Newest Review: ... which are absolutely beautiful when the sun shines on them. No trip to Bath would be complete without a visit to the Roman baths. ... more
Splish Splash. Plop. (Or Bath as its also called)
Bath in General
Member Name: Pjenkins
Bath in General
Date: 12/08/02, updated on 12/08/02 (129 review reads)
Advantages: Archietecture is astounding, Clean, Good transport services
Disadvantages: No exciting restaurants
"I’ve got a brand new combine harvester and I’ll give you the key....."
In the world of Tourism there are a few essential ingredients needed if you are to be classed as an A grade attraction for international visitors. Here are some general rules.
1) Firstly, you need some old buildings, crumbling ones if possible, and preferably with some sort of religious significance. If your old buildings have a shady past (i.e. they have been centres for human sacrifice or some sort of religious genocide) then all the better as there is no better crowd pleaser than a bit of blood and gore. If you haven’t got blood & gore then your attraction must have a dynamic piece of science that was seen as revolutionary at the time. (And to whoever invented those stupid roadside café metal teapots – you get negative points on the tourist scale)
2) Your city/town must have some sort of interesting story about its birth. The crazier the story the better, and once again, tales of 4th century logic are often met with amusement. (This part of the theory explains why the town of High Wycombe has never become internationally renowned. The story of its birth revolves around the town’s historic production of chairs and tables. Ho-hum)
3) You must have a recognisably obscure accent. (And the more it can be replicated in a comedy way the better)
Bearing these three fundamental rules in mind, we turn our attention to Bath, designated a world heritage site by UNESCO and home to the largest and oldest Roman Baths in Britain. They score heavily on all counts.
a) They have lots of crumbly buildings (and some nice shiny ones as a bonus)
b) It was mostly built by the Romans who have an outstanding record in the religious genocide league.
c) They’ve got Britains very first Sauna/Solarium!
d) The town has a bona fide silly story about its conception. (See below)
7;s in the middle of Somerset and everybody sounds like comedy farmers from a Python sketch.
As far as places in Britain go, I love it, and now I shall tell you why…
HOW BATH CAME TO BE
According to legend, the city of Bath dates back to 860 BC, when Prince Bladud, (Comedy name already) caught leprosy. He was banished from the Royal Court and settled in the area that is now Bath. It is said that his pigs, which had also suffered from a nasty skin disease, were cured when they rolled in the mud. (That is the marks seemed to disappear- funny that, them being covered up by mud & everything...) Bladud decided to follow them in and lo and behold discovered the healing properties of the natural spring that runs under the city! Hoorah!
WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT
The Romans came and were terribly clever. After hearing about the ‘healing spring’ they built a massive bathing complex and sauna (Yes, that’s right, a sauna). There was also a temple dedicated to Sulis Minerva to praise her for this wonderful open plan-bathing complex in South West England. Obviously the Romans didn’t mind running around naked in the pouring rain.
As with all things in the middle ages, it was left to Ruin, but thankfully, drinking Spa Water became exceptionally trendy in the 18th century and a whole bunch of England’s ‘society’ big knobs made Bath a trendy place to come once more. They built a magnificent pump room and the town got a splendid Georgian facelift. The rest as they say, is history.
THE OLD CRUMBLY BUILDINGS (& THE SHINY NEW ONES)
The Bathing complex is absolutely breathtaking. Personally, I find it the most interesting historical building in the UK, simply as there is so much of it to see. The tour, which comes with a hand held audio commentary, takes you through the origins of the site, through the archaeological finds, into the hot & cold bathing areas and then into the Georgian renov
ations and the Pump Room.
It’s a real value for money attraction, and you can get a combined ticket for the Museum of Costume as well, which is also worth a visit. Here you will find a complete collection of period clothing from the 1600’s to the present day. To celebrate the Jubilee, they are also currently displaying a collection of dresses our one and only Queen Liz. If you’re not into that sort of thing, then its not a ‘must see’ but if you have any interest in the theatre or in dressmaking generally, then it’s a really good experience.
The most spectacular sight in the city is The Royal Crescent, a series of Georgian apartments that have been designed in a horseshoe style. It is an awesome sight and there is now a museum at No1 Royal Crescent containing lots of Georgian artifacts & history about the building. Personally I think the outside of the building is far more interesting and is definitely ‘one for the album’.
The Museum of Bath at Work – Educational, aimed at the kiddies, more of a school trip thing than a family day out.
Bath Postal Museum – Let’s face it, you’d have to have a very rainy week to consider visiting this. It was the building that the very first postage stamp (The Penny Black) was mailed from, so that’s, er...interesting...
Microworld- This bizarre museum contains miniature sculptures of animals, celebrities, buildings, works of art etc. Includes the Statue of Liberty in the eye of a needle and Goldilocks and the Three bears carved from cocktail sticks! Somebody clearly has too much time on their hands!!!
The American Museum and Gardens - Shows how the early settlers of New England lived and also has ‘fascinating’ (Ahem) artefacts about the civil war. There is also a recreation of a Massachusetts tavern, where every visitor is given a piece of home cooked gingerbread. (yum) I’m sure it
’s all very interesting if you give two hoots about early American settlers. Why this museum is in Bath and not Massachusetts is also a complete mystery to me...
The Jane Austen centre – Jane Austen lived in Bath for a bit and mentioned it a couple of her books. That’s enough to warrant a teeny tiny, not worth bothering about museum in anybody’s books. Unless you’re studying Ms Austen of course, then it’s very useful indeed.
SO JUST LOTS OF TOURISTY THINGS?
Nope, loads of other stuff. Rugby’s big in Bath and they have a very successful team. (They’re also very proud of it, so walking round pubs informing the locals that its just cheating at football isn’t really on the agenda.)
There’s also a very successful University in the city for all you budding academics.
TRANSPORT. IS IT ANY COP?
Having only visited on short trips, I cannot give a complete overview of the transport system, but it does seem on the whole to be well run. There are regular, fairly priced buses running (and get this) ON TIME! Being an environmentally friendly person (can’t afford a car) I had to travel by bus all the time and not once was a bus a minute late. Very impressive and probably a one off which all the Bath locals will point out to me is a fallacy I’m sure. UK Routes to the city are also extremely good. You can get from London to Bath in about 2 hours by Rail or 2 ˝ Hours by Road. Bristol airport is also nearby.
I’M A GIRL, I CLEARLY WANT TO GO SHOPPING. CAN I?
Yep, and you’re well served too. A good mixture of small independents and large high street names. One small independent to look out for in particular– The Paddington Bear Shop, just across the square from the Baths complex. It’s a fandabbydozy (Didn’t think I’d ever get to say that again…) toy shop and has stuff for all you big kids. Well stuff that’s intended for
small kids anyway. Also of note is the very nice Waitrose in the town centre. (I don’t think there’s anything special about it, but I’d never been in a Waitrose before and it seemed rather pleasant. Bit pricey though….)
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD
Not so hot. (‘scuse the pun). Sally Lunn’s Famous Bun was made here. What? You’ve never heard of her famous bun? Not suprising as it’s just a very expensive and very ordinary bun ,which is made in Sally Lunn’s refreshment house, which is housed in the oldest house in Bath (built in 1482).I don’t think that being made in an old building justifies the publicity or the price tag for the 'plain' bun quite frankly.
There are some nice cafes near or along Pulteney Bridge (which is, in itself a very nice part of the city to visit) but other than that, food in Bath isn’t going to set the world alight. The three restaurants we went to were nothing special, but it was a bit pricey. I wouldn’t put it down as one of the selling points.
Seems to be okay, your usual scattering of Pubs & Clubs, and also a very nice jazz club. Standard fare really.
Bath is a beautiful, clean city. It is well run and treasures it history. Being a British oldy woldy city, it does suffer from the more conservative (small c) culture and I’m afraid there’s not much sign of the famous multi-cultural Britain reflected within the city. Even at the Theatre Royal in Bath, which produces some of the highest quality work in Britain today, the programme holds a very ‘traditional’ line. As with all these things, this is generally a reflection of the population of the area, and the West Country as a whole seems to have very much unaffected by the influx of cultures to the UK over the last thirty years.
It’s a nice place, good to visit and a good base if you want to spend a little bit more ti
me exploring the West Country in general.
A final tip. Saying ‘Ooh-Ar, Ooh-Ar’ to everyone you meet is considered funny when performed in a comedy sketch. The checkout girls in Waitrose don’t seem to find it funny. I can’t think why…..