Updated: Nov 7
I hope this has been a good year for all of you. For me it has been full of interest and events and recently I visited the historic city of Bath, situated in the vale of Avon in the English county of Sommerset.
Torrential rain gave way to brilliant sunshine as I got off the train, and what a joy it was to find that the buildings, some ancient, some new, were all of the same mellow, creamy colour of Bath limestone.
Aware of treading the same streets as Jane Austen and countless heroines of romantic novels, not to mention the Romans, I made my way first to the Abbey, to be made aware that, though the present building was started in 1499, Christian worship had prevailed on or around this site from the seventh century AD.
As the full Abbey tour included 212 steps up to the bell tower, I opted for one that covered the ground floor only. With the messages contained in the magnificent stained glass windows, the tombs and effigies, the carvings and other adornments there was a lot to take in.
But what I remember most was GAIA, a piece of art work inspired by NASA imagery of the earth’s surface as seen from outer space. Seven meters in diameter it hung, as part of a TREASURING THE EARTH festival, under the tower in the center of the abbey.
Nearby, in the Abbey church yard, I visited the remains of the temple Sulis Minerva, built by the Roman invaders of Britain from 60 -70 AD, along with the spectacular Roman spa whose baths are fed by underground springs. Heated by geothermal energy the water was for many years claimed to have health restorating properties. The possiblity of pathogens, in the warm untreated spring water rules out bathing in these ancient baths.
Touring the ruins of Minerava’s temple, the spa and the museum, was excellent value, and well worth a visit, but perhaps my favour bit was was one of the actual hot springs pouring out of the earth, just as in Roman times.
It is thought that the Celts used the springs before the Romans came. After all, why wouldn’t they?
After this, out of respect for the many happy hours afforded to me by writers of Regency romancies, it seemed important to take tea in the Georgian Pump Room. Beneath sparkling chandeliers and accompanied by the gentle music of the Pump Room Trio, I not only had tea and scones, but also imbibed the spa waters from a conveniently sited fountain. It was warm and tasted of iron.
After all this even the journey back to Salisbury, where I happened to be staying, taking three hours instead of one because of the weather, did not damp my spirits.