THE BATH ABBEY

While in the UK I blogged about our visit to Stonehenge but left out the rest of the trip, where we landed in city of Bath, Somerset..

Bath (pronounced /ˈbɑːθ/) is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in the south west of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. The population of the city is 83,992.[1] It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590,[2] and was made a county borough in 1889 which gave it administrative independence from its county, Somerset. The city became part of Avon when that county was created in 1974. Since 1996, when Avon was abolished, Bath has been the principal centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES).The city was first established as a spa resort with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis (“the waters of Sulis”) by the Romans in AD 43 although verbal tradition suggests that Bath was known before then.[3] They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs, which are the only ones naturally occurring in the United Kingdom.[4]. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973.[5] Much later, it became popular as a spa resort during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

It was a wonderful stay with the highlight for me being the Bath Abbey, not because it is yet another magnificent church (It is), but because of what is inside.2008 June 15 Bath  _MG_93982008 June 15 Bath  _MG_94252008 June 16 Bath  2008 June 16  _MG_9622

The walls were adorned with flags of military companies that had served Britain in ancient wars, and marble slabs with inscriptions describing the past lives of those who have passed on. This may sound morbid but one of my favourite things to explore in England was the cemeteries. Seeing a monument to someone from the 1600 or 1700’s and a snippet of their life was fascinating for me.

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The one I remember the most, but did not photograph, was one written by a family as an ode to their loving mother. I do not remember the words, but I remember how it was an apt tribute to a great mom. Here are a few others that I found fascinating. The UK history is so rich and long.

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Imagine living in Bengal, serving the Empire in the 1700s.

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And last but not least,  this slab was underfoot.

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Lives lived. You can take a visual tour here.

25 REFLECTIONS ON THE UK (PART 3 OF 3)

 

5. One more on cars. Parking is very funny in the UK. In North America, when you park on the street you must park in the direction of traffic in the appropriate designated area. In the UK, people park on either side of the road (direction is irrelevant) and often anywhere and everywhere. After all, parking wasn’t an issue hundreds of years ago so they really didn’t plan for it.

4. British people LOVE their dogs. We loved that they loved their dogs. Parks are full of dogs running around. The elderly (who seem healthier than North Americans) are always seen walking around with their dogs. Everywhere you go – dogs. On Wentworth, one of the more prestigious courses in the world, dogs are welcome. Our neighbour would golf every weekend with his lab running behind him. Amazing. We North American’s could learn something from the European’s in this regard – seeing a family with their small dog in the restaurant in Normandy was incredibly refreshing. That is a true ‘family’ out for dinner.

3. Everything has a cost and a benefit. I just realized, after 24 amazing months that one of my costs was that I never got to say good-bye to my dog, Bram. Ciao Bram.

2. It is all about people. England is a diverse culture and I am thankful to have worked with and met many amazing people who have a huge impact on my outlook on life and my character. In two years, I owe many people an enormous debt of thanks.

1. Life is about experiences, not things.

25 REFLECTIONS ON THE UK (PART 2 OF 3)

 

15. England is very old. Canada is very young. Two years later, driving by an old church or a pub that was built in the 1400s still amazes me. I could spend hours wandering a cemetery reading the inscriptions, history was made in the UK.

14. Stop signs should be banned in North America – long live the roundabout. North America should learn the lesson.

13. Spoiled food is good. In Canada, things don’t spoil quickly. In the UK they do. As an expat it is initially frustrating as you have to hit the store more often. However, you soon realize that quicker spoiling means less preservatives and definitely less salt. All organic is now the family motto. Oh yah, and I now detest chain store fast food – have been without it for 2 years and don’t miss it.

12. Male fashion is all about the brown shoes with the suit or jeans, and the French cuff shirt. Got it. Understood! But still don’t buy into the whole pink shirt thing. Sorry.

11. Parking in England is an adventure. Like everything else, the people building the homes and roads 1,000 years ago were just not thinking! I had a BMW 5 series estate. Parking with that car meant that every time that I got out of the car two things would happen: there would not be enough room so I would have to get out sideways and no matter how hard I tried, my door always touched the car beside me. The only car that actually had enough room to park was the Mini (which is why there are so many of them in England I suppose).  In the end, the UK has cars, but really isn’t made for cars. The UK was made for horses and walking.

10. The world is flat. Ten years ago, going international would have been a lot harder. Web cams, 1 hour phone calls for $1, email, digital photos and videos, cheap flights, social networking and XBOX LIVE keep you as connected .. as you want to be.

9. A Tom Tom GPS got me all around the UK, Washington, Scotland, Belgium, Paris and through Normandy. I cannot imagine doing this without a GPS. And I will never buy in car SATNAV again. Overpriced, hard to update and generally underperforms – mobile satnav for me please.

8. I have become a very proud Canadian. Canada is a great country, with a rich and varied culture (French, English and everyone else in the world) – with a proud link to Britain.

7. Customer service in the UK is a paradox. The milkman comes to the door 3 times a week (good), you can order groceries on the internet (good), Amazon lets you buy pretty much anything you can think of (books, DVDs, shoes, MP3 drm free downloads to filters for my Jura coffee maker) from one central place and have it delivered in 1 day (awesome). But the ‘convenience’ store on the corner closes at 6, the mall is closed at 6 on a Friday night, the 16 year old checkout boy at the counter sits down while checking me out and watches me pack my own bags, and on many occasions, because they thought we were American – they were downright rude.

6. The world owes the UK an enormous debt for their resolve during WWII. If it were not for this nations ability to hold out while the Americans made up their minds, the Germans would not have been stopped.

ASCOT LADIES DAY

Yesterday we had the good fortune to head out to one of the big UK cultural events, Ascot Ladies day at Royal Ascot raceway:

The centrepiece of Ascot’s year, Royal Ascot is the world’s most famous race meeting, steeped in history dating back to 1711. The royal family attend the meeting, arriving each day in a horse-drawn carriage. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing. The Royal Enclosure has a strict dress code—male attendees must wear full morning dress including a top hat, whilst ladies must not show bare midriffs or shoulders and must wear hats. Outside the Royal Enclosure the dress code is less severe, but many people choose to wear formal dress anyway. Traditionally to be admitted to the Royal Enclosure for the first time one must either be a guest of a member or be sponsored for membership by a member who has attended at least four times. However controversially in 2007 Royal Enclosure day passes were also issued with hospitality package.

The Ascot Gold Cup is on Ladies’ Day on the Thursday. There is over £3,000,000 of prize money on offer.

The biggest thing about this day is the ‘ladies’ aspect – specifically the fancy dresses and crazy hats. I had a friend tell me that his mom and friends book a seat at a restaurant every year just so they can spend the day people watching. Of course, the other aspect is that after a day of champagne and PIMMS, those same posh women can look quite funny.

The race day started with the Queen had family heading to the Royal Enclosure. This year the Queen backed a stricter dress code. You can read it here – quite funny.

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I have only been to a horse race a few times before and each time from the bleachers. Being close to the action was quite entertaining. The horses are beautiful, the day was gorgeous and I lost £40 betting because I had no idea what I was doing.

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Time for an upgrade.

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It is all about the hats.

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Good fun. Another UK adventure. Although I did not have as much fun as this lad …..

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A SPIKE IN LONDON

If you look at this large pointy thing, sitting by a bridge in London, what would you think it is?

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Your choices:

a) Over priced art the the city of London commissioned to make the city look ‘deep’.

b) A monument to mothers everywhere who have spent centuries yelling out ‘Don’t run with pointy things in your hands!’

c) A monument to medieval England and some rather unpleasant goings-on.

d) A giant sun dial.

The answer is a AND c. It is a spike meant to commemorate the location where traitors heads would be left on a pike to rot. Charming.

Tower bridge, however, is charming. Everyone thinks this is London Bridge, it is not.

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