After Stewart Island, my favorite place in New Zealand was…
Our next stop on the “commonwealth tour” was Bath, where Tom and Fleur live in a beautiful village called Batheaston on the outside of town. They have a festive terraced garden with a view of exceptionally green British farms and hillsides.
Fleur set up Lucille with bubbles, toys and a bucket of water to splash in. She was in heaven! Tom and Fleur are former high school sweethearts who recently reunited and married. They both used to live on river boats. Fun, creative people!
Lauren and I took Lucy on the bus to town in the afternoon. Bath has been a tourist city for 2,000 years – ever since the Romans set up sulfur baths in town. It’s fun to think of people centuries ago doing the same thing we did – exploring, shopping and eating pastries.
Lauren and I walked around town a bit first – she had never been to Bath either!
Then, we did like the Romans and shopped for new dresses. We each got one: a smocked flower dress for Lucille, an olive linen dress for me and this fun slate gray romper for Lauren.
We took the bus back home in time for a huge curry dinner Tom made for us on the terrace, with about 15 dishes including spicy homemade “Christmas pickle” served on ceramic dishes he made in his own garden workshop. Magical!
The next morning, we all drove to town to explore a bit. We took the shorter route, which includes crossing a toll bridge staffed with by an actual man who collects your twenty cents as you drive through.
None of our British friends had even been to a high tea before, so I decided to treat everyone at the famous Grand Pump Room, built in 1706.
We planned this exactly right. If you arrive right around noon, there’s no wait and they’ll serve you the high tea menu for £25 each. By the time we left at 1:00, the place was packed and official high tea hadn’t even started yet.
Even our very sarcastic trio of gentlemen enjoyed the food and setting – with live piano playing in the background.
Salmon mouse with caviar, cheese puffs, three kinds of sandwiches, really good plain and currant scones with jam and clotted cream, tiramisu, almond berry tarts, raspberry cream puffs and macarons.
The famous sulfur water fountain wasn’t available when we were there – but usually you can get a taste of the healing waters along with your tea.
You also get a free peek into the Roman baths from the hall, saving you long lines for that tour.
Lovely, lovely! We explored just a bit more before needing to head back to Hampshire.
The weather was so perfect. Lots of fluffy clouds with no rain.
I hope we’ll get to return to Bath again someday soon!
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