On tour at home and abroad with the Sumpners

The view below is Toad Rock, Tunbridge Wells

A quick catch up – it’s been a while!

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22nd to 25th November

We made a repeat visit to the lovely Orchard Bank near Yatton because Paul had some business to do at HQ. We decided that we’d also go to Bath Christmas Market and make a weekend of it.

It was lovely to arrive on the Thursday evening. We’re not generally returners, but coming to Orchard Bank seems to feel a bit like coming home. We even got “our pitch”.  Funny to feel so territorial.

Paul went off to work on Friday morning and I settled down to do some work on the forthcoming Christmas Show I was producing and then I got a phone call. It was my friend Heather, who lives in Yatton and who is the sister of my dear friend Linda. She was free and would be popping in to see me. How lovely! And she arrived with a treat from the renowned Pullin’s bakery in Yatton. Doubly welcome! We had a nice chat and then she went on her way and left me to my work.

I had a beepy in the afternoon and then Paul arrived home from work. We popped to Yatton for a couple of things we needed and grabbed a quick coffee at the aptly named “That Coffee Place”. Then it was home for dinner and an early night.

Saturday morning saw us up early, ready for our trip to Bath. We were going by train from Yatton and it seemed like a bit of an adventure. I love a train journey.  We had to change at Bristol Temple Meads and as we boarded the next train there was a person handing out Brownies. How very civilised! I don’t recall that happening on my daily commutes of old!  Then it was a short hop to Bath Spa station. This station was clearly seriously geared up for the influx (and indeed the outflux), with queuing systems and a leaflet on the services especially for the Christmas Market. And people were pouring in to the town! Trade was brisk and it was a short step to the Market. Everywhere was bedecked in its Christmas finery and I felt the first real twinge of Christmassyness.

I have visited before but Paul was quite overwhelmed at the sheer size of it all. It was a grey and drizzly day (grizzly?) but they even had laid on some snow. It was very pretty but does not photograph very well, hence no evidence of it. There was stall after stall all around the town and our noses were assailed by the smells of mulled wine, sausages, cinnamon and other good Christmassy things. And there was plenty to ooh and ah over.

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Our first stop was for coffee at the very pretty Sweet Little Things tea room on Lower Borough Walls.  It was one of those days where you have to dress for inclement weather but, the minute you go inside, it’s like you’re in a sauna. Suitably refreshed, we wandered round the market for a while until lunch beckoned. Now that was a real challenge! Everywhere was inundated with people. They get over 400,000 visitors to the market each year and I reckon half of them were there that day!

We eventually decided on Bill’s and joined the queue to be seated. It didn’t take too long. We had the Sauna effect again, though! It was a relief to sit down, in truth and we enjoyed our lunch. Then it was out to the market/shops for another hour or so, before we decided we’d had enough. We walked back via Pulteney Bridge, overlooking the much-photographed Weir, remembering the very happy times we had spent there, visiting by narrowboat and thence to the station. It was about 3 pm and seemingly a good time to leave as the queuing system was starting to be enforced. We hopped on the train, canal-spotting as we made the return journey. Last Christmas, whilst staying at Bath Chew Valley site,  we had cycled along the disused railway line and we spotted that too.

We relaxed for the evening and then packed up and returned home on the Sunday morning, feeling a little more like Christmas was on the way than we had before our visit.

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