Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Bath water

rain, temps 13

Not perhaps surprisingly, it's raining. pouring...but we still love Bath. It's a glorious city!

Went to the Roman baths today. I didn't realize they'd only been found and excavated in 1880. Amazing. They suspected they were there - but no one knew where, or for certain. Then a woman living in the centre of Bath complained to the city that she had warm water leaking into her basement.

An inspector went. Sure enough, she did.

He had the brights to call the Chief Archeologist for the area and he knew immediately what it was. But the whole place was built on. Private homes. But he convinced the city to buy up all the homes in the very centre of Bath, tear them down, and dig.

They were stunned by what they found. Almost perfectly intact Roman baths. The entire aquaduct system still working 2,000 years after being built!

the tour was great fun. We had those wands you hold up to your ear and press a number, and out came all these fun, interesting facts.

I was tempted to steal a couple and send them to the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa to show them how it could and should be done.

In fact, I think we could simply use exactly the same tour. Ancient Roman Baths, modern Canadian parliament. Almost indistinguishable. A bunch of powerful men getting into hot water.

Then had a fab lunch, thanks to a recommendation from Teresa and Nancy yesterday. There's a bridge in Bath called the Putney Bridge...it's the only bridge in England that has shops on it. But down one side there're stairs - they're almost invisible.

'They're narrow, and slimy, and dingy,' said Teresa.

'And they're dark,' added Nancy.

There's a reason these two women (who adore Bath) aren't writing the tourist guides. But they sure know their restaurants. If you take those stairs they lead down to the River Avon and a tiny restuarnat called the Riverside Cafe, build into the stone wall of the bridge.

We had a wonderful lunch. Ordered Dandelion and Burdock brew to drink - then had to send it back because it was .5 percent alcohol. Not much, but too much for me. But how could you not love a place that turns weeds into drink?

Off to Bristol tomorrow morning and a tour of Wells and Glastonbury.

Thanks for coming with us to Bath - hope you've enjoyed it!


G.M. Malliet said...

Hi, Louise! I'm enjoying your descriptions of Bath (I've never been) and the noxious plane ride (where I've been too often).

Look forward to hearing about CrimeFest (also never been; hoping to make it next year).

Louise Penny Author said...

Dear G.M.,

How fun to hear from you! How's your wonderful book???? Her book, DEATH OF A COZY WRITER is a must-read...very funny, but also classic mystery.
Glad you're enjoy the Bath tour, gina.

G.M. Malliet said...

Ah. Thank you, Louise. Your generosity continues to amaze. I was actually getting ready to send you a copy - the book's out 5 weeks early - and then saw from your blog that you're away. Do email me if you would to let me know when you'll be home to receive snail mail.

It's long been a dream of mine to visit Glastonbury! Will look forward to your description.

Hilary said...

Dear Louise,

You're on my home turf. I lived in Bristol as a teenager. The port once did a brisk -- and nasty -- business in the slave trade, which I assume is how two streets I lived near in Clifton were named "Blackboy Hill" and "Whiteladies Road." Wonder if they've been changed in these politically correct times.

My father took us on Sunday drives to historic places like Bath, Glastonbury Cathedral, Wells, the Wookey Hole Caves and Stonehenge.

I'm grateful to him for awakening a love of history and a deep sense of the beauty and resonance of places like Bath. I see it through your eyes and my own at the same time.


Louise Penny Author said...

Dear Hilary,

Wow - I can't begin to imagine how exciting that must have been as a young girl. All that romantic history. The Arthur legend. The druids and Saxons - that melding of myth and history and legend. And to have a father who knew how amazing it was. Lucky one.

I'm loving your place of birth. On the way over the taxi driver told us the grim history of the slave trade - this being the largest British port for the slave trade. Will ask about those street names.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Hilary,

Just realized my mistake - Bristol wasn't your place of birth - but your place of teenage-dom. Still, impressive years.

Hilary said...

Place of birth even lovelier -- the "Athens of the North" -- Edinburgh, Scotland. And, yes, I was fortunate in my father.