After our long walk, and quite possibly over-staying our welcome at Bath Chew Valley Caravan Park we moved on, to one of the certificated locations in Keynsham, a half-hour-or-so drive from Bath, and a relatively pleasant and uneventful drive from Bath Chew Valley. Much more sensibly-priced — something like £5/night. This was a grassy field next door to two very large and handsome Clydesdale horses. We parked during a sun-shower, washed the dishes (it was more fun than it sounds), and made dinner with leftovers from last night.
Errands to run, we drove the next morning into Bath, in search of a variety of things like a hose, bucket, liquid for the chemical toilet, and a few other bits and pieces. Being the very clever people we are, we checked ahead of time for a parking place, by looking on the Google Maps satellite image for a likely parking space near the Halfords shop we were aiming for. This, of course, turned out to be a multi-storey parking space with a height limit way below our height, so we ended up driving around for a while in search of a park. We spotted a very convenient one after about 5 or 10 minutes — a coach park, of all things, but also open to large vehicles. We parked amongst throngs of tourists disembarking from their tour buses and paid the hefty parking fee.
With little success had at Halfords, we pushed deeper into Bath, breezing past ancient Roman architecture and the imposing Bath Abbey, and found a Marks and Spencer store. Mid-shop we were caught by a salesman for the Marks and Spencer electricity company and asked about the electricity bill at home. In the non-committal, trying-to-avoid-eye-contact nothing-to-see-here way I address all people trying to sell me something, I explained that ‘home’ was actually a motorhome and our electricity was a non-issue. He immediately brightened and took an interest in our travels. Instant friends, we spoke for a few minutes, and he recommended a few activities in the UK: Paragliding in the Lake District (he recommended a guy he had paraglided with), and Guy Fawkes’ night in a village in the south where festivities are particularly entertaining, in a bring-your-own-skin-graft-surgeon way.
After a fare-well, we pushed on and finished up, having acquired a hose, bucket, bike straps and lock and a nifty gas-burner-toaster thing. Along the way we found a brochure for a ‘Bizarre Bath’ comedy walking tour which sounded particularly appealing. Back with Nettle, we scratched our heads for a while over whether to drive back to our field, and return later for the walking tour at 8, or whether to pay the £7 ($14-ish!) to stay on and have a walk of our own first. We opted for the latter, having made plans to see Steve the next day to get the final bit of work done on Nettle and thus not being able to stay on around Bath another day.
So, we went on our own walking tour, one Katherine found in a book at Pauline and Bill’s (my great aunt and uncle’s) house. It took us into the Abbey, an immense, mind-boggling and beautiful construction, eerily silent and reverential inside, lined with epitaphs going back centuries, extending across the worn floors and spilling up the walls, and with acres of intricate scenes in stained glass.
Onwards, through the very pretty Parade Gardens, across the Pulteney Bridge and back, through streets that largely look as if they haven’t changed in centuries, past some sweeping arcs of Roman-esque apartment buildings at The Circus and Royal Crescent and meandering our way back to Nettle for baked beans on toast and time to rest our aching feet.
Time having arrived for the Bizarre Bath walking tour, we followed the trusty purple line on my iPhone to the start of the walk, paid our host JJ, and waited for the other fifty people or so there to do the same — with JJ’s brilliant ad-libbing, this turned out to be very good entertainment in itself.
The walk, entirely devoid of history (at least, the true kind) or other touristy stuff, was utterly brilliant, eye-wateringly hilarious, even in the unscripted moments, and something I couldn’t recommend more. It had cheeky digs at surrounding architecture, passers-by and members of the audience, awful puns, rollicking anecdotes and plenty of magic tricks. If you’re ever in Bath, do it — 8 pm every night.
So, back to Nettle and back to the field for the night. Up the next morning and we prepared to leave for our next neighbourhood, but not without stopping to admire a yellow field with tyre tracks going through it, filled with little white flowers. Wow.