Monday, October 21, 2013

Five Go to Bath

After last year’s very enjoyable Trainers Go to… event in beautiful Stratford-upon-Avon, this year, we headed for a weekend in Bath. Carey had to drop-out at the last minute (which was a great shame), but we know she was there in spirit!

It was my turn to organise it all and after some initial difficulties in finding a hotel, I got it all got sorted out - and I even managed to get us a table for us all at the well-known Indian restaurant, The Mint Room for our evening meal.

SATURDAY
We were all coming from different directions: Philip and I met at Paddington Station, whilst the girls - Angela, Antoinette and June opted to share one car and drive there. Carey had to cry-off at the last minute, which was a shame.
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Paddington Station

Spookily we all arrived at the Holiday Inn Express at the same time - just as our taxi pulled in, so did the girls! So, it was straight to Registration to attempt to book in. Knowing full well that officially we couldn’t get in until 3 o’clock, we thought we’d ask anyway. Well, 1 out of 5 ain’t bad! as June was able to get her room, but the rest of us had to wait. We stored all our bags in June’s before heading off by foot in the direction of the town. Antoinette led the charge and before long we were in the centre of the action and the search for somewhere to eat.
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Holiday Inn  Express - Bath 

I think we hit the city just as the rest-of-the-world was also trying to lunch and we therefore spent quite a lot of time checking out various eateries - most of which were heaving!
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Bath Abbey

Eventually, after a bit of a wait, we settled in a nice little Bistro right opposite the Pump Rooms entrance and near to the Abbey, where we were able to suit outside. It was amazing that in late October, we could feel some real heat in the sun - fantastic! After promising to eat light (because of our planned curry-fest tonight), we all ended up with quite large portions of this-and-that.
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Small Portions!

An hour later, and suitably stuffed, we headed for the Tourist Office for some inspiration. Having waded through reams of literature and sought advice from the helpful staff, we settled for the city sightseeing tour complete with open-top bus. It was a short walk to the bus-stop, but within a few minutes, the heavens opened and it chucked it down! Not some heavy shower, but more like a monsoon - we got soaked in spite of umbrellas and plenty of trees to take cover under!!!

The bus arrived and the sun started to come out. We headed upstairs for the best view although underfoot, the top deck was like a river! It was a great tour, but somehow (and maybe it was to do with the soothing music through the commentary headphones), I fell asleep! It felt like a few seconds, but my friends hinted that it might have been longer!!!

The Sun was now out permanently, and we did what all good tourists do - headed for the Pub! Not just any old Pub, but the Saracen’s Head,  the oldest Pub around (apparently it’s been a Pub since 1713). It had a curious layout inside all twisty corridors and a Bar in the centre (which took a while to find). Two rounds later and a serious amount of gossip, we were ready to head back to the hotel to get ready for our curry-treat.
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The Saracen’s Head Pub

After a quick turn round of clothing we took the torturous journey (of about 150 metres!) to The Mint Room. I’d booked this based on the rave reviews online and we weren’t to be disappointed. Sumptuous decor was matched by an adventurous menu and top-notch customer service. It takes a lot to impress us as a group - and individually too - but we were wowed! A really nice touch was that Natasha our server for the evening, asked our names, learned them all and used them throughout the evening - not only a welcoming thing to do, but quite a feat when you consider she was also doing the same for all the tables she was looking after!
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Inside The Mint Room, Bath

Almost three-and-a-half hours later as we forced down the dessert of share-two-sorbets-between-five, we all agreed the meal had been one of best restaurant experiences to date! Thank you to Natasha and to Moe, the manager, for a first-class evening. Trip Advisor review to follow!

By now, we were shattered, and staggered back into the hotel, checking in and collapsing in our respective rooms. It’s been a great day!

SUNDAY
Oh joy! I woke at 3.40am to what sounded like a giant electric kettle heating up accompanied by a gentle whining noise. It lasted about 10 minutes before calm returned to room 346. Five minutes later, the cycle started all over again and repeated itself until at 6am - it was like Chinese water torture. I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I took a shower and headed to Reception for a (ahem) ‘conversation’. Actually, it was explained that it was the AC unit that was making the noise (note to self: turn it off before going to bed!).

We all met for breakfast and spent the next hour of so, reminiscing about how we’d all first met 10+ years ago - we all agreed it amazing where all the years have gone! Now fully replenished from breakfast, Angela and June headed for the Pump Rooms whilst Philip, Antoinette and I I took a short walk by the canal and a slow meander round the town, before heading for the Green Park Market located next to Sainsbury's.

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A Sunday Stroll by the Canal - Perfect!

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Green Park Market - Cider at £3 a Pint!

We eventually all met up at the market after having a good look round. We had a bite to eat and drink and prepared to say our goodbyes. Philip and I then walked to the Station leaving the girls to finish their lunch. It had been a great time, but fate was about to deal us two an ugly hand, as the journey home turned out to be a nightmare - as lightning stuck a signalling box further up the line and our train sat at Reading station for over an hour before limping in Paddington more than 80 minutes late. That meant I missed my timed-train at St Pancras and I eventually got home (thanks to Ann’s flexible taxi service!) about 7pm instead of 5pm!

Wow!! Apart from the journey home, it’s a GREAT weekend and we’ve started to talk about where to go next year - Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff are all on the list for consideration, but I think I’ll ask Santa for a helicopter!

Winking smile