A Bath Proposal – Romantic Places in Bath

Valentine’s Day is only a couple of weeks away, but Bath is a perfect place for romance any time of year.

If you so happen to be visiting Bath during the Valentine weekend and are looking for romantic places to go with your loved one, and maybe even propose, we’ve a few ideas for you.

Prior Park
A popular choice including from some of our previous guests, this National Trust owned Park is so picturesque you can’t help dropping to your knees at its beauty. It was designed in the 18th Century by the poet Alexander Pope for the “builder of Bath” Richard Allen. The bridge is the piece de resistance in the wonderful woodland and is the perfect spot for a proposal or even wedding photos.

Palladian Bridge, Prior Park, Bath

 The Royal Crescent
A true labour of love by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774 this iconic sweep of honey coloured Georgian stone is a fantastic backdrop for a romantic stroll through Victoria Park. If you do decide to ask that question, you can go celebrate at the centrally set Royal Crescent Hotel.

The Royal Crescent, Bath

The Roman Baths
Another famously historic place in the city, the Roman Baths offer torchlight tours in the evenings which might just create that perfect atmosphere for you to declare your love. You can even now get married at the Baths in sunrise or sunset ceremonies.

Bath is World’s Best Health Tourism Destination

 The Little Theatre
Calling all film buffs, this gem of a 1930’s cinema just might be that special secret spot you were looking for to pop that question. You could be watching your favourite film or even arrange for your own private viewing before slipping that ring out of your pocket. To truly add to that cinema magic The Little’s two screens are also fully licensed for weddings, so you could have that Hollywood dream of a day.

little-theatre-cinema wedding

Thermae Bath Spa
A romantic relaxing break is perfect after the wilds of winter, and where better to spend some quality time with your beloved than in the warm natural mineral waters of Britain’s only natural thermal Spring Spa. You could enjoy a special treatment for two including facials, massage or their famous Watsu treatment. Relaxing in the rooftop pool as the sun sets over Bath is one of the more magical experiences you can enjoy together.

Thermae Bath Spa

Parade Gardens and Pulteney Bridge
The Parade Gardens in the city centre are often at their best in the summer time, but at any time of year, if it’s dry, you can go and enjoy a picnic in this park overlooking the river and the beautiful Pulteney Bridge. Gaze in wonder at the lovely architecture all around you before gazing in wonder into your lovers eyes. You also have the added fun of feeding each other delicious food, which you can pick up from the local farmers market or nearby delis.

Pulteney Bridge and Parade Garden

 Bath Abbey Tower Tours
If you want that feeling of being on top of the world with the person you love the most then book yourself and your partner onto a Romantic Tower Tour at Bath Abbey. Accompanied by a member of staff, this Tower Tour is just for two and you’ll be guided to the top with stunning views of the city. You’ll then be discretely left to take everything in and propose. Your guide will then return with champagne for you to toast the happy occasion.

Bath Abbey

Candlelit Dinner
It has been said that food is the language of love and in Bath you are spoilt for choice for lovely restaurants to go and enjoy a meal tete a tete. Our sister hotel, The Royal, in the centre of Bath has a very special Valentine’s dinner on Saturday 13th February. In the beautiful Parisian style Brasserie Brunel, you can enjoy a six course candlelight dinner for two with a complimentary glass of pink bubbly for only £28.50 per person. Treat your loved one with sumptuous food in a relaxed and romantic surrounding. To book simply call Tel: (+44) 1225 463134.

Valentines Candlelight Dinner 2016 Royal Hotel-page-0

Other romantic ideas include:

Hot Air Balloon Ride: Soaring above the city you can not only admire the breathtaking scenery but take your loved one’s breath away with a proposal from above. Celebrate with champagne on your trip. It will certainly be something to tell the grandkids about!

Champagne Balloon Ride Bath

The Assembly Rooms: If you can get here early before the school groups, proposing underneath the Austrian crystal chandeliers in one of the historic rooms that saw the likes of Jane Austen and Beau Nash dance the night away would be so very magical. Rooms are also licensed for weddings. Ring ahead to check room opening times and use.

Assembly Rooms Tea Room

There are so many places in the city that hold special and beautiful memories for so many people and couples. Whether you choose a small or grand gesture for your loved one, just being with them and enjoying and appreciating their company is sometimes all that’s needed.

We offer a variety of Short stay and Spa Break Packages on our website. All guests at Bailbrook Lodge enjoy complimentary champagne at breakfast, en-suite bedrooms, and use of our lounge and garden. Plus you can upgrade your room to one of our five luxurious Four Poster bedrooms. Additional items such as bottles of champagne, flowers and chocolates in your room can be arranged and paid for at time of booking. Please contact us if you have any enquiries or wish to book today. Tel: (+44) 1225 859090.

BailbrookLodgeJohnMichael

(Photos copyright: John Michael, Catherine Pitt, Martina Freijeh, plus the venues and businesses mentioned above)

New beginnings – January in Bath

With all the feast and festivities over for another year some of you will be looking at what to do in the new year. Make it a new start and come and experience Bath!

January may seem like a long month with nothing much on, but in Bath there is plenty to keep you occupied. Apart from the January sales we’ve listed below some of the events that will be happening in the city this month.

Crescent in Winter

* Bath on Ice – the Ice rink continues, along with the glow in the dark crazy golf course, up until Sunday 3rd January. Get your skates on and don’t miss it!

* Theatre Royal - Delighting children and adults alike the Bath pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, starring Nigel Havers and CBeebies Katy Ashworth, continues until Sunday 10th January

Jack and the Beanstalk

* Bath Rugby and Bath City FC – whether you like playing or watching come and enjoy some great sport at Bath Rec or Twerton Park this January. Click on the following links to find out fixtures for the rugby and the football in the city

* Holburne Museum – not only is the Holburne celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, but it’s one of the few FREE museums in the city. For a small fee you can visit their very special exhibition, running until January 24th, called “Gold”. Items are on special loan from The Royal Collection. Details of opening times and ticket prices can be found here

Holburne Tiger Gold Exhibition

* Music for Miniatures – a wonderful idea for those with babies and toddlers. Take your children along to St Swithun’s Church at the top of Walcot Street at 11.15am on Saturday 9th January, or Wednesday 13th January to enjoy classical music for children. Ticket prices apply

* Wedding belles and bells – Planning a wedding in 2016 or 2017 then The Wedding Emporium’s Bath Wedding Fayre will be for you. Hosted at the Bath Spa MacDonald Hotel on Sunday 24th January, 11am to 3pm, explore and meet people who can make your dream wedding come true

wedding flowers

* Grayson Perry in Bath – excitingly Turner Prize winning artist, Grayson Perry’s exhibition, The Vanity of Small Differences, comes to Bath this January. These six tapestries are influenced by Hogarth’s work in the 18th Century, but convey a theme that runs throughout history – that of class. On display at The Victoria Art Gallery from January 9th to 10th April 2016, cost £4

Grayson Perry Tapestry

* Thermae Bath Spa – treat yourself after all the rush of Christmas and New Year with a relaxing 2 night break in Bath with a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa. Here you can relax in the pampering hot mineral waters. Our Spa Packages offer the best deal for you, including champagne breakfast every day!

CrossBathCarJetsite

There are plenty more exhibitions and events happening in the local museums and art galleries during January, plus an ever growing list of other events that can be found on the Visit Bath website.

Looking ahead to the rest of the year we’ve listed some of the upcoming Festivals and Events that you may want to note down and start planning ahead.

– February 12th – 19th: Bath Digital Festival

– February 26th – March 6th: Bath Literature Festival

– March 13th – Bath Half Marathon

– March 27th – April 6th – Bath Comedy Festival

– April 18th – 24th: Bath in Fashion

– May 20th – 30th: Bath International Music Festival

– May 27th – June 12th: Bath Fringe Festival

– September 9th – 18th: Jane Austen Festival

With all events, accommodation nearer the date becomes more difficult, so why not book your accommodation in advance. You can take advantage too of some of the great Loyalty Card exclusive offers that we run for both The Bailbrook Lodge and The Royal Hotel.

BailbrookloyaltycardFINAL

It’s FREE to join, your details are not passed to any third parties, and you save money every time you spend too, as well as have access to some fantastic deals that ONLY Loyalty Card Members can enjoy. Details of the card can be found on the above links.

To call and book your January break away in Bath at Bailbrook Lodge, please contact us on (+44)1225 859090 or email hotel@bailbrooklodge.co.uk You can also book directly on our website where you can find further great offers

Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans. Whether you prefer yours as a flat white, black, espresso or sweet and thick Turkish style, most people on a visit to or stay in Bath like to hunt out a good coffee shop to while away some time in.

Coffee - beans

Bath is incredibly lucky to have a plethora of really good cafes, delis and coffee shops. We’ve come up with a list of 5 top coffee shops we think you should try when in the city. They are in no particular order, but are included as they are renowned for their barista skills and quality of coffee.

1) Colonna & Smalls – Chapel Row

Coffee - Colonna and Smalls Front Door

This small independent coffee shop could be easily missed, but is well worth the search for if you really REALLY love your coffee. Located just off Queen’s Square, not far from the back of the Theatre Royal, Colonna & Smalls is where true coffee alchemy happens.

Brainchild of caffeine aficionado Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood (yes, even his name sounds like he couldn’t go into any other job!), both Maxwell and his team are award winners. Maxwell himself is the UK’s No 1 Barista Champion and is ranked 5th in the World Barista Championships. His staff include a UK Latte Art Champion, UK Brewers Cup Champion and World Barista Finalist. What accolades to have.

Maxwell really knows his stuff, right down to the flavour of water used to the peak perfect temperature the milk should be in your cup, and he trains his staff to his exacting levels. Coffee here is beyond simply your regular decaff and go, this is an experience NOT to be missed.

Coffee - Colonna and Smalls

Every day there is a choice of 3 different coffee’s to try, from individual farms and farmers from all around the world. The staff chalk up tasting notes, with and without milk, on the main blackboard, and this is what you choose from. That’s it. The surprising lack of choice actually is refreshing and make’s the experience much easier and more satisfying. Don’t come in here asking for a cappuccino or caramel macchiato, this is much more of a spiritual coffee experience, paring back to coffee’s roots (or should that be beans!).

Though the coffee shop may have a cool, minimalistic feel to it that reflects the scientific nature of the brewing art here, the staff are all warm and friendly and are happy to chat coffee, Bath or whatever you fancy.

Open Daily, Monday to Sunday. Visit Website HERE for further information.

2) Society Cafe – Kingsmead Square and The Corridor

Coffee - Society Cafe Logo

Set up by Adrian and Jane Campbell-Howard, Society Cafe has recently expanded from their Kingsmead Square homeland, into a small unit in The Corridor, opposite the city’s Guildhall.

At both cafes you can while away the hours people watching while enjoying great coffee, teas and food. Both cafes have a cool edge to them, lots of stripped back wood and clean designs. There is also lots of local art for sale on the walls too.

Downstairs at Kingsmead Square children are welcome to enjoy the low tables and child friendly space that has been created, but there is plenty of room for both the tourists and workers alike. One fun feature are the chalk boards in the toilet cubicles that enable you to indulge any long held fantasy about writing on toilet walls, safe in the knowledge that it will be wiped off tomorrow!

Coffee- Society Cafe Corridor

The coffee itself comes from independent growers and co-operatives around the world, and are supplied by Radstock based Round Hill Roastery. There are daily and seasonally changing brews as well as the House blend to enjoy. Pick up a Loyalty Card too as you are bound to be back!

Open Daily, Monday to Sunday. Visit Website HERE for further information.

3) Jika Jika – Brunel Square

Coffee - Jika Jika Logo

Near the main bus and train stations, Jika Jika make the most of being a commuters stop off by offering 10% discount to anyone with a valid Train or Bus ticket.

Only 4 year’s old and located in the ever expanding Southgate Food Quarter, Jika Jika was created by Bath, England and Lion Rugby players Matt Stevens and Lee Mears.

Being a small unit, it’s best for take away, but you can enjoy the few seats both indoors and outdoors, where you can take your time over one of their coffees, and maybe even a sandwich or cake.

Coffee - Jika Jika Brunel Square

Trained baristas prepare their fresh house blend daily for you and it’s got to be good to get people coming back time and time again. The only downside is they don’t give any provenance for their coffee which may be of importance for some of you; but the reviews you find seem to imply happy customers, so worth a try.

Open Daily, Monday to Sunday. Visit Website HERE for further information.

4) Rosario’s Cafe (Formally Roscoff Deli) – Northumberland Place

Coffee - Rosarios Ext

Try a little bit of Italy in the heart of Bath!

Rosario’s Cafe, previously known as Roscoff’s Deli, is tucked away in the small side streets of central Bath, but once you find it, a warm welcome is guaranteed.

Run by Rosario Bavetta-Shaw, he aims to bring the warmth and love of good food and good coffee from his home country of Sicily to Bath.

The cafe ensures good working principles from their coffee and tea suppliers, working with The Ethical Tea Partnership and sourcing coffee beans from small co-operatives around the world. Their main house cafetiere coffee is Doi Chaang Coffee (100% Arabica Organic and FairTrade) which is sourced from a small village in Northern Thailand that they support.

Coffee - Rosarios

With delicious food and great drinks, you can while away a lot of time at Rosario’s after all that shopping in the city.

Open Daily, Monday to Sunday. Visit Website HERE for further information.

5) Jacob’s Coffee House – Abbey Courtyard

Coffee- Jacob's Coffee House Logo

Although Jacob’s is on the main tourist track of the city, underneath the archway leading up to the Abbey, it is also a great place to stop off for a lunchtime bite to eat or an afternoon coffee.

If you can’t stand the groups and gabbles of tourists nearby, then grab a take away instead and go enjoy in the peace of one of the nearby parks. The seating inside is limited, but is cosy and relaxing if you do find yourself in need of a comfortable place to rest your legs.

Fresh local food is available to enjoy along with your coffee or other choice of drinks. For those who want to know about the coffee, then Jacob’s coffee supplier is Easy Jose, a local speciality coffee supplier, who obtains his beans from small sustainable sources around the world.

Coffee - Jacob's Coffee House

They have a seasonal house blend available, plus a speciality guest coffee of single origin too.

If you’re looking for a great setting to enjoy your coffee, then right near the Abbey and Roman Baths couldn’t be much better!

Open Daily, Monday to Sunday. Visit Website HERE for further information.

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There are plenty of other Coffee Shops to enjoy in the city. Everyone has their favourites, even of the chains, here are a few more places to try:

* Coffee House 76, Dorothy House Hospice Care Charity Shop – Bridge Street

* Mokoko – Dorchester Street

* Java Coffee House – James Street West

* Boston Tea Party – Kingsmead Square

If that wasn’t enough, guests at Bailbrook Lodge enjoy waking up every day to freshly ground coffee prepared via a cafetiere in your room or at breakfast, of our very own coffee, supplied by Miko Coffee. Miko are a family run company that are one of the oldest coffee roasters in the world, starting out in 1801. Based in Belgium, they supply Michelin-starred restaurants, clubs, exhibition centres, cafe’s and of course hotels such as us.

Coffee - Bailbrook Lodge

However you enjoy your coffee, rest assured, you are guaranteed to get your caffeine fix here in Bath!

 

Focus on Bath – Ghostly Goings On!

Many of us love a good ghost story. Perhaps you too recall from childhood being on a sleep-over, or Scout Camp, and huddled around late at night, not daring to breathe, while someone (whether it was your brother or a friend) spoke in hushed tones of some spooky happenings nearby or within the very house you were in!

Beware of house prices that go bump in the night.

Whether you believe in them or not, tales of unexplained things seen or heard have been around for a long time. With Bath having a history dating over a thousand years, it’s no surprise there aren’t a tale or two floating around.

As Hallowe’en approaches, we thought we’d invite you to huddle up around a log fire, or in a darkened room, and as you’re sitting comfortably we’d like to tell you about some of the alleged haunted sites in the city…starting with this very Bed and Breakfast!

Bailbrook Lodge

Bailbrook Lodge dates to 1811 and has been used over the years as a family home, part of the accommodation for a Nursing College, and as the Guest House it is today; but it’s a mystery as to why it is only Room 24, the Jane Austen Suite, that is haunted.

Both housekeeping and guests have reported doors mysteriously slamming, objects going missing and then re-appearing later in another location, plus hands have been felt to touch or stroke the necks or arms of those within the room.

Bailbrook_0181_reduced

The most recent report was from this month. After guests leave, a room is cleaned and all electrical items are switched off at the sockets, including the Televisions.  The suite was empty for 3 days, and when one of our housekeeping staff, Becky, went in to check and clean the room before new arrivals came, she found the television to be mysteriously switched on!

The Theatre Royal

This building is in fact the second on the site, the first Theatre on this site having been built in 1805 but burning down in 1862. It appears however that this did not deter a spirit, who appears as a “Grey Lady” and can sometimes be seen in the theatre boxes or moving diagonally passing through the rows of seats.

She has been spotted by various actors and actresses over the years including the ballerina Anna Pavlova and actress Dame Anna Neagle.

TheatreRoyal

It also appears she enjoys a visit to the pub next door – The Garrick’s Head too. So watch out when you’re next having a pre-theatre drink in the bar, in case you are joined by a spirit not of the alcoholic variety!

Gravel Walk

Situated between Royal Victoria Park and the city centre, this pleasant promenade is transformed when darkness falls to a rather gloomy and atmospheric pathway.

Here it is alleged a 19th Century well dressed gentleman enjoys to haunt. He has been seen brushing past, or even walking through, walkers on the path. He has been described as dressed smartly in grey with a large hat from which white hair protrudes.

GravelWalk

One lady was walking to work on her own along this route and described how she felt aware of someone following close behind, but could not hear footsteps crunching on the gravel. She soon became aware of a figure behind her of this man who then suddenly walked straight through her and naturally scaring her in the process!

Apparently where the path dips on Gravel Walk, this spot was where judicial hangings used to take place, long ago in the past. Perhaps this man has chosen to hang around a little bit too long!

The Assembly Rooms

At the very top of Bartlett Street stands the beautiful 18th Century Assembly Rooms. Where once Jane Austen danced and Charles Dickens spoke, today it is a building owned by the National Trust and houses The Fashion Museum.

Having personally worked here in this historic building your author has heard many chilling tales from staff on site.

Not only is there supposed to be a ghostly figure of a man in a black hat and cloak that appears under a lampost near the top of the street outside the Rooms, but there are also, according to the rumours, to be many more actually inside the venue.

AssemblyRoomsRowlandson

It was always a pleasant feeling working in the upstairs rooms, but downstairs in the Museum, especially when closing up at night, the atmosphere never felt quite right. Talking to security staff who patrolled late at night and also had to clean out of hours, some unexplained things went on.

One young security guard told me that one evening when he was alone hoovering in the central exhibition gallery downstairs, the hoover kept stopping. Whenever he went to look he saw that the plug had been pulled firmly out of the socket. Pushing the plug firmly back in he resumed his work, but again it happened. He checked that there was enough slack on the hoover’s lead, and there was, and he looked to check that he was alone, and again he was; but it just kept on happening every time he pushed the plug back in. He said strangely it only happened when he was working in that gallery, no where else in the museum.

FashionMuseum

Another guard told me of the “White Lady” that is said to haunt the historic ground floor rooms. On walking around late at night he went to look upstairs in the minstrel galleries (where musicians would once play), and on coming from the Octagon Room gallery walking back down the narrow staircase he was suddenly passed by a lady wearing a large white dress who disappeared down the stairs. She has also been seen gliding across from the Ball room to the Tea room. She has been described as wearing a ballgown of 18th Century appearance. Perhaps she enjoyed dancing so much at the Rooms she remains forever the party animal!

Abbey Green and The Crystal Palace Pub

Not too far from Bath Abbey is the lovely secluded spot of Abbey Green. Surrounded by shops and a pub, this area was originally part of the Abbey’s monastic complex before the Dissolution of the Monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 16th Century.

Abbey Green Bath

With such religious connections it should come as no surprise that a hooded monk has been seen wandering the area. It is particularly associated with The Crystal Palace pub which is situated in this area. Perhaps like the Theatre Royal’s “Grey Lady”, it too enjoys a spirit or two! Apparently he does like to make glasses rattle in the pub, so maybe he’s just trying to get the barmaid’s attention!

There are many more spooky tales to tell about Ghosts in the city of Bath..and many more to come we are sure.

If you have your own experiences of ghosts in the city, then do not hesitate to get in touch on our Facebook page.

If you want to book a night in our haunted Suite, then you can call us on (+44)1225 859090 and ask for Room 24. Four Poster rooms with Breakfast start from only £109 per room per night. Double rooms from £89.00 per room per night B&B.

Happy Hallowe’en everyone; and remember…don’t have nightmares!

HappyHalloween

 

 

Festivals of Bath – Jane Austen Festival 2015

Jane Austen is BIG in Bath. Wherever you go there’s some reference to the writer and if you love the two books she set in the city (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) then you’ll also be aware of many sights that would have been familiar to Jane, even now.

Free Smartphone App Available for Jane Austen Fans

Jane Austen portrait

Austen has more connections with the city than you may first think. Her mother, Cassandra Leigh was from a well-known Bath family, and when she married the Reverend George Austen, she did so at St Swithun’s Church, Walcot, Bath in 1764 (and where George was later buried).

Though Austen herself had grown up in Hampshire (born 1775 – the same year that the Royal Crescent in Bath was completed), the family visited her mother’s relations in the city, firstly in 1799, when they stayed in Queen’s Square.

Queen Square, Bath

Queen Square, Bath

It is widely recorded that Jane didn’t think much of Bath personally, but this was, in my opinion, because of two important incidents in her life. Firstly, her father’s decision to up and move them away from the familiar surroundings of Steventon into the bustling city was probably quite a wrench for a country girl like Jane. It’s one thing to visit a city, another to live there. Secondly, it was in Bath that her father sadly passed away in 1805 leaving the family in dire straits. No wonder Jane did not view Bath as pleasingly as the many visitors to the city regard it today.

However much Jane herself disliked the city, she evokes late 18th and early 19th Century life here, with much colour and vivacity. It is for this she is remembered in Bath and is the reason for the wonderful Jane Austen Festival that takes place annually.

jane-austen-festival-logo

This year’s festival occurs from Friday 11th September until Sunday 20th September and is ten days packed full of Regency fun and activities.

You can enjoy walking tours, coach trips and workshops to learn to dance, play the harp or even create your own bonnet. Recitals, film shows, plays and a Festival Fayre are all to look forward to as well. From breakfast until dinner there is something on for all you Austen fans.

Grand Regency Promenade

Grand Regency Promenade

The most famous part of the Jane Austen Festival is the spectacular Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, that starts from 11am at the Assembly Rooms on Saturday 12th September, and wends its way through the city. Hear the drummers and pipers play and watch the ladies and gentlemen of fashion promenade through the streets as they once did 200 years ago.

Last year’s Grand Promenade actually broke the Guinness World Record for most Regency costumed participants – 550 in total walking through Bath. What a sight! You too can join in if you want to. Participants must sign up and pay £10 (which goes towards the Festival’s Charity), plus bring their own costume to wear. All entrants must begin assembling at 10.30am outside the Assembly Rooms. The Promenade begins at 11am sharp, and you don’t want to be late!

janeaustenfestdancing

Of course you can still walk about and enjoy the city Jane Austen knew at any time of year. Immerse yourself in her world at The Jane Austen Museum in Gay Street, a street where she once actually lived. You can also walk around to other locations where she and her family once resided, such as on The Paragon at the home of her aunt and uncle, the Leigh-Perrot’s. You can see the plaque to Jane at the house she lived in for three years at Sydney Place, and step into the ballroom at the stunning Assembly Rooms where she once danced.

Bath Assembly Rooms - Tea Room

Bath Assembly Rooms – Tea Room

If you’re looking for accommodation for this year’s Jane Austen Festival, then hurry and book your room soon. Many of our guests book year upon year to stay at The Bailbrook Lodge, and you can understand why when they can enjoy an historic setting (alas we are a few years out to have been known by Jane but we are still an early 19th Century Grade II listed building), beautiful garden, FREE parking, en-suite rooms and a delicious home cooked breakfast every day, accompanied by champagne!

BailbrookLodgeJohnMichael

Prices start from as little as £89.00 per room per night, with free parking and champagne breakfast. You can upgrade your room to one of our Four Poster luxury bedrooms from as little as £20 per night, simply ask at the time of booking.

Call us today on 01225 859090 or book via our website for the best deals online. We look forward to welcoming you to Bath and for the Jane Austen Festival 2015.

JaneAustenFestgroup

Summer Holidays

“School’s out for Summer!” as Alice Cooper once sang, but one thing Cooper hadn’t thought of was how to keep the kids occupied during those long six weeks.

Schools-out-for-summer

Well, fear not, we’ve come up with a few different ideas for all the family to enjoy on a trip to Bath this summer holidays. Here’s some of our top picks.

* Mamma Mia by Moonlight – in aid of the Forever Friends Appeal at the R.U.H., this annual outdoors film showing is a popular and fun event that everyone can enjoy. With this year’s film being the huge hit – Mamma Mia (PG). This fun filled film about a girl seeking her real father, set on the beautiful Greek islands, uses the soundtrack of the fantastic music of ABBA. There will be plenty of opportunity for you all to dance and sing along while you are watching. Bring a rug, picnic, and of course your friends!  [Sunday August 30th, 8.30pm, FREE , Victoria Park]

MammaMia Movie

* Italian Job Stunt Show – watch the thrill and excitement of that beloved of British cars, the Mini, race around the track at Haynes International Motor Museum. Russ Swift returns with his Mini Stunt Show this summer to wow the crowds with spectacular driving and daring stunts. Swift has travelled the world with his displays, and holds three Guinness World Records for his driving prowess. [Wednesday August 26th, All Day, ADMISSION CHARGE, Yeovil]

Italian_Job_Stunt_Show2

* Cock & Bull Festival – With The Correspondents headlining this year’s festival, the Cock & Bull Fest at Jamie’s Farm, near Bath, is now in its fourth rocking year! With tents filled with live music, cookery demonstrations, workshops for everything from costume making to wood carving, lively debates and talks, plus plenty of holistic activities to enjoy, this family fun festival is a hidden secret in the heart of the countryside. [Friday 24th to Sunday 26th July, Weekend, ADMISSION CHARGE – FROM £30, Ditteridge]

CockandBullFest

* Shakespeare in the Garden – revel in the genius of Shakespeare in an unlikely setting – a pub beer garden! At The Boater pub in the heart of the city, you can watch Permanently Bard perform the classic tragic love story, Romeo & Juliet. Apart from quaffing tankards of ale (soft drinks for the little ones!) during the play, the pub is also bringing back ye olde Elizabethan food baskets for you to tuck into. [Monday 3rd and Tuesday 4th August, 7.30pm, TICKETS FROM £12.50, Argyle Street]

ShakespeareatTheBoater

* Medieval Food, Feasting & Fun – for something a little bit different this school holidays, why not head along to Ora Et Labora, set within what would have been the Medieval Abbey’s cloisters. Here children can enjoy fun activities such as pebble painting, candle making, brass rubbing or trying their hand at quill and ink. There are also free medieval city trails that you can pick up here. Follow the clues and claim your prize! For adults, you can enjoy mead tastings, after which the whole family can sit down and enjoy a medieval sample platter. [Children’s Activities, every MONDAY, 20th July to 31st August. Family Lunch Platters, every Wednesday 12-2pm. CHARGE. Booking Recommended. Church Street]

MedievalFunatOraEtLabora

* Falconry Handling and Lunch – Enjoy an afternoon of handling birds of prey in the stunning setting of Ston Easton Park, near Bath. After a delicious lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, you then settle down to learn about the majestic birds of prey that you will soon be handling and watching being flown. You’ll be tasked with setting a hawk to flight, and experience the thrill of it returning to your outstretched glove. Everyone will also be treated to a spectacular flying display by different birds of prey. A day you won’t forget in a hurry. [Thursday August 20th, 12pm, PRICES FROM £29.50 (inc lunch), Ston Easton]

Falcon

* Children’s Afternoon Tea – don’t leave the children out when you want to have a break and a cuppa! At the stunning Pump Rooms in Bath, children can enjoy their own Afternoon Tea alongside the grown up version. Served on a tiered stand, they can enjoy either a cheese or ham sandwich, chocolate cupcake with sweets, plus a jelly shot. To drink they can have apple juice or hot chocolate.[Throughout July and August, FROM £7.95, BOOKING ESSENTIAL . Next to Bath Abbey]

family-afternoon-tea-bath

There are of course the regular Summer Holiday Children’s Activities at the many Museums and Galleries throughout the city, including at The Holburne Museum, The Roman Baths and at The American Museum. Bath will also welcome back the many musicians and singers to the annual Folk Festival (8th to 16th August) which will take place at various venues throughout the city.

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After a few weeks keeping the children occupied, don’t forget to give yourself some down time as well! Why not book one of our fantastic Spa Breaks, from only £125pp, and enjoy not only 2 nights of sleep in one of our comfortable en-suite bedrooms but also enjoy a champagne breakfast every day, and a visit to the Thermae Bath Spa where you can relax in those warming spring waters. The Spa has many treatments you can add on to your Spa experience, so you can really truly relax away from the kids! And don’t worry; if you’ve had to bring the little ones with you, remember you can book a Norland Nanny to come look after them at Bailbrook Lodge, while you enjoy your pampering.

For further information about What’s On this Summer Holidays, please take a look here.

(Please note all information and prices were correct as at time of writing. Please check with all businesses for details and to book)

Finding the perfect gift for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is nearly upon us (Sunday, 21st June if you didn’t realise), and we thought we’d help you out and do some of the hard work for you in trying to find a gift for that important man in your life – your dad.

Bath isn’t just about the ladies’ shops, there are also a vast number of shops perfect for men in the city; the majority of which are independently run and have some great goods that could be perfect for dad this June.

For the book lover, may we suggest taking a stroll towards Bath Spa Train Station and popping into the wonder and delight that is George Bayntun’s on Manvers Street. Here in this wonderful bookshop and bindery you’ll find some great reading material that any dad would love to own.

With the new James Bond movie, Spectre, due for release this year, let dad settle down with one of the classic Ian Fleming’ stories. The Man with the Golden Gun (First Edition) is £295, Dr No  is £35, and You Only Live Twice (First Edition) is £175.

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If he remembers the boy’s own hero of James “Biggles” Bigglesworth from the 1950s and 1960s then Bayntun’s sell a selection of these novels, priced from only £5. Whereas if his humour is a bit more off the wall, they have a Spike Milligan First Edition set for £450.

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Finally, if you want to treat him to his very own leather bound and hand tooled in house copy of William Golding’s , Lord of the Flies, so he can re-read as a “big-un” the adventures of Piggy and Ralph, then you can splash out £1,200 on such a treat.

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There are plenty more books, as well as maps and prints, for all price ranges, available at Bayntun’s, and the staff will be happy to show you more if your father has specific tastes or authors works he collects.

For the man who likes something a little quirky and different, head to Ora Et Labora near the Abbey, where you’ll find a plethora of goods made by monastic communities around the world. New in are these fantastic drinking horns, made out of Highland cattle and Deer horn. Some are highly polished, others are in a more natural state, but all are beautiful to behold and come included with horn holder. Prices start from £34.

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You can also pick up something to fill the horn while you’re here. The perfect match for a medieval drinking horn is some monastic beer. There is a gift set from Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire, containing 2 beers and a glass for £12.50, or maybe some Belgian Trappist beer. The Chimay gift packs cost £15 for 3 bottles.

If drinking tastes are a little different, then Cornish mead gift packs are available at £17.50 or dad can enjoy a Cider pack for £17.50 which includes 2 glasses and a large 75cl bottle of cider.

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To ensure he doesn’t go hungry, Ora et Labora currently are running a special cheese and preserve offer, whereby if you purchase 2 of their fantastic cheeses you will also get a fig and orange preserve, all for only £20.00.

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If your father is more of an inscriber than an imbiber, then these beautifully handcrafted Italian leather journals and wallets may be more for him. Wallets start from £22 each and from £25 for journals.

Not every chap these days is seen sporting the smoking look, but Frederick Tranter‘s Havana House, opposite Ora et Labora, is the ultimate mecca for those who still like to partake in the occasional puff. They sell a myriad of tobacco types for hand rolling, fine cigars and their accoutrements, plus pipes and snuff too.

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For the whisky connoisseur you can’t go too wrong with checking out the fine selection that Independent Spirit have tucked away in their back room. Carefully selected by Chris and Christian, these boys really know their stuff, and recommend a rather tasty limited edition single Malt from Craigellachie distillery as a special Father’s Day treat. Only 725 bottles of this 8 year old Carn Mor whisky has been produced, and at the fantastic price of £38.95 it’s perfect for the whisky lover.

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Independent Spirit also recommend Scallywagg and Timorous Beastie as unusual tipples for dad this Father’s Day (£45.95 and £43.95 respectively).

If dad’s not a whisky man, then maybe something different.  Forget about Mother’s Ruin and make it Father’s Fancy with this rather funky bottle of Daffy’s Gin, retailing at £36.95 in the shop. There is also a huge selection of beers, beer gift packs, wines and other delights just waiting for you in their shop of whistle wetting wonders, so stop on by to see what they have.

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If you want to sober up the occasion, and dad fancies himself more as a Brian May rather than a James May, then head on over to Queen Street, where you will find Vintage & Rare Guitars. Over two floors of 20 different brands, spanning at least sixty years, you will surely find your dad’s stairway to heaven! Prices start from a few hundred up to many thousands.

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If retro knick knacks and accessories are more appealing as a gift, make your way to Bloomsbury on New Bond Street where you will find cufflinks, luggage tags, notebooks, mugs and toiletries, perfect for your pappa.

If you think he’d like to relive his days as a Cub Scout, then perhaps the Victorinox Climber Swiss Army Knife (£37) would be a great idea. However, if he’s more the suited and booted type then Bloomsbury have some wonderful quirky cufflinks in store, such as Paul Smith Rugby ball links (£85).

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Send him off to work with his very own Gentlemen’s Hardware Lunch Tin (£15.95), and maybe slip him a cheeky hip flask, like the Ted Baker Stag Hip Flask (£27.95). There are plenty more fun and fancy gifts to be found in the Bloomsbury store, just ask the friendly staff.

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If your designer dad enjoys the finer things in life but your budget doesn’t quite stretch as far as “off the peg”, then look no further than the fantastic Grace & Ted. Located in Kingsmead Square, this stunning boutique is not just for the girls. It has a men’s section crammed full of designer shirts, jeans, suits and shoes, all at fantastic prices. Everything is pre-loved, so prices on these designer items are more affordable. Some aren’t even pre-worn so you really can grab a bargain… but “shhh”, don’t tell dad!

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Accessories galore can also be found here, from cufflinks to cravats, but the lovely ladies behind Grace&Ted pulled out these two rather dapper summer essentials for preening pops – a Prada holdall (£350) and Prada sunglasses (£60). Now who’s the Daddy?

For your rugby loving father, why not buy him a ticket to the Bath RFC’s 150th Anniversary Festival taking place at Lambridge Training Ground on Saturday 27th June. There’s going to be a Bath Ales beer tent, BBQ and hog roast, games, and a Great British Bake Off style cake competition. Plus a West country celebration wouldn’t be the same without a bit of west country music, and there will be live bands, including The Mangled Wurzels. Early bird tickets are only £7 per adult (Family Ticket of 2 adults and 2 children is £20).

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Finally, for those foodie fathers, what better way to treat him this Father’s Day than to a delicious homemade Sunday roast. With three meats to select from, served with vegetables and all the trimmings, and at only £8.95 a head, the roast at the Brasserie Brunel, located in the centre of Bath, is the perfect choice. But be quick and book your table before they get filled up, on (+44) 1225 463134.

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If you fancy treating him to a meal out during the week, then Loyalty Card holders (both from here at Bailbrook Lodge, and at The Royal Hotel) can enjoy a fantastic Steak & Wine deal at the Brasserie Brunel, during June, exclusive to card holders. You can pick up your Loyalty Card for free from either hotel, or you can complete the form online. You can start saving money as soon as you use it too, so not only do you save the pennies but you also access some fantastic exclusive offers!

So, if you’ve been rubbing your head wondering what to get dad this year, then maybe try something different than the usual socks and aftershave and treat him to a gift from one of the many splendid independent shops that we have in Bath.

Wishing every dad, a very Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

Focus on Bath – Thermae Bath Spa

You can’t avoid water in Bath. Even its name implies the liquid! The name of the “Avon”, the river that flows through the city, actually means “River”, the station is called “Bath Spa”, the Roman Baths have been designated the 29th most popular UK Visitor Attraction 2015 (according to Visit Britain) and the Romans originally named the settlement Aquae Sulis – meaning the waters of Sulis. So, naturally when the council were considering ways to celebrate the Millennium in 2000, a water theme was a natural choice.

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Until the late 1970s the public could still swim in the natural spring waters, just as their forebears had done for over 1,000 years. After the baths were closed due to the tragic death of a child from a strain of bacteria found in the waters, the idea of re-opening them was mooted over the decades. Over 1 million litres of water flow from the natural springs every day, and none of it was being utilised until the Bath Spa Project began looking at creating a new bath complex for the year 2000.

In the 1980s the Thermal Research Project had drilled down and found a supply of clean water that could be used, kickstarting interest again. In fact, the Thermae Bath Spa draws water from three springs – the King’s Spring under Stall Street, the Cross Bath, and the Hetling Spring.

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As the project took longer than expected and was over budget, it wasn’t until 2006 that the Thermae Bath Spa opened its doors. It was worth the wait and the £40 million cost.

Designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners (architects of The Eden Project in Cornwall, Pulkovo Airport in Russia, and Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia) they have used a mix of natural Bath stone (from local Limpley Stoke quarries) and glass, wrapping around the historic baths already on the site, and incorporating them sympathetically into the structure.

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With the 10 year anniversary of its opening only a year away, and having never personally experienced the baths, it was a real treat to go to the Thermae Bath Spa and enjoy what thousands of tourists and locals have for the past nine years.

Starting my tour, I began at the separate Cross Bath, which can be seen at the end of Bath Street. This Grade I listed building, built in 1789 by Thomas Baldwin, lies on the site of an original medieval bath. In fact, underneath the current pool is the original pool floor. When designing the new Spa the architects were up against strict historic protection orders, but despite these limitations they have been able to blend in modern facilities without one really noticing. Glass panels disappear into cracks that were already in the stone work, and where the original changing area was, doors and a roof have been added.

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The Cross Bath is directly fed by its own spring which can be seen naturally bubbling up into a water feature especially created a the edge of the pool. The water is not pumped up and is a constant 46oC, but through filtration the water is cooled to 35oC so that it is more pleasant to bathe in. This bath is hired separately from the main baths and is great if you want to have exclusive use of the spring waters and a private bathing area.

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Walking from the Cross Bath to the main entrance of the Thermae Bath Spa you are faced with a wall of glass, but to the side you have the magnificent Hot Bath building and Number eight Bath Street. Number eight can be easily recognised as it’s a small 3 storey town house with 2 statues above the front door. Their heads are missing, but the statues are said to represent King Edgar, the first King of England who was crowned here in Bath in 973AD, and another King, possibly Osric or Bladud. These statues came from the original 17th Century Guildhall.

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Entering the Spa you are welcomed by friendly staff and given an electronic wrist band which allows you to enter and exit the complex. It also controls your locker and can be used in the restaurant to add food and drink to your bill. Here you are also handed a towel, a robe and slippers to use inside.

Interestingly the locker rooms are on a completely separate level to the shower rooms and baths, but it does mean that no one is walking dirty shoes through the shower room areas. The complex in fact is kept clean and tidy by a plethora of staff who quietly go about their duties seamlessly.

A tip on using the lockers – although there are instructions on how to use, I did find it helped to hold your locker shut and then press the wristband against the electronic pad for as long as needed until the display flashes that the locker is shut. It’s very easy to remove your wristband too quickly and find the locker has popped open again.

Although the toilets are segregated, be aware that the changing rooms and shower rooms at the Spa are communal, but I found everyone was very discreet. There are private changing booths you can use to get changed in as well.

The varying levels and facilities are accessed by stairs, ramps or lifts, and everything is signposted clearly. I still found myself making a wrong turn here and there, but there were plenty of staff about to ask.

The main thing that surprised me was the lack of noise. Children under 16 years old are not permitted in the Spa, and I soon found myself relaxing into the peace and tranquility of the setting. This certainly contrasts with the streets teeming with tourists and school groups outside!

It is also odd wandering everywhere wearing just a swimming costume and robe, but then you soon realise that everyone else is the same, and you forget about it quickly. In fact it soon becomes strange when you see someone, like a member of staff, fully dressed!

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The first bath you come to is the large Minerva pool (named after the Goddess Minerva whose bronze head was discovered in the 18th Century on the site of a Roman Temple dedicated to her in nearby Stall Street). For those of you who may have learnt to swim here many years ago, this is the site of the old 1920s Beau Street swimming baths. Today, the Minerva pool is a wonderful and tranquil mix of wood, stone and glass. Four large white pillars hold up a Bath stone cube, but you don’t feel oppressed by it. In fact the surrounding glass adds a vastness to the pool area, and it feels light and airy.

Stepping into the spring waters for the first time you’re enveloped by the pleasant warmth, and you instantly begin to feel relaxed. The waters here are a few degrees lower than the Cross Bath outside, but remain a constant 33.5oC.

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After the initial warmth, I was struck also by the lack of smell. Having tasted the waters in the Pump Room, I know that sulphur is a component of Bath Spa water. However, it appears that this mineral has been filtered out (along with Iron), or certainly the smell had. The filtration process ensures that there are no bacteria build ups, and the waters still contain over 40 naturally occurring minerals, even after filtration.

Remember this is not a swimming pool as such. Relaxation is the aim of these baths, not doing lengths. Most people were using foam rollers to aid their floatation, and there was a delightful current that gently swept bathers along behind the Jacuzzi area. You could also enjoy an invigorating jet stream of water that shot out intermittently, like a giant waterfall. This was great for pummelling away knots in your shoulders and neck if you stood underneath it.

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Through a glass wall adjacent to the Minerva bath you can enter the treatment room area and the Hot Bath. The Hot Bath was built around 1777 by John Wood the Younger, and adapted by G P Manners in 1831. It is used for the Spa’s signature treatment – Watsu, or water shiatsu. This treatment is for a maximum of two people at a time, and looked wonderfully relaxing.

The twelve treatment rooms surrounding this bath offer a range of massages, facials, body wraps and other treatments to further add to your pampering experience; but must be booked in advance of your visit.

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Moving up a floor I entered the Steam Room and Waterfall area. A wall of steam met me as a I opened the double doors and entered the large room. It looked like the Transporter room from Star Trek, with four separate glass walled pods situated around a central shower area. However, instead of beaming people up, this was where water cascaded down on the public at varying speeds and temperatures after their turn in the steam room pods.

The essences used in the steam rooms vary regularly and seasonally. While I was there I enjoyed cleansing Euco Menthol, Lemongrass and Ginger, Sandalwood, and the fragrant Lotus Flower. The stone benches inside the pods can be hot to sit on, but you don’t have to spend too long in each room to feel the benefits on your skin and in your lungs.

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After the steam rooms you could either wander around on the terrace outside, relaxing on the wicker chairs and loungers, or you can make your way up to the final bath, the spectacular roof top pool! From here you can view Bath from a totally different perspective. Protected by other buildings the Thermae Bath Spa is quite hidden from view, yet from it you can view the rooftops of the city, look into nearby courtyards, stare at the pinnacles of Bath Abbey, and observe the green hills of the surrounding countryside. Stepping once again into the warm waters this pool, like the Minerva pool, contains neck massage jets, air benches to sit on, and a bubbling Jacuzzi area.

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The roof top pool was the busiest pool, unsurprisingly. But it didn’t distract from the relaxing experience. However, if you want to avoid the main crowds it is best to get here as soon as the Spa opens, or enjoy the rooftop terrace at twilight. It is not always possible when on holiday to avoid weekends, but Tuesdays and Wednesdays are often quieter too, and would be a better time to head here.

It was surprising how so much relaxing can build up an appetite. After I had changed I chose to sample the delights of the Springs Cafe Restaurant, located on the first floor of the Spa. Many people were still in their robes while dining, so you can choose whether you change beforehand. This room was light and fresh with some great contemporary chandeliers and art work that blended in and matched the overall Spa theme of curves, water and light.

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On the menu was a seasonal selection of light bites, sandwiches, as well as main meals and desserts; plus a vast array of drinks. You could choose from cleansing smoothies to decadent champagne, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

To start with I chose some warm foccacia bread with cream cheese, followed by mushroom pasta which was not overly creamy and had big tubes of rigatoni pasta. A refreshing glass of champagne pepped me up, while I also sampled one of the Spa’s fresh fruit smoothies. When you’re bathing you forget that the combined heat and minerals will dehydrate you. There are plenty of water fountains you can drink from on all levels in the Spa, but it was good to top up in the restaurant as well.

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Being too full for pudding, even though the homemade cakes looked very tempting, I opted to end the meal with a hot chocolate. This came served to me with a bit size sample of sticky toffee pudding that just rounded the meal off perfectly.

Stumbling back into the bright sunshine after my wonderful relax and lunch, I took a walk over to the Hetling Pump Rooms, directly opposite the main Spa complex and to the left of the Cross Bath. Here, in another historic building, this time dating to 1718, there is a small exhibition about the history of the springs, the history of bathing, details about the original baths, as well as the Thermae Bath Spa project. This exhibition is free, but you can also pay to use a hand set (cost £10) to listen to further information or to listen in another language.

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Around the corner from the museum, within the same building, is the main Spa shop. Here you can purchase some of the products used in the treatments at the Spa, along with small souvenirs of Bath. The staff in here were very helpful and great at recommending products for all sorts of requirements – from skin problems to insomnia.

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The Thermae Bath Spa is more than just a series of baths, is is an all round experience. Whether you choose to just enjoy the waters, or add a treatment and dining on top, you will certainly come out feeling calmer and more relaxed.

Although the Spa cannot advocate that the minerals will help or heal any medical issues, the general ambiance and warmth of the waters certainly creates an holistic experience, and I certainly found that I slept well that night!

Bath can truly live up to its name again with the Thermae Bath Spa at its heart.

Spa Breaks are available from Bailbrook Lodge from only £125 per person, for 2 nights bed and champagne breakfast, and includes a 2 or 3 hour visit to the Thermae Bath Spa, PLUS a 3 course lunch or early evening dinner at Brasserie Brunel in the heart of Bath.

For further information about our Spa breaks, incuding upgrades to Four Poster bedrooms, please call us on (+44)1225 859090 or email hotel@bailbrooklodge.co.uk

With many thanks to Charlotte Hanna and Thermae Bath Spa. Images courtesy of and copyright of Thermae Bath Spa, and Catherine Pitt.

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Musical May – Bath International Music Festival

Established in 1948, Bath International Music Festival is now in its 67th year and stronger than ever. This year it runs from Friday 15th May to Tuesday 26th May.

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The popular festival, sees the city come alive with music from nearly 2000 performers over its 12 day run. From classical, jazz, folk and world music, musicians and orchestras congregate on Bath from all around the world.

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The Festival kicks off with the well loved Party in the City with an opening procession and free music throughout the evening over 43 venues, plus out and about on the streets of Bath. It’s not to be missed. Enjoy street performers, gospel choirs, and even an 8 metre long Disco dancing Turtle! You can even sample some unusual drinks while the music plays, as Ora Et Labora are inviting you to discover the wonderful honey drink of Mead with their specially created Mead cocktails during Party in the City.

Once again the Party is joined by the fantastic Museums at Night celebrations, when many of the city’s popular Museums are open after hours for exploration and special exhibitions and talks.

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The fun doesn’t just stop after Friday. You don’t have to have tickets to events to enjoy Bath International Music Festival as there will be free music on the Bandstand in the Parade Gardens the weekend of 16th and 17th May. Plus, a free family Music Day on Sunday 24th May.

We can’t wait to see the city buzzing and alive with all that music!

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To ensure you have your accommodation sorted during the Bath Music Festival, please call us on 01225 859090. The best deals are obtained direct with the hotel, so please call us, book directly via our website, or email us at hotel@bailbrooklodge.co.uk

Focus on Bath – The Norland Nannies

You may have seen some of the pupils of this College walking to and from the main premises along London Road. Wrapped up in their wool and cashmere brown coats, with their hats perched on their heads, gloves on and laced up brown shoes, they are a distinctive sight in Bath.

It’s tempting not to make comparisons with children’s film favourites Nanny McPhee or Mary Poppins. In fact there are distinct similarities in what they wear – with Julie Andrews’ hat and gloves, and Emma Thompson’s sensible shoes. However, there is more than something magical about these people. These are the impeccably trained Norland Nannies, considered the best in the business.

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These nannies expect the unexpected and are prepared for all different circumstances when it comes to Early Years childcare. Norland’s motto is “Love Never Faileth” but after you’ve read this article, probably Lord Baden Powell’s motto for the Scout and Guiding movement, “Be Prepared,” is a more fitting phrase for the hard working Norland Nannies.

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It may feel as if Norland College has been in Bath for decades. It certainly seems as if the Norland Nannies are part of the fabric of the city. However, it may surprise you to know that Norland College only moved to Bath in 2003 having previously been located at Denford Park, Berkshire, and before that, in and around London.

Their main premises today are located in what was once the home of Prince Frederick, Duke of York, second son to King George III. It is a Grade II listed building, and as with a listed building, the planning restrictions in place mean it retains its quirky nature despite its modern use. Thus, the narrow staircases and basement servant rooms still remain, but every space has been utilised efficiently and to its full potential by the college.

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The property is actually larger than it looks, with the arched cellar space used for practical activities such as nappy changing, and creating children’s activities. The College also rent office space across the road for their sewing classes, and use St Mark’s School’s kitchen for Home Economic lessons.

Norland College was the brainchild of a lady called Emily Ward in the 19th Century, who recognised the need for formally qualified nannies. Prior to this, childcare was the responsibility of “untutored” housemaids, or governesses. Ward chose to set up her training school in premises at Norland Place, London, in 1892 and soon the School became known by the moniker “Norland College”.

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The location may have changed over the years, but the principles behind the training of Norland Nannies remain firmly based on the principles of Froeble. Friedrich Froeble (1782-1952) was a German educator who recognised that the first learning experiences of children can influence their own personal development both mentally and physically, as well as impacting on society as a whole.

Froeble was considered a radical, but despite opposition from his own government he set up the first kindergartens in his country which involved play, games and the natural world. His ideas soon spread with the first English kindergarten opening in London in the 1850s. Emily Ward was an advocate of Froeble’s ideas, and thus it became part of the foundation of Norland’s teachings.

Norland College believes every child is unique in its needs and capabilities and thus at the College the nannies are trained to adapt their practice in line with the family they are working for. They learn how to be prepared, to be able to adapt and be flexible, to ever changing and developing situations as their charges develop and grow.

It may interest you to know, that even in the 21st Century, Nannies are not regulated. There are no government requirements for someone to practice as a nanny and no Ofsted as you get in schools.

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Norland College is the only training institute for nannies that offers a 3 year Degree in Early Years Childcare (validated by the University of Gloucestershire). The students then complete a fourth year on a paid placement, after which the graduates are awarded with their Degree and the highly sought after Norland Diploma. The College follows the Government and NHS guidelines on Early Years Childcare closely. This is what makes Norland College so unique and outshines other organisations.

The process in becoming a Norland Nanny is certainly an experience, as I was to discover when I visited the College in March.

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If you wanted to become a Norland Nanny, you first have to apply via UCAS, and then wait to be invited for interview. There isn’t an upper age limit to becoming a Norland Nanny, and they welcome students from all over Europe. You don’t have to be from a private school or privileged background. There is about a 50/50 split in applicants and those who go on to become students.

Don’t think that becoming a Nanny is only for women, either. Men are welcome to apply, and one has even trained and become a male Norlander (the name for fully qualified Norland Nannies), so you wouldn’t be the first if you chaps out there did decide to go down the Early Years route.

According to the College, it’s good to have previous experience with young children and babies, and get as much as you can from family and friends before you even think of applying. A natural enthusiasm and willingness to work hard is also looked for in a Norland Nanny applicant.

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Once the interview has been passed and a place on the course has been offered, then the hard work begins. Unlike many Colleges or Universities, students at Norland College don’t have mornings or days off to laze in bed before lectures. They’ll be expected at College Monday to Thursday every week, 9am to 4.30pm. Friday’s are set aside for independent studies, guest lectures and independent training. When I visited on a Friday there were students arriving for a guest lecture, and others busily writing away in the Student Common Room downstairs.

As a Norland student they are also expected to take up placements for up to 6 weeks at a time regularly during their training and studies to practice what they have learnt. The students get to see many different childcare environments; from the Maternity wards of the RUH, to working in local schools, private homes and special educational needs facilities. However, at no time are they allowed to work unsupervised with children. They are of course still students. Only when they are a fully qualified Norlander can they work on their own with children.

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As well as the studies and placements, Norland trainees also learn various ways of how to engage with children through games and fun activities. They must be resourceful too – learning to sew and create things from what is in their surrounding environment. Cooking and Nutrition is another element to the Diploma where weaning, fussy eaters and special diets are discussed and advice given regarding healthy home-cooked meals.

Paediatric First Aid training is of course essential and the nannies even learn to recognise various childhood illnesses. Sign Language is an optional module the nannies can choose to take so that they can communicate with deaf children or those with learning difficulties. In their final year, the students also learn Life Saving skills at Bath Leisure Centre.

As the students can’t be left unsupervised with children, they are given their own “reality baby” to take care of for 2 days and nights, which reacts in the way a new born baby would. It cries, needs changing and feeding, and is responsive to touch; but this baby also downloads useful data that can be analysed after the 2 days have finished so the student can be assessed on his or her skills.

Norland College at Denford Park, Hungerford

Norland College at Denford Park, Hungerford

The students learn to follow the “safer sleep for babies” guidelines of the NHS, and the Lullaby Trust, which was set up for research into Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and who publish best practice guidelines to reduce the risk of SIDS. Please go to the link for more information about their guidelines. It was interesting to hear about the “baby hotel” at Norland’s previous location, Denford Park, with the rows of children left to sleep outside in their prams (supervised of course!).

Surprisingly students are also sent on rail trips, often up to London. This not only helps with orientation skills, but they learn how to travel and entertain children on long journeys.

The students’ training moves with the times and covers all aspects of modern life. For example, online security is covered, as well as self-defence and defensive driving. Everything has a purpose though – to be totally professional whilst safeguarding children. The students will also be instructed in what to expect when they finish their course and go into employment. This includes information about salary, tax, pension and insurance; as well as contract law.

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Most of this hard work and training is performed while wearing the most distinctive part of the students’ kit – the Norland Nanny uniform. The colour of the uniform has varied over the last 120 years, but its distinctive colour ensures the nannies stand out from other uniformed staff, whether it was housemaids in the 1890s or Doctors and nurses in the 1990s. Today the colour is brown, and has been for over 70 years. Although it might not be considered to everyone’s taste it is certainly distinctively “Norland College”. Yes, even male students have to wear the brown uniform, though they somehow don’t get to wear the hat, much to the chagrin of the female trainees!

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Norland Nannies, 1892

Every element of the Norland College training has been carefully considered. Even the uniform and “look” has been designed with the training and practicalities of dealing with young children and babies in mind.

Gloves are worn when outside to enable the nanny to keep his or her hands clean. When attending to their charge, the gloves would be removed. Shoes are lace-up only to ensure that they do not slip off at any time. The main uniform has ¾ length sleeves only as this prevents bacteria from building up on the sleeves and then transferring to a baby or young child when picking them up.

Norland Nannies, 2015

Norland Nannies, 2015

Students must also wear their hair off their collar, whether cut short or up in a bun and kept tidy underneath the Norland hat; this is to stop children grabbing and pulling at it, plus to prevent hair flopping into babies’ faces. There must also be minimal discreet make up, no perfume (as you don’t want either perfume or make up to be transferred on to the child), and only a pair of stud earrings are allowed (again, studs only to stop children pulling at them).

When you think about it, all these elements to the look and uniform are common sense. The continuation of the uniform is a source of pride to trainees and Norlanders. It’s what makes them stand out from the crowd. Although once qualified a Norlander doesn’t have to wear his or her uniform again, unless requested by their employer, I suspect the majority keep hold of it for “old time’s sake”!

Once qualified, a Norlander becomes part of the Alumni community and can search for employment via the Norland Agency. Norlanders can return to the College for continual professional development (CPD) days, further training, as well as social gatherings. Once a Norlander, always a Norlander, and you can be assured that they get lifelong support. In fact, the oldest Norlander (though no longer working) is Brenda Ashford, now in her 90s. She has written two fantastic books about her experiences as a nanny called “A Spoonful of Sugar” and “Tuppance for Paper and String”.

Brenda Ashford

Brenda Ashford

The other thing that sets Norland College apart from their contemporaries is their Code of Professional Conduct. Despite the press finding out about a few of those who use a Norland Nanny – such as Mick Jagger mentioning his use of them for his children in a past interview, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announcing that they have a Norlander employed to care for Prince George.; the college and the nannies themselves remain tightlipped. The privacy of the Norland College’s and Agency’s clients, and nannies, is paramount. The fact that there is so little information out there as to who uses a Norland Nanny is testament to its Code, and the high standard of professionalism and privacy that the College and the Norlanders practice.

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Don’t think that you have to be a Prince or Pop star to employ a Norlander though. The Norland Agency welcomes calls from any parent. Plus you don’t have to employ a Norland Nanny on a permanent basis; it can be temporary. Whether you require a nanny to cover you for a few hours or a few days, or for a one off occasional over-night stay when lack of sleep is too much, Norland Agency can assist you more than you might have first realised.

Norlanders also volunteer their time with TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association) and their Helping Hands project. This is a free of charge support for those families with multiples (twins, triplets etc) who are facing crises. This support has been found to really help and relieve those parents who are unable to cope. Please press on the links above for further information about TAMBA and Helping Hands.

Norland College also now offers Early Years Consultancy and Training, so if you require consultation on best practices for young children (aged 0 to 8 years), then these are the professionals to call. Clients already include Mothercare, training product designers, buyers and in-store staff; Etihad Airways training their “Flying Nannies”, and Chartwells Independent on pastoral care for children during lunch service. There are also visits every year from international Colleges that train Early Year Professionals, including from Australia and Japan. Host families are always required for this, so do get in touch with the College if you think you can help.

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So there you have it! I hope I’ve given you a real glimpse into the world of Norland College. Behind that cool Bath stone façade is a hive of activity and learning that is turning out the best qualified Early Year Practioners in the country, right here in the heart of Bath.

We are also very pleased to announce that if any guests at The Bailbrook Lodge require a nanny during their stay, whether for a night off so you can go to the Theatre or Spa, or during the day whilst you go shopping or to lunch, then we’re happy to recommend Norland Nannies.

Please contact the Norland Agency to arrange your very own Norland Nanny and experience the best of the best.

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With thanks to Abby Searle and all at Norland College.
[Photographs Copyright Norland College Catherine Pitt, Western Daily Press, Parent Dish, Daily Mail, The Guardian]