Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bath, Somerset is a sister city to Mount Clemens, MI

First things first.  My "friend" Jim helped me find accommodations in Bath.  "Central location, basic modern rooms, lots of stairs".  Seemed perfectly suited for me since I don't spend a lot of time in the hotel.  Well, the reality is... after parking 3 blocks away, I humped my heavy ass bags up three flights of stairs to my closet. 

Disgusting realization.  With a shared bathroom, half a flight down, I realized that people have pissed in this sink!  Think about it, guys travelling alone (as required by the bed), stumbling back from the bar are not going to get dressed to walk down stairs in the middle of the night.  Toothbrush goes on the top shelf, not the sink.

The Bath Abbey on my way to the walking tour meet up.  I didn't get to tour the inside because of Sunday services.  Each time I circled back, I had just missed the tour hours.

The pipe organ (that's what she said!) from the Eastern side.

Sunday services letting out and a glimpse of the interior.

There are 3 bath houses in Bath, only one is open today.  This is the minute Cross bath.  Made famous after King James the seconds' wife Mary bathed here to cure her infertility and gave birth to a son 11 months later.  I think that we all know it probably had more to do with King James' swimmers than it did calcium and sulfur water.

The city of Bath is known for its architecture, made from local soft yellow limestone.  This is a modern phenomenon as until the Clean Air Act, all of the buildings in Bath were black, due to the soot generated by coal fired furnaces.  Almost all of the original buildings have been carefully cleaned to reveal the limestone beneath.  Here are two row houses, one of which is in the process of being cleaned.

I don't think that these guys know what corner they're standing on.  Made me laugh anyway..

Jane Auten, Bath's most famous resident, actually hated living in Bath.  She wrote about her despair when the family initially moved and didn't write a single complete novel the entire time she lived here.  However, several of her stories are based in and around Bath. 
In her book Persuasion, her last complete novel, she wrote about star crossed lovers Anne Elliot and Officer Wentworth.  After a failed elopement, they see each other at the same restaurant but at separate functions.  Captain Wentworth writes here a note professing his feeling for her.  She faints and is ushered home to convalese with Captain Wentworth in pursuit.  The novel ends with the good Captain chaperoning the ailing Anne to her hotel, along a gravel walk, in Bath, this one. 

John Wood, the younger designed the magnificent Royal Crescent townhouses.  The front facade is common but each of the interiors and the rear exterior were built individually, by different owners and builders.  The back of the building is unrecognizable as belonging to the same structure.  Some home's have a singe door, others two.  The center two doors are to the Royal Crescent Hotel, 8 rooms and uber-expensive.  The little terraced wall in front was meant to keep grazing livestock away from the front porches and is invisible when viewed from the homes.

John Wood the elder created the Circus in 1754.  3 buildings of townhouses around an open aquifer with a paved piazza.  After jealous locals poisoned the aquifer it was covered over and trees were planted on top in the 18th century.  The question now is whether to restore the circus with an open water feature, knocking down the trees and paving the piazza or leave it in it's 18th century form.  Plaques above the doorways narc out famous residents.  There's one for Nicholas Cage (he had 3 homes in Bath), but he sold them suddenly.

In the "what the fuck is this?" category.  You can take a guided tour on this monstrosity.  No thanks, I'll walk.

Back towards city center are the Roman Baths.  You can't actually bath in these due to health and safety.  A girl died in 1979 of meningitis after drinking from the bath.  They drilled new wells for the new baths so I'm sure every thing's fine now.  I have had a bit of a headache for the last couple of days.... 
BTW - It takes a long time waiting to get a picture with this few tourists in it. 

Here a particularly randy (and old) docent will explain Roman make-up, fragrances and fashion.  Muir is made from tree resin and smells like Sandalwood, they used lead powder to whiten their faces, etc.  After demonstrating on her slave girl (not pictured) she told me that I should "definitely go find a toga and join the festivities".

I loved Rome (the series). 

Outside a busker performs a death-defying feat of fiddling finesse...  2 or 3 feet from certain death.  I couldn't do it so I gave him a pound.

Hello beautiful!  Yeah, it's not a T120 but you know it looks like fun.  And the lettering on the tank is sexy.  "Who's your friend back there?"

"Hi, I'm Chris.  I almost didn't notice you way back here.  Are you with somebody?"  Probably a big head Russian.

At my wife's suggestion I actually had a schvitz at the Thermea bath house.  Obviously I couldn't bring the camera with me.  You wouldn't want to see the pictures anyway.  Basically it was a large pool of 100 degree mineral water on the roof, under the stars, in the cold winter air.  Downstairs was a series of glass steam chambers ranging from hot to Dante's Inferno.  In the middle was a 12 ft. wide cooling shower to give a little reprieve before the next room.

Relaxed and purged of all toxins it was time to build them back up again.  I stumbled across the Hobgoblin on my walk earlier.  Next door to a tattoo parlor, live punk bands and real ales.  Looks promising!
As is often the case, looks can be deceiving.  After some initial interesting conversation at the bar I began to notice that the kids in the Motorhead and Pogues t-shirts were spending a lot of time on their iPhones or talking about video games.  I didn't stick around for the quiz.

Back to my hotel and the Lambretta bar beneath.  Hey, I had a good time with the scooter club back home (Detroit Rovers), maybe there's something literally beneath my feet (three floors beneath)?
So, the old owner liked scooters or something and the new owners didn't want to change the name?  Oh, well.

They have the most awesome (sounding) snacks over here!  I will eventually gather a group of "BBQ Beef Crisps" and "Pork Scratchings" and do the Pepsi challenge. 
Bacon fries taste like what I imagine that "Beggin Strips" do.  The dog would like them.  The beer was good.

A friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) told me that one weekend in Bath he; "woke up naked, on top of the bead in my ground floor hotel room.  Covered in poker chips with the windows open to the construction workers outside of the hotel.  I closed the windows and went back to bed.  Try cider with gin chasers if you want a good 12-hour blackout.
For that kind of weekend you don't need a camera, you need witnesses.

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