England

Six word Saturday

Bath Abbey, from top to bottom!

Impossible to ignore Bath Abbey, so central is it to this lovely city.  Coming out of the Roman Baths, I knew that I would have to take a quick look inside.  How glad I am that I did.  The delicate laciness of those celestial arches, like a cobwebby entrance to heaven.

As I admired the stained glass windows, a sign caught my eye.  Tower Tours.  I can never pass up the opportunity to climb a tower.  A bird’s eye view of Bath beckons, in the hands of a cheerfully smiling guide, who climbs these stairs numerous times a day.  A narrow circular stone stairwell leads upwards.  Up 50 steps and through a door. A slim strip between the turrets and the sloping roof gives a first glimpse of the rooftops of Bath.

Then into a surprisingly large space where the bell ringers perform,  And an array of bells, mostly obsolete but fascinating.

Up here it all feels melodramatic.  We squeeze into a narrow space behind the clock face, and are encouraged to peep through a tiny hole in the floor.  The stomach churning view all the way down to the aisle below is to enable the bells to be rung at a precise stage in a procession.

The tower is home to a ring of ten bells, dating back as far as 1700, and ordered from highest to lowest, anticlockwise around the ringing chamber.  Bath is a noted centre of change ringing in the West Country.

Did you spot the rooftop open air pool of the new thermal spa?  A nice place for a healthy cocktail?  And then it’s back down to earth again, a tired but happy 212 steps and 161 feet later.

I can highly recommend it, but not for anyone with a fear of confined spaces or heights.  The Abbey website will give you all the details, including a virtual tour of the tower.  This concludes my visit to Bath.

Yet again I have far exceeded my six words, but lovely Debbie is very forgiving.  I hope you’ll share yours.  Happy Saturday!

The Spectacle of the Roman Baths

It’s the strangest feeling to be surrounded by senators and looking down on Roman baths, and probably the only time I’ll be in the company of Julius Caesar, Hadrian and Constantine the Great, simultaneously.

Aquae Sulis was the Roman name for Bath, named for the waters of the goddess Sulis.  This natural phenomenon has caused 240,000 gallons of hot water, at 46C, to rise on this spot daily for thousands of years.  Spa water has been used for curative purposes for 2,000 years, originally involving bathing, and then in the form of drinking water from the late 17th century. This Walkthrough will take you step by step through the complex.

The Roman Baths are below modern street level and comprise the Sacred Spring, Roman Temple and Bath House, with finds from the baths carefully preserved and displayed in the museum.  After the ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen…’ moment on the imposing terrace you descend stairs to the interior, glimpsing the Sacred Spring through glass windows.

The Romans identified Sulis with their goddess Minerva.  It is likely that her gilt bronze statue would have stood within her temple, beside the Sacred Spring, and may well date back to the first century AD.  Gilt bronze sculptures are very rare finds in Roman Britain.  This head has six layers of gilding, two by a process known as fire gilding and the later four applied as gold leaf.

The Temple pediment and Gorgon’s Head is likely to date from the same period.  It would have been supported by four large, fluted columns. Another fascinating detail of Roman life are the 130 curse tablets, which would have been rolled up and thrown into the Spring.  They were petitioning the goddess for justice or revenge for petty crimes, including theft of their possessions from the baths.

Every effort has been made to turn the Roman Baths into a Spectacle .  Animated projections bring to life the cold plunge pool and the heated rooms.  Evidence of the hypocaust system the Romans used is clearly visible in this amazing subterranean world.

The spa waters contain 43 minerals, and are said to have a distinctive taste.  You can sample them from a fountain in the west baths, or from the Georgian Pump House, next door.

Pop over and see Debbie’s extraordinary owl, and don’t forget that Thursday’s Special.  This week Paula weaves her magic on Venice.

Jo’s Monday walk : Beautiful Bath

I love a bit of drama in a photograph.  This is me, not quite falling over the parapet into the swirling waters of the weir at Bath.  I didn’t start the day with any intention to go to this beautiful city but, a few minutes after I’d been dropped off at Yate bus station, what should appear on the stand?  A 620 bus heading directly for Bath.  I didn’t need to be at the airport for my return trip home till the evening.  Irresistible temptation!

A 40 minute ride through gently green and rolling Somerset and I was there.  It’s many years since I was in Bath, and I never did get to visit the famous Roman Baths, so I was almost on a mission.  But first, a little exploration.

Who’d have thought to find a Tardis as I exited the bus station?  Bath is obviously popular with tourists and backpackers, as several places offered luggage storage, including an opportunistic barbers.  Grand Parade is just that, with its elegant balustrade looking down upon the Parade Gardens. I was tempted to go in, but there was a small admission charge, unusual for public gardens.  In any event, I could see most of the garden from where I stood, and I was drawn like a magnet towards the weir.

Pulteney Bridge, which crosses the River Avon, dates back to 1774 and is one of Bath’s iconic landmarks.  It didn’t strike me at the time but it has much in common with Ponte Vecchio in Florence.  Both have shops built into them.  ‘The Bridge’ cafe caught my eye, along with the view through to the river, as I crossed to the other shore, noting the rhubarb and cherry slice in the window.  Maybe later?

Steps led down to the river, and it was a glorious and warm day.  I had picked up a visitor guide at the bus station, and a bench right beside the weir gave me the perfect surroundings for a browse. With the wonderful distraction of a boat coming in to dock.

No doubt about it, I was tempted, but the next departure wasn’t for a precious half an hour.  The riverside walk needed to be undertaken first.

As always, the boats and the watery reflections filled me with delight, and there was a wonderful sensation of peace.  In the very heart of the city, and yet enfolded by nature, I had not a care in the world.

I had forgotten that the Kennet and Avon Canal flows into Bath.  This 87 mile long canal links London with the Bristol Channel and had its heyday in the early 1800s.  With the advent of the railways it went steadily into decline, but happily restoration has turned it into a wonderful leisure facility.  I paused for a while to watch the activity at Widcombe Lock, before crossing a narrow footbridge back into the city.

The walk carried on, along the River Avon, but I wanted to make the most of my limited time. Stall Street led me conveniently towards the Abbey and the bustling heart of the city, where I had a date with the Roman Baths.

An event that I’ll share with you another day.  For now I’ll lead you past the Baths and the beautiful Abbey.  Yes, I know you’d like a look inside, but that will have to wait.  Instead we’ll walk all around the Abbey, admiring the statues, and into irresistibly pretty Abbey Green, with its leafy shade.

Just around the corner you can sample Sally Lunn’s buns, in Bath’s oldest house, dating from 1483.  You might find ‘bun etiquette’ amusing.  Hiding in these streets you will also find Bath’s indoor market, a wonderful melange of craft and food stalls. Too nice to stay indoors for long, I made my selection and headed for a nearby bench.  And yes, that rhubarb and cherry slice was simply scrumptious.

Just time to admire some Bath glass and at 2pm present myself back at the Abbey for the Tower Tour.  Look away now if you don’t like heights.

I think I made the most of my short time in Bath, but left still feeling that there were things I’d like to do.  Next time!

Thanks for your company, everybody.  I have a bumper collection of walks to share this week. Please do make time to visit them.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be very welcome.  Popping the kettle on now, and wishing I had a Bath bun to share.

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Not strictly a walk post, but a composite of many enthralling moments.  This is a must read from Gilda :

Discoveries Down Under Part 4- Sydney and the Blue Mountains

I’d never heard of Jane’s walk, but trust a New Yorker like Susan to tell it in style :

East Harlem Jane’s Walk 2017 (Part 1)

Few people are better traveled than Debbie, so if she invites you for a walk, go!

Wandering through District 5

Jackie likes to hoof it a bit, too :

Day 6 So Cal – Solvang to Bakersfield 

Innsbruck is a city I’ve only dreamed about.  Drake brings it beautifully to life :

Between river and hills

Woolly is in the same neck of the woods, but I’ve been to Salzburg.  It rained! :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk19-Salzburg2

I’ve made lots of good friends in the blogging world.  Becky was kind enough to share a place that has captured my heart :

Something unusual in the Algarve

And speaking of friends, this is pure delight from Jude :

A Woodland Walk

My lovely Meg pootles on a beach- a most delightful occupation :

Eurobodalla Beaches : Billy’s Beach

While our Cathy shops her way around Tokyo, between shrines.  That girl loves a bargain!

Meiji shrine and Harajuku : Takeshita-dori and Togo shrine (part of walking tour 18)

Geoff, meanwhile, takes us on a fascinating exploration of ‘lost’ rivers :

Losing its Rivers : following careless London #londonwalks#lostrivers

Shazza has an interesting (and dog friendly) walk in the Yorkshire Dales :

Clapham Nature Trail and Ingleborough Show Cave

Eunice has some lovely reflective blue skies, and 2 more dogs :

Canal walk – Radcliffe to Bury

And Carol goes hunting Romans in the Lake District.  They can be elusive!

Searching for Romans

Vanessa demonstrates a love for and knowledge of Majorca.  This is the start of a series :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/A walk past the Orange Groves of Soller to the pretty village of Fornalutx

Finally, here’s Paula.  As near to perfection as you can get in a post.  Turn the music on and feast your eyes!

Canon of the Spaces

That’s it for another week.  Hope you enjoyed, and have a happy week tootling about.

Six word Saturday

Looking through the window of love

There’s something very special about stained glass.  Whether you are a reverent person or simply one who loves beauty, it can’t fail to move you.  I could not visit Bristol without a return to the lovely cathedral, where you can get up really close to the windows in the cloisters.  The details and expressions are wonderful.

If you are wondering about my six words this week, I have a confession to make. (since I’m in the right setting)  I had Alf Moyet in my head when I conceived them, but when I checked the lyrics… well, I often seem to make up my own.  Blame a faulty memory.

Hopefully I gave you a Saturday smile, Debbie, and I expect Dawn wouldn’t mind a few more windows to linger by.  Happy weekend, all!

Speak to me of Spring

Bristol’s incredible Floating Harbour has many faces.  Just downstream from Bristol Bridge lie Castle Park and the haunting ruins of St. Peter’s Church.  On the night of 24th November, 1940, this area was almost completely destroyed in the first major bombing raid on Bristol of the Second World War.  These days it’s a place for strolling and letting your cares drift away.

The church is no longer accessible to the public, but I was delighted to find, wrapped around it, a tiny physics garden.  Magnolia, fraying tulips and iris, all vernal creations if ever I saw one.

I often manage to link to Paula because Thursday’s Special, isn’t it?  Her version of Spring is exquisite.  But I’m very mean with Ailsa.  Let her take you for a walk in the Garden this week.

Jo’s Monday walk : Bristol Blues!

The last time I was in Bristol was to see the highly spectacular Balloon Festival.  It had been my first visit to the city and I was quite keen to take an introductory walking tour.  Due to the volume of people in Bristol for the festival, in glorious August weather, the tour had been cancelled.  Little did I know then that I would have another opportunity.  But this time was very different.  The sky was an unrelenting grey, rather matching my disconsolate mood, and my weekend seemed to be unravelling around me.

You see, I had made a surprise visit for an 80th birthday party.  I flew into Bristol at 8 in the morning, and had the whole day ahead of me.  I had planned to spend it with my lovely friend, Gilly.  Not only was Gilly sadly unable to meet me, but I had neglected to bring with me a vital contact number.  I had no means of getting to the party.

Leaving Bristol bus station, I wandered into the city, trying to formulate a plan.  As so often, my camera came to my rescue and I started to observe my surroundings.  Bristol is well known as the birth place of Banksy and the wave of street art that took Bristol by storm in the 1980s.

I’m always ambivalent about street art.  Some, I hate.  Some, I love.  In this case it was a welcome distraction, highlighting good and bad in the city.  I especially felt for the semi-derelict St. John on the Wall church, on Broad Street.  Posters on the rusted grills covering the windows advertised for volunteers to enable the church to continue to be opened to visitors.  600 years of history hidden from view.

I was hopeful that the Tourist Information office might come to my rescue.  The battery on my ancient cell phone was fading fast and I needed somewhere that I might connect to the Internet. The phone number I needed was on Messenger.  At 9.30 on a Saturday morning the TI was still closed, but I had a map from my previous trip.  The Central Library appeared to be just behind the Watershed, where I now stood.   A spark of hope propelled me in that direction.

The sky maintained a dreary grey as I bypassed Millennium Square with its lofty wheel.  Bristol Science Centre held promise of an interesting haven from the cold, which I might need later. Crossing over the road I headed uphill towards the Cathedral spires.  The Abbey Gatehouse provided a welcoming entrance to the Cathedral grounds and the adjoining library.

10am was opening time for the library.  I turned my gaze upon the grand countenance of the City Hall buildings on College Green.

City Hall is a grade II listed building, the seat of local government in Bristol since 1956.  I had paid it scant attention on my last visit, when rain had driven me to the bosom of the Cathedral. I still had time in hand for a swift return to the lovely cloisters.

At 10 o’ clock precisely, the doors to the Central Library admitted me.  I was totally astounded at what I found inside.

Opened in 1906, the grade 1 listed Central Library was built on land adjacent to the gatehouse of St. Augustine’s Abbey, or Bristol Cathedral. Charles Holden, the architect, has created an Edwardian building that filled me with reverence.  Quietly I mounted the sweeping stairs, from the marbled entrance to the reference library.  Chandeliers dangled from the vaulted glass ceiling, between 2 tiers of galleries crammed with books. The history of Bristol was all around me.

To my enormous relief, there was an alcove where I could plug in my phone, and in a little while had found the number I needed.  There was a temptation to stay cocooned in the library, but it was time to set forth.  I had thought I might visit the botanic gardens at the University of Bristol, but the weather was still unsettled.  The TI was now open, of course, and there were leaflets outside proposing a number of walks.  Banksy perhaps? Just as I was contemplating coffee, I realised that the 11 o’clock walk that I had missed on my previous visit was all set to go. It was meant to be…

The funny thing was that my historic walking tour retraced many of my steps.  Back to Millennium Square, where we discussed Bristol and shipping, overlooked by the globe-shaped Planetarium.  Up to the Cathedral and College Green, this time with highly informative Ken, who covered the slave trade, imports of tea and Fry’s Chocolate factory.  Dates were affixed to the many beautiful architectural details.  While I very much enjoyed having company, one thing of significance did happen.  I had seen an illustration of a Banksy entitled ‘Well Hung Lover’, about which I was curious, but had no idea where to find it.  Would you believe that it was barely two steps from where I had been previously, that morning?

At the junction of College Green with Park Street.  You might have noticed that a watery sunshine was beginning to brighten the skies, and my spirits lifted like the prancing unicorn on the top of City Hall.

The tour continued past the huge old warehouses where Bristol Sherry used to be stored, down to St. Augustine’s Parade and the art deco Hippodrome Theatre, beloved of Cary Grant.  Back to the Floating Harbour and the incredible story of how the river was diverted to ensure that Bristol’s life force, trade and shipping, could continue to prosper.

Huge Queen Square next, and it’s grand Georgian houses.  The Bristol Riots took place here in 1831 and almost 100 of the buildings were burned to the ground.  They’re a feisty lot, Bristolians.  As we looked towards the Bristol Old Vic theatre, currently undergoing renovation, a tribe of Norsemen and their ladies stomped past.

Past the Welsh Backs, and a wonderful jazz pub, ‘The Old Duke’, honky tonk music tripping off the keys.  Our tour ended at St. Nicholas Market, where you can purchase almost anything your heart desires in the lovely old Exchange building, or outside on the busy street.

It was definitely time to take the weight off my feet and I found the perfect venue,  The Cosy Club.  Yet another grade II listed building, and a former bank, the ceilings romped with art and the music had my toes tapping.  A comfortable banquette was my resting place for the next couple of hours. And then it was time to head for the party!

I hope you enjoyed my wanderings in Bristol.  So did I, after a bad start.  If you saw my Six word Saturday you’ll know how the party went.

Definitely time for a cuppa, isn’t it?  I have some wonderful walks to share with you, again. Many thanks to all of you who take part, and to you comfy armchair types too.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I’d love it if you could.

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What a privilege to be joined by Tish AND a gardening legend from our past!

Tulips’ Last Hurrah And A Gardening Legend

And if anyone can put a beautiful post together, it’s Debbie :

A Flowering Island

Wander back in time with Drake :

Historical flashback

Nice to see old traditions still observed, but with a modern twist.  Thanks, Lady Lee!

Maypole- raising

What’s Jackie up to this week?

Day 5- So Cal- Solvang 

And where would we be without Woolly?  Still serious this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk18-Anzac-Day-2

Enjoy the gentlest of ‘potter arounds’, with Susan :

Walking Small 

And a sequence of reminiscences and beautiful wistfulness, with Meg :

One tree beach

Eurobodalla beaches : One Tree Beach (the north end)

Delighted to be tiptoeing through the bluebells with Elaine.  Today I’ll be bluebell-ing in Durham, weather permitting :

Bluebell time

While Eunice shows us England’s green and pleasant land in all its beauty :

A woodland walk

My lovely friend, Cathy, is walking marathons around Japan, making the most of her time there :

From Tokyo station to the Imperial Palace Outer Gardens, topped off by a beer garden in Hibiya

That’s all for now, folks!  Hopefully I’m off to count bluebells this morning.  Have yourselves a great week!

Six word Saturday

A tale of two birthday cakes!

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In case you wondered just where I was flying off to last week, I can now reveal all.  It was to a surprise birthday party.  My friend of many years, Joan, had no idea that a party was planned, and even less that I would be there.  I almost didn’t make it because I forgot to take her daughter’s phone number with me.  I couldn’t phone Joan, and spoil the surprise, and I had no idea how to find the house.  Thoughts of wandering around the outskirts of Bristol, asking ‘does anyone know Belinda…?’  Fortunately resourcefulness won and I ended up in Bristol’s very beautiful Central Library, accessing the Internet.  For once, technology was my friend.

After all that, some celebrating was called for, and celebrate we did.  A party last Saturday evening, and a family affair on Monday, which was Joan’s actual birthday.  Two cakes!  I think you’ll agree, it was a Momentous occasion?  And one I simply had to share with you, in just a few more than Six Words.  Thank you Paula, and Debbie, for being such lovely hostesses and providing the stage, and thanks also to Joan and her family, for being the stars of the show. Happy Saturday, everyone!

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