Aquae Sulis

The main pool of the Roman baths
The main pool of the Roman baths

Today’s trip was to Bath, the Aquae Sulis of the Roman occupiers. Having found the hot springs, the Romans quickly built elaborate baths with several pools. The image above shows the main pool, often referred to as the swimming bath.

Tigger went off early and later sent me a text to say she was aboard the 8:00 train for Bath. As the deadline is 13:00, she should make it comfortably and have time to start exploring Bath. Because today is Friday, a busy day on the main rail routes to and from London, and because we could buy our tickets only the evening before, I could not get a cheap ticket until 10:30, especially as we preferred open tickets rather than being limited to specific trains. This because of the weather: if it is bad, we want to be able to return early.

Terrace Walk and The Huntsman
Terrace Walk and The Huntsman

So far it is a dull day, and although it is not raining at present, the ground is wet and there are raindrops on the bus windows. Perhaps it will improve or conditions are better in Bath. I am dressed warmly with my “carapace” (thick fleece jerkin). After the low temperatures of the last few days I am not taking any chances.

Bath's elegantly understated station
Bath’s elegantly understated station

At Paddington, my train was already available so I went straight aboard and found a good window seat. If I say little about the journey, it’s because I felt tired and closed my eyes, just for a moment… and slept for the next hour. By the time I started taking an interest in my surroundings again, there was less than half an hour to go to Bath.

On my arrival, we started to walk to the centre and on the way Tigger proposed a choice of three venues for lunch, a vegetarian restaurant, a French one and a Moroccan. I was rather tempted by the French restaurant but finally plumped for the Moroccan, as this is something we rarely have a chance to try.

Café du Globe
Café du Globe

It is called Café du Globe and though small has an extensive menu with vegetarian dishes clearly marked with a green ‘V’. We chose the Moroccan soup, which was served with delicious Moroccan bread, and vegetarian cous-cous. We drank mint tea with this. It was all very tasty and enjoyable, so we might come here again.

Wealthy man's tombstone
Wealthy man’s tombstone

After this, we decided to visit the Roman Baths. Work is still going on in the baths, uncovering the tumbled stones and restoring the buildings as far as possible. One of the finest areas is the main pool (see top picture).

Head of the goddess Minerva
Head of the goddess Minerva

The town and the baths were known as Aquae Sulis to the Romans. Sulis was a British Goddess. It was standard practice on the part of the Romans to leave the native gods in place but to conflate them with a similar Roman deity. In this case, Minerva was chosen as the Roman version of Sulis.

Corridor, the Victorian arcade
Corridor, the Victorian arcade

After touring the extensive exhibition, we took tea in the Pump Room cafe. And no, we did not take the waters, thank you very much! My interest in cultural history stretches only so far…

Bath City Markets
Bath City Markets

We then toured some of our favourite spots such as the Victorian arcade, Corridor, and the City Markets. A plaque there tells us that they received their Royal Charter in 1189.

The Pulteney Bridge at evening
The Pulteney Bridge at evening

It was now evening and it was beginning to get dark. Lights were coming on, showing a different aspect of Bath. We took a look at the famous Pulteney Bridge (above), photographed it and the Abbey, then continued to wend our way to the station.

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

We arrived in time for the 17:43 Paddington train. The platform was crowded and this put me in a somewhat gloomy mood as I guessed the train would be also be packed. I was right and there was standing room only. Our plan was to get off at Chippenham and try our luck with the next train. We did get off, but then saw that a lot of other passengers also disembarked, so we got back on! This time we did manage to find seats though not together.

When the train reached Swindon, more people got off and I was able to grab a pair of seats and wave to Tigger. Together again at last!

A vestige of the past - the servants' doorbell
A vestige of the past – the servants’ doorbell

It was a good day with a successful courier run, an interesting visit to the Roman baths and a tour of some of our favourite parts of Bath.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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2 Responses to Aquae Sulis

  1. Reluctant Blogger says:

    It is a pity that we did not keep or revert to some of the Roman names. Aquae Sulis sounds so much more appealing than Bath.

    I love the evening photos – it is strange to think actually that it was winter when you were there as the photo of the baths looks sunny and warm and the evening shots look more like warmer days too.

    Amusing to think of you hopping on and off trains. I bet that would go horribly wrong if I did that and I end up being stranded somewhere for ages – all crabby and cold.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Bath is certainly a rather lack-lustre name though it has acquired status by familiarity.

      It was warmer in Bath than in London and the sun made a pleasant difference to the atmosphere – in contrast to our previous visit in wet weather.

      We travel so often by train that they no longer have any mystique for us (except perhaps the occasional ride on a steam railway), so hopping on and off is no different from doing the same on the buses. The difference is that the journeys tend to be longer and one doesn’t want to have to stand in crowded gangways for hours at a time.

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