Travelogue: Day 11 - Birthday at Highclere and Jane Austen's House!

Happy Birthday to Me! 
Wednesday, July 27

My birthday! After breakfast, we checked out promptly at 10 am. We had originally booked our tickets for 1 pm entry into the Castle thinking we could hike Beacon Hill and Watership Down and the grounds around Highclere before our entry. Since we had already done Beacon Hill and Watership Down, we asked the nice older gentleman at the ticket booth if we could change our time, and he said, "Sure!" So we walked in 20 minutes before its official opening. The people at each room of Highclere were so willing to answer any question, and there were stills of different scenes that had been shot in that particular room. It was like a dream to walk through these rooms that I have watched since 2011. (When I planned our "dream trip" in 2012, this was one of the destinations!) I loved the rich wood in the library. 

The Egyptian exhibit was also very interesting. After this, we wandered through the grounds and gardens. I especially loved the wildflower field that was in full bloom. I loved every minute of this. I am posting our approach because I totally geek out:

We tried to do the Highclere Walks, and the nice ticket man even gave us his only copy of the maps that I forgot to bring from home, but we could not find the trail. So we decided to leave, and the road they brought us out on went to our hike destination, and it was REALLY far away! So, we were glad we did not find the trail, and we got to see the Temple of Diana anyway.

Since we had extra time before we were to check in to St. Mary' Hall in Alton, we went to the Jane Austen Museum today rather than tomorrow. 

What a way to top off what was already a perfect birthday! 

The House was enchanting, and how great to see her writing desk! I went back into her room several times when it cleared of visitors. So cool! I bought a nice tea towel and chocolate. 

We arrived at the converted church to B&B, St. Mary's Hall (, by check in and were warmly greeted with tea by Jack and Joan. After settling in, we walked did the "Jane Austen Alton Trail" and found the place where Jane would catch the coaches to London:

Geek out! Walking where Jane had once walked was a total thrill. We ate dinner at Monty's downtown, and then George "force fed me semolina":

We settled into the cozy king size bed of "The Knight" room and watched BBC News (this place had the best TV selection of all the places we stayed)! 

PERFECT BIRTHDAY!!!! (IT ties for "best birthday ever with our time at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. four years ago!) 
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