Bath and other miscellaneous places
Posted by Oli on Monday 2nd March, 2009
Hugest apologies for the lack of blogging – last week was completely manic, trying to squeeze in as much of my over-flowing inbox of work as I could before spending the weekend away in Bath with K’s ‘rents for their joint birthdays.
It was a totally fantastic time, but I was unable to fore-warn of a lack of blogging as it would have given the game away. The weekend, which was spent in a rented cottage just outside Bath in a lovely little village near Westbury along with three very good friends of the family, was a total surprise.
We took K’s ‘rents off to Longleat house for a tour, which her Mum believed was all that was happening, before she received instructions to pack for 3 days away. Arranging to travel in separate cars, we arrived with her best friend from the village back home in ours to surprise her. With the other friends traveling up from Devon stuck in roadworks, we frantically tried to delay the house tour for half-an-hour. Expecting to be told that it couldn’t be done, instead we were offered a private tour of the house for no extra charge – remarkable people at Longleat.
Despite the delay, we were still un-accompanied at 12.30 when our private showing of the great house began. It was a fascinating and mesmerising tour and I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in history or historical houses – it’s gobsmacking. Half-way round, the staff were so unbelievably kind enough to bring the missing pair of our party up to join us when they arrived. Much surprise (although Mama D had guessed who the sixth and seventh of the party might turn out to be) and hugs/handshakes ensued before the very accommodating host could continue her tour.
Once we were done we all repaired to a local pub for a late lunch, after which we all waved goodbye to the each other before heading, in convoy, to Woodside Cottage to surprise them once again with their accommodation and the fact that all of us were, in fact, staying with them.
The evening was spent in a bit of a haze of trying to work out who was where (K and I being in the annex across the way), whether anyone wanted to eat anything (verdict: no, but cake will do nicely) and what we were up to the next day (eventual decision, whatever we wanted) before we all engaged in a frankly hilarious round of card games before taking ourselves to an early bed.
The next morning, to my surprise, I was awake before the house opposite, heading out on a paper run before breakfast. After a chilled out morning, K and I headed into Bath itself to catch up with a an old friend over lunch and a personalised tour of Bath, which included some very strange people reading poetry in a taxi and more gorgeous architecture than you could shake a stick at.
In the evening, after a brief afternoon nap, we all enjoyed dinner together before a dynamite game of Scattagories before crashing out.
Weirdly, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling absolutely awful. I’m not sure if I was over-heating and dehydrated or had eaten something disagreeable the previous day, but my head was pounding and I felt incredibly sick.
As the others all headed off to Lacock Village and Manor, I stayed in bed with K watching over me and ended up sleeping until gone 3pm, at which point I woke up feeling almost right-as-rain, save for a lack of energy from lack of food.
Another evening of fun-and-frolics was met with an early(ish) morning this morning, getting up to breakfast, pack and leave by 10 am. As the others began their trek home, K and I decided to take a more leisurely turn back to MK, stopping to catch up on Lacock (where I discovered they’d used the Abbey to shoot portions of the Hogwarts cloisters in the first two Harry Potter films), taking pics and enjoying tea in the oh-so-English tea-shops that abound in pretty little villages around the country.
On the road home from Lacock we got minorly lost around Cirencester before coming through the most beautiful village/town we’ve been through on all of our travels. The name escapes me, but I want to live there.
Coming through Bicester on the way home, we stopped at Bicester Village, which K had never seen. After wandering the stores deciding that we can’t afford anything there (sorry, we didn’t like the look of anything there), we jumped in the car and headed home, only stopping for the briefest of traditional post-tour stops at Borders and then a quick meal at a fantastically-valued but chronically unfriendly pub before getting home around 7pm, unpacking our things, changing the bed, showering, blogging and – now – going to bed.
It’s been a great weekend and it’s been really nice to totally remove myself from work for a few days. Now it’s back to the grindstone and on with the first of my 3 talks in 10 days.