“Well it looks like we are never going to get onto the motorway at this rate”, said my exasperated sister as we stared at the traffic ahead. It was our third attempt to get onto the motorway on our road trip to Bath and it was already 2.30pm. We realised that if we didn’t get the train today we were not going to get there.
Thank goodness for online bookings as train tickets booked we made our way to Paddington Station to get the train to the Roman spa city of Bath. Armed with coffees and fruit for the journey we found seats and settled in for the 1.5 hour trip. The weather promised to be warm and sunny and my sister had booked us a night in a spa retreat.
For some of you, who may not know, allow me to indulge you in a little background history…
Bath has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a city in Somerset, some 97km west of London. It’s known for the curative Roman-built baths which are still there. It became a spa with the name ‘Aquae Sulis’ or the ‘Waters of Sulis’ AD 60, when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon. Tradition suggests that the hot springs (which actually still exist today) were known before that time.
On arrival we took a cab to the hotel we were staying at – The Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa. This Georgian gem offered 45 luxurious rooms and suites, an award winning restaurant, an ESPA treatment spa and an acre of private garden. As the cab pulled up outside, the hotel was situated in a crescent shaped road and snuggled amongst other town houses. A luscious span of green lay in the centre of this semi-circle of well-kept road. We were greeted by the concierge who invited us to wait in the ‘drawing room’ as others had also just arrived for check-in. We felt somewhat scruffy sitting there but soon overcame that thought when we saw others who walked in too.
Our room was exquisite… The view looked out onto the private gardens and after freshening up we went down for late tea. We were booked in the fine dining restaurant for the evening so cream tea was out of the question. However the delicate handmade butter vanilla and chocolate biscuits which accompanied our tea were so intoxicating that you had to have a bite… or three. We sat soaking up the afternoon rays before walking ahead to the restaurant to check out the menu. The Dower House is an award winning AA 3 Rosette restaurant; however we decided that the menu didn’t appeal to us despite our tasty culinary buds. Having checked out their elegant champagne and cocktail bar, the Montagu, we decided that their menu was more up our street and promptly changed our reservation.
It was a good choice… When we ventured to the Montagu we sat at the bar and watched the bartender mix us our cocktails before heading to our table. As it was Sunday, it was relatively quiet with only a small number of people dining in The Dower House. By the time dinner came, we were slightly tipsy on the cocktails. All in all it was a good evening and the food was delicious (from what I can remember… did I mention I was tipsy?). We retired to our room as the following morning we would be having a massage before walking into Bath to explore.
Breakfast was an affair on its own… an open buffet of fresh fruits, yoghurts and mueslis and whatever ‘madam wanted cooked from the menu’… Eggs Benedict, juice and tea in the morning air as the sun was doing its best to peep out from behind the thin clouds. After our breakfast we made our way to our rooms to grab our things as we were scheduled for a body massage at 10am sharp. Now my sister is savvy when it comes to massages as she has made it her weekly ritual. However I on the other hand feel awkward, never knowing where to put myself and feel very self-conscious. I know these masseurs have seen umpteen bodies; but I can never feel comfortable when asked to remove my robe and lie face down on the table. However inhibitions to one side, I did as my young masseuse instructed… and it was divine. She was strong yet gentle and I felt relaxed and awakened at the same time.
After our massages, we packed our things and headed down. We left our luggage as our train was not due until early evening, which would give us plenty of time to explore the town. As we walked in and out of the shops, we happened upon a shop which made fresh fudge. It was called the Fudge Factory and also served afternoon tea. However it was too hot and too early so we opted to try a few pieces before we bought a box to take to our aunt. I have never eaten fresh fudge before; but I was getting high on the smell of sugar in the little shop. There were tens of flavours from clotted cream to caramel and chocolate.
We decided we better leave the shop soon because I could feel myself putting on weight from the scent and headed out to get our tickets for the Roman Baths. This major tourist attraction was bustling. On entrance tourists are given hand held audio sets which resemble old mobile phones and walk around on the commentary in the handsets. As we walked around we came to large pool of water which was part of the springs. People were standing and making wishes there. As my sister and I stood contemplating on whether or not to indulge in this fantasy, a group of teenagers stood by us, one asking the other what they should say when they threw in their coins. One of them said “why don’t you say ‘valar morghulis’” to which I responded “all men must die”. They looked at me amusedly and said yeah right! Any of you who watch Game of Thrones will know however what I’m talking about…
As we were heading back to the hotel to get our things, we passed by another fudge shop. This one was more ‘upmarket’ with more exotic flavours. As my sister purchased another box this time for her colleagues, we watched one of the young girls mixing and spreading the gooey deliciousness whilst she explained that they were waiting for it to set before cutting it. As we left, I wondered how this girls who made these little jewels of coronary heart disease, managed to stay so slim. I know that if it was me I would probably have to become a life member of Slimming World!
All in all it was a magnificent stay, in magnificent surroundings and yet another magnificent day. The weather was glorious and we were ready to go home.
Next week: The Book of Mormons….