Monday, September 12, 2016

Day 1 in Bath

Day 8: Bath

We slept pretty well in our attic room.  Then had a very good breakfast at the communal table.  This was the week of the Jane Austen Festival so one woman, Claire, was down in her costume and we chatted with her and the other guests.  Everyone had delightful plans, including us!

Our first stop was the Abbey Church which we hadn't seen on our last time in Bath.  It's a gorgeous church, filled with light.  We followed the tour in our guidebook and had a nice chat with one of the priests after he lead a brief prayer. 

Our main aim this morning was the free Mayor's Voluntary Tour.  There was a very large crowd gathered and at 1030am we were divided into several groups of about 25.  Our guide, an older gentleman, showed us around Bath for about 2.5 hours.  We saw all the major sights (Assembly Rooms, Circus Royal Crescent, Queen's Park, etc) and heard historical facts about Bath and its inhabitants.  It was another fantastic Mayor's Voluntary tour and a great way to see a lot of Bath with a knowledgeable, enthusiastic guide.

Before the end of the tour, I detoured at the Jane Austen center and asked for our tickets for "A Regency Christmas" and the "5 Crescents Walk" but they directed me to the tourist information center. I found my way back to the Abbey without problems (I'm not the best navigator!) and met up with husband just before the tour ended.  We then went into the tourist information.  They didn't have the tickets but assured me we were on the list for the events.

We noticed a sign that said "Free Jane Austen" tour so we went ahead and joined it.  This was done by a young man in period dress contracted by the Jane Austen Center, where the tour ended.  It was a fantastic 1.5 hours!  He was funny and engaging. The tour was about Jane's life and times in Bath.  One stop made quite an impression:  it was the very small and decrepit area Jane and her mom were forced to live in after their fortunes turned when her dad died.  This was just before her brothers pooled together resources and helped them to a more suitable living situation.  She really had an unsettled life for a long time. This fan is ever so grateful to her brother Edward for settling the ladies so nicely at Chawton.  I don't think we'd have her books otherwise.  We both really enjoyed this tour and were glad to have happened upon it.

By now we were famished and thankfully the Raven was still serving.  We each got delicious pies and pints.  I made the mistake (again!) of getting chips because their mashed potatoes are to die for.  Won't make this mistake next time!  We had sticky toffee pudding for dessert and it was incredible!

Sticky toffee pudding--a great dessert!

It was only about 230pm so we decided to visit the Herschel Museum of Astrology which was free with our National Trust pass.  It was down a little alley and very non-descript but interesting.  It was  where he lived for many years accompanied by his sister.  The garden was my favorite part--very conducive to star gazing!

And we were not done yet.  Last year in Bath I only caught a quick glimpse of the Assembly Rooms but did not have time to see the Fashion Museum.  We headed back over there and I was just in time for the brief intro tour (about 15 minutes) after which I walked around the gorgeous displays with the audio guide until closing.  I really liked this museum.  As I exited the Fashion Museum, they were closing down the Assembly Rooms for a private function so I, again, just caught quick views of these beautiful rooms where Jane Austen walked and based so many of the interactions of the books staring Bath.  Awesome!

We bought a few things in the gift shop before heading out.

1817 frock, lace and gauze, my favorite

1860's dress

We had 3 hours until the "Austen Regency Christmas with Mr. Adams the Butler" talk started but didn't want to head back up the hill to the Hill House B&B.  This was one of the disadvantages of its location--we just didn't want to trudge back there when we had free time...  So we wandered around Bath and ran into Harry who recommended a restaurant/bar on the water.  We headed there and had a couple of drinks (just ok).  We passed time by walking across Pulteney Bridge to see that area (very pretty and quiet), window shopping, taking pictures, and enjoying the lovely mild evening.  We stopped at a small pub for another pint and eventually made our way to the theatre.  

The Mission theatre is small and casual.  The performance was almost sold-out and many people were in period dress (loved that!).  The talk was about 1.5 hours. It was funny and enlightening.  He painted great pictures of the celebrations during that time.  Time and money well-spent. Other than the admission process being a bit disorganized, it was a fun evening.

Tolerant and amused husband
We didn't want to walk up the hill so found our way (with help from some locals) to the taxi stand.  Back at the B&B, up tons of stairs to our attic room for another good night's sleep.  Great day in Bath!

1.  When in Bath, don't miss the Mayor's Voluntary Tour.  It's free and fabulous.  Each guide has a different focus so we will do it again when we're next in Bath.
2.  Hill House B&B location was a little far from the center from us--so we didn't go back at the end of the day when we had a long-ish break.
3.  Wear comfortable shoes!

Next:  More Jane Austen and Bath

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