2 October 2011 (Sunday) - Bath
We'd asked for an 8am breakfast. There are those who might think that was a tad early, but holiday is too good to waste slobbing about. All thoughts of diet went straight out of the window when "Mine Host" mentioned the possibility of a full English breakfast. That went down very nicely. As we chatted with the landlord, we found that in years gone by he had once acted as the relief manager of the Honest Miller - a favourite pub of hours which is somewhere we've cycled to in the past.
Once brekkied, we were anxious to make the most of the day, and so we paid our bill, and were on the road before 9.30am. And having forgiven the sat-nav for yesterday's fiasco, we gave the thing a second chance. I wish we hadn't. It got us as far as Bath, and then started shouting random directions. I was all for throwing the thing out of the window, and I gave up and parked up in the first car park I could find. I must admit that I thought paying over seven pounds for a day's parking was a tad excessive, but I wasn't prepared to drive any further. Not with the sat-nav in the mood it was in.
Fortunately we were only ten minutes walk from the Roman baths, and that was our main port of call for the day. We stumped up our cash, picked up the audio guides, and set off inside. If any of my loyal readers are ever in Bath, I can certainly recommend the Roman Baths as a place to visit. There was loads to see, the audio guide was really good, the staff were helpful, and it kept us out of mischief for over two hours.
Having paid to see the Roman Baths, we were also entitled to free admission to the Bath Museum of Fashion. So, working on the principle that something for nothing is always good, we went to have a look-see.
It's probably fair to say that in my time I have endured more tedious ordeals than the Bath Museum of Fashion. But those ordeals have been very few, and far between. The museum started off with a display of a couple of dozen wedding dresses, and progressively got worse. There were five rather dire dresses from God knows when, some manikins dressed up as fugitives from the 1960s, and a Petula Clark album cover nailed to a wall. At one point I felt rather nervous - with all the showroom dummies I was having Doctor Who flashbacks. But if the manikins had turned out to be Autons, quite frankly the excitement would have come as a blessed relief. It was with a sense of joy that I found the exit to this dreadful museum.
In retrospect it only took twenty minutes to go round the Bath Museum of Fashion, but there's no denying it was twenty minutes which were totally wasted.
We then browsed around some of the shops; killing time until 2pm. We'd found that at 2pm there were guided tours of Bath, and we made our way to the assembly point. As did a dozen or so others. We found our guide, and spent a very pleasant couple of hours walking round Bath. The guide pointed out all sorts of little snippets of history that otherwise would have passed me by. We found all sorts of oddities in the back streets: the houses of the artist Gainsborough, and of the first Prime Minister Pitt the Younger. We saw where the posh would have lived in days gone by: we saw where a direct descendant of the Duke of Wellington had won a battle with the highest court in the land over the colour of her front door. We saw where Jane Austen's heroes had walked. We saw all sorts of basements and crypts under the roads that we would so loved to have explored. And as we walked between the places where we stopped, I chatted with the guide. He was a really friendly, knowledgeable chap with a genuine love of his city, and of showing tourists round.
It was a really good tour. And a good day. But all too soon it had ended, and conscious that our car parking ticket was about to run out, we made our way back to the car.
And so on to our B&B (which would be home for the next two nights). The sat-nav did it's best, and despite a couple of false starts and a couple of signal failures we eventually found our way to Bathford and Garston Cottage.
It would have been nice to have stayed in another pub, but Garston Cottage seemed to fit the bill. A little old lady showed us to our room, and after a couple of minutes settling in, we set off for a bit of exploring round the local area. We mooched around the footpaths for half an hour (and found a river) before making our way to the nearby pub for some tea.
The Crown was the only pub within walking distance. But we'd been told that the food was good. Apparently it had won an award for serving the best roast dinners in the Bath area. A well deserved award. Roast lamb went down very nicely, as did a bowl of Eskimo Mess. For those who've never sampled the delight, Eskimo Mess is just like Eton Mess, but with ice cream. The whole lot was washed down with a couple of pints of Gem Ale from the Bath brewery.
In fact the only fault I could find with the Crown was that it was at the bottom of the hill: going back to the B&B was a bit of a slog!