Bath 2014

December is for most the month of Christmas, for me it’s the month of my mum, step mum, auntie, brother in law and wifes birthdays, AND christmas.

I kid you not, it starts with my brother in law on the 11th, my wife on the 12th, my mum and step mum on the 13th and my aunt on the 25th, I don’t know who got the worse deal, my aunt being born on the 25th or my nan being in hospital on Christmas day in I suspect a world of pain.

All in all it’s busy and enjoyable month of celebrations, Lolly and I try to get away for her birthday, past trips have included Vegas, almost Brighton (I was ill so we didn’t go) and i’m sure there is somewhere else but right now I can’t remember where that is, might be Cornwall.

This year Lolly organised a trip to Bath which is a lovely place any time of year but with the Christmas markets it’s even more awesome, as my friend at work Ben said “If your not feeling very Christmassy, you will do after you’ve been to bath”, he was right.

The plan was to get up at silly o’clock on Thursday morning and be on the road by 6am to beat the M25 traffic.

Great plan, badly executed.

The night before both myself and Lolly got into holiday mode pretty quickly and by that I mean we consumed a considerable amount of Gin, Rum and JD assisted by our friend ‘Appy ‘Andz who popped in for a cup of tea and ended up getting smashed and staying for the weekend to look after the house and Terence.

By 7am the next morning, an hour later than we had planned we were on the road, the traffic to be fair wasn’t too bad and we hit Bath around midday after a couple of pit stops en route.

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One of the pit stops was a lovely little village called Corsham, a proper traditonal english village with a quite fantastic delicatessen called The Deli At Corsham. It was from here we bought the best scotch egg in the world, we actually bought three scotch eggs, black pudding, Chorizio and 3 beans. For me the Chorizio was outstanding but Lauren wasn’t convinced, for her the out and out winner was the 3 bean and so impressed she was that it was declared the best scotch egg in the world.

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For two nights of our stay, one being Lollys birthday, Lolly booked us into The Cranleigh which is a lovely B&B in an old Victorian house with lots of nice antique furnishings, the best of which was the massive four poster bed in our room. We were greeted by I think the owners son, quite a big bloke, likes his food and made the house shake when he was walking about. We received a warm and informative welcome, were shown to our room and then left to our own devices, we wrapped up and headed to Bath on foot.

I could go on for hours about Bath but in the interest of attention spans i’ll break it down into days with a brief description of what we got up to.

Thursday

Headed into the town center and went for a mooch about the Christmas market, had some drinks, met a monk, took a picture (below) and went to the Thermae Spa, we booked the twighlight package which gives you 2 hours in the spa, one course meal with a drink, 80 quid all in. We got to the spa at 4pm by which time we had missed the sunset, there wasn’t much of one anyway as it was cloudy so no loss there. The spa experience was cool, headed to the roof pool first which is lovely and warm till you get out, darted out of there to the steam rooms to warm up, into the cafe in our robes for dinner then one last dip in the main pool before our time ran out. Highlight of the spa trip for me was riding a noodle like a horse racing Lauren round the lazy river thing, when I say racing it was more a case of who was floating less slowly than the other,  we had an early night, like 20.30 early…

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Friday – Laurens Birthday

Our room was quite near the front reception, this was the big fellas second favourite place to hang out, between walking from here to his favourite place, the kitchen, we were woken not by the sounds of birdsong or the morning rays bursting through the crack between curtains but by our room shaking while the big fella checked people in or out and visited the kitchen for scraps.

We planned a lazy start and treated ourself to a nice cooked breakfast at the very end of the breakfast service, the kitchen staff were very gracious, after filling our stomachs we got ourselves together and headed to the Roman Baths. We love a bit of history and we really quite like Romans, possibly because we watched the Spartacus TV show and thought it was awesome. The next couple of hours were spent walking round the baths and associated museum learning about what the Baths would have been like when they were built by the Romans, that for the Romans it was also a spiritual place, what happened to the baths after the Romans and why the Victorians are despised by the tour guides, if you haven’t been it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours.

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We had planned to go ice skating, last year on Lollys birthday we skated outside the natural history museum, it was lit up magically with Christmas music playing and a Chrimbo tree in the middle of the rink. Baths version was the size of a postage stamp, looked about as magical as how a tennis court converted into an ice rink looks accompianed by some god awful music, at 10 quid an hour we gave it a swerve. We did spend the whole day walking about with our ice skates over our shoulders and after being asked many times had we been skating and explaining no becasue of the above, agreed if anyone else asked we would lie and said yes, it was great. We mooched around the shops some more visiting primark and buying a most awesome Superman onesie, more about that later. On the way home we passed a steak restaurant that had chateaubriand on the menu, Lauren had mentioned earlier in the day about going for a curry near where we were staying and I really fancied one, selfishly I convinced her to come to the steakhouse the following day and have my choice of meal on her birthday. Being the awesome wife she is she agreed, writing this now I feel a bit bad. The curry was OK, we were knackered and home was only round the corner so we crashed out early doors.

Saturday

We got up thanks to Cranleighs earthquake alarm, grabbed another coooked breakfast and checked out, our final night in Bath would be spent camping in the van, we headed to our campsite, The Bath Marina and Caravan Park to get checked in and set the van up. Bearing in mind it was December and not the warmest, the campsite was fully booked, we got the last spot when I booked it. Our plan for the day was to do the Bath Skyline Walk and then head to Bath Abbey for a carol service, something Lauren has been asking me to do with her for ages and i’ve always gotten out of.

Below is the van all set up on our pitch ready for weary wanderers arrival later in the day.

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The walk started with a two mile jaunt into bath along the river Avon, that was the easy bit. Neither of us had the foresight to download “the most downloaded national trust walk” so Lauren whipped out her iPhone to help us find our way. What doesn’t help with google maps is when you rotate the phone like you would rotate a map to match the way you are facing, it auto rotates round to where it wants to be as opposed to where you would like it to be making it extremely difficult to work out which direction you should be going in. An hour later, some loud words and a wife sitting on the pavement wanting to cry we were yet to find the walk.

I don’t like seeing Lolly upset so I tried the man up speech but with a slightly more feminine twist and it worked, before too long we were walking up a path hand in hand with a slight smile into the unknown. Not far up the path we came across a farm and choice, either keep going up or take a left up a different hill, the different hill had a lady walking her dog on it so thats the way we went thinking she might know where the walk was. Turns out she did, we just had to keep going up and we would intersect the walk, hurrah, happy wife who now believes the nice lady was an angel.

Whilst we didn’t do the whole skywalk we did some of it, we got the view over Bath Lolly wanted to see and headed off back in the direction of Bath, we stopped off at a nice pub for a couple of jars and then another where we bumped into a bloke who proceeded to tell us he had photographed princess Diana (corroborated by his wife) and that he was now working for MI6 and was off the following day to photograph people that might do bad things to our country, he was quite drunk. We left and chipped off to the Abbey for the carol service, I called my Mum too, it was her birthday after all.

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The abbey is a stunning building with amazing acoustics, the organ boomed and the choir sounded amazing, i’ve heard nothing quite like it.The carol service was very nice, good singing all round including our goodselves, I even sung one carol in the style of David Bowie which amused Lolly no end, it was a very middle class affair at the service apart from us, the Croydon massive. The conductor and organ player both looked quite demonic but none of the children in the choir looked scared or nervous. The concert drew to a close and we headed off into Bath looking for steak and booze.

Remember that chateaubriand I spoke of earlier, we headed to the restaurant Lolly wanted to go to the night before, it’s called Miller and Carter, extremely popular, reasonably priced, excellent service and amazing food, I highly recommend it !

A good few drinks and fantastic meal later we headed back to the van and settled in for the night. We had a good nights sleep, wasn’t cold at all and woke up reasonably refreshed and hangover free the following morning. Still dressed in my newly aquired Superman onesie I left the van, kettle in hand to fill with water for a brew, just over the way there were three kids at the window of a caravan pointing and shouting look look, it’s superman, that made me chuckle.

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After tea and a shower we packed up and headed to a really nice cafe for breakfast, popped into Bath for an hour and headed out, we had a slight issue with the brake light switch but I managed to sort that to get us home. All in all a great few days in Bath with my wife. I’d definitely like to go again as there are some things we didn’t get to see and i’m happy we went camping in December, most people think we’re nutters, i’m ok with that too.

Thanks to Lolly for making it happen, you really are the best wife!

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