Last weekend we headed to Bath for a bit of R&R, enjoying our first day off of the year! And mainly to avoid not having to do any more decorating. When we were invited to stay at the Brooks Guesthouse Bath, we jumped at the chance.
The guesthouse in Bath is part of a small chain of boutique B&B’s across the Cotswolds, including Bristol and Hereford. In Bath, Brooks is just a stone throw away from the Royal Crescent and the centre of town, making it a great place to set up camp. Checked in at 2pm, we borrowed a parking permit for the on-street parking (just £8 a night).
Aquae Sulis – The Roman Baths
Knowing that we were spending the Sunday night in the city, we decided to treat ourselves to Sunday taster session at Bath’s renowned Thermae Spa, which uses the same spring waters as its ancient twin – the Roman Baths. Before we indulged in a spot of pampering and bobbing around the rooftop pool, I gave Tom a tour of one of my all time favourite places – The Roman Baths.
By the time the Romans rocked up, the natural thermal spring was already revered by the Celts and was a dedicated shrine to their goddess, Sulis. The Romans keen to stamp their mark on the place, re-identified the goddess as their own Minerva, but so as not to offend too many locals they dubbed her – Minerva Sulis. The whole bathing complex was built gradually over the course of 300 years and its waters were believed to cure a whole menagerie of conditions. Leprosy? head to the baths; backache? go for a dip; lost a limb? heal in the waters – you get the picture.
One of the really exciting things about the Roman Baths were the collection of 130 curse tablets discovered which are now part of the UNESCO Memory of the World programme (potentially the only documents to be included in from Great Britain). The curses written on lead were tossed into the waters by Roman worshippers hoping to right their wrongs – some wished for extreme punishments. ‘To whomever stole my glove, death on his head’ – no joke.
The Baths have been at the centre of life in the city since the beginning and in the 18th century, the grand Pump Room was added to the baths which had been redeveloped. Guests could sip the waters from the spring whilst taking in the society gossip. For me the Roman Baths spurned my passion for the Romans, and if you look over the blog you notice that I’m very fond of the odd ancient ruin, I’m an expert photographing pillars.
The Oven – Woodfired pizza
I’d also add here that to fuel our sightseeing we had a spot of lunch at The Oven Woodfired Pizza – We had a great table to watch the chefs sweat it out by the pizza oven and flipping the dough high in the air. Tom had a tasty chicken, avocado, jalapeño and red onion creation, and I had their speciality cotto ham, nduja, creamed walnut, fresh figs and basil pizza – winner of the pizza chef of the year award.
Brooks Guesthouse Bath
We had a super night’s kip at Brooks with its large bed. The Brooks Guesthouse Bath has a very relaxed but smart vibe, with its signature purple running through the décor. Breakfast was a killer with its own dedicated Italian chef who really made the experience. The continental buffet include a full spread with homemade granola. Tom’s English breakfast certainly set him up for the day and I had the day’s special – egg Benedict. I wish I had someone every weekend to fuss over me on how runny I like my poached eggs.
The Bath Bun
Our second day was more about ambling through Bath, doing a spot of shopping. I would add that we popped into the Jane Austin centre – a word of warning, don’t bother. It’s ‘exhibition’ consists of 20 odd information displays, which repeat what the guide explains at the beginning. Save your money.
Before heading home, we went to the Bath institution – Sally Lunn’s for a Bath bun. At my Mum’s suggestion, (my parents did live in Bath after all) we ordered two classic buns – which were a teacake the size of my face! Mine was spread with cinnamon butter (the Bath afternoon tea) and Tom’s the more traditional jam and clotted cream.
Story goes that Huguenot refugee – Solange Luyon – came to Bath in 1680 escaping persecution in France. She worked for a bakery in Lilliput Lane, selling the baker’s wares outside Bath Abbey from a basket. Due to her colleague’s mispronunciation, Solange, became Sally Lunn – but Sally had a set of special skills which soon set her buns apart from the rest. Sally’s buns were more akin to the rich brioche festival breads ate in France and soon Georgian society couldn’t get enough of the ‘Bath bun’. In fact there’s a whole museum dedicated to this regional speciality.
Thanks to the Brooks for our wonderful stay in Bath, and of course, all nonsense completely our own.