Sunday, November 21, 2010

uk trip -- day 7-- bath

after two days of rest my feet had healed enough for me to tackle a trip to bath.

although i can still hear kev disagreeing with me... heh.

once again, leff, groc and i set off on our great british railway adventure of aught diggety ten. (please see the cardiff post for our first foray into "far flung" britannia.) we had originally hoped to include stonehenge on this journey as it's so close to bath but 1) that would've required a car. (we don't do tour buses if at all possible.) 2) leff hasn't ever driven in the uk and was a bit nervous about it. 3) neither groc nor i are licensed to drive in any country (so we were no help).

still, bath would prove to have enough attractions to fill the entire day if not an entire week.

once we had left the station groc noticed this ad and told me that it reminded him of me.

in the "100 portraits to paint" sense, not in the "only months to live" way. (regular readers of this blog will know that he was referring to the 120 small scale mixed media paintings that i completed in the month between our california and uk trips. yep, it was insanely intense but my current 365 project was completed 2 months ahead of time + i have stock for my table at urban craft uprising.)

have you seen the bath giraffe?

now you have.

bath is a a georgian city that is chock full of neoclassical buildings. it's distinctly beautiful but i would expect nothing less of an unesco world centre.

what was surprising to me was that in the midst of all this history and charm, there was still a coolness factor. i mean, hell! there was an entire window display of momiji kokeshi!

that was certainly not something that i expected to find.

here are two photos of quintessentially british things that we saw on our way to the center of town. the wonderful, and i do mean, wonderful (as it saved my neck a few times!) reminder to look right while crossing the street.

also, the "arms akimo" crossing guy which works so well graphically!

but let's get to one of my favorite places on this entire trip. (it may actually be one of my favorite places that i've ever visited in my entire life.) the roman baths!

of course i haven't set this up properly. if i were a good blogger, you'd have a photo of the exterior of the building right about here. but, no, i've jumped right into the funerary art that's included in the museum section. you can deal with it, right? no? tough. click the link, kiddo.

speaking of funerary art, the roman bath museum has some absolutely fabulous examples.

i'm fairly certain that the mask did not belong to this poor fellow.

several other pieces were part of the temple complex to sulis minerva. check out this gorgon!

it's stone that will turn you to stone!

also part of the temple finds is this exquisite head of minerva herself.

leff has a photo of her "brainpan" if you're interested in seeing how she was cast. (i'm thinking lost wax but i could be wrong.)

bath was known as aquae sulis during roman times. here's a man from that ancient town.

i think he might've looked at the gorgon. also, he's funerary, of course.

this mosaic, however, is not part of a burial site.

while the museum is stellar, let's be honest, we were there to see the great bath. this reconstructed roman was a reminder to hurry up and head to the water!

i literally gasped when i saw the great bath the first time.

it's been the setting of quite a few of my dreams ever since i saw a documentary of the place when i was a child. (that's an embarrassing thing to note but it might help you understand why i was so desperate to visit the site.)

while working your way to the level of the great bath, you will pass the sacred spring.

it's wonderfully warm here so if you're visiting in november (as we did) make sure to stick around,warm up and enjoy the coppery hue.

and here's the money shot with bath abbey in the background.

i included deery luther for some variety. ok, also as non titillating fan service. what? i'm not above that from time to time.

do you see the chap in the right hand alcove?

he's one of the roman reenactors and he gave me quite a start! he was sitting so quietly that i assumed that he was a mannequin of some sort. when he moved, i jumped and blurted out "oh! i didn't realize that you were real!" he just looked at me sadly and said all deadpan "i'm beginning to wonder if i am." haha! (i really miss british humor.)

did i hear you say that you wanted videos of the steamy water? you're in luck! i have plenty of them!

i also have a photo of two more romans

and a picture of two guys pretending to dive into the bath that is taken from the wrong angle.

i know that i've been a bit flip about the bath in this post. that's just due to the fact that i can sense the end of the recaps. i honestly could've spent another three hours at the baths (leff and i are already planning another trip back!) but 1) groc would've killed me (heh). 2) we were cutting it close time wise. we were meeting pip in the abbey courtyard in, oh, five minutes? when we dashed into the pump room to try the mineral water.

don't believe what people tell you about the taste of the bath water. it's actually not that bad! it's a bit warm and a bit coppery but, other than that, it's just water. i didn't detect any sulfur or dirty sock overtones like i'd been warned that i would.

(if you haven't had enough of my photos and video of the roman bath, check out leff's video compilation at vimeo. he has footage of lots of things that i didn't cover here. (i know. it doesn't seem possible, does it?) it's really quite good!)

the three of us almost collided with pip in the courtyard. this would be because pip somehow managed to sneak up in front of us. he's a ninja, our pip. a freakin' british ninja.

pippilotta only had a short time for lunch so we found a great little pub and annoyed the people who were upstairs with us.

pip even posed for his book cover. (sepia version!)

sauce packets were opened!

and we all ate some very british pub food. i had a veg bake (not pictured) while leff went for the ploughman's lunch

and pip and groc both had bangers and mash. um, on separate plates.

after bidding pip goodbye in the abbey courtyard, leff, groc and i headed to the abbey proper.

flying buttresses!

amazingly, none of us burst into flames once we'd entered the building. i'm *very* glad that we didn't because i would've missed the sheer grandeur and beauty of this place! also, you know, burning sucks.

here's video of the east window and ceiling that leff shot just so you can get an idea of the scale and ornateness of the place.

james montagu is entombed in one of the transepts.

and there is luscious stained glass everywhere.

i wish that we'd been able to attend an evensong to hear this incredible organ!

bath abbey is so ornately decorated

that a short rest in the pews is required.

but even that doesn't really give you a break from ornamentation as all the ends of each bench have different carved animals.

groc has more examples, if you're interested.

we spent almost two hours in the abbey. so after taking a picture of a roman who was really fake (and groc, who wasn't)

it was time for tea! CREAM tea! here's groc being mother and pouring me some earl grey.

have you ever had a cream tea? it is deeeelicous! scones are liberally covered with clotted cream which is then topped with strawberry jam!

i'm *so* incredibly grateful that this isn't readily available in the states because i would eat it at every available opportunity and clog my arteries beyond repair. that being said, a cream tea every now and then is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

there are even cupcakes available next door. (not that i care but i posted this picture for those of you who do.)

on the way back to the train station, we passed a shop that neatly encapsulated a small portion of our vacation.

yep, the stig and doctor who. do you see the dalek? YOU CANNOT ESCAPE THE DALEKS!

the train back was rather uneventful, if sad, as it was our last rail excursion while in the uk. one nice thing: groc loaned us his portable video machine and we watched "trashbat". (although, that's not the name of the show, is it?)

once back at kev's we watched hacker and iain on cbbc.

before heading to the oracle for semi french food at cafe rouge with groc and kev.

kev had to dash back to the flat after dinner to find his passport (he was heading to chicago the next morning) so groc, leff and i took a short cut through the oracle, saw some bemustached mannequins

and headed to saisbury's one last time where i finally got a picture of the stig celebration cake that had been making me laugh all week.

you see, in the states, it's almost as if we don't know the true identity of this cake. heh.

heading back to kev's, we heard st mary's bells for the first time.

and grew quite melancholy as it was our last night in the uk.

a few more little info crumbs:
  • on the train to bath, leff couldn't figure out why he kept staring at the girl in the seat behind us. this was because i was wearing almost the exact same outfit as she was! ha! in the uk my sense of style WORKS!
  • groc eventually found kev's passport after we all searched for it for about two hours *whew*
  • if you buy a lot of british candies, drinks, condiments and pickle, you WILL have to borrow a bag in which to pack them. *sheepish*

in tomorrow's recap we, regrettably, head back to the states. windsor castle! heathrow (again)! one last day of this stuff and we're back to normal posts!


Nad Leiruc said...

I never had cream tea, but it looks fantastic! Those places are magnificent!!!and i have a question. In your lunch pic,what is the black stuff that is in the little bowl?

r4kk4 said...

it's a bowl of british pickle! i think it might be branston pickle? regardless, it's savory and delicious! esp when you have it with cheese on bread in a cheese and pickle sandwich!