There’s a brouhaha brewing in Great Britain, and I don’t mean the debate about the plummeting pound or the monarchy’s future following the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. Rather, I refer to the tempest in a teacup that’s been simmering since two British broadcasters threw Bath, one of the country’s best-loved cities, under the (hop-on, hop-off) bus.
The square flanked by Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths is popular with street performers, like these strolling “pot heads.” Copyright Amy Laughinghouse.
Dan Snow, historian and host of the History Hit podcast, has suggested that a tour of the north leaves the classic quartet of UK must-sees–London, Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath–in the dust. Compounding the controversy, Tom Holland—also an historian and co-host of The Rest is History podcast—agreed that he “wouldn’t bother” with Bath. Shock! Horror! Sacrilege!
While I am not an historian and may be the last 21st century biped bereft of a podcast, I am a long-term resident of the UK and a travel writer with plenty of mileage under my belt. Having recently revisited Bath, a ludicrously picturesque Georgian city where sinuous terraces of sunbaked stone gleam like drizzled honey on the hillsides, I’m more than willing to slip on my wellies and wade into a debate which has grown murkier than an over-steeped cuppa. To wit: I absolutely advise visitors to adventure beyond the “usual suspects,” but for heaven’s sake, don’t toss out Bath with the bathwater.
Click here for the full story in Go World Travel Magazine. I’ve detailed my favourite ways to soak up the best of Bath, whether you want to live it up like the lords and ladies in Bridgerton, subject yourself to spine-tingling chills at the Frankenstein museum, or hit some of the city’s buzziest bars and shops.
There are few culinary customs more quintessentially British than afternoon tea. Typically consisting of a selection of bite-sized savoury sandwiches, scones, sweets, and bottomless brews (of the leafy variety…as opposed to pints), this gastronomic indulgence dates back nearly 200 years.
In the 1840s, the Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, got tired of waiting–on her evening meal, that is. To assuage the “sinking feeling” she often got around 5 PM, the Duchess requested some tea, bread, butter, and cake. “What a terrible idea” said no one ever, and thus, the tradition was born.
There have been many clever 21st Century takes on this historic repast, from fashionis-teas to fur-tea-ve dalliances with felines. One especially apt incarnation, given the rise of the U.K.’s first prime minister of Indian descent, Rishi Sunak, is afternoon tea at Colonel Saab.
During the last weekend of every August, approximately one million punters rock up for Red Stripe and revelry at London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Originally introduced by Caribbean immigrants in the mid-60s, the event has evolved into one of Europe’s biggest street celebrations. Think of Mardi Gras…on steroids.
When I lived in Notting Hill, I felt incredibly fortunate to have a front-row seat for the carnival, taking in the action from atop the porch outside my window. (My rear windows overlooked the dumpsters of a Tesco loading dock, but I tend not to brag about that so much).
While some folks boarded up their shops and ground floor flats, fleeing the crowds, I locked and loaded my camera, knowing that many of the year’s most memorable moments were about to unfold in the neighbourhood I felt fortunate to call home. (more…)