no matter what the weather, time of year or who you’re with. Embrace it and always think: what would Austen do?!


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