Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bath Day Trip

Jane Austen lived here
This past Sunday we hopped aboard the 9am train from Paddington station to Bath (Somerset) for our last London-based day trip of the summer. Situated 1 3/4 hours west of London, Bath is famous for its Roman ruins and healing thermal waters (both of which we completely bypassed).  Additionally, it was also the former residence of a little known author from the late 18th century (you may have heard of her), a Miss Jane Austen.

Upon arriving around 10:40am, we quickly made our way to the Bath Abbey for the only Jane Austen walking tour of the day.  Starting at 11am and lasting a bit longer than planned (2.5 hours rather than 1.5), our walking tour met our expectations for its historical anecdotes and literary references along with just being a nice introduction to such a lovely town.

Jane Austen lived in four homes in Bath.  First, when her brother was prescribed Bath’s healing waters (along with electric shock treatment) for his ailments, she and her mother accompanied his family on the trip. Next, upon retiring, her father relocated the household (including herself, her mother, and her sister) to Bath, where he subsequently died. Upon her father's death, the family tried to stay in Bath but, after relocating twice, finally acknowledged that Bath was prohibitively expensive for their circumstances and had to leave town for good.  Both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are products of her time in Bath (neither of which I know anything about).

Parade Gardens
After our walking tour we grabbed a couple pints at The Porter, an adorable vegetarian pub with outdoor seating and a great location and then headed to 'the famous' Sally Lunn's to sample some 'world famous buns', where we wound up having an excellent lunch and grabbing a few buns to-go.  After our meal, we walked to the riverside to enjoy the sun, water, and our lovely surroundings.  Then, just to add to our contentment, a band began playing in the bandstand at Parade Gardens, across the River Avon from where we were sitting.  It was lovely.

Besides a disappointing hike up to Alexandra Park - located at the top of a neighbouring hill it was supposed to be a great spot to view the town but really isn't at all due to all the trees - we had a perfect day.  In hindsight, the hike was actually quite nice and the park was cute and, though requiring an exhaustive and frustrating search, we did eventually stumble upon a break in the trees which did provide a mediocre view of the town.  But, disappointing view aside, we did discover the existence of a ravenous, man-eating, invisible plant with a sting that lasts around 24 hours and is painful enough to make two adults run screaming from the wilderness.  So, you know, that was cool.

Royal Crescent
We spent the rest of the day revisiting spots from our walking tour and trying to find places that were pointed out in the distance and discussed but not actually seen.  We took a turn around the Royal Crescent, just like the high brows would've in Jane Austen's day, and found the spot where Jane Austen's father had been buried in a churchyard on the hill, next to one of Jane's inspirations, Frances Burney.

More than any of our other day trips, this trip to Bath was the most fun historically for me.  I'd say Bath is my favourite town thus far in the UK and I'm looking forward to returning for further exploration.

For more pictures, please visit my Facebook album here.

1 comment:

  1. That deadly plant sure did pack a mean sting!
    Great post. Another perfect description of a great day.



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