Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas in Bath

Pub planning 101
Tea's been talking about Christmas markets -- and all the wonderful childhood memories she has tied up with them -- since we arrived, and after seeing some of the stuff in Cardiff and in town -- not to mention the Good Food Show in Birmingham, although I didn't go with her for that -- it was time to head out for our first one... in Bath. We'd heard that parking was extremely scarce, so, much like our trip to Wales, we packed a backpack and jumped on a train. (We even threw in our swimsuits in the hopes of spending a bit of time in the Roman baths, but, being the last weekend of the Christmas market, it was far too busy.)

Unlike some of our other day trips, we got started nice 'n' early, arriving just after the market opened at 10 a.m. Before long we were snacking on banana and caramel crepes and sipping mulled wine -- it was almost noon, Mom, honest! -- taking in all the festive sights, sounds and smells. Somewhere between the curried parsnip soup and the bratwurst I realized that I was already close to topping out my short-term memory, and fished out my notebook. As I'm scratching down some key details, I hear this older lady's voice from somewhere in front of me say, "Would you like my number? Or am I too old for you?" Awesome! (My little black Moleskine does look like an address book, although I hadn't noticed it before.) There were also stalls that didn't serve food or drink, of course, and I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight the Wooden Ties one: I'll have to put something up on YouTube demonstrating the fantastic tie I picked up; it was quite a hit at work.

Bath is absolutely amazing to walk around, but we decided that we'd focus on the market areas this time, knowing we'd be back again soon. We had some great chats with folks, like the guy who'd set up an enormous Christmas card for passers-by to sign that'd be sent to British soldiers serving overseas. He got really excited when we found out we were Canadian, talking about how much he liked the idea of the Highway of Heroes, and how folks were trying to get a similar designation for the M5 over here. Then there was the local in the Old Green Tree pub who was still up 'n' at it from the night before! He felt so bad about mistaking us for Americans; he kept offering to buy our round, but I knew we were only stopping for a quick one. (At some point, early in the conversation, he leaned over all conspiratorially and said, "Do you realize there's a lady rootin' around in your pack?" He was just tickled that she ordered a full pint too.) It was such a beautiful find -- that Good Beer Guide is worth its substantial weight in gold! -- with a great selection: Tea had Butcombe's Christmas Steps and I had a Keystone Porter. Don't miss this gem of a pub if you're in Bath!

Tea with our new friend
in the Old Green Tree

PS: I'm experimenting with some new features in Blogger, so let me know if you notice any changes in the layout, etc. that you like (or don't like). Thanks.

Update: One thing I've already noticed is that Blogger copies over the pictures, as opposed to linking to Picasa. You can always go there to see all the other pictures associated with any of our adventures (i.e., Best of December 2009 in this case); plus, the slide-show to the right pulls them from there as well (and may even show you ones that I haven't got around to posting about yet.)

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