Bath, Tue, Dec 11- Day 11

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 31, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fiona's Comments:
We all made it to breakfast this morning but everyone is pretty tired. We just don't ever seem to catch up on sleep. The weather has become colder and there is a light dusting of frost everywhere. Small patches of water on the ground are frozen and we are keeping our fingers crossed.
The drive from South Cernsey to Cirencester is only about 15 minutes but takes us through English countryside which is looking more and more beautiful with the frost. Went to Marg's to collect them for our trip to Bath but Marg is bailing for the day. It's just too cold and she doesn't want to go out and freeze again. Totally understandable.
We all pile into the car and head off for Bath. Marg had suggested a "park 'n' ride" place but when we drove through it there were no carparks available which meant we had to drive into Bath and hopefully find a park amongst all the traffic congestion.
We ended up right in the middle of the city and could not believe how magical this place is. We found a carpark that was very reasonably priced. Kids were all starving so went into a tiny cafe with a winding staircase and ordered lunch. All a bit ordinary and the staff seemed very grumpy - and it was quite expensive.
Finished our lunch and made our way to the Roman Baths. Luckily the kids love all this sort of stuff so we spent a happy 3 hours wandering through the Baths and the very impressive exhibition. The exhibition is only about 5 years old and is one of the best exhibitions I have wandered through.
We could touch 2,000 year old stones and the audio tour included snippets from Bill Bryson which added a really quirky personal touch. There was an audio tour for kids which Sof loved.
Somehow we lucked upon a tour and ended up being the only ones on the tour - the guide loves the place and answered all the kids'questions with much info and enthusiasm.
When the Romans left this part of the world,the Baths eventually fell into ruin and became buried from years of the river flooding and dropping silt. Eventually they were built upon and it was only when a guy went down into cellar one day and found it flooded that they were unearthed and all the buildings on the site were demolished and the baths revealed. Incredible huh?
It was a wonderful day and we all blearily made our way back to South Cernsey to meet Marg and have dinner at the pub. Joy of joys, on our return to the pub we were told that our section of the building had no water - so the toilets were not working. The curse is following us.
The hot water pipes are still working but the pub owners didn't know for how much longer. Whilst the kids went to pay pool and Marg and I sat and talked, Zed got a bucket to fill up the cistern so we could flush the loos. He hit his head again leaving the room. We dropped Marg and Sof home and back to South Cernsey to collpase.
Zoran's Comments:
Ahhh the Roman's.  Even at this distant outpost of the empire they made sure they had wonderful luxuries available to the wealthy amongst them.  The Baths are very impressive and somewhat tempting.  It would be so much fun to jump in for a bit of a paddle but in cold like this the punishment would not just be legal in nature.  It was enjoyable being allowed to get up really close to Roman stone artwork and busts of various wealthy Romans.  A lot of other exhibitions won't even allow you take photographs let alone walk up and eyeball something carved 2,000 years ago.
The Romans used to line the base of the baths with lead and they also made all their pipes from lead.  It is after all a very soft metal and easy to work with.  In most of the Roman empire the people with the financial means could have lead plumbing in their houses and even the word "Plumber" comes from the Latin word for lead "plumbo".  Those who know their periodic table will remember that the symbol for lead is Pb.
The problem with lead is that it is poisonous to us and builds up in our bodies over time with no means for our bodies to expel it.  It causes growth problems in children and eventually all sorts of brain disorders.  This could be one reason why so many Roman leaders (Nero, Caligula etc) were complete lunatics and some were drooling blithering idiots like Claudius.  The poor who could not afford plumbing did not suffer lead poisoning like the rich.
It wasn't until the 1920's that all of humanity were graced with lead poisoning when Thomas Midgely Jr invented lead additives to petrol to prevent engine knock.  It wasn't until the 1960's or 1970's (I can't remember which) that it was discovered how much lead had built up in the atmosphere and the effects it was having on all living organisms on the planet - thus unleaded petrol was eventually developed.
As an aside, this bloke Midgely, as if he had not done enough damage, was also the inventor of CFCs and the biggest single contributor to depletion of the ozone layer - what a guy!
Midgely is said to have "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history" - that bit comes from Wikipedia.
p.s. Fi was not entirely correct about the pub and the water issue.  It was actually a water problem for the whole town, some major pipe had burst and all supply had stopped.  Reserves of water in hot water systems etc were all we had but I got a bucket and used the hot water to fill up the cistern in the toilet.  In any case, our European bathroom curse continued.

p.p.s Bath is a town that you can't simply call "beautiful".  Many towns are beautiful, this place takes it to another level entirely.  If you can, go there and see for yourself.
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Leslie Yong on

Hi Fee, Zed and kids, what a great blog! And looks like you are all having an amazing holiday.

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