Friday, March 7th, 1997 Bath, England
Up about 7:00 am, didn’t sleep too well, beds are rather soft and the hallway is noisy. But, took the opportunity to bring my journal up to date. Ate breakfast in the main dining room….very elegant! Checked AOL and there was a letter for Randy and Patti requesting paperwork for a loan in process on their apartment building. Always something that makes it worthwhile to check the Internet regularly.
Went for a walk to find a bookstore. Barbara is still looking for the hard copy of a book for Brian. She found the paperback in Stratford Upon Avon. It is a new book and has a high demand. Jim walked with us (this was after we did AOL for messages). We found a black backpack that Jim liked . And he cashed one of the traveler’s checks. [Yes, we were still doing Traveler's Checks back then!] We also went back for the wooden duck that I saw last night. Jim wanted to buy it for me, but let Barbara do the honors. Since we live on a lake I've been collecting these for several years and they make a great souvenir.
At 11:30 am we all met Dennis (the son of a friend of Barbara and Jim’s Aunt Claska); and he took us on a walking tour of Bath. He is English and French and was born and raised in Mexico. He speaks four languages and lives and works all over the world as a business consultant. He has a flat in The Royal Crescent and showed us through it. On the lawn in front there is a Ha Ha Wall.
The wall was given the strange name because it was a two level yard separated by a wall that could not be seen from the house and you could easily fall over it when walking down the yard. The first “Ha” was for the wonderful uncluttered view; the second “Ha” was for when you fell off the wall! It was designed to keep the livestock out of the gardens; but not spoil the view.
Dennis is currently in the process of remodeling his flat. He pointed out that the Georgian style was very plain and formal on the front; but the back of the building allowed for any and all types of room additions…especially bathrooms. He also showed us where the bombs fell during WW II and how they missed their target on the Crescent and took out a church by mistake.
We then viewed "The Circus"..another grand vision recreating a classical Palladian architectural landscape for the city of Bath. He pointed out the group of large trees in the center of the Circus that had a bomb dropped directly in the center of them and they survived. We also viewed an area where the wrought iron fences were removed during WW II to melt down for the war effort (but they found that it was the wrong type of metal and couldn’t be used). They have just been restored in the last few years.
We walked up a very steep winding road to the top for a spectacular view and then back down and into the main part of town. There we got into the van and he directed us into a beautiful back country area and finally down a very narrow (one car wide) road where we enjoyed a lovely lunch at the Cross Guns Pub in Avoncliff. Right next to the river and a canal/lock that crossed over the top of the river. Very, very old pub! You could smell the history in the building!
Back on the road we made it up the hill and into town where we continued the walking tour. Throughout the trip we have seen paint markings on the backs of the sheep. During today’s tour we decided that the various color stains on the sheep stood for: Red=Slaughter Green=Mothers Blue=Fleesing Dennis said they were dyed into the wool. Never did find out the real reason for the color markings.
On our walk we went to the Abbey and then to the Roman Baths. Walked throught the Pump Room and back through the town. Dennis said that once a week all the street people could bring their dog to the town center and receive £7.00 to buy food for the dog. This has been going on for hundred’s of years. Long before they had help to feed poor children. That’s why all the homeless have a dog…generally thin as they use the money to buy food for themselves. The town also gives them a magazine to sell for donations rather than just asking for a handout.
Took a break and Patti and Randy left to go out to dinner and to the Theater. Barbara, Jim and I met Dennis at half past seven and walked to a French Restaurant that we’d seen on our walk this afternoon called Pierre Victoire. It overlooked the river and locks. We had a great evening, talking about Dennis’ early years in Paris and Brazil. Barbara told us the story about the time John was kidnapped in Mexico.
We ended the evening in the bar at The St. Francis Hotel. Enjoyed drinks and learned to soak sugar cubes in liquor and then eat them! Very Good!! Did some AOL with Barbara and then off to bed. We’re going back to London tomorrow.