As I potter down a cobbled street lined with unique shops that exude an individuality so charming that I can’t help but feel drawn to explore, I hear the faint strum of a guitar and the low melody of a street performer, just a short distance away.
Surrounded by the welcoming sounds of bells ringing as people enter shops and the glorious sight of geranium-filled hanging baskets decorating the elegant 18th century Georgian architecture, I find myself in the wonderful city of Bath, Somerset.
Famous for well-known marvels such as Jane Austen, William Herschel and Thomas Baldwin, whom of which was the respected architect of Great Pulteney Street and Bath Guildhall (and probably not a relation), the Georgian city is steeped in fascinating history and rich character.
Over the years, Bath has shone in being an exceedingly clever city, more so now than when it first rose to fame, when founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD. For it has retained most pleasingly, its natural history, elegance and quaint atmosphere, whilst in turn moving with the times and becoming one of the most stylish, creative and sought after places to live.
There is an eclectic feel towards almost every street I turn down in Bath. One second I could walk past a building which has been a firm favourite in the city for many many years like Jolly’s, and the next I’ll be walking past Santoro’s only shop in the world.
Which brings me nicely onto Milsom Street. Understandably seen by many as the most fashionable street in Bath for many years, it offers a wide range of independednt and intriguing shops, such as Waterstones, India Jane, Vinegar Hill, Santoro, Paperchase, Hobbs and Café Rouge. There are also a couple of banks, a card shop and Milsom Place which takes you through a sweet passage, away from the bustle of main street Bath and eventually leads you to the likes of Jamie’s Italian, Cath Kidston and other little shops dotted around each curve and corner of tranquil.
Moving away from Milsom Street, there are an overwhelming amount of attractions still to cover, each and every one of them, a true delight and offering a unique experience for all. The Roman Bath’s is of course, compulsory, as is the Thermae spa itself; and attached to that is The Pump Rooms. It is in that room you will experience quite simply the true taste and atmosphere of the elegance and charm Bath holds within its heart. I have been most fortunate to visit there twice and both times I have enjoyed the three-piece orchestra playing softly in the back of the room, offering a welcome background melody while I sipped the best hot chocolate and nibbled the best cream scones I think I’ll probably find in the whole of Bath.
Onward’s now to the Parade Gardens. A firm favourite of mine, especially in the summer. Just around the corner from Pulteney Bridge, entry to the gardens does incur a fee, but for about £1.50, it is completely and utterly worth it. As I walk down the slope (there are steps but I always forget as I’m too excited by this point), I leave the cars, pedestrians and shops behind me as I walk towards the idyllic setting of paths and lawns and flowers and benches. To some, this may do absolutely nothing, to me, it calms me instantly as I wind my way through topiary hedges and majestic flower beds poised to thrill the influx of tourists and visitors. Once out of the magical entwining of leaves and paths, the view which I am then greeted with and the feeling it creates is something I assume to be very close to a child discovering Narnia in their wardrobe. Stunning views of Pulteney Bridge, the weir and the River Avon envelop my eyes and melt my heart. And if all of that wasn’t the most pleasing thing since tea with jam and bread, there are even some sneaky views of Bath Rugby ground and the big screen, so in the summer, the sports enthusiasts can take a peek from a distance at the games in full swing. Also in the summer there are picnics to be enjoyed, deck chairs to be lounged on and the occasional wedding to wonder at. From April to September the garden café opens for all to enjoy and hydrate. Concerts are also held in the bandstand in the centre of the lawn during summer months, which I’ve heard are events not to be missed if you’re in the area.
Just watch out for little teams of ducks which gather at unsuspecting feet while one eats a sandwich on a bench, waiting in earnest to be fed. Cheeky but sweet.
Other highly esteemed places to indulge in while in the area are, Sally Lunn’s, The Royal Crescent, The Circus, The Jane Austen Centre, Victoria Park, botanical gardens, Bath skyline and the really very good, ghost walk. I’ve done this a few times and it’s a real treat. Best done in the Autumn when nights are darker and the mist descends…
There are, of course, a myriad of other truly wonderful places to visit and things to do in Bath but I will leave you with this, an excellent website to navigate and plan your adventures around this beautiful city.
Bath, a true necessity for the mind, soul and body.