Sunday, 14 November 2010

We Take a (Day in) Bath

Tuesday 28 May 1998. The staircase from the Roman Baths led Fran and I to the rooms above; the famous Pump Room of Georgian times where the likes of Beau Nash would gather to drink the mineral water from the same spring where the Romans had worshipped their goddess Minerva so long ago.

The room was a highly fashionable place to be and to be seen. Today it still retains its genteel character. It is possible to sit and take one's tea to the gentle sounds of chamber music being played live from one end of the room.

A glass of mineral water can be tasted for a modest fee and is served by elegant footmen dressed in the costume of the Georgian period. The water is high in various minerals and quite strong tasting.

I'm afraid I didn't find it to my taste, but reflected that no doubt it was doing me a world of good. One should drink the waters of Bath with a self-righteous air of superiority, as though it is an every day occurrence.

The woman next to me says, in an indignant American accent: "Well! I don't know how they drink this stuff!" With a carefully schooled face, masking my own doubts, I drain my glass and smile... We left soon afterwards as I don't suppose up-chucking all over the place is encouraged. The water is vile. My opinion only of course. But vile...

Ah yes... and mindful of a few comments received recently from friends both here in the UK and across the Atlantic I thought I'd better show you Hands Dairy Cream Tea Rooms where you can order (and we did, we did!) clotted cream teas.

Ah... just the thing! I've no idea why such a wonderfully tasting repast can cause such outpourings of shock and revulsion folks, but then again, if spreading clotted cream on scones was described as "spreading clabber on biscuits" as the Americans have it, then perhaps I'd think twice also. But what excuse Cathy has, Northamptonshire lass as she is, I just don't know... Get it down you, it'll do you good!

Once while I was down in Somerset running a workshop I bought 4 tubs of clotted cream and to keep them fresh, as it was a hot summer's day when I drove back north, I had to keep the aircon on in the car and I was freezing all the way back, but having phoned ahead, Fran got set to making some fresh scones for when I got home!

One of the must-see sights in Bath is this. Pulteney Bridge was completed in 1773 and designed by Robert Adam who was inspired by Ponte Vecchio of Florence and the Rialto Bridge in Venice. Rows of shops line the parapets of the bridge which is an elegant 3-arched bridge over the River Avon.

Sailing under it is a tricky if not dangerous undertaking because of the 3-stepped wier, but that feature gives this view another element of the unusual and pleasing.

Looking across Pulteney Bridge from road level. The shops are small. Perhaps sensibly Adam was not tempted to have them overhang the actual edge of the bridge as is the case in Florence.

I was looking for a reference to our visit to Florence, but it was in 2006 and I have yet to blog about that particular holiday - a joy (whatever!) to come, then!

We had on a previous visit walked up to look at the great Georgian circus of town houses but I've never seen a better view of it than on this bought postcard image taken by a particularly tall photographer.

So that was Bath. The other place we were hoping to visit that day was Bristol. We have the afternoon left to get there. Next time!

Large versions of the photos: all my photographs of this holiday(but not postcards) can be seen in a set at Flickr

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