Friday, July 7, 2017

Bath, England (A.K.A. Kristy's First Jane Austen Stop)

I may have had a secret agenda in going to Bath.  Chopper says that the only thing I told him about was the Roman Baths (which might be true) but I did plan the whole trip and I did plan mostly things that we would all enjoy and one place in particular for Chopper so I suppose that I indulged myself a little bit here.  And at one other stop.  Regardless, we had a really good time in Bath.  In fact, one of the kids' favorite parts of the whole trip happened here so I don't think there's too much complaining going on!
Once we left London behind us, we were on the train nearly every day.  The journeys varied in length but we took cards games, books, and the ipad with some movies.  They really did well on the train and I have to admit that I actually really liked traveling that way.  We were warned about cancelled trains and strikes and I think there may be a strike this weekend (now that we're home), but we didn't run into any problems.  We did take Chopper's international license just in case though.

Bath has fun umbrellas set up at their train station and also as a type of roof over some of the arcades -- which is basically open air shopping with the shops on both sides and no roof over the middle.

It took us a bit to get our bearings and find the right bus but when we did it took us up Bathwick Hall to this place!  
We stayed in a YHA hostel again but this one is in an old Georgian home.  Now it still was a basic hostel on the inside but this is lovely on the outside!  And breakfast here was a full, hot breakfast.  It was a good night!

Walking down the hill into Bath.  Notice the clouds -- the weather turned the day we left London.  Where it had been 90 degrees and we were dying, the temperature dropped probably 20 degrees and we wore jackets.  Chopper had to go buy one actually because he never got around to getting a rain jacket before we left.
It warmed up as the afternoon went on and the clouds dispersed.  Bath is very walkable and most of the things that people want to see are clustered closely together in the center.  The main features are the Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.

The inscription on this statue said -- water is the best thing for you -- or something like that and there was a guy drunk on wine underneath.  It was kind've funny.  Pretty statue though.

Actually our first stop was lunch and I may have guided the family to Sally Lunn's for buns.  They claim to be a bun shop since the 1600s and one of the oldest places in bath (the house is 1400s).  I've read about it in some Regency novel and it's right around the corner from the Abbey and fortunately there really wasn't a line.  But I was kind've expecting these small-ish roll type things.

Nope that's half of a bun!  They cut them in half and top them with either sweet or savory toppings.  You can eat them plain as well but Abby got chocolate . . . 

William and Megan got cinnamon sugar . . . 

Chopper had a BLT type

And I got a smoked salmon!  It wasn't a huge hit with the kids actually (despite being sweet), but it held them over and it was fun, and cramped.  

Side view of the Abbey.  After lunch we walked over to the Roman Baths.  There's a natural spring here that feeds the baths.  For ages it's been a social spot where you come to marry off your daughters and take the waters for your health.  The Romans did bathe in it but I was a little confused about what happened after them because if I understand right, these baths have been restored and excavated over time so I'm not sure what parts were around when.  But they have it set up as if in Roman times and it was really interesting to see.

We wandered through and followed the kids exploration trail which for this place was a mistake.  It was way to crowded for the kids to really search and figure things out and find a place to write their answers.  We tried to pare it down and just observe and we did better.

This is one point where the spring comes in and the water is coming very fast.  I overheard a guide telling a group that it would fill a bathtub in 8 seconds!

Abby likes listening to the audioguides.

I tried to take a selfie with the kids at the pool.  The first picture is what I got and the second is Chopper taking a picture of us as we took the first.  In both you can see William pushing Abby down to get in the picture!
We found a Roman doing carving!  

After we left the baths we walked into the square where a guy was feeding the pigeons.  Of course the kids stop to look and he starts getting them to land on us.  He tried and tried to get the kids with birds on their heads and smiles on their faces for pictures and it didn't really work but I took a ton of pictures and the kids had a great time with all these birds flying around them!  And, miracle of miracles, I don't think anyone got pooped on!  He did ask for a small donation for feed at the end but we were more than happy to give it for the entertainment that it gave us.

He took a selfie with me!!!

Then it was over to the Bath Abbey.  Not incredibly spectacular necessarily but beautifully light and airy.  I just love these ceilings with the ribbing?  I don't know what that's called but I love it.

After the Abbey we went up the road to the Jane Austen Centre!!  And we were just in time for an afternoon tea!!!!  It was reasonably priced and we had sandwiches, scones, and Victorian sponge with peppermint tea.  The girls loved it.  Chopper and William were ok.  The sandwiches were cucumber, curried chicken, and a brie and fruit jam that was really delicious!

Of course being at the Jane Austen Centre they had this awesome painting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy!  It cracked me up because it was a painting as if he were the real thing.  I had to take a picture.  Then the kids actually wanted one!!  And theirs was fantastic!

So much personality in one picture!!!

We spent the night in Bath of course and then had a full second day before taking an evening train to Cardiff, Wales.  We started with a walk to see the river and it's system for preventing flooding which creates a really pretty effect.

Pulteney street -- a fashionable address back in the day

I just saw Austen references everywhere -- one of her characters is named Emma Woodhouse

We really liked how they "recycled" their red telephone booths!

Our first stop though was the fashion museum!  This was an indulgence for me because I thought it would bore everyone else to death BUT they liked it!  They had a great kid's search where they matched stickers with the garment the fabric was from -- easy but entertaining.  They also had a dress up section that the girls participated in with me!  William did throw a royal fit at that point and Chopper removed him from the premises.

But not before taking a moment to don a wig!  These wigs were made of fabric probably for washing purposes and now I want to make them for dress up purposes!!

Abby and I could be Little Women!

They were just so cute!!!

I wanted them to show me the sides of their bonnets.  I just love historical costume!!

The girls also took some time to design their own outfits.  Megan's on the left and Abby's on the right.

After that we went up to the Royal Crescent - a row of houses that was very fashionable and just a beautiful crescent above the city.  No. 1 is furnished as it was in Georgian times and it was really interesting to go through.  Although probably the thing I really took away from it was the bathroom situation.  They would have screens in some rooms and just go behind the screen and well, go!  I don't understand why you wouldn't have a separate room with your chamber pot at least.  Especially considering clothing at the time.  That's a lot to do getting yourself undressed and then decent again!   It wasn't just the the crescent though -- the vast majority of housing was row housing so you would share walls and only have windows in the front and back.  I need more light than that!  And even though I could practically see Jane Austen and her characters walking down the streets, I can understand why she didn't like it.  It would just be masses of people crammed together who don't have the best hygiene practices!!!
Working on their packets

And more dressing up!

That dog behind us runs in the wheel that turns the spit with the meat on it!  I kind've have to wonder if people really did that or if we just think they did!

Isn't she lovely???  This dress and bonnet were just perfect for her!

There was a fantastic kids toy store with great toys for imaginative play and this incredible tree house in the window.  We really wanted it!

Our second day of food in bath was kind've a bust.  We tried this place but there wasn't really anything on the menu the kids would eat so we ended up at a place called the Slug and Lettuce -- not good.  The food was just not great.  And then as we continued our travels they were everywhere!  It's a chain and it's NOT GOOD!!  Great name though.

Looks good -- but no so much

Bath ended up being very historical in nature and I adored it.  They have a Jane Austen / Regency convention in September with speakers and dance instruction and dressing up and I would LOVE to go but I would need a partner in crime and I don't think I have anyone who would do that with me!  So sad because it would be so fun!  Maybe next year.

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