We made a lot of stops so Joe could capture the Land Rovers he spied on the trip. This one was especially amusing because as Joe later found out, the driver was still in it.
Recharged from our late lunch at The Circus, Joe and I continued on our way back into the city center, hoping the crowds had thinned and we stood a chance of getting into the Baths that day.
As we walked into town, we started to feel the slightest drip-drip from the heavens. Unperturbed, we moved onward… and, as they tend to do, the occasional drip-drip transformed– within a matter of moments– into a torrential downpour. Like many others, Joe and I found ourselves suddenly very interested in the items for sale in a nearby Bath and Bodyworks. And the rain continued. Clearly, many of the others inside were only there due to the deluge, but some didn’t even pretend. These just hovered near the doorway, searching for a sign the rain was stopping or at least slowing in its paces enough for them to further their journey. Ever the practical one, Joe used the opportunity to pick up some hair gel, which he had intended to get from a drugstore anyway. We rotated through the store as many times as we could before there was little else we could do to bide our time. As the rain continued, the store got progressively more cramped, as more and more shoppers piled inside. It was time to abandon ship. Joe paid for his hair gel and we stepped out into the rain. It had not abated.
It doesn’t rain nearly as much as you’d think it does in the UK. For all the stories, you’d think it never lets up– that it’s constantly dreary and rainy and foggy. That’s just simply not true. However, there is usually a point every day or so when the heavens open up and rain themselves out. It’s usually not for very long– just long enough to duck in somewhere for a pint and a nibble, and then it’s all over. It’s almost a kind of precipitation catharsis. Still, it can be something of an inconvenience if you’re actually trying to go somewhere.
We weren’t bound for anywhere in particular– we certainly weren’t pressed for time– but there was only so much time we could spend in a crowded Bath and Bodyworks before it was preferable to be outside and wet than inside, cramped, hot, and overwhelmed by a cornucopia of scents from the lotions, gels, balms and goos that surrounded us. So out we went.
Like a good outdoorsman, Joe positively enjoys less-than-ideal weather. He practically thrives in it. I love the rain, personally, but it’s awfully difficult to see with rain on your glasses, so as we made our way back towards the Baths, I kept an eye out for any shops that looked to have a reasonably priced umbrella.
I wasn’t the only one.
Stumbling along, we came across a rather crowded TK Maxx where, like in the Bath and Bodyworks, people seemed to be more interested in browsing the merchandise than they would had it not been raining. I plowed in immediately to where I suspected a logical place would be to keep umbrellas (between the handbags and the checkout), Joe following closely behind.
The rack had already been savaged, leaving three umbrellas: a bright pink and flowery medium-sized umbrella; a tall black and white, frill-edged gingham umbrella/parasol; and a small, clear, child’s Mickey Mouse umbrella. The sad limitations of the choices made me doubt whether I even needed an umbrella at all, but still darted in to grab the umbrella/parasol while I decided. No sooner had I done this and taken a single step back than two bedraggled girls descended on the spot, hoping too for some protection from the rain and finding… a pink abomination and a tiny Mickey Mouse umbrella. You could almost hear their minds churning. Do I REALLY need an umbrella that badly? If I do, which of us gets the abomination and which gets the kids’ umbrella? Is it more polite to opt for the less desirable umbrella for myself? But then I’d be stuck with a ridiculously small, nigh-useless, Mickey Mouse umbrella. Do I really need an umbrella that badly?…
Joe and I reasoned that given we were on our third day of a 14 day trip, chances were we’d fall upon another bout of out-of-nowhere rain (or it would fall upon us) and having an umbrella would probably not be such a bad thing. A) I’d be able to see since my glasses would be less covered by water droplets, and B) at the very least it would save us from another mad dash into a Bath and Bodyworks (he had his hair gel now, after all). And so, even though it was tall, non-collapsible, and not a little ridiculous, we found ourselves the proud new owners of an inconveniently large, shepherd’s crook-handled, frilled, black and white gingham umbrella-cum-parasol. And by we, I really mean I because obviously any man with a degree of self-respect would rather get drenched than use a frilled parasol.
By now the rain had dulled to a light mist.
Of course it had. There are laws about that somewhere.
After a brief pit stop at a local Costa Coffee, and yet another Land Rover sighting we proceeded on to the Baths.
Surprisingly, by the time we got there, the sun was shining and the queue appeared not to have moved. At all.
No worries, thought I. I booked my lodging through Bath tourism, and in so doing was promised a welcome pack. Said welcome pack is supposed to contain, among other things, a “Fast Track” pass to the Roman Baths. It seems now would be an excellent time to collect said pass. And so we found our way to the tourist information center and walked up to collect our welcome pack.
This, unfortunately, was a bust. Despite no mention of needing any sort of documentation in any of my correspondence with Bath Tourism, apparently, one needs a printed confirmation email to get the welcome pack. No, your confirmation number (which I had with me, as I did for all our lodgings for the trip) isn’t enough. That’s what I get for trying to be eco-friendly and not printing all the multi-page confirmation emails for ALL of my lodgings over a fortnight. You’d think they could just pull it up since I booked it through them… but no. Of course not.
Bath Tourism: Telling people what’s required in order to pick up their packets, especially when it requires they actually BRING you a specific piece of paper, would be a good thing to do in advance of their visit.
Unwilling to spend more time on our feet just queuing when, at this rate, the Baths would likely be closed before we got in (and even if we did get inside, they would clearly be ridiculously crowded), we abandoned our objective and headed back to the B&B.
Back through the spiders’ den.
Up the hill.
Through each one of three keys we were provided to the B&B.
Up the stairs.
Past the shortbread.
And back into the cozy room with the bed with too-many-yet-just-enough pillows.
“Just a rest for a bit,” Joe said.
We found a channel playing Top Gear and both passed out.