We left home after both doing a full day’s work. Traffic was surprisingly light and we made good time. We drove along the M4 straight into the most spectacular sunset – how I wish I had a hands free camera !
We arrived at the Hilton Hotel just as most of the other Lodge guests went into dinner so after a really quick wash and brush up we joined them for a lovely hot buffet and then a quiz, which was quite challenging but fun and believe it or not not our team came 3rd and were all presented with “bronze” medals.
Saturday dawned drizzly and set the tone for the whole day. As we finished our low carb breakfast (in honour of my newly diagnosed high blood pressure) the fire alarm went off and the hotel was evacuated. I have to praise the staff who were calm, efficient and friendly. As it was raining and most people were unprepared for the outdoors we were issued with athlete-style foil wraps. Very fetching – I did wonder if we could convince passers by that we had just run a half marathon !
We finally got back in and grabbed a quick coffee before retiring to our room to read the papers. What a treat to have no time restraints.
We eventually headed off into Bath to explore. I can’t tell you the last time I visited Bath, it was probably when I was at school ! It was great being based right in the city centre so we just wandered through town admiring the Georgian architecture.
We landed right in the middle of their week long food festival – The Great Bath Feast – but sadly we didn’t need to have any meals out so couldn’t take full advantage. Would be good to come back next year and eat our way through the weekend.
We found a lovely domed indoor market next to the Guild Hall with plenty of haberdashers, leatherware, delis etc. It’s the oldest shopping venue in the City.
The Abbey has been a place of worship for more than 1,200 years. Amazing stained glass windows and vaulted ceilings. It was much lighter and brighter than many we’ve visited. On the hour the vicar said a very quick prayer and I was disgusted to see just how many people carried on talking and eating during the approx 3 minute blessing. A sad reflection of life today.
We passed the Roman baths but decided not to visit as we had both been in many years ago and the queues were long. The Sacred Spring is directly under the nearby streets.
We wandered through Abbey Green which has a 200 year plane tree surrounded by a cobbled square and little shops and cafes. Apparently this is the area that the Christmas market is held – I can imagine that it’s quite magical.
We had planned to visit the Masonic Museum and the Original Theatre Royal but discovered that it was closed until Tuesday – a bit of a shame.
We came across a lovely Victorian Catholic Church, St John the Baptist. It was surprisingly ornate – absolutely beautiful. Apparently there was uproar when it was built as it didn’t fit in with the Georgian style of the rest of the City.
The Festival evening itself was really great. The food was fantastic and the toasts etc hit just the right tone of tradition. The night was rounded off with a brilliant disco which managed to get the music just right for all ages.
Sunday was much brighter and after checking out of the hotel we decided to do a self conducted tour of Bath (Skyline)
Starting just behind the Abbey we wandered past Parade Gardens, initially the orchard of the Abbey but which in 1737 became formal gardens, popular with Georgian walkers.
The weir is at the head of the Avon’s navigation. The locks between Bath and Bristol enabled the transportation of stone, timber, slate.
The Holburne Museum was originally built as a hotel in the centre of a “new town” but when the Bath City Bank failed in 1793 plans were abandoned. It’s a really impressive museum with so much to look at – really gives a feel of Georgian life and well worth a visit. We had a coffee in their fabulous cafe before proceeding with the walk.
We had a great walk along the Kennet and Avon Canal. I can’t believe how lucky we were with the weather – carried my coat most of the way.
It must be lovely living in a canalside house with a garden or terrace overlooking the water – can only guess at the cost of such a property.
Then we climbed up to Bathwick Fields and enjoyed the fantastic views over Bath. Luckily there is a bench placed just at the top of the hill as it really was quite a climb but oh so worth it.
We made our way back down into town, along North Parade over the river Avon.