Thursday, August 13, 2015

Showers, Bath, Looe

Somewhat ridiculously, renting a car for a fortnight worked out significantly cheaper than The Goat and Beloved Wife attempting to use public transport, even though the car was left parked up for a week in Droitwich. Further advantages of car rental were convenience, not having to schlepp large orange suitcases in and out of buses or trains, and being able to fly in and out of the better-located Bristol airport rather than Heathrow.

Neither would there be a need to borrow Nanny Goat’s Aygo this time. The Goat made himself useful chez Nanny Goat. As he is now the new expert in domestic waste water plumbing, Nanny Goat asked him to unblock a drain. Unlike the Crumbling Villa over Eid, the blockage this time turned out to be solidified detergent rather than chip fat. It was shifted using the traditional method of opening a manhole, getting a garden hose, and giving the waste pipe an enema. “They don’t like it up ‘em, Mr Mainwaring!” The Goat also had two goes at replacing the washing line so that all the seventeenth-century kit could be put on display to the neighbours. The first attempt involved el cheapo raffia; the second, a much more serious plastic-coated steel wire.

The Goat’s sister and brother-in-law have recently moved into a converted stone barn somewhere in the Devon boondocks. The building is probably over a century old, and stands in over an acre of land. They have ducks and chickens, and have now befriended their horse-owning neighbours and have taken up riding. They have so far completely missed the obvious opportunity for caprine companions. The entire horde, or possibly herd, trooped over one afternoon for barbecue, buffet, and beer. Plus, of course, the obligatory guided tour of the house and grounds. 

The East Wing safari park and petting zoo.

“The Master cannot come to the door at this time, Sir. He is on safari in the East Wing.

Owing to Beloved Wife’s car recently developing a noisy pulley bearing, the Goat went down to a Plymouth purveyor of spare Volkswagen bits and procured a replacement over the counter at about a third the cost and a fraction of the time it usually takes Al Naboodah in Dubai. A Goat suspects that only the bearing needs to be replaced, but a Goat has to buy the entire tensioner assembly.

Off to Tiger Treats of Looe on a sunny day next, taking Nephews #1 and #2. They protested at first when the idea was mooted, but decided to quiet their objections once they’d worked out that a trip to the karting track at Menheniot was contingent on visiting Looe first. 

Looe harbour.
Near the beach at Looe.

The Goat received a new, indestructible leather hat for his birthday from his Beloved, who then procured and enjoyed a cone of Cornish ice cream with clotted cream on top. 

One of the many Looe shitehawks.
Nephew #2 subsequently proceeded to thrash his older brother and his heavier uncle on the race track. Mind you, Nephew #1 only stayed behind his uncle because of some aggressive cornering. Nobody else of the twenty or so karts went past this Triumvirate of Velocity.

Beloved Wife is a culture junkie, and Nanny Goat exhumed a National Trust book from her personal library and suggested venues from the comprehensive list of nearby abbeys, stately homes, and castles. Beloved Wife settled on Saltram House and Buckland Abbey.

Saltram is in Plymouth, and after finding somewhere to park, the Goat and Beloved Wife wandered around the grounds, took tea and cake, and then toured the house itself. “One of the finest examples of…etc.” according to the guidebook. In the traditional way, the first Lord established the house and estate, his son developed it, and the third generation (who had never worked a day in his life and thus had no appreciation of his wealth) pissed away the family fortune on fast women and slow horses. It took many generations plus marrying into money for Saltram to recover.

Front door of Saltram House.
Chapel at Saltram. Nowadays tea rooms.
Who'll be mother?
The only goat in Saltram House.

Recorder-playing cherub in Saltram

Saltram sphinges.
(Yes, that is the plural of sphinx)

By the time the tour was over, rain had set in for the afternoon. The Goat drove over Dartmoor to Sir Francis Drake’s pile: Buckland Abbey. This is not to be confused with the entirely different Buckfast Abbey that can wait for another time. Clarissa helpfully suggested an unorthodox route through some Dingly Dell and then reported that she’d “Lost satellite reception” beneath the trees. The Buckland grounds weren’t actually out of bounds, but even though Goats don’t dissolve in the rain, getting drenched in the gardens really didn’t appeal. Drake’s Drum, which will allegedly beat of its own accord when England is in peril, will struggle because all of its tensioning ropes have been removed.

Buckland Abbey in the rain.
Commemorative etched glass.
Buckland Abbey.

Buckland Abbey stairs by
M.C. Escher.
One of four satyrs (representing
known continents)
holding up a Buckland roof.
Buckland Abbey in the rain.
Buckland Abbey from the barn.
The Goat took a very short cut across Dartmoor back to Nanny Goat’s, partly to show Beloved Wife quite how bleak the moor could be in the rain. Yes, even in August. Drenched sheep looked on forlornly, as they’d recently been shorn and must surely have been freezing cold.

Hot pasties awaited the return of the culture vultures to Plymouth, which is a virtually guaranteed treat chez Nanny Goat. Mmmm: pastiferous delights!

Further culture was to follow. After saying their goodbyes to Nanny Goat, Beloved Wife and Goat set of towards Bristol via Bath. They located the long-stay parking and, in the sun because British weather is fickle like that, walked into the City. Obviously the Roman Baths were first on the itinerary. This is somewhere neither the Goat nor Beloved Wife have visited since the early 1970s. In fact, because archaeology is ongoing there are new exhibits on view that hadn’t been unearthed in the 1970s. As usual the water in the bath itself was completely out of bounds. Because it’s exposed to sunlight and nice and warm, all sorts of eldritch horrors live therein, and even touching the waters will give you squirty botty or worse. Those wishing to partake of the healthy, fresh-from-the-Mendips mineral water can get it from the fountain next door in the Georgian tea rooms.

Statue of Julius Caesar seems to owe a lot
 to Uderzo and Goscinny.
Roman baths and Abbey.

Ubi sunt alba mulierum?
Aquae Sulis.

The Goat had been looked up and down by a Bottom Inspector at admission to the Baths, who made no comment pertaining to the Goat’s attire. The Goat also spoke to and photographed a Roman re-enactor who passed comment regarding his unshod hooves. “It’s a bath. Who wears shoes in the bath?” In fact, she asked Beloved Wife about her mistreatment of her personal slave, and the Goat missed a trick, failing to spend the rest of the day addressing Beloved Wife as "Domina". 

At almost the end of the tour, the Goat was assured by a third member of staff that bare feet were not allowed, and no there were no signs stating this (ergo she’s obviously just made up this ‘rule’). So the Goat had to cover his hooves with his Vibram™ hobbit shoes to give the illusion that he had proper feet.

Next on the agenda was Bath Abbey, which is full of grave memorials all over the walls and floor. The BBC gives an estimate of between 4000 and 6000 bodies buried beneath the Abbey; a lady of ecclesiastical profession actually stated an exact number that the Goat cannot now remember. Audio entertainment was provided by organ practice. At one point the organist turned it up to eleven, engaged the 256-ft Earthquake Pipe, and made the building shake. 

Unlike in Worcester Cathedral, there appeared no requirement for a photography permit, and unlike the Baths, there was no mandatory requirement for footwear. One suspects that the Abbey staff may have assumed that the Goat was a discalced pilgrim. Uncultured oaf that he may be, the Goat does remember to remove his hat in church. Time did not permit taking the hundreds of steps up to the roof, so there’s something else remaining on the To Do list.

Bath Abbey.
Fan vaulting in Bath Abbey. 
Stained Glass in Bath Abbey.
The Goat paused on the way back to the car park to take miscellaneous photographs, and then to enter a Cheese Emporium, notwithstanding Beloved Wife’s protestations about aroma, car, and confined spaces. 

“Tell me, do you have any Stinking Bishop?”

“Of course Sir; it’s a cheese shop, Sir. It’s as runny as you like it.” 

Ancient engineers in Bath.
Why does the one one the left have part of a steam engine?
Finally, off to Bristol via The Crescent and The Circle for pictures of Georgian façades. 

Regency Bath: The Circle.
Regency Bath: The Crescent.
There is a kind of tradition to commemorate one’s dearly departed on the roadside where he or she ran out of talent. Such memorials consist of bunches of flowers, wreaths, Requiescat messages. The Goat was disturbed and alarmed to see Winnie the Pooh among one of these, crucified on a roadside tree. He’s reminded of a Red Dwarf episode in which Dave Lister witnesses Winnie the Pooh being shot by firing squad. 

Anyway: Bristol. The Joys of Rush Hour eventually provoked rat-running away from the ring road. As the flight out was scheduled for 0600 the following morning, arrangements had been made to spend the evening a mere ten miles from the airport. The Goat gassed up the rental car, correctly anticipating that nothing would be open at 3am, and then he and Beloved Wife were fed and entertained by Mr Thrash and Dr England. Stinking Bishop turns out to be a surprisingly mild cheese; something belied by its powerful aroma.

And that is that. Airport. Back to the middle east. Massive pile of work on desk. Huge collection of photos to review, edit, crop, and post.

You have been playing the Total Immersion Roleplaying Game ‘England, My England’. Your score is 2.3%. Welcome back to reality.


1 comment:

Mme Cyn said...

4699 buried in Bath Abbey. just so you know.


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