Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Off to Bath

In Lanivet, where we stayed in Cornwall, there were two restaurants. We returned to Welcome Stranger for our last night there. All our meals in both places were perfectly fine, but nothing unusual or outstanding. The one thing we did have that was special was Sticky Toffee Pudding on Monday evening. We were first introduced to this dessert in India, where Rokeby Manor makes a wonderful one. We tried it in Ireland a few years ago and were not so impressed. But this one was amazing. The date cake was warm, topped with caramel sauce and floating in a sea of lovely warm custard. We managed to lick the platter clean between us!

After our last good breakfast at St Benet's Abbey, we loaded up and headed northeast to Bath. It was a wonderful, sunny day, better than we'd seen so far. The drive through the Cornish, Devon, and Somerset countryside was lovely.

I knew there was a guided walking tour of Bath at 2:00 and I hoped to get there for it. The drive took us about 3 hours and we parked in a lot near the center of the city. Only a block away we passed the Guildhall Market and went in. A friend of a friend has a tea and coffee shop there and we wanted to give her our greetings. We had some tea and a nice visit with the owner and her father who was visiting. One of those good small-world stories.

On we went to the Abbey where the tour started. A very good singer/guitarist was busking. Later we heard an opera singer; it appeared that the performers were carefully chosen.

The tour was led by the Mayor of Bath Guides. These are volunteers who do it for the love of their city. The tour lasted two hours and covered much of central Bath. We had quite a large group, but there were three guides who split us up so we were a dozen or so.

The Abbey itself is interesting. It was built in 1499 on the site of an older church where King Edward was crowned in 973. Two unusual things:  there are ladders on each side with angels going up and down, and the head of St Peter on the left has a face carved into his beard, done after the head was stolen. It makes him look diminutive next to St Paul on the right.

We saw many old and interesting buildings around the city on our two-hour walk. This is the front of the Pump Room.

On the side of the Abbey is this lovely statue of Minerva. Below her it says "Water is best," which is also written in Greek above the Pump Room.

The Avon River flows through the town. This bridge is modeled on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, with shops inside.

The picture below illustrates some interesting ways of getting around taxation. At one time, the number of windows determined the amount of tax on a property. However, if two windows were separated by 12" or less, it counted as one window, as those shown below. Also, if they wanted to decrease the tax, they could block out a window as above the doorway. We saw another building that was designed with blocked-in spaces that looked like former windows, but used as a design feature.

Walking up the hill, we stopped at the Royal Crescent, an elaborate curved structure. There is now a luxury hotel in the center and at the far right end is an apartment furnished as it was in Georgian times. There is a huge lawn that is public. A low stone wall called a ha-ha separates the private portion of the lawn from the public.

After the tour we headed back to pick up our car and drive to our B&B in a private home south of the river. We were glad to know there was a neighbourhood pub within walking distance for a dinner of burgers. We'll be here two nights, and no driving on Wednesday.

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