Wednesday, May 9, 2012

We Made It To England!

Woohoo! After spending an hour on the plane (on the ground) because of someone's misplaced luggage and then an air conditioning issue, we left Seattle Monday evening, headed toward London. We were delighted to find that our 3-seat row had an empty seat so we were able to spread out a smidge. Neither of us got much sleep (especially considering the faulty light above our row that kept blinking on and off for no reason), but the flight was uneventful, mercifully free of screaming babies. Thank you, Lord! :)

English mailbox
We arrived in Heathrow and the first thing I did was get in trouble for taking the picture you see above. Don't tell anyone I took it, okay? hehe The customs guys were super sweet. One asked the reason for our trip and I drew a complete blank, settling at last on the brilliant, "I've never been to London before" as if that explained everything. I followed it up with "I love the accents" and the other guy told a story about an American teenager who was so excited to hear him speak, he thought she would pass out. She said he sounded like Harry Potter. Too cute!

We took the Heathrow Express to Paddington train station (I totally want to get an English bulldog and name him Paddington), then caught the train out to Bath, reaching speeds upwards of 100 miles an hour (impressive!). Once we got settled in to the B&B, we hit the Thermae Bath Spa to soak in the hot springs for a couple of hours. It was blisssssssssssssssssss! The third floor of the spa is a soaking pool that overlooks the city, while the second floor had four steam rooms with different scents piped into each. Definitely a good way to work out cramped muscles after a long day of travel.

After the spa, we hit a great little pub called The Grapes. My hubby ordered at the bar where he got chatted up by a couple of guys, one of whose accent was so thick, it was nearly impossible to understand him. LOL We had steak and ale pie, fish and chips, and Guinness. So so so yummy! We watched the Liverpool versus Chelsea "football" game and grinned as the other pub patrons talked to the telly, cheering on the domineering Liverpool team or encouraging Chelsea to put up some kind of showing. A wonderful start to the trip!

The next day, we slept in and then had an early lunch at the West Cornwall Pasty Co. The sandwich board outside the restaurant promised "Damn Good Coffee" but after the latte I got with my pasty, I must respectfully disagree. Coming from Seattle, perhaps I have too high of expectations in this area. Ha! 

The Bath Abbey exceeded my expectations, by far. We spent hours wandering through this church that was erected in 1499, mostly reading the tombstones and memorial plaques that lined the walls and the floors, as well as taking in the breathtaking arched ceiling. The church reminded me of St. Eustache in Paris.

There was a plate on one wall in memory of a man's wife and his three daughters, all very young who died close together. So sad! The oldest tomb marker was from the late 1500s and there were some from the mid 1900s as well. Some plaques were very poetic, but most extolled the virtues of the deceased as being of unblemished character and unmatched integrity. I wonder what the people were *actually* like. LOL

Now, on to the Roman Baths, which were fantastic. I thought there would be just the one pool, but the bath complex was sprawling with multiple wings. Audio guides explained the history of all the displays, how the area was used for more than bathing, but for healing and worship as well.
While people are not allowed into the water, you can walk right up the bath's edge. A couple of people bent down to touch the water and I was sorely tempted to do so as well (just to feel the temperature), but there was a small sign that said "Do Not Touch The Water." Being compliant in nature, I decided to follow the rules and was rewarded at the end of the tour with a fountain where I could not only touch the water (which was quite warm), but also drink it! Aside from being warm water, it didn't taste bad. I expected a strong mineral/iron flavor, but it was surprisingly drinkable.
One of my favorite displays was the writing instruments from early Roman times. I have never been so thankful for my laptop and Microsoft Word! Another wonderful display highlighted the coins found in the pools (some 12,500, according to the guide), which were offerings to the goddess Minerva. People also threw in small, flat pieces of tin on which they'd penned curses along the lines of "A painful death to the thief who took my cookpot. I think it was Vespurius."
The ancient jacuzzi room was impressive, though it didn't have any water in it (see the ledge where they would sit?). Water came piped in under pressure, which would have created a nice hot tub where patrons with injuries or illnesses would soak and pray.

After getting our fill of the Roman baths, we hopped over to the Fashion Museum where we got to see some old and new (mostly ladies') fashions from the 1700s to today. Pictures weren't allowed except in the "dress up room" where I had the chance to slip on a dress from the Victorian period. It weighed a ton! I was more than happy to leave it behind in favor of jeans and sneakers. Guess I was born in the right century!
We grabbed a bite to eat (Indian food-yumm) at The Beau Nash and tried Pimms for the first time (verdict: really good!) before wandering through town some more and taking in the Royal Crescent, which is a large curved collection of townhouses overlooking a pretty park. All in all, a lovely day in Bath!
I'll be blogging throughout our trip to England and Scotland, so check back often to follow along!


  1. Awesome! I loved all of it! That was so cool that you could try on the dress. Pretty amazing. Can't wait to see what's next :)

  2. I've only every been to Bath a couple of times - and the last time I got totally drenched - from the rain! Glad you are enjoying it so far, and glad you are able to blog!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! It's so amazing to be seeing England through you (: So much fun!! I really hope I will be able to go there someday (Can't wait to meet some customs guys LOL) and I can't wait to see more posts about your trip, especially about SCOTLAND!! ;D

  4. Thank You for sharing your insiteful trip. I am finally seeing things I have only read about. I look forward to your future blogs. Send us a picture of a handsome Highlander please ;p