Saturday, July 24, 2010

Day 24: Dresses, Gardens, Tea, and Cricket

After having breakfast at my hotel again, I took advantage of the Saturday market held at Green Park. I got some terrific strawberries before heading over to the Assembly Rooms (formerly the Upper Rooms) and the Fashion Museum housed there.

The musem is part permanent exhibit, part special exhibit. The permanent section deals with both the history of fashion, particularly in the UK and US, and more contemporary styles, 1963-present. A panel of fashion critics choose a dress each year that is meant to express the mood and style of the whole year, and then some of those Dresses of the Year are on display. The most current dress is a bit of a sheer LBD that Gwyneth Paltrow apparently wore at some point. I guess that explains why I've seen so many people in London wearing see-through clothes? I mean, they wouldn't wear sheer if it weren't the style. Right? Right? Anyway, I also thoroughly enjoyed the current special exhibition The Diana Dresses, a special exhibit featuring ten of Princess Diana's dresses and commentary about how they show her progression from timid teenager to self-assured style icon.

It was a short walk from the Assembly Rooms to Royal Victoria Park, where I enjoyed some time walking about and sitting in the Botanic Gardens. I sat on a bench and ate my strawberries--they were so sweet and juicy, it was like eating strawberries that had been macerating in sugar; except they hadn't been! The Botanic Gardens boast some very nice paths and gorgeous flower beds, and there is also an interesting tree sculpture that I don't remember from the last time I visited:

I meandered about town for a while after my strawberries lunch, taking some time and sitting alongside Bath Abbey and reading, listening to street performers, &c. There was one street performer playing Tchaikovsky on a recorder. On a recorder! I was pretty near flabbergasted, he was so good. When they tell you that Bath has some of the best street theatre and musicians, they mean it.

My evening meal was a formal tea at the Pump Room. The special blend tea was a bit strong for my taste, but I really enjoyed all of the food: small finger sandwiches in ham and tomato, egg salad, and cream cheese cucumber; plain and raisin scones with butter and strawberry jam; and a pecan bar and a caramel cream puff. There was so much food, I needed to take some back to the hotel with me to enjoy later in the evening.

One of the pathways from the city centre to my hotel takes me past the Bath Cricket Club. Tonight there happened to be a game going on, so I sat down on a bench out in the field and watched the game. Note: Cricket is not the sort of game that one can pick up just by watching. Trust me. Luckily, a few very nice older Brits explained the rules of the game to me. Cricket, it turns out, is actually quite fun to watch when you understand what's going on. I hope to return, at least for a bit, to one of the games going on Sunday.

All in all, I'd have to say it's been a pretty good birthday!

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