Au revoir, France. Hello England

Last  Saturday I took my first trip on the Eurostar from Paris’ Gare du Nord to London’s St Pancras. It is a journey I have wanted to do for a long time and I wasn’t disappointed. It is such an easy way to travel; no arriving hours early for a flight, no long queues at passport check and no waiting for luggage at the other end. I tried not to think about the English Channel churning greyly overhead for the 20 minutes that the train was in the tunnel.

First UK stop was a weekend with my sister, my mother and chief wine pourer and BBQ chef, Mike. It was very relaxing. 

Next stop, Bath. Here’s another of those gorgeous cities built of mellowed limestone with all the same problems as I saw in Bordeaux and Paris. The porous stone  becomes black over time due to pollution and it is an expensive business to keep the buildings clean. Today I joined a walking tour of the city. It was free and run by one of 65 volunteer tour guides who gave us an overview of the history of the Bath and pointed out buildings of significance. Many of the famous buildings were designed by architect John Woods, such as The Royal Crescent and The Circus. However, the ‘building’ I enjoyed most was the one built by the Romans over a natural spring of hot water, the Roman Baths. 

I really enjoyed the personal audio-guide at the Roman Baths. The displays are well set out and explained. There is even a children’s audio-guide. Something that would have been very useful last time I visited in 1991 with 3 small boys. Of interest were the curses which were inscribed on pieces of thinly beaten lead by those seeking revenge. The written curse was then folded over and thrown into the pool of Minerva the goddess of Aqua Sulis. The goddess was supposed to wreak vengeance on the wrongdoer. People cursed those who had stolen from them, mostly small items such as a cloak or a bracelet. It might not have returned there lost property but I bet they felt better for putting a curse on someone. About 100 lead curses have been found in the baths.

 

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