My love of Bath pre-dates Colin Firth. I’d read only one Jane Austen novel the first time I visited and it was not the one set in this beautiful city. Years later, when I saw this version of Persuasion, I was reminded of how much in love with it I’d been back when I was camping in a VW Kombi and making a flying (no, make that chugging) tour of England and Scotland. On this visit, I had a few days explore.
The rain continued. Our hosts at Bloomfield House seemed surprised that we made it through the puddles. There had been havoc in the train system, and many of the roads were blocked.
On our first day we went looking for a Jane Austen museum, but beware, there is not one. There is a Jane Austen Centre, privately run, not the same thing at all. Posters of Colin Firth abound, and the nice ladies at the ticket booth wear droopy velvet jackets and ill-fitting bonnets. We decided to take ourselves on a walk along Royal Crescent, the famous row of grand houses where Persuasion was set, and which was used as a location for The Duchess.
When Jane lived in Bath from 1801 to 1805 it was relatively new, having been completed in 1774.
I was intrigued by this house on the Crescent. Who dresses their servants in olive green satin waistcoats, I thought, until I realized that it’s a small hotel.
The charm is in the simple details, isn’t it?
On the street, a restored Morris Minor complete with luggage rack. I have a soft spot for these cars. They’re solid and reliable and stylish in a nerdy way. A cream one was my first car.
It pays to encourage your children to love good food.
When mine were growing up I confess, I did resort to McDonalds if someone in the back seat was ravenous. They tease me about it now, but I also cooked for them most nights. These days I’m proud to say that they are both keen cooks, far more accomplished than me and I benefit because they take me to really good places to eat.
So, one stop on our culinary tour of Bath was Sam’s Kitchen, which serves locally grown delicious food, conversation, music and and really good coffee.
Here’s Sam himself (it was Movember).
On the counter a recipe book caught my eye. It was co-written by Sam’s partner Emma, who turned out to be the beautiful mystery woman sitting on a sofa tapping away at her computer. Of course I bought a copy and asked Emma to sign it. I’ve been cooking from it constantly since I arrived in Brooklyn. Highly recommended: Emma’s black pepper curry (page 270) and swiss chard with pinenuts, raisins and cinnamon (page 204).
Sam’s Kitchen is on Walcot Street, which is lined with artisan and independent businesses, and buildings like this old corn exchange.
Also on Walcot Street is Meticulous Ink where they make hand printed stationery. A small gold leather address book came away with me just because I still prefer to keep my contacts in a book.
Here’s Athena, who own the business with her partner Charlie.
And on to the Roman baths, a fascinating place where you learn about details of Roman life in Britain. My favorite artifacts are the notes written by people who lost their possessions at the baths, including a cloak and in one instance, a slave!
In the meantime it rained and the Avon swelled to the point where the riverside walkways were underwater.
I had to walk across this bridge to look through the lovely shops located along it. What a magical location.
We reluctantly left Bath (and with it, Pete & Polly), and India and I flew to New York, where I’m now staying in Brooklyn, knitting when I have time, and finding all manner of wonderful things which I will begin to write about next time.