Friday, 29 July 2016

Visit Bath and Visit the Bath Folk Festival

Next weekend will see the opening of the Bath Folk Festival which will run from Saturday August 6th until Sunday August 14th. Started in 2009 Bath Folk Festival has attracted internationally renowned acts to its stages, but also helped to further the careers of a wealth of local talent. The festival’s aim is to bring folk music, dance and storytelling to all areas of Bath. If you’re going to be in Bath during the festival, we really recommend checking out what they have to offer; even if you’ve not really listened to folk before. You might be surprised by what you hear. 

So, on that note, here are some of our festival highlights from the opening weekend…  

Opening the festival on the 6th will be Fay Hield (who was nominated for Folk Singer of the Year) and the Hurricane Party. The Hurricane Party includes some of the finest folk musicians of our time (Andy Cutting, Sam Sweeney, Rob Harbron and Roger Wilson) and the instruments include (but are not limited to), button accordions, melodeons, English Concertina, fiddles, violas, cellos, guitars, mandolin, and the very intriguing nyckelharpa…. Not one we’ve come across before. Their sound is rich and deep, traditional with a modern twist, and brings new arrangements to old songs.

They’ll be performing from 7pm at Widcombe Social Club. The location may not be one you’ve heard of before, but it’s close to the city centre - approximately three minutes walk from Bath Spa train station. Tickets are £13 in advance and £15 on the door.  

On Sunday the 7th there will be a number of hands-on workshops for any musicians out there, and then in the evening there’s a free-to-listen-to Irish session happening at The Huntsman – a fantastic pub located in a beautiful Grade II listed building just opposite the Parade Gardens. The ambience inside is welcoming and relaxed and the d├ęcor is decadent Georgian elegance. Plus, the food is great too so the pub is well worth a visit just for that. Add lively Irish reels and songs on top of that and you’ve got a very good evening! The music starts at 7:30pm.

But, if you’re looking for folk before that on the Sunday, then there is the fantastic John Spiers, a very well-known and respected name in folk circles, performing at Widcombe Social Club from 5pm. The Guardian describes him as “a blend of elegant, rhythmic and virtuoso playing and easy going folk club banter.” He mixes infectious dance tunes with sensitive airs and has been in some huge bands in the past. Spiers and Boden is one, and the incredible Bellowhead being another. Again, tickets are £13 in advance and £15 on the door.  

So it’s clear that next weekend any music lovers who may be coming to visit Bath will be spoilt for choice! 

The full 2016 Bath Folk Festival programme is available here.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Visit Bath and Find its Famous Residents

Bath has had its fair share of famous residents. In more recent times these have included the likes of John Cleese and Jaqueline Wilson, but for hundreds of years famous faces from all walks of life have come to visit Bath. Happily, some of Bath visits/famous stays in Bath have been recorded for posterity in the form of Bath’s commemorative open plaques (also known as blue plaques). If you’re coming to visit Bath, or already live here and want to explore the city a bit more, then you might like to track down a few of the following, who are just a small selection of the famous residents of Bath.

William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce (17-59-1833) is probably most well known as a politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, whose tireless efforts helped lead to the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807. Almost opposite Dukes Hotel, at 36 Great Pulteney Street, is the plaque commemorating William Wilberforce’s two periods of residence in Bath in 1802 and 1805.

Pitt the younger  
Another politician, this time Prime Minister from 1783-1801 and again from 1804-1806, William Pitt the younger (1759-1806) is the youngest Prime Minister in the history of the UK, having gained office at the age of only 24. He stayed in Bath at 15 Johnstone Street in between his two terms as PM, partly because he was so often plagued with gout and “biliousness. 
Dr. David Livingstone
Of “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” fame. Dr. Livingstone (1813-1873) is most famous for his time as a medical missionary and explorer in Africa. He stayed at 13, the Circus in Bath while presenting a paper in 1864.

Dr. William Oliver  
Dr. Oliver (1695-1764) was, during his time, the leading physician in Bath, who is said to have invented the Bath bun, only to discover that his rheumatic patients needed a less fattening food, at which point he invented the “Bath Oliver” biscuit. He was one of the founders of the Royal Mineral Water Hospital which still stands to this day. His plaque is on the site of his old residence at 18 Queen Square.   

William Wordsworth
One of the famous “Lake Poets” along with Coleridge and Southey, Wordsworth (1770-1850) came to Bath in April and stayed until mid-June in 1841 to see the wedding of his only daughter, Dora, at St. James’ Church. His plaque is at 9, North Parade.

Jane Austen 
Jane Austen (1775-1817) lived in Bath from 1801-1805. She also based large parts of two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey here. She stayed in a few different properties during her time in the city, but her plaque can be found at 4 Sydney Place, the first house she and her family rented here.

Thomas Gainsborough

Gainsborough (1727-1788) has to be one of the most famous British portrait and landscape painters. In 1759 he and his family moved to Bath and attracted such prominent sitters here as Lord Chesterfield, Richard Sheridan, and Edmund Burke (who all also have plaques in the city). His plaque is at 17, the Circus.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

What To Do In Bath This Weekend

We’re certainly not stuck for choice when looking for things to do in Bath this weekend. As well as the sights that all visitors to Bath have to see; the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, and the Roman Baths to name only three, there are a fair few one-offs that you might like to have a look at this weekend as well.

On Saturday it’s time again for the Bath Carnival. Each year the city chooses a new theme for the carnival and for the parade. This year the theme is South America, and each area of Bath has a different sub-theme on which they’ve based their costumes. Over the past couple of weeks costumes have been sewn and plans made and, at last, on Saturday from 3 pm - 4:30 pm the colourful carnival parade will makes its way through the centre of Bath. Expect sights and smells of South America, as well as drumming bands, dance clubs and community groups.

Storytelling for adults at Bath’s Museum of East Asian Art is also on on Saturday the 16th from 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm. The Red Threads will present two enchanting Asian love stories from China and Japan which will be performed by professional storyteller Martin Maudsley. Tickets are £6 and advance booking is required. This one has us intrigued…

Similarly cultural is an art class with a difference which is being held at the Holburne this Saturday. Artist Sally Muir, with the help of her dog Lily, will be teaching a workshop dedicated to helping artists capture the mood and movement of drawing live animals. It’s being held alongside the museum’s latest Stubbs and the Wild exhibition, and runs from 10:30am -4:30pm at a cost of £50. Pencils and charcoal provided, and sketchbooks may be brought or paper purchased on the day.

This is another arty one. Have a peek at the work of three very different local sculptors whose work, which is designed specifically to enhance the natural beauty of a garden, will be on display this weekend in the garden at 165 Newbridge Hill. Ornamental terracotta vases, engraved stonework and large worked metal sculptures will be on display. The entrance fee is £3 and homemade scones and cake will be available. The money raised from the refreshments goes to The Peggy Dodd Centre, which helps those suffering from memory loss.

A little further afield is Bowood Dog Show, which will demonstrate the brilliant talents and skills of Police, service and protection dogs. Other attractions on the day include birds of prey, along with children’s entertainment and plenty of craft stalls to explore. Also nearby, this time in Wells at the Bishop’s Palace and Gardens, will be a creative textiles workshop, which will be taking place from 10:30 am – 4:30 pm. Trailing tendrils will be the theme and workshop participants will be designing a small embroidered panel using couched threads, silks, beads and metallic threads. (Some experience in basic embroidery skills is required for the workshop.) Tuition and guidance will be given for each process and tickets are £28.  

All in all, definitely not a weekend to stay at home!