Last weekend was the first May bank holiday of the year. I had grand plans involving a local village fair and a cider tent and then my body decided to punish me and I ended up on antibiotics (which I am still taking now which means I will have to be the bloody driver at one of my best friend’s birthday/engagement party tomorrow, but ‘nothing is more important that being healthy’ and I scowl as I type that). So I came home in a crying sulk instead and to cheer me up Mum and I made plans to visit Dorchester and have a Thomas Hardy style day.
Our first stop – after a long walk from the car park – was Max Gate, the house Hardy designed for himself and where he wrote Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure…and died. A lot of the furniture in the property is replica, however this was pure genius in my mind as it meant there were no ‘do not sit here’ signs and I have a slight obsession with chairs. This helped to create a really relaxed and chilled atmosphere in the house; you could make a cup of tea in the kitchen and go and sit in the garden, the conservatory or in front of the open fire and read one of the many copies of Hardy’s novels or collections of poems dotted about the place. The staff were really helpful and knew their stuff about Hardy and it was just a pleasant and laid back environment and I loved that.
On the way there I promised I would only buy one book and I had my eye on Jude the Obscure as it is on my Classics Club list. I had every intention of sticking to this rule, especially having just moved a tonne of books, but they were only £3 each so I picked up Under the Greenwood Tree too.
The main reason we went to Dorchester was to go to the cinema, especially as Dorchester cinema is much cheaper than the other local one and our film of choice was Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. Do you see where this Hardy theme is going? I read the novel a few years ago and had a vague recollection of what happened but it was lovely to return to the world of Hardy and the beautiful West Country scenery. The setting throughout the film was gorgeous and it was fun to spot places I knew well.
The narrative follows the life of Bathsheba Everdeen who comes into an inheritance of a farm and decides to run her own business and become an independent woman. Of course there is a love story element, with three potential suitors: one who is the strong and silent type; one who is an untrustworthy soldier and one who is just a bit too serious to be honest. But Bathsheba is adamant that she doesn’t want to get married and that she doesn’t need a husband to succeed in life. It is a lovely film and one I would definitely watch again. In fact, I feel the need to reread the novel now. You can see the trailer here.