A Day in Bath.

Note:  What?!?! I haven’t posted this or anything else for a week? Goodness me. Sorry about that. Just received an email from my dad, wondering if all was well. That prompted me to take a look at where I was with my blog posts and I realized how far behind I am. I think blogging might be a bit like keeping the kitchen clean. If you do a little bit of tidying up each day, it never feels like too much. Then you skip a day because you are busy. And the amount of dishes on the counter doubles. The next day you look at the kitchen and think to yourself “Hmmmm… I’d rather read than do those dishes.” And then by the third and fourth day you realize it’s going to take a significant chunk of time to clean that kitchen so you’d better wait until you’ve got it available to you. And so on. 

Usually, I’m a clean-as-you-go kinda cook. I think I’d better settle in for the big kitchen clean up (aka blog post writing marathon) and then adopt a new practice of write-as-I-go bloggage. Okay. As soon as I take care of the morning farm chores (yikes, another entire blog post), I will commence the marathon. Posting this incomplete section so everyone will at least know I’m alive!!!

Hugs to you all.

From the pool on the top floor of the Thermae Spa, much of Bath could be seen climbing up the surrounding green, rolling hills. But one building markedly stood out — the top of a tower with four small spires framing its roofline. That tower marked the location of Bath Abbey. Of all the buildings I visited while in Bath, that one was my favorite, though not in the Georgian style for which the town is famous. The Abbey was a Gothic jewel. But I’ll get to that in a bit. 

You’d think with four of us in a room, the tussle over the bathroom in the morning would be intense. Instead, the four of us were like a perfectly practiced sports team. Up, in, out, next , and repeat! On the way to the breakfast room,  I wondered what it would be like as I’d discovered the night before that it was in the basement. Dismal? Dark? Much to my surprise, it was a perfectly bright and cheery room with an adjacent bright and cheery kitchen. There were tall windows on one side of the room. They were below grade but granted wonderful sunlight right in. Tables were set and waiting. The sideboard offered beautiful parfaits of homemade granola, fresh yoghurt and homemade jam. There was also juice and fruit and probably more goodies that I’ve forgotten. Posted on one wall was a jolly list of nearby farms that provided Three Abbey Green’s eggs, milk, sausage and bacon, honey, fruit and veg. (Yes that’s short for vegetables. Thought I’d give you another Brit speak lesson. Pronounced “vej” and I’m not sure I’ve seen the entire word spelled out since arriving on these shores!) Another chipper, middle aged British lady came round asking for our breakfast order and about whether we’d like coffee or tea. Her shirt had tiny llamas printed all over it.

Of course, being me, I had to say “Your shirt has tiny llamas printed all over it!” She looked astounded and said I was the first person to ever comment on her shirt. “They are indeed llamas. Thank you for noticing!” I responded that we were all knitters, so of course we would know about such things.

Next, I found something intriguing on the menu: soft-boiled eggs with toast soldiers. The llama shirt lady said “Very nice. They’re not just for the nursery you know.”

I had no idea they were for the nursery and was wondering what they had to do with plant growers when Maureen saved me by informing me that it was typically a breakfast given to children. “Ohhhhh, that kind of nursery. Got it” I received two soft boiled eggs and toast cut into long strips. Those strips were the “soldiers”. You are supposed to tap around the egg shell and remove the top, then dip the soldiers into the gooey goodness contained therein. Brilliant! I never had this dish when I was a kid! In fact, I don’t think I’d ever seen an egg cup into well into adulthood. In one of my knitting books, there are all these patterns for little egg cup warmers — tiny knitted sweaters that you place on soft boiled eggs to keep them warm. I finally get what the heck those ARE! And I can stop wondering if that particular designer is off her rocker. Of course! Egg cozies!

Patterns for egg cup cozies designed by Kristen Nicholas. These strange but cute cozies can be found in the book Weekend Knitting by Melanie Falick.

It was hard to leave breakfast. Very hard. Only for a recovered Roman ruin would I do such a thing. Luckily there happened to be one just up the street. We hoisted our packs and rain jackets (never leave your hotel room without it) and head off together. The Roman Baths were just a few short blocks from where we stayed. I was expecting the place to be a giant building, covering square blocks of the town. I never before realized that in fact the baths are an archaeological site, recovered only recently. I remember studying them while in architecture school– how the Romans built this elaborate campus of heated pools, temples for worship and forums (small f in this case as opposed to The Forum in Rome) for public gathering. It never occurred to me the baths were no longer extant. I thought Bath was named for them. In fact, the town, when it was Roman, was named Aquae Sulis because the baths were dedicated to the god, Sulis. The English name Bath came much later, though it was in reference to the hot springs located there. The Roman Baths museum is not the full, original campus but rather certain recovered, restored and/ or excavated sections that were under the 18th century city. The museum was quite skillfully designed. It ushered visitors through the archaeological site with ample opportunities to see but not mar the delicate site. I was very appreciative of the individual touring devices. Each visitor received one. You held it to your ear as you would a telephone and then pushed buttons to advance the audio tour as you walked through the museum at whatever pace you liked. I had headphones with me. I plugged them in, excluding the noises of visitors around me. I was in my own world wandering the stone corridors and courtyards, able to browse the models and exhibits to my heart’s content.  

And here I must apologize. The Roman Baths was the one place where I really and truly forgot to take photos. However, let me see what Google images can offer…

After going through the museum, we were free to roam about as we liked until an arranged meetup at one of the knitting shops set for 4 pm. I ended up wandering just around the corner to Bath Abbey. Turns out everyone else had as well. It was such a gorgeous building from the outside that I couldn’t wait to see the interior. In the back of my head, the thought circled, “This may be my only opportunity to experience a true Gothic cathedral, built in the period rather than as a modern copy “in the style of”. Bath Abbey was founded in the 7the century, then rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. And indeed, it was glorious.   
Heather and I were the only ones interested in heading up to the Bath Fashion Museum and the Victoria Art Gallery, so we headed in that direction while others scattered to various shopping, knitting, and historical sites. We didn’t get far before stopping. Half a block from the Roman Baths we’d already seen multiple pasty shops and we had to give in to the temptation. We had no excuse, really. It was 11:30 am. We’d had breakfast just three hours before. We’d probably be eating lunch soon. But pasties, people!!! Deliciously simmered savory or sweet goodness, rolled in flaky pastry then sealed and baked. Really, how often would I be coming across Cornish pastry in my life? Heather, she’s a tour guide, specializing in travel to Western European countries. She might have a few more opportunities. But me? I roped her into splitting a couple with me. One was filled with pork and something, then cooked in apple cider. The other was something with rhubarb. I can’t recall. What I remember was yum!

Pasties in hand, we set about finding our compatriots because I’d lost my museum ticket. I’m afraid that happened more than once. Too many pockets, insufficient memory. We found our ladies at one of the two wool shops in town, A Yarn Story. It was about the size of a shoebox and I think we might have frightened the owner with our raucous presence! But since she hailed from the States, she took it all in her stride. Ticket procured, we then stopped to have a bit of lunch. I even had tea.


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