Abbey clearance continues.

Abbey clearance continues.

The east end of Bath Abbey is now clear of pews as Emery Brothers – the local builders with the multi-million-pound task of securing the church floor and building new facilities – get into their stride.


The pews in the east end have now all been removed.

I watched as Fiona started cleaning the surface of the ledger stones that have been uncovered for the first time in one hundred and fifty years.


Fiona at work cleaning newly-exposed ledger stones for official recording next week.

The job of recording them will get underway next week before they are taken up for the contractors to deal with the cavities that have been found under the floor.


The contractor is installing as much protection as possible for the Abbey’s amazing interior walls. Next to the scaffolding is Prior William Birde’s exquisite early 16th-century chapel.

They will gradually work their way around this ancient building over the next two years until the whole interior is stabilised.

Though most of the pews will be returned to the east end, the rest of the building will be left open – as it was when this English gothic perpendicular church was built at the beginning of the 16th century.


The temporary raised altar with the permanent High Altar now covered in the distance below the east window.

While building work continues, the High Altar has been covered and a temporary altar erected on the nave side of the crossing.

It’s on a dais at a spot that may well be used on a regular basis when the Abbey is returned to full use at the end of its Footprint Project.


Looking down towards the west end of the Abbey from the temporary altar.

Emery Brothers are hoping a fan-based ventilating system they are going to install – when the east end is sealed behind a giant dust cover – should obviate the need for wrapping the 1997-installed Klais Organ.


Hopefully, dust can be dealt with in such an effective way as to not need wrapping for the church organ.

I have been trying out a new device called the Osmo Mobile 2 which turns my mobile into a steady cam.

All fired up!

All fired up!

The fires are lit – so let the forging begin! Bath’s first-ever Festival of Ironwork has got underway today – Thursday, June 14th.


The Master Blacksmiths have started work on their individual panels for the bandstand.

See the blacksmiths at work – and have a go yourself – is just some of the entertainment available in Parade Gardens through to 6pm on Sunday evening.


Here’s where Bath school children are having a (supervised) go at ironwork.

There are also displays of the most amazing ironwork.


Another piece of iron art.

Running alongside this ar talks on the subject at the Guildhall and free sixty minute Heritage Ironwork walks – led by two experienced blacksmiths – around Bath City centre to discover hidden ironwork treasures.


Some of the amazing ironwork on display.

Elsewhere on the Bath Newseum site, you will read how Master Blacksmiths will be forging unique and individual ironwork panels for the bandstand in Parade Gardens.


How clever is this?


Find out more about the National Heritage Ironwork Group – and the Bath Iron Festival – via


There is plenty to see outside too.


Skilful work on display in Parade Gardens.

No more plastic & looks fantastic.

No more plastic & looks fantastic.

Congratulations to Garfunkels Restaurant at The Empire in Bath!


True to their word the horrible plastic flowers – that were in the window boxes – have long gone to be replaced with real plants.

Well done – it looks fab!

Meanwhile, wondering how long before there will be problems with people queueing for the tourist and university buses on the north side of Bath Abbey.


The hoarding that has gone up around this part of the church has only left a very narrow strip for people to stand upon.

It’s all looking a bit close to the road.

On Facebook Andrew Stanton also points out……Screen Shot 2018-06-07 at 13.57.48

Bath hosts national walk.

Bath hosts national walk.

The 2018 National Samaritans Walk is taking place this Saturday, June 9th, around Bath – and hundreds of Samaritans and their friends and supporters are coming to the Georgian City from across the country to take part.

View of Bath 001

Joining them to celebrate the day will be England Netball Commonwealth Gold Medal Winner, Eboni Beckford-Chambers, the new Mayor of Bath, Cllr Patrick Anketell-Jones, and National Samaritans Chair, Jenni McCartney.

The Samaritans Walk is hosted by a different local branch each year, and draws together volunteers, their families, friends, and hundreds of supporters from across the UK. Contributions from those walking, and sponsors, help raise thousands of pounds for the charity.SAMS Walk 'launch'

Over 200 walkers will be following one of two circular routes of either 12.5 miles or 23miles. Both take in some of the most spectacular and quintessentially English countryside there is, in the Somerset Avon valley, along the Kennet & Avon canal, through the villages of Monkton Combe, Wellow and Saltford, and on the famous Bath Skyline, the hills surrounding the UK’s only World Heritage City.

Bath Tourism Plus

Bath and District Samaritans Director, David Ryder, said the Walk will not only help the Branch raise funds for its work, but also allow those taking part to enjoy the camaraderie of a communal event, and celebrate the Samaritans’ work:

“The 100 volunteers of Bath & District branch take over 40,000 calls a year from people in distress, who feel they have no-one else to talk to. Sometimes what’s troubling them is causing them to have suicidal thoughts.

“An event like the National Walk is a great way to do something to help our work, but also to show support for anyone going through a tough time. We want everyone to know, however dark things may seem, there is always someone to talk to.”


The University of Bath’s Claverton Down campus will be the location for the start and finish of the event, and an evening party will be held in the University’s Lime Tree venue to allow all those walking and their friends and family to celebrate.

Local firms Spaces, Investec, Richardson Swift and Bath RFC have also given sponsorship support to the event.Bath & District Samaritans at Spaces

Online registration for the Walk has now closed, but it is possible to undertake the Walk by registering on the day, before 09.30, at the Registration Desk at the Lime Tree Café, University of Bath. The cost is £30 per walker, with all proceeds going to Bath & District Samaritans.

  • The Walkers will be starting from the Lime Tree Restaurant, University of Bath, from 07.30 on Saturday morning.
  • Communal warm-up sessions, led by a professional trainer, will be held at 07.30, 08.00,08.30 including photography with the Mayor, and 09.00.
  • Netball Champion Eboni Beckford-Chambers will be joining the Walkers and their supporters in the evening from 18.00, together with the Mayor and the Samaritans National Chair, in the Lime Tree Café at the University of Bath campus.

    Advice for those needing to call the Samaritans:

  • Anyone can call Samaritans for free, any time, from any phone, on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill); or
  • Samaritans across the UK and Ireland respond to more than 5.6 million calls for help every year.
The last straws

The last straws

One of Bath’s big hotels is joining the anti-plastic straw campaign and setting itself up as a water ‘re-filling station’ as part of the city’s growing environmental effort.


The Apex City of Bath Hotel is part of a national family-owned hotel group which has announced action across all ten of their properties.

In a press statement released today the Group says:

‘In celebration of World Environment Day (Tuesday, June 5th), Apex confirms two brand new initiatives in the fight against plastic. The national day is organised by the United Nation’s every year to encourage people to help protect the environment.’

The hotel group calculated that over 33,000 straws were used in the past 11 months in Apex properties.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex. Apex Hotel opening, Bath 18th October 2017.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex. Apex Hotel opening, Bath 18th October 2017.

Angela Vickers, CEO of Apex Hotels, said: “Like many others within the hospitality industry, we are determined to play our part in protecting the environment.

It is our duty to be environmentally conscious so it was important to us to ensure plastic straws were banned from all our hotels. When you think of the potential billions of straws that are used every year here in the UK, this is a step in the right direction to ensure we are doing our bit to help reduce the plastic that is put into the environment.”

Apex Hotels will only stock Plastico PLA Cold Drink Straws which are made from 100% renewable resources, and the Utopia Paper Straw Range which are fully recyclable, biodegradable and completely food safe.

All hotels in the portfolio, which include hotels in London, Glasgow, Dundee, Bath and Edinburgh, have also just become water refilling stations as part of another UK wide initiative to reduce plastic waste.

The hotel brand has signed up with Refill which now has over 1,600 refill stations in the UK.

This means that Apex Hotels will be listed on the Refill app as a refill station, allowing members of the public to come into the hotel with their own water bottle and refill with water for free.

Angela continues: “This is another great initiative which we are proud to be a part of. By encouraging people to reuse their water bottles and refill, it helps reduce the tonnes of plastic that end up in landfills and oceans.

“This is also a part of our #warmerwelcome campaign where we are always looking for new ways to help guests get the most out of their stay.”

Customers can download the app to find stations and each hotel will have a sticker which will notify passers-by.

Paint it block? Plus – your comments!

Paint it block? Plus – your comments!

Not everything erected as part of last year’s Bath Christmas Market was taken down at the end of the event.

We live in troubled times and anti-terrorism barriers of many shapes and sizes have been installed around the country.


A whole line was installed originally in front of the north side of Bath Abbey.

In Bath, we are left with necessary – but rather unsightly – blocks of concrete.

They started their street life being wrapped in Christmas paper but have since suffered greater indignities as large-scale cigarette ashtrays, tables for empty beer cans and additional seating for the weary.


They tried to disguise them with Christmas wrapping paper for the Market.

Contractors in the Saw Close added their own decorations to some. Using them as warnings to the roadworks ahead, and now – l hear  B&NES wants to do something officially with them to make them less of an eye-sore – but still obvious as a deterrent.


Contractors coloured them and one homeless person found a space to sleep between them.

Word has it the newly-elected Mayor may be asked to launch a competition for school kids to come up with designs for individual paintworks.


At one point – between West Gate Street and Union Street – specially reinforced bollards have gone in. Maybe this is a better idea all round?

While l applaud the idea of involving our talented youngsters, l have a feeling the standard of finish might not be quite what tourists want to see in the middle of a World Heritage city.

Professional artists might do a better job of it but – maybe – any attempt to paint them may well just encourage the graffiti artists to move in and apply a second coating.


Roadblocks beside the Louvre in Paris.

Our one-man Graffiti Unit would never cope with that.


A slightly more architectural look.

Having come back from France just recently l have included some ‘block’ types from Paris where they tend to just leave them alone to acquire a ‘street’ patina.


l knocked my knee on something like this.

Maybe ours could be colour-coded for the area in which they are situated or just made into novelty road signs e.g. ‘Baths this way’ or  ‘Circus straight on?’


This one is on the Av. des Champs-Elysees.

Be interested to hear what others may think.


 Well, we have suggestions coming in via Twitter:
Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 18.12.20
Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 18.13.16
Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 18.12.47
And via Facebook.
Screen Shot 2018-06-04 at 18.16.09
Meanwhile, l spotted Emery’s work team using concrete blocks to help secure the fencing they are erected around part of Bath Abbey before they start work on the interior.

The east and north end​s of Bath Abbey slowly disappearing behind the hoarding.


Looks like concrete Lego?


It’s going to be a little tight for the university bus queue and tourists jumping on the tour​ bus service!

A broader canvas.

A broader canvas.

Just back from a trip to Paris.

It’s always a pleasure to spend time in the French capital – though things didn’t start too well with my wallet being stolen between stepping off the RER from the airport and onto the driverless Metro train at Chatelet station.

I can quite see why the French desert Paris during the summer months.

It gets hot in July and August. This year it decided to turn up the temperature volume during late May and with a close – and sweat-inducing atmosphere – setting off spectacular thunderstorms of drenching proportions.


A Parisian downpour!

So, with some relief, we set off – with friend Jacques (from Montmartre) behind the wheel – for the fresher air of Normandy and a visit to Claude Monet’s ‘pad’ in the Normandy village of Giverny.

Please forgive the pond-flavoured pun.

IMG_8420 2

Monet’s home in Giverny.

No surprises for guessing that it’s a popular tourist destination. Though we were lucky to find both a parking space and only a small queue to get into his house and spectacular garden.


One of the water lily ponds in Monet’s garden.

Things were not so stress-free inside the walls. I describe the choking flow of fellow tourists around garden paths – and through the house that once was home to the Monet family – as an ‘Anne Hathaway’ experience.


Some of our fellow tourists in Monet’s studio.

A couple of years ago – with friends – l visited the 500-year-old cottage in Stratford upon Avon where Shakespeare courted his wife to be.

I have never seen such a beautiful and historic building subjected to so much pressure from feet and pressing bodies.

It made it impossible – in some rooms – to feel any atmosphere other than the breath of the person standing next to you!

Back to Giverny, and there was more space in the garden where – l have to say – today’s custodians of these acres of rose bushes and lily ponds – are doing a grand job of maintaining the colour and spirit of a place which inspired Monet to paint many a famous canvas for so many years.


This was the queue into Monet’s gardens when we came out. The entrance is in the distance – beneath the French flags. Reminds me of the Roman Baths in the summer!

It is a beautiful place and – despite the commercialisation of the village – so is Giverny.

I read the villagers were not too happy when Monet moved in. The ‘wild beast’ with the large ‘family’ who painted in such a strange language – treated with distrust and suspicion.


A pond full of water lilies.

He lived to see that attitude turned around and today the village seems dedicated to preserving and exploiting his name.

It’s a most beautiful country setting – not far from the crazy meanderings of the Seine – and a place the great painter still inhabits.

He lies –  surrounded by his family – in a shared grave to one side of the village churchyard.

I duly paid my respects to the man who put water lilies (amongst many other things) on the Impressionist map.



The family grave.



I had sought out his last resting place but – in doing so – passed another shared grave.

This one contains the remains of the seven crewmen – aboard a Royal Air Force Lancaster bomber which crashed in flames to the south of the village during the night of the 7th and 8th of June 1944.


The airmen’s grave

A day after the Allied forces had begun their D Day landings on the beaches of the Normandy coastline.

A little further on – a propellor from that doomed aircraft was turned into part of a monument which ‘ stands in testimony to the crew and is a symbol of the admiration and gratitude of the people of Giverny.


The memorial – with a propeller blade – in the churchyard at Giverny.

Their sacrifice led to our liberty today.’

The earth of France and Belgium lies over the bodies of thousands and thousands of people from our islands who went to war to ‘defend freedom.’

So much sacrificial blood has soaked the soil.

If ever there was a reason for not throwing away our place in Europe – within the Union – it is this grave – and all the myriad of military graves like it.

Do the ‘Little Englanders’ want us to exhume and bring EVERY body home when they ‘cut’ the political chord?



Looking out of the house into the garden.


A united Europe brings us together in a common cause for peace and a shared European experience of collective cultures – of which we all are part.

I am grateful to that little village for my ‘Monet experience’ – but also for making me realise how much l don’t want to feel an outsider. I – and we – belong in Europe.