A Travellerspoint blog

A trip to Bath

We visit my cousin Michael and family and the Roman Baths


The trip to Bath was further than we realised from Burton in Somerset. After going around in a circle finally found a park in a large central car park. We emerged and didn't know where the Roman Baths were. Everything looked different from our last visit. We used maps on my cell phone. That worked a treat once we worked out we were heading in the right direction. It was only a short distance away, then just had to do a circuit of the building to find the entrance. The Roman Baths are below modern street level. The Baths are a major tourist attraction with over one million visitors per year. There were lots of visitors this day with it being holiday season and a Sunday. The temple at Bath was constructed in 60-70AD and the bathing complex built up over the next 300 years. After Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early 5th century the baths fell into disrepair. The baths have since been modified several times. The spring is now housed in 18th century buildings. There is a museum here which includes objects thrown in the sacred spring presumably as offerings to the goddess. Now there are lots of audio visual displays depicting what life would have been like in the Roman times at the Baths. The late 19th century carvings of Roman Emperrs and Governors of Roman Britain on the terrace overlooking the Great Bath are susceptible to the effects of acid rain and are now protected with a special wash. In 2009 a grant was given to re-develop displays and improve access to the baths. It certainly had changed from our last visit. Probably for the better as people seemed to be flowing through the complex. It is well worth visiting the Roman Baths if you are in the Bath area they are fascinating to see. We had a quick lunch before heading to see Cousin Michael Winkelmann and family who live in Bath not far from the city Centre. They had just returned from a two week holiday in Montreal, Canada 2 hours before so we're feeling a bit jet lagged. We had afternoon tea with them. It was great to catch up. They have a lovely family home. The attic room sounded great, one day hope to return to Bath and stay longer. We drove up the hill and took some photos over looking the city. We then headed back to Burton, Somerset. Jackie had a very nice dinner waiting for us. It was good to meet two of her friends at dinner. All to soon we had to say our farewells to Jackie as we were leaving the next morning when she would be at work. Look forward to meeting up with Jackie in New Zealand some time in the future. Another great Love Home Swap.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:44 Archived in England Tagged roman bath baths Comments (0)

Checking out our local attractions in Somerset, England

Cricket Cafe, The Walled Gardens of Cannington, Blackmore Farm Shop and Cafe and Coleridge Cottage

all seasons in one day 19 °C

We had been driving past places and signs so decided to go and see what they were about. Our first stop was the Cricket Cafe just down the road. We were expecting to see cricket paraphernalia, but no that was not so. The place was a farm shop with lots of produce, they specialised in cheese and the place had a cheese factory. Cricket derived from a local identity who had the surname of Cricket. The nice chatty lady here made us a reasonable flat white. Soon it was off to stop number two. We kept passing the sign The Walled Gardens of Cannington. It was time to investigate. This place even had its own parking area. The gardens lie within the grounds of a medieval priory many of the buildings, including the walls remain. Having undergone extensive renovation the gardens were officially opened by Prince Edward. The gardens have classic and contemporary features, there is also a large botanical glass house. Students from Bridgewater College gain hands on experience working in the gardens. We enjoyed wandering around these colourful gardens. There was an area devoted to Australasian plants. We had lunch at the cafe here. Nice fresh toasted sandwiches. There is also a shop here and plants can be purchased. Our next stop was Blackmore Farm Shop and Cafe. This place has lodgings a cafe and produce shop. They also do weddings, dinner parties etc. There is also a historic manor house on the property you can visit. They specialised in local cheeses and meats they had a vast range of goods. We bought some vintage cider. We had coffee and cake here, talk about the foodie day. The owners of the business were very friendly, Geoff enjoyed chatting about farming. The brother runs the farm. By this stage it was pouring with rain. Next stop was Coleridge Cottage, home of romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge for three years, he wrote some of his best work while living here, including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Both Coleridge and Wordsworth who visited here are seen as crucial in the development of the literary Romantic Movement. The cottage dates back to the 17th Century. The cottage was well presented and also had a cottage garden and well. Soon it was off home to cook dinner.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:31 Archived in England Tagged local siteseeing Comments (0)

Wells Cathedral and The Bishop's Garden, Summerset

The beautiful medieval city of Wells, Somerset

sunny 20 °C

We decided to check out the medieval city of Wells, England's smallest city. We are certainly pleased that we visited here. We drove right around the medieval City looking for a park. After putting parking in Garmin it took us to the supermarket which sported a two tier park. The top tier was a designated area for those visiting the Cathedral etc. There was a charge. It was a short walk to Wells City medieval Centre. What a beautiful place this is with lots of attractive old buildings to feast ones eyes on. If visiting Somerset put this place on your agenda. We found a modern style cafe interestingly furnished. The food and flat white were tops. The place was very busy. We then headed to the Cathedral. The Cathedral is set in the Somerset countryside. It was built in the 12th century. This building glows when the sunlight is on it and is in good repair. The west front contains one of the largest galleries of medieval sculpture in the world. interior is stunning. One feels quite dwarfed by the incredible high ceilings in these places. The Wells clock was installed in 1390 making it one of the oldest medieval clocks in the world. Loved the chapter house where the clergy met to transact Cathedral business, It is still used for this purpose onformal occassions. The Chapter house is reached by well worn curving steps. We were lucky to find the orchestra and quior practising, we sat for awhile and listened. Later on heard a recording with the full orchestra and quior it sounded amazing. There was also an art exhibition here. When you exit these places it is usually through a shop. The Cathedral gets no government funding and relies upon voluntary support. The cost of care for this building is around 4000 pounds per day. We then headed for the Bishop's Palace and Garden. The Palace was closed for the filming of a television comedy. There was lots of activity, we wondered which stars were nearby or if we were passing them and not recognising them. For Half price you could visit the Bishop's Garden. This is certainly worthwhile the gardens were beautiful with many different features from ruins, ancient walls, sculptures, streams and waterfall, and lots of the old fashioned perinials. There are seats where you can sit and enjoy the gardens. We passed an allotment space for the locals, also there was an orchard here. We took lots of photos lots of nicely vistas. The entrance to the gardens is quite spectacular with ancient walls, turrets and a moat with swans swimming in it. There is a shop and Cafe here as well we didn't go to the cafe. The Bishop's Palace was originally surrounded by a medieval deer park. When the walls were built the stream was diverted to format the moat as a reservoir. In the 1820s the grounds within the walls were planted. Great gardens pleased that we could enjoy them.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:40 Archived in England Tagged gardens and cathedral Comments (0)

Burnham-on-Sea, Western-super-Mare and Cheddar, Somerset

I love to be beside the seaside, I love to be beside the sea

sunny 20 °C

We decided it was time to head to the coast. Driving along we spied a sign that said 'Grand Pier'. Into Burnham-on-Sea we headed we thought we better go check out this pier, with visions of a pier stretching way out to sea. We found a park easily near the waterfront. We wandered into the information office to ask where the Grand Pier was. She said it was just to the right of the office. We had been looking for a long pier, not a grand one. Big difference. The Grand Pier housed an amusement parlor and Food Court. This beach certainly takes one back in time with the promenade. Steps up from the beach for people to sit on, donkey rides on the beach. You could have had cream teas in The Front Parlor or sweets from the sweet shop or ice cream. We decided to eat fish in chips at The Grand Pier whilst looking out to sea. I was happy you could get 1/2 servings. The sea was a long way out. You would need to walk a long way to get wet. Apparently when the tide comes in it happens really quickly, people get caught out. Love these English beaches, so different from back home. It was then back in the car and off to the next beach Weston-super-Mare. We managed to fluke a park right on the waterfront. Most parks you need to pay, this was no exception. We wondered what all the fuss was about when we arrived. The paparazzi were everywhere, a helicopter was flying overhead. It was all about Banksy's 'Dismaland' at Tropicana, a former fun park in Weston-super-Mare. The graffiti artist's latest shop is a sinister twist on Disneyland and even comes complete with a fire-ravaged Cinderella Castle. Of course the reclusive Banksy had already left. The next day there was lots of coverage of the opening. This place was certainly popular lots of people come here by buses on day trips. Also there were lots of hotels close by. People were promenading so might as well join them. Not many on the beach. The sea was a long way out. There were donkeys here as well. We came across a sand sculpture exhibition, one of the major sponsors was The Caravan Club. It was good to have a chance to see these sculptures up close. You need special sand. They use wooden frames which they pack the sand in tight, before removing the frames and doing the sculptures. There was lots of variety amongst the sculptures from fairyland figures to those of famous people, animals fish etc. There was a large birthday cake as well. Soon it was time to head home. We went via Cheddar. We had visited here once before over 10 years ago. Cheddar is known as the origin of cheddar cheese, which has been produced here since the 12th century and to this day is still stored in the Cheddar Caves to mature. It is a very picturesque, quaint village with a stream running through. Britain's oldest complete human skeleton, Cheddar Man, estimated to be 9,000 years old was found in Cheddar Gorge in 1903. We purchased some sweets and cider for Jackie before heading home. That night we met Jackie at the local pub 'The Bubbling Brook' for dinner. I had a yummy meal pasta and chicken, we chatted to a couple of locals, one was an ex farmer. It was another great day.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 11:33 Archived in England Tagged seaside Comments (0)

Bridgewater, The Chantry and Kilve Beach

Making the most of a wettish day

rain 19 °C

After a bit of a lazy morning we donned our Kathmandu jackets as the day was rather showery and headed to Bridgewater for some supplies. Jackie had circled places of interest on a large map so we were attempting to tick them off one by one. With house swaps it is always good to get to know your local area. Burton was close to plenty of local attractions. Everytime we headed off it was down narrow country lanes often with high hedges, so you were on full alert for oncoming traffic. It would take a little manouvering to pass especially when it was a tractor set up for harvesting. The area was in full harvest mode. Bridgewater was our local town only a short distance away. We needed some supplies. Parking wasn't too difficult, there is a parking building in the town. We wandered around town separately, I wandered in a couple of clothing shops just looking. Bridgewater is a market town and civil parish in Sumerset. It was A major manufacturer of clay tiles in the 19th century. It is the administrative Centre of the Sedgemoor district and a major industrial Centre. The population is around 36,000. The muddy river Parrot runs through the Centre of town. In the afternoon we decided to visit the Chantry Tea Gardens. What a great place this was with a garden amongst the ruins of the Chantry at Kilve. We had a cream tea here and chatted to the owner. The gardens were lovely and colourful. The Chantry was founded in 1329 when a brotherhood of five monks was employed to say mass for their founder, Simon de Furneaux. The Roll of Incumbents show that several successive priests were incumbents of Kilve parish. The Chantry seems to have fallen into ruin long before the dissolution of the monasteries, for centuries it served as a barn for the adjacent farm. A path leads down from the Chantry to the beach. Wordsworth the poet lived here with his sister Dorothy for a brief period. We wandered down further and found a cricket field. Near here are the remains of a brick retort built in the 19th century when it was discovered shale in the cliffs was rich in oil. The scheme to the relief of locals was abandoned. We walked to the rocky beach. Here you could see the remains of a jetty. This area had a long association with smuggling. Legend has it that barrels of spirits hidden in the Chantry were deliberately set fire to as the revenue men appeared on the scene. We then set off home. We cooked duck for dinner, have taken a liking to duck since Gillian cooked it for us at Romney Green. You can buy it marinade already to put in the oven with all the instructions included, ideal when you are travelling. We found a large shop in Bridgewater basically full of these easy to cook meals.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:29 Archived in England Tagged gardens the tea bridgewater chancy Comments (0)

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