A Weekend in Bath

Saturday 23 July 2016

I don't think I've ever been to somewhere quite like Bath. Living somewhere like London, you get used to the city being very obviously made up of a huge variety of architectural styles - a skyscraper next to a Victorian pub, or brutalist concrete surrounding a Gothic inspired church. It's interesting and exciting, but it's also lovely to go to a place where so many of the buildings have survived in a single style. Bath is densely populated by beautiful Georgian terraces with the traditional golden Bath stone for the facades.

Probably the most obvious place to visit is the ROMAN BATHS. The ticket price is expensive, but you get a lot for your money - the museum exhibits and audioguide are extensive and extremely informative. The hot spring under the city created an ideal site for a Roman bath complex and temple, and there's more Roman remains being found all the time. I visited in the day, but the Baths are open until 10pm and I can see them being beautiful all lit up at night. The imposing Grade I listed BATH ABBEY, founded in the 7th century, is a great example of Gothic architecture (with beautiful 'fan' vaulted ceilings) and is easy to pop into on the way to or from the Baths. 

Next on the essentials list is the ROYAL CRESCENT, the half-circle set of Georgian Palladian townhouses built mainly for the wealthy to stay in during their visits to 'take the waters'. If you want to have a look at what Georgian life was like for the wealthy, you can visit No. 1 Royal Crescent, which has recreated the townhouse as it might have looked during the period. Round the corner on a little street called Margaret's Buildings there are a few little independent shops, including the rather eclectic OFF THE WALL ANTIQUES and several secondhand bookshops which are worth a visit. Uncharacteristically for me, I missed out on the Bath museums, but on my list for next time are the HERSCHEL MUSEUM OF ASTRONOMY (where the controversial planet Uranus was discovered), the FASHION MUSEUM, and the MUSEUM OF BATH AT WORK. Aside from the centre of the town, the canals that weave through the town are lovely for an evening walk past the narrowboats and locks; you can even follow the KENNET AND AVON CANAL PATH if you're feeling adventurous.

Food wise, you're spoilt for choice: Bath is well known for its independent restaurants and cafes. We had some great pizza at THE OVEN, and also made a trip to the Saturday morning BATH FARMER'S MARKET, where we picked up some freshly smoked mackerel, rosemary and potato bread, local cheese and chutney, and fresh apple juice for lunch. Also deserving a mention is THE REAL ITALIAN ICE CREAM COMPANY, which finished off our weekend perfectly.

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