Get in out of that weather…

I’ve been reliably informed that the UK has just emerged from The Wettest January Since Records Began, and as I wring out my sodden trouser hems, I can well believe it. With the rainy weather showing no signs of abating, you might be forgiven for thinking there’s no point in going anywhere – but you’d be wrong! I’m here to direct you towards a wealth of fun things to do that don’t involve traipsing about in the wet.

Fun for the Whole Family

The Roman Baths – While the most iconic image of the Roman Baths is that of the open-air Great Bath and Terrace, there’s plenty more to see inside and under cover.  Offering audio guides in a variety of languages and an activity tour that’s just for kids, you can be sure that all the family will enjoy being transported back in time to discover what the city of Bath is all about.

Ora et Labora – Speaking of time travel: why not continue your journey through the history of Bath by jumping ahead a few centuries to the medieval heyday of Bath Abbey? Immerse yourself in Bath’s Monastic heritage at Ora et Labora, who now run ‘Medieval Making’ workshops where you can learn brass rubbing, candle-making and other crafty skills that would have been employed by the Benedictine monks of Bath.

The Little Theatre – If you’re here for the weekend and you have a budding movie buff in the family, head over to the Little on Saturday for their Kids’ Club, which promises “a family-only matinee of a specially chosen children’s film, plus fun activities, at pocket-money prices”. This weeks’ film is The Muppets Take Manhattan, followed by Moshi Monsters: The Movie on 1st March. Don’t forget the popcorn!

Curl Up by the Fire

If you’re looking for a more grown-up way to wait out the wind and rain, here are a few quiet hideaways where you can do just that:

The Porter – Recently redeveloped from the ground up with cocktail bar, restaurant, lounge bar and function rooms spread over four floors, you needn’t go far once you’ve staked out a table or a comfy sofa. Food is served to the whole house from the ground floor restaurant, Clayton’s Kitchen, courtesy of dual-Michelin-starred chef Rob Clayton. Save some room for dessert!

The Raven – If your heart yearns for a pie and a pint in a good old-fashioned English pub, then look no further. The Raven is a family-run free house that retains its cosy and welcoming atmosphere whether at its quietest or full to the gunwales with locals and visitors who are in the know. I’ll see you at the bar!

The Crystal Palace – A mere stone’s throw from our front door, The Crystal palace is the ideal candidate to be your local during your stay at Three Abbey Green. With a brand new menu and an impressive array of real ales and wines, there’s something to tempt every palate. The Sunday Roast is not to be missed!

And finally…

I’m sure I’m not the only one who dropped the ball when it came to Valentine’s Day this year, but don’t worry; it’s not too late to earn a few brownie points (by baking actual brownies, in my case)!

As we all know, you can’t go far wrong with flowers. Anemone Florists on Pulteney Bridge is ideal if you want to wow the one you love.

Charlotte Brunswick chocolate shop is right on our doorstep, offering “chocolates, collected and curated”. Build your own gift box selection and maybe your special someone will even share them with you…

Independent Spirit is a great place to discover something new, whether you’re looking for craft beers or the perfect G&T. Smooth…

And of course, don’t forget to book your room at Three Abbey Green!

Winter Warmers…

This is the time of year when I find myself really having to fight the urge to hide away at home with sundry books and large mugs of tea. Not because of the cold weather – we’re all used to that by now! – and not because of the crowds of Christmas shoppers and sale-season bargain-hunters. No; my urge to hibernate is due to the dark mornings and darker evenings. As we creep towards midwinter, it seems that those brief flashes of sunlight in the middle of the day are few and far between, and it’s all too easy to succumb to the temptation to snuggle up on the sofa the moment you get home from work and not budge for the rest of the night. But we must resist!

There’s so much more we could be doing, out there in beautiful Bath! And if it involves a delicious dinner or a mug of mulled wine and a mince pie, so much the better. With that in mind…

Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

To commemorate the birth of their beloved author on 16th December 1775, the Jane Austen Festival, Bath present “an evening of Austen delights” with dramatic readings by Adrian Lukis, Caroline Langrishe and Rosie Lomas on 14th December 2013. The event will be held at The Masonic Hall, Old Orchard Street, which beautiful building was Bath’s original Theatre Royal; the very same venue attended by Austen herself in 1799 and mentioned in her first completed novel, Northanger Abbey. With mulled wine and mince pies to complement the entertainment, this is sure to be a warming winter evening out – tickets are available from Bath Box Office now!

Food, Glorious Food!

We’re anxious to try it…

If, like me, the highlight of your evening is dinner, then you’re in luck: there are so many delicious restaurants in Bath, there’s no excuse not to eat out. We really are spoiled for choice! That said, everyone has their favourite cuisine, and it helps to know what to look for…

Just picture a great big steak –

Fried, roasted or stewed;

Oh, food! Wonderful food!

Marvellous food! Glorious food!

As far as I’m concerned, you can’t go wrong with steak. It is my absolute favourite food: a sure-fire way to get me to agree to just about anything. For those of you who take after my own heart, we are lucky enough to have several really good steakhouses in Bath:

  • The Herd on Argyle Street is relatively new, but building a solid and well-earned reputation for great food and friendly service
  • Miller and Carter has only just opened on Milsom Street and is creating quite a buzz – I have dropped a few hints as I’m keen to try it for myself…
  • The Hudson Bar & Grill is a little further afield on London Street – but the ten minute walk back to the guest house is the perfect excuse to treat yourself to pudding!

What is it we dream about?

What brings on a sigh?

Piled peaches and cream, about

Six feet high!

Of course, I recognise that not all are as carnivorous as I am. For those among you who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet – or who just want something wholesome and a bit lighter – look no further:

  • Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen is practically on our doorstep. Just around the corner on North Parade Passage, what was once Demuths has been renamed and rebranded but serves the same delicious food as ever, with an emphasis on fresh produce and exciting flavour combinations.

Whether you want to lose yourself in literature or indulge in a hearty meal with good company, Bath has something tempting to offer, so venture forth! Why stay at home when you could treat yourself to a few days away and stay at Three Abbey Green?

Counting Down The Days…

Winter is beginning to quest its icy tendrils across our green and pleasant land, as rain pours down and breath fogs in the chill air. So what better way to warm the blood than pounding the pavements in search of the perfect gift for that special someone? That’s right folks; it’s that time of year again! The time when we heave our quiet sighs of relief:  the kids have settled into their new classes at school; summer holidays and the resultant diet and exercise crazes are but a dim and distant memory; the garden and its denizens are winding down for a season of quiet slumber… But what’s this? Mince pies and Christmas puds on the supermarket shelves already?!

Every year it seems the preparations for the festive season start a little earlier; and every year I find myself frantically scrambling to buy gifts at the last possible moment – after several months of shop-avoidance, which typically begins in October  with the scornful rolling of the eyes at the sight of Christmas stocking fillers fighting for shelf space with Hallowe’en costumes and pumpkin lanterns. But this year it will be different. No don’t scoff, I mean it. Because this year, I have a plan.

A phrase that has struck fear into the hearts of spouses everywhere since time immemorial. You can picture it can’t you? “It’s alright darling: I have a plan!” While they may turn out to be my famous last words, I’m currently entertaining cautious optimism that said plan might just do the trick. You see, I have determined that I can and will source everything I need for a sparkling festive season from within about two hundred yards of the desk at which I am currently sitting. The secret of this cunning scheme? The Bath Christmas Market.

If last year is anything to go by, the market promises everything from local cheeses and exotic condiments for my brother the foodie, to personalised toys for my baby cousins; from silver jewellery for the girliest of my friends, to handmade notebooks for the fellow writer; not to mention something utterly frivolous – and possibly fluffy – for my lovely mum. What more could we ask for? With stalls ranged around the entire vicinity of the Abbey, including Abbey Green itself, the market really does start right on the doorstep of Three Abbey Green, so if you come here to shop you won’t have far to go!

Of course, the market is by no means the only place to look if you are searching for a unique gift or souvenir of your visit to Bath. We are well known for our wealth of big name brands – Southgate, for example, has become a label-junkies’ destination in its own right, with Debenhams, Apple, All Saints and Hollister sitting cheek-by-jowl, to name but a few. But these high street heavy hitters may not be to everyone’s taste. Lucky then that Bath is also blessed with many smaller independent retailers, who pride themselves on offering something a little different:

  • For books, try Topping & Company  – great for signed first editions as they have a full calendar of author events and signings throughout the year.
  • Rossiters is a great place to shop for newlyweds, first-time buyers or anyone looking to beautify their home.
  • If you’re looking for a keepsake gift for baby’s first Christmas, or a unique piece of jewellery for the lady in your life, The Silver Shop is the place to go.
  • And for the environmentally conscious, discover Kiss The Frog Again: a treasure trove of recycled and up-cycled gifts, homewares and accessories.

Of course, if shopping isn’t your cup of tea, November could still be your month for a getaway to Bath – the annual Bath Mozartfest runs from 8th to 16th November 2013, with a diverse program of daytime and evening concerts at various venues, including the Assembly Rooms and Bath Abbey. Take a look at the Three Abbey Green availability page to book yourself a last minute Hot Deal, and I’ll see you there!

And relax…

As the nights begin to draw in, it seems Autumn has arrived and is settling in to get comfy. I love this time of year: bright, windy days and crisp, starry nights; Harvest Festivals and Hallowe’en… So what better way to wave goodbye to the Summer and thumb our noses at Winter as it creeps over the horizon, than to embrace this season of restful completion and treat ourselves to some pampering?

Now I don’t know about you, but to me nothing says ‘pampering’ like a bit of spa time. As you might expect, Bath plays host to a number of spas. Though it is no longer possible to bathe in the Roman Baths, you can still take the benefit of the steamy, mineral-rich waters that give the city of Bath Spa its name, by visiting the Thermae Bath Spa.

There are some great package deals available, ranging from the early-evening Twilight Package (a great option for the budget conscious at just £42 for three hours), up to the super-indulgent Thermae Experience, a day-long delight which promises to take tender, loving care of every bit of you from face to feet, for £189. If you’re thinking of joining us for a mid-week break, the new Tea For Two package might be just the thing for you and a friend or partner to spoil yourselves – available every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoon throughout October and costing £80, it sounds rather tasty if you ask me!

If you prefer to build your own spa experience, all treatments can be booked individually in conjunction with a two-hour, four-hour or full-day spa session – and if all you really want is to have a soothing splash about in the lovely hot water then you don’t even need to book! Spa sessions are available on a ‘first come, first served’ basis and start at £26 for two hours.

With a discount card from the Bath Independent Guest House Association’s BIGHA Benefits scheme (or ‘Big Ben’ for short), you can also get a three hour spa session for the price of two hours, for up to four people! We provide the Big Ben card to all guests at check in, and it’s valid at lots of other lovely places too, including The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel. Though it does not use the mineral spring waters for which Bath has been renowned throughout the ages, The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel has the advantage of being smaller and more intimate, with a carefully chosen scheme of decor incorporating natural stone, wood and bamboo, designed to engage all the senses in harmony.

With a range of offers available to non-residents of the hotel, this could be your perfect retreat, whether you are celebrating or just in need of a little escape. I particularly like the look of the ‘Mid-Week Relax & Revive’ – next time I need to recharge my batteries I’ll know where to go! The Spa at the Royal Crescent Hotel has a varied menu of treatments, all of which can be booked individually; from manicures and pedicures using JESSICA nail products,  to ranges specially tailored towards men and mums-to-be; so there’s bound to be something for everyone! The Spa’s ‘Big Ben’ offer allows complimentary spa use when you spend £60 or more on treatments. Are you tempted? I know I am…

If you have a car and feel like venturing a bit further afield, consider the Aqua Sana spa at Center Parcs in Longleat forest (near Warminster). Hidden away in the heart of the forest, you could not ask for a more tranquil or romantic setting for a day of gentle self indulgence. Aqua Sana is open to non-residents, offering a range of day or evening experiences including a Chocolate Indulgence Spa Day for Two – my mouth’s watering just thinking about it! Most packages include refreshments of some kind and the Vitale Cafe restaurant has a full and varied menu.

Additional treatments can be added to any spa package after booking – it is advisable to do this in advance, especially if you have your heart set on a specific treat, as places are limited and certain treatments will sell out quickly. That said, it’s never too late if you want to add a little something at the last minute – just ask when you arrive as there are often special deals and last-minute openings to be snapped up!

Once you’re feeling well-rested and pampered to the nines, why not treat your creative side to an excursion with Walk and Draw Bath? Professional artist and photographer Andrew Lansley will teach and guide you to create your own artwork and lead you around Bath to explore some rare treats, such as tea in the gardens of the Royal Crescent Hotel or lunch at The Bath Priory. Andrew is happy to create a bespoke itinerary to suit any budget, helping you to get a unique view of Bath and really make the most of your time in our beautiful city – not to mention having your own artwork to take home at the end!

Walk And Draw Bath is part of the ‘Big Ben’ discount scheme, offering 10% off all adult tickets – so what are you waiting for? Get scribbling! And don’t forget to book your room at Three Abbey Green.

Fill your boots…

Those of you who have stayed with us before will know how proud we are of our award-winning breakfasts here at Three Abbey Green. From fresh Bath Bakery bread to free range eggs from The Good Egg Company; The Orchard Pig pressed Somerset apple juice to Cherry’s yummy homemade marmalade and Simi’s delicious jams – we believe breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, and you won’t want to start the day without it!

One of the great things about sourcing local homemade preserves is that we’re never sure what delightful new concoction we will be presented with next! Whatever is in season, Simi can take it from bush to bottle to breakfast in no time flat and it’s sure to taste great. Provenance is important to us, so it’s lovely to know that the same hands that delivered the latest batch to our door also picked, preserved and packaged every jar:

“Generally I make the jam within 24 hours of the fruit being picked…We don’t have a freezer or a car so I pick, carry home, make a batch in my maslin pan, bottle it then deliver it, mostly on foot”, says Simi. “I usually send a photo of the jam making process as well so that you can see your jam from tree/bush to jar.”

Simi's Jam

Here is Simi’s photo detailing how she makes her blackberry and apple jam. It really is as tasty as it looks!

“I’m from Azerbaijan in Iran and we have a long tradition of preserving,” Simi continues. “I run preserving workshops and classes from my home.  I make a lot of different Iranian pickles too. There are many sharp pickles flavoured with herbs and garlic which I grow myself.”

Simi’s website is full of delicious recipes as well as information about her cookery classes and workshops, which run during the daytime (10am – 2pm) or evening (6pm – 10pm). Classes for groups of 4 or more cost £60 per person, or for groups of 2 or 3, £90 per person. One to one tuition is available for £150. I can’t wait to try my hand at one of Simi’s tasty recipes – I fancy whipping up some courgette pancakes; thanks Simi!

If you’re inspired by Simi’s ‘bush to bottle’ production method and want to try it for yourself, there are some great places near Bath where you can pick your own fruit and veg – a great excursion out of the city that’s sure to end with something tasty on the table!

  • Chosen Hill Farm, Chew Magna (30 minutes from Bath by car). Family run pick-your-own farm overlooking Chew Valley Lake, offering a range of soft fruit and vegetables as well as a farm shop selling local produce.
  • Druid Farm, Stanton Drew (also about 30 minutes’ drive from Bath). Farm shop and pick your own with 25 different vegetables and fruits as well as flowers. Call on 01275 332125 for more information – and don’t forget to check out the Stanton Drew stone circles while you’re in the neighbourhood!
  • Manor Farm, Shepton Beauchamp, near Illminster (around 1 hour 15 minutes from Bath by car). A bit further afield, but set in a beautiful location and off the tourist trail. A taste of the real Somerset!

And finally, if you want to give the cooking a miss and would rather prefer to see and be seen, it wouldn’t be September in Bath without the Jane Austen Festival! The festival runs from the 13th to the 21st September 2013 and includes the familiar staples of the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade and the Regency Costumed Masked Ball, as well as walks, talks, workshops and entertainments, from etiquette and dancing lessons to a Regency Costume fashion show and a particularly intriguing walk entitled ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: An Adventure’! I can’t wait for that one…

2013 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Austen’s most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice; so this year’s festival is sure to be, to quote another well-beloved English author, “a party of special magnificence”! I look forward to seeing you there.

Messing about on the river…

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
– Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

I could not have put it better myself, and as I swelter quietly at my desk, I long to be out there on the water, sunlight pouring through the dappled shade of the trees, one hand on the tiller and the other holding a nice, cool drink…

But alas, I am not on holiday! But if you’re likely to be soon and you’re heading to Bath, don’t miss your chance to take dear old Ratty’s advice:

Pulteney Cruisers operate hourly tours up and down the Avon from the scenic Pulteney Bridge and Weir to Bathampton and back. While the skipper gets you where you’re going – and provides some commentary on the notable sights – you are free to sit back, relax and watch the riverbank go sliding by… The sharp-eyed among you may even spot the occasional otter!

Or if you want a little more automony, why not explore the picturesque byways of the Kennet and Avon Canal with Bath Narrowboats? Choose from a wide range of diesel-powered narrowboats for groups of all sizes, for half-day, full-day or even overnight hire, and make sure the kids keep a lookout for Rosie and Jim!

Of course, you may well prefer to row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, in which case Bath Boating Station has a flotilla of skiffs and punts (great for groups or couples) as well as kayak- and Canadian-style canoes. All vessels are available to hire by the hour, or for a full day if you want to really push the boat out (pun intended)!

Another great thing about rowing from ‘A’ to ‘B’ is that you can do so entirely under your own power – great exercise and eco-friendly too.

We try to be as environmentally conscious as we can here at Three Abbey Green, so we were eager to sign up when offered the chance to join a new waste management scheme operated by the Bath BID . Daily collections of refuse and recycling are taken to a central facility where everything is sorted and recycled – this means we are now recycling around 98% of all waste! Bath BID provide lots of other great services too, playing an invaluable role in keeping the centre of Bath clean, safe and well maintained for all our lovely visitors – thanks BID!

And finally, as Royal fever spreads across the nation at the arrival of baby Prince George, what better time to salute the proud new parents? From 7th September, The Holburne Museum will be proud to display the first ever official portrait of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. On loan from the National Portrait Gallery, The Duchess of Cambridge by Paul Emsley was painted in nearby Bradford-on-Avon where the artist is based. The Holburne Museum is the only planned additional venue for its display this year, and will play host to the portrait until 6th November.

So there you have it! It’s a great time to be in Bath – come on down and stay with us at Three Abbey Green.

 

 

 

 

Summertime…

It’s summertime and the living is easy…

So said George and Ira Gershwin, and I’m inclined to agree. What is it about the summer sunshine that makes everything else that much easier to deal with? Whatever it is, I’m all for it, as are it seems, Abbey Green’s newest residents.

Eagle-eyed viewers of the Three Abbey Green FaceBook page may have spotted our first photo of the aforementioned new arrivals: a small family of ducks have moved into our neighbourhood and are making themselves quite at home! Here at the guest house we are competing amongst ourselves to see who can get the best picture of our new neighbours (Alan is winning so far I think…). But we thought it might be fun for you to get involved too, so we are running a competition to find names for our feathered friends – message us on FaceBook with your suggestions!

Those of you who have stayed with us before will have no doubt sampled our delicious home-made jams and marmalade, supplied by Simi’s Kitchen and Derek’s sister Cherry Ionides. We offer small jars of all our delicious preserves for sale (stocks permitting!) and donate 100% of the proceeds to our chosen charity, Children’s Hospice South West.

Having totted up and sent away our donations, we have recently learned that we have succeeded in raising more than GBP450 so far this year! So thanks go to all guest who have taken home a tasty souvenir – and especially to those who put a little extra in the pot!

Now that the fine weather is here to stay, thoughts will no doubt be turning to the prospect of barbecues, bike-rides and all things out-and-about.

Well I may not be able to help you with the barbecue I’m afraid, but I’m sure there’s something here that will tempt you to visit…

Fancy having a flutter?  Then spend an evening at the races on 2nd July 2013, at the next Bath Racecourse Summer Party Racenight. With live music and great views of the city, it’s an experience not to be missed.

If you’re looking for a fun event that the whole family can enjoy, consider the Bath Pageant of Motoring on 6th and7th July 2013, at Walcot Rugby Ground. Featuring an eclectic display of classic and vintage cars and motorcycles, the event promises to be a fun-filled weekend – I myself will be gazing longingly at the nearest classic Triumph and pining for the open road…

For those of a sporting disposition, get your black-and-whites on because Bath City FC are playing a pre-season ‘friendly’ at home against Bristol Rovers on 12th July. Kick off at 7.30pm.

And if you’re in the mood for something a little more romantic, the Roman Baths will be open by torchlight until 10pm (last entry 9pm) daily throughout July and August. Take a stroll back in time and imagine Bath at its very beginning… and don’t forget to book your room here  at Three Abbey Green!

Well here we are at last!

It’s been a long time coming, but the shiny new Three Abbey Green website has finally arrived! We’re pretty pleased with the new look and, hopefully, it will be much easier for all of you to find the information you need about staying with us. Let us know what you think!

You’re currently reading one of the most notable changes to our site. This blog will be your place to find out the latest news about the guest house and apartments, as well as our personal recommendations for things to do during your visit. I will do my best to give you a ‘local’s eye view’ of what’s happening in Bath every month and perhaps even give you a sneak preview of things to come.

The new website is not the only change afoot here at Three Abbey Green – we are now live on Facebook and Twitter! The links on the left of the contact page will remain constant so you can always hop across and follow us there. You never know what extra special offers and deals might pop up. Keep an eye on Tripadvisor too: the window on the right of the contact page is automatically updated with our ranking and latest reviews. If you’ve stayed with us before, why not write a review of your own? We’d love to know how your visit went.

Most of you will know that, as a city, Bath is quite proud of her literary connections. Perhaps the most well-known literary figure to be associated with Bath is Jane Austen, which is why, when we decided to make another change and redevelop Four Abbey Green apartment into three new rooms for the guest house, we opted to name it the Jane Austen Wing. Each room is named for a heroine from one of Austen’s novels.

The top floor room is named for Elinor Dashwood, the elder of the two Dashwood sisters in Austen’s earliest novel, Sense and Sensibility. A sensible young lady, after disappointment and heartache Elinor finds her eventual happy ending in the arms of the noble Mr Edward Ferrars. On the second floor you will find the Elizabeth Bennet room. The protagonist of Pride and Prejudice, Austen’s most famous novel, Elizabeth’s experiences lead her to set aside her tendency toward prejudice and find love with the proud Mr Darcy. And finally the first floor room, named after Emma Woodhouse, the titular character of Emma, the last of Austen’s novels to be published in her lifetime. Emma is a naive young socialite who learns the perils of matchmaking, before realising and finally acting upon her love for her dear friend Mr Knightley.

Elinor Dashwood and Elizabeth Bennet rooms are both available to book from 7th July 2013; when we have set a date for Emma Woodhouse to be completed, you’ll read it here first! If Austen is your cup of afternoon tea, make sure you drop by the Jane Austen Centre while you are in town. The Jane Austen Festival runs from 13th to 21st September 2013 – now’s the time to book one of our lovely new rooms above and make the most of the season!

On the subject of festivals, there’s so much going on in Bath this year, we’re all going to be spoilt for choice! Visit Bath have a full month-by-month listing at http://visitbath.co.uk/whats-on/major-festivals-and-events .

The one I’m particularly looking forward to is the weekend of Museums at Night: http://visitbath.co.uk/whats-on/museums-at-night-p384193 on 16th to 18th May. There’s just something so magical about having a chance to see something beautiful in a completely new light…

Have a look at our last minute availability if I’ve succeeded in tempting you to join us. Hurry! While the sun’s still shining!

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