It's now Tuesday evening, and the weekend seems a million miles away.
Every year, at about this time, we take ourselves off to our favourite place to stay, in the city of Bath. Whilst it is classed as a city, it's much smaller than one might expect, and much more personal in a towny sort of way, and at this time of year a magical place to visit.
On Friday morning we had the garden in Sandbanks to attend to, where we gave our seasons greetings and wishes to the owners, as we shall not return until the new year now. All was left as tidy as possible, and we headed home around midday to do some packing for our break away. The week had been very hard, not just with the amount of pre-Christmas work, but that the weather has also become somewhat, let's just say....'tetchy'. Tired out before we even set out, we put suit, coats and dresses into a holder, jumpers, trousers and one hundred other things into a couple of 'day' bags, threw it all into the back of the van with the mowers, strimmer and hedge trimmers, and set off on the ninety mile drive to Bath.
We arrived at about 3pm at our little place of paradise. Set on a hill overlooking Bath, it is really quite a special place. Only about ten rooms, and it gives everything that is needed.
That door is always a welcome sight, even though we can only ever afford to stay for a few nights each time.
As usual, we were welcomed warmly, shown into the lounge, and were given a tray of drinks to settle in with while we signed in. Mulled wine, piping hot tea, and various shortbreads accompanied a time of quiet newspaper reading, as we were in no rush to go to our room. We have now stayed seven times, and each time in a different room. Totally confident that the latest room would meet with approval, we were in no rush to check it out.
An open fire, peace and quiet, and wonderful company.....perfect!
The bags were delivered to our room as soon as we arrived, and so when we were ready, we headed on up, and took in our latest 'home' for the next couple of days. The bedroom overlooked Bath itself and the hotels glorious gardens.
The bathroom, as with all rooms, not only came with all of the usual refinements, but a whirlpool bath. A perfect match to go with the bottle of champagne, and strawberries that welcome return visitors.
And we took advantage of all of this as you can imagine.
The evening came, and into Bath we headed. A lovely dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant was followed by a walk around the Christmas market, where various things were purchased, one being a rather unusual gift for grand daughter Ella.
Apart from carol singers, there were buskers all over the place. Skilled musicians playing all manner of music on guitar, violin, cello, drum or saxophone. The tree by the abbey courtyard looked wonderful, and had a flautist putting out some beautiful sounds.
It was very busy in the market, and everyone was in a lovely, friendly and festive mood. More mulled wine was a necessity as the evening was very cold indeed!
The market spreads throughout the whole area surrounding the abbey, and one favourite daytime place that we like to head to is the abbey green, where not only can one get some really good beers at the Crystal Palace pub, but there is also an ancient, and VERY big plane tree, from which we have on several occasions collected fallen leaves.....this IS the place of romance after all!
We took a taxi back VERY late at night, and slept so well that we had to force ourselves to get up at 9.30am. A full vegetarian breakfast, cereals, croissants, toast and..and...and, set us up for the day ahead.
First stop was the Holburne Museum. Formerly a hotel from the 1800's, it has very recently become a museum, and the exhibition that we wanted to see is of the artist Thomas Gainsborough. Not exactly an artist on my top ten list, but never people to pass up an opportunity, we gave this special showing a visit. I have to say that although he was noted for his landscapes, he was by far a better portrait painter.
But landscapes he was famed for, and my favourite was this one. About six feet square, I liked the relaxed feeling that the horses and rider had with each other, the soft textured tree, and overall sense of peace that it gave to the onlooker.
Holburne House, being a museum, of course had myriad exhibits, too numerous to mention them all, but two that created laughter and chat between us were firstly this little item. It's technical name escapes me, but it basically a small silver case that houses useful items such as knife and fork, pipe cleaner, moustaches scissors, and...wait for it.......an ear wax scoop!......hmmmmmmmmmm.
The second exhibit was this rather grand cabinet. I was thinking collections of shells, feathers, precious stones and antiquities, whilst Amanda made me burst out laughing with her counter suggestion of socks, stockings, jumpers and bags. She is one in a million, and I suppose that I should start saving the pennies.
The building is old, and classic Bath in appearence. Modernisation was needed to accomodate the museum in it's entirety, and so an extension needed to be added. Modern architectural additions can either be badly hidden, or in this case made absolutely crystal clear and seperate from the original building, and in this case it has worked really well. Nothing of the original building has been lost, and now, a new, and quite beautiful in it's own right 'add on' can be seen. The rear lawn is covered in thousands of lights on sticks, that at night light up in blues, greens, pinks and whites.
This took us until lunchtime, breakfast was still weighing heavy, and so no meal needed for now. However, it's Christmas, and so yet another mulled wine break at Abbey Green.
I mentioned earlier about the buskers of Bath, and these kids were amazing. All joining together to play Christmas carols, and all money raised was to go to 'Shelter', an organisation that helps to house those in dire need such as the homeless. Brilliant aren't they?
The day, far too quickly, came to an end, but for the evening we had tickets for an evening show at the Bath Theatre Royal, purchased way back in June.
The show tonight was an Alan Ayckbourn one entitled 'Season's Greeting'. Based around three couples and a gun/knife weilding father in law, it appears on the surface very funny, but as with a classic Ayckbourn, there is a very dark underlying thread.
This was just before the light's went down, and the curtains opened.....just THE best moment!
You guessed right....we slept like the proverbial logs on our last night. Breakfast was served to us in bed, and this time with the addition of a couple of Buck's Fizzes (is that the correct plural?)
We hadn't planned to head back home until the afternoon, and so, along with most of the Bath rugby supporters (a big match on today!), we walked, talked, and gazed.
A place that I had never been to was, oddly enough, the Royal Crescent, and so we headed there, and in particular, No.1
The only house on the crescent open to the public, as all of the others are still lived in, this one is kept as it was in georgian times.
I could show pictures of all of the rooms, tell you all that there is to tell, but then what would you all do when you came to this wonderful city yourselves?
You could, I suppose, drool over the elegant afternoon teas that were once served.......
........or better still, head into town, and grab yourself one of your own!
I was going to end this post here, but an event last night has to be shared. As you can imagine, the weekend, though wonderful, was quite taxing. Add to this yesterday, a day of storms, gardening, machinery and angst, followed by taking my true love, in howling gales, in the evening, to hand in her assignments for her course. She was to be quite some time, and so I settled with my copy of 'The Times', ine the pub a few hundred yards away. What must have been two hours later, and me at this time totally absorbed in the comings and goings of Cameron and the EU, a voice called out behind me.....'Oy gorgeous.....give us a kiss!!'. I turned, and was met with this mistletoe bearing, rain soaked and windswept beauty!
Thanks for dropping by.