For a long time now, whenever I wanted to go on holiday or have a quick trip somewhere I always looked to places off the British Isles. But I decided earlier this year that I should see more of what the UK has to offer. So myself, along with two fabulous women from work chose a day trip to Bath as it has very beautiful architecture and was not that far from London. Bath is also the only city within the whole of the UK to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Not even London has such an accolade!
The train that we caught on the Saturday going to the city left very early in the morning [before 9am!] from Paddington Station. The two ladies had arrived before I did and were waiting for me at the platform. Of course on my way to the station I was hit with sod’s law, the down escalators were not working at my home station so I had to slowly make my way down the stairs. With a longer and longer queue forming behind me. That was before two people could no longer wait for my slow strides and asked to squeeze by me, which I happily obliged.
Finally getting to Paddington after having to change over, the down escalators to the national rail platforms were once again not working. So I had to wait for the exceptionally slow lifts to make my way over to them. As we did not get the first class tickets, we had to make our way down to the last carriages but not before I was rudely cut in front of by an idiot man on his bike. Even though we were all getting on the exact same train that would not leave for another 10 minutes.
Brushing this off, we got onto the train and thankfully only had to stop at Reading before it continued onto Bath Spa. The weather was phenomenal, from start to finish. Our very first stop was to the Bath Abbey to take in the sights of the magnificent structure. It was as great as you would expect but as it’s such a landmark of the city, there was little opportunity to snap a picture without someone being in the shot. This would also be where I would see my very first pig sculpture right beside the Abbey.
We had planned from the very beginning to just walk around the city and take in the views without stopping in anywhere, so we moved swiftly on to the Pulteney Bridge which is reminiscent of the Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy. Like its Italian counterpart, the bridge also has shops built into it where you can peruse and buy some souvenirs and jewels. Or just take a pretty picture if you’re not looking to spend some coins! As there was an interesting water feature below it that was curved like a horseshoe and had boats and kayaks going under the bridge.
We moved onto the Bath Guildhall Market, which was an indoor market right by the bridge. And had so many stalls with lots of shopping and eating opportunities. And most importantly, a flag of Nigeria! And nearly as important, this is the location of the second pig sculpture that I found around the city. Unfortunately, I did not see any more. But I am certain that I will be back to go on a piggy finding quest!
Having resisted the urge to buy all the things in the market [as we couldn’t possibly carry them throughout the day], we moved onto a little wander around the city making our way towards the Jane Austen Centre. Before we got there, we made a stop at the first of two Chilli Huts we would see on our tour. While I am a big lover of chilli and all things spicy, I’d rather not burn my tongue and stuck with the milder sauces. Surprisingly, the mango infused chilli sauce had a big kick to it!
Stepping away from the spiciness, we stopped by a cash machine in the shape of a red telephone box to get some money out as we had planned on going to the Green Park Station Market after the Austen Centre. On the way over, we went by Queen Square which had a lovely spire in the middle of it, which is definitely worth a photo. While we did not go into the Centre, we did stop and take a picture with Ms. Austen and a friendly West Country gentleman with the wonderful accent to boot.
We didn’t know this at the time as we went towards the market, but if we had continued slight hill up the road we would have reached the famous Circus. But we turned around and went back to Queen Square and towards Green Park Station Market, we were rewarded with the sight of a big pink Hummer-esque limousine. By the time we had gotten there some stalls had started to pack up, slightly early though as we still had an hour or so before they would ‘officially’ shut up shop. We did have time to enjoy some of the products on offer, including a chocolate and caramel shortbread, chicken on a stick from the Thai Hut and a great beef burger for lunch right by the Sainsburys. And what was even more of a result, was that I got ‘Some Like It Hot’ for only £4 at a stall that sold DVD’s and CD’s. Don’t mind if I do!
Taking our time with lunch, we had our first proper rest since we had arrived. Now obviously, I am speaking for myself in regards to my stamina and walking abilities. But I found Bath really easy to navigate by foot, and even the hills were not the worst that I have ever encountered. While there is a hop on/hop off bus available for the city, I wouldn’t imagine that it would be worth the hassle as it’d just be much easier to walk and take everything in. Rather than stopping at red lights every so often. And the city is much, much cleaner than London as you would expect and the pavements are a lot more even.
For those that may not be able to walk around the city for that long and would still rather not use the tour bus, Bath has a Shopmobility service for visitors so they can hire electric scooters, manual or powered wheelchairs at the price of 50p per hour or £1 per hour respectively. Which I think is a pretty okay price to pay, especially if you do not have one and would like to get a lot done in one day. For how long we were in the city, it would have only cost £7. Although, I probably would have looped around the Crescent a few times! Lord knows I do love my scooter rides, even if I can’t reverse to save my life…
Finishing up lunch, we headed to the Sainsburys and made use of the facilities and double backed through the centre of the city and onto Milsom Street. The street had loads of shops around, both established names and some that I had never heard of before all along the same path. After browsing through a few shops we were back on Gay Street and made sure to take photos commemorating this glorious street name.
Then it was into the middle of the Circus that had gorgeous Grade I listed houses all wrapped around the small island in the middle and would definitely be somewhere I could see myself living if I didn’t love London so much. From the middle of the Circus, you were at the top of a small hill and you could look down onto the city and just take in the pretty houses and the greenery in the background. And it is perfectly located as it’s just a stone’s throw away from the famous Royal Crescent.
We had arrived to a gorgeous field of green and perfect blue skies. And we just stayed there all day and it was glorious. I made sure to stay in the shade for most of the time as I am not a big fan of too much heat. Even when London had that heatwave a few years ago I was one of the whingers complaining that it was too hot! Plus I stupidly forgot my sunscreen as I figured I wouldn’t need it, but lesson learned!
We had planned on staying in Royal Victoria Park and relaxing until it was time to walk back to the station, but what we had not expected was to be treated to a hot air balloon show! Around 6pm we saw over 10 vans drive up the green and park and started unloading some equipment. We had not researched anything in particular and we were not expecting anything to happen. We made a plan of what we wanted to see on the train ride over. As they started getting more and more things out, we realised that they would be flying freaking hot air balloons! I was BEYOND excited.
As with most people, I have seen hot air balloons in the air and stood and watched in amazement and not the smallest amount of jealousy! But I had never seen the set up and take off. Until now. They had gotten the baskets out and were unfurling the balloons themselves that stretched out to gigantic lengths, prompting many nearby people to move out of the way and make space.
It was even more exciting when they would test out the burners and I was able to get a few shots of the flames. They looked like the bunsen burners from science class, but bigger and much better. The vans that had arrived earlier took their time in getting everything set up and inflating the balloons before setting off. But some of the vans that had to wait until the other teams had taken off and made space were up in the air in no time!
While we were not expecting this, it was simply delicious serendipity that we had decided to end our touring of Bath within the Crescent. Coupled with the fact that we had decided to stay for so many hours, as we could have so easily missed it and only have been able to see them while mid air. It is definitely on the top of my list to finally ride in a hot air balloon myself! Hopefully get to achieve this before the end of the year.
Having stayed long enough to see most of the balloons lift off, we headed back to the station with just enough time for me to quickly charge up my phone by the ladies in the waiting area on the platform. Bath is definitely a city that I would like to revisit as it is just so easy to get around and there are so many things to do. Upon my return, I will actually go into one of the Roman baths and make sure that I try one of the famous Sally Lunn buns. As I, unfortunately, did not find out about this until my friend had asked me when I was already back in London. This is what happens when you plan journeys a la me, you miss some stuff!