Great, a gate in my face. And it was locked. Of course. Just when I realised I had forgotten my railpass in my hotel, had to catch a train in 20 minutes and was at the other end of town without wifi and a sim card that would not charge me horrendous fees for calling a taxi. And I had no cash on me anyway. Things couldn’t get worse. But, oh, they did.
My ‘Literary England Trip’ to Bath was kindly sponsored by Visit Britain, Visit Bath and NationalRail, but as always my fangirling and other opinions are entirely my own.
The Fastest Garden Stroll Ever
I had woken up to brilliant sunshine way too early, which is partly good after having spent a day being drenched in rain before but not so good considering my bed time was delayed as usual (damn you, youtube!). I then made my way to my hotel, where I was greeted by the nicest lady. As part of my trip arranged with Visit Britain, I got to stay in a former home of the one and only Jane Austen, the No4 Sydney Place, and naturally was all excited. We quickly fell talking, ate chocolate and I was shown around the house before I realised I better get going to still make a small detour to the incredibly charming looking Prior Park Garden Landscape.
The taxi company was rather brisk in its communication and late in coming, which meant an even shorter visit for me. The taxi driver was no less as customer friendly as was the person on the phone and starting snacking on chips, occasionally rearranging the bag, all the while I was hoping to land safely. I did, but at the wrong place. I did not want to visit a Garden Centre, thank you. I noticed instantly (how was I this alert, though?) and was finally dropped off at the right place, where, again, I was heartily received. It made me feel guilty and sad for not having enough time to fully enjoy the gardens.
Never mind that, I thought, and so I set off in a march to take my rounds along the scenic routes with the backdrop of the prettiest school I ever saw and a dream of an English garden landscape as I ever saw one. The garden dates back from the 1700s and is very unique in its style as you won’t find tons of flowers and clear structures. It seems very much ‘wild’ with winding roads and ruined features. But what is particularly striking is the Palladian Bridge (and I wish they would have used it in Pride and Prejudice during the first proposal scene).
Dead End and Dead Set on Disaster
You can see it from the garden’s top and down below. The reflection and a family of swans seemed to come straight out of a romantic painting but even though I wish I could have lingered, I had to leave and made for the close by gate. And it was closed. For a panicky minute I considered climbing it. Then I thought about jumping over the stone wall next to it. And then I ran like a madwoman down the path circling the lake in hopes of finding another exit. There was none and my map informed me that the exit would be the one I had come in, which would have been incredibly inexpedient.
And so I ran back to the gate and further on to some private houses and back again. And back to the houses. I thought, ‘what the heck’, and just decided to trespass, hoping to find a person that could help me out here. I ran into some park staff, who were just as nice as the ladies at the entrance and they called a taxi for me while I was guided to the exit and ran down a country path towards an old church. The taxi came perfectly timed and together we raced to the next village, where I had to withdraw some cash so I could actually pay.
The cash machine was occupied – of course – and the elderly man in front of me seemed a bit unsure about its workings and asked me ‘do you use this often?’. He eventually took his money out successfully, well some of it and had to come back to collect the bill he left behind while I was seeing my time drip away. My bank account was drained somewhat as well and off we went back to the hotel, where I left the taxi to wait for me so I could quickly get the pass. But it was gone.
When Your Train Leaves. Or Cannot Leave.
No railpass. With the panic reaching my head and flowing straight to my finger tips, I tore my backpack open wide and scattered all the paper contents on the floor. From nearly two weeks of travelling the country and getting brochures along the way, I had collected quite a lot and all of this bit the dust while I unsuccessfully tried to locate that one strip of paper that I needed. It was no use. I paid the driver and returned in defeat. And just when I was about to resign, I found it squeezed between my laptop and the bag’s back. Of course.
I had missed the train regardless and called my friend to reschedule one hour. I had a quick stroll through the Holburne Museum and then went for a quick race to the train station – this time WITH the railpass. The journey down south took me two hours, during which I had to nearly go all the way to London (Bath is not well connected trainwise) and when I finally reached Southampton, I got off at the wrong stop. Why did I not hear it was Southampton Airport?! Probably because I was engrossed in Pride and Prejudice. Luckily, I had my Flexi Railpass with me so I could take any train any time.
Again, I let my friend know but when I reached the central station 15 minutes later, she was nowhere to be seen. My phone was about to die from playing the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack on repeat and there was no wifi. My friend didn’t answer her phone anyway and so I was torn between running around like a headless chicken and reading my book or freaking out a little bit, waiting and reading my book. I opted for the latter.
An hour later my friend showed up – we apparently had quite the miscommunication and after we parted again, I made for my train. I nearly missed it (darn you, google maps!) and raced through the city to catch it literally in the last minute of its scheduled departure. Too bad the scheduled departure couldn’t be kept. Not by five minutes. Not by fifteen. Not at all. For whatever reason, the train doors would not close that day and so I had to get off and wait for the next train an hour later, which actually took me back to Bath.
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Please tell me I am not the only one who has these crazy awful and chaotic days? Anyone?