Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year in Bath

It's early Saturday morning, 4th January, Amanda is asleep, and I'm on the sofa looking out on another day of vicious storms. The rain is lashing the window, and a single Leylandii that must be at least sixty feet in height is, I'm sure, now listing towards a neighbours house who's garden it's in. Not surprising as it has been pushed sideways almost permanently by the winds for the last three weeks.
We ventured down to the seafront yesterday to see what the damage was, and boy, what a place at the moment, but that is coming later. For now, perhaps just a gentle tour of what we got up to while in Bath eh?
The weather forecast was pretty bad, as is always the case down here at the moment, but it didn't matter, as we had made provision to be indoors most of the time if need be. We had rented out some regency rooms for a couple of days, in what is just about the best location in Bath. The ancient roman baths backed on to the rear of the property, the abbey was just across the public courtyard. There was a wonderful and character filled pub about fifteen paces in front of the front door, and our New Year restaurant was about thirty yards away. It doesn't get much better than that.
On arrival, we were shown around the lounge and bedroom area, the kitchen had everything needed, and the bathroom was lovely. The view from our front windows looked out on to a little square, where a gigantic Plane Tree took centre stage. The pub is just to the right.
 We unpacked, and spread out our chosen cd and book collection for the stay.

 A martini was prepared, and while Amanda rested in a warm bath, I settled back to listen to one of my Christmas presents, a cd collection of pieces by the medieval composer Thomas Tallis.
While lazing back on the sofa, I looked up and around at the various period features of the room.

Our table at Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen was booked for 6.30pm, and we were allowed to stay there as long as we liked, and so after a freshen up and a change of clothes, we headed to the restaurant. Can you believe it, we forgot to take any pictures of the entire thing, as the experience was quite intoxicating, and the conversation absorbing. The menu was fantastic, with a different wine for every course, and for one who cannot stand cheese, the only dish out of the eight courses that contained it was the first complimentary dish that we were given to go with our welcoming champagne.....Yay!
We asked if we may take a menu with us on leaving, some three hours later, and they were delighted to let us. As you can see, all very delicious, and interspersed with 'taster' creations that the chef was conjuring up on the spot by way of little extras.

 Parsnip risotto (spelt) with apple, and Blue Vinny cheese. Lemon and Mint Granita. Truffles and Honeycombe, all blended well with what was already on the menu.
It was a very late night indeed by the time we arrived home after seeing the New Year fireworks, but after a lay in, and a cooked breakfast, we headed out to our day. We enjoyed this lovely view of the abbey from our kitchen table as we ate, but the sunshine wasn't to last. Storms are still battering the south of England, and the rain and wind were about to come yet again.
We had discovered that there was to be a choral recital at the abbey at 1pm, by a visiting youth choir from Australia called St.Peters Chorale. I took some video on the phone, which came out quite well, but sideways, as I always forget that the way one holds the phone matters. I did manage to correct this through various bits of advice on the internet, and all seemed well, until I went back to the edited clips, and discovered that they had been 'computered' in some way while I was logged off, and all is now lost sadly. So, stills I'm afraid. The abbey was, as always, breathtakingly beautiful.

And the musical pieces sung superbly. There was even a Thomas Tallis piece in the list, but the hour of singing went all too quickly. The group were touring England and Germany, and we enjoyed being told of their adventures so far. They had left sunny temperatures of 35C +, to be welcomed by cold English storms.

And speaking of storms, we left the abbey, and were met with winds and torrential rain once more, and so quickly headed back to our place for the afternoon. Of course we had festive supplies packed with us, and so chocolates, tangerines and martinis accompanied a cosy afternoon of watching the classic 'Lorna Doone' on television. Quite the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon.
The rain did ease for a little while in the evening, and so before we set up the scrabble for me to once again be alphabetically pummelled to oblivion, we took a brief walk for some fresh air. All the way across the square to the pub, to see who was there, and enjoy a pint of London Pride.
The impending rain to come again was quite evident, and so the briefest of strolls around the immediate town, then it was back across the abbey courtyard.....and scrabble. I believe this type of photo is now called a 'selfie'.

Our last day was forecast to be nice and dry, and we did indeed wake to glorious sunshine. I had some Christmas gift money to spend, and new exactly where I was headed. Havana House is a little specialist shop that is joined to the back of where we were staying, and is a tiny emporium of all things 'manly'. Cigars and every tool to go with them, hip flasks, pipes, and quality shaving gear abound. It was the shaving equipment that I was after.

I got fed up with using cans of shaving foam, and disposable razors long ago. Not only are they costly, but also very bad for the environment. I have had a shaving brush for many years now, and although it was a very expensive one, the initial outlay far outweighs what fifty cans of shaving foam would have cost. This time I was going to treat myself to a 'man' product from this shop at last, and perused the razors on display.

The choice was quite staggering, as this one display shows. But there it was, and caught my eye straight away. A rather beautiful Merkur safety razor, and German craftsmanship at it's best, and little sparkly bits in the handle. Needless to say, my first shave with it left my face with the velvety feel of a babys bottom.

Amanda is very accomodating when I drag her around mens shops. She says that it's nice to enter a place that has a uniquely masculine feel to it, and quite a rarity nowadays. She once enjoyed a trip to a barbers in London that I occasionally use when staying there. It's run by an Iraqi man, and is another 'blokey' place, with 'blokey' talk and stuff.
When we last visited Bath a few months ago, I mentioned on here that we visited the Assembly Rooms, but only to find that they were filled with an antiques dealers book fair, and so we were unable to really see them in their true glory. It was a fine day, and we headed there again.
And found that we had the place to ourselves, and so were able to properly take in the amazing rooms. Originally ballrooms, card rooms and dining rooms, they are magnificent. Open fires are evrywhere, not necessary now mind you, due to central heating and humidity controls, but it wasn't hard to imagine these rooms filled to capacity with revellers of the 17th and 18th century, and the fires blazing. It's told that on an average night of entertaining, some 1200 people would!
The chandeliers are huge, and adorn every room. As a glass lover, they were particularly striking to me, as I thought through the techniques used in their making.

The assembly rooms also house a fashion museum, and there was a large display of fashion through the ages on at the time of our visit. Everything from 1400 to the present day. The really old stuff was in rooms kept in a rather dim light to protect the material, but the modern stuff not so, as you can see.

These dresses below ranged from the late 1800's to about the 1950's.

I must say though, that the 'outfit' that caught my eye was in a surgical support shop that we came across after leaving. Every type of sports support that the aching man could wish for. I may need this when work kicks in on Monday!

Eventually though, our time in Bath had to come to an end. I wasn't very hungry, but Amanda had a salmon moussey thing for a late lunch before we left. Me, I had one of those strange low alcohol lagers.
Work is starting to figure in my mind now, Christmas can't last forever. In fact, I had to take stuff away with us to draw up all of the December invoices for our customers, as time at home beforehand hadn't alowed. Thoughts are turning to planting schemes that had been discussed at the end of last year, our own garden needs some serious work doing, and the allotment is, well, ignored. We do glance at our plot from a distance when we pass, but instead of rows of neatly placed vegetables, all is now a blanket of weeds. One thing at a time though eh? It's now Saturday evening, we have a chinese takeaway ordered, and 'The Mission' to watch. The day has been spent taking down and packing away the decorations, and as it turned out, having a major tidy up of the house, so an evening of R&R is what needs to happen. I hope to read all of your latest posts at some time tomorrow. Catch you all soon


  1. Now that is a wonderful way to see in the new year! Sounds like you both enjoyed your time together. Too bad about the video of the choir. I often have sideways videos too. Mostly of waterfalls. Sigh. I did discover that Windows Live Movie Maker will let you upright a video. Don't know how it does it but sure saves having to tilt the head so often. The storms do not sound good. We'd love your moisture. Got just a touch of snow today. Now for the deep freeze. The wind chills they're predicting for us are scary. Staying in as much as possible! Be well and have a Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Sherlock,
      It was really nice to get away for a while, before the gardening mayhem starts. Already there is an additional request for an apple and pear tree to be pruned. The weather here is really tough and problematic at the moment, some snow would at least mean I could throw snowballs at the local kids. Hope your week is a good one.

  2. It looks to have been an excellent break. I would need a holiday after that.

    1. Good evening Adrian,
      We find the secret is never to walk so fast that you can't divert into a pub without skidding.

  3. What a perfect holiday from Tallis to the Assembly Rooms and that wonderful restaurant, concert in the abbey, beautiful new razor - I envy you!
    Hope the return to work is not too hard on Monday.

    1. Hello Alain,
      Bath always provides everything we need in terms of relaxation, culture, food and good pubs, hence the return visits so often. As for work starting tomorrow, I am quite literally bracing myself for the post storm onslaught, and all during more stormy weather....ugh!

  4. Oh my gosh what a wonderful stay in Bath you two had. The first photo looks like a beautiful old oil painting.

    Thank you for sharing this here, it all was truly a delight.

    I've some serious house cleaning to do and am looking forward to it. This is a new year and I want to be more organized. Last year was pretty frazzled for me.

    Have a nice Sunday and a great week.


    1. Hi Lorraine,
      If we are ever lucky enough to see you over here, the Bath is one place we shall go together. Our house was a real disaster zone, but it was good to sort things. Hope you have an easy week.

  5. Have you read TOM STEPHENSON's blog
    He's an old soak and stone mason who lives in the city
    If you get a chance have a look

    1. Hello John,
      I have just taken a glimpse, but am cooking a roast dinner at the same time, and so will have a better look later. I wiil probs sign up to it, the post about his grey hair looking like Papillons a few days ago was a hoot! thanks for pointing him out.

  6. Good evening Gary,
    Great to read Amanda and yourself had a good time. There is much familiarity with the architecture in Bath as some of it resembles what has been built here in Edinburgh. I can't for the life of me think of the building that is identical to the Assembly Rooms of Bath. I've been googling every one I can think of but haven't found it yet. It will probably come to me when I least expect it!
    I think most men appreciate a good shave - my son's gf is trained in giving fancy shaves and is always in demand, especially if they have a special occasion. I hope work doesn't hit you too hard!

    1. Hello Angie,
      Is it by any chance The Queens Hall? Amanda lived in Edinburgh for a while and it came to mind.