Last weekend, I went to Bath with my family for my mum's birthday (which was on the 12th). It was Mum's last working Saturday, so she was very happy. I drove to Bath via the M5, battling strong winds that made the car rock and drift. I was glad when I hit the A46, which is an older road, once used by coaches, and therefore has much more shelter. It's a nicer drive as well, with lots of twists and turns and curves. Grace and I drove down the road a couple of years ago and stopped at the Tollgate Teahouse for tea and crumpets. It was getting late, so we didn't go onto Bath, but it was a lovely afternoon.
Mum, Dad and I were staying at Bailbrook Lodge, which I'd found on TripAdvisor. (Ever since I found the King Charles Boutique Hotel in Prague via TripAdvisor, I seem to have become the delegated family member for holiday research. I just realised that I still haven't posted about Prague! Gah! Must do that this week.) Bailbrook is made up of two houses that were knocked into one. Dad had booked the Garden Suite, which was in the cellar but had a four poster bed with television, iPod dock and plenty of seating. I had a twin bedroom next to it but the ensuite was in the corner of my room so Dad and Mum had to walk through there to go to the loo. And since it was in the cupboard, it was quite small. I'd still recommend the place as it's warm (warm enough for Mum to be happy, which is rare in the UK) and very comfortable. (I had been intending to stay at The Kennard Hotel, but that insists on a minimum of two nights. Since Mum no longer has to work Saturdays, maybe we can do that next year.)
Since I got there about two hours before Mum and Dad were due to arrive, I decided to go into Bath to get a couple of things and drop off my bottle tops at Lush. I'd always known that Bath is an expensive place to live but this was brought home when my bus ticket into town (less than three miles away) cost £4.20. To put this in perspective, I can buy a bus ticket for the whole of Gloucester for £3.50 and a bus ticket that covers both Gloucester AND Cheltenham for £5. So £4.20 for a single return to a place that isn't even that far away is steep. Fortunately I had enough change but it was the first in a series of small annoyances (ridiculous amount of traffic lights, the one way system, how far away Lush is from the bus stop) that culminated in finding out that Lush no longer recycles bottle tops. I gave them the one black pot I'd washed anyway and hurried back to the bus stop, limping a little because my trainers aren't exactly right for my feet. I've always been rather flat-footed (I easily get cramp if I bend my feet for too long) so I need to get some trainers that stop my ankles over-pronating.
I managed to get back to the Lodge in time, however, as the bus was waiting at the stop for me when I eventually made my way back down (thank goodness). Mum and Dad arrived on time (I'd already changed) and Helen and her fiancé picked us up without too much trouble (they went to Bailbrook House but that is only next door so not a disaster). We went to Same Same But Different for dinner, Mum's favourite place in Bath. Helen and Dave had never been there and were very impressed. It's one of the few places I know in the UK outside London that is a café in the day and is open into the evening as a bistro. It's small but cosy and the food is delicious. I had Cornish Sole Goujons with Apple, Fennel and Aioli, followed by Butterbean Cassoulet with Slow Cooked Pork Collar. This was the meal I'd had with Mum when we visited Bath for her birthday outing a couple of years ago (we stayed in the Kennard that time) but I'd been ill at the time, so I was unable to fully enjoy it. Finally, I had passionfruit crème brulée, which was a bit sweet but very creamy. Then Mum, Dad and I were dropped back at the Lodge and went to bed.
Sunday, we drove to Helen's flat and then went for lunch at the Victoria, which had won an award for Sunday lunch. Sadly, I wasn't that impressed, as my roast potatoes were pretty leaden and Dad wasn't happy as his lamb was mostly gristle. I don't think we'll be going back there soon.
I did post the list of books I'd read in 2013 and movies I've seen but not sure if anyone saw it. Should I repost?
Prague post coming soon!