Saturday, 26 August 2017

Bath and Transports of Delight!

Don’t worry about the destination, life is about enjoying the journey.  

With this is mind we’ve made a little list of some of the best ways to travel around Bath.

A Horse and Carriage Ride  

On a sunny day like today going out for a carriage ride around Bath is idyllic. The sound of the horse’s hooves echoed back off the listed Georgian facades around you is an instant journey back in time to when life was lived at a slower pace and we had more time to enjoy the little things. On the other hand, if the sun isn’t so forthcoming and the rain shows its face, the carriage cover can be put up in an instant, or if the weather is on the chilly side there are blankets to wrap up in. 

Private carriage rides around Bath which last an hour can be booked in advance and take in all the famous sites around Bath (champagne an optional extra!). Fixed tours last twenty to twenty-five minutes, Wednesday-Sunday 11-4:30. You can just turn up at the collection point on Cheap Street, but to be on the safe side they are best booked in advance (01761 471888). 

Brigit’s Afternoon Tea Bus  

If you like a restaurant with a nice view then you’ll probably also quite like the idea of the Afternoon Tea Bus. The traditional red vintage bus will take you for a seventy-minute tour of the iconic landmarks in Bath (The Circus, Bath Abbey, the Holburne Musuem and, of course, the Royal Crescent to name a few) and at the same time provides a delicious spread of sandwiches, scones, cakes, mini quiches and tarts to enjoy while you watch the world of Bath go by.  

The tours run at 12, 2;30, and 5pm Thursday-Sunday and can be booked online or by phone on 01225 962288. 

(N.B. the buses don’t offer a recorded guided commentary or a live guide however, so if you’re looking for a tour with information on Bath then this might not be the one to go for.) 

A Guided Bike Tour

Bath has a fantastic range of cycle paths and is very bike friendly in general. You can bring your own bike to Bath and have fun exploring by yourself, but if you’d rather not risk getting lost and would also appreciate learning a little about some of the local history as you pedal the most beautiful paths in and around Bath, then a Wild Swim Bike Run tour could be ideal. 

You can either opt for a half-day tour to the medieval Tythe Barn and Bradford on Avon (9:30-12/1), or choose to go for a full day (9:30-4/6 (depending on stopping times at tea rooms on the way…)). Both tours take in the Kennet and Avon Canal cycle towpath, the famous Dundas Aqueduct, and the ‘Two Tunnels’ converted rail track and tunnels – the longest cycling tunnel in Britain, complete with interactive light and sound installations.  

These tours can be booked last minute (5pm the day before each tour), can take up to 6 people, and can be booked by phoning 07455 986403.   

So why not come to Bath and enjoy a little journey while you’re here?

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Building Up Bath - Thanks to Plasticine

Bath may be better known for its iconic pale oolite limestone (often just known as Bath stone), but that’s not the only famous material with its foundations firmly in Bath.

 The story starts with a Victorian art teacher named William Harbutt.

William was born and brought up in North Shields, England. He studied at the National Art Training School in London and became the headmaster of the Bath School of Art and Design from 1874 to 1877. After that he opened his own art school, The Paragon Art Studio, at 15 Bladud Buildings.

In many of his lessons Harbutt would give his pupils clay to practise making sculptures with in his classes. The problem was that their work dried out too quickly and when he wanted them to make changes to what they had done the clay was too dry and they weren’t able to.

Frustrated by this, Harbutt began experimenting with making his own clay that wouldn’t dry out so quickly. In his basement at his home in Alfred Street in Bath in the 1890s (accounts vary, citing both 1895 and 1897 as the year) he created an oil-based modelling clay and began a small-scale, cottage-industry kind of production – using a garden roller to flatten out his clay.  

At first his aim had been only to create a material for use in his classes, but when his students started to play with plasticine at home he realised that his invention might have a wider audience. He was awarded a patent for plasticine in 1899 and soon after Harbutt had established the first plasticine factory in Bathampton.   

However, although Bath was the birthplace of plasticine, it’s probably Bristol that did more in terms of making plasticine famous. Bristol-based Aardman Animations use tons and tons of plasticine when they make their amazing films. Their plasticine creature Morph first made his TV debut and shot to fame in 1977 and it all went from there. Without plasticine and Aardman would we have the likes of Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep?

Plasticine has been on sale to the general public since 1908. At first it was only available in grey but as it became more popular other colours were developed, and all of them made at the factory in Bathampton. This factory produced plasticine for over 80 years - into the early 1980s; right up until the Harbutts company was taken over and packing and production moved abroad. 

Today Harbutts Bathampton factory is no more, but the site, a modern housing development, does commemorate its history with a plaque set in the developments surrounding wall.

Harbutt’s still remembered in the city of Bath too, and tributes to him are still on display if you know where to look. This bust in Bath’s Victoria Art Gallery (that looks rather like Charles Darwin) is actually a bust of William Harbutt. It was moulded in plasticine first and then cast in bronze by one of Harbutt’s own pupils, C. Whitney Smith. It was donated to the gallery in 1930 by Harbutt’s widow Elizabeth. 

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Looking On The Bright Side = A Lovely Sunday Roast

Looking for a delicious Sunday lunch in Bath? Then read on.

So summer ought to be warm, eating al-fresco, strappy-top-and-sunnies weather. At the moment, on the
whole, it’s not living up to expectations. However! Given how meltingly hot it is in parts of Europe at the moment we’re looking on the bright side and enjoying the sunny spells when they come, and taking advantage of the colder days by partaking of an English favourite – a hearty and heart-warming Sunday lunch.

It has to be said that there are plenty of great locations where you can get a good Sunday lunch in Bath, but there are also some restaurants that are a cut-above. With that in mind, these are a few of our top roast dinner recommendations…

The Green Park Brasserie and Bar is one that is a favourite for many locals because of its incredibly relaxed and friendly environment. Its menu is jam-packed with organic options, and some more unusual selections including venison sausages and mustard mash to name but two. It also boasts a fantastic range of wines to complement whatever you choose to eat.

Next, a restaurant with a view and a verandah (covered – just in case the showers do come to fall), is The Bathwick Boatman. This restaurant is, as the name suggests, next to the Avon and has gondolas, punts and rowing boats you can rent in the Boating Station which is just next door. It has a warm and welcoming atmosphere and equally lovely food.

Also well worth a visit and a mention is Gascoyne Place. It’s described as a gastropub but it is Bath’s own take on a gastropub; which means that you can choose to dine in the elegant first floor Georgian dining rooms, in the cosy snug room, out on the sunny mezzanine, or in the downstairs lounge which has made a real feature of its exposed section of Medieval city wall. It embodies Regency luxury but at the same time maintains an affordable menu. 

Next up on our list of recommended restaurants is Marlborough Tavern, which is particularly good if you’re looking for a restaurant that will delight vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. Some of the dishes getting rave-reviews recently include their sweet potato and mushroom wellington, their roast beef, and their white chocolate Cr√®me brulee – a dessert that has to be tasted to be believed.  

Finally, if a traditional pub atmosphere is what you’re looking for, then The Boater pub, which is only two minutes from our front door, has a great vibe and stocks an impressive selection of beers (more than thirty global craft beers and six cask ales) to have along with your meal. 

Hopefully, one of more of these brilliant Bath restaurants ticks all your roast dinner boxes, but if you’re still not sure where to go for a great meal then please do ask us. We’re full of ideas!