Michael’s Trip Diary – Saturday, May 8, 2010

In Bath all Day, A Hen Party, Taking a Bus Tour, Seeing the Royal Crescent and the Fashion Museum, Eating Great Food, Listening to Rugby.

We woke up about 8:00 am, but didn’t struggle out of bed until 8:30. We headed downstairs to eat. The breakfast room was jammed. There had been a hen party (AmE = bachelorette party) the night before, and the young ladies, all dressed up in wigs as English matrons, either had all come down for breakfast or had been there all night (I’m not sure which). At any rate, they all seemed to be having a good time.

After breakfast, I showered quickly, and while Minay was getting ready, I went back down and used Annabelle’s wi-fi to check the e-mails I had sent to Devon B&B’s yesterday evening. I had responses from several of them saying they had tried to call our mobile number and couldn’t get through. I checked the number, and discovered I had inserted an extra digit when I wrote it down in the Vodafone store. I picked the offer that looked the best, a king-sized bed for two nights at the Montpelier B&B in Ilfracombe for £120 ($182.40) for two nights. I called them and reserved the room, then sent e-mail to the other B&B owners, thanking them for their response. I also sent an e-mail to Minay’s sister, Lyndy, letting her know about our first couple of days before I went back up to the room to tell Minay we were set for another couple of nights.

About 10:30, we walked up to the square near the Huntsman Inn and bought a ticket for the Bath City Sightseeing Bus Tour. I got a Senior ticket, and Minay (being the spring chicken that she is) got a regular adult ticket.

Note: Many places in the UK, as in the United States, have special rates for seniors. The rates can begin as early as 50, but are more likely to start around the age of 60. If you qualify, tell them. They won’t necessarily ask you your age. I was 64 at the time, and Minay was considerably younger (notice I didn’t give an actual number — I should get husband points for that). My Bath Bus Tour ticket cost me £9.50 ($14.44), which was the going rate for Seniors and students. Minay’s cost her £11.50 ($17.48). Every time you save a few pounds, it’s a good thing. It adds up.

The reason we took the city bus tour was partly to get an overview of the city (something that would have been more logical on our first or second day perhaps), but also to provide us with easily accessible transportation to several other sites we wanted to see. The tour was interesting, and did provide us with some good information about the history of the city. It made a quick loop past the Parade Grounds (a place to show off your new outfits during Jane Austen’s time), then headed south along Manvers Street, past our B&B, then turned west by the railway station, then turned north and drove up through the middle of town, making seven brief stops while the driver delivered his narration. At Queen Square he pointed out the Jane Austen Centre (AmE = center), then we made a loop around the Circus, a traffic circle surrounded by flats (AmE = apartments), before arriving at the Royal Crescent. We got off here.

The flats at the Circus seem miniscule when compared to the flats here. I tried to take a picture of the whole thing, and couldn’t. I didn’t have a lens small enough. We were at least a couple hundred yards away. I would have had to back up at least another hundred yards to get it, so the picture below is a composite of three shots merged together.

 

Royal Crescent Panorama

Royal Crescent Panorama

This was another popular place in Jane Austen’s time. Having a home here was only for the most elite of the elite. We toured one of the flats, No. 1 Royal Crescent. It has been turned into a museum that showcases life in Georgian England (for the well-to-do, at least). Very interesting, especially places like the kitchen where they had a roasting spit that was — at one time — powered by dogs. A round cage was attached to the spit, and a dog running inside the cage turned the spit so the meat roasted evenly. The dog was specially bred for this work, and was called a turnspit. These thankfully went out of fashion with the advent of mechanization.

Speaking of fashion, after we left the Royal Crescent, we ate lunch at a nearby restaurant called the Lime Lounge (great sandwiches), and then went to Bath’s Fashion Museum. Minay is going to tell you I was bored here, but I wasn’t (not entirely, anyway). As a former actor, I can appreciate a good costume, but the museum did seem to be skewed more towards women’s fashions than men. There was one section that I did find very interesting, though. They had a wall of album covers that showed the fashion of the day, beginning in 1963 (with pictures of Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand, etc.) to 2000 (Jennifer Lopez). It was a nice retrospective of the way music and musicians influenced fashion from the time of the British (Musical) Invasion through the end of the 20th Century. Here’s a section of the wall from the mid-to-late Seventies.

Album covers at the Bath Fashion Museum

Album covers at the Bath Fashion Museum

From there we rode the bus back to the Abbey and did a quick tour of it before doing some shopping for Minay. She was desperate for a hat. As cold as it has been (to our untrained-for-cold Houston bodies), we knew it was likely to be bitterly cold on the Salisbury Plain when we visited Stonehenge tomorrow. After that, we walked past Annabelle’s to the railways station and fed the parking meter again, then walked back up Manvers Street to find a place to eat. We tried to get into Yak-Yeti-Yak (a Nepalese restaurant) first — I think mostly because we liked the name — but found we needed reservations. We made some for the next night, then continued looking. We were able to get a table at Tilley’s Bistro, which is located just south of the Abbey and the Baths. Minay had some soup and a fish dish. I had gammon hock terrine, chunks of ham and vegetables held together with a savory jelly; and a salad which consisted of grilled aubergine (AmE = eggplant), courgette (AmE = zucchini), and tomato and mozzarella on lamb’s lettuce, drizzled with rosemary and garlic infused virgin olive oil. Just writing about it makes me want to go back for more.

After we ate we decided to call it a night and get some rest for tomorrow. We had mentioned to Natacha that we were going to skip breakfast tomorrow morning because our Stonehenge tour was going to leave at 8:30. She prepared a take-away breakfast for us (very nice of her), and suggested we just leave it on our window sill to keep it cold overnight.

Saturday night was apparently rugby night, and Bath Rugby, the local pro team was playing at The Recreation Ground (their playing field). The field was only about a thousand feet away from our window. Bath had apparently won, for, lo there was much celebration, and it continued into the wee hours of the morning. Also, the hen party was still partying, which added to the decibel level. We tried to read for a long while, hoping it would die down. I think I went to sleep around midnight, but the noise made it difficult. I’m not sure when I finally passed out, but it felt like it was after midnight. I think we were fully used to the time change.

If you’ve made overseas trips, how long did it take you to get adjusted to a very different time zone than your own?

Next up, Minay’s version of the day, Saturday, May 8, 2010.

Michael

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