Nearly Naked

I almost made a total fool of myself on Saturday morning. Together with my young friend we were in Bath. There we had decided to spend the morning in the Thermal bath Spa. After collecting our white robes, towels and white slippers we made our way to the changing rooms and undressed. After putting my clothes in one of the lockers while waiting for my young friend to emerge from her changing room, I noticed a tiny strap protruding from under a passing lady’s robe. Wondering what it was I realised it must be the strap of her bathing costume. At that moment it suddenly dawned on me that I’d completely forgotten to put my own bathing trunks on! So I very quickly retrieved them from the locker. Had I not seen that little strap I would have stepped from the lift, which opened straight out to the open-air rooftop pool.

There I would have blissfully taken off my robe and soon realised that I was standing there stark naked! I guess I’m not used to this sort of thing. It being a cold, yet sunny day, we found it wonderful to lounge around in the hot spa. The temperature is almost constant at around 92˚F and is heated naturally underground. The actual source of the water remains a mystery. These natural thermal springs were first discovered by Prince Bladud around 863BC and contain over 43 different minerals. During our two hours at the spa we enjoyed just wallowing in the pool – especially when the bubbles started – enveloping us with jets of water. Before we left the spa we spent 15 minutes or so in the underground Minerva pool.

Bath is a beautiful city. Neither of us had stayed there before so soon after we arrived we boarded the city tours bus.

One of the best things we did was to visit the Roman Baths. This is the best-preserved ancient baths and temple complex in Northern Europe. We spent a couple of hours looking around. This is the main bath – and a few statistics – The rate of flow is 13 litres per second or about 250,ooo gallons per day. The temperature is 46 degrees C or 115 Fahrenheit and there are 43 minerals in the water. The water is colourless but acquires its distinctive green hue from algae growth caused by its heat and by daylight.

This fragment is from the magnificent Temple of Sulis Minerva, Goddess of the Thermal Spring… the engraving of the tombstone of auxiliary cavalryman L. Vitellius Tancinus from Spain, who was probably buried in a military cemetery outside Bath

Here is an impressive arched overflow, which was part of the Roman engineering arrangements, which still keep the hot water flowing through the complex today.

So much to see – here are one or two more sights which caught my eye.

On Sunday we went to the Chequers restaurant for lunch with friends Jessica and Adam before having another little tour around the city.

On the way to Bath we stopped off at Stourhead in Wiltshire. ‘A Living Work of Art’ is how a magazine described Stourhead when it first opened in the 1740’s. Classical buildings and picturesque hideaways like this one – framed by the colours of autumn, surround this world-famous landscaped garden.

We walked all the way round the lake – a bit of a challenge – but so well worth it with lovely views whichever way you looked.

It was my birthday yesterday. I invited eight friends to dinner at The French Horn. It’s easily my favourite restaurant – but I reserve it for special occasions. (The last time I went there was for my young friend’s birthday in the summer).

And here are a couple of pictures taken during the evening.

This year has been a very good year for art awards, as I heard last night that I’ve won the Judges Second Choice Award at the forthcoming Miniature Art Society of Florida’s Annual Exhibition. Out of nearly 1,000 entries and with over 20 awards, I’m delighted. It was for my miniature of Kevin Giddings – the Royal Flueologist against a background of Hampton Court Palace.