“Welcome to Bath,” said the slightly strange landlord of the little B & B we were going to stay in. Except he said Barth instead of Bath.
I felt like saying “BATH! It’s B-A-T-H! There is no R in BATH!”
Bath is in the south and I am from the midlands; what did I expect? Over the years I’ve tried to stop myself correcting southerners but in a city like Bath, it was really difficult, particularly when there was a big rugby match on in the city and every other sentence I heard on Saturday was peppered with phrases like:
“Do you think Barth will beat London Irish?”
“Do you think Barth will beat London Irish?”
“Come on Barth!”
Mrs PM and I are on a bit of a mission to see some of the sights of the United Kingdom we haven’t seen yet. Last year, for Mrs PM’s benefit, we spent a weekend in London. Now it was the turn of Bath, a city that neither of us had visited before.
The first thing that struck me was how small the place is. The city is dominated by Bath Abbey, a phenomenal structure whose origins date back to the 7th century. As we strolled through the city on a cold but pleasant and sunny Friday afternoon, I was quite stunned when I turned a corner and saw this magnificent building in all of its glory.
As we walked around I was amazed at the number of tourists flocking around and taking photos. I love the fact that we have so much history in the UK and Bath has its fair share of that. Right next to Bath Abbey are the Roman Baths, dating back even earlier than the abbey, and I simply couldn’t resist the temptation to pay them a visit.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Roman Empire, possibly assisted and encouraged by spending five years at school studying Latin. I can still recognise Latin words and phrases even now.
Inside the Roman Baths, I impressed Mrs PM by mentioning that the Roman name for Bath was Aquae Sulis. Used to me now she just rolled her eyes and said “You told me on the way down here.”
The Romans were a resourceful bunch and built the baths in the first century AD on the site of a hot spring, previously located at a shrine to the Celtic goddess Sulis (hence the name Aquae Sulis – the waters of Sulis).
As we descended into the complex, it was quite literally like stepping back in time, enjoying Roman ingenuity and culture.
|Roman soldier admiring the Abbey|
|This guy has hair like me|
|A bit too cold for a dip|
I remarked to Mrs PM that a photograph of Stonehenge in the fog would make a great picture and once again the English weather let us down by warming up just sufficiently enough to disperse the fog by the time we arrived.
I was quite surprised to see how close the ancient monument was to the road and theoretically we could have just driven past a few times to see Stonehenge from various angles. We decided that we should wear our tourist heads and join the throngs of foreign visitors and get up close and personal with the ancient stones – well as close as they would allow us to – which sadly wasn’t that close.
|Welcome to Stonehenge|
I loved listening to the accompanying auditory guide and was fascinated by some of the theories about who built Stonehenge and why it was shaped and planned the way it was. The truth is that nobody knows and I loved all of the ideas from Merlin to aliens.
|Get your rocks off|
|Not quite enough fog|
We arrived back in Bath just in time to visit the pub for lunch and found ourselves surrounded by crowds of rugby fans having a pre-match pint before the game between Bath and London Irish. The pub we were in was next to the Abbey and from our lofty position upstairs we watched the crowds crossing over the bridge to the game.
As we left the pub, Mrs PM asked “I wonder where the ground is?”
The Bath supporters replied. Bath scored a conversion and a huge roar pointed out the location of the ground, just over the river. Not only was the ground visible, but we could also see the scoreboard and, as we crossed the river and walked alongside the ground itself, there were a few vantage points where we could have watched bits of the game.
|Half time - Bath are winning|
|This way to the rugby game|
Hailing from Manchester, it is not often I get to visit a city that has a deep history of rugby; Bath is such a place and various pubs have walls covered in memorabilia from the club, like signed shirts etc.
On the other side of the river, Mrs PM suddenly turned to me and said:
“I’ve lined up some birds for you.”
“What?” I said.
She pointed across the river at this:
|Birds for Dave|
On our final day, we checked out of our small B & B and took one last stroll round the city. I’m not a huge expert when it comes to architectural styles but I do appreciate old buildings. Bath is full of them and this is one of the main reasons it is a tourist hotspot.
Here are some examples.
Our final journey was to visit some friends in the picturesque village of Lacock, about 12 miles from Bath. On the way, I noticed a few of the odder English place names. I’ve always loved the eccentric naming choices made for some places in England and as we drove, I had to chuckle at two places in particular.
We drove though the village of Box.
And we saw signposts to a great place called Birdlip.
I wonder whether the founders of Birdlip actually found a bird with lips?
Or whether they had a weird sense of humour?
Anyway, this may be my last post for a while because I am off on a business trip, on 1st March, to the city of Muscat in Oman, another country I have never visited. I'm away for three weeks.
THREE BLOODY WEEKS!
The hotel I am staying at has wi-fi access so I might be able to write the odd post – if I’m not too busy.
In the meantime, I’ll bet you are curious about the final score in the rugby game.
Bath 40 London Irish 16
And for those from Bath …
Barth 40 London Irish 16