Inspiration from Bath
This is supposed to be where I write about all things jewellery related (with the occasional allotment post for light relief) but last week MrG and I went away for a couple of nights. It’s very unusual for us to do this (I’d have to get a proper job if we wanted to do it more often!) but an online pal from the USA messaged me last year to say that she was coming to the UK for a research trip and would be visiting Bath whilst over here – would it be possible to meet up?
This was too good a chance to miss, despite being way outside my comfort zone (meeting new people, travelling away from home) so I organised a new railcard , booked train tickets and accommodation and started researching. I’ve not visited Bath since I was a student based in Bristol over 25 years ago, so I was guessing it had changed a bit, and also that I’d not consider it quite as hideously expensive now I’m in my middle age!
I took it upon myself (as Nicole Kidman says; that’s assertive, not bossy!) to try and find somewhere to eat and meet my chum in person – we’ve only corresponded online up to now, so I was very nervous that we might not get on. Or that our partners might not. Or both. I thought that interesting food would make for an easier situation – there is always something to start a conversation if you have some dishes you’ve not tried. I opened up the internet, and hunted out a selection of restaurants.
Bath has lots of highly rated places to eat, so I started at the upper end of the budget, and longlisted any that sounded like they’d be eventful (in a good way)
Then I shortlisted to the ones that were actually open on Sundays and Mondays. Fortunately the two I liked the look of most were – they were @yakyetiyak Yak Yeti Yak on the Sunday and @CorkageBath the Monday Corkage
I sent my chum the shortlist, with my personal favourites, plus a link to the review I had found from the super picky Jay Raynor (Review in The Guardian) knowing that she had a background in wine, I was hoping that this would be of interest. Then, once approval was given (!) I booked both restaurants. I learned the hard way, when flying to Washington that one should prepare if travelling any distance
Yak Yeti Yak serves Nepalese food, and did so in a very casual restaurant which felt like a proper family run business. It was friendly, no nonsense with beautifully fragrant, delicately spiced and herbed dishes. We ordered a good selection of about 8 mains (recommendation was 2-3 per person. 2 plus the starter was exactly the right amount for us) after a few starters and a couple of bottles of wine. This was a delicious meal and as a bonus was ridiculously good value, so gets a 5 star from me!
I could tell after a few minutes that my gut instinct had been right, and the four of us were going to get on very well.
Having narrowly avoided a hangover, MrG and I went a-wandering on Monday, following the civic trail around the very compact area of Bath. I had done this before, but it was his first visit. The architecture really is very lovely, and we were fortunate in that the rain stopped for almost the whole of the day Monday, so we didn’t have to lug about coats. It’s not a challenging walk although it is steep in parts with flagstone pavements; we ambled along, veering away from the route up little alleys and into shops as the fancy took us, but there is a bus tour that you could do if you don’t fancy walking. (I think you could easily do it all in about an hour, it’s only about 3 miles)
I took just a few photos, (all at the end of this article) to have as a reminder; my favourite parts were the exhibits in the free to enter abbey – a selection of modern calligraphic panels of biblical texts for the Easter period, paired with embroidered/quilted/appliquéd panels representative of these texts. The work was breathtaking. I’ve a few photos of these taken as best as I could – they were behind glass and the abbey is quite dark, so they aren’t great, but they give you an idea of the inventiveness and skill of the fabric artists.
There was also a beautiful hanging mobile, made of hundreds of paper butterflies. It fluttered subtly in the inevitable thermals you have in such a large building. A must visit if you are in Bath.
Another great free to visit place was the Victoria Art Gallery We nipped in here when the rain started; it had a great variety of art through the ages, all of which looked exceptionally well looked after. There were also tables with art goods to encourage visitors (of all ages!) to sit and have a go at creating their own art. That’s an unusual thing to find in the UK I think.
Then back to the hotel to spruce up for our visit to Corkage, and meet our chums for a pre-supper drink in The Stable . Much as I hate visiting chains, this chain supports small, artisan cider makers, stocking lots from our very local favourite Sandford Orchards and I wanted to ensure that our visitors got a taste!
Corkage was fabulous. Wine offered to try, then buy to have with the meal with dessert wines and port also to try and buy. We stuck to old world as the USA contingent don’t get to do that so much, and it was lovely. I wish I’d made notes!
I don’t recall drinking Sauternes before, as I usually opt simply for a LBV port or a Madeira to have with dessert but I’m now a convert.
Again, we ordered a selection of dishes – they do small plates, mezze sized here, and a really good range, all of which are explained by the wait staff before you choose. This can be a tad pretentious in lots of places, I think, but this gave us the chance to really think about what we wanted, what would pair well and what would be interesting. Everything was cooked to order and brought out to add to the table as it was ready. Again this was an evening of deliciously flavoured, seasonal, ‘not mucked about with’ food and exceptional company. I’ve tried to recreate the dishes at home so I even gained a new way to cook parsnip and potato (not my favourite of veg, but an allotment staple that the boy loves, so we have a lot of them).
Again, really reasonably priced. I’ll be leaving them a 5 star review too.
And our new chums? Fabulous. Best couple of days we’ve had in ages. Lesson learned? Step outside your comfort zone more often, Gilly.
This building is in the centre of town. zoom in to see the sculptural frieze at the top
I love a bit of stained glass. If it had been a sunny day, this would have been breathtaking
Remember to look down as well as up. (I’m thinking texture on silver)
Still of the butterfly mobile, followed by a brief video so you can see the delicate movement
The fabric panels telling the Easter story
Video of the Royal Crescent. My allotment neighbour, Garry (originally from Bath) tells me this is where they filmed Oliver! but I think that may be an urban myth
If you fancy doing the walk; here’s a link to the map we used for it.
Yes, as narrow as it looks
The Ustinov Studio
A particularly amusing photo of chickens and bunnies I sent to our neighbour as her ‘don’t forget to feed them’ reminder
Sandford Orchard ciders