Leaving the Isle of Wight is always mixed emotions. We have left family behind after an all too short tour of the island. As usual, we try and cram as many things in as we can, often revisiting places that have meaning but also places we simply enjoy going. Places like Freshwater Bay and Godshill. But we know that this is only a small part of this wonderful holiday. So we keep moving.
Arriving at Southampton docks we walked to pick up the 2 hire cars to replace those we left on the island. We had booked 2 Mercedes Benz C Class. One estate and one sedan. Naturally, Europcar failed to deliver and we ended with a Vauxhall Insignia & a Volkswagen Passat estate. As nice as they seemed to be, they couldn’t / wouldn’t fix the problem. I can barely recall a time where a car hire company actually produced the car that was booked.
But we set on our way, making our journey to the Roman town of Bath. Following Trevor’s GPS (donated by Europcar) we made some strange deviations but finally managed to make it to our accomodation. The flat was a 3 floor apartment above Knight Frank Realestate in the centre of town. A fantastic location. We had a living area on the 1st floor, 2 bedrooms and bathroom on the 2nd and the same on the 3rd floor (attic). Surprisingly the flat was quite warm, and bordering on hot. Given the temperature of around 25° C during the day, his was apparently unusual. Humidity being about 85% made it somewhat stifling.
We relaxed for a short while before heading into the town centre for a look around. We started just down the road, found the Canary Gin Bar and enjoyed a couple of quick ones. After the 2 Gins (G&T, followed by a Genever Pink Gin) with no camera other than the iPhone, we walked around the town. A return to the Canary Bar, we had another couple before heading back home.
After a restless sleep with Pigeons and Seagulls (the size of chickens) flying around and perching on our window sills, the following day was a day packed with some gorgeous scenery and visits of some historic sites.
First on the agenda was Stonehenge. Some advice to those wishing to visit Stonehenge. Buy your tickets online and get there as close as you can to the start of the day. It opens at 9am and we arrived in time for the opening. You can’t just drive to the location. You have to pickup (or buy) your tickets from the office and then be shuttled to the henge in groups. Being in the first or second group there weren’t too many people ahead of us. Which means photographically, you will get the best shots. As we left the location, many busloads had arrived and there were hundreds of people around. And that was at about 10am.
We left Stonehenge and went to the famous Chalk (read concrete) Westbury White Horse. After we managed to find a good view (after another SatNav miscalculation) we went to Longleat House. Longleat is the Lord of Bath and opens his home (the majority of it) to the public. He also has cruises on the river on his property and a Wildlife Adventure Zoo. We just wanted to do the house tour where we got to go on 2 levels, speak with many of the staff ab0ut the house, the history and many of the furniture and artefacts. An astounding history of 400 years, including a sneak peak into a Den which included a grand chandelier and a Priest Hole (used under the rein of Queen Elizabeth I) to hide Catholic Priests to avoid persecution, torture and sometimes death. It was a privilege to be allowed to enter this house.
Following the day-out we returned to Bath in the mid afternoon to do a tour of the famous Roman Baths. I wouldn’t say it was my favourite part of the day, but it was certainly an eye opener on how advanced the Romans were. The baths were huge and very advanced. Not just for the times, but also for contemporary equivalents. The photo to the left is of Tracy, Jane and Julia enjoying a rest in the baths.
Because I wasn’t quite tired enough with all the walking, and after a trip to our favourite Gin Pub Julia, Trevor and I went for a walk to photograph the Royal Crescent. Always beautiful and definitely needing to be visited. But alas. What a let down. High, uncut grass, rubbish all over the place and the Crescent buildings themselves, hardly royal in their appearance. Dirty walls, scaffolding everywhere. Not quite the scene I was expecting.
Not wanting to waste the trip I decided to take a few photo’s focussing on the ‘less than perfect’ Bath we know and looked at some of the sadder and more run down aspects. In a period of around 10 minutes I had a photograph of the Royal Crescent, a Phone box, stacked with rubbish and a street littered with cats sitting amongst it. Not the scene I was expecting, but still an aspect of Bath worth capturing.
The following photo’s are all of the images captured over the two days from when we left the Isle of Wight until the night before our escape from the Romans to start our journey even further north to Montgomery, Wales.
It was well enough equipped.