First House Party with the Pineapples
February 1st held the beginning of another adventure for me; yet again I was off to England for an Austen adventure. This adventure took me to Buckinghamshire, to Woodside House not far from High Wycombe.
The hostess of the house was none other than my dear friend, and regency cousin Miss Sophie Andrews, also known from the blog, “Laughing with Lizzie.” As her co-hostess was Miss Emma Theobald, also a dear friend from my time in Bath.
My arrival to High Wycombe also came with making a new friend in Miss Charlotte, later on referred to as ‘Marianne’ and soon after I was reunited with my dearest friend and regency sister Christin! And I was also reunited with Sophie, Mark, who is Emma’s fiancée and our mutual friend Ciaran.
The house was everything that was charming, with marble statues and rooms to spare for us and our friends who was to join us for our week long regency house party. The first evening went with unpacking, laughing and catching up on what had happened since we had last seen each other in September.
The second day saw the arrival of our photographer, Alejandra, or Alex as we all call her. She took a million pictures of us, the house and the surroundings, and nearly before the day began we all laughed with each other over one thing or another. During the afternoon, after a pleasant walk, discovery of the church, we all, that is Ciaran, Charlotte, Christin and Emma playing cards, Sophie is practicing her piano playing, while I sat writing in my diary, the perfect domestic regency household. The day also saw the arrival of Alinka, from now on referred to as ‘Kitty’. Ciaran and Mark also impressed us ladies with their sword play on the lawn, early that afternoon.¨
The third day saw us visiting a national trust property nearby, we had at this point been joined by Louise, referred to as ‘Lydia’, Samantha and Aunt Joana. The house had such a wealth of history, as it was one of the premier ministers of England’s home during the Victorian age apparently. The library was BRILLIANT! I so wanted it! Well we did arrive back to the house, where Alex had started interviewing us, Christin and I was during ours when Laura arrived. Well that evening was the murder mystery; nobody was killed in the end except Mr. Thorpe.
The fourth day was bake off, and arrival of Lucy and Amy. We heard music, laughed, took walks, and laughed some more. A true Regency Soirée that evening, with a delicious if very late dinner from Chef Ciaran. When we passed midnight, we all took to our feet with dancing to wild 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s themed music, like ‘Thriller’, ‘Grease Lighting’ etc. Christin and I had also gotten the idea to take character shots, so Sophie as Lizzie Bennet, Emma as Emma, Ciaran as George Knightley, Lucy as Lucy Steele, Alinka and Louise as Kitty and Lydia, Mark as Mr. Bennet, Charlotte as Marianne Dashwood, Aunt Joana as Lady Croft, Amy as Catherine Moorland, Christin as Elinor Dashwood, I was voted on as Anne Eliot, the rest was decided on later. We had a blast to tell the truth, and didn’t fall into our beds until 2-2.30 am.
The fifth day or Christmas day, as we all had themed it, saw the arrival of Mira to our crazy guest list, a shopping trip to Marlow, where the girls went mad inside a vintage shop, while Christin and I bought out the book shop. While on a walk with Christin, Mira, Charlotte and Aunt Joana, who by the way is the worst chaperone ever, we girls got a chance to play out some of our characters conversations, which left us laughing, and as it had rained during the night, we came back to the house, wet but in high spirits.
That evening we had catering in the house, which left us plenty of time to get ready for our Christmas Eve. This evening, we were joined by Captain Richard and his lovely wife Kate from Yorkshire, and they made a joyous couple to our already crazy house party. The food was splendid, so were the wine, and the gifts as well. Everybody had bought a gift, to be given to someone in the house – I gave Christin a hair band, which was matching to one of my own – you can’t keep sisters down. I personally received a beautiful Tea mug from Mira with famous novelists on it. Again Sophie and Emma surprised us all, by saying that ‘Santa’ had given everybody a gift, and I thereby received a wristwatch with pineapples on it, which I treasure. We played loads of games, which is a traditional in the Andrews household, which was very good fun! After midnight, we played a few more games, and to end the evening, Ciaran and I practiced the scandalous waltz!
The sixth day dawned, again the weather was fair and it was the day of the Highbury ball! The last of our guests had arrived, including Hazel and Keith, referred to as Aunt and Uncle Gardiner, our dancing master Andrew Rawe and again we were joined by Kate and Richard. We had our dancing practice during the morning, and used the afternoon to re-group and get ready for the ball. The ball had barely begun before some of us, cough *Ciaran, Mira and I* cough were flaunting propriety and dancing a waltz! We had a ball, yet again, and danced, laughed and talked. During dinner, Sophie read from Austen’s “Emma”, very fitting in my opinion as we were having our own Highbury ball. Then we had to make our pledge to the group, it went something like this; “I hereby pledge my loyalty to the pineapple, Jane Austen and the prince regent” – and just to make it even more hilarious, we had a pineapple on a pedestal to actually swear our loyalty to. When I made my pledge, I couldn’t help but amend it a little bit, as I am Danish, “I hereby pledge my loyalty to the pineapple, Jane Austen, the Prince Regent and the Queen of Denmark.” – But the thing which was even funnier was the way that Captain Richard made his pledge, as he kneeled!! Too bad nobody got it on video! We ended the ball with Sir Rodger De Coverley which is also mentioned in Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” in the part of Christmas Past.
On the seventh day, which is Gothic day, the weather matched with being grey, gloomy and rainy – almost matched my own mood, as my holiday soon was ending. The morning started with a dance practice, before we had to say goodbye to both Ciaran and Andrew. Let’s just say that Andrew is a task master, but he does it very well! My own favorite dance is Mr. Beverigdge’s Maggot.
As the weather was so horrible, we were restricted to the house, I started to feel quite caged and that normally doesn’t sit well with me, but as we played Northanger Abbey as in a play my own mood began to be sunny again due to laughter and how ridiculous everybody seemed, including myself. Well our play went overtime, and we ended up having to rush into our Gothic evening dresses, buffet dinner followed with yet a lot of laughter spread over the table as we toasted Emma & Sophie for an amazing week, and Emma’s birthday. Then we heard a reading from Northanger Abbey, and then Marianne read from Mysteries of Udolpho while the rest of us were sipping Melon liquor. The rest of the evening was spent playing murder mystery cluedo, and werewolf. We ended up talking, playing and laughing until around 3 o’clock, where most of us went to bed as we had an early start the next day, much to everybody’s dismay.
February 8th, Everybody woke after about 5 or 6 hours of sleep at 8 o’clock, it was extremely weird being back in 21st century clothes as we had been in regency the whole week, and I have to admit we got a lot of weird looks in Marlow the other day, but gosh we had a blast, every day was a ball and a party which was never-ending. After clean up, the last packing and breakfast, Aunt Joana and Marianne drove, Christin, Lucy and I to the station as we were traveling together to London. Lucy left Christin and I at Kings Cross, where we spent the time on talking and having our picture taken at Platform 93/4. Finally, Christin and I had to say goodbye which was horrible to be honest, as I will miss her dreadfully! I hereby end my story here, as I just hit Heathrow Airport.