Monday, October 24, 2011


Tony received a very warm welcome back as he showed up to take us on our Southwest tour.  Really, we clapped for him.  (The coach driver who took us to Cambridge made himself a name as a curmudgeon, an irritating guy, and all around no substitute for Tony.  Kind of surprised me that the girl who I thought teased Tony the most for his comments was the one happiest to see him back.)

Our first stop: Bath!  Everyone knows why it's called that, right?  The Roman baths.  Guess our first stop.  An art museum!  Yep, really.  It was a little museum, made up of a collection by this Holbourn guy.  Most of it was really nice.  They had some spectacular miniatures and their art was pretty impressive, also.  It was an odd trip for me, though, because our assignment for our art class was to find a piece of artwork we didn't like.  I was nervous about that one and it flavoured the museum visit oddly for me, but I did find a piece I didn't like and discovered, through the process of writing about it, that I honestly didn't like it even more and I knew why.  (It was an earthenware piece.  There are some pretty things done with earthenware, but the artist was trying to work with it in ways earthenware shouldn't be worked with and ended up with a gaudy, tacky, sloppy mess of what should have been a beautiful, even sacred, scene.)

Then we went to the Roman Baths.  Walked around the top where someone had built Roman statues to look like what would have been there originally and even aged the statues as he made them!  They had a walk-through telling you about the different parts, why the Romans came, which Romans would have come, exhibits on how they built the baths, displays of how the water was heated and came up, a replica of one of the original statues, displays of carved rock and so forth found there, explanations of the prayers and curses written on lead sheets and chucked into the pool to the local gods/goddesses, and the main feature was the big bathing pool.  With the mineral spring running through it.  The guards told people not to touch the water but didn't especially care if people did.  "We say that because it's not treated, you could get sick if you got it in your mouth."  It was very pleasantly warm.  (Me, touch it?  Of course not!  How could you suggest that I would go near that beautifully warm water when it's just sitting there begging to be touched?)  Much warmer in the stream coming directly in, of course.  It was all green, and one of the guards said that when they drained it, people would go onto the first step to touch the water still and slowly slip off the green stuff and into the pool.  The worst time?  When a bride was getting her pictures done (the ceremony was there) and slipped.  That had to be fun.

On the way to our next stop, we got some hot chocolate that beats the Chocolate Soup hot chocolate, but only just.  The Chocolate Soup stuff was amazing and incredible and in all other ways awesome, but its thickness was mostly due to the milk.  This stuff tasted lie a melted chocolate bar.  Dark, of course, and amazingly delicious.  Smaller, though, and got cold much faster but that was probably because it was colder outside and I was outside in the first place.

Our next scheduled stop, then, was the Bath Fashion Museum.  It was a downstairs walk-through exhibit from I believe the 18th century to now.  Some ridiculous fashions down there.  Like corsets.  ...which all the girls tried on.  And there are some tiny tiny girls in our group.  I may as well mention now that we've got a bizarre mix of girls on this trip (the guys hardly register--I mean, our professors are great, but we rarely see their sons, so it's essentially a huge group of girls), hipsters (self-confessed), book nerds, geeks, knitters, singers and songwriters, musicians, artists, scientists, two affianced, the "girly" girls which I wish I could describe more accurately but without stereotyping too much, and many others, and these groups are no means exclusive; they're all blended together.  There are closer friendship groups, yeah, but I don't think they're entirely exclusive.  But when we were down there, everyone was laughing and putting on corsets and helping other people out, and generally having a grand old time.  There were some girls who fit into corsets that didn't even get all the way around my sides, which I think was made for children in the first place.  I was pretty surprised.  Oh, and the farthingale, which there was only one of but it got passed around quite a bit.  The other bit we all descended on was the 'draw a dress' thing, where they had papers with an outline of a woman to display your dress idea on.  I...may have left a viking apron dress drawing at the fashion museum...

After that, we all met at the Royal Crescent to see the Bath architecture.  Bath was one of the places bombed to smithereens in WWII, but when it was being rebuilt, the people there made a firm stand that they wanted Bath to always be like it was originally, made of the local pale yellow sandstone, in the original style.  It's actually where the first "listed" homes were--homes that were always to stay the same in appearance.  Pretty cool, really.

After that, to the grocery store to be able to eat, then Sarah, Nicole, and I walked home along a "shortcut."  Now, don't go off on shortcut stereotypes.  It was shorter, but I wish it hadn't been because it was the most beautiful walk I'd been on.  At the time.  We walked through some beautiful countryside, up several stairs, across a canal complete with lock, and past a pasture just at dusk until we came out on a hill overlooking the city.  The pale houses set against the dark green trees, the lights coming on, the approach of the dark--it was a scene like none other.  We had to stop and look for a while; we couldn't not.  More on that later, possibly.  If I decide to put essays on here.

Well.  That's Bath!

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