Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Dip into Bath

Sir Isaac Pitman has a memorial in Bath Abbey. If you are over 50, you may know that he invented shorthand, which enabled newspaper reporters and secretaries to write things down fast, in the days when there was still such a thing as a reporter or secretary. You are probably under 50, aren't you? In this case you would not be interested in Bath Abbey, because it's the best bit. Unless you like modern embroidery or fan vaulting? Thought not. The Pump Room, a very expensive restaurant full of German Jane Austen fans, and the Roman Baths are in the same square. Whatever you do, don't be caught by the Full English Breakfast 2 pounds 75 in the cafe opposite. I didn't want breakfast, but it made it look like a cheap place and I spent 1 pound 99 on a cup of tea. Coffee was much dearer. Retro Cafe, round the other side of the Abbey, was much better and is the home of the Mole listings magazine.
The Roman Baths isn't cheap, but it's the best thing in Bath, and is much better value for money than I thought it would be. They lend you a very large mp3 player that you hold up to your ear and choose the track number according to signs on the wall. You don't have to read labels and you do find out the significance of what might otherwise look like bits of stone. The Romans dipped in it, and Jane Austen's lot drank it. So can you, at 50 pence a glass. Don't be tempted to drink the stuff that's actually in the bath though - it's more dangerous than drinking your own bath water.
Bath has lots of other attractions. Visitors from the US will want to see the American Museum, which I'm told is brilliant. I wasn't there for long, though, and didn't get to see it. I can't tell you about the nightlife because, hell, I am over 50.


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