Thursday, August 6 Bath
A very busy day that started early with some chores, like going to the shoe maker and having Ed’s sandal stitched, and making train/bike reservations for our short jaunt to Oxford late Saturday afternoon. This is not a difficult task, but having bikes requires reservations for the limited bike space. In this case not a problem. Then some other tasks before we went to the TI (Tourist Information) to get a map of Bath and buy tickets for the Roman Baths and the Fashion Museum. Off to the Abbey which is right next to the TI. It is big and beautiful with fluted, two colored Gothic columns, a very high interior and exquisite stained glass windows. It is a 16th Century prize. Note the blue sky.
After the Abbey we walked around the corner and took the guided tour of Bath. The TI and city sponsored tour is free of charge and starts with the guide informing the group that not only is the tour free, but the guides will not accept tips. The large group that had gathered was broken down into 3 smaller groups each with a guide. The tour lasted 2 and a half hours and covered the important sites in Bath with an emphasis on the history of the city and the progression of society and architecture.
Bath is filled with Georgian buildings or in some cases facades as the harmony and extravagances are, in many cases, only on the street side of residential structures. The interiors and rear sides built at the whim and design of the builder with symmetry not being considered. After lunch and a bit of bargain hunting, we finished our tourist day at the Assembly Rooms
and the Museum of Fashion. The Assembly Rooms were meeting, greeting, see and be seen, eat and drink and play places for the rich and idle during the 19th century. They are gorgeous and quite tasteful. The Museum of Fashion has the history of relatively recent fashion (beginning in the 18th century) with original clothing and the history of the garments that are on display.
For the most part the chronological progression of fashions seemed to make sense, except the style of party dresses where the very large hoops coming off the lucky lady’s hips required the wearer to enter a room sideways. The museum was quite fun. The fashion gloves of the 1700’s were exquisite and not meant to be worn for any other purpose than to show off wealth.
Although the day in review does not seem like much, we were on our feet for about 6 hours and tired. Nevertheless, on our return to our room, we spent the better part of 4 hours planning our next visits in England and making reservations for the 3 days following our departure from Bath.
Friday, August 7
Another busy day in Bath. We started with the Roman Baths which include the baths and a very extensive museum with audio guide followed by a 45 minute human guided tour to round out the information provided by the mechanical guide. The detail and advanced society that the well off Romans enjoyed is so far superior to the other cultures on the earth at that time and then the fall from so lofty a position should be a wake up call to us.
We spent more than 3 hours at the baths and followed it with lunch and an hour and a half of touring the 18th century Georgian home in the Royal Crescent.
A separate exhibit in this venue was a collection of doll houses and their furnishings. This collection was wonderful.
These are not children’s doll houses, but were used and played with by adults of the late 1700’s and 1800’s. The rooms include furniture, wall and floor coverings, pictures on the walls and everything else that makes a house a home, including dolls to size dresses as appropriate. The plan for tomorrow is to leave our packs at the University, ride a loop route around Bath and to another small village along the Avon river then hop the train to Oxford. It’s hard to believe that we’re already at the halfway point on our journey. Lost a little weight, but otherwise doing fine.