Pat & Julie: London in Autumn travel blog

Emperor Hadrian overlooking baths with Abbey in background

Window in Australia Chapel, St.Nicholas Church Bathampton

Rock House Bathford built in 1704 is only one room deep!

'4' marks the house where Jane Austen lived between 1801-05

The alarm clock went off at 4.30am and it took us a while to work out where we were! The AFL Grand Final live stream came through loud and clear and woke us up 100%. It was strange getting text messages from Aussies watching it and eating pies and downing beers while we were sitting up in bed to tea and toast!

Congratulations to all the Collingwood supporters and commiserations to Saints followers. I was going for Collingwood and Pat backed St.Kilda. Things were very quiet here by half time and it definitely seemed all over bar the shouting. Our plans of getting out early to do the Bath walk fell by the wayside and we slept in til after 10.

Weather was good enough to walk into Bath and we set off along the track through the fields. Yesterday the barber told us they’d had some trouble with cows attacking field walkers after people’s dogs had chased the stock. I really didn’t need to know that this morning. I wore my brightest red top and a long white scarf. As we squelched through the mud towards the cows and steers which had just today been moved into the main field, Pat suggested he took charge of the camera. He could see a potential photo opportunity. However, we emerged unscathed.

Before we reached the canal we visited St.Nicholas Church again and this time it was open. Governor Arthur Phillip’s gravestone is in the middle of the floor in the Australia Chapel which was dedicated in 1975. The stained glass windows are simple but beautiful. We were quite pleased with our discovery, but it turns out there’s some serious controversy regarding this grave site. That ever reliable research resource, Wikipedia: Geoffrey Robertson QC alleges: "...Captain Arthur Phillip is not where the ledger stone says he is: it may be that he is buried somewhere outside, it may simply be that he is simply lost. But he is not where Australians have been led to believe that he now lies. Robertson also believes it was a "disgraceful slur" on Phillip's legacy that he was not buried in one of England's great cathedrals and was relegated to a small village church”.

We’ve stumbled on a couple of other interesting sites by accident this week. As we walked along the terraced streets into the city we spotted a plaque to William Wilberforce the abolitionist who stayed in that house roughly during the same years that Jane Austen stayed in a house one street away. I wondered if they even knew of each other’s existence. We walked through the gardens opposite which were established to commemorate Victoria’s Silver Jubilee as a place for local people to come and spend quiet time. They are immaculate and you always see people just sitting reading or relaxing.

We spent the afternoon at the Roman Baths which were well worth the time. It was busy because it was a Saturday, but its so well run that you don’t miss anything. I’d recommend this to anyone coming to Bath. You get the audio unit to explain each important point around the buildings. Pat reckons our local plumber could learn a few things from the Roman engineers. Its amazing that this facility has worked on and off for two thousand years. You can clearly see the ancient layers, the Victorian improvements and more recent restorations. We were able to get some really good photos by overlaying the statues and architecture of the baths on the Abbey behind.

We checked in online this morning and will be flying out from Heathrow on Monday morning. Tomorrow we leave here at a leisurely pace and will probably go directly to the hotel rather than do too much sight seeing and risk getting lost!

Its raining again this evening, but it has never been cold and there hasn’t been a day where we couldn’t go walking around wherever we’ve stayed. Each cottage or apartment has come complete with a bottle of wine…which we’ve decided to donate to the village co-op here. The single shop in the village is run by volunteers and they were so good to us on our first evening here when their cash machine was empty and they gave bread and milk to total strangers on tick!

All the people who work at the shop fuss about making sure they get everything perfectly right, they are just lovely. You just know they are terrified of making an error because it’s a community project.

Our host has a lovely overgrown garden which includes apple trees. Tonight he is making apple juice, I hope we get to sample some before we leave!

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