Saturday, 3 April 2010

Taking the Waters.

I've had a couple of days off. The ever wonderful Marta and Carol from Spiral flew over from Spain for a lightening visit, so we turned off our mobiles and laptops, loaded a car with maps, CDs and nice food and headed West for an explore.

Tuesday 30th March.

Up early to avoid the traffic and off to Bath for to see the Roman remains. I've never looked round the ancient site before - from the outside it seems so small and contained - but with Marta as expert guide the whole place opened up as a fascinating, vibrant and even slightly nostalgic exhibition. The great bath is an incredibly evocative place, with guests and tourists leisurely strolling around its circumference feeling the thermal heat on their faces, sitting and talking in the alcoves and imagining the decadent pleasures that brought the rich and powerful of the town here 2000 years ago. It's an incredible living preservation, as complete and tangible as Pompeii.

My favourite touches were the curses scratched onto small lead tablets and thrown into the spring as an offering. They are an excessive and fantastic way to deal with petty thieving.

'Lord Neptune, I give you the men who have stolen my six silver coins. I give you their names. I give you their life, health and blood. The mind which has been privy to this act may you take away. The thieves who stole may you consume and take away, Lord Neptune.'

Fearing the disproportionate Gods, we were careful to pay for a glug of the sulphurous water (the aftertaste, we felt, was punishment enough.)

We headed on to Exeter for tea in Devonian hero, Francis Drake favourite cloisters pub - The Ship and a quick look round the cathedral, where the choir were practicing evensong. With the clocks turned back we still had some time in the twilight for a leisurely drive over the barren moonscape of Dartmoor, before a final stretch through South Cornwall, leaving London ever far behind - onto our desolate farm house retreat on the very edge of the country and last orders at The St Buryan Inn

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