Thursday, 26 May 2016

Visit Bath and Paint Prior Park

Painting “en plein air”, or, to put it another way, outside in the open air, is a past time that goes back as far as the art of painting goes. The feeling of losing yourself in a landscape so entirely as you copy what you can see all around down onto a canvas is such an amazing experience – to be that immersed in the world around you, but it’s not something that most people, ourselves included, have tried. However, a series of events put on by the National Trust is looking to change that. For a lucky few at least.

On Wednesday 1st June, Tuesday June 7th, Saturday June 11th and Sunday June 26th, local artist Richard Grinter will be hosting a series of  all-day painting workshops at the National Trust’s sweeping landscape Prior Park gardens as part of the celebrations commemorating the 300th anniversary of the birth of Capability Brown.

Richard Grinter studied Art at Amersham School of Art in 1988 and has spent many happy years in Bath capturing its many views, displaying his work in exhibitions, and teaching students from all over the country how to put brush to canvas.

Each stand-alone event (although you could attend every class if you wished to!) will give an intimate class of six students (or fewer) the opportunity to experience painting in the open air from 10:30 until 3:30. All of the materials; easels, canvas, paints - oil, watercolour or acrylic, and so on, will be provided; although the requisite old shirt to get covered in paint is not. In each event Richard will demonstrate the techniques and tips you need to know in order to create a beautiful landscape painting in your favourite medium.     

As well as having a great local artist as a teacher, Prior Park is a great setting to have as a subject. It was designed in the 18th century by the poet Alexander Pope and the famous Capability Brown, who was one of the main exponents of landscape gardening, and it was owned by the then postmaster and later mayor of Bath, Ralph Allen. Prior Park was highly influential in defining the style known as the “English garden” across Europe, and the garden still retains a serpentine lake, Gothic temple, and a rare Grade I listed Palladian architecture bridge, which throughout the years has been a popular location for proposals of marriage. In more recent years it has also acquired a very nice tearoom (/shed) – something no National Trust property would be complete without!

With all this to offer, even if you don’t fancy picking up a paintbrush, Prior Park is most definitely well worth seeing. If you do want to attend then tickets are £55 and details can be found online here. 

Either way, we hope to be able to welcome you to Bath soon. With such lovely weather and so many events planned throughout the coming months Bath really is a wonderful city to visit.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Stay in Bath for Bath International Music Festival 2016

So today is the first day of Bath’s International Music Festival which will see the city filled with amazing music of all kinds from today, Friday 20th May, to Sunday 29th May. Ten days of concerts and recitals and dancing! We’ve really been looking forward to it. If you’re coming to stay in Bath for Bath International Music Festival, or you already live nearby, or have only just found out it’s happening and are now planning on coming to the city to be a part of it; these are some of our top recommendations for the days ahead.  

Jay Rayner, perhaps best known as the One Show’s food expert, will be largely leaving his critic’s hat at home and coming to Bath with his jazz hat on on this occasion. He’ll be performing at the Guildhall from 3:00pm – 5:15pm on Saturday 21st, and in the first half he will also be telling a few stories of his restaurant exploits. 

On Sunday 22nd from 7:30pm-8:45pm at the beautiful Assembly Rooms of Bath will be Canzoniere Grecanico Salentico. The Guardian described Canzoniere as “an exhilarating reworking of the tarantella, the hypnotic percussive dance said to cure the bite of the tarantula”, and the paper chose their last album as one of their top five albums of the year.

Not a performance but still very much a highlight event, on Wednesday 25th  there’s a walking tour of the city called Lost Pleasures, which will, over the course of three hours (3pm-6pm), explore the lost pleasure gardens of Bath. It will also visit some of the lesser-known corners of Bath, which hold stories of they city’s more dubious past delights… 

Later on on Wednesday at the Bath Forum from 7:30pm until 9:00pm, will be An Evening of Opera, during which favourites from Carmen, Samson and Delilah, Turandot, Aida, and many others will be performed by Bath Philharmonia and three top-class opera singers. The tenor, Hector Sandovai, sings major roles in some of Europe’s best opera houses. 

A rising star is set to sing at Komedia on Thursday 26th. Lera Lynn’s style is noir alternative country (the festival really does cover all styles of music) and is utterly compelling. Her original songs have already featured on the HBO series True Detective.

For folk fans, on Friday 27th at the Old Theatre Royal at Bath Masonic Hall, Andy Cutting, who was named as Musician of the Year at the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, will be performing alongside fellow folk favourite Alasdair Roberts. Their mix of melodeon, guitar and Scottish influences is a treat not to be missed. 

There are many more performers on throughout the festival; usually at least five each day, but these were a few of the ones that caught our eye. We recommend browsing for the full programme. And then, biased as we are, getting on the first train/plane to Bath to come and treat your ears and feed your soul.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Stay in Bath for the Bath International Music Festival – Party in the City

Next weekend sees the start of the 2016 Bath International Music Festival. Performers of all kinds from across the world will be coming to Bath to perform in venues around the city. There will be jazz, choirs, drumming, opera, rock – every genre of music you care to think of will be represented, and possibility even a few you never knew existed. But before we get carried away with ourselves, in this blog we want to have a look at a few highlights that will be part of the big festival opener on Friday 20th. 

Each year the festival starts with a bang, and this year is no exception. “Party in the City” is a free event which will see over 30 venues come alive with folk, rock, swing and more. A bonus this year however is that for the first time there will be two live open-air stages;  one at the Parade Gardens and one at Queens Square, along with local food and drink stalls.

With so many venues and the main party due to run from 5:30pm until late, there’s no way you can see everything on offer. So here are a few of the shows that we think look too good to miss:

-     --      If you can get a ticket (they’re free but numbers are limited) then you can relax in the thermal waters of the historic Cross Bath while enjoying a live jazz rendition of the old classics. Plus, if you can get a 4 o’clock ticket there’ll be plenty of time to dry off and get changed before the main party starts.  
-       The first band to take to the Parade Garden stage at 6pm will be Eastpole Orchestra, who mix Balkan music with psychedelic rock and swing. A good one to watch to get in the party mood.
-       At 6:50 Project Zulu; 24 amazing children from South Africa, will treat Bath Abbey to traditional Zulu songs and dances.
-       If you’re a classical music devotee then Lucis, who’ll be at St Swithins Church from 7:10 until 7:30, may be for you. They will be performing excerpts from Rutter’s Requiem.  
-       Then when you get hungry try heading to The Boater. They have amazing food and will have Barry Lane & The Fridge Mechanics performing from 7:50-8:30 (think Paul Simon or Ralph McTell) who you can enjoy listening to while you eat.   
-       Next, in Queens Square from 9pm-10pm will be The Blues Others. A thirteen-piece band who’re the South West’s top Blues Brothers tribute act. 
-       Then round the night off at Komedia with Swingersband who start their set at 10 and will play late into the night. They’ve got rock show attitude and blend an incredible electro swing sound with wonderful vintage remixes. Definitely one to dance the night away with!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

The 2016 Golf Croquet World Championships Visit Bath

The good weather has finally come to visit Bath. Over the past few days we’ve had glorious sun here and the temperatures have been so high that the parks and the al fresco dining areas all around the city have been filled with people enjoying the heat in strappy dresses and shorts. Understandably we’re very happy that the temperatures look set to stay in the twenties as we make our way into the weekend. This is certainly making us very optimistic that the weather will be just as good, if not better, when the Golf Croquet World Championships come to visit Bath next weekend. 

From the 15th-20th of May Bath’s Recreation Ground (which is almost next to Dukes Hotel) will be playing host to the 2016 Golf Croquet World Championships. Competing will be teams from Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Spain, Scotland and Switzerland. Play will begin at 9:30 each morning and continue through the day, and during this time you are able to go and watch the play for free. Even better, you can also try your hand at playing it yourself. 

Given that Bath is a city with a definite atmosphere of refined British gentility, it seems only fitting that such a gentile and traditional sport such as golf croquet should be coming to Bath. If you’re also coming to Bath while the championships are here it really is a must try activity. Or perhaps you’re coming especially for the championships themselves. In which case you are probably fairly familiar with the rules of the game. But if you, like us, are fairly new to golf croquet, here’s some idea of what you can expect to see… 

The game is played by striking a ball with a diameter of 92mm with a long wooden mallet which ends at about hip height. Each team has between three and six players who typically dress in uniforms that look quite similar to cricket whites. These players may compete in either doubles games, with four players, or singles games, which need two players.  

In doubles, one side of two players plays with blue and black balls and the other side with red and yellow, each player playing only one colour. In singles each player plays both balls of the side. The object of the game is for each side to cause either ball of its side to run through the small metal hoops which are hammered into the croquet lawn in a specified order (a croquet lawn is about 25 x 32 metres).  A point is scored for the side whose ball first runs through the hoop. When that hoop has been scored by any ball, either side may score only by going through the next hoop in the order.  

It’s a lovely game that was a favourite among the landed gentry and English upper classes in years gone by – especially as a precursor to afternoon tea; and happily the 2016 Golf Croquet World Championships will also have refreshments available throughout the days of play. So if you’re in Bath between the 15th and 20th of May we certainly recommend going and having a go!