Monday, 29 May 2017

Visit Bath and Take Part in the Crescent Picnic

It’s been 250 years since the foundation stone of the Royal Crescent was laid, and one of the things which the Bath Preservation Trust is doing to celebrate is putting on a picnic in the park. One on a massive scale!  

The Royal Crescent may have been planned in the beginning by John Wood the Elder back in the 1750s, but the final design and build for the Royal Crescent was down to his son, John Wood the Younger, and didn’t begin until 1767.

Whether John Wood the Younger knew how iconic the Crescent would be when he was building it or not, it is doubtless one of, if not the most, famous site in Bath. For many visitors it is a must-see when they come to Bath, and tens of thousands of photographs are taken of it each year. Bath just wouldn’t be the same without it.

So in 2017, the year which sees the 250th anniversary of the laying of the Crescent’s foundation stone, Bath’s Preservation Trust are hosting a series of special events to celebrate.

Some events have taken place already. On the 19th of May live music was played and specially commissioned poetry was projected onto the Royal Crescent to mark the official Foundation Stone Day. Then on the 21st of May, actors from The Natural Theatre Company who were dressed in traditional Georgian costume, paraded the foundation stone through the city up to No. 1 Royal Crescent (a museum in the Royal Crescent which has been decorated and furnished in the style of the 1776-1796 period when it was first inhabited).  

The best may be yet to come though.

A summer celebration of the 250th anniversary will be taking place on the sweeping lawn in front of
the Crescent on Saturday the 29th of July from 11 until 3 (although the party will probably go on much longer as Victoria Park has no closing time). Residents, visitors, long-time fans of Bath; everyone is being invited to bring a picnic to the lower lawn of the Crescent and enjoy a rare view of the Crescent without any cars.

Another highlight will be the Natural Theatre Company, who will be returning once more to give picnickers an insight into the lives of the people who have lived in the crescent – gentry, tradespeople, servants, and even sedan chairs will add to the general Georgian spectacle. Plus, perhaps best of all, there’ll be Georgian ice creams to sample!  

If you’re not already booked, and you love Bath and the Crescent (who doesn’t?), then Carole, myself, and all of us here at Dukes Hotel really recommend coming for a visit and joining in the July celebrations!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

What’s New In Bath This Weekend?

There’s always something new going on in Bath, and this weekend is no exception. Here’s a quick round-up of the latest goings on…

Friday saw the massive Party In The City, which was the big opening event for this year’s Bath
Festival. Some of the highlights were live performances at the Roman Baths (the atmosphere at the Baths when evening comes is something really special) and Bath’s new Theatre Bus, which had an amazing range of musical genres gracing its stage. Wherever you went in Bath yesterday there was music and joy.

Coming to the here and now though. While it’s sad that this party is over, it does mean that we now have the rest of the festival to look forward to. Not only that, but BathFringe Festival is hot on its heels too. The end of May and the beginning of June in Bath really is all about culture and having fun. 

However, putting music and literature events aside for a moment, this weekend also has a sporting highlight coming to Bath.

This evening Bath will be hosting the first ever Saturday night stage of The Tour Series, which is an important date on the calendar for cyclists from across the country. The Tour Series 2017 was launched in Wembley, and sees nine other locations across the country (including Bath) welcoming Britain’s top professional cyclists to its roads as they race to be crowned Tour Series champions.

Both yesterday and today we’ve been watching the ground crew set up, as the main race starts and ends right out Dukes Hotel door on Great Pulteney Street! But it’s been lovely to see as well the family–friendly cycling events which have been taking place before the main race today. A rare opportunity to cycle on empty roads in the centre of Bath!

Finally to the new event coming to Bath on Sunday.

On most Sundays Bath’s Green Park Station holds either a vintage and antiques market. Sadly the market is not on this Sunday. Happily there is a new one taking place.  

The Independent Bath Market will take place on the third Sunday of each month from May-October, and will feature local artisans, makers, growers and producers. The wares at the market will reflect their local and regional provenance, and will also be incredibly varied! There will be ironwork, textiles, preserves, glassware, stationary, bits for the garden, and bits for the stomach (we always like a market that has cheeses and freshly baked goodies to sample!). The market takes place from 10am – 4pm at Abbey Green.  

So, all in all, we’ve got a busy weekend ahead of us!  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Thermae Spa isn’t the Only Spa in Town

Yes Thermae Bath Spa is without a doubt the most well-known (modern (we’re not counting the Roman Baths here)) spa in Bath. But there are plenty of other lesser-known spas in Bath that can give you an amazing hour, day, or even weekend, of rest and relaxation!

Lush began life as a company making natural bath and beauty products. Founded in 1995, the company grew and expanded so that some stores now offer in-house spas, in addition to the shop selling their popular 100% vegetarian ethical products.

The Lush shop in Bath is one of the flagship Lush spa/stores and is a secret gem. The spa offers
luxurious, sensory treatments for couples and individuals in a setting that’s a cross between a sensual spa and a country manor. Peaceful, relaxed and with a huge range of packages you could choose, this is a spa with passion and bags of character. If you haven’t visited it then you really must try it. It’s not the cheapest; prices range from £50 to £285 (for their deluxe three-hour pamper session with palm readings, massage, facial and more), but we feel it’s definitely worth it.

Green Street House day spa is to be found on one of the oldest streets in Bath. The building was originally constructed in 1716, but was restored and transformed in 2003 to make a calming haven of a spa. It has six different treatment rooms, a relaxation space, showers, and an apothecary-style shop area and offers manicures, pedicures, waxing, reflexology, and, of course, massages.  

Green Street House is a good choice for anyone who wants to get a lot of pampering but doesn’t want to break the bank doing it. A spa manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax package lasting an hour is
£60, while a manicure on its own can cost as little as £20.

Neal’s Yard is another spa which offers an incredibly wide range of treatments. Some of their more unusual treatments are; pregnancy aromatherapy massages, ear candling, Rolfing (a soft-tissue manipulation technique used to structurally realign the body), and homeopathy consultations.

Not all treatments are available every day, but Neal’s Yard has a useful timetable which lets you check not only on prices and treatments, but also times and days which they can be booked and who would be treating you. A brief profile of each practitioner is also on the Neal’s Yard website so you have the opportunity to see who you would be with on the day.

Out final pick is The Orangery – a laser and beauty clinic which won the 2015 Bath Magazine’s award for The Best Little Hair and Beauty Salon in Bath. The Orangery can be found on Kingsmead Square and is another spa which offers some more unusual treatments, though their focus is more on beauty treatments rather than alternative therapies like Neal’s Yard. Semi-permanent make-up, Ultratone, and Hydra Peel Infusion (air pressure jet streams vitamins into the skin to improve the appearance of texture, fine lines and remove blackheads) are some, but there are plenty to choose from!    

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Birth of Bath’s Henrietta Park

Victoria Park is probably the park most people think of when they think of Bath, but it’s not the only city centre idyll that Bath has to offer. 

This week we’ve been thinking quite a bit about Henrietta Park. Last year a local friends group was set up in the community to help maintain, protect, and also enhance, Henrietta Park. This Sunday (7th May) we took part in the Fun and Forage fundraising day at Henrietta Park (we spent Saturday baking – pictures of our labours below (and the results were delicious even if we do say so ourselves)). Our day in the park got us thinking though - the history of the park isn’t that well known. So this week we thought we’d share a little bit about the park with you.

Henrietta Park is a lovely seven acre park a couple of minutes walk from Bath city centre and, like Bath’s Victoria Park, is another park which was dedicated to the Queen Victoria. However while Victoria Park was named after Victoria when she was a princess, Henrietta park was opened on the 22nd of June 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. The land having been donated by Captain Forrester of 3rd Kings Own Hussars, on the condition that the land should remain a green space and never be built on.   

So why call it Henrietta?

Henrietta Laura Pulteney became the first, and only as the title became extinct following her death, Countess of Bath in 1803 aged 26. Henrietta was the only daughter of Sir William Johnstone Pulteney, whose investment in Bath saw the building of Pulteney Bridge and many other fine buildings (at one time Sir William was reportedly the wealthiest man in Great Britain). On his death Henrietta owned a great deal of the land around Bath in the form of the vast Pulteney estate. The park
is named in her honour, which might seem a bit odd given that when it was begun in 1896 Henrietta had been long dead (1808) and it was Captain Forrester who donated the land. Forrester Park maybe didn’t have the same ring to it.

As per Captain Forrester’s wishes, the park remains to this day an oasis of tranquillity with places to sit and reflect and paths to stroll along to enjoy the flowers and trees – some of which exist from the Old Bathwick Park and so are between 150 and 200 years old!

The park is also a big hit with architectural historians, as it’s a wonderful example of the original level of the Bathwick estate, before architects such as Thomas Baldwin came along and changed the contours of the land.  

We have to say, Henrietta Park is a hidden gem in Bath and well-worth a visit. If you do decide to take a stroll to this beautiful park, make sure you don’t miss the King George V Memorial Garden, which has lovely planting all around it and a real sense of peace and solitude. 

(And in case you were curious, here are some of the goodies we baked for the event on Sunday.) 

Raspberry vanilla macaroons and mini teacakes.

Lemon drizzle cupcakes.

Chocolate muffins.