Hello! Please introduce yourself: Kirsty Oliver

Tell us a little more about what you do on the Great West Way:

I work as the Marketing Co-Ordinator for the Jane Austen Centre in the centre of Bath. This means I manage the Jane Austen Centre social media accounts, where I get to share exciting news from Jane Austen and help our business connect with Jane Austen fans all over the world. I also help with the janeausten.co.uk website and run email campaigns so I can provide updates to devoted Jane Austen fans.

What do you love most about your job?

My favourite part of working at the Jane Austen Centre is the Jane Austen Festival. It’s one of Bath’s most exciting periods of the year, when thousands of Regency-lovers flock to the city for the festival. Last year, I loved getting all dressed up in Regency regalia and interviewing many excited costumed guests just before they set off on the annual Grand Regency Costumed Promenade. The atmosphere was electric, and discussing all things Austen with so many people was certainly a memorable way to spend a Saturday morning.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Working at the Jane Austen Centre means every day can be so different. But I would say a standard day starts with a delicious hot chocolate (I’ve never been a tea drinker, sorry Jane!) from our Regency Tea Room. I will then spend some of my day working with the lovely Jane Austen Centre actors to create some exciting social media content for the following weeks.
After this, I will spend some time working on the janeausten.co.uk website. Whether it’s uploading a new Jane Austen-inspired product or updating our blogs, our Austen enthusiasts are always keen for more Jane goodness.

Following this, I will work on our newsletters to keep our subscribers updated with all the goings on at the Jane Austen Centre as well as any exciting Jane Austen news.

I will often end my day by wishing our Jane Austen Centre actors and ushers a lovely rest of their evening before heading out the door.

Do you work with a wider team? If so, tell us a bit about them:

Personally, I work with Linzi (Ecommerce Manager), Thea (Product Developer), Bec (Head Buyer), Hetty (Fulfilment Specialist), and many other talented individuals who work front of house and are kind enough to be willing to take part in content for the Jane Austen Centre’s social media channels.

What do you find inspiring day-to-day? What keeps the enthusiasm going?

My inspiration is often drawn from the enthusiasm of our customers. We have thousands of devoted Jane Austen fans come through our doors every year, and it is such a pleasure to meet them and hear their views on all things Austen. Therefore, I love creating an array of unique content for these Jane Austen enthusiasts to enjoy!

Any interesting or funny anecdotes related to your role or your experiences with visitors that you can share?

I loved documenting the 2023 Grand Regency Costumed Promenade; however, the day was not without its challenges.
I wanted to get as much footage as possible from the day as well as livestream the famous promenade as it began its walk. Therefore, at 11 a.m., I was set up at the corner of Great Pulteney Street to livestream. All went smoothly with the livestream; however, once it was over, I had to pack up all my things, hoick my long Regency-style dress (because of course) to my knees, and run through the streets of Bath, my bonnet flailing in the wind behind me.
I believe it was probably quite a sight to see as I haphazardly rushed through one of Bath’s busiest days of the year, cutting through any side street I could to get to the front of the promenade.

What does slow travel mean to you?

I believe this means to take your time and really indulge in the everyday culture of the area you’re visiting.

What do you think makes the Great West Way special?

I think for travellers from overseas, the Great West Way is an amazing way to get a tour of all things quintessentially British.

Do you have any insider tips or advice for travellers who want to experience the touring route ‘like a local’?

Don’t be afraid to step off the beaten path. The South West is a stunning area, even away from the popular tourist destinations.

What’s your favourite thing to eat or drink along the touring route (can be a meal, a local delicacy or a favourite tipple)? Any cafes, restaurants or pubs you can recommend?

If you’re looking for a casual café for coffee and a pastry, I recommend Daisy & Bean. They only opened in April of 2023, but, as it’s just a few doors up from the Jane Austen Centre, I love to pop in before I head into work. If I’m in early enough, they will even still have my favourite pastry available, an almond pain au chocolate. Trust me, no other pain au chocolat compares to this one.

If you could choose one must-visit attraction along the Great West Way, what would it be and why?

If I’m not able to say the Jane Austen Centre, I would have to say the SS Great Britain in Bristol. The immersive museum details the spectacular history of the former passenger ship. Be sure to keep an eye out for Isambard!

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