Thursday, 13 September 2012

Bath

I recently went to hang out in Bath for a few days. The sun was shining, so we packed our bags and off we went. I’d been to Bath before, but only really knew it vaguely, so this time was a chance to get to know it properly.

Of all the places I’ve visited recently, I don’t think I’ve been anywhere which as the range of independent, one-off shops that Bath has. If you’re shopping for the home, fashion, or gifts then Bath really does have a great range of choice.

Since the last time I was back, they have finished the re-development of the city centre down by the train station, which is now a smartly pedestrianised area where you’ll find Topshop and all your high street regulars. But for the more unusual retailers, you need to head up to the Broad Street area of the city, which you’ll pass through if you’re heading up to the tourist hot-spots – the Royal Crescent and the Assembly Rooms, which also houses Bath’s Fashion Museum.

DAY ONE

I started my day in the Bartlett Street area, where you’ll find Toast, Loft and the Bartlett Antique Centre. You will probably already be familiar with Toast, but Loft is unique to Bath, and it a mix of homeware and ladieswear, with a lovely cafe too. It’s expensive but there are some lovely clothes made in lovely fabrics. The selection of homeware is small but beautiful – you’ll get lots of ideas which you might be able to source for cheaper elsewhere on the high street. The cafe is a nice spot to stop for a coffee or cake – the style of decor being very much in keeping with the stuff they sell. The whole feel of the shop is very Scandi-chic. Just up my street. 

A browse around Toast, where I fell in lovely with this biker jacket from their new collection, was followed by a rummage in the labyrinth-like Bartlett Antique Centre, which is a treasure trove for vintage and antique finds. Lunch was at Same Same But Different on Bartlett Street, where I had the goats cheese salad, which was one of the best I've had, and I've tried more than a few. Then I mosied on up the hill to the Assembly Rooms, past Bee’s Vintage Tea Rooms on Saville Row, where I ogled their impressive collection of tea sets.

{an impressive collection of tea sets}

Wandering across the Royal Circus, I then walked along to Margaret’s Buildings, which is a tucked away enclave of interesting shops, my favourite being Heavens Bazaar, a vintage shop on two floors, crammed full of clothes, bags and jewellery. I spent an age in there, sifting through their impressive stock, and then went for a drink at The Lime Lounge.





Dinner was at The Circus, a stylish but unpretentious restaurant up near the Royal Circus. There were several things on the menu which tempted me, and the staff and the atmosphere were lovely. There are tables on the pavement too for when the weather is good - all very civilised. The Canary Gin and Wine Bar (2-3 Queen Street) was an excellent place to stop at for a drink on the way home.

DAY TWO

On the few occasions I’d walked past Bertinet the previous day whilst getting my bearings, I’d built up some high expectations of the place and promised myself a visit. It’s a bakery on the ground floor with a cafe upstairs. Day two’s breakfast seemed the perfect time to try it out, so I found myself sat at a table next to a impressive display of tea sets, with a little red toaster perched on the table. Then I realised that there was a toaster on every table, and the reason became clear when I studied the menu – you could order a basket of a variety of different breads, with a selection of preserves and condiments, to toast at your table. Don’t mind if I do. But I was also tempted by the Pain aux Raisin and finally decided to go with that. It was the size of my head – apparently when Richard Bertinet himself is in the kitchen they are up-scaled somewhat – I like his style.

{pain aux raisin}

{vintage china}

Post breakfast, I headed up to Milsom Street, which is Bath's main shopping street, where shops such as The Kooples and Comptoir Des Cotonniers make it a more interesting shopping experience than your average high street. I then walked through to Milsom Place, which has looked full of promise since my arrival in Bath. I have a thing about anything pop-up: pop-up shops, pop-up cafes, pop-up books – and at Milsom Place I happened upon Poppy in Pearls wedding shop, run by the lovely Sarah. Her shop is there for a month, and is full of unique and beautiful items for any bride-to-be. From Liberty-print knickers, to gifts for bridesmaids and grooms, Sarah’s shop embodies the kind of look that would transform any wedding, and also be perfect for anyone in the market for some vintage prettiness. She started her business after being frustrated that the kind of well-made, vintage style accessories she wanted for her own wedding weren’t available. I think her pop-up shop may be gone by now, but here's her website - www.poppyinpearls.com.











Another shop in Milsom Place is Katherine Fraser Textiles - an amazing shop run by Katherine herself, who has her weaving loom in her shop, and literally weaves her fabrics right in front of you. The fabrics are beautifully soft, and the colour combinations are brilliant, making her designs instantly covetable. She makes everything from blankets and cushions to napkins and tablecloths. I bought some buttons, which I'm going to make some little jewellery pouches with. 

{too many to choose from}

{napkin and tablecloth set}

{blankets and cushions}

{the loom where Katherine weaves her fabrics}

I wandered through to the other side of Milsom Place and spent the afternoon browsing shops such as Black and White (21 Broad Street) stuffed full of vintage clothes, Best of British deli, and vintage homeware shop Kiss The Frog Again. And if you're after vintage shops, it's worth checking out nearby Vintage to Vogue too. I stopped for lunch at Made by Ben and have maybe never had a nicer sandwich. Well done Ben.

The day finished with a picnic on the Royal Crescent in the late evening sunshine.

{a very British scene}
DAY THREE

I started the day on Queen Street, with breakfast at the Wild Cafe which was a great find - on the menu was everything I could have wanted, and all their food is locally sourced. It's got a very chilled out atmosphere and was a lovely start to the day. From my table in the cafe I had a great vantage point Scarlett Vintage, over the road. I called in after breakfast and spent a while browsing the rails of dresses from every era - everything was in immaculate condition and lovingly displayed. I found a blue silk dress from Seattle, for £45 which instantly won me over and I was handing over my card before I knew it.



I then wandered up to Paxton & Whitfield, the famous cheese shop, where I bought some supplies for some cheese-loving friends we were visiting on the way home. If you're after a packed lunch, they sell delicious looking cheese rolls for just £2.50 - nearby Queen's Square is a good picnic spot, and the Pétanque piste means that there's often some sporting entertainment on the go.

After a stop at the achingly cool Colonna & Small's, which will have you thinking that you're having a coffee in a New York style coffee shop, I headed over to the Walcot Street area of the city, which is home to The Makery - a craft emporium which runs courses, workshops, events and parties, with another  shop in the town centre which sells craft supplies.



There are a few charity shops on Walcott Street to have a rummage in, and a shop called Meticulous Ink Fine Stationery, which makes the most beautiful invitations, business cards and stationery I've ever seen. The cards are expensive at over £3 each, but if you've got an occasion coming up which deserves something special, then this is just the place. You can spend ages in there, looking at all the different designs. And then next door is another cheese shop - The Fine Cheese Company, which also has its own cafe - those Bath types are obviously into their dairy products. I stopped at Sam’s Kitchen for a late lunch stop, being seduced  by the comfy sofa and huge glass door opening onto the street. The vintage-style decor is charming, and they're open the occasional evening serving a dinner menu, alongside their popular music events.

{cards from Meticulous Ink}
Dinner was at Beaujolais, an old timer on the Bath restaurant scene, which has a lovely courtyard garden at the back. We then headed home, knowing Bath that little bit better, and looking forward to our next visit.

{charcuterie plate}

{goats cheese & broad beans}

{Poulet Basquaise}

{pan-fried lamb}

2 comments:

  1. Oh, it's all too much! I pine for England! This is one of my favourite posts by you, Lemonade Lady. Also, I spotted the beauteous good luck card you gave us - it is now part of a collection of stand-out cards and postcards on our wall. Ta x

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    1. And England pines for you, my darling. Glad you liked the post - is was so mammoth! I really thought of you in that card shop, think you might have cried is was so gorgeous. x

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