After a particularly lovely 12 hours of sleep I awoke to the sun shining in through the window and feeling very well rested indeed. It was nice to enjoy a little down time in bed to chill out before packing up and getting ready for breakfast. I have to be honest, after the culinary standards of the previous night’s dinner I didn’t have high hopes for breakfast, but thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. The dining room was very busy when we arrived but we were seated at a small table towards the rear of the room and told to help ourselves to the continental offerings of juice, cereal, fruit, pastries and toast. We also got to pick a hot breakfast of the menu and both opted for the full English, Juliet vegetarian. The hot breakfast was very hearty and we checked out of The Stones Hotel feeling very full ready for the day ahead.
Today we were heading to Bath, around an hour away from where we had stayed. The journey, as all of them had been the previous day was beautiful minus encountering a deer which had obviously recently been hit by a car and was still very much alive although clearly injured. This was a bit of a grisly introduction to one of the prettiest cities I have seen. As we climbed the steep road we got some phenomenal views out over the city just before we drive down into it. We parked up for the day at Broad Street Car Park before slowly meandering our way into the centre of town. Everything in Bath is quite close together and you can get almost anywhere in under 10 minutes so choosing a car-park shouldn’t cause to much concern. In 5 minutes, after passing a particularly screechy singer giving us a rendition of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ we started to notice the impressive architecture and realised we had arrived at the Roman Baths
Probably the most famous attraction in town, the old Roman Baths are the best preserved sight in the UK of an old Roman bathhouse. The ticket price of £15.50 was quite hefty but I paid up and Juliet was luckily able to use one of her museum memberships, being a curator and all. The one good thing was that we received a free audio guide included in the price which rather cleverly had an adult/child and novelty Bill Bryson commentary. This was fantastic news to me and as we wandered out into the bird’s eye view of the main bath enjoyed listening to his humorous addition as well as the more historic adult one. The main bath is by far the grandest sight in the complex and luckily the way they have set the museum up is for visitors to firstly take in the view from above before making their way through the museum displaying remnants of different finds from around the sight including a full skeleton, lots of jewels and pottery and a very interesting circular carving of a Gorgon’s Head thought to be a symbol of the goddess Minerva which they have managed to suspend of a wall to give you the size and scale rather than putting it into a glass cabinet. All in all I found the exhibition to be extremely interesting and informative. My only gripe was the sardine feeling you got being sandwiched between people whilst trying to move on through the museum. Luckily this had dissipated by the end after we had come out onto the ground level of the beautiful main bath area, where the water is a rather disgusting murky green colour due to algae which grows in the sunlight. After the main bath we were able to walk through the other baths that made up their complex which have been excavated but not fully restored to give the visitor an idea of the scale. Again this proved very intriguing and a lovely touch at the end was a water fountain which allowed you to taste the healing waters. Alas, the taste of blood came to mind when the strong metallic aftertaste came through – yuck!
We emerged into the cloudy sunlight and after deciding we were still too full from lunch walked the 3 minutes across the road to the Thermae Bath Spa – which a few people had recommended for the mineral rich waters and infinity pool. However, as we joined the queue we soon realised that if we were to wait the 2 hour time we would have wasted our whole day. We took a call and decided to see some of Bath rather than waste it queuing. A tip for those who do want to visit the spa – get there early and be prepared for the £38 cost for a 2 hour dip. Luckily for us Bath Abbey was currently open for visitors, since it is only accessible for a few hours between different hours on a Sunday. This had a similar set-up to Salisbury Cathedral in that they have a suggested donation, which really is optional, of £2.50. After getting away with paying nothing the previous day I gave the remaining change in my purse to the cause after receiving an introductory guide to the abbey. It was definitely not as beautiful as Salisbury had been, however, it was a lot busier and had a lot more to see with carvings and names, statues and displays everywhere the eye could see. It was a little disorientating and kind of detracted in part from the raw beauty of the architecture. I concentrated on following the guide round, only stopping at something else if it really piqued my interest before stopping in the centre to sit and take in the grandeur of the building, topped off with gorgeous red chandeliers. It really was absolutely worth the measly £2.50 entrance fee.
We popped into one of the small tourist shops opposite the Abbey and Roman Baths to pick up postcards and then took a lovely walk down the river, to enjoy the beauty of the city. Everywhere you look you see a beautiful building! Juliet had passed by a thai/hotpot restaurant on a previous visit and so we were seated at a lovely window table with views of the river and buildings in the background. The restaurant was aptly named Thai by the Weir and was very nice. I started with the salt and chilli squid which was tender and nicely spiced followed by a Chicken Phad Phrik Bai Krapao which was tasty although a bit lacking in spice. Juliet’s veggie gyozas were average but her vegetable sizzling plate was lovely and smoky, I was able to polish off all of her mushrooms since she is not such a fan. We opted to skip desert as we had passed by a lovely looking bakery called The Bridge Coffee Shop where we picked up some HUGE flavoured meringues – lemon and rose with pistachio as well as an oreo cake for Jordan. We then took the opportunity to wander around the shops on the way back to car enjoying our last few glimpses of beautiful Bath.
That evening was a lovely chilled affair. Juliet’s house was beautiful and a massive upgrade to their tiny flat in Wokingham! We enjoyed a lovely evening making potato and chickpea curry and watching Samsara – a great documentary style film encompassing lots of short films set to a matched score while Jordan was at work. It was amazing to just sit and spend some time with Juliet, one of my absolute besties who unfortunately, I do not get to see nearly as much as I would like. The perils of working life…