E-Mailing Through Europe >> Bath 2001
Beds, Bath and Beyond
Date: Thu, 12 Jul 2001 09:36:04 -0700 (PDT)
From: k p firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Beds, Bath, and beyond
We spent 2 days in Bath, which is about an hour too long.
You see, the Fiat decided to leave it's lights on, and after 2 days of not driving, it lost all power. So we called Avis, and the nice gentleman from Avis advised me he would dispatched AA to get us started again.
I, of course, hoped that AA was the British equivalent of our AAA and not our AA. Good news: It is, in fact, their automobile association. Powered up, and sober, we left Bath for the Cotswolds.
But I get ahead of myself. All about Bath: We arrived at Bath from Salisbury and checked into our hotel, just outside of the town walls. It's on the wrong side of the moat if it were 1367 and there were angry people with swords ready to sack the town.
Fortunately, it was quiet, and there were only very polite people driving on the wrong side of the road. Note to everone on this list: always listen to John and Diane when they recommend a place. It was perfect: charming, close to the action and well priced with comfy beds. They even threw in all five British TV stations!
We ate a late dinner of Indian food and thus discovered the secret to eating English food: the Colonies! It was fabulous, and we fell asleep dreaming of the Taj Mahal and elephants.
The next day we awoke to rain. But that's okay, as we were going to the Roman Baths. They were very interesting. It's quite amazing to see what the Romans accomplished and how much knowledge the West lost for over a thousand years. We had booked the hotel for 2 nights, and spent the rest of the time studiously avoiding the Jane Austen Museum. Instead we saw all the places Ms. Austen wrote about, including the Costume Museum, the Hobgoblin pub and a couple other places that kept us dry from the rain but wet with Ale. To pass the time, I drank a lot of Guinness, and Eva tried the Cider, to much success.
Fast forward the next morning to bad sausage, bad battery and a fast exit from Bath. A pleasant enough place to visit, but now it was onto the real British
countryside of castles, charming towns, sheep, cows, and foot & mouth disease.
We stopped first at Cheltingham, which is best viewed downwind, preferably from the rear view mirror. There is something rotten in the Cotswolds, and it is in
Cheltingham. But the lady at the Tourist Info place booked us a room in Stow-on-the-Wold, which gave us a final destination for the day.
From here on, it became a wonderful day of occasional sunshine and always lovely and charming small towns. We first landed at a small town that contained
Sudebury Castle. We stopped for tea, which was fun. However, unlike the weather, the scones were dry. And I must admit that while it was nice, I felt a bit
less-than-masculine sipping tea surrounded by British ladies and one American lady.
Refreshed, we rushed to see some Armor and Swords and reclaim my masculinity at Sudebury Castle...but it closed at 5 p.m. We continued on to Broadway, which
has a beautiful Tower (called the "Tower of Broadway") which was as closed as Sudebury Castle. From there, we passed through the town of Broadway ("Broadway") which remains an elegant town built of the same golden
stones that make Bath so charming and warm. It was Eva's favorite place, and we plan on moving to Broadway if we can't find a place on the Upper West
From there we drove to and then slowly around Chipping Camden. Terrific! It looked just like the towns described in the Hobbit, only a bit taller. Thatched roofs, round houses, plaster and wood frames. Completely charming, and I kept looking for dwarves to pop out of the little doorways.
Finally, we turned the car to Stow-on-the-wold, and were very happy with the little town on the top of a hill. It was an old market town (Stow, I think, refers to sheep or wool) at the top of a big hill (wold means either hill or wind, and boy, was it windy). We checked into the South Farm Road B&B located on the road just south of town right near the farm. Go figure. Mark met us as his 1-year old son played in the room next door. It was like staying with family, except you couldn't raid the fridge or get sick of each other.
So we went to a pub. We first tried the AD 947 restaurant. Amazingly, it was built in 947. Let me tell you, they sure don't make places like that anymore. The doorways were about six inches above ground level (people were short back then) and there was this huge timber brace streching across the room, holding the whole place up. This timber is about 50 years over 1,000 years old. Amazing! The whole room felt like it was sinking, but what charm. Imagine the party they must have had in 1947! ("Over 1,000 years of continous courteous service!" "Over 134,423 served!" "Kings John IV, Richard I, William II, Edward IV and Alfred the Unready ate here!" etc...)
Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed, so we ate at the attached pub, called the Eagle and Child. It was founded, according to legend, by a child who was raised by eagles.
No, actually, it was founded sometime in the 1200s, but we ate in the non-smoking annex, created in 1987. I walked hunched over in the original pub to prevent hitting my head to the boring annex. When this place was founded, they didn't have a non-smoking section, and I'd be people didn't die from smoking. Usually it was losing your head to the local Knight or Consumption. Anyway, the annex was boring, but the Guinness was excellent. The food was lousy, but did I mention the Guinness?
Ode to Perfection. The Guinness at the Eagle and Child was, truly, the best I've had in my life. Creamy, smooth, a perfect head. Scents of coffee and chocolate. I'll never forget the way it washed down the Cotswold beef I ate. Until the mad cow disease kicks in, of course. Then I'll forget everything.
We skipped back the B&B, very tipsy (I had a second Guinness, after all. You can never have too much of a good thing) and fell asleep.
COMING SOON: Dubious connextions to Shakespeare at Stratford-Upon-Avon, Disney-fied Medieaval life at Warwick Castle, and 3rd times a charm at the Oxford Marriott.