Sunday, 24 February 2013

There's No "R" In "Bath"



“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?”
 “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.

Bath Abbey
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
On the following day, we decided to venture even further back in time by visiting Stonehenge, a mere hour away from Bath. After a hearty English breakfast, we drove through fog-shrouded countryside to the adjacent county of Wiltshire.

Foggy Fun
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.
 It was:
 Bath 40 London Irish 16
 And for those from Bath …
 Barth 40 London Irish 16



16 comments:

Pandora Behr said...

It's Barth, with and R... well, I say it like that, but I'm from Adelaide.

One of my favourite cities in England. YOu've made me very envious. Need to go back to Stonehenge too.

Cheers for taking me back there - I had such a good time when I was there two years ago.

px

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

As an Aussie I can well imagine how you pronounce "Bath".

But I forgive you.

;-)

It is a fab little city, I agree, and I think we might pay it another visit, particularly since we have friends in the vicinity.

:0)

Cheers

PM

H2B said...

Ah, brings back memories. Thanks for the photos, may have to pinch those as ours are missing. We went Bath because I love Jane Austen and she mentioned the place a few times in her novels. I even found the place she stayed. Had no idea why Bath was named Bath until I got there. The Abbey and roman bath was certainly fascinating. So were the Cresent. I missed the bridge though. hmm have o visit again.

Have a fab time in Oman Muscat!!! Hopefully you get to go on the Camel rides. Remember don't eat with your left hand or hand things to the muslims using your left hand.

The Elephant's Child said...

As a fellow Ozzie I would also say Barth. In my defence, my mama (English to the core) taught me. Regional pronunciation? And with or without the disputed R, it looks an amazing city. Thank you. Have a wonderful time in Oman.

JahTeh said...

Thank you, I've been trying for the whole of this post to say Bath without an R. The only way to do it is to say Bat with a lisp.

Kath Lockett said...

Like Pandora, I'm a South Aussie, and it's always 'BARTH.' Same goes for watering your plarnts, having a darnce and travelling to Frarnce.

Love Mrs PM's comment about the birds and hope that your three week work trip has better toilets than those you had to deal with in China!

River said...

Those are truly magnificent buildings.
As for Stonehenge, the who and why is a mystery that may never be solved. Unless each stone has the manufacturers name and date of manufacture stamped on the bottom....
So Bath is not Barth, unless you live there. Here in Adelaide, in the suburb of Norwood, we have a Bath Hotel.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi H2B,

Jane Austen was evident in Bath; Mrs PM is a big fan but resisted visiting the "Jane Austen experience" (or something like that).

I'm looking forward to the days off in Muscat when I can explore the city. Not sure about camel riding though.

:0)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi EC,

I think I appear to be in a slight minority about the invisible "R".

I need some Northerners to comment.

:0)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi JT,

That would work. I simply cannot bring myself to say "Barth" even to explain how people pronounce it.

It just doesn't sound right to me.

:0)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Karth,

Do you pronounce your name "Karth" or "Kath"?

I sense a new greeting is imminent.

;-)

I thought you'd like Mrs PM's comment.

:0)

Cheers

PM

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi River,

I would love to pop back in time and ask the people who built Stonehenge what the plan was.

Equally I would love to have met Merlin - if he existed.

Or alien visitors for that matter...

:0)

Cheers

PM

Mind Of Mine said...

I have never visited Ba(r)th, but I used to work for a company, where a lot of our customers originated from there.

Every single one of them were a pain in the ass, rude, obnoxious. I don't know why. But when anyone of us saw that the call was coming from there, there would be an audible groan.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi MoM,

Thankfully I don't think I met any of your former customers when I was there.

Most people seemed friendly.

:0)

Cheers

PM

jeremy said...

I'm a real Mancunian (now living in Cheltenham, not far from Birlip haha), and yes, of course it is Bath.

If ever you go back there, stay at a B&B called The Henry. Best cooked breakfast I've ever had

Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Jeremy,

Always a pleasure to hear from a REAL Mancunian, as opposed to a plastic one like me.

:-)

We may well return to Bath - it's a great city and we had a fun time there. I will certainly bear in mind your recommendation.

:-)

Cheers

PM