|Saturday 15 May 2010|
The wonderful smell of frying bacon woke me at around 8.30. Such an
excellent alarm clock. We went down for a cooked breakfast then out
on the town we ventured.
After vaguely wandering around, we wound up at the Abbey which Mirinda
swore she'd never been in. I remembered it but, having reread my journal,
realised I'd not seen the stained glass of the crowning of Edgar in
973. Well, the scaffolding has been removed and the window looks marvellous.
We also popped
down to the Vaults. I'm pretty sure these were not open last time. They
tell the history of the Abbey with displays and 'lecterns' in between
the vaulted ceiling. As we wandered around, the familiar voice of Prunella
Scales regaled us (along with her husband Timothy West) with quotes
from people who had lived in Bath at some time.
An odd thing that has never occurred to me before, which in itself
is odd. In 1539, Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, sacked churches,
sold off church land and, generally did everything he could to reduce
the power of the church. He was pretty successful. And then, in 1574,
his mother, Elizabeth I, was trying to raise money to fix the churches
her father had tried to destroy! Although, it's safe to say that she
doesn't seem to have put any money into the collection plate.
Overheard as I waited for Mirinda outside the Vaults: "Everything
is free in church," from a teenager to his father who was just
as confused by it as me.
After Mirinda had managed to read every single word in the Vaults,
we popped out to the main piazza for a coffee. There were quite a few
people doing the same but we managed to get a table. I went inside to
order our coffees. I was astounded at the complexity of the ordering
process and felt very sorry for the Japanese tourists in front of me
who were trying to work out how to purchase a sandwich and a cup of
"Food you must order downstairs," Said the helpful
Schumanian behind the counter.
left them to it. The other Schumanian served me with two lattes and
I returned to Mirinda in the middle of the crowded tables and we sat
watching the buskers.
There seems to be a quite strict roster for busking. As we sat, a girl
laying what appeared to be a big copper cake mixing bowl finished her
gig and was replaced by a girl with an amazing voice, singing operatic
arias. Her performance skills, however, were sadly lacking. She stood
in jeans and jumper, swaying weirdly, singing angelically. Had she been
wearing an evening gown, her hair bouffanted a bit and a pair of bright
pink killer heels, she would have been magnificent. Sometimes, buskers
just need a little bit of direction to make some serious money. As it
was, Mirinda gave her a few quid because she looked like a staring student.
Having refreshed our brains with the coffees, we took off on an expedition
of fruitlessness, searching for the Evans store. We wandered up, we
wandered down, we traipsed through bog and mire, we avoided deadly man
eating crocodiles salivating beneath shop awnings. It was a serious
waste of time. We ended up, empty handed, back at Pulteney Bridge.
At one end of Pulteney Bridge is a bakery with lots of yummy looking
cakes and pastries. We had decided to buy pour lunch here and eat it
on the banks of the river. At first we were going to eat it by the banks
of the river until we discovered you had to pay for the privilege of
sitting by the river. Sadly, we didn't get to eat cake either. There
was a queue. Damned if I'll queue for cake! There was a sign on the
window of the cake shop that said they were looking for three new staff
members. I thought this may have explained the queue but maybe it's
just a popular cake shop.
We wound up at a cafeteria atop the Podium Shopping Mall where we had
reasonably nice sandwiches without having to queue. It was then off
to the river to take a boat ride up to Bathampton.
This was not as easy as it at first appeared. Before boarding the boat,
we had to find a toilet. This ended up being in The Boater pub where,
feeling guilty, I had to buy a beer. This struck me as ironic. When
I explained the irony to Mirinda she wasn't as struck as I was. Though
it was 6X so I didn't mind the irony very much.
The boat ride was nice and tranquil once we managed to ignore the American
chap who was chatting on his phone for the whole trip. I thought he
was talking to his simple wife but, after he discussed her day with
her, it was clear it was his daughter.
"I'm in Bath. Do you know why it's called Bath? A bath is a
big hot tub. The Romans built it. Do you know who the Romans were?"
And so it went. I managed to fade him out. He also helped by moving
away from everyone else.
back of the boat was a group of women, clearly on a hen's weekend. Each
of them had a sash, proclaiming they were part of someone's wedding.
Actually we saw a few of these groups, like wandering, giggling groups
of feral girls out for a good time, war paint expertly applied. The
oddest group was the one in the three boats on the river. They appeared
to be lashed together (the boats not the women) as they raised their
glasses to toast some poor friend who was leaving the company of women
for the marriage bed. They raised their glasses to us as we cruised
And we saw a kingfisher! For real, in the wild. This is a rare treat.
It sat, happily waiting for everyone to notice, on a handrail. The driver
of the boat pointed it out, yelling dementedly, "A KINGFISHER!
LOOK, A KINGFISHER!" Everyone obediently looked and we watched
it take off and fly to the other side of the river, showing off its
plumage to us all. It was easily a highlight of this trip to Bath.
At Bathampton, the boat turns around at the weir and returns, having
dumped those passengers who wish to return later in the day. This was
most of them including the wedding girls and the American. It meant
I could sit in the prow of the boat and enjoy the slow journey back
to Bath. It did mean I missed most of the commentary. I managed to pick
up bits and pieces.
Apparently Governor Arthur Philip was either from or ended up in, Bath
either before or after his tour duty in Australia. I'll have to check
with Mirinda as she listened to the whole thing from inside the boat.
Back at the hotel we made plans to see a movie. It was decided we'd
see The Ghost Writer and so set off early for dinner. We ended
up at Yo! Sushi. Mirinda has never experienced the fun of Yo! Sushi.
The little conveyor belts, the lovely titbits of Japanese food. She
loved it. We had a great dinner and then left for the Little Cinema.
It's a cute little independent cinema. Originally I'd tried to get
tickets to the Theatre Royal to see Tom Conti in Wife After Death
but it was sold out so the pictures it was. A terrific film. I enjoyed
it a lot. Polanski has a great skill for maintaining suspense throughout
a film. The ending was a big surprise. Ewan McGregor was terrific. Pierce
Brosnan was Pierce Brosnan. Cantrell from Sex in the City was
pretty good. Recommended if you like thrillers.
It was then a pleasant walk back to the hotel.