Wednesday, 8 September 2010

In Which I Do Not Take The Waters

Today, as another pasrt of my holiday-at-home, I have been playing at being a tourist by visiting Bath (a 20 minute train journey away)

I started out by visiting the Thermae Bath Spa which was opened (4 years late and £32M over budget) about 4 years ago to allow people to once again swim in the natural hot spring waters which give Bath its name (and the name that the Romans gave it; Aquae Sulis) This hasn't been possible since 1978 although I'm not sure whether one could still swim in the Roman Baths that recently.

The Spa is owned by the Local Council, and is right in the middle of the city. There's a rooftop pool (top of the glass bit in the picture - the guy leaning on the rail is probably a lifeguard) so you can swim (very short distances!) or float, and look over the rooftops of the the city and out to Prior Park and the hills beyond. It''s very nice, and in defiance of the weather forecast it was a lovely sunny morning, which made it even better.

As well as the rooftop pool, there is a second pool, plus steam rooms. One can also book various spa treatments, which would be lovely if I'shad a friend to go with (and a bit more cash to spare!)There was a special offer on in conjunction with the local rail company giving 4 hours for the price of two, so I had 4 hours to play with, which made it feel slightly less extortionate :-)

Being midweek it wasn't too crowded - I shudder to think what it's like at weekends.

When I let the Baths I ambled along to the Pump Room , which is attached to the Roman Baths and was built in (I believe) 1799, and  of course features in Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey' and, at least by implication, 'Persausion'.

the majority of the guests (myself included) were less elegant and well dressed than Miss Morland and her friends, but I decided to go with the flow and ordered myself the 'Jane Austen Tea' - potted mackerel, scones & clotted cream, tea and a cupcake, plus 'ginger fizz', which was nice, fruity, gingery and a little unexpected. it was all very nice.

Of course, there are those who might consider that a cream tea and a cupcake rather goes against the whole 'healthy morning at the spa' vibe, but it was 3 p.m. and I'd missed lunch...

From the Pump Room you can see down into the 'King's Bath', which is part of the Roman Baths complex, although it is 12th & 18th century, built on Roman foundations.

Outside is another rather nice one of the 'Lions of Bath' - this one was designed by one of the keepers at Longleat, and is a Lion-version of Lord Bath  (Marquess of Bath, Owner of Longleat, and what happens when you let the aristocracy find out about sex & drugs & rock'n'roll).

I finished the afternoon by calling in to the Abbey, which I always enjoy visiting. It's a beautiful building, and as so many people used to come to Bath for medical reasons you get a fascinating selection of tombs and memorials. Including that of Beau Nash, who was a key figure in bringing Bath into fashion.

On this occasion,  there was an additional treat of The Bath Abbey Diptychs , an exhibitions of calligraphy/illumination and needlecraft by a local craftswoman.

they are utterly stunning. Well worth following the link to look at the peces in more detail.

I finished up with a quick visit to the Abbey vaults museum, as I've never been before (I had not, to be honest, missed much!)

And so homewards. I made a slight error of judgment in getting to the station at 5, so ended up on a very crowded post-work train, but it is a short journey, so didn't much matter.

Another good day.


FairiesNest said...

It looks like you had a lovely day! Spa, ruins, scones with cream, and gorgeous needlework...heavenly!

Phiala said...

Lovely photos, thank you. And I look forward to investigating the diptych link.

Jane said...

Love the photos - it looks like a marvelous day and oh my on the tea :-)

spacedlaw said...

The Pump Room features in many 19th century British novels indeed. I am glad to think the baths have reopened. Another reason to visit...

Dragonsally said...

Visiting the Baths when I was in England in 1980 was one of my high points...I got really excited and thought you could go in the King Baths again. Doh!

Drooling with envy over your afternoon tea!

Marjorie said...

Sally, I'd love it if they opened up the original baths again, but I don't think it'll ever happen - apparently they decided there is too much lead in the water from the Roman plumbing, plus risk of infection. But wouldn't it be great?

Although I do know someone who has swum
there, highly unofficially and illegally...