Birmingham Mail - June 07
WATER runs through the heart of Bath's historic streets - so what better way to see it than from the water.
Hilperton Marina on the Kennet & Avon canal near Trowbridge, Wiltshire, just over two and half hours from Birmingham, was the starting point of my narrowboat break with Alvechurch Waterway Holidays.
With my husband, 22-month-old son and two friends in tow we climbed aboard our comfortable new home.
Our 58 foot narrowboat featured two double bedrooms, two bathrooms (one in each bedroom section) and a kitchen with all the equipment you could need - including a corkscrew and wine glasses!
There was also ample seating and dining space for our party and my son's travel cot fitted snugly in the kitchen.
With our supplies loaded on board we set off with the two men in our party taking turns at the helm leaving the rest of us to sit back, relax and soak up the beautiful scenery.
This was my third narrow-boat holiday, but the first time I'd taken my son along.
Like any mother, I was a little fearful of taking him at first but with safety netting wrapped around the back of the boat and a lifejacket for my son (both supplied free of charge) my nerves were settled.
Feeding ducks bread off the front of the boat, spotting other wildlife and bike rides along the towpath (with ice-cream along the way) were just some of things that kept my son entertained - and he loved every minute of it.
The Avon & Kennet Canal is one the most beautiful canal stretches I been fortunate enough to experience by boat.
Picturesque from beginning to end - from Hilperton to the World Heritage City of Bath - and taking in two aqueducts it was spectacular.
After setting off late Friday afternoon at a leisurely pace we reached Bath by Saturday lunchtime.
If there are spaces you can actually venture onto the Avon River and moor up by Poultney Bridge - at a cost of £6 for each 24 hour period (tickets available at the riverside sports centre).
From here it's just a five minute walk into Bath - or Aquae Sulis - itself.
It proved hard to lose the watery theme as we experienced Bath Roman-style.
A fascinating visit to the Roman Baths, to see how the Romans spent their leisure time, was followed by a relaxing two hour spa session at the new Thermae Spa, which opened last year.
With a rooftop pool we enjoyed a refreshing view over Bath. There is also an indoor pool and steam rooms to enjoy.
For literary boffins, Bath was once home to Jane Austen and a visit to the Jane Austen Centre will enlighten you a little more about her life.
It's here that you can also take "Tea with Mr Darcy" in the attraction's top floor cafe.
We were more than full after a pot of tea, cheese and cucumber finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and homemade cake served on a two tier platter. The only thing missing was Colin Firth himself.
But no visit to Bath would be complete without a visit to Sally Lunn's, which is housed in the oldest building in Bath.
Here you can enjoy a traditional Trencher meal by candlelight.
For those not already in the know - before plates were widely available food was served on bread and Sally Lunn's buns are baked to a 300-year-old recipe.
We were treated to delicious dishes including cherry tomato ratatouille, coq au vin and beef bourguignonne we we're wondering why there's lots of 8s in the menu's price list - we were simply told: "It's because the owner likes the number eight." Fair enough.
After an overnight stop and Sunday breakfast in Bath we took a slow, relaxing jaunt back to Hilperton Marina arriving back on Monday morning.
Revived and refreshed from the hustle and bustle of citylife we headed home with some great memories.