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A Weekend in Bath & Bristol
August 2008

If you fancy a long weekend away somewhere then there is little nicer than a stay in an English hotel in one of our County towns.  No need to sit in those crowded airports, put up with those flight delays or lose half your holiday travelling, just drive for an hour or two then relax and enjoy yourself in ENGLAND!

We headed south west and hit Bath around lunch time Friday to find we had arrived in the middle of King Bladud's Pig Festival where those lovable little creatures had been given the Freedom of the City and were popping up in all manner of designer costumes in every street, avenue and park across the City.  I think there were upwards of 60 little critters dotted around giving the impression that the whole City was involved and invoking a party spirit.  Throughout this page some of King Bladud's pigs appear to give a flavour of the atmosphere they created.

Binary Pig Sign image Tiled Pig

The Royal Crescent

A Bath lane
Friday PM
Quick City Tour

No item on Bath would be complete without a picture of the Royal Crescent so here it is, the historic effect being spoilt by the profusion of cabin scooters parked in front of the building [Now, is the Crescent a building or buildings?] OK, who cares!  If the cars had all been horse drawn carriages I would not have complained, so I am putting forward the theory that the observer prefers everything in a photo to be from the same time frame.

Bath central is fairly compact so it doesn't tire you out strolling around the various sites, the area around the Pump House being very impressive with it's big imposing buildings, then as you drift towards the river there are some pleasant little lanes and then the big park is much gentler, which in August 2008 included a giant Teddy topiary and I think, maybe a pig, carefully disguised as a flower bed, but I am not sure.
The Pump House Topiary Teddy

Citizen Pig Cloud Pig Colour Pig

Roman Baths Friday Evening
Roman Baths

We had booked a hotel just south of Bristol but had remained in Bath to visit the Roman Baths, as the evenings were beginning to draw in the Baths were lit by torchlight for a month, in the hope of recreating some of the original atmosphere. As we were also in need of some nourishment we had booked ourselves into the Pump Room for the earliest sitting of the evening session.  Not as expensive as you might think we had a very pleasant meal in a very stylish restaurant, I did take some pictures but they do not do the place justice.

Having finished our meal we walked the fifty odd yards to the Baths entrance and paid what seemed like a very large amount of money for a tour of Roman history.  I say a large amount of money because at the point of entry you have no idea of what you are about to embark on, I am glad I am not a foreign visitor to the UK because to see our history in a few weeks would cost a small fortune, we take it slowly over a few years, well decades actually.

Roman Baths by Torchlight Anyway, in true British style the tour was worth every penny, my only regret was that we could not stay late enough for proper darkness to maximise the effect of the torchlight, but such is life.   In line with our trip to Edinburgh the street level in Roman days was considerably lower than present day street level. So what's the crack? Are we standing on 2000 years of rubbish?

It is nice to see such a large amount of well preserved archaeology tastefully turned into an experience that held the interest all of the way through.  There were also some nice little features as the photographs below show.  Ghostly apparitions of long dead Romans stalk the pool room and discuss daily life.  This worked stunningly well as there was little or no natural light.

And somewhere, just somewhere, I thought I saw one of the pesky pigs poking his nose out into the half light. It must have been my mind playing tricks on me.

Ghostly Pool Interfering Pig Ghostly Pool

Hanging Pig Market Pig Monkey Pig

Sophisticated sand castles Weston-Super-Mer Pier
Saturday AM

Donkeys on beach
Some things never change and some things do, I had never been to WSM in all of my years and two weeks before I go the pier burns down, it looked really sad in the typical English weather with the three nations flags fluttering in the wind.   Sand Castles of course never looked like this, Dad had obviously spent a fair bit of time on this one.  Then, as ever, there were the donkeys, not taking a great deal of cash granted but they were there. What pig? Who's ever seen a Pig Ride on the beach?

Moziac Pig Pratt Pig Blue Pig

Sunday Afternoon
SS Great Britain - Bristol

The SS Great Britain was another of those exhibits where I winced at the size of the entrance fee and my wallet snuggled a little more deeply into my inside pocket.  Again though I was pleasantly surprised, it was worth every penny and, being an engineer, it was one of the most interesting displays I have seen in a long time.

SS Great Britain SS Great Britain's propeller
For a start, as you walk up to the ship she appears to be floating in the water, but in fact she is sitting in the dry dock in which she was built.  Going down in the lift and walking around the hull of the ship in the dehumidified air allows you to see just how many holes there are in the hull - a lot.

Then when you go below decks the rooms are remarkably well preserved and restored, the site of a First Class cabin with it's six foot by eighteen inch bunk didn't fill me with envy for those on a trip to Australia.  What did surprise me was the diversity of the menu in the restaurant (for the First Class only), how on earth they managed to store and cook that I can't imagine.
SS Great Britain Dining hall SomethingDeck
To the left is the first class restaurant and I think the right hand picture shows the Sun Deck.  I cannot imagine where the claimed 900 passengers ate and slept, the place just didn't seem big enough.  Alongside the dock was a museum with the whole story of the ship plus large parts of the hardware cut away to show how things like the steering worked.
Below water level The Dehumidifiers
The entrance fee had included an audio guide which must be one of the best inventions ever to bring a historical site to life, the voice of a long dead traveller (No, really!) pointing out little details that you would miss if you were just walking around on your own.  And...we were treated to a display by the Red Arrows who were overflying the Bristol balloon festival.

Thank Heavens we have left those Pigs behind!

Singing Pig Sporty Pig Bolt Pig