The Roman Baths, Bath

I am a real water baby and I absolutely love all forms of water including oceans, waterfalls, lakes, ponds and rivers. I prefer naturally occurring water over, say, swimming pools and fountains but as long as I can hear the soft gurgling or tinkling of running water then I am happy. It is no surprise then that I found something so appealing and romantic in the Roman Baths in Bath. The source of the water is from natural, hot springs emerging from underground but it is the Roman buildings erected at the site in the first century that add up to make this the most unforgettable place to visit.

 The Great Bath viewed from the upper level
The Great Bath viewed from the upper level

They estimate that only a fraction of the the original baths have been excavated but they are able to reconstruct portions of the structure to give you an idea of how it might have looked two thousand years ago.

The Temple Pediment and reconstruction of a section of mosaic flooring

The Romans could not explain the source of the hot, rapidly flowing water emerging from underground and so they deemed it to be of divine origin and they built a temple and shrine around the springs.

In these photos, you can see the original water level of the Roman era. The copper-coloured ring around the Sacred Spring shows the water level in the 18th century. The baths (and the whole city of Bath) became a much sought-after location in the 18th century as wealthy patrons sought healing in the baths and Bath developed as a prestigious spa town.

The Romans built the stone reservoir around the Sacred Spring and thus used the water to feed the baths.

The Spring Overflow and the Drain

This is the original Roman drain which still takes the hot water from the spring to the river Avon a few hundred metres away. The flow is a constant 13 litres per second which amounts to 1,170,000 litres a day.

I could have taken a score of photos by the side of the Great Bath, I thought it was that beautiful. Oh wait, I did!

The Great Bath

The facade of the Upper Level from the Great Bath

It's really hard to appreciate the baths from these photos because it looks like a couple of piles of stones and holes in the ground! But those piles of stones used to support the floors and allow heated air to flow through, thus heating the rooms in the first instances of central heating. There were various pools and the first instances of steam baths and resting rooms. These were absolutely decadent times and you can almost imagine the shenanigans the ancient Romans got up to in the various nooks and crannies in the compound.


Original roof tiles; an original lead drain; an original Roman occupant*; part of the original roof facade.

* Okay, not really. Just checking if you're concentrating. That is a wonderfully authentic tour guide.

The Sacred Spring

The rings on the walls were left by grateful 18th century patrons who claimed to have been healed from all sorts of ailments.

The Circular Plunge Pool

We threw some coins into the pool and I made a wish that I'd get over the flu!

The City of Bath

We arrived in Bath at about 11am and after searching for some time for a parking bay, made our way down to Bath Abbey.

Bath is an extremely picturesque town and it must be an amazing sight to see in the summer months.

Bath - Gardens Leading Down to the River AvonGardens Leading Down to the River Avon

We approached Bath Abbey from behind and I was so unimpressed with this tourist coach as it remained parked there and ruined my shot!

Behind Bath AbbeyBehind Bath Abbey

These are taken from the side of the abbey - click on the photos for bigger pictures.  I love old churches.  I never tire of looking at them and admiring their intricacies.

Bath Abbey Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey elevationBath Abbey

At the front of the abbey you can see Jacob's Ladder running up on the two pillars.  The town Christmas tree was planted right on the ideal photo-taking spot! 

Jacob's Ladder at Bath Abbey Jacob’s Ladder at Bath Abbey

The reason for us coming to visit the town of Bath was to see the famous Roman Baths.  Of course, they were so absolutely amazing that they deserve their own post!

Entrance to the Roman Baths, BathEntrance to the Roman Baths in Bath

One Night in Bristol

After Stonehenge, we took a brief drive of one or two hours and arrived at our accommodation just before 5pm.  Unfortunately, I was burning up with a fever by then and I got straight into bed while Stephen and his parents had some coffee in the downstairs bar area.  I wish I could say that I slept through to the morning but I was feverish, hallucinating and confused through the night!

The Fox and Goose Bristol

Despite not feeling too good, I certainly noticed how lovely our choice of accommodation was.  We stayed in two gorgeous rooms above the pub which were decorated in a very homely, welcoming manner.  The rooms were absolutely spotlessly clean and I would certainly recommend the place to travellers.  It is located on the outskirts of Bristol on the airport but it only about 10 minutes outside of Bristol town centre.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to see much of Bristol as we slipped into town for some breakfast and then continued on our way to Bath, but I did notice how all the the houses seem to be made of stone and they certainly do look very West of England.

Visiting Stonehenge

You might have picked up on Twitter or Facebook that the day before we embarked on our first road trip, I came down with the flu.  I didn't sleep at all on Saturday night as I had a high fever and I was physically sore.  Okay, I am an absolute drama queen and I hate being ill and at about 4am on Sunday morning I was holding my head in my hands and chanting "oh my gosh" over and over again.  Sunday morning started off with a bit of friction between Ste and I as he assumed that I would not be making it on the road trip.  I explained that were that the truth, I would have been extremely upset as I had been planning the trip for months and it would not be a decision I would have made easily.  We decided to delay our departure by 90 minutes and I have to be more of a drama queen honest and say that I have never struggled that much to get out of bed before.  But we eventually made it!

The first stop on our trip was Stonehenge.  My first impression was that I could not believe how small it is.  Yes, you read right.  It is small.  As in, it is a really neat little circle of stones and is only about 30 metres in diameter.  Bizarrely enough though, they seem much bigger in my mind's eye now as I remember them.  Unfortunately, you're not allowed to touch the stones which Robyn (Ste's mum) and I both agreed was disappointing as we're both interested in fantasy novels and the magical side of life.

We took a counter-clockwise walk around the stones, starting from their northern-most point.  (By the way, I barely know my left and right so correct me if I get the compass points wrong!).

Stonehenge - the northern pointThe Northern Face

Stonehenge - main circleThe closest we came to the main circle

Stonehenge - the western faceThe Western Face

Stonehenge - the south western faceThe South-Western Face

The southeastern faceThe South-Eastern Face

Stonehenge - the north eastern faceThe North-Eastern Face


Stonehenge - the heal stoneThe Heal Stone


So yes.  That was Stonehenge.  You'd be forgiven for thinking it is just a bunch on plain stones, especially as you aren't able to touch the stones themselves.  Maybe I'll go back one day during the Summer Solstice. 

Baker Street and Madame Tussauds

On Friday 19 December, Stephen and I took his parents off to Baker Street to visit Madame Tussauds. Now Baker Street is, of course, Sherlock Holmes country and I am mad about Sherlock Holmes! (As a complete aside, my favourite author Michael Dibdin wrote a book called The Last Sherlock Holmes Story which is a great crossover between the Sherlock Holmes legend and the Jack the Ripper case).

BakerStreet Underground Station

How awesome is that? Baker Street station is made of awesome.

Sherlock Holmes Statue at Bker Street

One day I'll come back to do the Sherlock Holmes trail. That is Madame Tussauds you can see in the background.

By the way, just in case there is anyone that doesn't know - Madame Tussauds is a museum of wax figures and dates back over 200 years. It has been in the Baker Street region since 1835. At £24.50 per person, it is not cheap to get in so try to get a 2-for-1 special using your rail tickets or a similar deal. A friend had given me a some vouchers that they had found in their cereal boxes so that was a great saving for us.

The first floor is where you find all of the Hollywood stars.

Johnny Depp model at Madame Tussauds

I first spotted Johnny Depp and immediately thought of you, Vanessa!

George Clooney and Audrey Hepburn models at Madame Tussauds

I adore Audrey Hepburn and she reminds me of my love for all things New York-related. I do hope I finally make it to New York in 2009!

Julia Roberts model at Madame Tussauds

Daniel Radcliffe model at Madame Tussauds  Colin Farrell model at Madame Tussauds

Julia Roberts, Daniel Radcliffe and Colin Farrell. All favourites of my mine at one time or another but they looked very waxy, so nothing to report there really. Click on the photos for full size shots.

Next was the sporting heroes, cultural figures, musicians and world leaders sections. Oh wait, I think the royal family was in there somewhere as well. >:/ To be honest, I am convinced we only viewed a watered down version of the display because I seem to remember it being so much bigger in the past. I was getting sick though so that could have distorted my perception. Maybe I was just sad that they've taken Lenin away. There is also a really scary section which I of course loved and at the end there was a ride you take which was called something like "The Spirit of London". That was cool, albeit a bit cheesy.

JFK model at Madame Tussauds MLK model at Madame Tussauds Shane Warne model at Madame Tussauds

You have to wonder at my choice of subjects to photograph - there is Shane Warne, the legendary Australian cricket player, JFK and Martin Luther King Jnr. Well, I have always been a fan of Shane Warne and even more so since we visited Australia. I think the man is awesome and he is not as arrogant as people like to make out. JFK is a bit obvious but I do think he was amazing and I used to read everything I could lay my hands on regarding the investigation into his assassination. And then there is Martin Luther King Jnr - another obvious choice but "I Have a Dream" remains my top speech ever made by a public figure. I would have been much happier if the figure of Lenin was still in the collection and I was sad that there wasn't one of Che Guevara but I guess not everyone shares my interest in that type of thing!

On the way out we passed through the Quantum of Solace exhibit. My, how nice it would be to get that close to Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Craig in real life. Swoon.

Dame Judi Dench model at Madame Tussauds Daniel Craig model at Madame Tussauds

On our way back to the station, we stopped off at the local branch of JD Wetherpoons for lunch. I just had to post some pictures of their ladies toilets because they have the best decor I have ever seen in a toilet in my life before!!

Ladies' cubicles in JD Wetherpoons

Ladies' basins in JD Wetherpoons

Finally, we took a detour to Oxford Street and took a walk down regent Street to buy a Christmas present for my god daughter K. The whole area was in a general state of mayhem so our cameras were safe stowed away for the most part but I did get a stunning shot of the Christmas decorations in Carnaby Street.

Carnaby Street Christmas 2008

Theatre: A View From The Bridge

Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge

There have been rumours circulating that Harry Lloyd is to star in Arthur Miller's "A View From The Bridge" which is starting at London's Duke of Yorks Theatre in January.  He is to be playing Rodolpho alongside Ken Stott and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.  One of the fans from contacted his agent and she confirmed that Harry will indeed be playing this role.

This looks to be an all-star ensemble and I am not too sure if I am going to wait to get a group together.  There are special group discounts but there are also early bird tickets of £39.50.  Hmmm.  But then you have to pay a £20 joining fee.  Oh well... Still makes the tickets less expensive than the advertised £66.  I can't make up my mind!

Most importantly, these tickets are going to sell fast and I don't want to be disappointed.  I'm sure Stephen wouldn't mind me "treating" him to see this play for our wedding anniversary.  It would be in line with this year's anniversary "treat" of seeing Harry in The Sea.