Whichever it is for you, for me it was ‘Barth’ and my destination for the weekend. Don’t ask me why, I won’t be able to answer, I think I may be a little lost in myself and searching for something.
Now there’s an idea, search for something. Maybe I should go on a quest. Magic and Myth and Mystery seems to be pulling me towards it.
But that’s what these trips are about for me. It’s a chance to get away from everything and discover what I want, what I like – and don’t like.
For some reason I wasn’t looking forward to this. I think I’d been spoilt with Tintagel and I know I’m not really a city person, I much prefer trees and water with not a lot of people and man made structures. This is something I knew but this trip has made it all the more obvious to me but the idea is I try new things- right? Oh and I also am not good at not knowing what to expect when I get somewhere, so that is another challenge, I usually like all the details possible so nothing is too much of a surprise.
The journey there wasn’t the best, it was cross country, the roads aren’t great east to west and oh my god! How many roundabouts does Milton Keynes have?? Too many!! I managed to not get lost and slipped nicely into a parking space at the hotel/pub/bar/restaurant in Bath. It was called The Bear.
It didn’t look like much from the roadside, I wondered what I’d booked but when I went in, pushing through the crowd at the bar with my bag ( I really need to learn how to pack less) I realised it was obviously very popular.
The room was lovely, comfortable, with everything that was needed and a good nights sleep was had – with the usual wake ups of course!
After pancakes for breakfast, with bacon and maple syrup I had planned to walk into Bath. It was apparently only a 10 minute walk. I changed my mind – because I can – and took Vinnie, just in case I wanted to go somewhere else – and yes, because I didn’t fancy the walk – a rather large hill had been mentioned.
I thought parking was going to be a problem but I guess I was early enough for it not to be, I went straight into a space at the cricket club. Went to get my ticket (£3.20 for 2 hours- I got 4 hours, I already knew I wouldn’t be staying there all day and was glad I’d taken Vinnie) and the lady in front of me warned me the ticket machine was a Mensa test, she seemed quite intelligent as well, I just said to her “ Oh dear, and I’m blonde, I have no chance!” But! I passed with flying colours! Ticket bought.
Off I went, mainly in the direction everyone else was going, I figured I’d find the Roman Baths, my signal wasn’t great and Siri was his usual unhelpful self – maybe I should change it to the woman, might get more help😃
I wasn’t getting any feeling from the place, no this feels right, nothing. It was a place, a city, but not a city. It felt more like a rather large town to me. I found the baths, well, the queue gave it away and in true British fashion I joined the back of it not knowing how long it would take but it did move quite quickly, they were just not allowing too many people in at one go into the ticket area.
Ticket bought (£15), audio handset chosen, let the tour commence.
The audio handset is a brilliant idea, it keeps everyone quiet! At each place that needed explaining there was a number you put into the set and pressed play. The description was informative and short enough to keep people moving.
It’s quite an amazing place and the way it has been laid out for the visitor to get the maximum experience is very thoughtful and sympathetic to the surroundings. There are places that are boarded off where they are obviously still excavating. How exciting that must be, uncovering more objects and areas not seen for many years.
Can I just say here, if you want facts, I’m not the one to give them to you, I’m absolutely useless at retaining them and recounting them. I mainly take it as a whole, think about what it must have been like to live in that era and just take in my surroundings and how it makes me feel. I could never be a guide – “yeh, there’s a hot steamy bath over there, the spring comes up from here to heat it, they used to bathe in there and get changed here and sacrificed animals on there :-)” that would be my limit.
After making my way round and seeing all that I wanted to see I decided I’d had enough and had to get out – but not before spending a few pence in the shop for my boys, just a keyring each, I know, I spoil them too much!
The exit out of the shop brought me onto a different street. It was busy, really busy, I don’t do really busy, but I was hungry, the pancakes had fuelled me this far, now I needed something else. I asked Siri where the nearest McDonalds was – he ignored me. I kept walking, seeing lots of restaurants but I didn’t want a restaurant, I was on a budget so a Maccies would have to suffice.
I eventually found it, it was manic but I stayed calm and got my nuggets.
While I was eating I was planning what to do next. Id found out about an RSPB place called Ham Wall where the Starling murmuration was supposed to be worth seeing so I decided that would be my target..
Having walked back to Vinnie I set off in the direction I thought I should. Now, foolishly – and I have learnt a valuable lesson here – I didn’t program Google Maps before I set off. I tried, but the there was no signal – apparently Siri hadn’t been ignoring me, he couldn’t hear me! As I was driving along I kept trying over and over again but it just wasn’t happening, I even tried stopping. I kept driving in the rough direction I’d seen it on the map though. I started to wonder if I should turn back, but that would have meant I was defeated – wasn’t going to happen. I stopped in a garage (which are few and far between in that area) hoping I could get a signal there, nope. I even drove past a huge mast/antenna thing, even that didn’t help! Blimey, how do people live down here?! I was cross with myself, why didn’t I have a map?! Trust me, I will have one in Vinnie for the next trip.
Then I saw a sign for Wookey Hole. That was my answer, my new destination, after all, it was signposted so I couldn’t miss it. I had toyed with going there anyway but the other things on my list didn’t allow the time. Well, it had been decided for me.
I got there at around 3pm. It was already damp and dreary, the car park wasn’t full, a coach was just leaving, people would have been there for most of the day – trust me, if you’ve got children, you need to take them here, there is so much to do.
The sign said to buy your ticket in the ice cream parlour so I went in there. I was told the next tour was at 3.30 and I had to make my way up the path, around a 5 minute walk, to the cave entrance. I’d been here before with my family when the boys were younger but I couldn’t believe how much it had changed. They had obviously added lots of different attractions to draw the crowds in, rather than just the caves. There was a paper mill, old amusement arcades, a new 4D show of some sort, plus lots more, inside and out. There is even a hotel!
I got to the cave entrance, there was no one else there. I whiled away the time taking photos of various things, trying to make arty shots. I was in my own little world until the lady came from nowhere and scared the life out of me! She asked me if I was there for the tour, I said yes. There was no one else there. She radioed down to the entrance asking if anyone else was coming up and disappeared while she was talking. I kind of hoped someone would show up, I thought it might be awkward if it was jus the two of us….. It was just the two of us in the end. Oh boy was I glad it was. She did the full talk, right from the beginning in Chamber one where the witch was found, telling me all the stories and legends. I just lapped it up. My own personal tour! How lucky was I?! She answered my questions, she even didn’t mind not talking while I took video of the chamber and the sound of dripping, running water. It was totally awesome.
Apparently they have weddings down there, now those photos would make for a very special wedding album.
In chamber three there was quite a bit of water, it was apparently flowing quite fast but to look at it you wouldn’t think it was moving at all. There was a rope coming up out of the water that was moving, there were apparently divers in the system somewhere, it was a regular occurrence. They even have adventure days where you can abseil down inside the caves and crawl through tunnels. Not sure I could do that but I bet it must be an amazing experience. We continued on, I think she – Sally – quite enjoyed it just being the two of us. After a while we heard voices, the last tour of the day was behind us. We eventually came across them, there were about 20 of them and English wasn’t their first language, so I felt even luckier.
Walking through a tunnel towards the end of the tour she asked me how I was with spiders….I am a complete Arachnophobic, ab-so-lute-ly terrified of them so I immediately panicked and asked her why was she asking me that?!! She said there were some cave spiders and egg sacs!! I did allow here to show me from a distance – they were huge, and on the roof of the tunnel, I tried not to think about what else I had been walking under – and to be fair to her she did it really quickly and moved on.
Sadly we had come to the end of the tour, you come out a door into the garden area you see on your way in. The river comes out of the cave and becomes a waterfall, that’s when you can see just how fast the water is moving through the caves.
It was stunning. We had a little chat and she left me on my own to take pictures, video of the water and to just take it all in. It was then I realised just how lucky I had been, to not have any signal, to see a sign to Wookey Hole and to have a personal tour, I really need to trust to fate more and just let things flow, like a river. Everything is mapped out – just let it happen, don’t stress, trust it. If I had made it to RSPB Ham Wall I wouldn’t have seen the Starlings anyway, the weather was awful.
Everything happens for a reason. I wondered what fate had in store for me tomorrow….