Yesterday we spent the whole day scouting: the Pump Room, Sally Lunn’s, the walking tour, the bus tour, Jane Austen visitor centre, Fashion Museum, the boating station etc. We caught the sight of Abbey’s Thursday night late opening poster and made bookings online. We also bought a walking tour book, On Foot In Bath, which seemed random but later proved to be an excellent move. The book is brilliant (the cover less so). We’re going to conduct our own tours (to save money) and try out if I can make a living becoming a tour guide in Bath. Andy will look for a building maintenance job for 18th Century buildings. There are quite a lot of them, tourists and old buildings.
Near the Royal Crescent, a dog chased a squirrel up a large leafy tree and wouldn’t let up the guard. He circled round and round at the bottom and stretched his neck long and hard looking up. So did the humans walking past. We all looked up the tree in vain, trying to find this squirrel.
We walked to Sham Castle in the warm evening light and nearly fell into a canal on the way. It was surprising to walk up so steep a flight of steps uphill and found yourself facing a canal full of narrowboats.
We overshot our budget loads on Wednesday so ended up eating salad pots and instant noodles all day on Thursday.
On Thursday we carried out Walking Tour NO.1 from the aforementioned book. Such a great amount of information was packed into the walk. Even though the distance was short, it took us hours and I had to take a nap to recover from the 10,000 steps. Many indoor places were still not open to the public in the name of COVID. We were not allowed to see the Pump Room, unless we have breakfast, brunch or afternoon tea there, nor the Banqueting Room in the Guildhall, unless we’re getting married, nor the King’s and Queen’s Bath for love or money. We don’t have money anyway – we’re eating instant noodles.
As a city not in the friendly North, the citizens of Bath are extremely friendly. As we followed the guide book, literally walking about with nose in the pages reading out loud, a grand total of three passersby offered to give us directions and made sure we were OK. A man in a bus company uniform pointed out the hidden East Gate; an American woman advised us to see the architecture evolve from Queens Square to the Royal Crescent; an older woman with a grocery bag checked we were not lost and approved of our attempt at the walking tour. Thinking about it, if I was a resident of Bath, I probably would be so sick of tourists gawping left and right and not looking where they’re going that I wouldn’t encourage them to go on self-guided tours. Thank you lovely people of Bath!
The (professionally guided) tour up Bath Abbey tower was definitely the highlight on Thursday. We arrived just before 7.30pm (our booking) and grabbed the last two spaces for the tower tour – God is so good! I only expected to see a view but was thrilled finding myself in a room with bell ropes hanging from the ceiling and hearing historic anecdotes in the bell chamber. It was exactly like stepping into The Nine Tailors! The tour guide did an excellent job, except he hadn’t read The Nine Tailors. (‘Yes I heard of it, a few people told me about it since I started this job.’) He didn’t look like the type that read much to be honest. In the unlikely event of our excellent guide reading this blog post of mine, I’m so sorry – but have you read it yet?? Anyway, the view from the top was magnificent. The whole city was bathed in orange sunset.
To be continued.
Photos by A Day of Small Things.