Produced for Folio magazine, June 2010
BANES council are really upping their tourist game this summer by er, plugging, the city’s noble reputation.
Plunge into the historic waters of Georgian Bath (okay, the aquatic puns will stop here) with a late(ish) night visit to the Roman Baths, whose managers have pledged to keep the doors open until 10pm throughout July and August. Entry is free for locals who can prove their residence – a few fifty pound notes falling from your wallet should do that – or £11.25 for adults otherwise. Concessions available.
If you’ve travelled from lands afar, determined to enjoy an affordable day, why not invest in a combined ticket at the price of £15, which allows you entry to the Baths and Fashion Museum. If you’re around on 17th July, you can drop by the image-conscious museum to view a collection of Princess Diana’s very own dresses. Whilst the 80s saw us mere mortals running around in Mr Motivator-style lycra and neon, Lady Di was wise enough to resist the headbands and leg warmers, and instead opt for the likes of the 1880-style silken frock or sequin studded chiffon number that you can catch at the museum.
For those budding Tony Robinsons with a penchant for dirt, rust and your grandmother’s grandmother’s broken crockery, the Portable Antiques Scheme comes to town on 19th July. Finally you can convince the world that the lump of blackened metal rotting away in your pocket since you last walked Rover will get you that villa in the Maldives. If you’re not fortunate enough to have your own little piece of history, you can bumble over anyway, and find out what they forget to tell you in Antiques Roadshow.
Bath Heritage Services July-Aug, Roman Baths; Fashion Museum, Bath. Ffi: 01225 477785, www.romanbaths.co.uk; 01225 477736, www.fashionmuseum.co.uk
Primary Book Club
Get ‘em when they’re young: Bath tackles the finger pointed by grumpies and the media alike by proving that children do like to read. Its fourth lit fest dedicated to your little bookworms draws CBeebies celebrity Mister Maker, pre-school favourite Peppa Pig and birthday boy Spot the Dog who celebrates the big 3-0 with fun and games.
Learn how to draw your favourite Mr Men with author Adam Hargreaves (Roger? That’s showing your age) before hearing fellow illustrators Anthony Browne and Deborah Allwright bring their sketches to life. Comic strip artist John Ross, illustrator of Doctor Who Adventures magazine, conducts a cosmic workshop - kids beware, you will be going to this one, along with your father, Uncle Ben and Gramfer Bill. The Peter Rabbit Puppet Show offers interactive entertainment and Jess the Cat searches for the answer to The Big Question.
Older kids can look forward to a chat with Cathy Cassidy and brain-testing enlightenment from Alan Gibbons on themes that underlie his shadowy teenage fiction. The clatter of medals will be heard from Brislington as the elusive Whitbread Children’s Book Award winner of Skellig fame, David Almond surfaces to talk about his latest novel and Carnige Medal winner Phillip Reeve joins Catherine Fisher and Jane Johnson to chat about fantasy. Aspiring writers of all ages can attend a multitude of writing talks and workshops designed to aid and inspire the process of writing for children.
Bath Festival of Children’s Literature 24th-3rd Oct, various venues across Bath. Ffi: 01225 463362, www.bathkidslitfest.co.uk
Is it a Bird… ?
What other city can boast a world famous festival of the skies? Over a hundred balloons are set to speckle Bristol’s (hopefully) clear blue horizon and the red arrows return for their third year. Any Bristolian knows that Ashton Court is the place to be this Saturday night, for the unforgettable nightglow. A brand new Activity Zone takes over the West lawn for those energetic enough to grab the gauntlet laid down by the Go-Ape assault course, climbing wall or water sports on offer, and you can go all Robin Hood with an archery session. For those who missed the festival fever this summer, bands take to the arena during the day and over 250 stands bring local traders and craftsmen to town.
Bristol Balloon Fiesta 12th-15th Aug, Ashton Court, Bristol. Ffi: 0117 9046509, www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk