Saturday came, another grey and mild day. We left our comfortable flat, very silent after Graeme and Sal’s departure, and headed for Paddington. It has turned out to be a most worthwhile way to stay, whether with friends or on our own: apartments give you much more than you get with a hotel and a much better price, and these two weeks have been brilliant. We are holidayed and rested, and the two don’t always go together.

Last night I managed half an hour of night photography, and Docklands proved an ideal place, particularly around the basin and the locks of Limehouse.


Paddington beckoned, and we made it to the station without the need to drag our 30 kg suitcases up stairs, a marvel of foresight and planning, given our past history one public transport. We had an hour or so at Paddington, and I wandered around looking at the surviving features of Brunel’s train sheds, which have survived neglect, nationalisation and new ownership remarkably well. There are marvellous minor features in the iron work which would never be contemplated inn a more utilitarian age. The ghost of Great Western lingers – especially in the toilet department, where the conveniences are hidden near the First Class Waiting Room (what?) and cost 50p. I prefer to pee for free, so I waited for the train.

It’s remarkable that you can belt across England in 90 minutes to Bath, in comfort and relative quiet. I think the English are rather getting the hang of rail again, after 50 years of ruining it. The trains are full, fast and frequent. We alighted at Bath, letting the express fly through to that magic terminus, Temple Meads (no one does names better…). A short taxi ride and we were in our hotel, Henrietta House, redeveloped from an early 19th Century row house. Thank God, a lift… but no, sadly awaiting repair, so up two and a half flights to our room – large and comfortable.


We did the standard reconnaissance mission, with a quick trip to the outdoor shops for new shoes and some warm gear, for which we were grateful the next day as the temperature dropped, the in to the Abbey. It was truly marvellous, and – for some reason – I didn’t have my camera, so the record of the good and great of King George’s forces were somewhat lost in the iPhone. But here was Arthur Phillip and a host of Admirals, Generals and Archdeacons, all retired to flush their kidneys after a lifetime of bully beef and bad water.
We decided to do God in the local Catholic parish, which was a nice neo-Gothic pile with a pleasant parish priest who turned out to be a card carrying activist for the anti-abortion movement. Rather uncomfortable with campaign for finances for for the rights of the reproduced, we slipped past under the disapproving eyes of two young true believers waving baskets and walked 15 minutes to a nearby village for a very good dinner.