I consider myself to be very much a country person, but if I had to live in a city then Bath would be my number one choice. It is the most splendid city, and not just because it’s like stepping into the pages of a Jane Austen novel. Easy on the eye, small enough to walk around without feeling overwhelmed, and surrounded by wooded hills, Bath is as close to perfect as an English city can be. I’ve grown up with the place, and on a visit there this weekend I realised I’d forgotten how astonishingly beautiful this city is. I wish I’d had my big camera with me so that I could have done it more photographic justice; I’ll have to save that for another day. In the meantime, here are some of the iPhone/GoPro pics taken when I showed Lee around Bath on Sunday.
Our first port of call was the Royal Crescent, one of Bath’s most desirable addresses. There was a brass band playing in the background, which gave the afternoon a sense of occasion. Lee and I agreed that the crescent shape was perhaps best appreciated from the air, and vowed to fly over next time we’re in the vicinity.
We meandered slowly through the tourist-thronged Georgian streets to the Abbey, a magnificent building in which I once sang Brahms’ Requiem with a choir I used to be in.
This was how the GoPro saw the Abbey – weirdly distorted, but you can see more of it!
And here’s the GoPro view of me. I am clutching a Fudge Kitchen bag…
…because moments earlier we had been lured into the Fudge Kitchen with the promise of a free sample. They had just finished a batch of Belgian Chocolate Swirl, which we were invited to try; it was still warm. Needless to say, we ended up buying an entire box!
An overexposed picture of the weir, with Pulteney Bridge in the background – another of Bath’s many famous views.
This beautiful Georgian terrace is a quiet side-street not far from the Abbey. I love the fact that there are no cars, which gives one a much better sense of what Bath would have been like in Jane Austen’s time. I would quite happily occupy one of these houses, but it would have to be the entire house, not just a flat!
Right behind me when I was taking this photograph was Sally Lunn’s, a cafe that occupies what is supposedly Bath’s oldest house. I have passed this before but never been in, and I didn’t really have any idea what a Sally Lunn Bun actually was. I was slightly worried that raisins might be involved, but happily this proved not to be the case.
You can have a Sally Lunn Bun as either a sweet or savoury dish, and they are quite big, so they’re served as a half. They are basically like Brioche; indeed, Sally Lunn was a refugee from France (“Sally Lunn” is an Anglicised version of a French name, Soli Luyon), who presumably knew how to make Brioche and adapted the recipe slightly to make her own signature bun. She started this in 1680 and it’s been going ever since, in the same house. We sat in what was called the Jane Austen Room; we weren’t sure whether this was because Jane Austen had visited, or if it was simply to appeal to tourists. I had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bun, and Lee went for the Club, which had chicken, bacon and lettuce. We were both highly impressed!
After a pleasant, slightly boozy, lunch, we went down several flights of stairs to reach the basement museum, which was absolutely fascinating. It showed several layers of history, from the Roman level, through Saxon, Medieval and Tudor, and you could see the original oven in which Sally Lunn made the first of her buns. Apparently the oven dates from around 1100!
After lunch, we walked around a bit more of the city, had ice creams, did a bit of shopping and sat opposite the Royal Crescent for a while before returning to the car. The view from the carpark shows how close to the countryside Bath is, though I mainly took this picture because I was impressed at this towering cumulonimbus cloud, which suggested that our luck with the weather might be about to run out.
Next time I blog about Bath, I promise to take my proper camera so I can get some better-quality shots.