Day 9 – Bath

Friday, April 14, 2017
Today I was leaving Warwickshire and I was sad to see it go – out of any area I had been so far, this one spoke to me the most, insomuch that I turned over a few thoughts of moving to the area. But I was looking forward to passing by the rest of the Cotswolds by train this morning, and then touring Bath too.  I boarded the train with other commuters headed to Birmingham and was in the “quiet” car. Every rustle of my bag or when I needed to clear my throat, I felt like I was disturbing everyone and they were going to ask me to move on to another car. In Birmingham I arrived at Moor Street Station and was to depart from New Street Station, giving me the chance to walk through a few of its busy streets and pedestrian ways and get a sense of the city.

I was sitting on the wrong side of the train to see much of the Cotswolds; I would have really loved to have taken a tour to see the villages throughout the rolling countryside, but time did not allow for that. I do think I caught a glimpse of a thatched-roof cottage from the train – the only one I ended up seeing during my trip.

I arrive in Bristol and was redirected to a coach bus as there is construction going on at the Bath Station. I had been already aware of this and was looking forward to seeing a bit more of the towns from the bus perspective – I find you catch a bit more of people’s everyday lives from the road than you do from the tracks.

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I’m just glad I’m not driving the bus, because I’m not sure where we are going or what we are supposed to be doing.

Arriving in Bath, I walk through the streets enjoying the buildings and architecture on my way to the Jane Austen Centre. I greatly enjoy her wit and descriptions in her books, and it was largely due to her that I chose to visit Bath. I felt like I had visited it through her novels, but I wanted to see it first-hand. The tour at the centre was very interesting, blending facts of the Austen family, Jane’s writing, and what life was like in Bath in the early 1800’s as well.

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Jane, pausing at the doorway with her footman, wondering who was going to come in and have tea with her today.
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There was information on the Austen family, their time spent in Bath, and what life was like in general at that point in history
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Children’s clothing in the Regency era.

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After visiting with Jane I went to the Assembly Rooms, still in use today for functions, as well as for tourists to view. There was to be a wedding held at the Assembly Rooms later, but I was able to see into their Grand Ballroom and Octagon Room:

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A sedan chair – the public could hire these like a taxi and men would carry the box with wooden poles attached. You would be delivered to the doors of the Assembly Room in the rain or muck without getting your finery dirtied.

There is a Fashion Design Museum in the basement which I took an audio tour of. It was very informative and interesting. It gave an idea of styles from the 1500’s to present day and what was occurring in the world to influence styles. I highly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in Bath.

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Gloves from the 1600’s. According to the display information, gloves were quite expensive at the time and were a luxury item. I had noted people passing them on to family members in their wills – now I know why!
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Man’s shirt from the 1600’s. This is from the time before trousers and men would have worn hose under this, and a jacket called a doublet would have been over top. It is decorated with blackwork embroidery.
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The 1770’s

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Ladies’ boots from the 1800’s. Until the mid 1800’s shoes did not have a right or left foot, they were both the same.

I then toured through the streets of Bath. Most of the city was designed by John Wood the Elder in the early 1700’s using nearby quarried stone, giving much of the city a uniform appearance in its Georgian architecture. The city is much older than that, of course. There are Celtic hillforts nearby, and the Romans established the city about 60 AD. Around 675 there was an monastery built but the building of the current abbey was started in 1499. In 1676 a physician published an article on the hot springs and their medicinal qualities, making the town a popular place to visit. The people would flock to the area to “take the waters” and to be seen about town, hence the need for the Assembly Rooms, the Pump Room, and the theatre. Beau Nash appointed himself master of ceremonies for the city’s social life in the early 1700’s and it was quite fashionable for the wealthier classes to spend time there. Jane Austen lived here a few times over her life span, as well.

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Bath Abbey
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The Guildhall – it is now used as a wedding venue, and there are market stalls in behind that I took a stroll through.

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The Circus (the term comes from “circle”, this set of building form a circle with a small park in the middle.)
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The Royal Crescent overlooking The Royal Victoria Park
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The remains of the medieval wall that used to surround the city.
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Another set of vendors stalls set up.
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The River Avon flows through Bath as well.
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The Pulteney Bridge – one of 4 bridges in the world that has shops lining both sides. You can’t even tell you’re crossing a river when you are on the bridge.
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I was amazed at how much living space there was in such a small area of the city. Besides 3 storeys of apartments above ground, there were often 2 below ground as well. I saw different interesting ways the sub-basements had to let in a little natural light, either with skylight windows, or like this where they had cut into the basement patio’s floor. Note too, the door going in under the roadway. Maybe it is used for storage?

During my walk I paused for a coffee break at an independent coffee house called Society Café. They deal in specialty blends and methods, and I tried an aeropress Colombian blend that had notes of blueberry and honey. I found the coffee light in colour and flavour, and enjoyable.

After my walk I checked into my room. Many places in Bath were out of my price range (it was Easter weekend, too, so many places were probably already booked). I booked a room at the Parade Park Hotel with a shared bathroom. The hotel is a labyrinth of rooms, commandeering the upper floors of the surrounding ground floor restaurants. The room was clean enough, no complaints there, and I had my own sink which was great because I was not going to use the shower in the bathroom that maybe 80 others were using. I only saw 2 bathrooms for the 2 floors with long corridors of rooms, but perhaps some of those rooms had en suite baths because there never seemed to be a line-up. It wasn’t bad for just one night, but I’m not so sure I’d want to stay here for a week. The location couldn’t be beat – just a few minutes walk from nearly everything.

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Simple and serviceable. There was a wardrobe and a tv, besides tea and coffee supplies on the desk in front of the window.
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View of the 2 bathrooms on the landing between the 3rd and 4th storey.
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View from my attic window.
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The Parade Gardens and the Parade Park Hotel.
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On the North Parade bridge, looking up to the Pulteney Bridge.

I went next door for supper at The Green Rocket.  It is a vegetarian/vegan café with brunch and lunch, and supper on weekends. My meal was very filling, so even though the dairy-free desserts sounded good, I had to skip it. A bit more walking around, but mostly I am ready for a chance to sit down in my room with a relaxing cup of tea and calling it a day.


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