It occurred to me the other day that one of the happiest days of my life never made it on to this blog. It came at a particularly difficult time a while ago, when Mr Mess were dealing with our own personal problems and bracing ourselves for a very stressful few months. Every thing seemed very bleak.
On impulse I decided to try as cheer us both up by planning a day trip. I hoped that this would be a welcome distraction from our worries. It didn’t take me long to choose a destination. Mr Mess and I have visited Bath a few times in the past and we’ve always said we’d like to explore more of this beautiful city.
With the help of Google Maps I created a jam-packed itinerary of places for us to visit. I planned the day down to the minute. It was all looking very exciting
As the saying goes “Getting there is half the fun”, or at least it is in my book. We set off early in the morning, about 7am, to make sure we would get the most out of our day. On the journey I had a McDonalds breakfast (Sausage and Egg McMuffin – yes please!) and a Krispy creme donut. Dreadful I know, but after all this was a day to treat myself.
A Walk through Regency England
I am a HUGE devotee of Jane Austen and the Regency period in general. It’s probably one of my favourite periods in history and I used it for the inspiration for our trip. Our excursion started with a walk down Royal Crescent.
The Royal Crescent is one of the most famous streets in Bath and easily recognisable from period dramas such as “The Duchess”. The houses are so beautiful and you can feel the history radiating from the buildings as you stroll down he street. There’s a hotel right in the middle that in incredibly pricey but would definitely appear on my bucket list of places I hope to stay in one day.
Number 1 Royal crescent
The first official stop on our tour was a visit to No 1 Royal Crescent, an example of a quintessential Georgian town house which is still decorated as it would have been back in the 18th century. The house was glorious and it was fascinating to step back in time to a period of history that I love. The tour guides were all so friendly and informative. It was the perfect start to the day.
The Jane Austen centre
I’ve been saying of years that I absolutely HAD to visit the Jane Austen Centre and although I’m very glad that we finally did, I probably wouldn’t go again. I was a little disappointed at how little there was to see and do. There was a quick chat with a costumed guide, pretending (not brilliantly) to be Mr Darcy. Then there was a modest exhibition to look around but that really was it. I’m not entirely sure it was worth the entry fee, but at least I can tick it off my to-do list.
One part I absolutely adored was the gift shop (there’s a surprise) which hosted all the memorabilia and merchandise you could want related to Jane Austen and her novels. Mr Mess was an absolutely sweetheart and insisted on treating me to a teapot and cup set, a 3-year diary and a reticule. Every lady needs a reticule, right?
Afternoon tea at the Regency Tea Rooms
Upstairs in the Jane Austen Centre is the Regency Tea Rooms. It’s a cute little tea-room that is tucked away and serves the most delicious afternoon tea. We chose the Tea with Mr Darcy (obviously) which looking at their website now is £34 for two people. I have to say, that this price, this is one of the best value afternoon teas I have ever had (and we all know I’ve had my fair share!) The sandwiches were a generous size, the scores were divine and the cakes were beautiful. I can’t recommend this place enough.
A Whistle-Stop Tour of Bath
After tea, we walked down in to centre of Bath to have a look around some of the main attractions. We popped into the Saracen’s Head, the oldest pub in Bath and then walked around some of the shops. A friend of mine had recommended December 25th, an all-year round Christmas shop. As huge Christmas lovers, I couldn’t resist popping in and picking up a few items for the tree which will remind me of this fabulous day for years to come.
Outside the shop was a gorgeous horse and carriage. Mr Mess suggested we go rogue and take a break from the itinerary to go for a carriage ride around Bath. It was a magical experience, riding around the historic streets pretending I was a lady in a Regency romance. What can I say? I’m a bit of a dreamer. Clearly sometimes spontaneity pays off!
We would have loved to be able to have a look around the cathedral however sadly it wasn’t open at times when we could get there so we missed out. Guess we’ll just have to go back another day. What a shame, eh?
Both Mr Mess and I love a bit of history, so there was no way we could go to Bath without visiting the Roman Baths. The Baths are so ridiculously impressive that no words could possibly do them justice. There is so much to see and experience. We did pick up the audio tour and really enjoyed it to begin with but to be honest it was almost in too much detail. We’d have had to stay there for hours to see and hear everything and we had an appointment to make so eventually we just enjoyed walking around and looking at the exhibits.
At the very end of the tour there was a chance to sample the waters, which were supposed to have healing properties. At first I didn’t think it was too bad but on the second mouthful I thought I was going to heave. Not sure it exactly made me feel better! Still, I now get to say I’ve “taken the waters” in Bath like a proper Regency lady.
Thermal Bath Spa
Finally it was time to head to the place that had provided the inspiration for the whole visit – the Thermae Bath spa. Mr Mess and I had discussed going here for years so I was overjoyed to finally get the chance to go. Sadly they had a strict “no camera” policy (don’t they know we have blogs to update?) so I didn’t get any pictures, but there are plenty on their website.
Before beginning our spa experience we had a meal in the Springs Cafe restaurant. Included in the spa package was a main course, dessert and drink. The restaurant was light and airy and the food was delicious. We were off to a good start.
The spa has all the latest mod-cons. The changing area is communal, with lots of individual cubicles and you are given a wristband which gives you entry to all of the facilities and lockers etc.
The lower floor of the complex holds the Minerva Bath, a thermal pool including massage jets, whirlpools and a lazy river. We enjoyed floating around in the gently warm water for quite a while before deciding to go and explore the rest of the spa.
The middle levels were taken up with a variety of different saunas and steam rooms. Looking at the website, it looks like this area has been redeveloped. Reading all about the new themed steam rooms and saunas is really making me want to go back for another visit.
The jewel in the crown of the spa was found on the very top floor – a roof-top, open air pool with naturally warm waters. This was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had. We sat up there for hours in the gently bubbling water, watching the sunset. I wish I could have had my camera with me so I could share with you the breath-taking view. It really was the experience of a lifetime.
The whole trip really helped to take my mind off things and escape from my problems for a while. I really didn’t want to go home. Mr Mess kindly offered to make the long drive home so that I could sleep as I had work in the morning.
Looking back and writing this post now reminds me of how there can be moments of light at even the darkest times and you should try to grab them whenever you can.