Wednesday, 28 November 2012


My main reason for visiting Bath was to go somewhere outside London that wasn't too far away or too hard to get to.  And while I had visited Bath once before, my memories of that trip are so faded that I can't even remember if I visited the Roman baths.  This time I did and they really are the best Roman ruins I have ever seen (sorry Italy).  Of course they are not as extensive as those you see at Pompeii or Herculaneum or all around you in Rome but in terms of how they are preserved, what you learn as you go through the site, and the picture you get of life in the place that was Roman Bath, I haven't seen better.

In fact, the baths are so 'real' you could almost plunge right on in, especially on a cool November morning like the one when I was there.

Sadly, however, bathing is now off limits and in fact, you are not supposed to even touch the water although I did, of course, and it's not nearly as warm as the rising steam would suggest.

One thing you are encouraged to do is toss coins into this pool, apparently for good luck but probably more to help the baths get a bit of extra income.  Lots of people are happy to do so.

Outside is the baths is the main cathedral

and a chance for some spiritual healing, at no cost whatsoever.  The god botherer who offered me the service was surprised when I told him I didn't need it as I was already in tip top shape.

The thing that probably everyone knows about Bath is that it has some exquisite Georgian architecture (just like Hobart only more so).  Even after having seen these houses and streets many times before in countless BBC costume dramas, they are a true delight to see in reality.

For just 400,000 pounds one of them could be yours (well, one little part of one of them).

'A superb one bedroom second floor apartment. Guide price 400,000 pounds.'

The view across the road isn't bad

and presumably for 400k you get a key to the lawn gate as well.

There seems to be a bit of competition among the neighbours for the neatest, whitest front door

and for the prettiest front garden, albeit hidden well below street level. These are only one storey down from the footpath

and while it does seem to get a bit harder to have flowers two storeys down, it is by no means impossible.  Not sure what the damp problem inside would be like though.

These people definitely had the cutest window display

and these, the most colourful window boxes, quite an achievement for November I thought.

Down town Bath is also a lovely place and somehow, all those same old, dull brands that pop up everywhere these days don't look nearly so dreary in this kind of shopping centre.

The other thing Bath is famous for is the covered bridge although walking across it, if you weren't taking much notice, you could almost miss the fact that it's a bridge

until you get to the end, turn the corner and look back.

And just in case you were tempted to take the plunge here, it's strictly off limits.

Here's another view of the bridge (that's it right at the end)

and here are the gardens along the left river bank.

Just down the road from the bridge is another wonderful museum full of treasures amassed by yet another wealthy family and then bequeathed to the city of Bath at the end of the 19th century.

Quite literally across the road from the museum (which in a former life was Sydney House, a 'social gathering place') , I stumbled upon this little house

'Here lived Jane Austen 1801 - 1805'
so no doubt Jane was amongst those socialising at Sydney House.  Behind the museum is a beautiful garden which she also would have been very familiar with.

One of the other treasures I found and which seems to be one of city's hidden delights, is a canal that cuts right across the hill behind the town.  There were a few barges moored along the bank

and a few others putting peacefully along hidden from the world by trees and gardens

or being moved through the locks that raise and lower the water levels so they can make the 20 metre vertical drop down to the Avon River.

Some intrepid character had decided this tiny island in the middle of the canal was a perfect campsite and I have to say, it was certainly pretty but cold too, I dare say.

And even further up the hill are these happy beasts, surrounded by fresh air and beautiful views.  Aren't they lucky?

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