Tuesday, 31 October 2017

River Avon and the Kennet & Avon Canal

Hello, hello!

Nice of you to drop by.

You can't beat a town or city with a river and a canal splooshing through as there will be some delightful walks alongside. Bath is no exception and the waterways also played a great part in transporting the prized Bath Stone to different parts of the country and even worldwide.

There are many River Avons in the country and the one that we are interested in is known as the Bristol Avon and is the nineteenth longest river at 75 miles but only covers a nineteen mile stretch as it twists and turns around the Cotswolds on its way to the Severn Estuary near Bristol.

The Kennet & Avon Canal is quite familiar to me as I'm used to seeing it in Reading so I enjoyed seeing the other end as it joined the River Avon at Bath.

Walking along the River from Green Park, you pass repurposed industrial buildings, beds of poppies, daisies and cornflakes, even in October, and as the River turns to the North, the Canal joins. The River flows past the railway, under the North Parade Bridge and the views are wonderful towards the weir and Pulteney Bridge as it wiggles on to Bradford on Avon.

Back to the Canal,  The lock gates near the Thimble Mill pumping station, which pumps the water used to replace that lost when the lock gates open, mark the way.  The towpath climbs up to the next lock, Bath Deep Lock which is 6 metres deep and carries on past Bairds Maltings, under Clevedon House and through Sydney Gardens to Bathampton and beyond.


Sending spooky Halloween greetings to you all!


Monday, 30 October 2017

Telephone Boxes


Thanks for popping in.

I'm not sure if it was the news  about the new Doctor Who and her companions that made me so aware of the telephone boxes in Bath or just the jolly colours. Probably the latter.

I don't think I saw one that contained a telephone mind you

There were boxes with cash machines in them and apparently there's a grey one near the Royal Cresent which has been listed.  It's a K6 designed by George Gilbert Scott for the Silver Jubilee of George V's  Coronation and there are loads of them! 

I've even seen telephone boxes as libraries.

Aren't they fun!


Friday, 27 October 2017



Thanks for popping in.

Having had a look at The Circus and The Royal Crescent last time, we're going to explore the many open spaces in Bath.  Being surrounded by the green tree strewn hills of the Avon Valley and with both a river and canal, it's a beautiful setting  for such a magnificent city.  Within its plentiful streets and twisty alleyways, there are also many pretty squares and parks to enjoy.

Queen Square was laid out by John Wood between 1728-34.  The northern terrace is designed as a single Palladian façade which is divided into individual houses inside.

With just enough room for a large plane tree, shops and cafés surround Abbey Green above.  The tree is truly historic and was planted in 1793 and has recently undergone environmental work to keep it going even longer.  Local legend says it is known as The Hanging Tree and that there are ghostly happenings there.  However, it is a delightful spot with small alleyways going off. 

Kingsmead Square below is larger with more space for a colourful display of the Greengrocer's fruit and vegetables and there's still space for an Autumn tree or two.

Parade Park, Royal Victoria Park, Hedgemead Park, Green Park, Henrietta Park, Alexandra Gardens for views over the City, Sydney Gardens, the list goes on and on!  We'll have a look at some of these individually on other days.


Thursday, 26 October 2017

The Circus and Royal Crescent


Thanks for calling in.

Heading up the hill in Bath away from the Abbey, you pass another cluster of interesting shops and cafes.  If you are walking up Gay Street, once you reach the top, you will have arrived in The Circus.  Take a moment to turn back the way you came as there's an excellent view down the hill.

Maybe you are thinking of a large red and yellow marquee, but The Circus is named from the Latin meaning ring or circle and is a residential road with Kings Circus at the centre - a grassy circle with huge plane trees all turning into their Autumn colouring.  There are three roads leading off but otherwise the buildings just  curls round and make a circle.

John Wood designed it so that the diameter was just slightly smaller than that of Stonehenge.  The façade is decorated with tiered columns, each one going from Doric to Ionic to Corinthian, the three Classical styles.  There's a border containing Masonic symbols with a row of acorn finals on the top of the buildings.  In fact, if you look at The Circus and nearby Queens Square, Gay Street and the Royal Crescent from above, they look like another Masonic symbol, a key.  There's also an equilateral triangle within the circle made by drawing a line between the three roads, again another reference to Freemasonry.  Sadly John Wood died on 23rd May 1754 only three months into the building work and his son John Wood the Younger had to take over.

Although John Wood the Elder brought the idea of squares from London to Bath, grand terraces and the circus went from Bath to London.

Notable residents include William Pitt and Thomas Gainsborough.

From the internet

Of course it's all very tricky to take a photo to give the amazing impression of the road. Equally tricky is the Royal Crescent just a bit further on down Brock Street.

The first of Bath's great crescents, the single semi-ellipse classical façade overlooks the green southern slopes of Bath.

One house is a museum, there's a hotel with rooms from £330 and among many others who have lived or stayed there over the years are William Wilberforce and Isaac Pitman.

From the internet



Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Bath Abbey


Lovely to see you.

Bath Abbey is a striking building right in the heart of the City, near the Roman Baths.  It is the third church to hsve been built on the site.  The first King of  England, King Edgar was crowned on the site in 973.

It's a bustling area with buskers putting on fine performances for the crowds.

You can't help but notice the ladders of angels on the West Front which came about because the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King, had a dream of angels ascending to heaven which inspired him to build the new Abbey Church in 1499, the last cathedral to be built in England.  Over the years, it has been repaired and renovated by George Manners at one time and George Gilbert Scott later on, who also replaced the ceiling with the magnificent fan vaulting.


Apart from its magnificence, I rather liked a large cluster of paper butterflies wafting about in the air currents.  The sculpture had been created by Anthony Head and at first glance just looked like a single group of butterflies, all the same.  On closer inspection, you could see each one was unique with its own genetic code and random mutation, all worked out using fractal mathematics of nature and procedural texture.  As they moved, it was as if they were migrating and this symbolically reflected all the human migration happening at the moment where the individual can be lost within a group or be just a number.


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Baths in Bath


Thanks for calling in.

When thinking about Bath, the first thing that comes to mind is the naturally hot springs that give the City its name.  They give around one million litres of water each day packed full with some 42 minerals and trace elements.  The springs were formed by rainwater which fell 10,000 years ago and sank 2km under the Earth's surface.  The water is heated to 69°C by the very hot rocks.  It rises to the surface again in one of three springs in the City - Cross Spring, Hetling Spring or Kings Spring. By the time the water reaches the surface, it is 45°C and then cools to 34°C for bathing.

In AD 43 the Romans developed Aquae Sulis there, as a place of rest and relaxation and by AD 70 they had created a reservoir round the springs and set up a temple to Sulis Minerva and a series of elaborate baths.  If you would like to know more about the history, have a look here.

These days, you can visit the Roman Baths and be totally amazed but you can't go in the water.  In the nearby Pump Room you can taste the water and enjoy a lovely meal or afternoon tea in the elegant surroundings, perhaps while someone entertains on the piano.  You can also go to the fairly new Thermae Bath Spa and lurk in the open air spa on the roof, high up, with a great view of the City or try the open air Cross Spa in the older buildings. These are the only naturally heated baths in the country. Follow the link to see the photos. 

Roman Baths using the Kings Spring

Roman Baths
Thermae Bath Spa

Kings and Queens Bath

Cross Bath

The  Pump Room

The Pump Room

Currently an eco project is underway to use the hot spring water to help heat the Abbey nearby instead of the hot water ending up, heat wasted, in the River Avon.


Monday, 23 October 2017

Off to Bath


Thanks for popping in.

The sun was shining and it was actually unusually boiling as we waited at the station on Monday. However, as the train pulled out of the station on the way to Bath, the red-Saharan-dust-filled clouds swept in making everything seem really spooky. Most peculiar. Could it just be that the train windows needed cleaning? By the time we arrived the sky was back to normal.

We'll be having a look around this pretty World Heritage City with its golden Bath Stone buildings in the Georgian style, natural springs and Roman history nestled in the Avon Valley in Somerset.