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Monday, July 23, 2007

Bath Time

Rather belatedly we have had some time to reflect on our recent long weekend down with HMS and J in Aquae Sulis.

We were rather debilitated by our early morning escapades with B and consequently fell asleep for much of the ride down on the Thursday evening in L's turbo Volkswagen. Actually, the thing has a turbocharger and a supercharger which seems like overdoing it.

When we woke up we looked at the road atlas to see if we could see where we were and spotted a village on the map called Tiddleywink. Now this was unbelievable. Nowhere is called Tiddleywink and we decided it must be one of those ridiculous names mapmakers insert to prevent piracy. Unfortunately, we were wrong and the place really does exist!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/britain/article/0,2763,898505,00.html

Despite heavy traffic to begin with we would have made very good time if we hadn't sent L down the wrong road and ended up in Dyrham. The map showed the site of a battle in 577AD. We knew about Landsdown in 1643 but didn't know about anything else in the area. It turns out the battle is known as Deorham and was a defeat for the British by the Saxons. There are several interpretations of the site but the most convincing is by Burne who puts the battle right on the hill where you join the A46 from the M4. Bizarrely, the British Druids network had a peace ceremony there earlier in the month to heal the rift between the Celts and the Saxons. A little late, perhaps.

After a short (well 6 or 7 mile) unplanned side trip through dinky villages we regained the A46 and eventually found the right turn off. It was all most diverting.

Arriving in Bath we were treated to restorative Champagne and an excellent meal of corned beef hash as only chez HMS and J can do it. There was steady supply of interesting wine from the HMS cellars for our entire stay. In fact we are now hard put to decide which we covet the most; the location of his house in Bath, his Roman bowl, his wife or his splendid new cellar!

We went shopping with L but were rather restrained (probably as a result of having bought a new Sony high definition TV, a set of speakers and an expensive set of lingerie for B within about seven days). We only ended up with a book on Cannae, from a rather cute new bookshop, and something to hold tea leaves so we don't have to have tea bags any longer at work.


That evening after a delicious lunch J was allowed the evening off and HMS took us to The Olive Tree at the Queensbury Hotel. This was a quite splendid restaurant and we had the table this rather fetching blonde is attending to in the picture above. We think we shocked everyone by ordering tuna (or as the Americans insist on calling it tuna fish).

The evening was rounded off by a particularly stunning Calvodos in HMS' drawing room.

Next morning I acompanied J and L to the farmers market and we returned for a splendid lunch of charcuterie (or whatever the Spanish equivalent is).

That afternoon we were presented with the rare sight of HMS indulging in a walk. This is about as rare as seeing an operational Tiger tank. You know there is one in the world but you also know that every time they run it it takes them two years to repair it afterwards.


Technically it was really a photo safari by the canal, an area of Bath we were not familiar with, rather than a walk. L stated that it was quite the slowest walk she had ever been on (however it must be borne in mind that her normal walking companions typically come from the Parachute Regiment). HMS and J took numerous (for them) pictures no doubt hoping to add to the superb ones they showed us over the weekend. Sadly, the light was rather flat so we suspect not much worthwile resulted. It was possibly the positively paparazzi-like shutter storm unleashed by HMS that required him to retreat to a tea room and partake of some restorative lemon cake served by a rather splendid brunette with very toned arms. Heavy work, cake lifting.

Saturday's dinner was particularly fine, consisting of potted shrimps and fillet with foie gras. L was particularly taken by the latter. The girls retired early so we assisted HMS in trying to dent his cellar's stock as much as possible that night. Next day we needed an early start so did not get the opportunity for a proper thank you.

All in all, as ever, a trip to Aquae Sulis has restored us mightily and we are indeed most grateful to HMS and the lovely J for such a splendid few days.

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