As you may be aware from some of my earlier posts, in January I started a new job. I’m very lucky in that it’s close enough to walk to if I choose, and I can walk most of the way along a stretch of the Grand Union Canal, the longest canal in England.
It’s a lovely walk, and one replete with photo opportunities. From golden green vistas
To blossom caught on the water’s surface at an old lock gate
And unique touches on some of the canal boats, like this wonderful knotted mermaid.
It’s also home to some interesting little doors, like this one I photographed earlier in the week. I’ve seen the owner of this boat before on my walks, a friendly fellow with a dog, always ready to say good morning. From the sign I’d say he might have a sense of humour, too.
Aquae Sulis, or the waters of the Goddess, is the old name for the Roman town of Bath. Named for the natural hot springs, it was a sacred place before the Romans came, dedicated to the Goddess Sulis. The Romans identified Sulis with their own goddess, Minerva and, stuck in a cold country far from home, were thrilled to find a place where they could bathe in the warm waters they were accustomed to, and so built a magnificent bath and temple complex around the springs.
After the Romans left the complex fell into decay, the temple torn down by Christians. The baths remained, though the ground level rose, hiding much of the original Roman remains from view. However, in the 18th century, the baths were excavated and restored to their original ground level. A new complex of buildings, including the famous Pump Room, rose around the ancient ruins, as Bath became a fashionable place to ‘take the waters.’
The whole city is now designated a World Heritage Site, and the Baths themselves are a Unesco Memory Of The World. While the Roman baths are no longer open for bathing, you can still experience in the mineral rich waters in a new bathing centre close to the original baths, which includes a rooftop pool where you can watch the sun rise (or set) over the ancient town.
We visited the Roman Baths on a glorious sunny day, the golden stone and green water glowing in the bright light. The statues around the top of the baths complex are more modern additions, sculpted in the 19th century, but work very well, I think. Inside the complex there is a fascinating museum, where you can see artifacts from the Roman past, including the original temple steps, still in situ. The old Roman drains are there too, coated with minerals from the water which still flows through.
And then there is the main bath itself, still a tranquil space after so many years. Apparently bathing here was mixed, the Romans not subscribing to our more modern levels of prudery. The excellent Bill Bryson is one of the commentors on the audio guide and speculates as to what might have gone on in the alcoves and among the pillars, so close to a place of worship. Pleasures of the flesh and of the spirit were not kept separate in those days.
Although a sign warned us not to, I did dip my fingers in the water. (To be fair, I didn’t see the sign till afterwards – apparently the water is untreated and so considered not safe). And what was it like? It was soft against my fingers, and felt luke warm rather than hot, with a slightly sulphuric odour. We did get to drink some of the water as well, a tap offering a treated version at the end of our tour. Again, it was warm, and tasted of sulphur and metal – I suppose it was good for me!
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Baths, as it’s been on my list of places to visit for a very long time. I hope you enjoyed coming on this Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
Katie is thirty-two, single, and works in advertising. She’s also dead. A lost soul hitching rides with the dying, trying to find her way to… wherever she’s supposed to be.
And whoever she’s supposed to be with.
Heaven, it seems, has a thousand rooms. What will it take to find hers?
Review: Wow! I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this work. Shamefully, I hadn’t even bothered to read the synopsis first which is so out of character for me. Why? I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you however, is A Thousand Rooms far exceeded any first impressions I may or may not have had regardless of my aforementioned neglect.
This is one of those rare books I simply couldn’t put down. I was immediately captivated from the first sentence, and became…
The Annual Bloggers Bash, brainchild of Sacha Black, is less than two months away! Ably assisted by Ali Isaac, Geoff LePard and Hugh Roberts, Sacha has arranged another fantastic event in the heart of London – I’ll be attending, can’t wait! I went to the first and second Bashes, where I met some wonderful bloggers, as well as being amazed at how much the event grew in the space of a year.
Apart from getting to mingle with loads of lovely bloggers, there are also awards given out on the day. Categories include: Funniest Blogger, Hidden Gem, Most Informative… you get the idea. And, Sacha has just announced that nominations are now open for this year’s Bash – all you need to do is visit Sacha’s site and fill in the form. You can also get tickets and find out more about the day, so if you haven’t checked it out, head on over and take a look (and if there’s a blog you’d like to nominate for anything *cough* you know, you can nominate it there).
The results of a public poll to decide the best view in Britain were recently announced, and the winner was the spectacular view you see below. This is the view from the top of Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales, and it’s where I’ve chosen to wander this week.
However, unlike previous weeks, this fabulous photograph is not mine (it’s via Wikimedia Commons). I have been to the top of Snowdon, via the Snowdon Mountain Railway, but my experience was, shall we say, a little different.
Let us travel back in time quite a few years, to a family holiday. The decision was taken to ride to the top of Snowdon, something we’d never done before despite regular visits to Wales. We (my parents, brother and I) boarded the train, sitting by the window, and set off into what soon became a world of grey.
The weather changed, as it often does in the mountains, and thick cloud descended, our journey taking place in a tunnel of pale grey mist. At one point I remember looking out of the window and seeing the mist clear slightly – to reveal a precipitous drop down a green slope and, below, small white dots of sheep grazing. In some ways, I was glad I couldn’t see more.
When we reached the top of the mountain the visitor centre was under construction, so many of the large plate glass windows had been replaced with plastic sheeting that flapped and rustled incessantly in the unseasonable weather. But it wouldn’t have mattered had the windows been there, for all we could see was a solid, uniform grey. It was bitterly cold so we didn’t end up staying too long, catching the train back down to the valley and to green summertime once more.
These two photos are mine, taken on another visit as we went through the Llanberis pass, heading for the coast. It was a glorious day, and there were plenty of hikers heading up the mountain – no doubt the train would have been full as well. However, we had somewhere to be and couldn’t stop, so I was only able to take photographs from below as we went past.
So, while I can say that I have been to the top of Snowdon, I can’t say I’ve seen any of the legendary views. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m not marking this as a negative experience. The mountains of North Wales are one of my favourite places on earth, and part of their magic is the mist wreathing their summits like dragon’s breath, a place where legends are made. I know I’ll take the railway again one day and hopefully, next time, I’ll be able to see the view.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
Today has been a nice blogging day. I received a little note from WordPress to tell me today is my three year blogiversary, which is very exciting! Blogging has literally changed my life – I’ve become far more confident as a writer and met some wonderful people who I truly consider friends. Thank you to everyone who’s come along on the journey with me. I’ve also had several reblogs today, which is part of what I love about this community – there are so many bloggers out there who are willing to share their time and blog space.
And there’s been a slight breakthrough when it comes to my sad break-up. A detente, of sorts. While they’re still not exactly speaking, my phone and computer are now willing to share messages via a third party, which has made life a little easier for us all. Upgrades have been promised on both sides, in the hope that, when they’re the best versions of themselves, they might like to rekindle things as they once were.
At least it means I can upload photos again!
Hope everyone’s having a great Monday – see you all Wednesday for a Wander 🙂