We’ve moved into England, the journey that should have taken an hour and a half took four hours. There was an accident, traffic got backed up and so we were stationary for two hours. There was nowhere to go as we were on a motorway and when we took the next exit there was almost stand still traffic there too. It could have been worse, the car next to us had steam billowing out through the bonnet and water gushing onto the road. I can’t imagine how long she had to wait for a tow-truck and even when it did get there, where would it go?
(Hot air balloons over Bath)
All this meant that we arrived in Bath just in time for dinner. We had booked an early table at a vegetarian restaurant, so we could take the Bizarre Bath Tour. It’s a comedy tour and the guide went to great lengths at the outset to ensure we understood that there would be no history. The tour consists of about twenty of us following him around the Bath streets while he told lies or performed some magic! There was the escapologist rabbit (stuffed) and the key that opens up a prize of £300 (we lost, he won) and the volunteer’s ring that accidentally floats up into the Bath night sky attached to a helium balloon. I thought it was really funny… I’m sure our travel insurance will cover a new engagement ring.
(Our guide about to perform the £300 trick)
On Saturday we took a bus tour and it turns out Bath is where English “good manners” began. Seemingly a gambler, called Richard Nash, got the job of Bath’s entertainment manager (it was called Master of Ceremonies then…) in the early 1700’s (the previous manager lost the job when he was shot in a duel). Nash promoted Bath as a place where you could come for the spa waters and the dancing and regardless of your social class you would be comfortable in the knowledge that the other classes knew their place….
(Seen in the Jane Austin Museum… manners?)
I also learned that the river running through Bath, the Avon, is not the same as the one in Stratford-upon-Avon. Turns out there are lots of rivers called Avon in England and there’s a really good reason. The Romans when they arrived, pointed to the river and asked “What’s that called?” and the natives said “Avon.” The Romans assumed that was the name of the river, but Avon was the word for river, any river. So the river Avon is really the river River.
Don’t make assumptions, Mairead.