I’ve done a pitiful job of getting around Bath’s top Tripadvisor rated attractions so far. So, in an effort to pull my finger out, I’d promised myself I’d get to No.1 Royal Crescent on my way home from work yesterday. It’s recently been redeveloped and has it’s own app and everything – very snazzy.
No.1 Royal Crescent is a full Georgian townhouse, in one of Bath’s fanciest locations. It’s been suited and booted Georgian style; dressed to illustrate life in wealthy family household, back when Jane Austen was still taking turns around the Pump Room. There’s a scullery, a housekeeper’s room and a withdrawing room (I now aspire to have one of these) among other things.
So off I set, in tourist mode, iPhone snapping my way through the Georgian streets, towards the Crescent, relishing the prospect of a spot of post-work culture. I’d checked the opening times online. I knew I had a good hour before it closed. I did not check, however, what the last entry times were. Yep, I’d missed it. This was exactly like being a tourist! My disappointment lasted precisely the amount of time it took to recall that one of my other ‘tourist’ missions involved ice-cream. I took a few piccies and then skipped off towards The Real Italian Ice-cream Company.
Now it just so happens that my route to Mission Gelato took me past another TripAdvisor attraction. I wasn’t altogether convinced that a bookshop could be considered an attraction (one exception being Shakespeare & Co in Paris), but my museum plans had been scuppered and I needed reading material for Australia, so I was up for allotting it attraction status on this occasion.
Now, I have a few arguably middle-class habits (vegetable box deliveries, supper clubs), but paying more than necessary to support my weighty reading habit through independent bookshops is not one of them. I shop on Amazon (I know. please don’t throw things) or in Waterstones (I love me them multi-buys) and generally avoid anywhere selling books at full RRP. I’m likely doing something terrible to the literary world, but I read a LOT, ok? So I hadn’t ventured into Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, despite it’s incredible name and many a recommendation. One of the TripAdvisor reviews in particular had tempted me in, claiming that the staff can expertly recommend books given even the vaguest criteria. ‘Something to read in Australia’ seemed like a reasonable request to try this out with, so in I went.
It’s a lovely little shop, with a cracking edit of books on it’s shelves. I got the impression that I’d be hard pushed to find a bad book there, and began toying with the idea of just starting in the A’s and reading my way through the whole shop. Being a dinky little shop, it was impossible not to eavesdrop on the staff. They were talking books, and man can they talk books. In the 10 minutes or so that I pottered about with one ear on them, I became more and more intimidated. They must have all had MA’s in English Lit. I began to go off the idea of asking for recommendations, but I was here on a mission and needed to hold my nerve. I slowly worked my way over towards the counter, until one of them asked if I needed any help. Between her and a colleague, I was quickly furnished with a choice of four really good sounding books, all based in Australia and promising heaps of Aussie atmosphere and culture. I chose one set in modern day Aus, and one following an early convict, arriving and coping on the strange new continent.
I’m pretty delighted with my books. It was definitely worth me getting a grip and asking for the recommendations, despite the intimidatingly learned conversations I was privy to. I happily breezed off towards a celebratory ice-cream – peanut flavour – and enjoyed wandering about by the lovely Pulteney Bridge. Here’s some more ‘holiday snaps’ of my lovely home city. I’m very lucky to live here, I know that.