A city full of surprises.

Well, this morning l really thought l was seeing a couple of ghosts from Bath’s regency past – strolling through Sydney Gardens in the sort of costumes ladies of the period would have worn when this former Vauxhall pleasure garden opened to the fee-paying public in 1795.

Turns out these were no society spectres but members of the famous Jane Austen Dancers of Bath Regency Dance Group out for a stroll.

Certainly the gardens were also a favourite place for the famous novelist to take a walk when she lived just across the road from its Great Pulteney Street entrance.

Now a taster of what is to come.

More tell tell signs that the multi-million pound project at Bath Abbey, to stabilise the floor and improve facilities for visitors and those who continue to maintain and operate this history building as a place of worship, is coming to an end.

The hoarding that has surrounded the Abbey for several years now is starting to come down after the removal – just recently – of the containers that contractors were using as site offices.

I have been told that KingstonBuildings – alongside the church – is due to complete at the end of this month/early May. It will provide offices and a new Choir Song School.

The completion date for the new underground spaces comprising the Discovery Centre, Learning Space and toilets will be ready by the end of this year or the beginning of next.

My thanks to the Revd Stephen Girling for this amazing shot of the Abbey nave in all its pew-less glory. The way it would have looked when originally constructed.

Check out this ‘walk through the Footprint Project’ – loaded by the Abbey on YouTube back in November 2020.

Meanwhile l bumped into a couple of Wessex Water engineers busy installing a new public water fountain on ‘Bog Island’ – being watched by a young lady from AC Archaeology (who have offices in Wiltshire and Devon) just in case anything of note – other than utilities – should be revealed.

I have asked Wessex Water to comment but it is my understanding the fountains are being installed in conjunction with B&NES to encourage people to refill their water bottles and cut down on plastic.

Another fountain has been installed on the High Street and one by Bath City College.

Now l am going to hand over to Ralph Oswick for what he describes as ‘another rant.’

Ralph is a former Artistic Director of the Natural Theatre Company and not too happy – it seems – with the city’s bus station which he describes as ‘a total disgrace.’

Here’s his email:

“I don’t use public transport often for obvious reasons (dodgy knee, dodgy
pandemic) but I chose to go into town today for a haircut (hooray!).
The drivers in both directions were super-friendly and helpful. The bus however
was coated on every surface with a layer of grime which left a black deposit
when touched. It certainly hadn’t been deep cleaned in the last 48 hours.

As for the bus station, for a facility that is in the middle of a World
Heritage city about to welcome a huge influx of foreign visitors, and is
supposed to provide a civilised and efficient service for those of us who
can’t afford taxis or 4x4s (i.e. the majority of ordinary hard working
citizens) – it is a total disgrace.


They asked for a glass box, so why not clean the windows for a change? The glass everywhere looks like it has been gobbed on, the bases of the seats are covered in black grease,  bits of tape
from old notices proliferate and the big map has all its fixings missing and looks the height of scruffiness.

Outside, the pavement is rank. I’d go as far as to say revolting. At least two of the ‘moderne’ seating units are rusty,  broken and balanced dangerously on their concrete fittings and are
now so low, nobody, especially someone like me with mobility issues, could possibly sit on them.

And can’t someone in charge give the long-suffering drivers somewhere decent
to have their well-earned smoke? The pavement where they congregate is
covered in dog ends (illegal) and there are empty takeaway coffee cups
stuffed into the wire barriers.

I use the term ‘someone in charge ‘ loosely. If someone was in charge they
would lighten our load with nice clean seats, a bit of classical music, a
few plants maybe: even the barest evidence of pride of place would be an
improvement. And dare I suggest a smidgeon of Windolene would work wonders
for our sunken spirits.

My friend and I were in a major transport interchange in Switzerland. It was
sparklingly, gleamingly clean. There were flowers everywhere. You could even
hear what the multi-lingual public address system was saying. As a joke I
ran a tissue along some of the surfaces. Nary a smudge was raised.


And, naturally, as the second hand met the mark on the station clock, the bus
drew off. What’s more, as valuable visitors, our electronic hotel key cards
also acted as bus passes, so free transport to all the local sights!”

I approached First Group for comment.

Chris Hanson, Operations Director for First West of England, said:

“We can reassure all customers that our buses are cleaned thoroughly every single night ready to go back into service the following day. We continue to follow the advice from public health bodies and undertake the highest standards of cleaning regimes on all our vehicles.

“We take this responsibility extremely seriously and are disturbed to hear this report. We will of course make sure a thorough audit is carried out.

“Regarding the cleanliness of the station in Bath, this facility is also subject to enhanced cleaning regimes and rest assured we will take these comments on board as part of our regular hygiene and cleanliness reviews.” 

Finally as the lockdown eases – and April slips into May – l wanted to leave you with a selection of examples of how our city centre – weather permitting – will be providing the means for us to socialise again.

Enjoying our historic surroundings and summer warmth in the outdoor cafe company of our family and friends.

Have a great Tuesday!