Final Interview

March 10, 2011

Thursday 3rd March 2011. Mayor’s Parlour, Guildhall, Bath, UK.

Two-minute presentation on Bath’s Heritage Plaques (or ‘commemorative tablets’).

Twenty minutes of questioning (not quite Mastermind but still difficult).

Retire for the panel to consider and, hurrah, passed.

Presented with my badge and pile of paperwork.

Now a fully qualified member of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides.

I await the call….


Around Bath’s Walls in 14 minutes

March 10, 2011

It was said (allegedly) that you could walk the circumference of Bath’s medieval walls in twelve minutes. So on Tuesday 1st March I set off with stopwatch in hand to see how long it really took.

On the first lap the stopwatch misbehaved (it is WWII vintage!) – no time recorded (but I was walking anticlockwise…..).

So with both wrist watch and stopwatch checked and primed, I set off again (this time clockwise for safety). At a steady walking pace, following the diversion through the M&S service tunnel, I recorded a time of exactly fourteen minutes on both timepieces.

Could it be done in twelve? Without trotting? Powerwalkers will say yes.

Test Walk

February 25, 2011

Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Weather: damp with light rain until noon; mild

So the big day arrives… about 40 waiting to walk, but I managed to get a small group of ten plus my assessor. Kept talk to the minimum and walking to the maximum  (as dictated by the weather). Returned to the Pump Room by 12:25 so had 5 minutes to go in to view the King’s Bath.

Feedback in the Guide’s room in the Guildhall. Mostly positive, with one or two points to note.

Cleared to proceed to final interview next Thursday. Need to prepare a two-minute presentation, so I think I’ll summarise my work on the Heritage Plaques (especially the ‘wrong’ locations and the ‘missing’ ones).

Walk in time

February 15, 2011

Wednesday 9th February 2011

Weather: dry with a glimpse of the sun

Cut out two stops this time and managed to complete in just under two hours. Didn’t go in the Assembly Rooms as some filming taking place, so actually finished in the Pump Room at 12:29! A bit rusty in places after a week ‘off’ so I should be able to tweak another couple of minutes off the time.

Now have a date for the test walk – need to do some serious revision 🙂


Wednesday 26th January 2011

Weather: drizzle at times

Adjusted timings and went well until Queen Square. Then seemed to lose time steadily so, with ten minutes in the Assembly Rooms, didn’t finish until 12:50.

Interesting question of the day: what do the Latin inscriptions on the front of the Abbey mean?

Neither of us knew, although I said there was a pamphlet on sale in the Abbey which gave a detailed description of all the carvings on the West front (Bath Abbey – The West Front, A guide to statues and carvings by Paul Fisher, published in 2010 by Paulish Books, Bath).

The pamphlet gives the following answers to the questions:

“Above the left window is the inscription domus mea (“My House”) to link with the works domus oronis (“House of Prayer”) above the right/south aisle window and referring to Luke 19:46 “My house shall be a house of prayer” (p22).


Isambard Kingdom Brunel

January 18, 2011

I K Brunel is on the front page of the Western Daily Press today (Monday 17th January 2011). Adrian Vaughan, “an historian and biographer of the engineer” has written a book entitled “The Intemperate Engineer”. Apparently Brunel “did so many silly things on the Great Western Railway… there were many flaws in the railway because he wouldn’t listen to anyone else”.

Which drew my attention to the fact that there is a plaque to IKB alongside the Great Western Railway in Sydney Gardens. So out with the camera and onto a web page with it:

Old Year New Year Round Up

January 18, 2011

8th December 2010: Still cold (sub zero C) – got to do the group briefing today.

15th December 2010: Above zero C today but mentor (Ken) ill, so follow walk of another guide (Michael) – interesting bit about the Cross Bath which may well incorporate into own script…

22nd December 2010: Just about zero C today – took the whole walk but twenty minutes over time (did pop into the Assembly Rooms though…).

29th December 2010: Foggy but milder – Ken’s chest still troubling him so walk with Michael – he lets me do it all but we are still ten minutes over the two hours even without visiting the Assembly Rooms.

5th January 2011: Drizzle today but mild – still too long and need to watch for the group obstructing pavements.

12th January 2011: Very mild but persistent drizzle; timing fine as far as Upper Borough Walls but made an unscheduled stop at the remnant of wall (why?) and was behind the clock from there on. Ken warns of problems with road crossings, so need to rethink route around Pulteney Bridge to North Gate. Must not stand so near to exit from Upper Borough Walls – obscured view for traffic exiting. Can only get better?



Windchill – what windchill?

December 1, 2010

Gradually building up the number of stops I can take on the walk. Today I went round with my mentor practising the route and timings. We did the first hour OK but had to adjourn for a coffee to try to restart the circulation in our fingers and toes.

-1 degree C outside, but nice and warm sitting in the sun inside the Royal Victoria Park cafe… so one coffee became two as we discussed the walk and then websites.

Come 1 pm and we agreed we had done justice to the walk.

Now I need to script the initial group briefing – just in case I’m asked to do it on the test walk.

Hopefully (no –  with certainty) the test walk will take place without the considerable obstruction and disruption of Bath’s Christmas Market. Whether the scaffolding will have disappeared from the rear of the Guildhall is less certain…..

Cheltenham’s Second last on the move

November 13, 2010

Cheltenham Saturday 13th November 2010. More problems at the recently-moved second last fence. I noticed John Francome was a little more guarded on his comments during his piece about the fence on Friday’s C4 racing. So what’s going on?

Stratford-on-Avon tried a similar layout a couple of seasons ago but soon discovered problems with a second-last fence coming soon after the final bend. Now I know Stratford is different to Cheltenham, but it seems to me that squeezing two fences into a relatively short straight is the common thread.

I wonder how long this ‘experiment’ will last?

If Cheltenham really wants to meddle with a layout, what about fitting another flight of hurdles in between the existing last two flights on the New Course. Now that would make sense.

Bath Heritage Plaques website

November 13, 2010

After a summer’s break, work has started again on the website.

Latest addition is the Baedeker Raids page, covering the Memorial garden in Shaftesbury Road (

Still a long way to go, but have cracked the problem with creating an image map in FrontPage. It looks like the .gifs I’m producing using Preview on the Mac are not 100% like by PC software (PaintShop Pro didn’t like them either). They do display perfectly well in all the browsers I’ve used for testing on both PCs and Macs.

Solution is to use my evaluation copy of GraphicConverter and choose the ‘web’ gif format.

I’d like to find a technical explanation – and a more simple solution!

Mayor’s Guide Training

November 13, 2010

Preparing for the fourth week of training to become one of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides.

So far have ‘picked up’ Queen Square – Baedeker Raids, Royal Crescent and The Circus. Next week I shall be covering Pulteney Bridge and a bit of the history of bath from the visits of Queen Anne onwards.

My tutor seems to have confidence in my ability to get most of the words out in the right order – let’s hope there enough willing volunteers to walk with us (and hope for a sunny day!).

I’ve found out the answer to a question I couldn’t answer this week – who was the ‘Trim’ of Trim Street? Step forward George Trim, a  wealthy clothier of Bath and a member of the Bath Corporation (see

The previous week’s unanswered question was “how deep are the ashlar slabs that characterise Bath’s Georgian facades? Well, a visit to the Building of Bath Museum gave the best answer short of drilling holes in the Royal Crescent – about 7 inches (I’ll leave you to convert that to metric). Also discovered that the slabs were packed up on the rear edge with oyster shells. Apparently back in the 1700’s oysters were to be found in every builder’s lunch box….

I wonder what next week’s “unanswered question of the week” will be?