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Pump It! By the Bath-Eyed Peeps

October 3, 2011

My first World Heritage site

Twenty minutes away from our house is the ancient city of Bath.  While Mum and Dad went to run some errands, I was able to take a micro-tour of this magnificent place.  Some of the highlights:

1.  Great examples of the beautiful pale yellow Bath stone, quarried nearby and the basic compositional element of almost all buildings in a substantial radius.  Even the newest buildings in the city use it, making the place look like a lovingly dedicated monument to its own history.

Tried to get the hobo in front of the pasty shop...failed

That's gorgeous Bath Abbey in the background

2.  The wide, open spaces!  I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it for myself.  Before I arrived, I was warned COUNTLESS times of how much smaller everything would seem to me, a Texan.  Then I first saw little towns and villages and I totally bought it – I have no idea how people park cars here, even the European barely-there ‘cars.’  Then there’s Bath, where things are BIG.  Large lanes, huge buildings, open parks and decent-sized stores.  I absolutely loved it.  For any Texans considering a move to the UK, Bath would be the perfect transitional home.

The Avon runs through town, delighting humans and swans alike

A walk, snack and possible sunburn in the park

3.  The Pump Room, otherwise known as actual Roman baths (or ‘thermae,’ in Latin).  This set of baths (there are several in the city, which I totally didn’t know before I got here, I thought there was just one big one) has been surrounded by a more modern museum and really nice restaurant.  So nice, in fact, that we took one look inside and were instantly humbled – beautifully dressed people, a gorgeous piano being played in the background and richly dressed wait-staff.

Exterior of The Pump Room

Then we realised that the pianist was playing Elton John’s Rocket Man, and we couldn’t help but grin.  Sure, we were all wearing jeans and I had my camera and notebook, but what the hell!  We got seated and nervously glanced at the menu.  To our utter shock, the prices were actually very reasonable.

Our waitress made me giggle.  I’m getting used to people looking oddly at me when they hear my accent, but this young woman, who was possibly an extra in EastEnders, couldn’t seem to understand what ANY of us were saying.  It happened like this:

Duncan (Dad):  We want three desserts.

Waitress:  Free…desserts?

Eileen (Mum): (clarifying Dad’s perfectly understandable English) No, three of the Pump Room Glories.  The ice cream.

Waitress:  You…want free ice cream?

Tweet (my fiancée): (clarifying Mum’s perfectly understandable English) No.  Mum and Dad each want a Pump Room Glory, and Kate and I will split one.  That’s three.

Waitress:  I don’t unnastand…how d’ya get dose fings fo free?

Me (Kate):  *gigglesnort*  (I simply couldn’t help myself at this point.  And I was the only actual foreigner at the table.)

Mum:  (holding up three fingers)  I want THIS MANY of the Pump Room Glories.  Oh, and a coffee.

Waitress:  (giggling nervously)  Oh, I’m sorray!  I fought you wanted dem fo free and I couldn’t figuh it tout.

Me: (whispering to Tweet, making sure the waitress could hear)  But if we could get them for free, that’d be okay too…

The waitress froze in what appeared to be terror at this point.  The look I got from Tweet was pricelessly brutal.  I embarrassed myself by guffawing loudly as the waitress uncertainly made her way to the kitchen.  In the end, we got our orders and they were spectacular.  I highly recommend the Pump Room Glories, should you ever stop by.  I would also recommend ordering two (or four!) of them, just in case you’re in a hurry to get your dessert.

Indecently wonderful Pump Room Glories

While we waited, we kept eying the ancient stone fountain from which poured fresh-looking water.  The sign in front of the fountain offered genuine Bath Spa water, a mere 50 pence a glass.  A cute liveried waiter served it up directly from the fountain.  Why not?

Looks fresh and clean - what could go wrong?

My first concern was the fact that the glass became uncomfortably hot one second after it was handed to me.  It then began to steam and I had to practically run back to the table with it in order to avoid embarrassing howls and possibly second degree burns.

My second concern was the fact that Dad was really eager to try it.  He’s one of those playful guys who thinks its hilarious to see peoples’ faces after they’ve eaten something REALLY foul.  He took the first sip and, true to form, he gave absolutely no indication of what it tasted like.  I started to sweat as he handed the glass to me next.

Duncan the Dastardly Dad

I took a small sip.  It wasn’t…lethal.  It just tasted like granite and iron.  Really HOT granite and iron water.  Which, I suppose, is exactly what it should have tasted like.  I have to confess that I was secretly terrified that it would taste of sweaty, empty-bladdered Romans.  All in all, it’s not hugely pleasant but not awful.  Compared to some of the things I drank in Mexico, it was nectar.

We passed the glass around, giggling and making faces.  We then covertly watched many other patrons as they sampled the water for the first time.  The horrible faces they pulled as they tentatively sipped the water sent waves of comfort through me – yes, I may be an American on tour, but my water-tasting bravery was equal to this challenge.



P.S.  Later on that same evening, we went to a gorgeous Indian restaurant for a true British Indian experience.

“Try the vindaloo,” Dad encouraged innocently.  “It’s SO nice.”

Bastard.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2011 10:02 am

    Ahahahah!

    “Try the vindaloo,” Dad encouraged innocently. “It’s SO nice.”

    Bastard.

    That’s the best thing I’ve read all morning! I recently posted a blog where I took a day trip to a place called Matlock Bath, it’s one of those old sorts of towns but smaller and full of motorbikes.

    I have a weeks holiday still to take and I think after reading this I may have to take my woman on a day trip to here. It’s hard to remember that England has these nice places when you’re stuck in Chesterfield/Sheffield for so long. Not that they’re horrible places but it’s more industrial.

    Thanks for posting and awesome pictures and I LOL’d at the conversation with the dippy waitress.

    • October 4, 2011 10:52 am

      Your comments always make my day, Pete. I called everyone over to see! LOL

      The vindaloo made me cry but it was WONDERFUL. Dad was vaguely disappointed, I think.

      You should definitely spend a day or two out this way if you get a chance. Mum and Dad have obviously spent years in this location, but they’d never taken the chance to just wander about Bath as ‘tourists.’ They had a fantastic time and got to see things they’d never taken the time to see before – worth it! Check out the fudge shop right next to Bath Abbey, and grab a lager/ale at Sam Weller’s pub (the food is also great there and low-priced).

      Gonna go check out your Matlock Bath post now – do that more often and post pics for me! 😀 One of my next day trip goals is Glastonbury – SO excited!

      Thanks again, or as they say here – cheers, mate!
      Kate

      • October 5, 2011 11:03 am

        When I get paid end of the month I’ll almost certainly be going on day trips out! I’ve never been to Glastonbury either, God you’ve been here under a month and you’ve already visited more places than I have! I’m hoping I get to go to Glastonbury music festival next year, if not then I’ll probably end up back at Leeds fest again.

        Go and visit Stone Henge, that’s the next thing on my to do list.

      • October 5, 2011 11:16 am

        LOL That’s so funny that you’d suggest the ‘Henge – the family and I were *just* talking about planning a day trip out there. Looks like we’ll be headed that way soon! We drove past it on our way here from Gatwick when I first landed, but my brain was so completely numb after the horrible flight that I don’t remember much. I do remember that we had to swerve around some sheep near there. *crosses fingers* Hopefully it’ll be in the next two or three days!

        And I’ve HEARD about the music festival in Glastonbury. You have NO IDEA how much I want to see that. I tell you what, if you get to go, you MUST take pictures and post them. If I get to go, I’ll do the same. Deal? 🙂

  2. October 5, 2011 12:53 pm

    Love the pics on your blog, Kate. Nicely done!

    • October 5, 2011 12:54 pm

      Thank you so much! I have historically been a terrible photographer, but I’m enjoying the heck outta the pics I’m taking now. I’m so glad that it show. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Kate

  3. October 5, 2011 1:08 pm

    You got yourself a deal! I’d imagine it to be like Leeds Festival but a lot bigger and quite a bit better!

    I’ll be putting Stone Henge on the top of my list of things to do when I finally take my final weeks holiday sometime soon, possible the start of next month before the snow hits and we’re unable to do anything until February haha.

  4. October 5, 2011 6:15 pm

    I have never been to Bath but as an English major read about it several times. The Pump Room Glories look decadent.

  5. midaevalmaiden permalink
    October 6, 2011 8:03 pm

    Those desserts look heavenly. This was an an enjoyable funny post to read, 🙂

    • October 7, 2011 10:30 am

      Oh, my gosh – if you ever get the opportunity to visit Bath, I would *highly* recommend the Pump Room Glory ice creams…they were simply divine.

      And thank you so much for the encouraging words – they make a difference. 🙂

  6. October 20, 2011 2:44 pm

    I love your narrative – makes me feel like I am there with you! Looks like this was a fun trip. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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