In the run up to Christmas, we were so excited to be invited to spend the day exploring Bath as a guest of Visit Bath on a press trip.
An early walk into town on a sunny December Thursday morning through quiet streets before the Christmas market opened led us through Abbey Courtyard and onto the Thermae Bath Spa, our first stop.
Visitors will find four natural thermal baths, but our first destination was the stunning open-air rooftop pool with skyline views of the City. We were lucky enough to have a sunny morning, and the steam rising made for some great photo opportunities.
A 2 hour session costs £36 Monday to Friday and £40 on Saturday and Sunday. Included in the price is a robe and slippers, and access to the rooftop pool, the Minerva Bath and the Wellness Suite, as well as the Springs Cafe. There are many treatment and spa packages available, which you can check out at www.thermaebathspa.com/
After a relaxing couple of hours, it was time for a mooch around the shops. As well as the Christmas Market, there are some lovely independent shops around Bath. Walcot Street, called the Artizan Quarter, offers some gorgeous gift shops, and lively cafes and bars. Milsom Street is also another great destination for some fantastic independent shops, perfect for browsing clothing, footwear, jewellery and more!
A quick lunch stop and then onto my personal highlight of the day, glass blowing at Bath Aqua Glass....
The store offers beautiful examples of baubles professionally blown, as well as gorgeous jewellery and homewares.
The "Breath in a Bauble" experience takes place in the glass blowing studio located on Walcot Street. Watching the glassmakers work is mesmerising, and this activity includes encapsulating your breath within a glass bauble which you get to keep. The bauble takes 24 hours to cool, and can then be collected or posted out to you. Costs are £20.95 You can read more about it here www.bathaquaglass.com/
Our next stop was a quick drink at the Apres Ski Bar outside the Abbey Hotel. A cosy winter wonderland cabin, complete with burning stove, mince pies and fur throws. Definitely worth checking out if you are all shopped out! https://www.abbeyhotelbath.co.uk/christmas-new-year-2019/
Next on the agenda was a visit to the ice rink in Victoria Park. https://www.bathonice.com/
£10 for children and £11.50 for adults, there are a variety of ticket options available, including family tickets and hot chocolate options too! Open until 5th January, there is still time to get your skates on!
The final stop of the day was to visit the Christmas Market after dark. With all the Christmas lights on, and the smells of mulled wine, mince pies, and bratwurst, it really started to feel like Christmas. So many gorgeous gifts and products to choose from, I came away with some pickles and chutneys from https://www.gowildpreserves.co.uk/ who are based in Somerset, and a gorgeous bauble from https://shakspeareglass.co.uk/
A perfect day spent in Bath, a city I am proud to live in!
20 High St, Rode, Frome BA11 6NZ. 01373 830900. www.thecrosskeysrode.co.uk
If you are looking for a beautiful traditional pub for a classic Sunday lunch, the Cross Keys at Rode is the place to go. We were invited over to sample Sunday lunch last week, and it did not disappoint. Just a short drive out of Bath in the direction of Frome, you will arrive in Rode, a gorgeous village, with a lovely winding road that leads down to the Cross Keys on the left. Parking is round the back, and we were greeting by a beautiful cat wanting some fuss!
We were really surprised at the size of the pub when you go inside, a tardis of lovely bars and cosy snug areas with log fires and a fabulous dining room.
We were welcomed warmly by James and Ellie, and sat in the window by the internal workings of the lovely old clock outside on the roof.
The menu offers a wide selection roasts, as well as some pub classics for those not wanting the full works.
We opted for Forest Mushrooms with Garlic Butter & Truffle Oil on Toasted Brioche & Parmesan (£6) and Chicken Liver Parfait with Apple & Ale Chutney & Toast (£5.50) to start.
Both starters were hearty and filling, generous portion sizes and delicious flavours. Served quickly, we soon polished them off in anticipation of our roasts. We opted for the Rare Topside of Beef and Braised Lamb Shoulder £13.50 for the regular size or £10 for a small (beef and lamb).
Served with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, cheesy leeks & cauliflower, honey roast parsnip & carrot, summer greens & Proper gravy. Both meats were exceptionally tender, the Yorkshire airy light, and the gravy was delicious. So refreshing to get such a large jug of gravy as well, something that is often scrimped upon when eating out, and frowned upon when asking for more!
Although full, the dessert menu was just too tempting to skip, especially the thought of homemade peanut butter, Nutella and Biscoff ice cream!
We chose the Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Sauce and Peanut Butter ice cream (£6) and a scoop of Nutella and Honeycomb ice cream (£1.50 each).
A totally fabulous experience, we really loved our afternoon at the Cross Keys. The quirky crockery used for the meals was so charming and in keeping with the pub, and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming, nothing was too much trouble. We arrived at midday, and quickly took some pics of the dining room, but within 15 minutes it was full. After lunch we took a stroll around the village, and said goodbye to our new furry friend (who was still waiting by our car)! We will definitely be returning soon, as we want to work our way through the menu!
4 St. Saviours Rd, Bath BA1 6RT. 01225 312959
If you don't know about Ma Cuisine in Larkhall then where have you been? A gorgeous little French Bistro offering authentic home cooked dishes as well as a deli and gourmet ready cooked meals to take away. More on this later!
We were invited to try the Bistro on Saturday evening, so living locally, we headed the short walk over into Larkhall full of anticipation. We were welcomed in and took our table by the window. The French Classics was our menu of choice, and we opted for the Bisque de Homard (Lobster Bisque £9.90) and the Escargot (£7.10) to start. Whilst breathing in the gorgeous cooking smells we sipped on a luscious Pinot Noir to set the mood. An authentic Bistro, you could imagine yourself sitting in the backstreets of Paris with the music playing and the French accents around you.
Deliciously garlicky and buttery, the snails went down a treat with the warm crusty baguette accompanying them. The lobster bisque was fantastically smooth, flavours of the sea, with gorgeous slices of lightly toasted bread topped with grilled cheese and served with extra cream. A total indulgence and a meal in itself!
Onto the main course and we were recommended to try the Beef Canon for 2, served with French fries, (£39.90) so we took the advice and ordered just that. On the menu are some gorgeous French classics such as Coq au Vin and Beouf Bourguinon, as well as French onion soup and Confit Duck.
The beef arrived beautifully presented on a platter for us to share, along with perfectly crispy fries. A delectable garlic herb butter was served drizzled over the meat, with additional to serve if needed. The meat was incredibly tender, and melted in the mouth. A flavour sensation, and certainly a dish we enjoyed sharing and would order again without hesitation.
We were super full by this point, but wanted to have a look at the desserts so we could show you them, so here are a couple of the beautiful options available if you have room!
There's a great atmosphere in Ma Cuisine, relaxed, informal and friendly. We got chatting to the couple on the table next to us as we all had food envy for all the dishes each had ordered. There was a party of 12 arriving as we left for a get together, in the cosy second eating area. Open from breakfast until 9pm, the menu caters for all tastes, with a nibbles option, coffee and cakes and evening meals like ours.
On the ready meal side, they offer over 70 dishes, including, meat and seafood dishes, as well as gluten free and vegetarian. Made using locally sourced products and ingredients, the meals are then frozen to preserve the freshness and flavour. There is a free delivery option for orders of £40 (in the Bath area), with the food ready to cook in the oven and microwave.
Ma Cuisine really is a hidden gem. We will most definitely be back, and will recommend to everyone we can (even though we don't really want to, as it's so perfect we want to keep it to ourselves), but go and see for yourselves why it's so fab, and you might need to book......
Husband & Wife living in Bath for over 20 years. All views are our own although we do get freebies along the way, which we will always tell you about.