Taking a very brief break from London, we recently headed to the city of Bath for the day. While Darren had encouraged an overnight trip, I was confident that we could make a reasonable dent in Bath’s offerings in a day, especially given that it’s a mere 90 minutes by train from London. I may have been mistaken, under normal circumstances.
In addition to being home to ancient Roman baths, Bath also offers natural hot springs, beautiful architecture, loads of museums, and is one of the most picturesque cities in England. The volume and mix of museums is impressive; from the Jane Austen museum to the Herschel Astronomy Museum to the Postal Museum.
Our first stop after arriving in Bath was the Roman Baths, the building of which started in 60-70 AD and evolved throughout the site’s use to the present. The wikipedia Roman Baths page is definitely worth a read for more background).
I think my favorite part were the curse tablets found at the site. On these small tablets, one would convey a curse upon another who had wronged them. Many of these related to stealing offenses and the tablets would, in some cases, list all of the persons suspected. These tablets were thrown into one of the pools so the Gods could act upon them.
We then headed out in pursuit of lunch, dropping in at Bath’s smallest pub, The Coeur de Lion. Lured by the promise of local Abbey Ales and the pub’s lovely front window, we abandoned our original and well thought out plan for lunch at the Lime Lounge.
This, friends, was a mistake. While this pub was a cozy spot to hide from the rain, the food would have qualified as a 1.5 at best if subjected to the rigours of the Quest for Sunday Roast. My fries actually tasted bad! Darren focused on the mash component of his bangers & mash.
Deflated from lunch, we headed to the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. En route there, not a single joke was made about how Herschel discovered Uranus. Really. Unfortunately, when we finally found Herschel’s house, we learned that the museum was closed for the rest of the month. Little did we know, this would not be the only time this happened.
We then headed over to the Jane Austen Centre, located near one of the houses that Jane occupied during her lifetime. The center offers a twice hourly presentation, and while the exhibits were nicely presented, the presentation was by far my favorite part of this museum of sorts. The presentation was largely biographical and talked about Austen’s life and how her family, and especially her seven siblings, are believed to have influenced her writing. I learned so much!
Heading through lovely, residential areas, we headed towards the Royal Crescent, a row of thirty Georgian houses that have been used as a backdrop in numerous films and is considered one of the finest examples of this sort of architecture in the UK.
Around this time, I started to think that a sticky toffee pudding was necessary, but this was put off to see the Holburne Museum, located on the other side of the river. Our trek through the rain proved pointless as when we arrived giant banners advised us that the gallery would be closed until spring.
It seems to be a commonly held fact among the English that tea fixes everything, so we did the only reasonable thing: go for tea.
A quick google for, “best tea shoppe bath”, brought us to Sally Lunn’s. Located in Bath’s oldest house, this was exactly the sort of place we were looking for. It smells wonderful! Lunn is famous for inventing the aptly named Sally Lunn Bun, which is a variation on the sweet and fluffy Bath Bun.
Naturally, we ordered Sally Lunn buns with our tea and enjoyed them very much. Even before adding jam or clotted cream, the buttery version delivered to me was fantastic.
Spirits were restored, and while we agreed to consider an earlier train back than our planned one around 8pm, we decided to check out another museum en route: The Postal Museum.
The Postal Museum is located in the basement of a post office. While the staff was helpful, there’s not much to this museum. It’s actually smaller than my flat. While it did have a nifty old machine for perforating stamps that one could play with, the post office cat promised by the visit Bath site was disappointingly Fur Real and not a taxidermied cat with a story. I did enjoy the Queen Mum’s pigeongram (sent via carrier pigeon, really.) sent in the mid-1980’s celebrating the museum’s opening.
We did the best we could. We’ll have to go back, I think… maybe when more things are open!
I’d definitely go back just for the awesomely buttered Sally Lunn bun.