Friday, 27 January 2017

Visit Bath and Celebrate Chinese New Year

We’re always looking for a reason to celebrate, and this weekend our reason is that it’s Chinese New Year! Here are a few of our suggestions for how to make the most of it.

This year on Saturday the 28th of January it will be Chinese Lunar New Year (each year Chinese Lunar New Year is on a different day because it falls on the new moon between the 21st of January and the 20th of February).

This year, of the twelve animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac, it will be the Year of the Rooster
and so our first suggestion for celebrating the arrival of the new year has to be dining on one of the fantastic chicken based meals at the fantastic Peking Chinese on New Street. The ambience is a perfect mix of modern luxury and traditional Chinese decoration. And although Bath is by no means lacking in fine restaurants whatever your culinary preference, after all it is home to the likes of the award winning Menu Gordon Jones and the utterly delicious Ole Tapas, this weekend Chinese surely has to be order of the day. Our other top picks for a great Chinese meal are lunch at Chilli Family Noodles on Dorchester Street (easy to find near the bus station and some of the best Sichuan noodles in Bath), and Hong Kong Bistro on Southgate Street.  

On Sunday the 29th, the day after Chinese New Year, Bath’s Museum of East Asian Art will be holding their own special Year of the Rooster Celebration to mark the occasion. Entry to the museum will be free (the museum is open on Sunday from 12:00 until 17:00), and in addition to all that the museum usually has to offer by way of ceramics, jades, and art which spans from the year 5,000 BC to the present day, there will be traditional crafts to try, food and tea tasting, the chance to try your hand at calligraphy, and storytelling with a professional storyteller and puppeteer. The storytelling sessions are limited, charged at only £2.50, and each is intimate at only 20 people per session. With this is mind, if you plan to go then it’s best to book spaces at your preferred time (the sessions are at 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 and 16:00) by phone on 01225 464 640. The museum is nice and easy to find. It’s just off from Bath’s grand Circus, and almost opposite the Assembly Rooms, at number 12 Bennett Street.   

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Visit Bath and Learn the Art of Calligraphy

If you’re living in or have come to visit Bath for the first weekend in February, why not take some time out to learn the art of calligraphy? The subtle stroke of a pen nib brushing across parchment is amazingly therapeutic!  

A new independent shop has recently opened in Abbey Green Square, and it’s the sort of shop that
does everything! It has everything from crocheted blankets to butler’s gloves, and from specialist barbecue sauce to crispbread. When you think of an artisan shop, this shop surely has to be it, and it’s one that with departments from ‘Drinks and Bar’ to ‘Utility Room’ and ‘Stationary’ and ‘Glassware’, has all bases covered. So much so that it’s branching out even further. 

Recently The Foodie Bugle Shop at 2 Abbey Street, Abbey Green has started to host artisan workshops. Upcoming workshops include:

  • A photography workshop with award-winning photographer Jason Ingram on the 10th of March, which will cover everything from shooting flowers and products and rooms to shooting the landmarks and beautiful streets of Bath.

  • And a floristry workshop on February 17th, with professional florist and shop owner Lucy Simon who will teach the art of creating living spring wreaths, large flower arrangements for halls or mantelpieces, and dinner party jam jar posies.

However, the one that really caught our eye was the upcoming calligraphy workshop with Suzie Dicker, founder of the luxury London stationary and leather goods brand A L’Laise. On both Saturday February 4th and Sunday February 5th, Suzie will be hosting her workshop twice (10am-12:30pm and 2pm-4:30pm), and it will teach participants in a relaxed and friendly environment how to enhance their own natural hand writing style to create really beautiful, modern lettering which can be used on tags, cards, letters, party and wedding invitations. 

The workshop, which has an absolute maximum class size of 12 people, is suitable for all ages and abilities, including complete beginners, and promises to give those taking part the knowledge and confidence to go home and practice your new lettering with skill and poise. It also gives those taking part the tools to do this with, as all of the equipment that you’ll need during the class is free for you to take home: nib, nib holder, ink, calligraphy guide and practice sheets. We’re also tempted by the fact that the workshop includes hot and cold drinks, artisan pastries, homemade cakes and biscuits. Although this might mean that dropping crumbs onto our work might be a hazard…

The cost of the workshop is £60, and it sounded to us like an enjoyable and unique way to spend a morning in Bath if you were coming to visit Bath for the weekend. More information and tickets are available from, or via phone on 07762 330519.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Visit Bath and Discover A Brief History of Bath Theatre Royal

Bath Theatre Royal - it seems as if it’s always been there.

Bath Theatre Royal, at least the incarnation of it that we’re all familiar with today, isn’t as old as it may appear.

The main entrance to Theatre Royal in Sawclose was built in 1720 by Thomas Greenway (one of the top architects for Bath before John Wood came along) and used to be Beau Nash’s house. However the theatre itself is a little newer, built in 1805, and extensively renovated in 1982 and 1999 to give the auditorium it has today; full of ornate plasterwork and red velvet seats and gold gilt decoration. The Theatre Royal wasn’t the first theatre in Bath though.

In 1705 Bath’s first theatre was built in Trim Street by wealthy clothier George Trim. It was cramped though and made hardly any profit. It was demolished in 1738 to make room for the royal Mineral Hospital.

Next The New Theatre in Kingsmead Street opened in 1723, and was visited by Prince Frederick and Princess Augusta of Wales shortly before it shut in 1751. 

The theatre that first held the title of Theatre Royal, the first theatre outside of London to be granted royal patronage, was the one opened in Orchard Street on the 27th of October 1750. Its royal grant was given in 1768 and the reputation grew quickly.

The season in Bath soon became as important for actors as the season in London. As its popularity grew the theatre needed to expand and in 1805 the Orchard Street Theatre closed, becoming a Catholic Church in 1809. (Now it’s the Masonic Hall.) It was then that the current Theatre Royal opened, on the 12th of October, with a performance of Richard III.

It wasn’t all plain sailing though. Between 1820 and 1850 ticket sales declined and the theatre almost closed several times - not helped by the rise in popularity of seaside resorts and the spa towns such as Bath going out of fashion.

Thankfully it survived this, the fire which destroyed much of it in 1862, the extensive bombing of Bath during the Bath Blitz, and in 1982 the Theatre Royal which we know now was opened on November 30th with a gala performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which Princess Margaret attended.  

Today it’s lucky enough to host some of the top West-End shows and innovative new and touring productions from across the UK and around the world. It hasn’t lost its past entirely though. The building is Grade II listed and is a excellent example of Georgian architecture.

In addition to this, the main auditorium is said to be haunted by the ghost The Grey Lady, who was an actress from centuries ago. According to the legend, The Grey Lady watches productions from the so-called Grey Lady Box and leaves the scent of jasmine behind where she has been.  So if you smell jasmine while watching a performance there, that may be why!