Tuesday, May 25:  Waters of Bath

Breakfast was self-serve, and better than expected for that style of delivery. David and I headed out to do some errands: cash, a decent city map, juice, chocolate, scrap cardboard boxes for the car, free Internet at the library to arrange a retrieval of his pouch left behind in London, and a bit of shopping for Robert’s upcoming birthday.

We chatted some with Lynn and decided to set out for a walk along a nearby canal. Hit the river just below the nearby supermarket, rounded the main corner at the south end of town on the path, then found the downstream end of the canal. Right away there was a series of five or six locks, and in the second one we found a beautiful “longboat.” It was maybe six feet wide and about thirty or forty long, with but about five feet above the water line. Brightly painted, “Challenger No. 4, Shrewsbury” in gold near the stern. A small dog kept watch by the tiller, while the husband and wife worked the lock mechanisms by hand. (Photo 158) We watched and chatted, and then watched some more as they caught up with their friends in a similar boat at the next lock. Looked like a fun way to travel, might be more at www.britishwaterways.co.uk. We saw many more boats, some quite decrepit, few as nice as these first two. (Photo 157)

Rick’s Guide to Jogging the Towpaths of Britain said it was a thirty minute walk. Two hours later, we made Bathhampton and The George pub. At least there were no more locks, so the walking was level. Lunch in the outdoor patio was especially satisfying and the bitter was even better. In no mood to burn anymore sightseeing time, we got a taxi home and I lost my sunglasses somewhere along the way, negating the cheap taxi fare.

Back to central Bath, we took in the obligatory sights. The Roman baths themselves were interesting to see, but not worth the 24 entry. There were nicely done exhibits about old Roman “stuff,” but we’ve seen enough of that already. Bath’s current popularity as a tourist destination stems from the discovery and renovation of these baths in the 1800’s. The Bath Abbey has a long history, including being the site of the coronation of the first “effective” king of Britain, in 967 (?), King Edgar. And I always though the first King was in 1066? Pultney Bridge was like a poor man’s Ponte Vecchio, lined with shops on both sides.

The walking all day took its toll, so back at home, naps were called for. Then some math homework and dinner at Pizza Hut. The boys got unlimited trips to the ice-cream sundae bar, so this will be sure to rate as one of their all-time favorite meals of the trip.