Sunday, May 30, 2010

Reconnecting with London

London is one of the most exciting cities in the world. There is so much to see and do and one can never get bored of visiting it over and over again.
I had meetings in Central London, post which I decided to walk along the famous sights, stroll along the south bank and then meet my cousin John at the Old Vic for a play.

West Minister Abbey

The Big Ben

All famous London sights in one pic - The Big Ben, London Eye and the Double decker bus

London Eye

The South bank

I was lucky to witness the Elephant Parade along the South Bank.

The Catholic Cathedral

The famous Old Vic. I watched a play The Real Thing by Tom Stoppard

Yummy sushi

The Royal Windsor Horse Show

Windsor Castle

I was lucky to have had an opportunity to visit the Royal Windsor Horse Show. It is held annually for 5 days in May or June at the Windsor Home Park.

Equestrian events......


There was an amazing collection of ancient carriages.

My favourite.

The Battle of Windsor was played out by 5 teams - England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland (winners). It was like a telematch, except that it is on horseback. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The Queen's Cavalry put on quite a show. To top it all, The Queen and Prince Phillip were also present. I found it very impressive - the marching of the troops, the bugles, the roar of the horses in the cavalry, the guns and the battle formations and most of all the superb horseflesh!

The crooked house in Windsor

The cities of Bath and Bristol

Recently I had to go to the UK on work. As it so happened I was supposed to be working the weekend but at the last moment, found that the meeting on Saturday was cancelled and I had the entire weekend off. I had decided to visit the city of Bath and my cousin Maryann who was free, decided to accompany me.

The City of Bath is truly amazing. It is a world heritage site and is historic in its importance. The city was first established as a spa resort with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") by the Romans in AD 43 although verbal tradition suggests that Bath was known before then. They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs, which are the only ones naturally occurring in the United Kingdom. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973. Much later, it became popular as a spa resort during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

Source: Wikipedia

The must sees are:
a) The Roman Baths - I loved the recreation of the ancient site. I wish they would take as much effort to resurrect history and culture at heritage sites in India.

The Roman Bath

Archaeological evidence shows that the site of the Roman Baths' main spring was treated as a shrine by the Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva; however, the name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis. Messages to her scratched onto metal, known as curse tablets, have been recovered from the Sacred Spring by archaeologists. These curse tablets were written in Latin, and usually laid curses on people by whom the writer felt they had been wronged. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the baths, he would write a curse, naming the suspects, on a tablet to be read by the Goddess Sulis Minerva.

The curses...

The recreation of the complex as it would have been in the Roman times.

The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years. During the Roman occupation of Britain, and possibly on the instructions of Emperor Claudius, engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building, which housed the calidarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath). The city was given defensive walls, probably in the 3rd century. After the Roman withdrawal in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up.
Source: Wikipedia

Waters from the spring.....

View of the Bath Abbey from the Roman Bath.

b) The Bath Abbey - is simply gorgeous. It has beautiful stained glass windows, ornate ceilings, notable memorials and we were lucky to view the beautiful collection of the Bath Abbey diptychs.

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an Anglican parish church and a former Benedictine monastery in Bath, Somerset, England. Founded in the 7th century, reorganised in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries, it is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country.
The church is cruciform in plan, seating approximately 1,200 people. It is used for religious services, secular civic ceremonies and lectures. The abbey is a grade I listed building and is an active place of worship, with hundreds of congregation members and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The building contains monuments to several notable people. It has two organs and a peal of ten bells.
Source: Wikipedia

The Bath Abbey

Various tombstones.....

The beautiful stained glass windows

The ornate ceiling.

One Man's Journey to Heaven

c) The Jane Austin museum - a must for all lovers of Jane Austen's works. It made me promise myself that I would reread her works.

"They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already. They were soon settled in comfortable lodgings in Pultney Street". - Northanger Abbey

The Centre at 40 Gay Street in Bath houses a permanent exhibition which tells the story of Jane's experience in the city between 1801 and 1806 and the effect that living here had on her and her writing. Gay Street is the ideal location for the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, set between two of Bath's architectural masterpieces, Queen Square and the Circus. Jane Austen actually lived in Gay Street (higher up the hill on the same side, at No.25) for some months in 1805.

d) The Royal Crescent - It evokes images of horse drawn carriages and Victorian ladies taking a turn.......

The Royal Crescent is a residential road of 30 houses, laid out in a crescent, in the city of Bath, England. Designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and is a grade I listed building. The houses have been home to various notable people for over 200 years. Changes have been made to the interiors, however the facade remains much as it was when it was built. The Royal Crescent now include a hotel and museum with some of the houses being converted into flats and offices. The buildings have been used as a location for several films and television programmes.
Source: Wikipedia

The famed Crescent

e) Sally Lunn's House - Everyone who visits Bath tends to return with a Sally Lunn's Bun!

A Sally Lunn bun is a traditional version of a manchet, a traditional English yeast bread originating from Bath in the West Country of England.

The recipe for this bun is said to have originated in Bath with the arrival in 1680 of a Huguenot immigrant called Solange (Sollie) Luyon who brought her native skill and worked at a Bath bakery - this bakery is now known as Sally Lunn's House and can be visited today with the original recipe buns available for sale or consumption in the dining rooms. Sally Lunn is a corruption of her name and the bun became a very popular delicacy in Georgian England as its taste and lightness allowed it to be enjoyed with either sweet or savoury accompaniments.
Source: Wikipedia

After spending the day at Bath, we decided to head to Bristol to meet with Maryann's friend. Bristol is a very historic city, rich in culture, architecture and is a university and seafaring town. Today it hosts some major industry such as aerospace and media.

We had a quick driving tour through Bristol where I managed to take some pictures. But clearly, the city is intriguing and I have to go back for a longer visit.

The floating harbour

The seafood risotto

Thai fish cakes