Bath - wibbler.com

All hooked up, nowhere to go…

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So, the aftermath of The Engagement announcement was enjoyable! Most people said it was about time, others were amazed that I’d started settling down, and Jac tried to guess the event from my mysterious non-committal “I have news” email to him. “Before looking at the answer,” he wittered on, “let’s take the following facts into mind: Valentine’s Day has just passed, you spent the weekend in Bath, you have bought a house together, you’ve been with Michelle for longer than I have been with all my girlfriends put together. You must be engaged. SPLENDID. Now, let’s just check…”
And the rest of the people? Well, amusingly some seemed to be using my commitment-phobia as justification that they shouldn’t settle down themselves. That’s pulled the rug, hasn’t it.. 😉
Still, what I didn’t realise is that as soon as an engagement is announced, everyone asks, “Do you have a date for the wedding?”. God knows I’m not the best planner in the world, and of course the answer is “no”. However, to get a date, you need to know a venue, and to get a venue you need to know what kind of wedding you want. I may well be using my friend and Event Manager Extraordinaire Paul D regularly, and my Best Man status at Nick’s wedding in October will be a useful learning ground. Where on earth do you start, though? Confetti.co.uk seems as good a place as any. And, as many will know, my decision-making is legendarily lengthy – so any advice from you guys would be great…

All Spliced Up

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There are big stages in life that you always look back on. ringading.jpg
Your first day at school; your first kiss; your first job; your first house. Hell, even my first deep-fried Mars bar, down on the Portsmouth seafront, is a moment deeply-imprinted on my brain. As was the queasy feeling the next morning…
Well, on Saturday Michelle and I added another much more important snapshot to our pile of memories. In the depths of Bath, in our favourite hotel, Michelle followed a fun paper-based trail I’d made around the hotel room, eventually reaching one with a very important question. And now, after nearly 6 years – and after Michelle had checked to see if I was joking – we’re engaged!
ENGAGED, for goodness sake.
For Michelle, it was the end of a long wait, bless her. And she has waited very well indeed. She’s currently at work, looking for someone to notice the ring.
For me – well, those that know me will testify to my commitment-phobia and lack of urgency and this was, frankly, a pretty large step.
For us, it’s the next stage in a fun fun life – even if the first thing most people have said is “about bloody time”… 😉

A Secret Trip to Bath

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The plan was going better than I had hoped. I surged off the M25 slip road and coasted into 6th gear, sweeping past the slow-moving lorry as the rain pattered more and more urgently on the windscreen.
I decided to chance it. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we went away right now for the weekend?” I remarked nonchalantly.
“Yes, it would,” Michelle agreed, looking confusingly at the big navigation screen in front of her, “but we’re going to Paul’s barbeque – he wouldn’t be too happy!”
A mischievous grin spread across my face. “He won’t know.”
“What? Why?”
“Because we’re not going to Paul’s.”
And so it was that for the first time in three and a half years I had managed to put the wind up Michelle, as it were. For the only time in memory, I have been able to keep something a secret from her for a month and a half, and I was proud. As I detailed the lengths I had gone to, and how everyone knew but her, my mind strayed to poor Paul and his girlfriend Liz. Paul and I had planned this event for the last month, only for Paul to have to pull out at the last moment. Never mind – we were off for a lazy weekend hotel stay in Bath, and nothing could stop us.
There is a curious certainty about travelling west of London – that the closer you get to Wales, the more rain you’ll find. This was our 3rd visit to Dorian House in the heart of Bath and my ninth visit to that area of the country – and without exception every trip has been marred by storms, wind and rain. Undaunted, we ploughed on.
We arrived at nine in the evening, and immediately set about ordering a taxi to the nearest Indian. The Eastern Eye, an enormous place in an old Roman banqueting hall, calmed our troubled stomachs and thoughts turned to the next couple of days. Paul, an event manager through and through, had been phoning and emailing regularly over the last few weeks with thoughts on what we should do – a trip to the zoo, and Comedy Walk around Bath, the obligatory visit to the Roman Baths – but without him there was little motivation to move outside our comfort zone. We settled on rising late the next morning, and shopping until the early evening.
And we stuck well to our plan. The exasperated phonecall from the hotel manager at 11am – “we really need to clean your room now, if you wouldn’t mind” – made me think that it was as good a time as any to haul my great carcass out of bed. Feeling energetic, we walked the 1 mile into town, stopping off on route to marvel at new “Japanese-style” apartments overlooking the whole of Bath – “just ?200,000 for a one bedroom home, sir” the saleman informed us, apparently without batting an eyelid. As we landed on familiar High Street territory, The Gadget Shop jumped out at us.
One hour later, having discussed at length with a female assistant the merits of a huge, phallic-shaped vibrating massager – “it gets into all your nooks and crannies” – we emerged with 3 items. One was the massager, and the other two…. well, they’ll be kept secret until the next party. But lunch was looming and after Michelle was attacked by a couple of friendly crows we found the appropriately-named Yum Yum Thai.
By then it was three o’clock and we were waning. Stocking up with edible goodies from Marks and Spencer sounded like a good plan and half an hour later we were at the checkout, about to hail a bus home. The bus came, we clambered aboard with multiple bags, and let the good man drive us up the hill.
And that, pretty much, was that. The hotel was as good as ever, Bath was as enjoyable as ever, and next time, god dammit, Paul and Liz are coming with us. You hear?

3 Year Anniversary – Bath again

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“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
Hilaire Belloc
Two years ago, to celebrate out first anniversary, Michelle and I pootled off to take in the delights of Bath, braving all the jokes about “needing to wash” and “I should have a shower with a nice showerhead instead” from ‘amusing’ friends. Bath is a very picturesque place, with cracking restaurants, interesting museums and a shedload of shops. The trip was so blooming enjoyable we did it again last weekend, jokes and all.
The trip down was pleasant enough, but served to confirm one of my long-held geographical theories – the closer to Wales you get, the worse the weather becomes. After we sped through the rain (and a surprisingly-named town of Pennsylvania, causing Nick to ask “just how far have you gone?!” on a call from his romantic hotel in the New Forest), we arrived at the hotel at around 5 in the afternoon, after just the one wrong turning. We entered our room – and what a room it was. The majestic four-poster bed was accompanied by a side order of 12 deep red roses and champagne on ice. Marvellous.
Sadly we only had an hour to admire them before our stomachs marched us off to the Eastern Eye, a huge Indian restaurant in the town centre. It was essentially one big room, about 40 foot high and seemingly many miles long. It had been some sort of famous market area in the 1800’s apparently, famed throughout Bath, with ornate details on the walls and three glass domes set into the roof. I can only wonder at the protests that must have taken place when it emerged that it was turning into an Indian restaurant, of all things. Still, the setting was fantastic, with the food equally so, despite the dish I chose rendering my entire mouth numb for at least an hour.
By the time we’d finished there was nothing to do but get back to the hotel and sleep.
For following day we visited the Moon and Sixpence, and classy restaurant near the Roman Baths. Still suffering from the Indian the previous night, we barely managed a main course, and decided a window-shopping trip was in order to work the food off. We ventured into a nearby shopping arcade, and found a camera shop. A quick look at the digital cameras and Michelle was on a mission to buy one. After asking the assistants advice for a full 30 minutes, we nipped along to a cheaper shop and bought one, immediately debunking my schoolday retail theory that if you put in the hours, you’ll get the sale. Poor man.
And then, not to be outdone, I decided I was going to get a new mobile phone. And, in true geek fashion, I plumped for an O2 XDAII. As soon as my good friend from Phones4U gets me a hefty discount, it’ll be mine…
We left the next morning – back to Surrey, back to work. Ah well, we thought as Pennsylvania disappeared into the hazy distance – we’ll be back again…

Off to Bath for the weekend

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As I proudly boasted this morning at my local barbers, Michelle and I are off for a Valentine’s weekend in Bath today. Cue loads of oohs and ahhs in the salon, until a man next to me completely outdoes my boast by detailing his Valentines day picture-perfect wedding tomorrow. Tsk.
Anyway, we’re staying in Dorian House, which is possibly the best non-hotel hotel I’ve ever been in. Staying in the four-poster Casals room (click the photographs link). Return customer, me.
And then visits to the Moon and Sixpence and the Eastern Eye, punctuated by local hostelries and tourist attractions.
See you Sunday night…

Bath Trip

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Well, that WAS a fun weekend, all in all! Just come back from a three day jaunt to Bath, where we stayed in a cracking hotel, Dorian House and consumed enormous quantities of champagne (See?). With all the buildings looking exactly the same, and the truly awful one-way system, I managed to get lost just the twice, a vast improvement on previous visits. Well done me. We wined and dined at two restaurants (here’s number two) and finally managed on the third and final day to see the Roman Baths, which are, surprisingly, far more interesting than being just a luke-warm pool of water in the town centre. The whole city was NAMED after it, for crying out loud… The height of amusement came on our visit to the Moon and Sixpence restaurant, a distinctly posh place. during our starter, the lights dimmed dramatically, which we presumed was to heighten the romantic atmosphere, only for Michelle to pipe up rather loudly, “Anyone got 50p for the meter?” Splendid!