Mead, Austen, buns and Nicolas Cage: highlights of Bath

If I was asked to describe Bath in a sentence, it would be that the town is a veritable encyclopaedia of pub trivia.

Bath is a town where every street looks like a postcard and where the roll-call of famous residents past and present is probably the most motley crew in the world, including Jane Austen, Bill Bailey, Manolo Blahnik and Nicholas Cage (more on that later).

So, if you’re ever #blessed to get the chance to visit this town in the heart of English countryside, what to do? Here’s some essential background info to help you get the most out of your visit.

1.The Bath Bun is actually classed as a ‘health food’. Or, at least, it was. 

Oh, sweet, brioche-like bun topped with glaze, crushed sugar crystals and raisins, what was life like before you? The story goes that Bath local Dr William Oliver developed the recipe as a way to provide his patients with quick sustenance. He soon discovered that it also provided his patients with some pretty decent love handles. (I don’t have a medical degree, but I’d hazard a guess that the lump of sugar baked in the middle must’ve done it). The place to get them is The Bath Bun tea shop – buy a couple, hand over your money, then wander over to the square in front of Bath Abbey and lose your dignity to glorious, sugary salvation.

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Still needing a sugary kick? A few steps from The Bath Bun is the Bath Sweet Shoppe, where you can stock up on old school candy and question your current career choice.

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2. Nicolas Cage bought a house here, then sold it, for a very Nicolas Cage reason.

That’s right. Everyone’s favourite meme and occasional actor snapped up House Number 7 at The Circus – a circular row of top-dollar properties – back in 2007, and sold it in 2009.

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According to our tour guide, he removed his door number to keep paparazzi at bay. Any human with the ability to count to ten could work out the property sat between 6 and 8. And even still, it’s the only house without a number. Good one, Nic.

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3. Jane Austen’s hangout, The Pump Room, is still the place to be in Bath.

Overlooking the Roman Baths, this dining room oozes historic charm and is a great stop for classic afternoon tea. Patrons are entertained by live pianists, and if you aren’t too fussed about visiting the Roman Baths because maybe you stuffed your face with five-too-many Bath Buns (*ahem*) just look out the windows post-meal and you can see the main bath area for free.

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4. Mead is the liquid of life.

Honey fermented in water creates a glorious elixir known as mead. Wander to Independent Spirit, just up the road from Abbey Hotel, and Chris behind the counter will pour you a shot of Lindisfarne, still made according to its original recipe. Mmmmhmmmm.

Mead was a popular wedding gift back in the day – the bride’s father would gift the newlywed couple with a month’s (‘moon’s) supply of the stuff so they could live in wedded bliss for a while, and the custom gave birth to the term ‘honeymoon’. If mead isn’t your thang, you can also buy the world’s smallest bottles of whiskey, though it is going to take a lot more of them to reach equivalent levels of honeymoon bliss.

In any case, a bottle of the sweet stuff will help you live out your long-harboured Game of Thrones fantasies.

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5. People in Bath are caring and concerned.

Remember that scene in Les Misérables when actor operatic star Russell Crowe (as Javert) fell into the Seine? The scene was shot in Bath using a dummy, which was left in the river when the film crew left – thus prompting concerned residents to report a body of a man dressed like a 19th-century French police inspector floating face-down. Bless.

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